Good evening my lovelies and welcome to another update with me. So today, I wanted to discuss foreign relations with you, since I figured some of you are getting a kick out of the history lessons and we've kinda run out of history. I might do an explanation of the Constitution Project... oh hell, let's do both. Also, I will be doing a Skype call on Saturday (PM me for my address) and a Google Hangout on Sunday, both at 6 p.m. CST (GMT - 6). This is to go over character ideas, what you can expect, and to just have a great time.
So with that said, let's discuss politics! Inside the Federation
The Federation is a political body made up of multiple layers, each one having differing levels of power and authority. The most basic level is that of an individual city or territory, depending on the charters in place. These are where you get zoning permits, local utilities, and other fun things. Above that sits the planetary government, responsible for things like planetary defense, disputes between territories, allocation of resources, etc.
Beyond the planet there are sectors, with each sector governing as few as one to hundreds of worlds, depending on how borders fall. Each sector has a Starfleet presence, often in the form of an administrative base, which allocates resources and defends the locals. There isn't a form of government at this level, though there is a Starfleet Commander. From each planet is assigned a representative who travels to Earth, where they represent their planet in the Federation Council. Each world's census determines the authority of that world, though Earth, Vulcan, Tellar, and Andor all have permanent seats on an inner council that can, if necessary, overrule the wishes of the other council members. This arrangement is primarily due to their status as founding members and that they have, thus far, shouldered the greatest burdens during conflicts with the other powers.
The President of the Federation is elected every 6 years, and serves as both commander in chief of Starfleet and the head of the Federation Council. While presiding over the Council, he has the authority to call for a vote on issues once deliberation is done, as well as veto issues that do not pass with a super majority, though through tradition the President often sides with the majority. The role of commander in chief gives the President the authority to override Starfleet, such as when a situation has the potential to boil over into an actual war, such as a planned offensive into hostile territory.Andor
Andor or Andoria is one of the founding members of the Federation, and perhaps the most akin to humans of the four. Andorians are an energetic race who have been exploring the stars several hundred years longer than humans, though their first encounter with an alien race was the Vegan Hegemony, a race of advanced cybernetic beings that went extinct about the time humanity invented warp travel. While initially hostile to other races, they have since become important members of the Federation. To many races, Andorians come off as paranoid and hostile, but only at first, and mostly due to their history with the Vegans, but soon warm to individuals and become very friendly and sociable. Their diplomats are very persuasive, and their shipbuilding is second only to Earth's. Many of the most famous designs seen throughout the Federation come from Andor, with their most famous recent design being the Miranda class light cruiser.
Andor's relations with Earth are perhaps the strongest, as the two powers were friendly rivals prior to the Earth-Romulan War. While Andor never officially engaged the Romulans in battle, they did supply hulls, weapons, and supplies to Earth during the war and even after. Their relationship with Tellar began to improve at this time, buying materials from them for the war effort and then later trading raw materials for mining ships and components for modular bases that could be built on asteroids and other bodies. It is only with Vulcans that Andorians have issues, mostly owing to bad blood from the first official encounter with Vulcan when an Andorian warship fired on an unarmed and unshielded diplomatic vessel, destroying it. While the two races are now amicable, there is clear tension between the two, made only worse by Vulcans refusing to aid Andor against the Vegan threat.Tellar
The Tellarites are another founding member of the Federation and take pride in being the most stubborn member. Tellarites consider it customary to argue about everything, even if the other person agrees with them, and will even play devil's advocate just to strike up an argument. This stubborn nature is not without merit, however, as Tellarites use this to find every conceivable flaw in a design or train of thought before it is implemented. While they are ill suited for space travel, their stubborness has led them to become exceptional engineers, especially mining. Tellar itself is riddled with mine shafts, most featuring advanced and cleaverly constructed bracings that can withstand intense earthquakes and disasters.
