The Galaxy class Heavy Explorer was an attempt by Starfleet to design the
perfect starship. They wanted a flagship vessel that could carry out a long
duration exploration mission, function as a host for diplomatic functions,
be rapid response vessel in times of crisis and hold its own in a battle.
To accomplish this, the Starfleet commissioned the Advanced Starship Design
Board to use data going all the way back to the CONSTITUTION class starships.
Commander Orfil Quinteros was supervisor of the Galaxy-class Starship Development
Project. Dr. Leah Brahms was one of the chief designers of the warp propulsion
The Galaxy-class Starship Development Project was approved in 2343. Pursuant
to Starfleet Exploration Directive 902.3, the following objectives were
established for the Galaxy Class Starship Development Project: (1) To
provide a mobile platform for a wide range of ongoing scientific and cultural
research projects; (2) Replace aging Ambassador- and Oberth-class starships
as primary instruments of Starfleet's exploration programs; (3) Provide
autonomous capability for full execution of Federation policy in outlying
areas; (4) Incorporate recent advancements in warp power plant technology
and improved science instrumentation.
This was a period of relative peace for the Federation. The Klingons
were becoming allies, the Romulans had not crossed the Neutral Zone in
years and only the - mostly - low scale conflicts with the Tholians, Tzenkethi,
Talarians and Cardassian inspired Maquis threatened the tranquility. In
this atmosphere the decision to make the Galaxy class primarily an exploration
vessel, one carrying many civilian scientists and families, was an easy
one to take. In hindsight it was very nearly a disaster.
GALAXY class starship were designed and constructed at Utopia Planitia
Shipyards, Mars, as a replacement for the venerable and aging AMBASSADOR
Class. Having been procured in an era of political tension, the
Ambassador's configuration more closely resembles that of a battleship,
with over 17% of total internal volume dedicated to Combat systems, whereas
the Galaxy class ships were designed from the start to be luxurious,
It All" Research-Diplomatic vessels with 20% Internal volume
dedicated to Crew habitat and research spaces, and only 5% combat
Systems and subsystems allotment. However, the Galaxy ships are far
from unarmed; they have three photon torpedo tubes and a full spherical
array of phaser banks.
As an diplomatic ship, the Galaxy class has a large internal habitat
volume to host foreign delegations and to assist in emergency evacuations.
This design feature coupled with advances in computer technology allows
a previously unheard of situation -- the families of the crew members
are allowed to live on-ship. This proved so successful, that civilians
accommodations have been 'retrofitted' to some other classes of ships,
notably those with the volume to handle them. PROMETHEUS and other 'Project
Archangel' inspired ships lack this 'touch.' Since crew workload is light,
the number of required duty stations is greatly reduced, thus a GALAXY
can be manned by fewer crew than her size may indicate. With civilians
on board, the ship was designed so that the saucer section could detach
itself from the star drive section to remove them from harm's way in the
event of an emergency. This feature saved the entire crew of USS Enterprise-D
when it was core breached above Veridian III. Unfortunately, the USS Yamoto
did not fare so well, losing 30% of her crew and civilian complement when
her warp core breached in 2365 and she was unable to separate the sections.
By the time USS Galaxy was commissioned, many of the components used
had already seen extensive service with other classes, most notably the
NEBULA class. Whilst the Nebula relied on its interchangeable mission
modules for its versatility, the Galaxy was intended to be able to do
it all with one basic design. As an example, the bridge module on the
prototype USS Galaxy NCC-70637 was a self-containable, replaceable 'module',
designed with advanced life support functions and separable in case of
problems during the shake-down runs. This feature was not duplicated into
the remainder of the Galaxy ships. Their bridges were 'lift out and replace'
Six Galaxy class starships were constructed and built. The first was
the U.S.S. Galaxy NX-70637 prototype commissioned in 2357, and the second
was the U.S.S. Yamato NCC-71801 commissioned in 2362. The U.S.S. Enterprise
NCC-1701-D launched and officially commissioned in October 2363, the third
Galaxy-class starship built. The U.S.S. Odyssey NCC-71832 and the U.S.S.
Venture NCC-71854 soon followed. A further six space frames under construction
in the yards were broken back down into pieces and moved to depots around
the Federation for re-assembly if needed. This extraordinary measure was
taken because of the suddenly very real possibility of a Federation Loss
in the Dominion War. The Fleet decided that keeping the Galaxy platform
out of the hands of a Threat Force was their no. 1 priority. The need
for the ships arose sooner than expected due to the losses from the Borg
Invasions and the Dominion War.
Due to the great expense and complexity of the Galaxy class to build,
the class's future is in doubt. It is uncertain whether more Galaxy class
starships will be constructed or whether a newer and less intricate class
starship will be procured in its place. Even though the Galaxy class is
only twenty years old, and has a 100 year operational lifespan, it no
longer represents the pinnacle of technology, and Starfleet may opt for
an altogether different platform for its next flagship class, SOVEREIGN
class being a strong contender.
In 2372, the Enterprise-D was destroyed at Veridian III. A Klingon warbird,
commanded by the renegade Klingons Lursa and B'Etor of the Duras family,
found the Enterprise's shield modulation and hit the ship with modulated
photon torpedoes. The Enterprise destroyed the Klingon ship, but the damage
was not repairable. The crew was evacuated to the saucer section and the
ship separated. The damage caused the warp core to breach and the resulting
explosion caused the saucer section to crash on Veridian III. The ship
was not salvageable and the new Sovereign-class starship U.S.S. Enterprise
registry NCC-1701-E was launched in 2372.
