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Old April 8 2009, 07:06 PM   #122
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Location: The fine line between continuity and fanwank.
Re: Excelsior Technical Manual - Revived!

sojourner wrote: View Post
Praetor, why don't you tie the Ent-B variant and the warp turbulence issue together? maybe the design changes on the B were an attempt to resolve the issue that ultimately either did not work or only partially worked making it not cost effective.
You know, a very good idea. I shall run with it. Thank you, and thank you for those crits.

kitsune, where would I be without ya? Thank you once more.

kitsune wrote: View Post
Medusa-class sounds appropriate for some members of the DS9 Frankenfleet...
I bet you can guess which one that might be, in fact.

Okay, once more with feeling, before we delve headfirst into the war.
Chapter Eight - Proliferation

Sulu and Excelsior saw the end of the twenty-third century together, and the dawn of the twenty-fourth. Talks between the Federation and the Klingon Empire were making slow progress. It was a time of increasing peace and prosperity for the galaxy, and optimism was high. The Federation agreed to various concessions as part of their ongoing peace talks with the Klingons. Some were relatively significant, while others were more semantic. In part, Starfleet agreed to decommission all of their existing dreadnoughts and battleships, to disarm and repurpose several destroyers as scouts or light cruisers, and to also limit the number of heavy cruisers it kept in operation as the primary instrument of its exploration and defense programs. Starfleet was left with a decision that proved a relatively easy one. The inability to graft Excelsior-developed technology to the Constitution class refits had proven problematic not only with the Enterprise-A but with all members of the Constitution class, and each Excelsior was ton for ton a bigger and more powerful ship. The Admiralty finally agreed to decommission most of the remaining Constitution class ships and replace them with Excelsior class ships. As part of compliance to the Klingons' stipulations, over 70% of these ships were scrapped, while almost all the others were placed in reserve fleets at various Federation surplus depots. By 1 January, 2300, there were 14 more Excelsior class starships in service, and over a dozen more under construction, with 50 more under contract. Starfleet was continuing to expand and explore.

Within the next couple of decades, several variants based on the Excelsior class were pioneered in shipyards across the Federation, from the Mediterranean-class frigates to the Shelley class through-deck cruiser/transports to the Medusa-class experimental deep space cruisers. The Excelsior had pioneered a revolution in Starfleet technology and exploration, and was truly building a legacy to be admired. However, the same period of prosperity that allowed the Excelsior class to thrive would also bring about its successor at the forefront of Starfleet exploration and defense: the Ambassador class.

The Ambassador class had been a gleam in her designers' eyes since before the Excelsior left dry dock in 2284, and was quite simply the most logical decision of the expansion of the role of the heavy cruiser that the Excelsior had begun. A number of officers at the ASDB long saw the niche for a massive multi-mission vessel capable of an unprecedented, and indeed fantastic, level of independent long-range missions and extended deployment that they termed an Explorer type starship. Since the ship was technically of a new type, it was exempt from limitations imposed by the Klingon treaties. The ship that became the Ambassador class was long back-burnered by Starfleet, given the ship's broad scope and seemingly unachievable technology specifications, particularly in the wake of the Excelsior class's near-failure. However, in the era of peace that came about in the early twenty-fourth century, the concept was given more consideration. A number of Starfleet officials were concerned by fleet's new 'supership' idea, much as they had been when the Excelsior was under construction, but by 2310 the Ambassador design process was fully underway and making great strides. As outlined by the ASDB, U.S.S. Ambassador would not, as initially feared, replace the Excelsior, but rather augment her in missions of long-range exploration and defense, and ultimately relegate Excelsior to the role of fleet workhorse, much as Excelsior had done to the Constitution and Miranda classes. Ironically, the Great Experiment would thus become the fleet's tried-and-true ship of the line.