As Tellarites love to argue, their relationships with other races are strained most of the time. They will argue every facet of a treaty just to argue, making it a miracle they ever joined the Federation at all. However, Tellarites are also very good traders, able to spot a good deal for themselves, and it is suspected this was why they chose to ally themselves with the other founding members of the Federation. Their activity on the Council is limited, but they often bring a kind of logic even the Vulcans cannot deny to proceedings, even if their method of arriving at such conclusions will annoy even the most stoic of Vulcans. Their main contribution to the Federation is mining, with Tellar designed or led engineering projects throughout the Federation.Terra
Terra, as it is commonly known to non-humans, is home to the human race, and now home to the Federation government. Most of the planet is covered in rich, lush vegetation due to replanting efforts following Earth's Third World War, though the scars of centuries of conflict still can be seen in places. Humanity is one of the most resilient species in the Federation, leading efforts to expand further than ever dreamed possible and using intuition to find new solutions to problems. This energy has led some longer-lived species to compare humans to a cancer, growing out of control, but others find it charming that most humans never give up, but rather keep trying until they find a solution that works, even if it isn't perfect.
Humans are, for the most part, considered by many aliens to either be loved or hated. To allies, they're the best friends to have, while others like the Romulans and Klingons see them as threats. The ability to adapt, plus the naiveté of Earth arriving so late on the scene, gave humans an advantage in that, frankly, they had no grudges with existing empires to get in the way of diplomacy. It was often only races that attacked first that drew human ire, which led to costly wars that humans would often win through tenacity and a willingness to throw more steel and bodies at the problem than most enemies would account for. It's for this reason that humans dominate Starfleet, though it has also led to tensions between other members due to humans wanting to use military might to solve problems when diplomacy could work just as well. Only time will tell how humans adjust to new threats on the horizon as they are reined in by both foreign empires and the Federation Council.Vulcan
Vulcan is a desert planet that is home to one of the longest-civilized races in the galaxy. For over 5,000 years, the Vulcans have followed the teachings of Sarak, of non-violence and pure logic with no major wars, though several off-shoots of the Vulcan people have branched away due to philosophical differences, most notably the Romulans. While the philosophy of non-emotion is the goal of every Vulcan, most understand that emotions are part of life, while others wear it as a badge of superiority and flaunt it against other races. Regardless, most Vulcans are pacifists, believing that diplomacy can resolve all issues.
Vulcan is one of the most influential members of the Federation Council, often negotiating with other races to keep the peace that would otherwise spill over into armed conflict otherwise. They are patient and tolerant, though even Vulcans have their limits, and they abhor violence of all kinds. Their participation in major conflicts such as the Four Years War was limited to non-offensive systems, many Vulcans expressed their interest in leaving the Federation. This would not be the last time such desires for non-violence ran counter to the other powers, though many Vulcans logically conclude that not every race can or will negotiate and such an alliance would be beneficial. Only time will tell if the Vulcan peoples will continue to remain part of the Federation.Foreign Affairs
The Federation classifies any world that is not a member under three categories: Protectorate, Minor, and Major Power. Protectorates are worlds that have not developed warp travel, varying from stone tool users to on the verge of launching their first warp vessel. These worlds are declared off-limits to Federation citizens, letting the world develop naturally. Minor powers are any powers that have warp travel but are limited either by resources, location, or simply by neighbors such that they do not expand beyond a handful of worlds. These are worlds that make ideal candidates for membership, either now or in the future, depending on the world's natural tendencies. The final group are major powers, and these are groups that rival the Federation in scale, technology, or military might. To date, there are only two major powers: The Klingon Empire and the Romulan Star Empire.
Klingons are an aggressive species that have been expanding through military might for almost 400 years, with periods of consolidation and instability the only reason they haven't expanded further than they already have. Klingons believe in a complex honor code that praises both strength and cunning in roughly equal measure. The Klingon desire to win permeates every part of their society, with major houses, or groups of similar Klingon families, excelling at their chosen profession. It is considered an honorable profession, for example, to be an engineer who designs great things, as this is considered a noble and necessary task. There is a Klingon expression that "One obtains honor through achievement to the best of their ability." Failure is not unknown to Klingons, though to fail is to lose face and some honor. The Klingons originally saw the Federation as a cancerous growth that would consume the Empire, though now they see the Federation as worthy rivals that require adapting to face their latest enemy.
