Hello and welcome to Truth OR Myth? A Star Trek web series that focuses on canon information or the truth on any given topic to dispel the various myths that have popped up about said topic. In today’s episode, we’re taking a look at the Constellation Class of Starship to better understand it’s place in Star Trek history…
Designed as deep space exploration and defensive patrol duty vessels, the Constellation Class starship pushed the borders of the United Federation of Planets during a time of relative peace in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants.
The Constellation Class entered service for Starfleet in the early 2280s. The first of the class constructed, however, the U.S.S. Constellation had a number of problems however and as a result, remained a test vehicle for this classes technology for at least a decade after it’s launch.
It was approximately 231 meters long, with a width of 135 meters and contained 15 decks.
This class had a standard crew complement of 60 officers and 300 crewmen with an emergency evacuation capacity of 1200 additional people. Though this class could be manned by only 40 officers if necessary. One notable feature of the Constellation-class was that it was one of the few classes in Starfleet with four warp nacelles. This allowed this class to achieve a maximum warp speed of warp factor 9 though it’s standard cruising speed was warp factor 7.
Tactically, this class was outfitted with the standard offences and defences of the time. Having 8 Dual Bank Phaser Emitters and 2 Forward Photon Torpedo Launchers, and one aft. The Constellation Class was considered a powerhouse tactically for its time. Unlike most Starfleet Designs, the Constellation Class had its main shuttlebay at the front of the ship as a part of its saucer. And included 6 more smaller shuttlebays which allowed this class to act as a carrier starship for its fighters if necessary.
This class also contained 2 main impulse reactors to provide more emergency power for this class then seen in previous Starfleet Starship Class designs.
As with Most Starfleet Vessels, the main bridge was located on deck 1 and although the layout of the main bridge of the Constellation class could be described as “standard” in terms of how Federation starship bridges are designed, the Constellation class would receive various upgrades and design changes through out its lifetime.
But at this classes launch the bridge design was pretty standard for the time but more streamlined then had been seen in previous starship classes. The main viewscreen was on the forward bulkhead while the Captain’s chair was located in the Center of the bridge on a middle platform. The upper platform housed the Science, tactical and Engineering stations while the lower platform housed the helm and navigation stations.
After this classes refit redesign, it’s bridge would receive more consoles and monitors as well as having the helm and navigational consoles combined into one station moved on to the mid platform on the captains right, pushing the captain chair slightly off-centre to the left. In this redesign, the Tactical station would also be moved from the upper-level left wall to directly behind the captain helm console area. Access to the bridge was achieved by 2 turbolifts located on the upper platform.
Main Engineering was more compact than in previous starship designs and retained the standard vertical warp core first introduced in the early 2270s, though this warp core was upgraded and updated with Starfleet’s various technological improvements that had been since its introduction.
Most areas aboard the ship also had a more industrial feel than previous designs. Perhaps a favoured interior design element of the times, most chairs, consoles and wall designs would see a metallic grating included to reinforce this industrial design look. Crew accommodations aboard the Constellation class were of typical design associated with whatever Starfleet era the starship being launched belonged to, but was quite spartan and small when compared to other designs of the later 23rd century and future designs of the 24th Century.
Many of this class of Starship would make their mark in Starfleet History. Perhaps the most famous of the Constellation Class starships was that of the U.S.S. Stargazer NCC-2893. It’s Captain, Jean-Luc Picard, would eventually become one of the most famous Captains in Starfleet history being given command of the U.S.S. Enterprise D, the flagship of the Federation.
In 2355, the USS Stargazer would make contact with an alien vessel, one later determined to be of Ferengi design, and Captain Picard would create what would become known as the Picard Maneuver in order to save his starship and destroy his Ferengi attackers.
The Stargazer, which was damaged, suddenly accelerated into high warp directly towards the Ferengi ship. By doing so the Stargazer appeared to the Ferengi ship’s sensors, for an instant, to be in two places at once.
