Federation Starbase 23 - Federation Databanks

Federation Technical Database

Development of the Dreadnought Type

The Treatise

by Rear Admiral Andrew Brown, Neo Caldonia Fleet Shipyards
Stardate 13001.4


The Federation’s first "space battleship" was introduced in 2255 1, after the Four Years War of 2241-2245 2 brought into painful focus Starfleet’s lack of a heavy capital unit around which to anchor a task force for star fleet battles.

While the star of the Four Years War was undoubtedly the Ares-class cruiser 2, by the end of the war it had been shown as insufficient to the task for going forward. Although a cutting-edge design at the time in the arms race that the Four Years War had become, producing a highly-capable cruiser which leap-frogged the Federation's starship technology over the Klingon Raxor-class 3 D-6 battlecruiser it had been designed to beat, with the introduction of both the Klingon Klolode-class 3 D-7 battlecruiser and the Federation's own Constitution-class heavy cruiser in 2245 it had already become second-best.

The squadron- and task force-level battles engaged in during the Four Years War against the Klingons revealed the need for a heavy combat unit with fleet command capabilities. While Starfleet's surviving captains had fought brilliantly, utilising their hard-won experience to form strategies and tactics that enabled them to work as a team to defeat their opponents, that's all they had been: a team. Not a well-disciplined military unit, but a core group of ace captains who knew a plan, how each of their comrades thought and how they'd react, and how to improvise to win. However, as vital as that was, inexperienced ship captains unfamiliar to each other could not hope to match this dynamic synergy. For them to succeed in those kinds of desperate situations, someone must have an overall hologram of the battlespace to see the ebb and flow of battle and direct their own forces to engineer their own victory.

Thus an on-site fleet command vessel was revealed as an urgent necessity, lest the stunned Klingons try again themselves or a new opponent try their luck against the Star Fleet. After the debris had been cleared, the dead honoured, and new breaths drawn, the following broad requirements for such a vessel were drawn up:

Up until that point the Federation had seen no need for such a large naval combatant. Indeed, by the end of the war the Constitution class was the largest, most powerful, and most capable vessel yet conceived of by Federation ship designers. However, even it still lacked the fleet command abilities that were seen as a crucial contributing factor for the defeat of the opposition through skill and intelligence over the application of yet more brute force.

During the tabling of motions in 2246 to build a vessel to those requirements, a group of highly-vocal councillors led by the Vulcan and Alpha Centauri representatives – which would in later years organise thmselves and become known as the "Pacifist Voting Bloc" 4 – was adamant that the stirring words of Admiral Marcus Ramirez' opening address to the Federation Council in Archer Arena at the height of the war just three years ago 2 should not be forgotten, and that the Federation must not turn itself into a military power by building more pure warships like the Ares-class with the goal of crushing all threats to it for the sake of its own national security.

This view was reinforced by the Klingons' own rushed effort to field an "ultimate warship" immediately after the war: the I.K.V. Jul'Kar. This ship, promptly labelled as the "Jul'kar-class B-1 battleship" 3 by Starfleet, was the essence of the brute force approach. Built onto the frame of their still brand-new Klolode-class D-7 battlecruiser, the Jul'Kar added more weapons, stronger shielding, and a third engine nacelle to power it all. The result was an ugly vessel, as befitting its ugly purpose, which wrecked the brutal elegance of "the Empire's greatest technological achievement" to that point. It boasted no increase in fleet command capability; it was merely, as the Klingons themselves termed it, a "hulking brute" (literal translation of the Klingonaase "bur'd'kona", from which Starfleet's "B-1" model number is derived) 5.

The initial response to Starfleet's requirements had been a re-engineering of the Constitution-class frame into a purely combat-oriented unit. Most of the crew amenities had been stripped out, and all scientific, exploratory, and diplomatic facilites were ommited. In their place was the massive command and control system, a doubling of the Constitition-class' weapons suite, and two even more massive engine nacelles to power all this and its prodigious increase in shielding.

Realising just how similar their own efforts were to this Klingon "pocket battleship" and heeding the influence the embryonic Pacifist Bloc's oratory had on which way the votes would blow in the Council chambers, and realising that in the greater political scope their first effort would re-ignite the naval arms race begun during the Four Years War, the Federation's first battleship designers went back their design tablets and altered the emphasis of the whole vessel. Taking the opposite approach to their Klingon opposite numbers, the Federation's purported "battleship" had its offensive weapons suite reduced to a still impressive 33% increase over the Constitution-class benchmark and instead included additional scientific, diplomatic, and exploratory capabilities and crew facilities, while re-designing the secondary hull entirely around the main reason for the ship's existence.