Meanwhile, the Excelsior and the members of her class were enjoying their prosperity. Excelsior served with distinction under the command of Sulu, participating in a number of extensive missions of exploration and scientific research in both the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. Her crew became a family, and many of her officers grew reluctant to accept promotions or transfers to other vessels. The Excelsior had become a source of great pride of the Federation fleet, dubbed "Old Reliable" by the officers who served on her. She endured many dangerous missions, sometimes seeming to escape only by luck. In reality, it was a measure of the skill of her crew and her commanding officer. The Excelsior class stayed ahead of modern technology, thanks to the modularity and adaptability of its design. However, by 2325 Excelsior would be due for a major refit to keep her at the forefront of the fleet.

In 2311, the event Federation historians call the Tomed Incident occurred. That year, a prototype Federation starship malfunctioned catastrophically along the Romulan border, destroying the ship and severely damaging a large region of space. The suspicious Romulans, already feeling somewhat cornered by the fledgling peace between the Federation and the Klingons, believed the destruction of the ship to be proof that Starfleet was developing weapons for use against them, and began a military deployment that quickly threatened to develop into full-scale war. The Enterprise-B was present at subsequent events that culminated in a new treaty between the Romulan Star Empire and Federation, a ban on development of any Federation cloaking technology, and was coupled with a renewed period of Romulan isolation that would last for over 50 years.

By 2315, the design for the Ambassador was finalized, and construction well underway. In 2322 U.S.S. Ambassador, NX-10521 was launched and began her space-worthiness testing and shakedown. Many Starfleet officers were astonished by the mere sight of Ambassador; at 526 meters long and 3,700,000 metric tons in mass, she was the biggest Starfleet ship ever built, as well as the most technologically advanced. Her flight test crew, however, were less impressed. While a marvel, the Ambassador was "nothing special," in the words of her flight test captain, and many felt she was not the design revolution that she promised to be. The design was nonetheless a success, and introduced a number of technological advances, including collimated phaser arrays rather than turret phaser banks, and was among the first Starfleet ship classes designed to accommodate families (although only in limited capacity). In historical perspective, the class was a mere stepping stone in starship design rather than a pioneering benchmark. With over one hundred Excelsior class starships in service, and more under construction, the Ambassador class was in no way endangering Excelsior's status as backbone of the fleet.

At the end of the same year, Hikaru Sulu was offered a promotion. At 78 years old, Sulu began seriously considering whether he wanted to spend the rest of his life on a starship. He reluctanctly accepted promotion and reassignment. Ultimately, Sulu retired from the Admiralty in 2326 and ran for Federation President. Excelsior would continue without him, and Sulu would serve an impressive three terms in office. Sulu was succeeded in command of Excelsior by Captain Leonard James Akaar, who began his Starfleet career on Excelsior as chief of security under Sulu nearly thirty years earlier.

As Excelsior sat in drydock for a major modernization and refit in 2325, the Federation made official first contact with a civilization that would help shape its future for the next fifty years: the Cardassian Union. The Cardassians were a technologically advanced but economically poor species from the Alpha Quadrant who, at the time, sought to secure claims on multiple worlds rich in natural resources they desperately needed. Peace overtures from the Federation were met with suspicion and even contempt. Over the next twenty years, the lack of dialogue between the two governments would lead to a series of bloody, and some believe unnecessary, conflicts. A military buildup developed on both sides. For its part, Starfleet ramped up its production of Excelsior and other starships by nearly thirty percent, increasing each production block of Excelsior class ships by twenty ships each.

In 2331, the Enterprise-B was lost in the line of duty though most of the crew survived. As a result, the under-construction Ambassador-class starship U.S.S. Alaska was recommissioned U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-C. The Alaska/Enterprise-C was to be the pioneer of a new sub-type of the Ambassador-class. Launched in early 2336, the Enterprise-C would ultimately play a crucial role in the history of Federation-Klingon relations, sacrificing herself to protect the Klingon colony on Narendra III from Romulan attack in 2344 and opening the door for a new era of communication between the Federation and Klingon Empire that would eventually solidify their previously-established uneasy peace into genuine friendship and cooperation. It is interesting to note that many Federation historians speculate that had the Narendra Incident and ensuing relationship development not occurred, once the Klingon economic recovery had been a success there would have been little incentive to maintain the delicate truce between the Klingon Empire and Federation. This could have led to a period of renewed hostilies and even eventual war.

