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. Today’s episode continues our journey through Beta Canon, this time taking a look at the early design history of the Defiant Class of Starfleet Starships.
A little, yet extremely powerful class of starship, The Defiant Class would redefine the preconceived notions of the Federation, and help shape Starfleet back into an organization that can protect itself and Federation citizens. But what was the design history of this class? Well today, we find out… Of course, there IS a lot of information available on this class in Alpha Canon, but very little on the design history itself. And so, what I’ve done is thoroughly researched the Class through Beta Canon, combined it with Alpha Canon and filled in some of the gaps with my imagination, all to give you good “Tri-naries” a little bit more design history info to chew on about this class that started it all.
As a result though, this 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, lets begin.
The United Federation of Planets and Starfleet Command was scared The Battle of Wolf 359 had proven a disaster for both entities. The destruction of 39 Starfleet Vessels and the loss of life sitting at almost 11000 people, proved to the member worlds of the Federation that Starfleet was simply not pulling its weight in defensive and offensive areas. To this end, to allay Federation fears, Starfleet doubled its efforts in anti-Borg technological and starship development.
Commander Elizabeth Shelby, who had been instrumental in helping the Enterprise D stop the invasion of the Federation by the Borg Collective was re-assigned as the Head of the Counter Borg task force, and as such immediately began to redeploy Starfleet’s resources into projects she felt had the best chance of being a successful deterrent to any future Borg encounters. Many of the projects currently on Starfleet’s to-do list, had begun after the Enterprise-D’s first encounter with the Borg in system J-25. But after this latest Borg encounter, it was clear to Shelby that most of those planned projects simply would not succeed.
One project, however, that she saw great potential in, was that of “The Defiant Project”.
Basically, the Defiant Project was to design a powerful, easily constructed starship, the likes of which no one had ever seen before. The problem for Shelby was who should head up this new project, and who could garner the results she needed from it. With the loss of 39 starships during Wolf 359, meaning that the survivors of the battle no longer had positions in which to serve Starfleet, and so many of them were being re-assigned to planetary missions.
Starfleet felt this approach would allow these devastated officers time to re-adjust before heading out in to the unknown of deep space.
Reviewing the records of the survivors as a starting point, Shelby was immediately impressed by one officer Lt. Commander Benjamin Sisko.
Not only had he served Starfleet well, being given many medals of honour in his short but fast career, but to her, he reminded her of herself, a “go-getter,” with a sense of ambition that could get the job done. Not only that, she felt his personal loss, the death of his wife in the attack, would and could drive the officer to push hard to break through the boundaries Starfleet Command had arrogantly put upon itself.
And so, she assigned Sisko to the project.
Benjamin Sisko immediately immersed himself in the Defiant Project. Reviewing the development already under taken on the project Sisko was left very unimpressed. For all the urgency and blustering of Starfleet after the Enterprise’s first encounter with the Borg, very little had actually been achieved with in the project itself. In fact, the design for this new Defiant Class hadn’t even been chosen yet, basically all there was a few design concepts and several stipulations Starfleet had made about the design itself.
- Small and Maneuverable
- No civilian accommodations
- No holodecks or luxuries of any kind.
Putting all that aside for the moment, Sisko decided to approach the project from a different angle. Reviewing the technological projects, their developments, successes and failures, Sisko made some preliminary decisions on what this new class should include.
The first, was a brand new style of the warp core, one that although smaller, was believed to have in excess of a 300% increase in output when compared to the warp cores currently in use on the Galaxy Class of Starfleet Starships, this increase in available power meant that any class with this new style of warp core could, in theory, last far longer in a firefight than those Starfleet vessels that had proceeded them and so Sisko approached Shelby to have a prototype of the new warp core built, installed and tested on another class of starship by Starfleet. And Shelby in turn, agreeing with Sisko’s position, approached Starfleet about the idea and they readily agreed, placing the new warp core design into an old Miranda class starship.
The second technological break through Sisko wanted included in this new starship design was a new form of weapon simply called a Phaser canon.
