|Production Dates||2345 - 2349|
|Hull||Duranium-Tritanium Double Hull|
|Height||90.27 m (Including Pods)|
|Decks||15 (Including Pods)|
|Standard Crew Complement||150|
|Civilian||Up to 30|
|Minimum Crew Complement||80|
|Maximum Crew Complement||200|
|Personnel Support Systems|
|Medical Facilities||Single Sickbay, EMH|
|Entertainment||Mess Halls, Gymnasia, Lounges|
|Transporters||Personnel Transporters, Cargo Transporters, Emergency Transporters|
|Propulsion and Power|
|Main Power||Shuventis Class 9/H Matter-Antimatter Reactor|
|Warp/Transwarp Drive||2 Class-13 Warp Nacelles|
|Impulse Engines||2 Scott Class 5/D Fusion-based Impulse Engines|
|Sensors and Computers|
|Computer Systems||2 Class 7 Computer Cores|
|Sensor Systems||Advanced Sensor Suites (15 LY maximum range)|
|Phasers||5 Type-X Phaser Arrays|
|Available Modules||See Here|
The Springfield-class is a type of surveyor starship employed by the Federation. It was designed as part of the fleet modernization program that would eventually result in the Galaxy-class and Nebula-class explorers. While the Cheyenne-class was envisioned as a scout, the Challenger-class as a courier, and the New Orleans-class as a frigate, the Springfield-class was designed as a science vessel, and was the first of the four classes to be produced.
Though the venerable Oberth-class, 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 first of this family, the Springfield was authorized in 2340, and the final design was approved with construction beginning in 2342. Similar to the Oberth-class, this vessel had an under-slung sensor and deflector pod, which housed the prototype for the deflector dishes that would eventually be installed on the New Orleans, Nebula, and Galaxy-classes. It was equipped with the latest in scientific imaging equipment and the best computers available at the time, making it the most-powerful mobile sensor platform in the fleet, until the launch of USS Nebula in 2356. The engine systems used on the class were of a simple, reliable design that favored longevity over raw performance, limiting its top cruising speed to Warp 7, and its flat-out maximum speed to Warp 8.5.
The design originally called for the Type-IX phaser arrays included on the Ambassador family, but these were upgraded to Type-X arrays, when that system's design was finalized in 2344. The class was not equipped with photon torpedo launchers, as they would have taken up too much space in the hull. However, the class was also to serve as a test-bed for the attachable module system used by the future Nebula-class, with a mounting point on the aft section of the saucer. Initially, these ships were all deployed with a sensor and laboratory pod, which further enhanced their scientific capabilities. Later, a torpedo pod, cargo pod, and small craft pod were made available.
The Springfield was launched early in 2345, with shakedown operations lasting the rest of that year. It was found that the pod's location between the two warp nacelles caused efficiency to decay rapidly, as the ship's top speed increased, so it was recommended that the vessels limit their speed to Warp 6, to reduce fuel consumption. As the Springfield was assigned to scientific missions, Starfleet did not consider this to be a big enough problem to halt construction. Another 39 vessels were ordered to be built across the Federation, at a rate of 10 per year through 2349.
In the early days of the class, there were many teething problems with the ship's computer systems, as the new model of isolinear processor was not completely compatible with the fleet's older software systems, which often required significant modifications from their crews to accomplish certain tasks. Eventually, a new operating system was written for the system and deployed across the Springfield fleet in 2347, coinciding with the launch of the next ship in the series -- USS Cheyenne.
Relatively popular with their crews for their accommodation standards and scientific equipment, especially compared to the Oberth-class ships that dominated Starfleet Science for the previous eighty years, the Springfield-class became a reliable, though somewhat forgotten class in the fleet. Neither fast nor slow, the class was assigned to a myriad of scientific and support projects within the Federation, as more and more units came online. Production completed in 2349, with forty units in service, and Starfleet decided to hold the design, but not to continue production immediately. They served with out incident until 2350, when the USS Shir'Kahr was destroyed by Orion pirates while exploring a star system on the edge of Federation space. Though there was no real fault with the design itself, it proved that even crews on exploratory missions needed to review their defensive protocols, prompting a revision of Starfleet's policy in this regard.
In 2363, the USS Chekhov was part of the Federation fleet lost at the Battle of Wolf 359, only the second of the class to be destroyed. They continued as-designed until the class received a refit in 2367, with upgrades to the engines and flight control software that brought them back up to their designed cruising speed of Warp 7 and maximum speed of warp 8.5. While this was not enough to allow them to keep up with a Federation combat fleet, it improved their capabilities as science vessels and as transports.
During the Dominion War, starting in 2373, the Springfield-class was pulled off of scientific duty, and assigned in support roles throughout the fleet. They were mainly fitted out with medical pods to serve as small hospital ships or transport pods to move people or war materiel between planets, but a few of them were outfitted with a novel purpose: torpedo artillery. Under the direction of Rear Admiral Vras Ch'Ruan, five of these vessels were outfitted with specially-modified torpedo pods and quantum warheads. They would sit behind the rest of the fleet and lob quantum torpedoes at enemy capital ships, while being screened by Federation ships and fighters. This idea worked out moderately well, but two of them were lost in combat operations.
A total of eight Springfield-class ships were lost in other capacities during the war, bringing the class down to 28 units at the end of the war. They were reassigned to scientific and transport duties, though they had lost the spotlight to the Nova-class by this point, which had a higher cruising speed and better defensive abilities. With another refit in 2379, they were brought up to modern standards in computing and accommodation, but they remained relatively slow.
Presently, these vessels are serving in their design role as science vessels, but more and more of them are being converted fully to transport roles, as newer science ships become available. It is expected that they will remain in service until at least 2520, as they replace more and more Miranda-class ships in cargo roles. Despite their limitations, the Springfield-class has served the fleet with quiet distinction for almost 40 years, and its advances resulted in some of the most successful vessels in Starfleet history, the Nebula and Galaxy-class ships that now serve as the workhorses for the fleet.
Ships of this class
- Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual
- Ex Astris Scientia