|Max. speed:||warp 9.975+|
|Armaments:|| 16 x Type XII phaser arrays.
1 x Rapid fire quantum torpedo tube 4 x Type 4 burst fire photon torpedo tube 4 x Standard photon torpedo tube with 300 rounds
|Defenses:|| Auto modulated shield system.
Heavy Duranium/Tritanium Double hull plus 10 cm Ablative armor. High level Structural Integrity Field
The origins of the Sovereign class date back as far as 2338. At this time relationships between the Federation and the Klingon Empire had degraded significantly, to the point where war was considered by many to be imminent. The President ordered Starfleet to place a design proposal for a new class of starship with very much greater military capability than current designs. This project was in the advanced planning stage when the loss of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-C) during the Narendra III incident eased tensions considerably. The warship project was initially to be scrapped, but Starfleet was instead asked to continue the project on a research basis only. Dubbed the Sovereign project it became a theoretical starfleet battlecruiser designed only as a computer model, with specimen hardware occasionally produced to test the design principles. The intention was to create a design that could be put into production with no delay, should a future crisis present itself.
Research and DevelopmentEdit
The basic design was to be updated every five years so as to incorporate technology advances as they occurred. Initially the Sovereign design was a simple re-working of the Ambassador class, emphasizing weapons rather than exploratory and diplomatic capabilities. In the design updates of 2350, 55 and 60 much of the technology being developed for the Galaxy class project was incorporated, especially in the nacelle and warp core design. The re-establishing of relations with the Romulans in 2364 led to a major revision in the 2365 update, and many elements of the Sovereign went into low rate production in order to establish a stockpile ready for rapid assembly.
In mid 2365 first contact was also made with the Borg. The Sovereign project was activated and construction began on the first four ships of the class. However, it was apparent that much of the Sovereign's weaponry was based on that of the Galaxy class - a vessel which had proven ineffective against the Borg during that first encounter. New weapons were in preparation for the next design update due in 2370, but these were not going to be available in the immediate future. It was clear that despite the engineer's best intentions, the Sovereign project was not going to meet it's primary goal - to get a warship into service fast enough to meet the crisis now looming. The answer Starfleet settled on was to continue construction of the hull, propulsion, computer, and sensor systems of the ships already under construction but to suspend work on the shield, phaser and photon torpedo systems for three years. Instead, a crash development project was begun to field a small, very easily produced warship incorporating the new weapons11 - essentially a replay of the Sovereign project in miniature. To cut size - and therefore design and build time - to a minimum the new vessel would only be capable of short duration missions. The vessel would be very maintenance intensive, but would carry only limited stocks of non-replicatable spares. Combined with limited accommodation standards and small fuel reserves the new class would be capable of maintaining full readiness for only six to eight weeks during independent operations, far less than had been envisaged for the Sovereign. An important secondary role of this Defiant class was as a development test bed for the technology which would be worked into the Sovereign project as soon as it was ready.
Construction continued on the Sovereigns throughout the late 2360s. With the destruction of the Borg cube in 2366, Starfleet deemed that the threat had reduced to a level which would allow the Sovereigns to enter service before any renewed offensive. The Defiant class was therefore suspended, although the prototype was put into storage rather than scrapped. The lessons learned with the Defiant were incorporated into the Sovereign when work resumed on her weapons, a process which continued after the USS Defiant (NX-74205)was reactivated for use at Deep space 9. The switch from photon to Quantum torpedoes and the inclusion of Ablative armour are prime examples of this process. In addition, the bio-neural computer system pioneered by the Intrepid class was also included. The first of the class was was launched in 2371 as the USS Sovereign, with the USS Honorious due to follow six months later. The loss of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) in that year led to a last minute re-christening of another ship as the USS Enterprise (NCC 1701-E).
The Sovereign class has emerged from the dockyards as Starfleets most sophisticated and comprehensively armed vessel. The vessel is equipped with a new variant of the Type XII phaser array - formerly known as the 'Type X+' for security reasons - which equips the Federations most powerful Starbases and deep space facilities. The type twelve has a raw beam power output some 60% more powerful than the Type ten arrays installed on the Galaxy class. In addition the type twelve has a shorter recharge time and can fire a longer sustained burst, giving each bank a combat effectiveness 76.4% greater than a type ten array. Since the Sovereign carries eleven arrays compared to Galaxies twelve, this gives the ship an overall 70% increase in phaser capability.