Taking this redesign back to the Federation Council's Starfleet Appropriations Committee in 2247, even the Pacifist Bloc contingent was impressed enough by the change from the original proposal to remark that "it was truly a Federation vessel" and that "Admiral Ramirez should be proud". This quality, more than any increase in firepower or battle duration, was the selling point for this design to the Federation Council and the class received its build authorisation and appropriations for thirty vessels. As a further nod to the Pacifist Bloc and their tribute to Admiral Ramirez, the class was officially designated the "Federation class" 6 and, rather than use the extremely negative and pejorative designation of "battleship" with the politicians and Federation public, the vessels were classified using an old Terran compound word meaning "fear nothing". It boasted the twin virtues of sounding somewhat impressive in an Old World style, while simultaneously meaning nothing to the the vast majority of Federation citizens.

And so the "Dreadnought" 6 type was born.

Builders' Blues

Full detail design and specialised component development took an additonal three years to reach maturity, but in 2250 construction of the ships themseves was officially begun. At ten shipyards across the Federation the first hull sections on the first vessels were gamma-welded in small ceremonies to mark the event. These events were covered in brief by several galactic news services, and later broadcast in full on the Starfleet Channel.

Due to planned component similarity with the Constitution class, dreadnought construction proceded smoothly and mostly on schedule. However, no ships were completed or even in a fit state to engage in battle when the latest cycle of Tholian territorial annexations began. A relatively minor one this time, nonetheless several Federation colonies and outposts on the Federation-Tholian border were attacked in 2254. It fell to a task force led by the Enterprise under Captain Christopher Pike to halt the final attack of Chakuun Ghostships at the Battle of Theta Kalyub 7, but with the orbital battle once again devolving down to individial ship-to-ship engagements it again showcased the need both for a stronger combat unit and fleet command capability to provide a coherent, co-ordinated strategy for the application of available tactical options.

The military, however – and that still includes the sapientarian relief and peace-keeping forces of the Star Fleet – is ever at the whim of politicians and public opinion. After the first flight of vessels had been completed and construction begun on the second, the political winds began to shift as neighbouring nations expressed their concerns to the Federation Council. Their perception was that the number of new super-powerful starships being built by Starfleet was already creating a new naval arms race, even with friendly nations. The Federation's efforts to match the Klingons' projected B-1 battleship numbers had encouraged allied nations to build their own capital ships, thereby forcing their neighbours and adversaries to commence their own dreadnought construction programs out of sheer defensive necessity. In order to slow the headlong rush into excessive defence expenditure and possibly even another armed conflict, in 2258 the Federation Council agreed to limit its dreadnought numbers to twenty vessels, with most of them arrayed against the Klingons as being their main adversary.

The Early Years

2100 Federation aft dorsal port quarter.

Federation – aft dorsal port quarter

With the Federation victory in the Four Years War establishing Starfleet as a credible military force in the eyes of all its galactic neighbours, and the Ares and Constitution classes proving that the Federation could produce high-quality and highly-capable fighting starships despite toutinf a predominantely peaceful philosophy, the "Starfleet Deterrent" was itself firmly estalished in the astropolitical landscape.

With this Starfleet pedigree behind it, as the first true space battleship of the Local Space Powers in terms of hull strength and engine power – if perhaps not outright firepower – the Federation class had an easy time of it early on in the stables of the Star Fleet. Easily a match for the Jul'kar-class B-1, and ably supported by a fleet of modern Starfleet designs such as the Hermes-class fleet scout 8, Saladin-class destroyer 9, Surya-class heavy frigate 10, Coventry-class light cruiser 11, and of course the Constitution-class heavy cruiser, the Klingon border that was her main patrol zone was rendered quiet. In this manner she acheived her intended objective admirably: ensuring the peace without firing a shot.

Mostly used for “showing the flag” missions and in trouble zones such as the Mirak border, as well as exceptionally dangerous missions of scientific import and of course frequent deterrence patrols on the Klingon border, in her early years she had no opposite number to stand off against in the navies of the Federation’s adversaries.

In that respect, her introduction had caused a another naval arms race as the other Local Space Powers hurriedly designed and began building their own battleships, most notably the massive Klingon Kar'hamer-class 12 B-10 battleship 13. This was of considerable worry to Starfleet planners for the assigning of sufficient fleet numbers to the whole Klingon border region to contain just one of these leviathans once it was deployed, and intelligence from within the Empire suggested that four of these monsters were beginning construction. In anticipation of this new class no other lesser-scale battleships that could have matched the Federation-class were developed by the Klingons, and all resources were funnelled into the B-10 project. However, it became apparent that the Klingons had over-reached themselves. The ship was too big and powerful for the level of Klingon technology at the time, and after ten years of construction was still not complete. The Federation-class' reign over local space continued undisputed.