No matter the historical signifcance of the incident, the loss of the Enterprise-C also cast a questionable light on the success of the Ambassador-class program. The Enterprise was, by all subsequent accounts, far more maneuverable than her Romulan counterparts. Klingon intelligence indicated the Enterprise was outnumbered six to one, but tactical simulation indicated the Enterprise should have been able to survive the assault. Starfleet review boards were unable to concretely assign blame, but this and other factors would later ensure Starfleet's previous determination that the Ambassador-class production run would be brief, and Enterprise-C would be among the last of her class constructed in favor of more reliable, relatively inexpensive ships such as the Excelsior class. By that time, Starfleet had already begun initial design work on the Galaxy class, a larger and better replacement for the Ambassador class. Starfleet had already realized, however, that while it had been forced to decommission their dreadnoughts and battleships, a multi-role Explorer-type ship such as the Ambassador could easily double as a battleship, while still having something useful to do in peacetime.

Chapter Nine - End of the Line

By 2347, the conflict with the Cardassians seemed to be coming to a breaking point. Cardassia had come to suspect the Federation's colonization efforts along their borders. While the Federation's motives were largely peaceful, the Cardassians believed that the colonies were attempting to secure the Cardassians' planetary claims for the Federation. Bad intelligence on the Cardassians' part indicated that a secret base had been established by Starfleet on Setlik III for the purpose of a strike deep into Cardassian territory. However, no such base existed. Nonetheless, the Cardassians dispatched a strike force to the planet to destroy the base. In the initial assault, over 100 civilians were killed. The colony's distress calls were soon received by Starfleet ships in the area, and the U.S.S. Rutledge was first on the scene. Her away teams were instrumental in saving the lives of the remaining Setlik colonists, and with the arrival of another half-dozen Starfleet ships soon after, the Cardassians were driven off.

The events of the following weeks were the first of what historians commonly refer to as the Federation-Cardassian Border Wars. The Border Wars were not one prolonged campaign, but instead a series of isolated battles and skirmishes fought between 2347 and 2370. While there were, during some parts of the Border Wars, open declarations by the Cardassians, they never descended into full-scale war. Nonetheless, both Starfleet and the Cardassian Central Command feared that this would be the result, and spread across the entire quadrant. Due to this, and combined with mixed feelings about producing more Ambassador class ships, between 2345 and 2350 Starfleet began fast-paced continual production on Excelsior-class ships that lasted for five full years before ending, ultimately replacing every heavy cruiser it had previously decommissioned as part of the Klingon concessions. After running out the cycle to construct sufficient 'spare parts' to repair the members of the class, Starfleet discontinued further production on the class as scheduled. As a result, many Excelsior-class ships that remained in service into the second half of the 24th century had registry numbers in the NCC-40000 range. The full-scale war predicted by Starfleet would ultimately not occur until the Dominion War of the 2370s.

In 2357, another milestone in Starfleet shipbuilding was achieved: the launch of the U.S.S. Galaxy. Though the Ambassador class had only augmented the Excelsior class and her contemporaries, the Galaxy class was expressly meant to supplant most of their primary exploratory roles. Galaxy class ships were the largest, most ambitious ships ever launched. The longevity of the Excelsior class inspired Starfleet engineers to design the Galaxy class with a 100 year service career in mind. Their amenities were impressive by any standard, and they possessed the longest range and most varied capabilities of any Starfleet ship ever launched. With the launch of these and other new ships over the next decade, Excelsior class ships would begin to take a backseat in some key mission roles. A few remained deployed on long range exploratory missions, such as the illustrious U.S.S. Repulse, one of the first Excelsiors commissioned in the 2290s. Most of the others would be assigned exploratory, research, and patrol duties inside the boundaries of Federation space.