Normal Phaser Emitter Arrays, due to their design, were limited in output. Increases over the said limit could result in emitter overloads, rendering Phasers inoperative. Starfleet’s Weaponry Design Division had tirelessly attempted to correct this problem, and increase Phaser output to no avail, however, one of the Design Engineers had put for a concept idea for a Phaser canon, that could output intense bursts of phaser Energy in a system that would allow for rapid cool down of Phaser Cannon Components in between Phaser Shots.
If successful, this new Phaser canon system could deliver Phaser energy bursts with an increase in output yield of approximately 500%, something which could be very beneficial to what was becoming known as Starfleet’s first, pure, warship, so Sisko immediately transferred the engineer to his division and put together a team to make his Phaser Canons a reality.
Reviewing the Battle of Wolf 359 in great detail, Benjamin Sisko was also left with a clear desire to protect any Starfleet officer serving aboard one of these new starships, but realizing part of the strength of the Borg was in its ability to adapt, Sisko felt that even with increased power, standard shielding was not enough for this new Defiant Class. As he saw it, what would happen to such a small vessel if it was hit while its shields were down? And his conclusion was that it would be easily destroyed. And so he put together another team to solve this problem, a problem which seemed to be an impossible task to solve.
This new, classified project, commissioned by Sisko, would get off to a rocky start, as nothing seemed to be enough to ensure at least a limited amount of time to save a ship from destruction. And Sisko for his part was becoming convinced that this new project would simply be bust.
That is however, until a senior member of the project came up with an unorthodox but brilliant Solution.
Lieutenant Commander Michael Argyle, who had done a brief stint as Chief Engineer aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise herself had requested and been granted a transfer to Shelby’s task force and subsequently assigned to the team working on the hull problem under Benjamin Sisko, not accepting that the project could not be solved, while working late one night, Argyle simply stumped. There had been a breakthrough in hull technology, where a Victrium alloy, combined with Tritanium on the subatomic level had yield increased hull strength, but nothing near the level that Sisko required of the project. Leaning back in his office chair, Argyle, who had always been a fan of early starship designs, began to look at the Starfleet Starship Models which adorned his office walls, when one of those starships caught his eye, the NX 01. Back in the earliest era of Starfleet’s History, the NX Class had been a marvel of Engineering for Starfleet, but the NX Class had been designed before the formation of the federation, which with it brought Andorian shield technology to Starfleet.
Once that was done, Starfleet began to develop and upgrade it’s own version of shield tech, and abandoning old starship defensive technology at the time they saw as antiquated. One of those abandoned technologies was polarized hull plating, suddenly, the pieces fell in to place for Argyle. By using a mix of hull plating of the new Victrium/ Tritanium alloy, and adding the polarizing effect to that armour, he could now guarantee that this new style of a starship could stay relatively intact even with shield completely offline. To further ensure the success of this new system, Argyle designed separate, small batteries that would power each section of this new plating, meaning that even with all power systems completely disabled, this new Ablative hull Armor would stay function for a limited time to allow for Officers to reach escape pods and abandon the starship if necessary. It’s effect during combat, however, was it’s true strength, for you see, this new Armor could absorb much of the weapons bleed through that currently was a problem for Starfleet Starships.
When weapons energy hit the shields of a ship, most of the energy would be absorbed into the shield grid protecting the starship, however, every modern weapon hitting a ships shields would have some of that energy bleeding through and impacting the hull, this bleed-through, with well-placed hits during combat, could cause major systems damage and failure aboard a ship. Argyle new Hull Armor almost completely negated this problem, with these new systems in place, construction began on the prototype Defiant Class the USS Defiant in 2368, and later that year began its shakedown cruise.
Unfortunately the U.S.S. Defiant did not exactly operate as expected.
