|Length:||244 m m|
|Beam:||160 m m|
|Draft:||40 m m|
|Max. speed:||warp 9.5|
|Armaments:|| 6 x Type VIII phaser arrays
2 x Pulse fire photon torpedo tube 2 x Standard photon torpedo tubes
|Defenses:|| Standard shield system.
Standard Duranium/Tritanium Double hull plus 4.8 cm High density armour. Standard level Structural Integrity Field
During the late 2340's Starfleet became increasingly worried about the average age of the ships in the fleet. Although vessels such as the Miranda class and Excelsior class were performing adequately as mid sized cruisers and destroyers, these designs dated back between 50 and 100 years and were lagging behind the latest technology despite frequent refits. Rapid expansion of the Federation was also putting a great strain on both the exploratory and defence capacities of Starfleet, and although the Nebula class was under development Starfleet was predicting that it would be unable to meet all of its commitments by 2365. The Steamrunner design was fielded in the early 2340s along with the Saber class as part of a major fleet wide program of modernization. Essentially the Steamrunner's serve a similar function to the modern day Intrepid class - a smaller, faster counterpart to the cruiser class ships which would be deployed in large numbers to augment the more capable designs. The first of the class was launched in 2342, and series production began after a six month flight test program.
The Steamrunner introduced several innovations into Starfleet; she was the first to be equipped with an isolinear computer system rather than the duotronic system then in use. Her hull form was also rather unusual in appearance; the angular profile of the primary hull was claimed to be an inherently stronger shape than the traditional circular/elliptical shape, allowing a reduction in the thickness of the structural beams which decreased the overall vessel mass by some 12%. This made for greater acceleration at both impulse and warp. However, some flaws have surfaced in the design. Steamrunner class ships which engaged in extended periods of high warp speed found some cracking in the structural members of the primary hull. Several fixes were tried to correct this problem; Starfleet finally found that a combination of a modified Structural Integrity Field system and slight changes to the Warp drive itself eliminated the harmonic vibrations which were causing the problem. Those vessels already damaged had to have some of their main hull support structure replaced, a task which set construction of the class back some time.
Although the Steamrunner is relatively limited in its capabilities to perform scientific and exploratory functions compared to a larger ship, its real difficulties lie in the diplomatic area. Like the Intrepid class which is now replacing it, the Steamrunner is capable of holding only limited diplomatic venues. Despite this the Steamrunner's have proved their worth in diplomacy, helping to settle many matters in sparsely populated areas where Starfleets "big guns" rarely make an appearance.
The Late 24th CenturyEdit
Today the Steamrunner is beginning to take a more back seat as the Intrepid class becomes more common. The last few years have seen many units of this class moving from the outer territories to the core of the Federation. Thirty six of the class were recently been rebuilt as border patrol craft. This involves a reduction in Shuttle craft Facilities by approximately 50% in favour of a larger load of photon torpedoes and a refit to the shield generators. Serving with the Typhon Sector Fleet, these ships were heavily involved with the Borg attack of 2373 where they suffered severe casualties. More recently Steamrunner class ships have been serving as scouts during the war with the Dominion. Losses here have also been significant. With the Federation spreading more, and more to the outer reaches, the Steamrunner class have been relegated to ferrying crews, and science mission, although still appear sparatically in hostile situations.