The Capital Ship class of vessels consists of several large, combat oriented starships used for frontline military combat and defence. As is standard Federation Policy, all Federation Dreadnoughts , Semi Dreadnoughts, Battle Cruisers and Carriers have some science capability as well as other standard Starship requirements. Because of the massive investment associated with their construction, many other governments also include some basic form of multi mission capability. Capital Ships are the largest front line Starship in most fleets.
Dreadnoughts are classified as a mission specific, multiple target engagement platform, designed to attack a specific group of targets and provide support for military actions both within and outside established boarders. The most notable aspect of recent dreadnoughts has been the addition of a third warp nacelle. The controversial decision to add a third nacelle does give the Dreadnought a tremendous advantage in combat. Because driver coils can be phased in and out of the warp field, even at high speeds, Dreadnought can use lighter engines and still maintain power levels equivalent to a Heavy Cruiser or Battleship. Dreadnoughts can reach higher top speeds than other starships and can often maintain these speeds longer than other high-speed vessels. Dreadnoughts are designed for quadrant defence, with weapons grouped to protect specific quadrants of the combat area while still maintaining a powerful striking ability against a single target.
The Dreadnoughts unique design does produce a reduced effectiveness for multi-mission roles. Dreadnoughts have even less space devoted to first contact and exploration missions, making them ineffective for exploration. The space disadvantage inherent in Dreadnoughts also extends to the engineering spaces. Most Dreadnoughts have very limited space for crew comfort due to the enlarged engineering and extra support systems needed to maintain the third warp engine. Balance problems with tri-engine designs have plagued Dreadnoughts since first launched. Even modern Dreadnoughts require larger crews to monitor and maintain the multi-engine designs. Dreadnoughts are often more expensive than conventional Battleships but are easier to maintain in the field. Dreadnoughts also have a significant Command-and-Control system allowing them to act as the centrepiece of a large fleet. Dreadnoughts, despite their weight and size, are surprisingly manoeuvrable, and have proved their ability time and again.
The Semi-Dreadnought is an amalgam of varied projected uses combined in a single medium to heavy combat platform, used to conduct a combination of ground assault and fighter support on a smaller scale than the Assault Frigate or Assault Ship. The Semi-Dreadnought is more independent than most front line assault vessels, able to conduct Heavy Cruiser military operations with the added capability of using two the three fighter wings during it primary mission. Most missions assigned to the Semi-Dreadnought are of an independent nature, freeing up escorts and other cruisers to conduct more detailed operations. Most Semi-Dreadnought had a very small science department, no research capability, and limited first contact ability. None the less, the Semi-Dreadnought can conduct some exploratory operation while maintaining the ability to operate as a Dreadnought when the need arises. During their military missions, Semi-Dreadnought are often used to assault small outposts
The Mindbender class was an experiment using the same components as the conventional Federation Class Dreadnought, but creating a more compact craft to reduce target cross section. Just one prototype was built and was used in competitive trials against the Federation class. The Mindbender was more manoeuvrable. but top speed suffered as the design was less warp dynamic, it also suffered from restricted firing arcs for the primary hull lower phasers.
After the trials were complete Mindbender was retained as a trials and training ship.
The Federation Class Dreadnought was initially conceived prior to the Four Years as a variant of the Heston class heavy cruiser (which was itself a Military role variant of the Constitution). The design was shelved as the new dilithium energised engines were not yet available to power such a large vessel. After the war the design was modified to take account of the lessons of the War and put into production using the new FWF-1 engine.
The final three of the class were built to a modified design (shown above), substituting a large navigational deflector for the hanger bays of the standard version, the three ships built to this standard (NCC 2110 USS Directorate, NCC 2111 USS Organisation and NCC 2112 USS Star Union) were used for exploration roles along the Klingon Frontier. This modified design provided the basis for the later refit of the remainder of the class.
The three modified ships received a minor refit in 2275, but unlike their sister ships were not modified with the new linear warp drives. The 3 ships of this design were all placed in reserve by 2290, and decommissioned from 2300.
The Federation Class Dreadnought was initially conceived prior to the Four Years as a variant of the Heston class Battle Cruiser (which was itself a Military role variant of the Constitution). The design was shelved as the new dilithium energised engines were not yet available to power such a large vessel. After the war the design was modified to take account of the lessons of the War and put into production using the new FWF-1 engine. The class was refitted in 2274, and was the most powerful Starfleet vessel until the introduction of the Excelsior class some twenty years later.
The Iron Duke class battleship demonstrates the speed at which a design could become obsolete.
Conceived in 2245, construction began in 2250, but the Iron Duke did not finally commission until 2256. The delays were initially caused by the lack of a suitable warp drive, and then the impulse engine created further problems, serious thought was given to commissioning the class using ancient FNSP-X impulse drives taken from obsolete vessels in the surplus yards.
When commissioned the Iron Duke was by far the biggest ship in Starfleet, but in terms of combat efficiency it was less effective than the far smaller and cheaper Heston class Battle cruiser. The ship was still working up when the four years war ended, and it was realized that a major refit with phasers and photon torpedoes was necessary to ensure that the ship remained a viable combat unit.
The refit to Mark 2 added a second M4 computer core, and substituted phasers and photon torpedoes for the earlier lasers and accelerator cannons. The ship recommissioned in 2258, but was put into reserve in 2260. The Iron Duke finally saw action during the Organian crisis when she was recommission to act as a Flagship. The taskgroup she led was one of the few to actually engage enemy vessels. At the end of the crisis though she again returned to reserve.
Iron Duke remained in reserve until 2283, all suggested refit proposals were rejected as impractical on cost grounds. In 2283 she was recalled to service to test some systems for the proposed Excelsior class Battleship, and also to act as a trainer to familiarise the crew with serving on such a large vessel. Iron Duke was returned to reserve in 2289, and was finally scrapped in 2295.
The Siegfried class was the first true dreadnought to enter service. As originally completed the class mounted the extremely powerful FLM-1 Cannon, this weapon was limited in terms of arcs of fire and recharge time, but used well was an extremely effective weapon. In 2242 some of the class were refitted to a more standard configuration due to delays in the Constitution class program, and were refitted with the new Unary shielding systems. In this revised configuration these ships gave valuable service for a number of years, although later on only in supporting roles
The Siegfried class was the first true dreadnought to enter service. As originally completed the class mounted the extremely powerful FLM-1 Cannon, this weapon was limited in terms of arcs of fire and recharge time, but used well was an extremely effective weapon. In 2242 some of the class were refitted to a more standard configuration due to delays in the Constitution class program, and were refitted with the new Unary shielding systems. In this revised configuration these ships gave valuable service for a number of years, although later on only in supporting roles.
The Quetzalcoatl class marked the start of the evolution process of the Dreadnoughts. Building from features of the abortive Battle cruiser projects of 2168 and 2210 the Quetzalcoatl class ships were the largest to enter service since the end of the Romulan War. The class differed from later Dreadnoughts in two ways, firstly it had a dual role as a Carrier, and secondly the third nacelle was only a small unit installed in the lower secondary hull. The class taught many valuable lessons used in later Dreadnought designs.