Baptism of Fire

However, Klingon belligerence continued to escalate unabated over that decade, and secure behind their Starfleet Deterrent the Federation saw no need to back down from "Klingon bullies". War soon became inevitable again, and when the Cold War with the Klingon Empire turned hot in October of 2267 the Federation class more than proved itself up to the task set to it by holding the line against all comers. The 2240s-vintage B-1s, despite receiving several minor upgrades over the years, proved no match individually against Starfleet's dreadnoughts, and there was no time to formulate new tactics before the war was unceremoniously halted by the Organians a mere two days later. The Federation class and their battlegroups demolished every force sent against them and succeeded in preventing the Klingons from penetrating very far into Federation territory.

2100 Federation fore.

Federation – fore

The quality of even the "under-armed sub-battleships" of the weakling Federation's Star Fleet again stunned the mighty empire or warriors. Construction on the B-10, almost completed, was begun anew as the ship was deemed inadequate in the face of the Federation-class' performance. Systems were ripped out and replaced in a never-ending cycle as time marched on and technology continued to improve. The Klingons also instituted an "ultimate cruiser" program of their own – Klingonaase had no equivalent term for "dreadnought" – in order to field a moderately more powerful vessel within a much shorter timeframe. As such, the B-1 design was uprated with the latest in technology, and brand-new construction on this uprated design, now termed the Kuyper-class 13 C-5 light dreadnought 14, began in 2270.

Into the Future

In the face of the Federation's Council's policy of "No new battle force starship construction" due to the Organian Peace Treaty, and with Starfleet's "New Technology" revolution of the late 2260s giving rise to a whole new school of thought on starship design, itself leading to even greater power levels and speed for the starships of the 2270s, entire types of starships were scheduled for uprating to keep the fleet current.

Trial runs of the uprated Constitution-class heavy cruiser had showed her to be even more powerful than the Federation class, and with a similar upsurge in performance across all front-line Class One starships, a similar redesign was drawn up for the Federation class to again place her at the top of the starship pyramid. However, such was the timeframe involved for such an uprating, and so many and varied were the demands of uprating almost the whole Class One fleet, that time, resources, and yard space could not be spared to begin uprating the dreadnoughts. Further, with this New Tech uprating negating any advantage the new C-5 had given the Imperial Fleet and the B-10 still stuck in an endless rebuilding loop, it was thought that the dreadnoughts could wait.

However, the enforced peace wore heavily on the Klingon psyche, and those Great Houses that could not shirk their duties on the Federation border by sending fleets to still active borders such as with the Hydrans and Mirak began to throw their influence around in the High Council. These grumblings could not be brought fully into the light as it was not the Chancellor's fault some do-gooder glowbugs had prevented war on one border. These disaffected Great Houses began ignoring all restrictions and attacked Starfleet. The still-potent Federation class was more than enough for any non-uprated Klingon ships and many smaller uprated designs, but those were coming thick and fast from the Klinon cruiser design bureaus. Only the uprated Starfleet ships could level the playing field, and such was the prestige invested in the Federation class to this point that Starfleet did not want to risk them against the newer cruisers. They were quietly reassigned to planetary and starbase defence fleets as more uprated heavy cruisers came to take their place.

However, the Klingons continued to attack. Appealing to the Organians had no effect, as with no state of war declared between them and these captains acting as renegades, the Organians took no action. Starfleet was forced to respond and these allegedly “rogue” Klingon captains were more than eager to find Starfleet vessels to engage in battle. Their low-level border campaign lasted for three years until brought to a halt by a Starfleet deep strike force penetrating Klingon space. No Federation-class ship was involved in any of this, however, as Starfleet planners feared that the by-then two decade-old, non-uprated ships were in fact a liability were they to encounter squadrons of new Klingon designs such as the Riskadh D-10 heavy cruiser, K't'inga D-8 and SuvwI'QeH D-11 battlecruisers, K'teremny D-12 heavy destroyer and QuD D-17 destroyer. This most ridiculous circumstance led a great many to question the validity of Federation class’ continued place in the Fleet.

Even worse was to come however, as the Federation-Mirak War of 2275 clearly demonstrated that the Federation class as it was originally conceived was now – and perhaps had always been – a flawed concept.

With the swift execution of the Mirak Star League’s Blitzkrieg against Federation forces despite the presence of a dreadnought and a good score of Class One and uprated Class One-B starships in the Mirak border region, it was once again brought home to the Federation Council that the galaxy was still a dangerous place and all-out war was indeed still a possibility. With the Corporation’s destruction at Mirak claws and the ferocity of their attacks on all other Starfleet vessels in the region, it was decided that less than ten years after “Peace in Our Time” with the Klingons was declared that a new Starfleet deterrent had to be established.

