"Mariah" class special purpose frigate
Inscription on Commissioning Plaque:
"How subtle and insubstantial, that the expert leaves no trace."
-- Sun Tzu
Armaments: Four phaser cannon coupled to the multifunction phased array; sixteen PIMESS-equipped enhanced quantum torpedos carried in internal bays; 6 Semi-Autonomous Remotely-Piloted Expendable Vehicles, special operations version, type 2 (SARPEV/SO2).
Type: Special Purpose Frigate
Status: Six in operation, with a classified additional number in production.
About Ship: The recent war with the Dominion highlighted a need for dedicated special operations vessels in the Starfleet inventory. While limited numbers of fast, stealthy vessels were either entering in production or already in service, few of these types were ideally suited to support covert operations such as inserting agents behind enemy lines or performing commando raids. The Shrike class heavy frigate was considered for use in this role, but that vessel was somewhat larger than the ideal for this type of mission. A specialized vessel would be required.
Fortunately, much of the groundwork for such a vessel had already been laid by the Sunfish project. The Sunfish itself was briefly considered for the task, but great strides had been made in several fields since its introduction. The basic spaceframe design, however, was deemed suitable as a starting point, and a single prototype was produced using a leftover Sunfish hull as a proof-of-concept prototype. This "pre-Mariah" is considerably smaller than the production vessel, and was used largely to determine how the concept would be implemented.
The Mariah's primary function is to carry special operations teams to and from their mission both quickly and stealthily. The Mariah can be operated by a very small crew (a minimum of seven). Unlike the Sunfish, there is considerable room within the stardrive section, although even this space is quite cramped when carrying a maximum-size mission crew.
The Mariah's stardrive section is an enlarged version of that used by the Sunfish. A great deal of internal volume was gained by reducing the weapons load to only four phaser cannon (three in the stardrive section and one in the mission module) and stripping out the launchers. Further gains were realized by the reduced size of modern components when compared to the early versions originally installed in the Sunfish. Sixteen PIMESS-equipped enhanced quantum torpedoes are carried in internal bays, to be used for defensive purposes only. The Mariah is equipped with an advanced sensors suite, supplemented by a large sensors pod on the forward dorsal surface of the stardrive section.
A unique feature of the Mariah is the mission module carried on the large forward ventral pylon. During normal operations, the mission module serves as the command section of the vessel. The mission module is designed to separate from the rest of the vessel to perform missions requiring more space than is provided by the six SARPEV/SO2s the Mariah carries. The mission module is capable of landing on a planetary surface, and is equipped with a single pulse laser. If necessary, it can carry the entire crew. While warp capable, it's top speed is fairly low (wf 3), so it is usually only used for short-ranged missions.
The Mariah is just entering service, and reports from the field are encouraging. Six are currently in use and more are in production.
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