Romulans are an off-shoot of the Vulcan people that broke away in sub-light colony ships travelling at close to the speed of light. They arrived on the class M world of Romulus and began to carve out an existence, though the world was very harsh and only the strongest survived. This mentality of survival of the fittest has permeated Romulan society, with some communities even going so far as to kill children with birth defects rather than spend the resources to keep them alive. This harsh mentality has colored their view of other races and their own cousins, the Vulcans. Most Romulans want to reunite with Vulcans, but cannot see beyond military conquest. This thinking led directly to the Earth-Romulan War, a deadly conflict that sent the Romulans into isolation that has lasted over a century. That's not to say the Romulans are completely idle, however. Due to Vulcans being a common group in the Federation, Romulans have no problems blending into Federation society as spies and saboteurs, though Starfleet Intelligence routinely finds a percentage and converts them into double agents. This low-key cold war has led to each side watching the other's movements, ready in case of an attack that the other isn't willing to launch for fear of another war.The Constitution Class ProjectThe Federation and Starfleet at 75 Years
The year 2236 marked the 75th anniversary of the United Federation of Planets (UFP). Although the Federation continued to have disputes with several other regional and local powers (including the Klingons, the Kzinti, the Orions, and the Tazzi), none of these conflicts threatened to escalate to full-scale war. Starfleet, also celebrating its 75th year, was an important reason for these long years of peace. The fleet's powerful warships and explorers discouraged most potential foes from directly challenging the Federation. Starfleet's primary front-line cruisers in 2236 were the ships of the Valley Forge class. In service for less than 10 years, Valley Forges continued to enjoy a superiority over comparable ships of the Klingons and other hostile powers. The 44-ship class had performed admirably in missions of exploration, diplomacy, and defense throughout the Federation and outside its borders.
However, Starfleet was already looking beyond the Valley Forge class to the production of a more powerful "supercruiser" able to undertake missions even further beyond the borders of the Federation. Recent breakthroughs in weaponry, sensors, and propulsion suggested to Starfleet Command that 20 years, the average interval between the introduction of main cruiser classes, was too long a wait for Valley Forge's successor. Although Valley Forges were generally regarded as extremely fine ships that were expected to lead Starfleet into the second half of the 23rd century, their designed capabilities had been constrained by financial considerations during their development in the early 2220s, a time when the Federation feared a coming era of "imperial overreach." However, with the Federation's most dangerous potential adversary, the Klingon Empire, only now slowly rebuilding itself after yet another period of self-destructive internal strife, the Federation felt confident enough to once again seek out new life and new civilizations far beyond its well-defended borders.Two Heavy Cruisers: An Heir and a Spare
In October 2236, Starfleet's Ship Specifications Review Board, in San Francisco for festivities marking Starfleet's 75th year, convened at Fleet Headquarters to discuss the possibility of constructing a successor to Valley Forge. The projected new class was to have greatly improved speed, range, firepower, and scientific facilities and be able to undertake unsupported missions lasting five years with a crew of more than 400. Such a ship would displace some 200,000 t and be significantly larger than Valley Forge (which displaced 136,000 t). Most of the Board's technical subcommittees were confident that the design and construction of the lead ship of a new class could be completed by 2241, barring unforeseen technical roadblocks. However, whether such a new ship was possible depended in large part on its matter/antimatter (M/AM) reactor. Previous ships of this size (such as Quetzalcoatl and Siegfried) had been underpowered, unwieldy behemoths rather than the wf-7 superships that Starfleet had hoped for.
Representatives from Hellas Planitia, Mars, the site of Starfleet's main M/AM laboratory, reported results of preliminary computer studies for a new reactor, the SSWR-XV, which was to exploit recently developed theories for increasing the efficiency of M/AM interaction. Instead of using a large, open cavity where the reactants are injected and annihilate each other based on random molecular contact, two long magnetic constrictors fed fuel into a much smaller reaction chamber, where a centrally mounted dilithium crystal focused the reactants to annihilate in a more precise and controlled reaction. Hellas Planitia engineers hoped to at least double reactor output and endurance while reducing reactor size by 50%. Such improvements in reactor performance, along with enormous new nacelles already on the drawing board, would finally enable the construction of a heavily armed wf-7 exploratory cruiser, which Starfleet had been attempting to develop, without success, for the last 30 years. The Hellas Planitia engineers assured the board that the new SSWR-XV reactor would be ready for production in 2241, allowing a new ship built around the reactor to enter Starfleet service by 2242.
