Designer:  Robert C. Dunehew. E-mail [email protected]

Dhole class escort frigate

Inscription on Commissioning Plaque:

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago."
--Bernard Berenson
General Specifications:
Length:   66.25m
Width:   44.75m
Height:  19.5m
Max Warp:  5.25
Cruise:  4.75
Max Impulse:  0.45 lightspeed
Crew:  12 officers, 30 enlisted

Armament: Four heavy lasers (fwd) and one accelerator cannon (fwd).

Type: Patrol/Escort

Status: 82 Dhole class vessels were built between 2204 and 2210.

About Ship: As the 23d century approached, Starfleet had replaced or refit nearly every vessel in the fleet. The lone exception was the Borchardt. There had been no reason to upgrade the old ships, as they were no longer used as front-line combat ships, and were considered adequate for their current role as patrol vessels and couriers. However, a series of hit-and-run attacks on Federation merchants by Orion raiders, along with an increased number of fast smugglers capable of outrunning the Borchardt, convinced Starfleet officials that it was, as one put it "Time to retire the faithful old girl".

In 2199, Starfleet issued a requirement for a vessel that could outfight and outrun the ships currently in use by the Orion raiders and smugglers. The resulting design, the Dhole class, was deemed adequate to the task, given the limited resources available, and was pressed into service.

The Dhole is a much more modern-looking ship than its predecessor, it's saucer shaped much like those used throughout the early-to-mid 23d century. Deflector technology had significantly improved, though the installation of the main deflector and sensor array appears to be "tacked on" as an afterthought. The impulse engines provided significantly higher specific output and were far more fuel efficient than those used in the Borchardt. The shuttlebay was mounted directly above the impulse engines, a feature that allowed the designers to omit landing capability, something that significantly reduced the useful space within the Borchardts.

The armaments were as strong as possible given the technology available, and the small size specified in the design requirement. Four new forward-firing heavy lasers provided more output than the Borchardt's quad-mount turret, and the Dhole's agility more than compensated for the limited traversing permitted by mounting the lasers in the forward edge of the saucer. Each laser could be aimed individually, though in practice, they were usually slaved together and aimed as a single battery. Augmenting the lasers, and providing the Dhole with its "knockout punch" was a late-model accelerator cannon launch tube, mounted on the upper surface of the forward saucer.

The main improvement of the Dhole over the Borchardt was the design of the warp drives. Taking advantage of advancements in warp technology, the shape of the vessel and placement of the nacelles allowed the Dhole's cruise speed to be as great as the emergency speed of the Borchardt. This arrangement was significantly more fuel-efficient than the Borchardt's, eliminating that vessel's only perceived vice. The increased speed was not quite enough to allow the Dholes to outrun their prospective opponents, but the new design proved much more reliable. A Dhole class vessel rarely caught up with the fastest of the smugglers and raiders, but could stay "on their heels" until their prey overheated or otherwise succumbed to the stresses of the chase.

The Dhole class vessels remained in service until they were replaced by the Growler class in 2228. 12 Dholes were destroyed in action, 19 were missing in action, and one at the Zephram Cochrane Memorial Space Museum in orbit at Alpha Centauri III. The remainder were demilitarized and sold for civilian use.

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