Truth OR Myth – Starfleet Starships – The Joseph Designs

Hello and welcome to Truth OR Myth, a Star Trek web series that takes a look at the truth or canon to dispel myths that have propped up over the years on any given topic. Today we’re actually going to dive outside of canon for a bit and take a look at the starship classes designed by Franz Joseph for the Starfleet Technical Manual.

Though not canon, Star Trek fans have no shortage of reference material for their favourite show. And today, we look at some of my favourite non-canon starship designs.

I hope you enjoy…

When I was a kid and ran across Star Trek, the Original Series, of course, I was mesmerized.  I loved the way it sparked my imagination and immediately wanted to devour any information I could about it.

Heading down to the public library, yes, this was before the internet as we know it today, and borrowed 2 Star Trek books. One, The Star Trek Compendium, original edition hardcover that I would buy years later at the library’s garage sale, and two the Starfleet Technical Manual by Franz Joseph.

This Manual was filled with Original Series info.  Everything from Uniforms to the internal workings of the bridge consoles, this manual even had the articles of the Federation.  I read that thing from cover to cover over and over again.  And a few years later I would end up buying my own copy, the copy I’m using today actually.

You see, as I’ve often said, I love the original series…  But that being said, there is a SERIOUS lack of starship classes shown in it.  In fact, the original run showed basically none.  We saw a few other Constitution Classes but that was it.

Even my child brain knew there MUST be more classes to Starfleet then just the constitution class and for me, this Tech Manual filled in all those voids rather nicely.

Franz Joseph was able to take the design of Constitution Class and create a bunch of new classes that meld seamlessly in the Star Trek universe.  So seamlessly actually that many of the Star Trek movies and even Star Trek Discovery would use the manual as a reference and as such, would make much about what is in this work of fiction canon.

So now we’ll dive into each of the separate classes and the information provided about each…

(CBS) The Constitution Class – NCC 1701 U.S.S. Enterprise

The Constitution Class

Okay so this one isn’t his, obviously, but it was the class that Joseph started from.  What is something interesting of note is that it was Joseph who decided what size the Enterprise and the Constitution Class was.  And the information provided about the class in his manual would become canon when it was used on a screen graphic in season 2 of Discovery.

Contrary to popular belief by Discovery Haters, the Constitution Class is 288.6 Meters long with a width of 127.1 meters.  The standard ships compliment for this class was 43 Command Level Officers and 387 Crewmen.  These numbers, of course, fluctuating depending on mission-specific requirements like transport duty.

Classified as a heavy cruiser, this class had a maximum safe cruising speed of warp factor 6, with an emergency speed of warp factor 8.

Tactically, it was equipped with 3 phaser banks, each included 2 emitters and 2 photon torpedo launchers.

One last interesting little tidbit in here is that it says the class itself had 18 years of service before it needed to be refit or decommissioned altogether. 

On the back of the classes, page is a listing of all the starships of the class commissioned by Starfleet, including their registries, and let me tell you, there are a lot…

(CBS) The Saladin Class

The Saladin Class

Going against Roddenberry’s golden rule of always even numbers of nacelles on a ship, the Saladin Class would basically be a saucer section which contacted via a neck to a single warp nacelle.

The Saladin Class is 242.5 Meters long with a width of 127.1 meters.  The standard ships compliment for this class was 20 Command Level Officers and 180 Crewmen. 

Classified as a destroyer, this class had a maximum safe cruising speed of warp factor 6, with an emergency speed of warp factor 8.

Tactically, it was equipped with 3 phaser banks, each included 2 emitters and 2 photon torpedo launchers.

This class had a lifespan of 9 years before it needed to be put in for refit or decommission.

It should be noted that this class is canon, though the information about it is not.  If you look closely in Star Trek 2 and Star Trek 3, you can actually see this class on display monitors being loops on consoles on the bridge.

(CBS) The Hermes Class

The Hermes Class

Virtually identical in look and shape to that of the Saladin Class, the Hermes Class was classified as a scout vessel.

This Class is also 242.5 meters long with a width of 127.1 meters.  But The standard ships compliment for this class was 20 Command Level Officers and 175 Crewmen as opposed to the Saladins 180 Crewman.  I’m not sure what the extra 5 officers did on the Saladin, but I’m sure it was important to that classes mission profile. 

Having a maximum safe cruising speed of warp factor 6, with an emergency speed of warp factor 8, Tactically, this class was less equipped than its virtual twin, having only 1 phaser bank, with 2 emitters, and no photon torpedo launchers.

This class also had a lifespan of 9 years before it needed to be put in for refit or decommission.

