Hello and welcome to Truth OR Myth, a Star Trek web series that looks at the Truth, or canon, information to dispel the myths that have surfaced on a given topic. In today’s episode, we’re taking a look at the California Class of Starfleet Starships, in an effort to better understand this design and its place in Star Trek history.
As Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets entered the 2360s, they quickly realized they needed a starship design which could handle ALL of the Federation’s Secondary Mission requirements. And out of this necessity, the California Class would be born…
Normally, when I make these Alpha Canon videos, I have decades of knowledge and reveals to work from, this Class, however, is different, as all I have is the information contained and analyzed from 1 season of the show.
So first off, though the information here is Canon, like all Star Trek Canon from its early seasons of any series, could be subject to change, in future seasons, so bear that in mind. Also, if you haven’t yet seen Star Trek: Lower Decks, then you should know that this video could and will include spoilers, so you have been warned.
And so, with all that out of the way, i present to you The California Class, I hope you enjoy…
The California Classes design history starts in the early 2360s, and because it was designed in this period of Starfleet development, the class itself takes many of its design cues from Starfleet Galaxy Class of Starships.
Realizing that they needed a starship design to accomplish all the secondary tasks of the Federation, such as the second contact with various species, Starfleet set it’s Core of Engineers Division the task of coming up with a utility design, that could be easily constructed, maintained and updated, yet had a similar design aesthetic to Starfleet’s Current classes of starships.
And so the California Class was born.
The saucer Section itself would contain 11 decks, and among the noted shipboard facilities, would also include an area known as Cetacean operations. While designing the class, Starfleet’s Core of Engineers realized that no one design could fill all of Starfleet’s requirements they had set upon the design team, and so 3 separate variant designs were created. And to distinguish these 3 variants from each other, the unprecedented decision was made to have each variants hull sport a 1 of 3 different divisions colors.
The variant with the red hull colours would be designed and set the task of making diplomatic and secondary contact with different species that Starfleet Primary exploration vessels had encountered and generally ferrying around diplomats and ambassadors to set up an office and help a species with federation policies and procedures.
The Yellow hull coloured variant would be sent on Engineering missions such as assisting newly contacted species with setting up communications arrays and networks to allow for contact with the United Federation of Planets and also assisting in any planet or space side engineering emergency that could occur with equipment or technology.
And the Blue hull variant design would be sent on any medical missions, where more medical expertise, such as helping to cure diseases, introducing new medical procedures to a planet or even helping to set up new medical facilities could be required.
As previously stated, the design aesthetics of the class follows a Galaxy Class Era of design, though Starfleet’s core of Engineers based the design of the California Class on the Miranda Class of Starships, in an attempt to copy the long-lived success of that class for Starfleet, and the succeeds.
A big difference with this class, unlike most other classes, was the division of the Primary and Secondary Hull, similar to the Oberth class.
To reach the Engineering section, which also included Deflector Control, a turbolift shaft was added traversing both warp nacelle pylons, that then continued through the nacelles themselves atop the warp coils which eventually converged in the engineering secondary hull. In the case of an emergency, a crew member could also set up a site to site transport to engineering, though this would only be done in very rare instances.
The main bridge, unlike most Federation Starships, was housed on deck 2 and shared many similarities with its Galaxy Class counterparts while at the same time being a departure from standard Starfleet Bridges of the time. Though the bridge was still split into the 3 separate sections the regular oval or circular design of most bridges was dropped in favour of a more rectangular one. This had the effect of allowing the bridge to occupy less space within the starship itself, being a more compact design. The upper level of the bridge consisted of 4 work stations.
First was the tactical station which faced the main viewscreen and was situated behind the Command Chairs similar, once again to the design of the Galaxy Class.
Across the aft, wall were 3 stations, Engineering II, Mission Operations and Environment. These stations, however, were much larger than their Galaxy Class counterparts to allow for better control over the starship’s systems.
