(Final refit shown.)
Inscription on Commissioning Plaque: "Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes."-- Antisthenes
Armaments: Four Laser cannon banks, 1 (dual emitter) fwd, 1 each port and starboard, later upgraded to phasers. One accelerator cannon mounted in a pod slung beneath the engineering section, later upgraded to photon torpedo launcher.
Type: Escort Frigate
Status: 65 produced during a production run that extended from 2228 to 2233. Of the 165 constructed, 27 were missing and presumed lost, 19 were destroyed in action. The last example of the Growler class was decommissioned in 2278.
About Ship: At the end of the Romulan war, the United Federation of Planets ordered a review of the fleet with an emphasis on ships used during the conflict. Several member planets had starship construction facilities, and many were advocating a complete redesign of all ships across the board. Others saw no need for any changes in fleet composition. The review was intended to determine where between these two extremes the wisest course lay.
Starfleet reluctantly concluded that most of its ships would require replacement as soon as funds could be allocated. The only exceptions to this ruling were the Horizon class, remaining in service for several years as the backbone of the UFP fleet, and the Borchardt class. The Borchardt had performed admirably during the Romulan wars, and Starfleet felt that the design's shortcomings were negligible, given its primary mission to provide escort to slower merchant types. Other vessels were scrapped or demilitarized and sold to merchants or other private concerns.
The Borchardt, and derivative types, soldiered on for many years, until the Federation made first contact with the Klingons. Due to a diplomatic blunder, these warlike people viewed the Federation with considerable hostility. Furthermore, their technology was on a par with the Federation. Merchant vessels protected by the escorts in use at the time may as well have been protected by wooden ships armed with bronze cannon. The Klingons' small ships were fast, maneuverable, and well-armed. A new escort type was needed quickly.
The Utopia Planitia shipyards in Mars orbit had been investigating how a ship's configuration affected the propagation of its warp field, and had made a few interesting breakthroughs. The escort design was needed immediately, in quantity. It was designed according to these principles.
The Growler class starship appears to be a 1/3 scale working model of the Constitution class heavy cruiser (which did not appear until almost 15 years later). In fact, the Growler development team was composed of junior engineering officers, many of whom were eventually assigned to the Constitution class development team years later.
The Growler had the most powerful weapons of the day when first constructed, four laser cannon, arranged in 1 forward bank of 2 emitters and 2 side-facing banks of one emitter. The first refit of the Growler class included the addition of a new type of weapon, the accelerator cannon. The accelerator cannon was mounted in a detachable pod under the stardrive section. This feature shortened the time to install the weapon as well as providing the Growler with a long-range weapon.
The Growler class proved to be a very efficient vessel from the standpoint of warp dynamics. During its service life, it received several upgrades to its propulsion system and power distribution systems, as well as improved weaponry as new technology became available. The performance characteristics of the Growler class starships were not exceeded to any significant degree until the introduction of the Constitution class.
The growler class was retired from service in 2278 after 50 years of service. One remains on display at the Utopia Planitia Shipyard orbital museum.
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