Still, the last Excelsior class ship had not been launched. In 2357, even as Galaxy left drydock, design work began on a refit for the Excelsior class designed to prolong their service lifetime. A combination of new components and older components kept in fleet yards for repairs on Excelsior class ships were used to build and launch the U.S.S. Melbourne. The ship had originally been ordered as a Nebula-class ship, but the registry was re-purposed for naming of the Excelsior prototype. The Melbourne would become the pattern for all refits on the Excelsior class through the 2360s, but herself would be lost at the Battle of Wolf 359 to the Borg in 2367. Also in 2357, the Excelsior underwent a refit to Melbourne specifications and, due to her age and historic status, would no longer be assigned long range missions outside the safety of the Federation sphere.

First contact with the Borg by the U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-D, in 2366 was another event that would radically change the climate of Starfleet shipbuilding. When the Enterprise was flung into the path of a Borg cube by the being known as Q, Starfleet discovered that it was completely unprepared for a threat that, before this encounter, it didn't even know existed. The Borg were completely incompatible with the Federation mindset; they are a foe that was for all intents and purposes a force of nature with which there could be no hope of negotiation or coexistence, only survival. Although Starfleet began a program to prepare the fleet to defeat the Borg threat, including the development of several starship classes specifically for that task, Starfleet was unprepared when the Borg did attack in 2367. Starfleet's loss of a task force of ships (including four older Excelsiors, plus the state of the art Melbourne) at the Battle of Wolf 359 that year later drove home the point. Indeed, the Borg were only defeated by a series of fortunate coincidences. The Galaxy class had finally proven that building dual-purpose, equally capable exploratory/warships was the most efficient method, and Starfleet began an urgent program to upgrade the tactical abilities of the entire fleet. Among the goals of this program was a directive to investigate the upgradeability of the tactical systems of existing ships, as well as the development of new more combat-oriented starships. As refits were completed on the members of the aging Excelsior class, Starfleet began investigating options for upgrading their tactical abilities.

Discovery of the Bajoran wormhole to the Gamma Qudrant and subsequent contact with the Dominion renewed Starfleet's urgent need for tactical upgrades to the fleet. In 2371, the U.S.S. Lakota, NCC-42769, put into drydock to be upgraded with experimental tactical systems developed originally to combat the Borg threat, including quantum torpedoes and ablative hull armor. Lakota was one of the ships originally produced during the 2345-2350 continual production of the Excelsior class, and was of the same variant type as the Enterprise-B. When the refit was complete one year later, Lakota was misused in an attempted Starfleet coup to try to intercept the U.S.S. Defiant before she could reach Earth. The ensuing battle was illustrative of the success of Lakota's refit. While the ship performed admirably against the Defiant (a ship built almost exclusively for combat), she ultimately lost. In the aftermath, Starfleet decided it was simpler to only give Excelsior class ships minimal upgrades while producing newer, more well-armed ships such as those of the Defiant class. Still, Excelsior class ships would be instrumental in the coming war with the Dominion.

Not long after, a 133 year old Hikaru Sulu died in his residence in San Francisco on Earth of complications resulting from a recent illness. In his honor, the Excelsior was pulled from deep space service and reassigned to the contingent of ships permanently stationed in the Sol System to guard Earth. Sulu was given a full state funeral with honors, and the Federation observed a day of mourning for his death. It is ironic that the death of Sulu would ensure the life of Excelsior; prior to Sulu's death the ship remained stationed along Cardassian space, and would likely have fallen victim to one of the early aggressive Dominion offensives after the onset of the Dominion War in late 2373.
"If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross; but it's not for the timid." - Q

Last edited by Praetor; April 9 2009 at 06:12 PM.
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