The torpedo armament is similarly impressive. The large quantum torpedo turret forward of the deflector dish is capable of firing four rounds per second,1 a greater overall rate of fire than the two main ten round burst photon torpedo tubes of the Galaxy class combined. Backup to the quantum torpedoes is provided by photon tubes; four these are located at the base of the engineering section in pairs which face forward and aft. Each is capable of firing twelve round bursts. This gives the Sovereign class the most powerful torpedo armament of any vessel in Starfleet service. The shield system of the Sovereign class is similarly the most powerful of any Starfleet ship; the design was modified just prior to installation in order to increase effectiveness against both high energy tractor beams and phased polaron particles, measures clearly aimed at the Borg and Dominion respectively. Under normal operation the shield modulation frequencies are under the control of the ships computer system, which continually evaluates incoming weapons fire and automatically re-modulates the shields to give the most effective possible defense. It is thought - hoped - that this system will also enable the Sovereign class shield system to prevent beam-through by Borg transporter technology. The warp engines of the Sovereign are of a new design which eliminates subspace distortion effects inherent to standard warp drives, a feature now becoming common on most Starfleet ships. The Sovereign class is currently the fastest vessel in Starfleet, with a maximum cruise speed of Warp 9.9 and a top speed of Warp 9.99 for up to twenty four hours. The very high cruise speed is intended to allow the ship to deploy as rapidly as possible to potential trouble spots. Her Impulse drive system is the most sophisticated model in production, giving the Sovereign class a maneuverability equal to that of a vessel one quarter its size. The Sovereign's baptism of fire came in 2373 when a Borg vessel again attacked the Federation.1 The USS Sovereign herself was too far away to participate. The only other Sovereign in service - the USS Enterprise - was ordered to patrol the Romulan Neutral Zone rather than join the fleet engaging the Borg, a curious decision1 since engaging the Borg is what the ship was specifically designed for. Captain Picard disobeyed this order and joined the battle in Earth orbit, coordinating a mass strike on a weak point on the cube and destroying it. The Enterprise was subsequently pulled into the past by the Borg and almost assimilated. The crew were successful in defeating the Borg and returning to 2373. Captain Jean-Luc Picard was subsequently ruled to have been justified in disobeying his orders, and continues in command of the Enterprise.
With the advent of the Dominion war it was felt that the Sovereign would need more firepower to compete with Dominion designs. Most especially, the rearward torpedo coverage was felt to be a little lacking. As a result Starfleet decided to proceed with an uprated version of the ship. Three extra aft facing photon torpedo tubes were added, along with two more forward facing tubes; a twin launcher aft of the bridge, a single launcher above the aft hangar deck, a single launcher at the base of the bridge terracing, and a single launcher near the bow. Additionally, four extra phaser arrays were added to the nacelle pylons. The Photon torpedo handling system had to be redesigned, which increased the stowage capacity from 300 to 350. This was considered more than adequate for most threats, although with so many tubes available there was a real danger of running out of torpedoes in a major battle. As well as the increased weapons, the weapon range and accuracy was increased by installing the latest sensor and fire control systems, and the shield capacity was increased by about 25%. This gave the Sovereign an excellent capacity to withstand heavy fire in a battle. Some thought was given to increasing top speed, but this was abandoned. The Sovereign class Enterprise-E was able to test out the new systems in 2379 when it faced the Reman ship Scimitar. Although the Scimitar greatly outgunned the Enterprise, the Starfleet ship did comfortably outperform the Romulan Norexan class warbirds in the battle. The ship did eventually run out of photons and exhaust its phasers, but it took a considerable degree of battle damage and remained at least partially operational. Should the Romulans continue to produce the Scimitar class ships, Starfleet will be faced with considerable difficulties. It is possible that an even more uprated version of the Sovereign could be produced, but a completely new and much more powerful vessel may be required. Following more extensive maneuvers against the Partisans, and the Borg. Structural integrity was increased which proved useful against Zentradi weapons.