|Role||Exploration / Patrol / Science|
|Production Dates||2356 - Present|
The Nebula Class is a close relative of the Galaxy-class. Both classes share the same components, but in a different arrangement. The Nebula has a primary Saucer, but it attaches directly to the secondary hull. The nacelles extend below the secondary hull, and a modular pod extends above the Saucer from the vessel aft.
Though the venerable Miranda and Excelsior classes of starships had been serving Starfleet's needs well, and the Ambassador class has provided Starfleet with an incredible long-range exploratory platform in the 2330's, fleet modernization was on the admiralty's mind by the early 2340's. Based on innovations made through the Ambassador project, the Advanced Starship Design Bureau proposed several new designs to take Starfleet into the second half of the 24th Century. Four of these designs (the Cheyenne, Springfield, Challenger, and New Orleans) were slated to begin construction in the 2340's, to serve as test-beds of the technologies that would be showcased in the Nebula and Galaxy-class explorers to be constructed in the 2350's, and they would eventually become companion vessels to their larger cousins.
The Nebula design was authorized in 2343, along with the Galaxy design, and the design process continued in tandem until both designs were completed in 2350. The Nebula-class starships were intended to be the more pragmatic sister of the Galaxy, with a more compact design, and provisions to install a mission-specific module on a large pylon. This would give the class the ability to serve in a number of roles. While it also had the mission-specific configurable spaces within the hull, the changeover period was much better than the Galaxy, while providing an external configurable space that the other class did not; tactical and sensor systems, for example, were more easily added in a pod than inside the ship's hull.
In their base configurations, the Galaxy is the superior tactical platform, as the Nebula does not contain torpedo launchers within the hull. Rather, these systems are added via mission modules. In addition, the Nebula class lacks in its aft weapons coverage, due to the position of the pod. This ordnance limitation was deemed an acceptable trade-off for mission configurability, as vessels assigned to tactical missions would be provided with torpedo launchers in their mission pod.
Construction on the USS Nebula began in mid-2350 at the Beta Antares Fleet Yards. A further 15 units were authorized, for an initial production run of 16. Construction completed in 2356 on Nebula, with Honshu following closely behind her. Shakedown operations ran successfully through 2358, with the class fully commissioned and in regular service starting in the spring of 2359. By 2363, all 16 units had been completed, with a further 20 ordered, at a rate of five per year. They were popular with their crews, and served with distinction in many capacities. Despite this, the Battle of Wolf 359 gave the fleet a devastating blow, and Starfleet scrambled to find ways to improve the fleet's tactical readiness.
In 2367, all of the Nebula-class ships on active duty were recalled to starbase for refit. In studies of the class' performance over the years, it was discovered that the bifurcated pylon structure that held the mission modules was lacking in stability. All units were modified, instead to use a larger, more robust pylon that was better-designed to withstand warp and combat stresses. This new pylon blocked direct access to the main shuttlebay from the stern, so new approach and departure protocols were developed. The impulse systems were redesigned, with covers installed over the exhaust systems to mask their ion trails, and a third impulse engine was added to the new pylon. This refit was completed in record time, thanks to the ferver in the fleet after the Borg invasion, by 2369.
In addition, further modules were developed, with the most heavily-deployed version being the new Tactical Pod. It combined some of the sensor ability of the old sensor pod, with eight forward-firing torpedo launchers, and two rear torpedo launchers, that made the Nebula-class capable of being outfitted as a gunship, while retaining the ability to explore. A module was developed that would take the place of the Captain's Yacht module and provide forward ventral torpedo coverage. This module was installed on 90% of all Nebula-class ships by 2373, eliminating the torpedo deficiency in the class, even when they were not operating with a tactical pod.
At the start of the Dominion War, there were 52 Nebula-class ships in the fleet, with Melbourne, Bellerophon, Hera, and Farragut having been destroyed or lost by that point. The class served primarily in combat roles, though some units were equipped with medical or troop pods to support the war effort. Prometheus and Honshu were destroyed, and T'Kumbra was heavily damaged, but the vessels served with remarkable combat performance, especially compared to their Excelsior-class cousins. Following the war, they remained in service, with the majority of the Nebula fleet transitioned back to exploratory roles.
In 2386, upgrades were designed for the now 80 Nebula-class ships in service, which included upgrades to bioneural computer systems, full-ship holographic projectors, enhanced tactical systems (including Type-XII phaser arrays and a quantum torpedo turret borrowed from the Sovereign design), and the new tetryon-based transwarp drive. Upgrades were scheduled to be completed for the class by the end of 2390, with twenty more units ordered to bring the fleet up to a round 100 units by 2395, making the Nebula class a Starfleet mainstay well into the 25th Century, with every sign of being just as venerable as the Excelsior-class ships that she replaced.
Known ships of this class
|USS Nebula||NCC-?||Active (presumed)|
|USS Monitor||NCC-61826||Active (presumed)|
|USS Phoenix||NCC-85420||Active (presumed)|
|USS Sutherland||NCC-72015||Active (presumed)|
|USS Bellerephon||NCC-62048||Destroyed (2367)|
|USS Endeavor||NCC-71805||Active (presumed)|
|USS Farragut||NCC-60591||Destroyed (2373)|
|USS Gettysburg||NCC-7989-C||Destroyed (2387)|
|USS Hera||NCC-62006||Destroyed (?)|
|USS Merrimack||NCC-61827||Active (presumed)|
- Star Trek: Generations
- TNG: "Best of Both Worlds II"