The Constitution-class, also known as the Starship Class or Class I Heavy Cruisers, were the primary Republic naval vessels in the second half of the 23rd century. They were designed for long duration missions with minimal outside support and are best known for their missions of galactic exploration and discovery typically lasting five-years. The class was in service between 2245-2295, for a total of fifty years.
The Constitution-class was launched in 2245, after around six years of development and planning, and served as the Navy's front-line vessels for most of the rest of the century. The Constitution-class served as a great deterrent to the Coalition of Villains and to numerous other enemies, including the Borg, Vong, and Chakkun. They usually took part in combat actions which helped determine the fate of the Republic.
By 2267, there was more than seven hundred thousand Constitution-class warships in service in the Republic Navy. These included (in order of commissioning) the USS Constitution, the USS Enterprise, the USS Constellation, the USS Excalibur, the USS Falcon, the USS Hood, the USS Lexington, the USS Wasp, the USS Potemkin, and the USS Shadow.
The most famous Constitution-class warship was the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), launched under the command of Captain Robert April in November 2245. The Enterprise gained it's reputation during its historic five-year mission (2265-2270) under Captain James T. Kirk. During this mission, the Enterprise engaged in hundreds of time travels, first contacts, military engagements, and scientific discoveries. The Enterprise remained in service for forty years, until it was self-destructed over the Genesis Planet in November 2285.
Between 2245 and 2265, Constitution-class vessels featured a large deflector dish, a large bridge dome of semi-spherical shape, and an antenna spike protruding from the Bussard collector cap on each warp (hyper) nacelle. The impulse drive had several minor deflector vents as late as 2265. Also, the interior passageways and intercoms had a different design, of a bland, dull-like gray color. The bridge also was designed differently.
In early 2266, the old deflector dish was replaced by a significantly smaller model, the spikes on the Bussard collectors were removed, a smaller bridge dome of flatter and more spherical shape was installed, and the impulse drive now only had two vents. Already, in 2264, the interior passageways, main bridge interior, and briefing room had been redesigned and updated, to comply with the replacement of Captain Pike with Kirk. The intercoms were also rebuilt.
In 2266, the interior passageways were again modified, the briefing room was completely redesigned, and the modified main bridge featured an enlarged main viewscreen and upgrades to the control interfaces and station arrangement, but the overall appearance of the bridge remained relatively unchanged when compared to 2265.
Between 2245 and 2264, the crew quarters had the capability of carrying slightly more than 300 crewmembers. By 2265, this had increased to more than 600 crewmembers.
Between 2270 and 2272, the Constitution-class underwent their final major refit program. Essential upgrades were made to the Constitution-class' hyperdrive systems; the old cylindrical nacelles were replaced with new angular ones and the warp nacelle struts were connected to the engineering hull much closer to the neck than before. New plasma conduits were also constructed. The engineering hull-although it was basically the same structure as before the refit-was more rounded and modern after the refit. The impulse engine was also rebuilt and modernized.
The deflector dish was upgraded, doing away with the "satellite" dish architecture. As for the interior of the hull, the most obvious upgrades were the enlargement of the shuttle deck and landing bay, as well as the complete redesigning of the engineering room, which included the addition of a matter-antimatter reactor and a vertical energy assembly.
New also was the installment of the double photon torpedo/quantum torpedo launcher with its rectangular housing in the neck of the vessel. Also, the phaser configuration was changed to channel energy though the hyperdrive. Furthermore, the saucer section was considerably extended (by dozens of meters), while the rest of the surface remained about the same, excluding some cosmetic modifications.
Major changes were made to the interior of the Constitution-class starships; a single recreation center was constructed, the color layout and organization of the ship was completely redesigned, many old systems were completely updated or reorganized, the bridge was redesigned, and the main computer was completely rebuilt. Summarizing, only the internal structure of the saucer and the basic inner metal frame of the engineering hull and neck, may have survived the 2270s refit.
The refit of the early 2270s allowed the Constitution-class to remain in service (with some minor upgrades), for another 25 years, until finally decommissioned as a whole in 2295.
Command and Control systemsEdit
The Constitution-class's primary command center, the main bridge, was located on top of the vessel's primary hull, on Deck 1. From here, the commanding officer supervise the entire ship's operation.
The command chair was located in the recessed area at the center of the room, in a direct line with the main viewer. This position was equidistant from all the control consoles that operated specific areas of the ship. Consequently, the captain could be immediately updated on the condition of the vessel or its crew during missions, and orders could be given clearly with a minimum of effort.
The chair was mounted on a circular pillar, attached to a rectangular footplate that was directly anchored to the deck, giving it considerable support during an attack. It was designed to swivel on the support so that the captain could turn to any member of the bridge crew.
Piloting and navigation functions were carried out at the helm console, located in the center of the room, positioned in front of the command chair. This panel consisted of three main sections.
On the left was a compartment which opened automatically to permit operation of the targeting scanner. Next to this was the main control panel, which operated maneuvering thrusters, controlled the impulse engines, and fired the ship's weapons. Directly below this panel was a row of seventeen flip-switches (to represent speeds 0.1 to 8) provided to set hyperspace flight speeds.
The central section of the conn panel was fitted with a number of sensor monitor lights, and was dominated by two main features: the alert indicator and the astrogator, which was used for long-range course plotting.
The navigator's station had a control panel for entering the course and heading data and the flight path indicator, which clearly outlined the course, and supplied information on any deviations or course corrections in progress. It also had controls for the weapons systems.
Other stations on the bridge were provided for communications, engineering, weapons control, gravity control, damage control, environmental engineering, science and the library computer, and internal security. All stations were manned at all times.