To cover the immediate gap in capital ships, a 2-year total conversion/class rebuild was authorised, developed, and implemented for the almost twenty-year-old Federation-class design, with the goal of bringing them up to par with the existing dreadnoughts of other belligerent nations. Conversions were to begin immediately, but it was noted that this would also lead to a shortage of actual capital ship units on the borders where they were apparently most needed.

This in turn led to the altering on the design screens of the next batch of Belknap-class strike cruisers. Instead of being completed as such, they were completed as what was termed a “light dreadnought” with the addition of a third nacelle, uprated shielding and warp reactor, a 50% increase in laboratory space, and a 200% increase in C4ISTAR capabilities. While not a true dreadnought in terms of mass and firepower, their reduced range but increased speed, combat, and fleet operations capabilities adequately secured their place in TacFleet’s capital ship rapid-response force.

Even as all this was under way, it was also known that this crash dreadnought program would soon run out of steam, in that the Ascension-class was effectively only a super-heavy cruiser and that even the uprated capabilities of a rebuilt Federation-class ship would not for long match the ongoing dreadnought programs of the Federation’s adversary nations. A whole new dreadnought would have to be designed from the keel up, and this work was begun at almost the same time as the planning of the Federation-class rebuild. This new, improved dreadnought design would come to be labelled as the Komsomolsk class.

Designed from the frames out to incorporate the lessons learned from fighting the Klingons and then Mirak through the ‘70s as well as the latest advances in hull materials, propulsion, and defences from the New Technology revolution at the start of the decade, the Komsomolsk was not only a superior design which placed the Star Fleet back as first among equals in the dreadnought stakes, it was also a much more aesthetically pleasing vessel to behold than the formerly impressive Federation class.

However, the Komsomolsk nearly became the “dreadnought that never got built”, as in 2280 the Saess’Tan-Menahga battle cruiser controversy swept the Federation’s halls of power. Along with the fleet carrier, the perimeter action vessel, and battle cruiser development projects, the Komsomolsk Project suffered a seemingly mortal blow and was set to be shelved after the research and development phase was completed. In the mean time, this work continued and its supporters trod lightly, hoping for a reprieve, but the design phase of the Komsomolsk Development Project ended in 2281 and construction did not begin immediately as was hoped.

2100 Federation uprated aft dorsal port quarter.

uprated Federation – aft dorsal port quarter

What goes around comes around however, and in 2283 the hawks were once again proven right as the six-month “Taal Tan Offensive” boiled across the Federation border. Fortunately, by this time the Federation-class re-capitalisation project had borne successful fruit, as had the Ascension-class stop-gap measure. While all these dreadnoughts had been commissioned and many stationed on the Klingon border, almost half of them were also distributed around the Federation to known trouble zones and other belligerent neighbours. However, fully seven rebuilt Federations and three new Ascensions were on hand to help stop, contain, and then repel the Klingon invasion.

2520 Ascension fore.

Ascension – fore

While these new classes acquitted themselves well against the Klingons, they were mostly used to counter deployments of Klingon dreadnoughts in the region. In these instances they were viewed purely as a direct exchange for more cruisers, and their role in the fleet was still debated by those in the Pacifist Bloc of the Federation Council. Was a single dreadnought really worth two heavy cruisers? And even if this was so, it was only in combat. By sending a dreadnought on deterrence patrol, was it worth exchanging for two heavy cruisers that could be used in two different locations and for two different missions?

On the flip side of this was the revelation that the Organians had apparently abandoned their self-imposed peace-keeping duties and the Klingons were once again free to do what they did best, which caused great consternation among the members of the Federation Council. Each one wanted a powerful fleet unit or detachment within easy warp of their planet or affiliated star league. More calls were made for more capital ship numbers and classes to safeguard the citizens of the Federation. Authorisation to begin construction of the Komsomolsk-class improved dreadnoughts was once again obtained and this modern class had its initial-build class numbers swelled from a single batch of ten ships to also include a ship-by-ship replacement of the Federation and Ascension-class units lost in both the Mirak and Klingon incursions.

In addition to this, intelligence that all these belligerent nations – and many allied nations – were advancing their own dreadnought and even battleship building programs led the Federation Council to approve the Starfleet Military Staff Committee’s recommendation to continue their own dreadnought program beyond the still under-construction Komsomolsk class. A study was commissioned to collate, interpolate, and extrapolate the current and near-future capabilities of the belligerent nations’ dreadnoughts, and design a Federation dreadnought that could at least stand toe-to-toe with the best of them.