Although the new ship would rely largely on evolutionary refinements of technology already in use, its development was not without risks. In particular, some members of the board were concerned that the feasibility of this large new cruiser should hinge on the development of a reactor that existed only as a computer model and was at least five years away from delivery. Despite the assurances of Hellas Planitia engineers, their developmental forecasts had often proved unrealistically optimistic and minimized the difficulty of overcoming obstacles, which were often not initially apparent. (Indeed, Hellas Planitia engineers confidently reported that the reactor had already been designed and was functional and simply needed to be reconstructed physically.)
To ensure that a new exploratory heavy cruiser would be in service with Starfleet by 2242, Admiral Shrelev IV of Andor suggested that a second ship project involving less risk be undertaken with a reactor expected to be available in the near term rather than half a decade away, if ever. Admiral Shrelev IV suggested that this second ship be built around a new version of the SSWR-XIII reactor, which was then in the advanced stages of physical testing at Hellas Planitia and slated for refit into Valley Forge-class ships in 2238. A scaled-up version of this reactor might easily achieve output levels, if not efficiency and compactness, approaching those projected for the SSWR-XV.
By the end of 2236, Starfleet Command had issued directives for the development of two new classes of heavy cruiser. The first, to be called Constitution (NX-1700) after the famed wooden frigate of the 18th century (still afloat at Boston after 450 years), was to use the new SSWR-XV reactor and employ the time-tested layout—a command hull disc connected by a thin neck to a engineering hull supporting two nacelles—used for most first-line Starfleet cruisers for the past 75 years. The second class of heavy cruiser, to be called Pyotr Velikiy (NX-1670) after the czar who created Russia's Imperial Fleet, was to be designed according to Andorian design principles around a second new reactor, the SSWR-XIII-B, based upon the reactor, now designated SSWR-XIII-A, already in development for the Valley Forge class. Production of the Pyotr Velikiy class would continue past the first ship only if the Constitution project failed or was significantly delayed.
To simplify the design processes as much as possible, both Constitution and Pyotr Velikiy were to use several common components, including the main navigational deflector and sensor suite, weaponry (both beam and projectile), deflector shielding and defensive systems, bridge module, life-support systems, warp nacelles, and computer systems. Of these components, the final two were most notable. The Sabre nacelles were not of revolutionary design but were extremely large, both in terms of overall length (155 m) and as a percentage of each ship's projected displacement. They were designed to handle extremely high warp-plasma pressures; in theory, they would allow a Constitution-class ship to achieve speeds as high as wf 12, were sufficient power available. Construction of the enormous nacelles required the development of specialized centrifugal forges to produce the extremely large warp coils of unprecedented purity. The computer system was developed by wunderkind designer Dr. Richard Daystrom based on his duotronics theories. In 2243 at the age of 24 years Dr. Daystrom would win the Zee-Magnees prize for his groundbreaking work in logic systems.Work on Pyotr Velikiy Starts on Andor
The Pyotr Velikiy project was an enormous coup for Admiral Shrelev IV and the Andorian shipbuilding industry. Andorian shipyards had previously constructed Starfleet light cruisers and scouts, such as those of the Kestrel and Capella classes, but had never both designed and built a more prestigious heavy cruiser class. Granted, Pyotr Velikiy was intended at the outset merely as insurance against the possible delay or failure of the Constitution class and was not guaranteed to enter production beyond the lead ship. However, Admiral Shrelev IV was confident that if the Andorians were to design and build a superior ship, Starfleet would have no choice but to allow production of at least a small number of Pyotr Velikiy-class ships, regardless of the status of the Constitution project. Starfleet had first suggested that Pyotr Velikiy be developed by Andorian staff in San Francisco and built at Utopia Planitia, Mars, so as to increase cooperation between the parallel project teams. However, Admiral Shrelev IV lobbied strongly for the Pyotr Velikiy to be both designed and built at Andor so that resources and facilities built there could strengthen the Andorian shipbuilding industry. He also argued that dispersing shipbuilding throughout the Federation, rather than concentrating it dangerously in the Sol system, made sense from a strategic point of view. An added advantage of basing the Pyotr Velikiy project at Andor was that Starfleet oversight was lessened, freeing Andorian engineers to pursue their traditional design solutions to warp flight.
