Federation Starships are classed according to size, capability and expected role.
Klingon Tensions Period 2240 to 2293Edit
This period of time represents a huge expansion of Starfleet and it's defense mission. There is a growing conflict between Galaxy Exploration Command and Military Operations Command
Galaxy Exploration Command was the home of the "To seek out new worlds and new civilizations" mindset of Starfleet. They wanted big ships capable of long distance independent cruises.
Military Operations Command was the home of the Defense of the Federation. They wanted Starships specialized for military missions and space superiority.
During this era Starfleet pushes to have all pre-Constitution class ships retired and scrapped, while new types of ships are fielded. This push was not so successful since Admirals in the field hate to let go of a good hull until the last star-hour has been wrung from it. However officially, Starfleet changes to a unified set of Ship classes.
The launch of the Constitution Class in 2245 inaugurates a new era of exploration, and conflict.
Starfleet Ship types of the era
- Space Control Ships
These types of ships were meant to enter a Star System and using Attack Ships, Fighters and escorting warships, dominate and control it. The Federation experimented with variations of the Federation Class in this role
The Federation Class starship is the epitome of this type. The ultimate space-superiority starship of the 2360s, by the late 2370s, she was showing her age. Many were refit to be "Super Cruisers" before beinf retired.
The Napolean Class and the Coronado Class are examples of this type. These ships are meant to carry one and two man combat ships into the combat theater and support their operations. These never lived up to their hype in the space superiority role, but became invaluable in the ground support role.
- Assault Ships
These ships are intended to land combat troops and machines onto a hostile planet.
Early on, Cruisers were meant to be independant force projection and exploration units. As pressure from the Military Operations Command mounted, Starfleet built cruisers that were more and more combat oriented. The Menhaga Class Battle Cruiser is one example.
The iconic example of a cruiser is the Constitution class heavy cruiser
The Saladin Class is an Early example of this type of ship.
The Burke Class is the primary representative of this class. The smallest possible fully functional starship, the Frigate is an expression of a war of attrition
Small police ships and light SAR ships, these proliferated during this period of time.
- Light Attack Ships
The Mustang Class is the iconic example of this class. Short ranged, high speed and overly armed - these ships were towed into range by a Tender and then released to swoop down on their prey. Six Light Attack Ships could shred a Heavy Cruiser and you might get one or two of them back in working order. The ultimate expression of a War of Attrition,
Tomcat class One and two man heavy shuttles, which carry light phasers or missiles into range of their targets. These couldn't stand up to heavy Starship phasers, but proved invaluable in ground support roles
- Transport Tug
The Ptolemy Class is the iconic example of this type. The Ptolemy is under appreciated as a starship type. it's cargo and special purpose pods really leveraged these ships.
- Perimeter Action Ships
A later development of the Destroyer idea, Perimeter action ships are all the engine and gun that can be packed into a destroyer sized hull. They doin't have much range and almost no crew comforts, but they could move quickly and engage enemy starships on their own terms. usually deployed in groups of three or four, they were a Pirate's nightmare and made opposing admirals sweat.
Numerous small and support ships were created during this period as well.
Starfleet Developed a Size classification system during this time period.
Late in this era Starfleet grows tremendously in the size and military capability of the fleet, in anticipation of a new war against the Klingons.
Starfleet went from 12 Constitution class heavy cruisers in 2367 to over 100 of various types by 2285. Ships of all types saw similar increases.
In 2293 The Khitomer Accords were signed, ending the threat of war with the Klingons.
Hundreds of Federation warships of all types were retired to the Starfleet Ready Reserve
Great Reorganization 2300 - 2330Edit
In this period, Starfleet shrinks drastically and must evolve away from a straight military mission back towards it's role as multirole problem solvers, explorers and diplomats
As part of this transformation, Starfleet rearranged how it names and organizes starship classes.
Multi-Role Starships, meant to be the "One Problem, One Starship" type of Solution. Capable of Combat but slanted towards Multi-Role activities.
Although capable of multi-role missions, Starfleet Frigates are intended to focus on combat and defense primarily.
These are small ships focused almost excluslively on Combat. As the name implies they escaort less well defended ships or lend fire support to larger ships. Escorts are usually smaller.
Small ships intended for exploration, defense and combat are de-emphasized in favor of crew support and duration.
A multi-role ship focused primarily on deep space exploration.
A catch all for ships that perform a specific function, like Subspace Bouy Tenders or Mine Sweepers
These ships are specialized to carry people and materiel to specific destinations.
Much of the reorganization durng this period was in terms of organization - Starships were relabeled and reassigned inside Starfleet Command.
Starfleet's Ship buildng during this period time was anemic, due to the plethora of available surplus hulls.
Present day 2300 - PresentEdit
Starfleet has grown into it's new organization. The Cardassian War has proven that Starfleet can perform a defensive mission without necessarily surrendering the Starfleet Frame of Mind.