In the years following Taal Tan there was no lack of immediate threat to the “dreadnought enthusiasm” that had so gripped the Council in the aftermath of the Klingon offensive. Multi-ship engagements with the Klingons occurred with increasing frequency and it was with great relief that the first Komsomolsk-class ships entered service nearly six years after Taal Tan. Many in the Federation viewed it as just in time, as in the year 2288 what would become known as the “General War” descended upon all but the Federation. It was widely believed that this new class of the “best of the best” dreadnoughts, in addition to the seventeen surviving Federation-class and eight Ascension-class ships, and the new Athabasca-class commando carriers and Akula-class destroyers, would help stop the barbarians at the gates. The officers and politicians who had fought for authorisations and appropriations for these stronger, more capable classes were lauded as far-sighted heroes who had managed to prepare and equip their defence forces with the tools needed just at the time when those forces most needed them.

The hidden but deeply entrenched roots of the General War put up fresh sprouts when yet another Mirak-Lyran War expanded into the Second Four Powers War, with the Klingons and Hydrans joining in to honour their respective mutual defence pacts. Further to that, the Romulans went to war with the Gorn once they were finally in possession of a fully modern, in-depth, deep space fleet of their own. It was decided within the Federation’s halls of power that it was only a matter of time before the Federation got dragged unwillingly into this maelstrom, perhaps even on a two-front war against the Klingons and Romulans. As a direct result of this astropolitical analysis a further batch of ten Komsomolsk-class ships was authorised, as were the first five hulls of the new heavy dreadnought design, now named as the Ulysses class, to a planned class of ten.

So much upheaval happened in the interim between this decision and the actual commissioning of the U.S.S. Ulysses that dreadnought construction was repeatedly placed on the chopping block only to obtain last-minute reprieves. After almost two years of construction on the first batch of Komsomolsk-class ships and the Ulysses, the Romulans encountered a powerful new enemy on their far border and the Klingons suffered a brief civil war, rendering both primary antagonists unlikely to cause the Federation any serious trouble. Dreadnought construction was slowed but not halted so as not to prematurely touch off the impending conflagration, with the exception of the Ulysses herself on whom construction proceeded apace. Then more unexpected events occurred, reversing this yet again.

The Romulans detonated their “Shiva” subspace weapon in the Federation-Klingon-Romulan Neutral Zone, bringing in the Tabula Rasa systems into formerly empty space and offering up all the significant riches within to the strongest contender. The Federation was once again brought into conflict with both the Klingons and the Romulans as the protector of the Tabula Rasa’s indigenous species, the Taubat.

As tensions rose with the Romulans and Klingons and more starships from all sides converged on the region, events revealed that the Federation had been played for the fool as the Taubat turned out to be a genetically engineered vassal race for an incredibly powerful and hostile species called the Metar. These Metar were awoken from their slumber by the Taubat and proceeded to tear through anyone that stood in their way. After nearly a year of desperate losing battles, the Metar were only finally sealed back into their prison with the help of the Metar’s equally ancient enemies, the Hubrin, who also reappeared very late in the campaign to assist the three Local Space Powers who had managed to stop their internecine squabbling long enough to fight the Metar together.

Unfortunately through all this, the Ulysses was still under construction and was not close to being made ready. The construction of additional Komsomolsk-class ships was assured, however, to replace losses among the Komsomolsk, Federation, and Ascension classes from the Metar Campaign. All three designs acquitted themselves as well as could be expected against such a superior foe, holding out for longer than their smaller brethren and finally ensuring that a place for the dreadnought design did indeed exist even in a modern galaxy. However, with the loss of these ships, total dreadnought numbers fell to seventeen. Ships from around the Federation had to be redeployed to main threat axes to cover these losses.

The year after the defeat of the Metar, another, far more disastrous Klingon civil war took them out of the equation as three factions vied for control of the Empire. All it did was worsen their situation as more infrastructure was wrecked or destroyed, and their primary energy production facility was wiped out. This however worked in the favour of the Federation, as, realising their situation, the victor of that war later sued for peace with their old adversary.

With the Klingons now supposedly out of the picture for war with the Federation and the Romulans now fully occupied with their new enemy, the InterStellar Concordium, the Ulysses’ future was once again in doubt. Construction on the other four units, never really restored from four years ago, remained slow. Komsomolsk-class production was once again fixed to a total of twenty units. As such, the Ulysses was completed more as an act of national pride and prestige than to gain an active fleet unit, and her commissioning in 2294 reflected this.