Andorian starships have traditionally been built with a single, flattened hull confined to the horizontal plane with integrated nacelles; in contrast, starships designed on Earth in the last 75 years featured both a disc-shaped command hull and a dependent engineering hull with nacelles on long supports. Andorian warp field theorists felt that the greater cruising efficiency of a warp field with a minimal frontal profile outweighed the disadvantages of lower rates of roll, pitch, and yaw than with a bi-level warp field favored by Earth designers. Accordingly, Pyotr Velikiy featured a command hull 142-m-long and 123-m-wide with nacelles attached at the rear quarters with extremely short outboard supports. The dorsal hull had a laterally delaminated command promontory whose outer layers were removed outboard to reveal a smaller-diameter promontory underneath. A similar structure had been used for the Capella-class scout and found beneficial for refining boundary-layer transhull warp-field dynamics. Behind the main promontory was a semilunar "collar" holding additional crew spaces and laboratories. The main navigational deflector traded a large frontal profile for a longer resonance tunnel and was attached to the front ventral part of the command hull. The SSWR-XIII-B M/AM reactor was too large to integrate into the command hull and was placed, along with its associated fuel stores, in a separate engineering hull connected directly aft by a short, thick neck. Twin main shuttlecraft bays straddled the root of the neck, while a third, smaller shuttlebay was placed at the stern of the engineering hull.
Because the Pyotr Velikiy class, like the Constitution class, was intended to explore far beyond the borders of the Federation on independent missions lasting as long as five years, maintenance of warp capability far from support facilities was a primary concern. Although Federation M/AM reactors had generally proven extremely reliable, the projected demands on the warp drive of the new classes were unprecedented. However, because Pyotr Velikiy's SSWR-XIII-B reactor was expected to be less powerful than Constitution's advanced SSWR-XV reactor, it would need to operate at higher percentages of maximal output to achieve desired cruising speeds. Starfleet feared that such stressful operating conditions would increase the risk of a reactor malfunction, which might strand a ship hundreds of light-years from Federation space. Against such an eventuality, Pyotr Velikiy's warp drive was designed to be operable at lower speeds (wf 3.2) on fusion power alone. For this reason, the "impulse" system of Pyotr Velikiy was abnormally large (60 m long) and powerful and was supplied by two large deuterium tanks in the rear ventral command hull. If the M/AM drive were to experience irreparable malfunction or complete failure, the now-redundant engineering hull would be detached to decrease weight. The nacelles, which were attached directly to the command hull, could continue emergency warp operations with power from the fusion reactor. The fusion reaction could also be used to supplement the M/AM reactor to achieve higher warp speeds. Because she carried both a high-output fusion reactor system and a larger, less efficient M/AM reactor, Pyotr Velikiy was an extremely large ship, displacing some 280,000 t, versus 190,000 t for Constitution.
This degree of redundancy in the warp-drive system had not been employed in Earth-designed military starships since the Earth-Romulan War (most notably by Yorktown-class carriers, which operated deep within enemy space) but was still common at this time in Klingon ships. For example, the Klingon D5-class cruiser, introduced in 2224, had carried a large fusion reactor to allow routine maintenance of its main M/AM reactor while traveling at warp speeds, and the D7-class cruiser, introduced in 2250, had twin M/AM reactors. That such redundancy was required for Pyotr Velikiy reflected in part how revolutionary Constitution and its new reactor were to be.
