Hello and Welcome to Truth Or Myth, A Web Series that speaks the truth or “canon,” on any given topic, to dispel all the myths surrounding that topic. In today’s episode, we take a look at the Oberth class of starships and admire the ingenuity and naivety of Starfleet’s Corps of Engineers.
A Starfleet Workhorse, the Oberth Class quickly gained a brilliant reputation within the Milky Way galaxy, and that reputation, was, of course, being one of the worst, most easily destroyed, starships in Starfleet History…
Being named after the German Rocket Pioneer Hermann Oberth, the Oberth Class was designed for a 2 fold purpose. 1- To be an exclusive scientific study starship, having the latest most advanced scanner and sensor technology available. And 2- To be a comfortable, fairly fast civilian and officer transport starship.
Standing at about 120 meters and height at about 25 meters, this class contained 13 decks including the secondary hull. Capable of a standard cruising speed of Warp factor 5 and a maximum of Warp factor 6, the Oberth Class weren’t exactly the fastest ships in the fleet, and later Warp Core technological improvements would see this class begin to be phased out in favour for the newer Nova Class of Starship which could achieve greater speeds at a lesser power cost thanks to its design shape and warp field refinements.
Having only 1 forward phaser bank, some later designs would see an inclusion of both a port and starboard phaser emitter, and a single photon torpedo launcher. The Oberth Classes interior bulkheads were designed with a Victrium alloy to better facilitate it’s shielding and allow this class of ship to withstand gravitational wavefronts.
The Oberth Class was a very atypical design for Federation starships of the time. Utilizing a split primary and secondary hull design, Starfleet Engineers of the time considered this design to break through for Starfleet Starship Lineage. It also contained reinforced engineering pylons to allow, contrary to popular belief, a turbolift system to run from the primary to the secondary hull.
Also atypical of starship designs of the time were the warp nacelle which was actually connected to the primary hull itself rather than connected to the ship via pylons. And like all Starfleet Starships, this class included escape pods which were capable of holding nine personnel a piece in case of an emergency evacuation.
As with most Starfleet starship, the bridge was located on deck 1, and although slightly smaller than standard starship command centres of the time, the bridge still contained all necessary stations to complete a variety of Starfleet’s mission requirements. At the rear of the bridge was a single turbolift, echoing an early design concept in Starfleet History.
By the 24th Century, an emergency hatch was included on the bridge which allowed for access to space in case of an emergency. Engineering was located in the centre of the primary hull. This was to allow the Secondary Hull to be detached and swapped out for various mission profiles and requirements.
The Computer Core for this class was located on Deck 13 within the secondary hull. Crew quarters were the standard configuration for starships of the time, containing a main living area, with an adjacent bedroom and bathroom, and contained all the comfort and amenities any scientist, crew member or passenger could require.
Numerous Scientific facilities were located through out the ship in Science design version of the Oberth Class. The Class itself could be crewed by a minimum of 5 officers and hold a great number of a scientific officer or passengers making this Class an efficient design. And it’s probably for this reason that this class continued to be used for so long. Easily constructed in a short amount of time, Starfleet would see it as a wise investment for missions where defence was unnecessary.
As previously stated at first this design of starship was considered revolutionary. though designed to primarily be a science vessel, relegated to planetary surveys and scientific study of various anomalies, this class would at first be sent out to catalogue and explore anything of scientific interest reported by exploration vessels.
Quickly however it was discovered this class was simply not up to the task of surviving in space. it’s limited ships systems and available power, coupled with its inadequate defensive systems, saw far too many of these ships destroyed or badly damaged through out it’s run.
As a result, Starfleet would update and refine the design, and although this minimized its a tendency for being destroyed, by the 2370s it was decided that this class had served its purpose and a new ship, with superior capabilities, should be designed to replace it. And so the Nova Class was born.
This didn’t mean though that the class would simply be decommissioned, on the contrary… The 2nd part of its mission profile, the Transportation of Passengers, was considered a success, and so Starfleet would continue to use this class for that purpose until later half of the 24th century.
Many ships of this class were involved with notable missions in Starfleet History. In 2285, the USS Grissom under the command of J.T. Estaban, was sent to survey the newly created Genesis Planet. Created by the Genesis Torpedo by doctors Carol and David Marcus, this planet quickly became politically charged issues within the United Federation of Planets.
Fearing this was a new Starfleet weapon of mass destruction while simultaneously wanting the secrets of this weapon for himself, Commander Kruge ordered his Klingon Bird of Prey to cross the Federation Border and set a course for the forbidden planet.
One there, Kruge wanting prisoners fired on the U.S.S. Grissom and although not intended, destroyed the starship, beginning its century-long reputation as a death trap. In 2358, an Oberth Class starship, the USS Pegasus, would be modified to test a highly classified and advanced Starfleet Technology.
In direct violation of the Treaty of Algeron with the Romulan Star Empire, the Pegasus was outfitted with what was known as a phase cloaking device. This device not only allowed a starship to cloak but actually allowed said starship to travel through solid matter at the same time.
During initial testing, however, the Crew aboard the Pegasus mutinied against the Captain and an accident in Engineering would see the ship lost until the year 2370 when it was found partially phased within an asteroid.
Although the Captain, Now promoted to Admiral had escaped the initial mutiny with the help of a very young Will Riker, the Admiral could not escape the consequences of his action and was placed under arrest by captain Jean Luc Picard for said Treaty violations.
In 2364, the S.S. Tsiolkovsky would see all hands lost by a slightly altered medical affliction that almost destroyed the Constitution Class USS Enterprise a century Earlier.
The Oberth Class would also have the distinction of being given or sold to non-Starfleet agencies and scientists. One such vessel the S.S. Vico, was exploring an astronomical phenomenon known as the Black Cluster.
While inside the Cluster, the Vico encountered severe gravitational wavefronts which eventually severely damages the ship and left only 1 survivor a young boy named Timothy.
Investigating the disaster, the Enterprise D would eventually learn that the phenomenon would reflect any ships shield output that was travelling within the cluster. And so the more a starship increased its shield strength, the more the wavefronts were amplified until the starship could no longer handle the strength of the wavefronts.
During one of Starfleet Most desperate hours, these defensively in-adept starships would even be called into service to protect the Federation from the upcoming invasion of the Borg and fight alongside other Starfleet Starship at Wolf 359. None of these ships survived the battle.
When the last starship of this class was decommissioned is unknown, but for almost a century Starfleet built this ship with pride and worked them death, literally. And although perhaps not the best design for a starship ever created, it certainly was a tribute to the innovations in Starship design by Starfleet’s Corps of engineers.
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