The debate over her fate and that of her four sisters – partially completed but still under slow construction – vacillated back and forth, but new intelligence on the Romulans’ enemy – who were also the enemy of Federation allies the Gorn – revealed troubling trends. It was once believed that the I.S.C. would keep the Romulans occupied for a considerable time, and even then that they were not expected to fully prevail against the Federation’s longest standing adversary. But as time wore on it became apparent that not only were the Romulan losing – and losing badly – but so were the Gorn at the same time. This new enemy was so powerful that they could roll back two major Local Space Powers simultaneously. Further, while it was once thought that the Federation could begin a dialogue and even become friends and allies with the I.S.C. since the two entities seemed outwardly similar, it was also discovered that the I.S.C. thought of all nations outwith their own borders as dangerously insane and needing to be disarmed for their own good – the Federation included.

With this juggernaut inexorably ploughing through both Gorn and Romulan space and showing no signs of being willing to stop at their far borders, leaving the Federation in peace, it seemed that there was no way for the Federation to avoid another war.

Once again the dreadnought program was green-lighted, and the Ulysses’ four sister ships had their construction timetables rapidly revised. What was more, construction on a further two vessels began with more authorised for as soon as there was shipyard space to begin them.

When the I.S.C. did finally arrive at the Federation’s border two years later, all five Ulysses-class ships were in service with the other two expected within another eighteen months. Five more had already begun construction, but would not see service against the I.S.C.

The I.S.C. War of Pacification Against All was a brutal affair that lasted another two years. During those years, hundreds of starships on all sides were destroyed or wrecked. Among them, the Ulysses class was almost annihilated. Only one of the seven survived the war, the Molnjir, and she was held together by baling wire and duct tape. It was aboard her however that the Local Space Powers accepted the surrender of the I.S.C. High Command. As to the members of her class, their performance in battle ensured that more would be built. While the ships themselves were utterly destroyed in their final battles, their destruction took such a toll on the I.S.C. forces that these victories were rendered quite Pyrrhic, or at best a stalemate. The Ulysses class could soak up so much damage while still dishing it out that an I.S.C. Echelon gutted itself trying to take each of them out, and were then defeated or forced into retreat by the other elements of the Starfleet battle group. In the battles that the Ulysses class survived they were more than up to the task set before them, sweeping away all lesser resistance.

The Molnjir herself was retired from active duty after the war and, while remaining on the active duty roster like Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson’s H.M.S. Victory did within the British Royal Navy centuries after her last battle, was used as a living war memorial, cadet training ship, and museum. Future groups of Starfleet cadets who excelled in their classes would, as a special reward, be given duty aboard her to aid in maintaining and restoring her.

Appropriations for more Ulysses-class heavy dreadnoughts were secured, and thirteen more would enter service in the new century as in an ever-changing galaxy no one could know what the future would bring.

This was painfully brought into sharp relief after another decade of peace. With the Klingon Empire now in dire straights from the loss of both their primary and secondary energy sources in the early 2290s, and both the Federation and the Gorn fully involved in rebuilding efforts – in the Federation’s case, rebuilding both themselves and the Klingon Empire – the Romulans took this opportunity to expand aggressively. Although having lost great swathes of territory to the I.S.C., their ship losses were relatively lower as their cloaking device afforded them a means of preserving ships from destruction or capture in a hopeless battle. While the Klingons would sneer “cowards!” and deride them as running from battle and forsaking their worlds, this unique Romulan ability enabled experienced commanders and crews to survive to fight another day. As such, the Romulan Grand Fleet was staffed by experienced, battle-hardened, and eminently – many would say ruthlessly – pragmatic personnel, from the lowliest ship tech to the admirals commanding fleets. With the victory over the I.S.C. and the return of all their territory, and discovering that most of the planetary infrastructure was still in place and mostly undamaged, this allowed the Romulans to pick up almost from where they left off after a decade of battling the I.S.C. juggernaut. After another decade of solely looking after themselves to regain their former fleet levels, the Romulans returned to the galactic stage with a bang. Taking extreme exception to the Federation “hemming them in on all sides” – a phrase that resonated with all other aggressive species encountering the Federation’s more benevolent approach and stabilising influence – the Romulans set about taking full advantage of the Federation’s preoccupation and relatively vulnerable state.

In the aftermath of the I.S.C. War Starfleet had decommissioned all the badly damaged dreadnoughts of the uprated Federation and Ascension classes so that none remained in service and dreadnought numbers were once again at an all-time low. This was seen by many as acceptable since the Local Space Powers had recently defeated an interstellar super-power by working together, and now in the aftermath an enemy was in the process of becoming a friend and everyone – it was thought – would be sick of war and focussing on rebuilding.