The development and construction of Pyotr Velikiy proceeded quickly and without major difficulties. Indeed, Pyotr Velikiy had already been flight-tested at warp speeds with temporary Merlin II nacelles (the type used by Valley Forge and related classes) and power from its fusion reactor alone in December 2238, less than two years into development. In April 2239, the main SSWR-XIII-B M/AM reactor arrived from Hellas Planitia and was installed in the secondary hull of Pyotr Velikiy. The Sabre nacelles, delayed because of impurities causing microfractures in their large warp coils, were finally attached to Pyotr Velikiy in September 2239. Static testing soon began but revealed some minor problems related to the extreme intrahull length of the plasma conduits. After additional conduit shielding was installed, Pyotr Velikiy began full-up flight-testing and in July 2240 reached a speed of wf 8.1, which compared with Valley Forge's top speed of wf 7.6. Pyotr Velikiy (NCC-1670) was officially handed over to Starfleet in a ceremony at its Orbital Headquarters above San Francisco in March 2241, just as troubles with the Constitution project began to surface.Constitution's Troubled Development
From 2237 to 2240 design and construction of the spaceframes of USS Constitution and the following 4 ships of the class proceeded smoothly in orbit above San Francisco. Although considerably larger than Valley Forge, Constitution was not significantly more complex, outside of its main M/AM reactor and warp nacelles. The 129-m-diameter primary hull with asymmetrical promontories carried the updated bridge module, an enlarged sickbay, the duotronic computer core, extensive scientific laboratories, and spacious berths for officers, crew, and diplomatic guests (including those not from class M planets). All phaser emitter ports and torpedo tubes were concealed behind retractable hull plates. A large sensor in the ventral promontory allowed Constitution to scan deep below planetary surfaces from high in geosynchronous orbit. The impulse deck was of a new, compact design and disturbed the smooth contours of the rear primary hull only slightly.
Constitution's secondary hull, suspended from a deep but strikingly thin connecting dorsal, was fronted by a 28-m-tall mount for the main navigational deflector. The large deflector was necessitated in part by the much higher speeds projected for Constitution. Behind the deflector, the hull tapered back gently for an additional 90 m to the main shuttlecraft bay in the stern. Within the secondary hull were engineering spaces for the warp drive system, including the compact SSWR-XV reactor, deuterium tanks, AM containment bottles, the dilithium control room, and plasma conduits. A large section of the hull was dedicated to cargo bays, workshops, fabrication gins, and recreation facilities.
In late 2240, disturbing rumors began to emerge from Hellas Planitia that all was not well with the SSWR-XV reactor project. Both the SSWR-XV reactor project leader and the director of Hellas Planitia resigned or were dismissed in the spring of 2241 following large-scale staff defections the previous fall. An emergency review by the Federation General Accounting Office in July 2241 revealed that certification tests at several developmental milestones had been partially or completely falsified to give the erroneous impression that development of the reactor was proceeding according to schedule. By this time the reactor should have already been undergoing high-stress endurance testing but not yet even been run at 75% of full power. Problems with the reactor were numerous; perhaps the most severe were power surges and drops during reactor step-up and step-down, the development of retrograde eddies in the plasma swirl chamber, and extremely high rates of dilithium matrix instability. Worst of all, the SSWR-XV, which had been undergoing bench testing at Hellas Planitia since early 2239, was said to be at least 24 months away from spaceframe mating and perhaps 36 months away from full-up flight testing.
The delay of the main power plant rippled outward to affect construction of the Constitution spaceframes at the San Francisco Starfleet Yards and work on other starship projects planned or already in progress. As the delivery date for the SSWR-XV reactor was pushed back months, then years, Constitution's various design and construction teams on the ground and in orbit became dispirited and lost hope that the ship would ever see service. Reports in the popular press harped on the increasing cost of Constitution, funds that might better be spent elsewhere. A large percentage of the design and construction facilities and manpower in the Sol system were now being used by or had been reserved for the Constitution project, but most sat idle. Lawrence Marvick, a young systems engineer in San Francisco, complained that to pass the time he and other engineers ran endless simulations of increasingly unlikely scenarios, such as the crash landing of the command hull on planetary surfaces. If these facilities and manpower were shifted away from Constitution to other starship projects, they might not be available later when the Constitution class finally entered full-scale production. As a result, Constitution's delay slowed all other projects in the Sol system.
As an indication of the importance Starfleet placed on the Constitution, Commodore Robert April, Commander of the 4th Fleet, assumed direct control of the project in August 2241. Rear Admiral Beatrix Nguyen, head of Starfleet Propulsion, was assigned to Hellas Planitia to personally oversee development of the SSWR-XV reactor. With Starfleet oversight and a new sense of direction, the Constitution project again began to move forward, but several valuable years of development had been lost. The 2242 target date for Constitution's joining the fleet was clearly impossible to meet and would likely be missed by additional several years.