The new Phaser Cannons and Ablative Hull Armor performed greatly above the expectation of Sisko, Shelby and Starfleet itself, however, the problem was in this classes new warp core design. When tested at full power, the new warp core simply was far too powerful for a vessel of the Defiant’s size and as a result, the U.S.S. Defiant nearly shook itself apart. This problem was seen as a minor setback for Sisko and his design team, however, Starfleet saw it as a much greater concern. After all, if this problem could not be solved, then having a starship design, that could only function at 50% power output was simply a failure, however, it was still Starfleet’s intent to allow Sisko and his team to attempt to fix the warp core problem. that is until the Federation got involved.
As with most things, time heals all wounds, and the federations wounds from the Battle of Wolf 359 in 2366 were healing nicely, the member worlds, which were worried about the Borg after Wolf 359 had impressed by the developments made by Shelby’s teams. These included new starship designs and weaponry break thoughts, and so with each passing day, the Borg threat became less and less an important issue to the Federation. Nevertheless, after 2 years without a sign of the Borg returning to the Alpha Quadrant, many member worlds felt that Starfleet’s current level of development was enough to deter and win any future battles against the unstoppable foe.
The real turning point for most member worlds however came in 2370 during the final negotiations with the Cardassian Union in regards to a new permanent border.
In hopes of establishing a long-lasting peace, that would eventually lead the Cardassian Union to join the Federation family, many concessions were made by the Federation Council including giving several federation worlds to the Cardassians, however, when Obsidian Order found out about the new Defiant Class, they were livid, feeling that the class was a direct threat to their government, and accusing the Federation of engaging in all these treaty negotiations, and the establishment of a permanent border as merely a stall tactic to get their new Super Fleets in order to attempt to destroy the Union and occupy their Space.
The Federation for it’s part, attempted to convince the union that that was not the case, however the Cardassians were unmoved.
Then with tensions with the Romulan Star empire easing, and the Romulan Ambassador voicing similar concerns, the Federation Council decided to order Starfleet to halt construction and development on the Defiant Class, and mothball the starship. Starfleet had no choice but to comply, though they were extremely unhappy about this order. Sisko, who had already begun to develop fixes for the Warp Core project would be reassigned to Starbase Deep Space 9, a once Cardassian controlled Ore Processing station in orbit of Bajor. While Shelby herself would by transferred the U.S.S. Excalibur as that starships First officer and almost her entire Anti-Borg task force would be dissembled and re-assigned.
Normally, this type of political manoeuvring would be the last anyone would hear of a mothballed starship. However, in the case of the Defiant Class, it was only the beginning, as when in late 2370, an encounter with a new government in the gamma Quadrant knowns as the Dominion, would reinforce Starfleet and the federation’s belief in continuing to upgrade and prepare it’s starship designs for combat and Benjamin Sisko, now a Commander, while debriefing at Starfleet command would make an unusual request to pull the U.S.S. Defiant out of Mothballs to protect his station Deep Space 9 and make contact with the Founders, the governing body of the Dominion.
The request was granted by Starfleet, and after instituting several fixes and upgrades to the Defiant herself, all of her previous power issues would be solved, and the class would be seen in a new light by the Federation, though the Cardassians weren’t impressed by having this warship near their borders, the treaty they had established with the federation was far too beneficial for them to risk complaining about the defiant too loudly. And too asway Romulan fears, the Federation approached the Star Empire to be involved in the Defiant’s first mission to contact the founders and to supply the starship with a cloaking device in return for any and all information concerning the dominion to be turned over to the Romulans, and the assurance that the cloaking device itself would never be used in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants.
The U.S.S. Defiant would go on to prove the starship class design time and time again, and as tensions rose with the Dominion and war seemed inevitable, Starfleet would put the class into full production. And although not a luxury liner in any sense of the word, the Defiant Class would always outperform expectations, earning this class its placed, in Starfleet History…
Thank you for watching today’s episode of Truth or Myth, what do you think of the Defiant Class? Did you like my non canon interpretation of it’s design history? Do you want to see more episodes like this one? Well leave your comments in the section below and don’t forget to like the video and subscribe to the channel, hitting that little bell icon so you wont miss a single video we release.
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