However, the rumbling from the Romulan Star Empire escaped over the borders in 2308 and once a proper analysis was completed, enough people believed that the threat was real to have dreadnought production stepped up. The Ulysses and Komsomolsk classes restarted in full – if limited – production. By then, the five Ulysses-class ships begun during the I.S.C. War had been commissioned, and the Komsomolsk numbers in service had been restored to ten with continued construction and repairs to survivors of the war. To counter this latest military build up from the Romulans, Starfleet received appropriations to double these class levels, and construction began immediately in 2309.

It was proven once again, however, that no one could predict the future. Only three years later, with none of these newly-authorised ships completed, the ever-growing Romulan threat was apparently banished behind the closed doors of its neutral zone. The Tomed incident, an act of terrorism that could have been an act of war leading to full-scale interstellar war between the Federation and Romulans, woke up both sides to the potential true cost of an enraged United Federation of Planets waging all-out war. While having prepared for war against them, and having fought Starfleet personnel and ships individually and in groups, and having fought beside them against the I.S.C., and having rebuilt themselves to their former, pre-I.S.C. glory, none in the military and political higher echelons of the Romulan Star Empire had apparently taken the Federation’s motivation into account.

The Federation had always fought to contain and repulse, seeking peace over all things. The I.S.C. invasion, while originally believed to be of the same nature as a Klingon invasion, turned out to be a benevolent occupation intended to pacify squabbling children and show them that there was a batter way. However, all-out interstellar war the Federation, who were prepared to start and finish the Romulans’ war for them, would be waged in the “traditional” style of planets captured, populations conquered, and infrastructure either captured or destroyed. And with the Klingons, even in their weakened state, siding with the Federation, wiser heads suddenly prevailed on the other side of the Neutral Zone. A new peace treaty was brokered between the three powers in November of 2311, and the Romulans have not been seen – outside of Nimbus III – in the six months since.

Such is the continued risk of confrontation with disaffected Klingon elements, however, or the equally sudden reappearance of the Romulans, that Federation dreadnought production currently continues as planned. There is no guarantee that the Romulans will stay behind their border. There is no way to ensure that this is not another long-term Romulan strategy to have the Federation become complacent again and relax Starfleet’s active defensive stance. There is no way to ensure the Klingons will not suffer a civil war and collapse completely, bringing anarchy to their border regions. There is no guarantee that a Klingon military coup bringing in elements hostile to the Federation will not happen.

Only time will tell. And during that time, the Dreadnoughts of the Federation will ensure that any belligerent will think hard, and think twice, before risking their wrath.

Approximate Timeline

The Four Years’ War with the Klingon Empire begins with the Klingon attack on the Federation colony of Archanis IV.

The Four Years’ War with the Klingon Empire ends with the Klingons suffering a major defeat at Axanar, though it is a risky strategy that works and where Ares-class cruisers are the primary combat elements of Starfleet. It is decided that a new class of capital ship is needed, and the design phase begins.

The first batch of ships of the new dreadnought class begin construction at Earth, Andor and Tellar, using tried and tested technology from the Constitution class.

First Federation-class dreadnoughts enter service.

The final members of the now twenty-strong Federation-class of dreadnoughts enter service.

The Second Federation-Klingon War, halted by the Organians and henceforth known as the "Organian Conflict" or "The Two-Day War".

A low-intensity border conflict is started against Starfleet by the personal fleets of disaffected Klingon Great Houses. They are officially unsanctioned, but allowed to proceed with minimal interference from the Imperial Navy.

The border conflict with the Klingons is brought to a halt as the Imperial Navy is instructed to restrain the Great Houses.
The Federation-Mirak War, a high-intensity, full-scale mobilisation of the Mirak Battle Fleet with specific goals. Starfleet scrambles to contain and repulse the Mirak, who stop after one decisive defeat, their goals achieved after six months of warfare.
Redesign efforts begin for uprating the Federation-class to New Technology standards as a result of the Federation-Mirak War.
The next batch of Belknap-class strike cruisers (2520-2529) is modified on the drawing boards into the Ascension-class light dreadnought.
Requirements gathering and preliminary design phase of the all-new “improved dreadnought” class begins.

First uprated Federation-class ships re-enter service.

First flight of Ascension-class ships enter service.

Saess’Tan-Menahga Controversy. Many tactically-oriented classes have development curtailed or halted.

Klingon Taal Tan Offensive against the Federation.
Renewed appropriations granted for the improved dreadnought class, and for continuation of the dreadnought program past completion of the improved dreadnought construction run.
Construction begins on all ten planned hulls of the Komsomolsk-class improved dreadnought.
Threat analysis as a precursor to requirements gathering and preliminary design phase of the all-new “heavy dreadnought” class begins.