Mounted into the room's forward bulkhead was the main viewscreen. Visual sensor pickups located at various points on the Constitution-class' outer hull were capable of image magnification and allowed a varied choice of viewing angles.
The Constitution-class's computer systems were originally duotronic-based. After 2272, they were mulitronic-based, which was much more efficient and advanced.
Until 2269, only one turbolift was in the bridges of the Constitution-class vessels. In that year, some vessels were refit to include a second turbolift. After the major refit of the early 2270s, all Constitution-class vessels had two turbolifts on the bridge.
The bridge of the Constitution-class starships were subject to many minor and major cosmetic changes over their 50 years of service. In particular, the main bridge of the USS Enterprise seems to have undergone considerable changes in appearance. In the late 2260s, along with the added turbolift, the bridge design changed from a segmented flat-panel peripheral station configuration to a completely circular design, including curved overhead view screens, and railings and steps which matched the arc of the circumference. At the same time, an automatic bridge defense system was also installed that obscured the translucent overhead dome.
During the refit of the early 2270s, the bridge was completely redesigned and overhauled. New control panels, computer interfaces, and operating systems were installed, the bridge color scheme was redesigned, and the bridge viewscreen, defense system, and monitors were overhauled.
The bridge underwent only a few minor modifications (basically the color scheme and the science station) from that point until the destruction of the Enterprise in 2285. The bridge of the USS Enterprise-A, commissioned one year later (in 2286), had mainly cosmetic differences at launch, but, by 2287, it had been drastically upgraded to reflect the advances made in computer control technology.
The bridge module had again been replaced by 2293. The lighter color scheme of the original Enterprise-A bridge had made room for a darker, more militaristic look.
The Constitution-class starships were the fastest starship class at the time they were commissioned (they would be superseded by the Excelsior-class in the 2290s). The class's standard cruising speed was 2.2 past lightspeed (roughly Warp 6), while it's maximum cruising speed was 0.5 (roughly Warp 9). 0.0 was also possible for this class of starship, although it was highly discouraged because of its unsafe velocity and instability.
The USS Enterprise was twice modified to reach the speed of -0.10. A probe called Nomad increased the ship's engine efficiency by 67% in 2267, allowing the ship to reach lightspeed -0.10 (a extremely fast speed), but Kirk persuaded Nomad to reverse it's "repairs" because the ship's structure could not sustain such a speed and would eventually collapse in on itself.
More extensive modifications made to the ship by the Kelvans in 2268, who were able to produce velocities that were far beyond the reach of Republic science, allowing the Enterprise to safely maintain a cruising speed of -0.10 while traveling through the inter-universal void.
The maximum hyperspace speed recorded for this class (and the highest on record ever for any starship class) was lightspeed -0.80, achieved by the Enterprise due to sabotage to the vessel's hyperdrive system. While the Enterprise itself was not structured to take that speed for any length of time, it was able to maintain that velocity for 18 minutes.
Prior to the refit, the Constitution-class had a lithium-stream assembly of "matter canisters", which generated power for the ship's engine systems. Following the refit, this was replaced with a much more modern, efficient, and advanced Matter/Antimatter linear dilithium assembly. By the early 2290s (within the last five years of the class's service), a modern pulse dilithium-controlled core was installed on Constitution-class vessels.
The Constitution-class's impulse drive system was a twin port fusion reactor engine, capable of velocities of up to 0.8c.
Main engineering was from where the ship's hyperdrive systems were controlled. All thrust and power systems were also controlled from this location, and it was where the hyper core or reactor was also located. Life support was controlled separately at Deck 6.
Before the refit, the engineering section was basically a control room and beyond a protection screen, a series of matter canisters connected together which generated power for the hyperdrive systems, as well as all other ship systems. However, during the refit of the early 2270s, the engineering room was drastically expanded and redesigned. A proper hyperdrive assembly and vertical intermix were installed.
Constitution-class vessels were equipped with a complement of phasers and planetary bombardment cannons. Ship-mounted phaser banks could fire up to a range of 130,000 kilometers. The bombardment cannons would be powerful enough to raze half a continent. A phaser bank consisted of a single emitter and it's power supply, although firing two phaser banks at a time could be considered a single firing.
The ship's phasers could be adjusted to stun, heat, or disintegrate, including objects or beings in space or on a planet's surface at a focus ranging from narrow to wide beam. The phasers could be set for a proximity blast, which could be fired at a predetermined location and damage or destroy any objects in a 100-kilometer radius. Constitution-class vessels also carried antimatter charges, which could destroy objects as large as the Death Star prototypes or Borg Cubes.
In the original configuration, a battery of four to eight forward phaser banks were located on the lower part of the ventral side of the saucer section. Aft firing banks were located above the shuttlebay on the secondary hull. There were also port, starboard and midship phasers.
The Constitution-class originally mounted at least six torpedo launchers, one tube covering the aft firing arc. Forward tubes were located in the same area as the forward phaser banks. The aft tube fired from the end of the secondary hull. This combined arsenal was powerful enough to destroy the entire surface of a planet. The class carried photon and quantum torpedoes.
After the refit of the 2270s, Constitution-class ships mounted three dual-emitter phaser banks on the ventral and three on dorsal faces of the saucer. They covered the forward, port and starboard flanks. Two single emitter aft banks are above the shuttlebay and four midship single emitter banks are located on the ventral surface of the engineering hull.
Phaser power was increased by drawing energy directly from the warp drive. This increase in firepower had a drawback in that the phasers would be cut off if the main reactor was off line. This problem hampered the USS Enterprise on at least two occasions, once in 2272 and again in 2283.