Hello and welcome to another episode of Truth OR Myth, a Star Trek web series that normally looks at the Truth, or canon, information to dispel the myths that have surfaced on a given topic. Due to the successes of my previous Beta Canon starship videos, today’s episode will be a bit different as we’re taking a look at the Centaur Class of Starfleet Starships.
With a bold new future on their horizons, Starfleet Command would look to the future of Starship Designs in order to create starship classes to herald in this new era for the fleet. And one of these classes introduced during this time would initially be seen as mostly a failure until 75 years later with breakthroughs in technology that would prove this class, the Centaur Class, a Huge Success during the Dominion War…
There isn’t a lot of information available of this class, so what I’ve done is thoroughly researched the Class through Beta Canon and filled in some of the gaps with my imagination, all to give you good “Tri-naries” a little bit to chew on about this fantastic class.
As a result, though, most information in the video 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 us begin.
Starfleet Command and the United Federation of Planets were entering a new Era of Exploration and it’s own History.
The long peace treaty negotiations with the Klingon Empire had begun, while relations with the Romulan Star Empire were stable, and showed no real sign of deterioration. And so Starfleet decided it was time for a facelift in its starship designs to represent the bright future it had been predicting.
In the 2280s Starfleet had experimented with a new Starship Class known as the Excelsior Class. And by 2393 this class was proving itself out in deep space all over the Federation.
The Excelsior Class had been a radical departure from the look of the Constitution refit, Miranda and Constellation Class developed at that time, and the class itself seemed to have held all the hopes for the future classes within Starfleet itself. And so, it was no surprise that Starfleet Command would order it’s Core of Starship Designers to focus on the Excelsior Class for designs cues when coming up with new starship designs for consideration.
One of the most versatile and breakthrough designs of the Constitution Refit Era had been that of the Miranda Class. Considered a light cruiser, the Miranda Class consisted of a saucer section with warp nacelles and a roll bar attached it. Yet this design was more easily constructed than her bigger sister the Constitution Class refit and actually had more internal volume. Using the Miranda Class as a template, Starfleet Design Engineers began to develop an Excelsior Style version of that class named the Centaur Class. Sitting at a length of approximately 382 meters and a width of approximately 320 meters, the Centaur Class would be designed to house approximately 315 Officers and Crew members aboard the ship.
The original starting point for this design was an Excelsior Class Saucer Section with Excelsior Style Nacelles attached to it. The design seemed elegant and sleek enough except the internal space for this class quickly became an issue. The addition of the torpedo launching system as well as main engineering into the hull meant there wasn’t enough space for all the crew quarters, science labs, cargo bays and recreational facilities required by Starfleet to be onboard a vessel which was intended to be in deep space perhaps years at a time. And so the designers immediately added a box-like section to the back of the saucer similar to that of the Miranda Class. But this addition proved unpopular as it immediately negated the sleekness of the original design.
Heading back to the drawing board, the Design Engineers removed the box and instead replaced it with a roll bar again similar to the Miranda Class. This also proved unpopular as although not effecting the sleekness of the design as much as the addition of the box did, it still did have an effect on it. This problem would be fixed almost immediately when one of the design engineers suggested moving the weapons pod and roll bar connections to the underside of the design. A decision that allowed the vessel to maintain it’s sleek aesthetic while at the same time removing the need for the torpedo launchers to be installed within the primary hull.
Another problem was that due to the saucers configuration there was really no room for shuttlebay. Originally this problem was solved by having shuttlebays similar to the NX Class on the underside of the saucer on both the port and starboard side of the class. Again, however, this took up far too Space within the design and after experimenting with the placement of the shuttlebays and even having only one shuttle bay at the front of the underside of the Saucer, the design Engineers completely abandoned the idea of including one at all, that is until Starfleet Command demanded they find a way to include one.
Heading back to the drawing board, the designers tweaked and changed the internal configuration of the starship, and yet were never pleased and were never able to come up with a way to include any shuttlebays within the existing primary hull. So thinking outside the box, the design engineers merely added it atop the primary hull giving it a move angular presence, in front of the bridge module, which in turn provided extra protection for this classes bridge. And Starfleet was pleased with this configuration.
With the launch of Starfleet Newest Flagship the Enterprise B, which herself had seen various design changes to the external hull of the Excelsior Class to accommodate new technologies, Starfleet Command also insisted that all these new technologies must be included in the Centaur Class design, and so they were… However once again proving problematic for the internal volume of the vessel class.
