Few ships have had such a chequered career as the Concorde Class. Laid down in 2255, the USS Concorde was intended to be the first of a new class of heavy cruiser. The design was built around the new FWF-1 warp drive and featured a number of revolutionary new features; it was intended to be the pathfinder for a whole new style of starship design.
The ships twin forward firing photon torpedoes (FP1 in the original design) were mounted in a bulge on the top of the saucer. The saucer itself was designed with 8 separate segments which were intended to be swappable to allow mission customising. As a result, the FH5 phasers were mounted in the broad secondary hull to allow maximum fields of fire fore and aft. The secondary hull itself was a revolutionary delta shape to increase warp efficiency, and also incorporated two huge hanger bays, as well accommodation for 100 marines.
The Concorde was finally launched in 2261, by this time 11 sister ships had also been laid down. It took another three years to get Concorde into service, and when it finally entered service, after many teething problems, it featured uprated weapons and shields to those originally intended for the design.
The second vessel, Callisto entered service in 2266, some 10 years after being laid down. Compared to Concorde, Callisto mounted a more powerful impulse drive, but was otherwise identical to her sister ship. The delays in getting the class into service meant that they were outclassed by many other newer types, and the unconventional firing arcs made the ships unpopular in military circles.
The third vessel, Comet, commissioned in 2268. This ship had uprated phasers in the form of FH-11, but was also outfitted as a long range explorer to suit its new mission. In initial trials for this role the design was found to be ideal, and the decision was taken to modify the two existing ships, as well as the three that were still to commission.
The problems and escalating costs faced by the class led to a decision to halve the order in 2267. Five of the ships, those that were least advanced, were cancelled, and a sixth, Cornelius, was reallocated for use as an experimental trials ship. The five cancelled ships were Charybdis, Columbia, Constellation, Challenger and Cochrane. Cornelius entered service in 2269, but lacked any permanent weaponry however she was to play a key role in the testing of many new weapon, shield and propulsion systems over the next 25 years, The next standard ship due to commission, Comet, was chosen to be reprieved as another potential role had been suggested for a small number of ships of this design. Galaxy Exploration Command needed a small number of large ships for long duration missions to the galactic core area, and the Concorde design, a failure in its military role, was the prime candidate due to its long range and duration.
Both Concorde and Callisto were soon modified for this new role, and along with the Comet set out on long range exploration missions. A fourth ship, Corsair commissioned in 2270, and for the first time the class was receiving positive attention. This was sadly to change in 2271, when Callisto was lost, presumed destroyed, on a mission to investigate the great barrier.
The loss of Callisto cast a shadow over the class, and delayed the commissioning of the fifth ship, Centaur. Investigation into the loss cleared the design of blame, and resulted in a ban on crewed missions to the great barrier. Centaur, which finally commissioned in 2274 was also a Mk 3 ship, and was again assigned to the long range exploration role.
The sixth ship to be completed , and the only new build Mk4, Commanche, commissioned in 2276, some 17 years after the hull was first laid down. The Mk4 was a major evolution in the class, as it mounted the new FWG-1 warp drive, coupled to a pair of M-6 computers and FSP shields the Commanche had a superb turn of speed and excellent defences to add to the already impressive range of the class. Another change in the Mk4 was that the segmented primary hull sections were fused together permanently, which greatly reinforced the strength of the primary hull. The Commanche was almost immediately despatched on a planned 10 year mission, deep into unknown space. She returned from the mission in 2288, six months behind schedule, but with a wealth of data and knowledge.
Concorde herself was upgraded to Mk4 standards in 2278, and was also despatched on a long range mission, which she returned from in 2288. Refits to a Mk5 configuration, with FWG-2 warp drive and FIG impulse drives, were considered for the other three ships, but the perceived complexity and limitations of the design led to the decision being made to phase the class out of service prematurely. Comet was placed in reserve in 2284, Corsair in 2286 and Centaur in 2287 as they returned from their missions.
Upon its return to Federation space in 2288, Commanche was spared decommissioning, instead she was used as part of a Starfleet goodwill mission, trying to recruit new recruits into the fleet. Concorde, on the other hand, was decommissioned as soon as she returned from her mission in 2288, and the Commanche finally followed in 2291.
The fate of the class seemed sealed in 2295 when the Centaur was scrapped, as newer classes such as Excelsior were in the ascendancy. The following year the Commanche was taken out of storage, and was due to be dismantled. Fate intervened though as the old trials ship Cornelius had been used as a testbed for the new FWL-2 warp drive, was producing stunning results. In 2297, following successful completion of the engine trials aboard Cornelius, a surprisingly bold decision was made to reactivate the four surviving ships of the class and refit them for further service, and a decision was also made to evaluate the possibility of refitting the Corneliius for active service.
Indeed, so successful has the class now become, it is suggested that the basic design could one day be used as the basis for even larger exploration vessels. Although the oldest ship in the class was laid down almost 50 years ago, she has only seen service for about 20 years, so it is likely that this class could survive in service until the mid 24th century. Upon reflection it is evident that the design was sound, but was too advanced for the technology of the time, as a result it took too long to commission, and was too expensive and complex for extensive production. Once technology had caught up with the concept, the class was able to prove its worth.
- NCC-6051 – CONCORDE
- NCC-6052 – CALLISTO
- NCC-6053 – COMET
- NCC-6054 – CHARYBDIS
- NCC-6055 – COLUMBIA
- NCC-6056 – CORSAIR
- NCC-6057 – CONSTELLATION
- NCC-6058 – CENTAUR
- NCC-6059 – CHALLENGER
- NCC-6060 – COMMANCHE
- NCC-6061 – COCHRANE
- NX-6062 – CORNELIUS