From The Ninth Fleet
USS Sovereign, class leader, cruising at impulse speeds in 2384.
|Builders:||Utopia Planetia Fleet Yards (2/year)|
|Type:||Long-range tactical explorer|
Sixteen warp coils, arranged in each of two nacelles
Cruising: Warp 6|
Supercruise: Warp 8
Maximum speed: Warp 9.988 for 60 minutes
|Endurance:||3 years without resupply|
|Troops:||Optional Marine detachment up to 75 Marines|
|Emergency capacity:||Up to 2000 in emergency evacuation|
Can equip one Class-6 Romulan cloaking device in missions to the Gamma Quadrant and to the M90 Galaxy
3 shuttle bays
The Sovereign class is a class of starships first fielded in 2370, following a long development path that included one of the most heavily armed long-range exploration vehicles fielded since the Constitution class in the 23rd century. Several redesigns during development to incorporate emerging technologies, such as the Type-XII phaser, the turreted torpedo launcher and ablative armor, make the Sovereign one of the deadliest ships in Starfleet's arsenal, serving well in the Dominion War, the Borg War and the Second Divine War.
The second ship of the class is the famed USS Enterprise under Captain Jean-Luc Picard.
The Sovereign class ship follows the standard Starfleet design principles - saucer section and engineering hull with two separated inline warp nacelles. The design itself is reminiscent of the Constitution class, specifically of its 2270s refit, with the streamlined warp nacelles and general aesthetic.
However, the similarities end there. The Sovereign was fielded as the newest ship of the line for the bulk of Starfleet's new fleet. As the Galaxy class project was closing, Starfleet faced a problem. With the Galaxy class starships being the largest vessels to be fielded at the time, the problem was it was taking longer to build the newest ships of the line; the Galaxy was only limited to a first run production of six vessels, replacing the 16 remaining Ambassador class starships. Design concepts started to come in that were even larger for the next ship of the line, and the body designated to handle starship design, the Advanced Starship Design Board, was entertaining this option when the first threat of the Borg Collective came up. A single Galaxy class starship, Starfleet's flagship, was unable to cause any lasting damage to the single Borg vessel, and the Battle of Wolf 359 highlighted this need further when thirty-nine ships, including Mirandas, Excelsiors, and Nebula classes, all were destroyed with only one badly-damaged ship surviving, with the Borg ship sustaining minor damage.
The design brief that was fielded for the newest ship of the line was changed at that time to include:
- New weapons systems, including the first implementation of the Type-XII phaser array
- Enhanced armor and shields, to enhance survivability against Borg and other new threat weapons systems
- Enhanced tactical sensors, to aid in detecting cloaked ships
- A minimum cruising speed of Warp 8
- No facilities to contain families on board
Of the six ship designs proposed, only one was accepted into production, which would eventually become the Sovereign class design. One of the other proposals was modified and eventually became the Excalibur class starship.
The original prototype of the Sovereign class was started February 4, 2366 with the laying of the keel. Framing work began shortly thereafter.
The vessel was not highly publicized due to the secrecy of the armaments, some of which never saw mating to the prototype hull until late on in the construction process due to its classified nature. This posed a challenge for the design staff and engineers working on the project: the power requirements for armaments changed almost daily and eventually a whole new generation of warp core had to be invented specifically for the fluctuating power consumption ratio.
The Sovereign's initial warp core produced twice the power as the warp core in the Galaxy class starship; when it was installed in 2371, the heating of the core required its own heavy plasma cooling system in order to prevent the heating of the engineering deck to a point of uninhabitability. By 2373, a new core was mounted into the Sovereign and all future vessels used the newer design, though the original warp core would eventually be used in the offshoot Intimidator class.
The Sovereign project suffered from a few redesigns early on, most notably when conventional warp drive was shown to be damaging to the environment. A crash course in warp field design was made late on in the development of the ship and new warp coils used in this class and subsequent classes prevented this environmental damage. Dominion polaron-based weapons became a concern near launch of this vessel, and the shield systems were hastily adapted to counter the new threat; refits over the years would refine these abilities.
The prototype testbed for this design was tested in NX phase in mid-2371, shaking down the new designs. Some of the more wild redesigns affected overall performance, but software updates and fine tuned management subroutines eventually progressed the Sovereign into a full production prototype; by this time, the hull of the second ship was 75% complete, the sixth ship in the famous Enterprise lineage.
As shipbuilding changed due to the outcome of the Dominion War and Borg incursions, Starfleet's practices of shipbuilding were changed as well. Though the Sovereign was always meant to have one of the highest survivability chances of any ship in combat, the Dominion War forced refits, and subsequent run-ins with the Borg have caused Starfleet engineers to rethink how the Sovereigns came off the production line.
Starfleet's tradition of commissioning the prototype ship of the class was carried on by this. The Sovereign itself never featured several of the combat enhancements the full production line ships enjoy, though they were refitted to the ship over the first five years of operation. Most notably was the astrometrics lab, which was installed a full three years after the commissioning of the starship, then reinstalled after the improvements made to the design by the returned crew of USS Voyager. To this day, several sections of the Sovereign are unused, as they were not completed nor refit, mostly due to the Dominion War and higher priority items in the subsequent rebuild of the Federation.
Strangely enough, the Sovereign's bridge module was a modified Intrepid class module; the standard Sovereign bridge module was not produced when the ship was originally commissioned. Due to having to modify the ship extensively in order to accomodate a Sovereign bridge module, the decision was made to keep the Intrepid bridge module in place.
The Sovereign was recalled to dock briefly when, after the Borg incursion of 2373 saw the USS Enterprise-E vanish for a few days due to time travel. In investigation, no issues were found with the design, though the Sovereign's duranium-tritanium hull plating was cracking in several places that were not reported by the sensors. Inspection of other ships showed a series of minor gaps in the SIF generator coverage areas, which were replaced with more efficient models to correct in all models.
The Sovereign is still in service as of 2387.
The original Flight I production line of Sovereign class starships are still currently in production. The more science-based version of the group, the Flight I varies only slightly between each other, mostly due to the refitting of each for fighting in various conflicts and changing technologies.
The first Flight I starship, the USS Enterprise-E, was the first vessel to feature the standard Sovereign bridge module, which was not prepared in time for the prototype's debut. This has increased the Flight I's command and control efficiency over the prototype.
The three earliest Flight I starships were refitted into Flight II specifications in 2377 in one of the largest rebuild projects. Because of the relative inefficiency of the rebuild and the lack of need for combat ships in favor of newer designs, this was shelved for the rest and Flight I production continued.
Flight II was a direct result of the Dominion War and is an effort to improve upon the design of the Sovereign to make it one of the most devastating fleet ships. First fielded in 2377 when the Enterprise was given its first refit, the Flight II variant of the Sovereign class features more torpedo launchers to deal with multiple simultaneous threats and a more ship-to-ship combat focus than the Flight I role. This variant has fell out of favor compared to other combat designs and is now produced at a slower rate than the original war efforts.
As the Flight II variant is more combat oriented, some science facilities were sacrificed to make sure the vessel was armed appropriately for the conflicts they were built for. Ironically, the design was not fielded in time to see action during the conflict it was designed for, the Dominion War.