What was bad news for Constitution was good news for Pyotr Velikiy. While not wishing to appear to be taking advantage of problems at Hellas Planitia, one of the Federation's most important research centers, in August 2241 Admiral Shrelev IV and the Andorian government quietly began campaigning for early production of additional Pyotr Velikiy ships. However, supporters of shipyards based in the Sol system resisted any diversion of funds, construction facilities, or manpower to the production of what they considered a second-rate "stop-gap" ship. They insisted that any problems with the SSWR-XV reactor and the Constitution project were firmly in the past now that Commodore April was in charge and that full-scale production would soon be underway. The Andorians countered that it was for exactly such a situation that the Pyotr Velikiy project was started and that a failure to begin production of additional Pyotr Velikiy-class ships while the future of Constitution was still in doubt only ensured that Starfleet would have no new heavy exploratory cruisers in 2245, other than Pyotr Velikiy herself.Pyotr Velikiy Impresses in Service
As the original target date for Constitution to join the fleet came and passed in January 2242, Pyotr Velikiy was showing itself to be an extremely capable and reliable vessel. In service with the 4th Fleet, Commodore April's former command, Pyotr Velikiy undertook the first survey mission beyond the Hammadi-Burke Hollow, an area of dense interstellar matter impenetrable to long-range sensors. On that mission alone, Pyotr Velikiy charted 15 star systems and made successful first contacts with two neighboring, newly warp-capable races, the Laag and the Konnir, previously unknown to the Federation and unknown even to each other before being introduced by Pyotr Velikiy. During speed runs in deep interstellar space, Pyotr Velikiy reached wf 8.5, at the time a record for Starfleet ships.
As word of the success of Pyotr Velikiy spread, sentiment among the fleet's officers and crew grew for the class to enter at least limited production. However, Starfleet Command continued to support production of only Constitution, which it maintained would prove to be the superior ship. However, political forces outside Starfleet pressed for production of Pyotr Velikiy. Chief among these were several races, including the Andorians, the Tellarites, and the Zakdorn, and numerous Earth colonies that sought to break Earth's near-stranglehold on ship construction. They felt that the construction of a major class of heavy cruisers outside the Sol system would lead to the establishment of other Starfleet yards throughout the Federation. Dispersing ship production made good strategic sense, as Admiral Shrelev IV had suggested in 2236, and made good economic sense as well. Bowing to political pressure and sound reasoning, Starfleet and the Federation Council finally decided in November 2243 to construct 5 additional Pyotr Velikiy heavy cruisers (NCC-1671 to NCC-1675, block 2). The first new ship was named USS Shrelev II, after a hero of the previous century's war against the Romulans and a grandfather of Admiral Shrelev IV.Klingon Attacks Spur Pyotr Velikiy Production
In January 2244, just months after limited production of the Pyotr Velikiy class had been authorized, the Klingon Empire launched surprise attacks against the Federation at Tassem-Loki III and Donatu V. While some defense analysts maintained that Starfleet vessels now in service had successfully repelled the Klingon attacks, others called for increased construction of warships of all types, particularly heavy cruisers that the Klingons could not match. Obviously, these analysts said, the Klingons had overcome any internal strife that had prevented them from turning their ambitions outward and were now likely to mount further attacks against the Federation. Concerns over future Klingon attacks persuaded Starfleet to order production of 14 additional Pyotr Velikiy ships (NCC-1676 to NCC-1689, block 3). Instead of these ships being built for peaceful exploration and diplomacy as originally intended, they were being built mainly to bolster the Federation defenses against a newly resurgent and aggressive Klingon Empire.
USS Shrelev II (NCC-1671), the first of the block 2 Pyotr Velikiys, joined the fleet in August 2244, less than a year after construction was ordered. The block 2 ships were similar in most respects to Pyotr Velikiy herself, but included slightly modified Sabre nacelles and an improved automated cargo handling system. Block 3 ships, which began to reach the fleet in June 2245, had a higher-capacity, more sensitive weapon-targeting system, more powerful beam and projectile weaponry, improved damage control facilities, larger sickbays, and strengthened energetic shielding, all of which were intended to enhance Pyotr Velikiy's war-fighting capabilities. Although these changes came at the expense of scientific facilities, Starfleet judged that strength in combat was more important now that the Klingons were apparently attempting to expand their empire through conquest.