Basically this class was Josephs version of a pure science vessel, never really intending it to go in to combat at all.  And once again, this class is canon, as it also is seen in the early Star Trek movies scrolling past the audience on bridge displays, but the information for it is not…

(CBS) The Ptolemy Class

The Ptolemy Class

This is a class I’ve always found very interesting.  In a lot of ways, it looks like the Miranda Class but since it’s classified as a transport/ tug vessel it serves a unique function.

Having a tow pad at the bottom of its neck, allows this ship to connect transport containers to its hull.  These containers than would be hauled around to their various destination. 

The containers come in a variety of designs. 1 for products, like machine parts or clothing or other smaller cargo. 1 for refrigerated good. 1 for Dry Bulk Products like Quadrotriticale , which would be stored in large vertical bins. 1 for liquids, again stored in special cube bins. And lastly 1 for personnel transport.

I guess what I’ve always loved about this design is that it makes sense.  Starfleet is constantly having to freight around supplies to colonies and trading with other worlds.  So a ship dedicated to this function just hits all the right notes for me.  it’s basically a cargo vessel and a towing vessel makes sense.

This Class, without the pod,  is 222 Meters long with a width of 127.1 meters.  it’s standard ships compliment was 22 Command Level Officers and 198 Crewmen.

Again Having a maximum safe cruising speed of warp factor 6, with an emergency speed of warp factor 8, Tactically, this class was equipped with 2 phaser banks, with 2 emitters each, and no photon torpedo launchers.

This class also had a lifespan of 9 years before it needed to be put in for refit or decommission.

Though officially this class is not canon, when I was watching Star Trek Discovery’s season 2 episode 1, I noticed near the end a bunch of blurry ships looking like they are towing the Enterprise.  It may, in fact, be this class of ship, though currently that can not be confirmed.  And to add to that while analyzing frame by frame bridge panel readouts from the early Star Trek Movie the class CAN be seen for a split second, this class may indeed be canon, though the information on it would not be…

(CBS) The Federation Class

The Federation Class

What never made sense to me was the lack of visual evidence that Starfleet had dedicated warships.  Now I know it’s a peaceful organization, but they have to be able to protect their space and their citizens from say giant amoebas.  Yet all the visual evidence in canon we have seems to suggest is that the heavy cruiser is as far as they go.

But Joseph thought the same way I did and created the Federation Class.  Classified as a Dreadnought, this class was designed by Starfleet to be a fast and powerful class of starship.

Having 3 warp nacelles, this class had a standard safe cruising speed of warp factor 8 and an emergency speed of warp factor 10. This class stood at 320 meters in length, with a width of 140 meters.  Standard crew complement was 55 Command Officers and 445 Crewmen. Tactically, this class was equipped with 5 phaser banks, with 2 emitters, and 2 photon torpedo launchers.

A few interesting components of this design was the inclusion of a shuttlebay in the front of the ship just above a smaller deflector dish, a second deflector dish at the rear of the secondary hull and a serious lack of windows.  And to me that all makes sense.

I would theorize that its hull was probably somehow reinforced or had the TOS version of ablative hull armour.  And the lack of windows would make the starship even more structurally sound. As to whether this design is canon or not is somewhat up for debate.  You see “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” used Joseph’s Technical Manual as a reference through out the film.  During the first seen with Comm Station Epsilon name the starships named, and registry numbers given for the different ships are right out the Manual.

In most releases of TMP though, much of the underlying dialogue is simply muffled and can not be heard… However, on my laser disc version of the movie, it can be and one line, in particular, may lend credence to this class actually being canon.  In the movie there is a Starfleet Officer calling in from the Dreadnought U.S.S. Entente NCC-2120, another direct reference that we as fans can cling on to…  See if you can hear it…

So those are all of Franz Josephs designs.  I love them all.  I would be remiss though if I didn’t mention another design often attributed to him to which he had nothing to do with at all, and that is the TOS Style Miranda Class.

(CBS) TOS Miranda Variant

The Miranda Class

It would be interesting to have that class as well, as a light cruiser, but for me, it doesn’t really matter, either way, in fact, I kind of prefer it that the Miranda Class was a Starfleet design just before, or after, the TMP refit Constitution Class design.  Perhaps even a brand new design they were using to test the new TMNP components before refitting a Constitution Class.

And although the Reliant registry number shows up in Commodore Stones chart of ships being repaired at Starbase 11, there simply is no way of knowing if that is the or if it’s of the Miranda Class design, let alone a class in the TOS Connie style.

It’s amazing how much we as fans hunger for Star Trek starship designs.  I’ve discussed and debated different ones with you, my valued audience.  And although this is an unusual departure from my Canon ONLY stance, I thought you’d all enjoy learning a little bit about MY headcanon…

Thank you for watching today’s episode of Truth OR Myth. 

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Thanks again for watching, live long and prosper…

Watch episode 93