"Cobra" class cruiser (original configuration shown above)
Inscription on Commissioning Plaque:
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
Armaments: Three heavy dual-emitter laser cannon banks, (fwd, port, & starboard), later upgraded to phasers. One accelerator cannon mounted in the leading edge of the saucer section, later upgraded to a photon torpedo launcher.
Status: 128 produced during a production run that extended from 2253 to 2283. Of the 128 constructed, 17 were missing and presumed lost, and 29 were destroyed in action. All cobras were refit with new armaments, and uprated sensor equipment starting in 2266. In 2288, all remaining cobras were refit with an uprated warp drive.
About Ship: With the Constitution class heavy cruisers entering service in 2245, Starfleet realized that their previous class of cruisers would be unable to keep up with the new flagships. Furthermore, great strides had been made in starship technology; the performance and capability gap between the Constitution class vessels and all previous types was nearly as great as that between the previous class of cruisers and the first warp-driven exploration vessels of the previous century. As soon as resources could be allocated, Starfleet engineers began designing a fast cruiser to replace older types in front-line service.
The Cobra was a radical departure from previous designs, with it's semi-elliptical main saucer. The science of warp dynamics had advanced somewhat since the Constitutions had been built, and calculations indicated that streamlining the hull and nacelle pylons would increase efficiency, providing greater warp velocity at a lower power consumption than for any previous design.
This streamlining was only partially successful. Although they were faster than any previous cruiser, they were no faster than the Constitution class vessels. Efficiency was far superior to all earlier types, however, with antimatter consumption reduced by no less than 30% at all speeds, with the most efficient cruise falling precisely at warp 6.
The Cobras were armed almost as well as the Heavy cruisers it would supplement, lacking only a second accelerator cannon (later, a photon torpedo launcher) to equal its larger brother's firepower. Internal space being somewhat limited, compared to the "heavy C's", the Cobras carried only one third the torpedoes. The lasers (later, phasers) were rated at 75% of the output of a heavy cruiser's but due to the lower power, were less prone to overheating (a problem which was eliminated when phasers were introduced).
In 2266, the Cobras, along with much of the fleet, were refit with photon torpedoes and phasers. The new equipment required less interior space, and like so many other Starfleet vessels, the Cobra received improved sensors, more science crew, and increased laboratory space. This transformed the Cobra from a military vessel with scientific capability into a full-fledged exploration vessel, while further increasing it's ability to defend itself. This latter consideration was important at the time, as Starfleet had increased its exploration along disputed borders with both the Klingons, and later, the Romulans. The increased emphasis on exploring these regions was trifold:
In 2288, all Cobras in service were refit with uprated propulsion systems. The new warp core and nacelle design dovetailed with the Cobra's already efficient warp dynamics, increasing the vessel's speed to well above expectations.
The Cobra class is still in service, though it is used more as a science vessel than a warship. While it can still defend itself, the nature of the threats facing the Federation are increasingly lethal. As science vessels, the Cobras are expected to continue serving the Federation for many years.
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