Hello and welcome to another episode of Truth OR Myth Beta Canon, a Star Trek web series that dives into the history of any given topic using Beta Canon sources and my own imagination to fill in the gaps, and create a cogent narrative. In today’s episode, we’re taking a look at the Columbia Class of Starfleet Starships, in effort to better understand it’s place in the Star Trek Beta Universe.
With Starfleets back against the wall thanks to the Federation Council, and seemingly no solution to their paradox, help would come from an expected source which would lead directly to the revival of an old class of Starship repurposed into what would be known as the Columbia Class.
Because this IS a Beta Canon video, all information relaid should pretty much be taken with a grain of stardust, and only considered a little bit of Star Trek Fun! And so, with all that out of the way, let’s begin.
By the year 2275, The Constitution, Miranda and Oberth Classes had all been seen as huge successes for Starfleet Command, at least in the general public’s eyes, for the Federation Council, however, the situation was a bit different. On paper, Starfleet’s plan to update and upgrade its technology and look through out the Galaxy seemed a logical one.
The Refit Enterprise’s historical mission to save Earth from the Cloud Entity known as V’ger, had shown that the resources devoted to refitting that particular starship had been justified. And the various missions the Enterprise had undertaken since it’s Shakedown had continually proved that designs worth time and time again. But what the public didn’t know about the refit and state of the Federation at the time would cause an endless series of problems for Starfleet.
First, though successful, the refit of the enterprise had proven a length and overly intensive process to complete. Considering a starship of that class could be constructed from the ground up in a little over half the time it took to Refit the Enterprise, Starfleet Command made the decision not to refit any other Constitution Class starships, rather replacing them with newly constructed ones. The second, much larger problem, was the Federations dwindling resources.
The switch from Durotanium hull plating to a Tritanium one had been a part of the success of the new Enterprise, and moving forward, Starfleet would decide all its ships to be constructed of the Tritanium plating as it was far stronger and could absorb much more weapons energy then it’s Durotanium counterpart, but to make Tritanium plating took Tritanium ore, a substance at this point, not regularly found in the Federation. Tritanium was also a hard substance to mine, and a hard substance to convert to hull plating after mining had been complete, that Starfleet’s shipyards were constantly running out of the substance while building the starship designs they already had.
So to add yet another design requiring this material, could seriously hamper Starfleets efforts to build up the fleet.
Never the less, early in 2275, Starfleet Command presented the Federation Council with 6 other starship designs for approval, and were shocked when all 6 designs were rejected.
You see, the Federation Council had their own issues to deal with. Having two Klingon Wars in as many decades, the resurgence of the Romulan Star Empire, frequent and devastating encounters with the Orion Syndicate, the Tholian Assembly seemingly everywhere watching the Federation and even the Tzenkethi. always seemed ready to go to war, several Federation member worlds were not willing to commit valuable resources on Starfleets flight of fancy starship designs.
Many member worlds had not forgotten the introduction of the Atlas Class prior to the refit Constitution Class design. The Atlas class had been very resource-intensive, and Starfleet had promised the Vulcan Moon in regards to what this class would be able to achieve in both strength and speed, of course, though, the Atlas class was a complete failure, being only slightly better than its Pre Refit Constitution Class Sisters. In a move that surprised the entire council, the Andorian and Tellarite delegations flat out refused to even consider Starfleets new designs, and when Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan added his voice to theirs, Starfleet knew it had a big problem.
Listening to the concerns of the delegates, Starfleet Commander and Chief could do nothing but nod her head and smile, while at the same time realizing the catch 22 position the Council had put Starfleet in.
The member worlds wanted Starfleet to upgrade and make protect them, yet at the same time was not willing to give Starfleet the resources it required to do so.
Heated exchanges between Starfleet and member world delegations erupted, as well is intense debates between the member worlds themselves, until eventually the vote was taken and Starfleet was sent back to the drawing board to come up with new designs that would basically take no resources to create, an impossible task that left Starfleet deflated.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, the Daystrom Institute was having it’s own rather large problem.
Thanks to the the M5 incident, the Institute had fallen into disrepute, having lost the trust they had built up with Starfleet over the years. Dr Richard Daystrom, who the Institute was named after, had had a complete mental breakdown, and although rehabilitated and exonerated of any direct wrongdoing in the M5 debacle, was still not seen as a great leader to STILL be in charge on the Institute, interim Institute president Dr Talean Brahms even attempted to remove the medical left Daystrom from his position and change the name of the institute to show Starfleet it was heading in a new direction.
Thankfully, however, the attempt failed due to Daystrom’s support in the Institute’s board. And once he was declared medically fit, Daystrom returned to his duties at the institute determined to pick up the pieces left in the wake of his M5 Failure. It was at this time that Starfleet Vice Commander and Chief Robert April, who would stop by the Institute to see his old friend and offer up some encouragement, would inadvertently tell Daystrom about Starfleets design problems, getting Daystrom’s brilliant mind flowing on the issue.
Going through the resource and Atlas Class problems brought up by the member worlds, April didn’t expect much from Daystrom. But then Daystrom asked a simple question that caught April off guard, that question being, “Why did the Vulcans not approve these new starships designs?” It was a question no one had bothered to ask. And so April agreed to set up a meeting with Ambassador Sarek to discuss the matter with Daystrom.
When the 2 men met with the Vulcan, he assured them that the starship designs were both logical and impressive designs, prompting Daystrom to ask why Sarek had voted against them then. Put simply, Vulcans new High Commander had instituted several environmental reforms for their colonies and the homeworld. Vulcan had always been relatively environmentally friendly, but these reforms went beyond their land to encompass the star systems themselves.
They began a program of dismantling their starships and recycling them into various new designs, and this proved quite popular with the Vulcan people, and so, noticing Starfleet had a huge amount of filled starship decommission yards, Vulcan High Command felt that Starfleet should follow their lead. On the surface, this was a great idea but ultimately proved quite impossible for Starfleet.
First, all the starships that had been decommissioned were constructed of Durotanium plating, making their hulls useless to Starfleet for use in their new designs. Second, Starfleet simply didn’t have the man power to disassemble all these starships. Going back to the Institute, Daystrom decided that the institute would solve the problem for Starfleet and in that process hopefully re-affirm their faith that organization.
Sifting through records of all the decommission shipyards, Daystrom came upon one class that peaked his attention, the NX Class refit. This class, had been a refit version of the NX Class which was Starfleets first warp 5 vessel, one thing that caught his eye though was the fact that the NX Class refit had used an unusual reinforced hull material known at the time as Victrium. By combining Durotanium and a Victrium Alloy at the molecular level, while simultaneously increasing the hulls thickness, the NX Class refits hull was virtually as strong as a Tritanium Hull.
At the time, Starfleet had used this new technique to allow the hull to withstand the stresses of this classes duo core system during the Earth/ Romulan War. But with the Birth of the Federation and the combining of technologies, this specific Starfleet development had been virtually forgotten, and not pursued for any other class, and the other thing that caught Daystrom’s eye about this class, was how all the surviving ships were already virtually empty shells, as back when this class was decommissioned, it was standard Starfleet policy to pull out almost everything to be used in setting up Colony and Planetary Defense grids through out the new born Federation, and so Dr Richard Daystrom assembled a team and set them to work on creating an innovative easily refit design of the already created NX Refit Class Hulls, to solve both Starfleet’s and the Federations issues.
But could the Daystrom Institute achieve its goal? Would the Federation accept this new design? Well tune in next week for the exciting conclusion to the Columbia Class, Early Design history, hope to see you then!
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