When most citizens of the Federation think of the ships of Starfleet, their thoughts may soar with the mighty designs of the Constitution ,Enterprise and Excelsior classes. However, one of the most successful and influential designs in the history of the Federation is the modest Mission class. This versatile little ship will forever be linked to the success of the Federation in many ways.
“The Stellarford II (Mk4) was an attempt to restart production using new technologies in the shape of the FWH-1 warp drive. However only five new build ships were completed before the shipyard went bust due to the high costs of building the class compared to newer modular vessels, a further hull was abandoned while 60% complete. These five ships were procured by Mars shipping as part of the civilian reserve fleet program, which saw Star Fleet underwrite a proportion of the cost of acquisition of the ships in return for them being made available in times of emergency.
The performance of the Mk4 prompted Star Fleet to offer to underwrite the conversion of Mk3 ships to the standard, again in return for use of the ships in times of war. At the time the conversion of a such a number of large elderly ships was thought to be pointless, but with hindsight it can be seen that it was a perfectly timed program. 20 ships were modified to this mark by 2247, and that was planned to be the end of the program.
Visually, the Mk4 could be easily distinguished from the earlier versions as the short FFTL-3B nacelles were replaced with the much longer dilithium energised FWH-1 nacelles. The more modern construction and materials of the nacelles meant that despite their increased size they massed substantially less, meaning the class reverted to Class IV mass (unladen) and Class VI (Laden).”
“The Stellarford Class Starliner had double the capacity of the previous Declaration Class liners, and its much greater range opened up the galaxy to all peoples. Catering especially to the burgeoning tourist industry, these Stellarford series ships made excursions to such galactic wonders as the Jewel Stars. One Mk1, the King Charles, was the most luxurious starliner ever conceived and set a standard of opulence and comfort still unsurpassed.”
The Cygnus Class entered service in 2246 as a Command Courier version of the highly successful Saladin/Hermes class. The Intention was that an Admiral could use the ship as a sector command post. To this end the design was given the FWC-1 warp drive, giving it more power than its half sisters, the weapons were entirely laser based to make more room for the Admiral’s facilities and command centre.
In 2250, the USS Columbia was converted to a more heavily armed configuration as an experiment to evaluate the benefits of an FWC-1 powered heavy destroyer type. These trials amounted to nothing, but the Columbia was left in this configuration, and was assigned as a Destroyer Leader to a flotilla of Saladins in the Klingon Border Area.
The outbreak of the Four Years War saw a major change in Starfleer Operational Procedure, a number of the Cygnus class ships were involved in near disasters in 2252, as operating independently without escorts as they had been designed to do made them tempting targets. In a fleet role the additional speed of the Cygnus was wasted, so it was ordered to convert the other 8 mk1 vessels to mk2 standards.
The Aakenn Class transport entered service in large quantities during the Four Years War, during which the class was used to move men and materiel to the front and supplies to the rear to keep the Federation’s wartime production at high levels.
The Fireball class was created as an experimental cruiser type that was intended to test new technologies and new warp field configurations. In early Engineers speculated that dividing a spacecraft’s enveloping warp field into a smaller forward “penetrating” lobe and a larger trailing lobe would decrease subspace resistance and increase warp efficiency. The Fireball class was designed with the innovative feature of a small command hull separated by a thin neck from the larger engineering hull to test this theory. Another change from most recent designs of the era was that the Warp nacelles were raised above the hull, this was again in an effort to boost warp efficiency.
The Fireball class used the new FFTL-2A warp drive system. This drive as much power as the old EFTL-5, but at less than half the mass, this allowed the Fireball class to be far smaller than the previous generation of cruisers. The Fireball and her sister ship Rocket had originally been planned to just be technology demonstrators, but the design was to successful that an armed variant was ordered in late 2158, this became the Comet class.
These two ships continued to be as test beds in the development of the second-generation of M/AM-powered ships. In 2165, at the conclusion of their research careers they were allocated to Starfleet and served as couriers until 2193.
USS Fireball is now on display at the Starfleet Museum.
The Experimental NG (New Generation) engines and shield systems were redesignated as part of the Federation Designation System in 2161.