"Liberty" class light assault cruiser
Inscription on Commissioning plaque:
"War means killing, and the way to kill is to get there firstest with the mostest."-- General Nathan Bedford Forest (1821-1877)
Max. Warp: 9.35
Max. Impulse: 0.85 lightspeed.
Armaments: Two phaser cannon turrets (1 fwd/dorsal, 1 aft/ventral); 2 squadrons of 24 SARPEVs (with launcher, fwd), one photon torpedo launcher (fwd).
Type: Light Assault Cruiser
Status: Entered production in 2374. 1092 produced from start of production to date, with approximately 10 in production at a time. 5 missing in action, 11 destroyed in action. Two variants in production: Packet class (fleet resupply) and Lister class (field hospital).
About Ship: As the probability of war with the Dominion loomed, Starfleet began re-evaluating many of its front-line vessels. Many new designs had been pressed into service, but emphasis on defending against a Borg incursion had left the fleet with few vessels specifically designed to deliver ground forces for a planetary assault. While several vessels already in production could be made to perform the mission, none were particularly well-suited to the task, often lacking large interior spaces for bulky equipment or adequate means to rapidly deploy combat forces at the point of battle. To address this deficiency, Starfleet created two ad hoc design teams. The first would recommend ships suited to quick adaptation to the assault cruiser mission and oversee their implementation. That vessel would be pressed into service in the short term. Simultaneously the second design team was tasked to either design a new vessel suited to the task that could quickly enter production, or to modify an existing design to best fill the assault cruiser specification.
The interim design was pressed into service at the outset of the war. It was a commercially-available tug carrying a barge which could be landed on the surface. The tug did not, however, have adequate shielding nor did it have sufficient weaponry to defend itself if attacked. The few assaults performed with the tug/barge combination required heavy support from capital ships and fighters, vessels which were badly needed in other arenas of the war. Within three months, however, the second team found an excellent candidate for the assault cruiser mission.
The Liberty class assault cruiser began as a heavy freighter produced at a small fleet yard owned by a Tellarite shipping consortium. The basic freighter design was sturdy, simple, and powerful, lacking only heavy armaments and shielding, moreover, it could be easily modified to perform the mission. The warp core and impulse engines produced more than adequate power for additional shielding and mass-transport operations. The freighter was quickly adapted to the new specification. Starfleet purchased over 100 of the existing transports for immediate conversion, and the modified design specifications were issued to several shipyards for immediate production.
The Liberty class has an uprated deflector array and armaments, including four heavy pulse phasers mounted in two turrets. Forward launchers are provided for photon torpedoes and SARPEVs, affording the vessel its own fighter support. Defensive modifications include heavier shielding, ablative armor, and early versions of the multifunction phased array and PIMESS systems. The nacelles were pulled in closer to the centerline for improved high-speed performance, making the vessel nearly as fast as many of the Federation's capital ships.
The original design was already capable of surface landings, with large loading doors providing access to the main cargo bay. The doors lower to form ramps, allowing rapid egress to an assault force upon reaching the surface. The entire forward half of the cargo bay floor is a standard assault landing transporter pad, allowing forces to be transferred directly to or from a planetary surface in only two operations, when conditions permit.
There are currently two additional variants of the Liberty class. One, the Packet class, is a standard version of the transport with uprated shields and light defensive armament, intended for use as a fleet supply vessel. The other, the Lister class, has a well-equipped field hospital in its cargo bay. One or more Lister class vessels accompany an assault force during landing operations to provide necessary medical support. The field hospital generally remains in orbit unless conditions prevent transporter operations. These variants represent about 15 percent of the Liberty-class production, with 2 Packet class freighters produced for every Lister class field hospital.
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