Little did the Federation know that the attacks of 2244 were considered a humiliating failure by the Klingon Empire and had led to yet another bloody struggle for the chancellorship and a redirection of imperial ambition. Instead of territorial expansion through military action, the goal of the Klingon Empire was now a quasi-peaceful, yet opportunistic competition with the Federation. The short-range D6 cruisers, built expressly for fast cross-border attacks, were to be replaced by a new long-range cruiser, the D7 (launched in 2250), whose role in the new-look Klingon Empire closely mirrored that of the Constitution and Pyotr Velikiy classes.Constitution Finally Enters Service
USS Constitution (NCC-1700), the lead ship of her class, finally joined Starfleet in September 2245, more than 3½ years late. However, it soon became apparent that the wait had been worthwhile. Constitution was an extremely fast (wf 9.1), warp-dynamic ship with superior defensive and scientific capabilities which met and exceeded the expectations of Starfleet. USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), named for the 20th century aircraft carrier of the American Navy, followed in November 2245 and was placed under the command of Commodore April as a reward for his rescuing the Constitution-class development project from almost certain failure. The Constitution class went on to become perhaps the most famous cruisers in the history of Starfleet. In particular, the voyages of USS Enterprise under her third captain, James T. Kirk, have become legendary throughout the Federation. These mighty ships enlarged known space to a greater degree than any class before or since and were never bested in ship-to-ship combat. Production of the 50-ship class continued until 2268.
However, no fewer than 16 of the first 30 Constitution-class ships were lost, a reflection of the dangerous missions these ships undertook far beyond Federation borders. At one point in the mid-2260s, the rate of ship loss rivaled that in the mid-2160s, when four Daedalus-class ships were lost in a period of 6 months. However, unlike these earlier losses, those of Constitution-class ships could not be attributed to a single mechanism, such as reactor failure. USS Constellation (NCC-1710) was destroyed battling a 3,000-m-long, planet-consuming berserker weapon believed constructed by a long-dead race for a forgotten war. USS Intrepid (NCC-1708), with a crew of 400 Vulcans, was overpowered and destroyed by an immense single-celled organism of unknown origin. The remains of USS Virginia (NCC-1715) and her crew were found scattered over a cubic light-year of interstellar space near the Keshab Rho XVI system; the cause of her destruction was never determined. USS Excalibur (NCC-1705) and USS Lexington (NCC-1709) were severely damaged during a training incident with an experimental M-5 computer system installed aboard USS Enterprise. All hands aboard USS Exeter (NCC-1706) were killed by a virus brought aboard by a survey team from the planet Omega VI. USS Defiant (NCC-1717) vanished through an interdimensional rift near Tholian space.
The Constitution design proved extremely versatile and served as the basis for numerous variants, including a single-nacelle scout (Hermes class), a twin-nacelle transport tug (Ptolemy class), and a triple-nacelle dreadnought (Federation class). With numerous upgrades and refits, original Constitution-class ships served with Starfleet in various capacities until the 2330s. In 2271, USS Enterprise was extensively refit after its fourth 5-year mission; a new class of ships (Enterprise class) was built in her image. Ships of the Enterprise class and several other descendent classes (and their derivatives) are expected to remain in service at least into the 2390s.
After Constitutions began entering service in large numbers after 2248, the 20 Pyotr Velikiy-class ships were relegated to less adventurous missions and began to be converted to allow them to serve in other roles, including combat transports, armed tugs, and Marine landing ships. Starting in 2250, many Pyotr Velikiy-class ships were refit with the smaller and more powerful SSWR-XV-B reactors to bring their performance closer to Constitution standards. In some ships the large engineering hulls were retained and the spaces vacated by the smaller reactor were converted to other uses, such as shuttle maintenance hangars and cargo bays. The impulse fusion reactors and their large fuel bunkers, no longer required as a back up to main M/AM reactor, were decreased in power and size. In other ships, the engineering hull was completely removed, leaving only the short, bobbed stump of the connecting neck. The installation of the new M/AM reactor and the removal of the engineering hull decreased displacement by some 50,000 tons and significantly improved warp and impulse performance. The configuration of these latter ships—a single command hull with nacelles directly attached—was subsequently used for a series of ships derived from heavy cruisers with a standard command hull/engineering hull layout. The first of these classes was the Miranda class (NCC-1833) of 2265, based on proposals for the refitting of the Constitution-class heavy cruisers.