Happy Friday all – not sure what my plans for tomorrow will entail, so I’m not too sure how much writing I’ll get done. That said, I thought it good to get this out.
While writing my ‘State of the Fleet’ opener, I’ve obviously positioned the original ‘Class I Trinity’ if you will (Constitution, Saladin/Hermes and Ptolemny) as the backbone of fleet development and operations going forward. Constitution covers the exploration/scientific study sphere, Saladin/Hermes covers defense/offense and Ptolemny covers support/logistics. Every other class that comes afterwards will either expand upon or fill in the gaps between these three major spheres.
What I was initially wrestling with though was how to describe Hermes. It’s classified as a ‘scout’ obviously, but in thinking back, I don’t recall anyone or any work ever really spelling out a definition for that. So, I went back to both the Federation Spaceflight Chronology and the Hobbyist’s Guide……. for a more detailed look. The FSC’s description is pretty general in comparison to the Hobbyist’s Guide that positions Hermes as a sophisticated sensor and communications platform, a key to maintaining coordination between fleet elements during extended patrols, combat missions and the like – being to Starfleet what the E-3 Sentry is to the USAF.
That being said, moving forward, vessels of smaller size geared more specifically toward missions of scientific study–like Cahuya (link), Antares (link) and Oberth–are going to classed as ‘surveyors’ in my system here. As I’m seeking to slim down and unify the fleet moving from the 23rd into the 24th century, Oberth will be the obvious candidate to carry the surveyor banner, but what of the scouts?
Well, Hermes is the class that starts it all off. Then you have the Akula class Heavy Destroyer which builds on Saladin, with a more powerful defensive/offensive loadout, but also builds on Hermes as well, introducing ELINT and ECM/ECCM capabilities to the fleet (becoming more like the USN’s P-8 Poseidon). Moving on into the Linear Warp/TMP era, there is the ‘SWACS’ variant of the Abbe class (also known as the Kelso class – link here) that trades Abbe’s torpedo pod for an ‘AWACS’ style sensor/communications dome, but with the way I’ve described the original Akula, I’m going to keep that Abbe variant 23rd Century only (for the most part) and pin the scout banner on Akula II (links here and here).
Moving into the Lost Era and the 24th Century, it seems more likely than not that at some point, technological evolution and Starfleet’s push to fully adopt the ‘multimission’ ethos will make the classification totally irrelevant. That said, the Saber class (which most sources, official or not, call a ‘scout’) will most likely get reclassified and that will be that.
Also, I found another great designer to check out on DeviantART……..’kelso123′ (link) has a nice handful of designs up, the majority being from the TMP era, including some pretty crazy looking dreadnoughts & battleships. The two that intrigue me the most include the ‘Inchon’ class Assault Transport (a radical take on the old Chandley class Frigate from FASA) and the ‘Akagi’ class Shuttlecarrier (due to its size and the fact it has the same number of shuttlebays as Yorktown/Yorktown II, I’d be more inclined to call this a full-on CV, looks to be based on the one ‘Guidomc’ did here).