The Command area housed 3 Command Chairs. The Captain or Current Duty Commanding Officer occupied the centre chair, while the first officer sat in the chair to the Captains right. The left Chair would be occupied by whatever mission-specific officer was required to be on the bridge.
The Captains Chair also contained the standard arm panels seen on most other Federation starships, while the other 2 chairs had no panels or consoles. Also in this area was a Systems panel above the ramp that leads to the command area and 2 other stations. The science station on the Captains left and the primary Engineering station on the Captains right.
The last Area, the Forward Area, housed the Conn and Operations Stations, the Main ViewScreen and 2 other work stations, one on either side of the bridge.
Another difference between the California Class bridge design and that of the Galaxy Class Bridge design was in the color palette used for the bridge itself. Where the Galaxy Class tended to use a warm earth tones palette, the California Class opted for a more stark industrial look similar to that of the Intrepid Class of Starfleet Starships. Also due to the nature of this classes mission profiles, the crew serving on any of these starships would be required to wear a utility version of a Starfleet uniform, specifically designed for these types of classes.
The uniform was reminiscent of the Starfleet’s Main Uniform design circa 2366, though a white strip of fabric would be added between the shoulder black area and the working division color. Also this uniform would be of a flap jacket style, similar to the red jacket uniforms first used in the early 2280’s.
The Captains Ready Room was also on deck 2, connected to the main bridge like most Federation Starships. And contained a desk, a large window, and various shelves for the Captain of the ship to display various treasured items to personalize this space.
The California Class contained 3 Shuttlebays. 2 of these shuttle bays were in the aft section of the primary hull on Spanning Decks 5 and 6. While an addition 3rd shuttle bay was located in the aft section of the secondary hull.
The California Class also carried several different shuttlecraft types Including type 6, Type 8 and the new Argo Style Shuttlecrafts with its ground craft addition. This class also contained a Captain’s Yacht. Sickbay was located on deck 8 and continued Starfleet’s Tradition of being the most advanced medical facility available within the federation for the time. And due to this classes wide range of mission expectations, Sickbays aboard the California Class would be much larger than those contained in normal Starfleet Starships of the time. The standard Starfleet Transporter rooms were also located on Deck 8.
Located in the Secondary Hull, Main Engineering was an expansive complex similar to what would become standard in the Sovereign Class. The new style warp core in the class also contained inverted plasma distributors as well as a newly designed Dilithium Disbursement Manifold.
Several work and repair bays were also located through out the starship class along with various standard Cargobays.
Crew accommodations aboard the California Class were pretty standard for the time, with Junior and Senior officers receiving their own quarters. While what was nicknamed lower decks crew members would be bunked barrack style in bunk bed compartments which lined the walls in a shared living space in the lower aft portion of the saucer section.
This area would affectionately become known as a residential hallway, and in order to make the residing crew members feel less confined would also featured large aft-facing windows overlooking the secondary hull.
The California Class would also include several recreation facilities for the crew. These included Holodecks, squash courts, Mess Halls and a large bar where crew members could socialize during their off duty hours.
Due to the nature of this Classes mission profile, the California Class would also be equipped with the standard complement of defensive and offensive systems. These included Phaser Arrays, Photon torpedo launchers as well as Standard Shields.
This class had a standard cruising speed of Warp factor 7, but could also reach the extreme speeds of warp factor 9.6 like their Galaxy Class counterparts, though these speeds were not recommended.
And due to its design, the California Class could be easily repaired and refit for whatever missions it would be sent on. And this was an excellent choice on Starfleet’s part, as the California Class tended to be lost, destroyed or badly damaged more than most other classes of the time. And this in itself was directly due to the nature of its mission profile.
Though retaining a design aesthetics of the pre-Borg Wolf 359 encounter, the California Class would prove herself an excellent addition to Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets.
So much so, that as Starfleet began switching its designs to the more arrowhead sleek designs of the later 24th century, this class would continue to be built as is and would be one of the most valuable workhorse designs ever created by Starfleet. Earning its place, in Starfleet History…
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