DaVinci research frigate
Inscription on Commissioning Plaque:
"True science teaches, above all, to doubt and to be ignorant."General Specifications:--Miguel De Unamuno
Armament: Three lasers (1 fwd bank of 2, 1 aft); later refit to phasers in 2267; one accelerator cannon (aft); refit to photon torpedo launcher in 2267.
Type: Research frigate
Status: 123 built between 2224 and 2231. All vessels upgraded in 2267.
About Ship: With the introduction of the Jupiter class heavy cruiser in 2220, The Federation's fleet of follow-up exploration and research vessels had begun to show their age. Compared to the Jupiter class, the rest of Starfleet's research and exploration vessels were hard-pressed to keep up. The situation was complicated by the new exploration strategy implemented with the discovery of the Klingons.
Prior to first contact with the Klingons, the Federation's exploration cruisers simply went from system to system, charting planets and performing a fairly thorough survey of all planetary characteristics, performing first-contacts with the native population, etc. The presence of the hostile, aggressive, Klingons on the outer fringes of the Federation sparked fears that they (the Klingons) would simply expand along their border into Federation-claimed (but unoccupied) space.
To counter this percieved threat, the Federation would send its heavy cruisers to the limits of Federation-claimed space and begin cursory surveys of all systems containing planets. They would report back to Starfleet command any preliminary findings, but would no longer perform thorough surveys of systems that did not contain class M planets. Instead, smaller research vessels would be dispatched to investigate systems without class M planets, allowing the cruiser to move on to the next system. This would allow the Federation to identify and colonize planets within the claimed areas more quickly, legitimizing its claim to many systems close to the Klingon border, preventing the Klingons from doing likewise, establishing staging points suitable for an invasion of the Federation itself.
This created a problem, as the existing generation of research vessels were quite slow. Many had insufficient range to reach the more distant reaches of the Federation. A new generation of small vessels was required, possessing range and speed to quickly reach the most distant systems, yet still have the endurance to remain on station for up to a year at a time, if necessary. These vessels would have to be armed, if only to defend themselves during a hasty retreat.
The percieved threat posed by the Klingons loosened the Federation's purse strings. Starfleet had been busily designing and not building new ships "because the older designs are good enough". They had already designed just the tool for the task, and had only been awaiting approval to commence production.
The DaVinci was a very fast vessel for its day. It carried more firepower than most cruisers of the previous fifty years. The design itself was an enlarged version of the Dhole, with fewer but heavier lasers and a single aft-firing accelerator cannon. The superstructure beneath the saucer was enlarged to provide space for the laboratories and other equipment necessary to perform as a research vessel. The accelerator cannon launcher served a dual purpose, as it could also launch probes. In fact, the DaVinci was usually equipped with only a few torpedoes, just enough to discourage pursuit.
The DaVinci greatly benefited from advances in both propulsion systems and improved understanding of how the spaceframe's configuration affected the formation of the warp field surrounding the vessel. The DaVinci was fast and agile, both in sublight and at warp speed. The power consumption of all drives was quite low for a vessel of this type, allowing on-station times of over a year. Performance was further increased when the DaVincis were upgraded in 2267.
The DaVinci class vessels remained in front-line service for nearly 75 years. As the Oberth began entering service, the DaVincis were demilitarized and sold to private concerns.
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