The Constitution-class starships were the premier front-line Star Fleet vessels in the latter half of the 23rd century.
They were designed for long duration missions, with minimal outside support, and are best known for their missions of galactic exploration and diplomacy, which typically lasted up to five years.
- 1 History
- 2 Technical Data
- 3 Ships Commissioned
The Constitution-class lineage was launched some time prior to 2245, and served as Star Fleet's front-line vessels for the rest of the century.
The Constitution-class also served as a mighty deterrent to both the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Star Empire, several times taking part in combat actions which determined the fate of the entire Federation, if not the Alpha Quadrant itself.
In 2267, there were around twelve Constitution-class starships in the fleet. These included the USS Constellation, the USS Defiant, the USS Enterprise, the USS Excalibur, the USS Exeter, the USS Hood, the USS Intrepid, USS Lexington, and the USS Potemkin.
The most famous Constitution-class starship was the USS Enterprise, launched in 2245. The Enterprise gained its reputation during its historic five-year mission (2265-2270) under the command of Captain James T. Kirk.
- In 2266, the Enterprise was instrumental in preventing a war between the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire. When a Romulan Bird-of-Prey crossed the Romulan Neutral Zone and destroyed several Earth Outpost Stations, Captain Kirk barely managed to outwit the enemy commander and stop his vessel from returning to Romulus and reporting on the Federation's weakness.
- In late-2268, Excalibur, Hood, Lexington, and Potemkin took part in the disastrous testing of the "M-5 computer," which had been placed in control of the Enterprise. The Excalibur was severely damaged, with all hands lost. The Lexington also was brutally assaulted by the M-5 computer when the unit became unstable.
- Later that year, Defiant responded to a distress call from an unexplored sector of space, claimed by the Tholian Assembly. Shortly upon entering the region, the Defiant crew began experiencing sensory distortion, and insanity quickly spread throughout the ship. The ship's surgeon was unable to determine what was happening, and eventually the insanity induced by the phenomenon lead the crew to kill each other.
- Three weeks later, Star Fleet ordered the Enterprise to mount a search mission to locate the Defiant. On stardate 5693.2, the Enterprise located her adrift, lost between universes in a space warp. As a result of a later phaser exchange between the Enterprise and several Tholian vessels, a hole was created through the spatial interphase, causing the Defiant to dissappear.
From 2254, Constitution-class vessels featured a large deflector dish, a large bridge dome of semi-spherical shape, and an antenna spike protruding from the bussard collector cap on each warp nacelle.
The impulse drive had two exhaust vents in 2254, and as many as eight smaller vents in 2265.
- Sometime between 2265 and 2266, the vessels underwent a major overhaul: the old deflector dish was replaced by a significantly smaller model,
the spikes on the bussard collectors were removed, a smaller bridge dome of flatter curvature was installed, the aft caps on the warp nacelles were
each equipped with a spherical attachment, and the impulse drive now had only two large exhausts.
- The interior passageways, main bridge interior and briefing room were already redesigned sometime between 2254 and 2265,
and a new intercom system was installed.
- In 2266, the interior passageways were again modified, the briefing room was completely redesigned, and the overhauled main bridge featured
an enlarged main viewscreen, and upgrades to the control interfaces and station arrangement, but the overall appearance of the bridge
remained relatively unchanged as compared to the 2265 design.
- The crew quarters of the 2254 configuration had the capability of carrying slightly more than 200 crewmembers.
In the 2266 configuration, crew quarters could hold a crew complement of over 400.
In the late 2260s to early 2270s, the Constitution-class starships underwent their final major refit program.
The actual refitting took eighteen months of work and essentially a new vessel was built onto the bones of the old, replacing virtually every major system.
Thus, the Constitution-class continued in service for a further twenty years.
- Essential upgrades were made to the Constitution-class' warp systems: the old cylindrical nacelles were replaced with new angular ones,
and also the warp nacelle struts were new, as they were connected to the engineering hull much closer to the neck than before.
The engineering hull roughly retained its original shape – while the original hull was essentially a conical cylinder, the refit was much more rounded.