This caused the Ferengi Ship to target and fire on the wrong vessel, and because the Stargazer opened fire as soon as it dropped out of warp, the Ferengi ship had no time to manoeuvre out of the way before the phasers and photon torpedoes hit, and subsequently, the Ferengi ship was destroyed. The USS Stargazer herself was too badly damaged to sustain its crew and so Captain Picard ordered the crew to the escape pods and shuttlecrafts and abandoned the ship.
In 2364 however the Enterprise D, during a meeting with a Ferengi Vessel, was presented with the U.S.S. Stargazer by Damon Bok as an apparent gift and overture to friendly relations between the Ferengi Alliance and the Federation. Unknown at that time was that Bok actually intended to use the Stargazer to achieve his revenge against Captain Jean-Luc Picard who had actually killed Boks son who was captain of the Ferengi Vessel during the Stargazer last mission.
By using a mind-altering device, Bok was able to convince Captain Picard that he was reliving the events of that battle and after re-taking the Stargazer, Picard had intended to Destroy the Enterprise believing it to be the Ferengi Vessel. this plan did not work out however for Bok, as a counter manoeuvre created by Lieutenant Commander Data was able to ensnare the Stargazer during the Picard Maneuver and Bok was placed under arrest by his first officer.
There are still many questions surrounding the Stargazer Incident, however. Such as how the ship itself even survived to be captured by the Ferengi. A General Inquiry and court-martial did, in fact, take place after the Stargazer was originally abandoned but captain Jean-Luc Picard was cleared of any wrongdoing and due to the cleaver manoeuvre he created to outwit the Ferengi, became one of Starfleet’s most heroic Captains of the 24th Century.
Another Constellation Ship of note is that Of the U.S.S. Hathaway NCC-2593. This ship, launched in 2285, had been decommissioned by 2365, when it was pulled from a fleet salvage yard and made operation again to compete in war game manoeuvres with U.S.S. Enterprise – D.
Commanded by Commander Riker of The Enterprise, and crewed by a skeleton crew hand-picked by Riker, the Hathaway prepared itself for combat against the Enterprise D.
However, during the war games, the battle was interrupted by the sudden arrival of a Ferengi Marauder, whose DaiMon believed he had stumbled into a Starfleet internal conflict. Thinking that the Hathaway must be of great value to be fighting against a modern starship like the Enterprise, the Ferengi demanded the Hathaway’s surrender.
The two Starfleet crews then coordinated a ruse to fool the Ferengi, which made it appear as though the Enterprise had destroyed the Hathaway to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. In reality, the Hathaway had merely made a split-second warp jump the instant before the photon torpedoes detonated thanks to Ensign Crusher would have used the Antimatter from a science experiment he was conducting to restore the Hathaways warp capability, though for only a short time.
With its potential prize destroyed, the Ferengi retreated, and following the exercise, the Hathaway was towed to the nearest starbase. And by 2368, the USS Hathaway had been fully restored and refit and participated in Captain Picard’s Blockade of the Klingon-Romulan Border during the Klingon Civil War.
Other vessels of this class also remained in service until at least the early part of the 2370s such as the U.S.S. Victory NCC-9754, though by that time most of these vessels were relegated to simple transport duties or cargo runs throughout the core of the Federation.
But when the Dominion War broke out in 2373, some of this class were again updated and refit with more current technology and sent into battle against the Dominion and its Cardassian allies. In fact, the aforementioned U.S.S. Victory reported numerous casualties to Starfleet Command in 2374.
The U.S.S. Constellation NX-1974 itself, the namesake of the class, was still undergoing shakedown certification at starbase 24 in 2293. When Captain Kirk and Dr McCoy were taken prisoner by the Klingon Empire after the death of their Chancellor Gorkon.
Subsequently, the U.S.S. Constellation was included by Starfleet in a reject plan to retrieve the officers known as Operation Retrieve.
Though this class had an up-down career in Starfleet, it’s importance can not be overstated. Part of a new design of Starships to further the frontiers of the United Federation of Planets, this class served Starfleets Later 23rd Century and early 24th century with distinction and valour…
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