The U.S.S. Centaur itself completed construction in 2295 and immediately began her shakedown cruise, but like most starship classes had its share of problems from the outset. Many settling in adjustments had to be completed over the space of 8 months before the class was deemed space worthy and put into production with an order by Starfleet for an initial 24 vessels. Like the 12 Original Constitution Classes ordered and built in the mid 23rd Century, these 24 vessels were constructed in hopes of testing this classes endurance, then after, a full order would be placed and the Miranda Class would be slowly phased out as a result. Of course, this didn’t happen.
As what often happens with a bureaucratic mentality, Starfleet took more than a decade in testing out this new design, while at the same time, the Miranda Class received periodic updates which kept her in line with starship classes of the time. This meant that at the end of it’s testing phase, Starfleet declined to build more of class, feeling it was more economically beneficial to merely keep the large Miranda and Excelsior Classes as their ships of the line, updating them every decade or so rather than spending the resources on yet another class of starship. Also, during the early part of the 24th Century, Starfleet had put more focus on computer and computer component development, a decision that would eventually lead to the isolinear breakthrough, and so Starfleet Command was leery of producing brand new starship until there was something new to warrant a new design.
By the time of the Isolinear Breakthrough, the Centaur Class was over 30 years old and Starfleet, In turn, looking for a brand new class to herald in this technology. And so by 2350 most of the Centaur Class starships that had been commissioned were decommissioned and placed in Starfleet shipyard ready to be forgotten with all the other dead hulk starships. Flash forward to the year 2366, when an attack by the Borg Collective at Wolf 359 by a single Borg Cube and that Cube would have most certainly assimilated Earth and the Federation had it not been for a lucky break by the Federation Flagship U.S.S. Enterprise D, Starfleet began running scared, realizing just how unprepared they were for future encounters with the Collective.
As a result, Starfleet began pouring resources into developing new starship designs and technologies to combat this threat. Starship engineers would work tirelessly to achieve the goals set by Starfleet Command, and classes such as the defiant, Intrepid, Prometheus and Sovereign classes would be developed much to the elation of Starfleet Command.
However, some Starfleet design engineers were tasked with the more cost-effective job of looking at existing Starfleet Starship Designs and updating them to conform with the latest technologies and expectations of Starfleet. One of the major technological breakthroughs at this time were smaller more efficient warp cores that we’re able to produce far more power then even a Galaxy Classes warp core could at the time.
Commander Benjamin Sisko, who was in charge of the Defiant Class project wanted to utilize this breakthrough in his new starship class, and so Starfleet Command granted Sisko permission to construct and install this new warp core in any starship currently in their decommission shipyards as it was their view that they couldn’t afford to recall even one vessel unnecessarily from federation Space. And so Benjamin Sisko would eventually decide to install the new warp core in a Centaur Class Vessel, the U.S.S. Centaur her self.
Pulled out of mothballs, her technologies were semi updated to give a true test of the warp core and its components and no one really knew what to expect from the class itself. However, during initial testing, it blew expectations away, performing so well that even Starfleet couldn’t deny the class any longer. Commissioning a full Centaur Class project, the 17 remaining Centaur Class Starships would all be hauled out of mothballs, updated with brand new state of the art technology, this time even with the Bio-neural Technological breakthrough, and sent for trial runs. After very few settling in adjustments were made, Starfleet witnessed first hand the new life that had been to this class, Starfleet ordered the class to enter full production by 2373.
With the rising Dominion threat, the Centaur Class could be easily constructed and deployed should the need arises, and of course, it was, as by 2374 the United Federation of Planets along with the Klingon Empire was at war with the Dominion and the Cardassian Union. During this war, the Centaur Class would time and time again proves it’s worth. And the Captain of the U.S.S. Centaur itself, Captain Charlie Reynolds, would go on to become a hero and somewhat of legends within the Federation thanks to all of his successful engagements with the enemy during this conflict.
After the war, Starfleet would continue production of this class, though at a lesser scale then they had originally intended, preferring to pour more of their resources in too far newer classes that would represent the new aesthetics in starship design that they were going for.
That being said, however, the Centaur Class continues in operation today, valiant representing a different age in Starfleet’s Starship design history but none the less earning it’s place in Starfleet History….
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