Inscription on Commissioning Plaque: "A man is either free or he is not. There cannot be any apprenticeship for freedom."-- IMAMU AMIRI BARAKA
Max Warp: 9.9
Max. Impulse: 0.9935 lightspeed
Crew: 95 officers, 250 enlisted
Armaments: Eight phaser cannon of classified output coupled to phased arrays (see vessel description); Four quantum torpedo launchers of classified capability (2 fwd, 2 aft); one squadron of fighters; one squadron of semi-autonomous remotely piloted expendable vehicles (SARPEVs).
Type: Escort Carrier/Exploration Cruiser
Status: One undergoing trials. More will be built if the prototype performs according to expectations.
About Ship: The Shenandoah class vessel was designed to incorporate many developing technologies. Unfortunately for the type, the different technologies involved were rapidly maturing, so much so, that the Shenandoah was obsolete before the first one had been completed. The Shenandoah class was basically a good design, but suffered from high maintenance requirements to keep all the newer systems online. Starfleet Command examined the cost/benefit ratio to upgrade the Shenandoah class and recommended they be converted to exploration cruisers, with many of the offending systems removed or modified to reduce the workload on the engineering staff. A new ship would be designed to fill the requirement for an escort carrier. The Heston class is the result of that requirement.
The Heston has ablative armor and shields with automatic frequency rotation. The hull incorporates holographic hull projectors, providing a chameleon-like ability to adjust hull reflectivity and emissivity. This gives a fair imitation of cloaking without massive power consumption. This makes it extremely difficult to detect, making a positive weapons lock-on nearly impossible. It does not, however, confer true cloaking ability. The addition of Phase-Inverting Multi-band Emission Suppression System (PIMESS) means that the Heston has stealth characteristics equivalent to a Romulan cloaking device without technically violating the treaty of Algeron.
The hull is devoid of markings which could help an enemy determine weak spots, and the bridge is recessed deep within the hull. The location customarily occupied by the bridge houses the SARPEV launch deck. The holographic hull surface actively displays desired hull markings such as registry numbers, vessel name or distinctive insignia.
The hull incorporates a phased array imbedded into the outer hull structure itself. These arrays are integrated networks of emitters and sensors imbedded directly within the hull matrix itself. Each array includes sensors, phasers, navigational deflectors, and tractor beams. Each array can take a significant amount of damage before performance is noticeably diminished. The phased array acts as a long baseline interferometer, providing a significant increase in sensor acuity and range. The sensor receptors provide the ability to precisely target an object 6 centimeters in diameter at a distance of just under 4 astronomical units. A dual M/ARA arrangement supplies power, supplemented by a battery of quantum flywheels. The flywheels store several hours' worth of M/ARA output for emergency use.
In addition to a standard complement of auxiliary vehicles, the Heston carries one squadron of fighters (12 light fighters or 8 heavy fighters), and one squadron (25 units) of Semi-Autonomous Remotely Piloted Expendable Vehicles (SARPEVs, Mark II model). In peacetime, the fighter squadron is at half strength, and is supplemented with two to five additional auxiliary vehicles. There is enough additional space to accommodate several of the largest types of runabout in current use.
The Heston is economically converted to peacetime purposes. All interior fixtures (quarters, M/ARA, bridge, etc.) are designed as standardized quick-connect/disconnect modular assemblies. Either engineering section can be removed and converted to family quarters and recreational facilities (not both simultaneously, however). Half the armaments may also be removed to provide space for laboratories, additional quarters, etc. Due to the experience with the Shenandoah, Starfleet is withholding further orders for the type until it satisfactorily completes shakedown.
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