- The deflector dish was upgraded, doing away with the "satellite" dish architecture. As for the interior of the Hull, the most obvious upgrades were the
enlargement of the shuttle deck and landing bay, as well as the addition of a horizontal matter-antimatter reaction assembly and a vertical intermix chamber.
- New also was the installment of the double photon torpedo launcher with its rectangular housing in the neck of the vessel.
Also, the phaser configuration was changed to channel energy though the warp core.
Furthermore, the saucer section was considerably extended (almost 20 meters), while the rest of the surface remained about the same.
- Major changes were made to the interior of the Constitution-class starships: many new systems were added and existing ones upgraded.
Summarizing, only the internal structure of the saucer and very little of the engineering hull and neck may have survived the 2270s refit.
Some refit configurations had the warp nacelles rotated 90 degrees, and included additional hatches along both sides of the saucer.
The Constitution-class starships were among the first to feature the saucer-engineering hull design, which would later become recognizable for most other Star Fleet vessels.
The main bridge was located on top of the primary hull, while an emergency bridge was located deep within the saucer.
The modular design of the Constitution-class allowed for component separation in times of crisis.
The primary and secondary hulls could separate where the connecting "neck" joined the saucer, allowing either section to serve as a lifeboat if the other was too badly damaged.
- If an emergency was confined to the warp engine nacelles, it was possible to eject them while keeping the bulk of the vessel intact.
Command and Control Systems
The Constitution-class' primary command center, the main bridge, was located on top of the vessel's primary hull, on Deck 1.
From here, the commanding officer supervised the entire starship's operation.
The command chair was located in the recessed area at the center of the room, in a direct line with the main viewer.
This position was of equal distantance from all the control consoles that operated specific areas of the ship.
Consequently, the Captain could be immediately updated on the condition of the vessel or its crew during missions, and orders could be given clearly with a minimum of effort.
- The Captain's chair was mounted on a circular pillar, attached to a rectangular footplate that was directly anchored to the deck, giving it considerable support during an attack.
It was designed to swivel on the support so that the captain could turn to any member of the bridge crew.
Piloting and navigation functions were carried out at the helm console, located in the center of the room, positioned in front of the command chair.
Other stations on the bridge were provided for communications, engineering, weapons control, gravity control, damage control, environmental engineering, science and library computer, and internal security.
Mounted into the room's forward bulkhead, on the ship's centerline, was the main viewscreen.
Visual sensor pickups located at various points on the Constitution-class' outer hull were capable of image magnification and allowed a varied choice of viewing angles.
The computer systems aboard the Constitution-class starship were duotronic based.
The Constitution-class of starships was fitted with both lithium and dilithium reactor circuits in the warp drive assembly over its service lifetime.
The vessel's standard cruising speed was warp 6, while its maximum cruising speed was warp 8.
Warp 9 was also possible for this class of starship, although it was highly discouraged due to it being an unsafe velocity.
The USS Enterprise, NCC-1701 was twice modified to achieve a speed of warp 11.
The probe Nomad increased the ship's engine efficiency by 57% in 2267, allowing the ship to reach warp 11, but Kirk persuaded Nomad to reverse its "repairs"
because the ship's structure could not stand the stress of that much power, and would eventually destroy the ship.
- More extensive modifications made to the ship by the Kelvans in 2268, who were able to produce velocities that were far beyond the reach of Federation science,
allowing the Enterprise to safely maintain a cruising speed of warp 11 while traveling through the intergalactic void.
- The maximum warp speed recorded for this class by itself was warp 14.1, achieved by the Enterprise due to sabotage to the vessel's warp drive system.
While the ship itself was not structured to take that speed for any length of time, the Enterprise was able to maintain that velocity for nearly 15 minutes.
Main Engineering was where the ship's warp was controlled.
All thrust and power systems were primarily controlled from this site, and it is also where the main dilithium crystal reactor was located.
Life support was controlled separately from Deck 6.