Requirements gathering and preliminary design phase of the all-new “heavy dreadnought” class begins.
On learning of the Federation's "Project Genesis" superweapon, the Romulan Tal Shi'ar's Special Weapons Division begin their own research into subspace-based weapons of mass destruction. It is code-named "Shiva" (closest Federation Standard translation of Romulan Goddess of Destruction).

Construction begins on the first five hulls of the Ulysses-class heavy dreadnought.
First Komsomolsk-class improved dreadnoughts enter service.
The Four Powers War begins between the Mirak, Lyrans, Klingons, and Hydrans.
The Romulans and Gorn go to war with each other.

Having produced a working prototype, the Romulans conduct their Shiva weapons test in a barren region on the Federation-Romulan-Klingon Neutral Zone, below the infamous Triangle. This ruptures a subspace pocket created as a prison for an ancient super-race, and begins the Tabula Rasa Colonial Campaign as each side scrambles to claim all the resources for their respective war efforts.
Brief Klingon Civil War, put down by General Chang.
In August of this year, the Metar Onslaught begins.

In September of this year, the Metar Onslaught are once again sealed away in their Hubrin subspace prison.

Major, three-faction Klingon Civil War, and the loss of their primary energy-production facility.

Praxis & Khitomer: War and Peace for the Klingon Empire.

First Ulysses-class heavy dreadnought enters service.

The General War is officially ended by all parties, so they can band together to fight the I.S.C. The I.S.C. War of Pacification Against All begins.

The Local Space Powers defeat the I.S.C. pacification attempt at horrendous cost to themselves, and begin rebuilding.

The Tomed Incident between the Federation and Romulans.

Afterword by the Creator

This article was inspired by yet another intense discussion with Adrian Jones of Star Trek: The Interim Years / U.S.S. Sheffield NCC-1976.

Credit where Credit is Due

1. Dreadnought introduction date
© 1985 Guenther & Sofia, 'Federation Reference Series' p102, § 01:04:01:10.01

2. Start and end years of the Four Years War
Admiral Ramirez' speech
design of D-6 battlecruiser
© 2014 'Star Trek: Axanar'

3. "Raxor" name for D-6
"Klolode" name for D-7
Jul'kar-class B-1 battleship
© 1978 Patrick Flannery for Geoffrey Mandel's 'Star Fleet Handbook #13', p12

4. Pacifist Bloc of the U.F.P. Council
© 1988, 1991 Guenther & Sofia, 'Ships of the Star Fleet – Volume One (2290-91)', p6, § State of the Fleet ¶ 2.

5. "Hulking brute"
© 2007 Geoffrey Mandel, 'Guide to the Klingon Fleet – 2300-2301', pp16, § Battleships.

6. Federation-class dreadnought
© 1975 Franz Joseph Designs, 'Star Trek: Star Fleet Technical Manual', p88-89, Command Section, § 01:04:24-25.

7. The Chakuun, Chakuun Ghostship, and Battle of Theta Kalyb
© Marvel's 'Star Trek: The Early Voyages', #10 & #11.

8. Hemes-class fleet scout
© 1975 Franz Joseph Designs, 'Star Trek: Star Fleet Technical Manual', p79-80, Command Section, § 01:04:14-15.

9. Saladin-class destroyer
© 1975 Franz Joseph Designs, 'Star Trek: Star Fleet Technical Manual', p77-78, Command Section, § 01:04:12-13.

10. Surya-class heavy frigate
© 1988, 1991 Guenther & Sofia, 'Ships of the Star Fleet – Volume One (2290-91)', pp65-68, § Frigates, sub-§ Surya class frigates.
Role/type modified by me to fit my own ship classifications.

11. Coventry-class light cruiser
© 1988, 1991 Guenther & Sofia, 'Ships of the Star Fleet – Volume One (2290-91)', pp69-72, § Frigates, sub-§ Coventry class frigates.
Role/type modified by me to fit my own ship classifications.

12. Kar'hamer name
© 2007 Geoffrey Mandel, 'Guide to the Klingon Fleet – 2300-2301', pp20-22, § Battleships, sub-§ Kar'hamer.

13. Kuyper name
© 2007 Geoffrey Mandel, 'Guide to the Klingon Fleet – 2300-2301', pp46-47, § Dreadnoughts, sub-§ Kuyper.

14. C-5 light dreadnought
C-8 dreadnought
B-10 battleship
© 1978 Steven V. Cole for Armarillo Design Bureau's table-top starship combat game 'Star Fleet Battles'

15. K'herr name
© 2007 Geoffrey Mandel, 'Guide to the Klingon Fleet – 2300-2301', pp48-50, § Dreadnoughts, sub-§ K'herr.