After crash-landing on Veridian III, the saucer section of the GALAXY
class USS Enterprise-D was to be broken down and removed from the surface
of the planet in accordance with Prime Directive regulations. It was deemed
a total structural loss, and could not be returned to service. Upon closer
inspection, however, a group of designers from Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards
realized that the damage to the space frame was not as severe as originally
thought. The saucer could be removed from the surface mostly intact as
a relatively new hull capable of at least serving as a test article.
Federation Council approved the plan; they were convinced that
Utopia Planitia's permanent possession of at least one half of a Galaxy
class starship would allow them to better produce upgrades and
refits for that expensive flagship class. Over three months, the hull
was disassembled into several manageable pieces and transported to Utopia
Planitia by warp courier. The saucer was reassembled once at Mars,
with new structural elements to replace ones fatigued in the crash
and spartan interiors with only the most vital systems installed.
Most of the hull was left empty, leaving room to place new technologies
and systems designed for the next generation of starships, in particular
the Galaxy class. The saucer participated in a number of tests
at Utopia Planitia from 2372 to 2378. Its phaser arrays were successfully
upgraded to type XII, showing that even a Galaxy class ship without
a warp core could use these stronger weapons. It was the first
Federation starship to be equipped with shields that could resist the
Breen energy dampening weapon. Using construction technology conscripted
after the fall of the Cardassian Union, the saucer proved that
large Federation starships, especially saucer sections, could be fitted
with an embedded warp system for emergency propulsion. All these
systems, plus more learnt during the PROMETHEUS and DEFIANT class
design builds, as well as the SOVEREIGN class, were analyzed and
considered for the next round of GALAXY class starship refits,
which were a year overdue. Almost twenty years into their lifespans,
and facing their first major overhaul and refit, four of the original
six Galaxy-class starships had been destroyed. Of the remaining
six space frames, four of them were 'reassembled' and pressed into service
during the Dominion War, after the loss of the Odyssey. Mounting
really nothing more than bare bones phaser fire control systems
and RCS thrusters in dummy nacelles, the "Armada Ladies" were
used for decoy duties along the Cardassian border. Two were lost
in skirmishing actions, the remaining two are 'mothballed' pending
the Galaxy, Lexington and Challenger re-fits.
With major design enhancements due in less than five years, and ships
such as the PROMETHEUS and the DEFIANT classes employing technology decades
ahead of the Galaxies, the Advanced Design Bureau opted to take on an
ambitious, top secret program to bring the Galaxy into the modern age.
Minor damage to the prototype USS Galaxy, and the unfortunate crippling
of her commander during a routine mission in 2378 gave them the perfect
excuse. USS Galaxy, NCC-70637 was 'decommissioned' and her crew dispersed.
The ship was towed from Starbase 212 to Stardock Two at Mars Planitia
Utopia Shipyards, and work began on her in secret.
In a surprise move, Dr. Leah Brahms was NOT consulted on the 'Accelerated
Refit' project, as the ASDB had selected several ideas from a classmate
of hers, one Dr. Jebediah Quick. A notable eccentric in a field that seemed
to produce eccentrics, Dr. Quick had submitted several 'proposals' to the
ASDB merely as jokes...not knowing that his 'Cheezy Poof' encrusted doodles
ont he back of bar-naps would end up in the hands of the Corps of Engineers.
Changes from the original Galaxy included a third
warp nacelle, improved engine efficiency, very advanced sensor arrays,
a large phaser/torpedo cannon, and high-capacity shields. This class
mounted the most advanced weapons and propulsion suites the Advanced
Starship Design Bureau offered and was stronger than anything that
had been developed before. Furthermore, to protect against any espionage
of the prototype blueprints several systems and specifications were
rearranged last minute. Starfleet put all its resources into the construction
of these ships, in the hope that it could counter this enemy. The original
U.S.S. Galaxy (NCC-70637), which had been at Utopia Planitia for its
first twenty year refit was converted first, in secret. In 2379, Captain
John Q. Bhrode was given her command, and the ship was re-commissioned
USS Galaxy NCC-70637-A.
The U.S.S. Lexington was chosen as the next vessel, since it was still
under construction and could be rapidly refit to the new specifications,
with a 2381 launch date. Starfleet desired a third ship, but it was feared
another Galaxy class vessel built from scratch could not be refit in time
to be of any use. It was then realized that the Enterprise-D saucer, which
had been structurally refit to space worthiness over the past eight years
and already contained most of the new technology, could be docked with
a unfinished stardrive section from another Galaxy that had just been
laid down, the last of the original twelve space frames.
In 2381, the USS Galaxy suffered major structural damage
while on a diplomatic mission to Breen. The third nacelle and pylon
had been shorn off at the secondary hull, completely rendering the
secondary hull inhabitable from Decks 25-35 in the Stardrive section.
The extent of the damage took the USS Galaxy out of commission for
3 months. At first, it was thought the ship would be decommissioned
permanently at this time since the extent of the damage would entail an
almost complete overhaul of ships systems, structure, and electronics.
Instead, with the new combined threat from the Breen,
Hydrans, and T`Kith`Kin now facing the Federation, Starfleet commandeered
the recently upgraded Enterprise-D saucer and accelerated the 2384-due
5 year refit to encompass the new technologies available for the USS
Galaxy instead of building a new vessel from the ground up. Time was
of the essence. The Federation was still recovering from the losses
of the Dominion War. Project Archangel was in full ramp-up. Within
three months, the USS Galaxy was re-commissioned with her original
registry number NCC-70637 and the A dropped as the first in the new
Galaxy III class. The third nacelle was scratched with the new technologies
in warp acceleration and power coils making it un-needed. She retained
the phaser cannon.