Main engineering was lodged on Decks 14 and 15. Deck 14 was the uppermost level of the engineering hull, and was the anchoring framework for the connecting dorsal and the warp nacelle pylons.
Deck 15 housed the main engineering room. Located in the center of the room, and extending for many levels both above and below the deck, was the vertical linear intermix chamber. This complex, radically new design in intermix technology, provided operational power for the impulse drive system and furnished enough additional energy to power all other shipboard systems.
During the 2270s Constitution-class refit, the interior design of the engineering section was drastically upgraded, featuring the vertical warp core and the horizontal intermix area.
During the early 2250s, Constitution-class heavy cruisers were armed with a complement of directed energy weapons.
In addition, these vessels carried on board laser cannons, capable of operating on energy fed remotely from the ship.
- Ship-mounted phaser banks had a range of approximately 90,000 kilometers, and like hand phasers, were capable of being adjusted to stun, heat, or disintegrate visible targets,
including objects or beings in space or on a planet's surface at a focus ranging from narrow to wide beam.
When only motion sensor readings are available, a ship's phasers could be set for a proximity blast, and bracket the approximate coordinates of the target.
- The Constitution-class originally mounted at least 6 torpedo launchers, one tube covering the aft firing arc.
Forward tubes were located in the same area as the forward phaser banks.
After the refit of the 2270s, Constitution-class ships mounted three dual-emitter phaser banks on the ventral and three on dorsal faces of the saucer.
Two single emitter aft banks were above the shuttlebay, and four mid-ship single emitter banks are located on the ventral surface of the engineering hull.
- The post-refit vessels had two forward firing torpedo launchers, though each tube could fire at least two torpedoes before reloading.
Extravehicular transporter to and from the ship was accomplished by a number of transporter systems, which allowed personnel or equipment to be transported over large ranges.
The transporter platform featured six pads, which were numbered clockwise, beginning with the right front.
A redesigned field generator matrix was mounted into the rear wall of the chamber aboard the refit configuration Constitution-class starships.
Aboard the refitted Constitution-class vessels, the transporter operator stood within an enclosed control pod.
Refitted Constitution-class starships possessed a number of airlocks permitting direct physical access to the ship.
One was located near Deck 1 on top of the saucer section.
Two more were located in the lower saucer section, concealed by sliding hull plates.
- The lower two are accessed through staging areas. Four spacesuit lockers line one wall; each containing one suit, providing enough to clothe a standard party of four.
A small, locked arms cabinet held phasers; communicators, tricorders, translators, and outerwear were contained in a separate cabinet on another wall.
- The next set of airlocks were located on the port and starboard sides of the torpedo bays.
- The final set were located on the port and starboard sides of the secondary hull at the midline.
These airlocks opened into the ship's main cargo bay.
There was also a "gangway"-style airlock on the port edge of the saucer section.
Landing Bay and Cargo Facilities
The original configuration of the Constitution-class carried a standard complement of four Class F shuttlecraft.
- The refit configuration Constitution-class starship featured a new landing bay design.
A wide range of Star Fleet and Federation craft could utilize this state-of-the-art landing facility.
Alcoves on either side of the landing bay provided storage for up to six standard Work Bees, and furnished all necessary recharging and refueling equipment.
Additional space was available for the storage of non-ship shuttlecraft.
Just within the landing bay doors was a force field generator unit, which was built into the main bulkheads on either side of the entry area.
This field allowed craft to enter the ship, while at the same time retaining the atmosphere and temperature within the landing bay.
The shuttle hangar had sufficient room for the storage of four craft at any given time.
Crew Support Systems
On the original Constitution-class starships, a sickbay facility was located on Deck 6, which featured an examination room, a nursery, the chief medical officer's office and a medical lab.
At least one other medical lab was located elsewhere on the vessel, and was used for biopsy, among other things.
Sickbay was considered the safest place to be on the ship during combat.
- With the class refit of the 2270s, the medical facilities of the Constitution-class starship were considerably updated.
New micro-diagnostic tables were capable of fully analyzing the humanoid body at the sub-cellular level, offering the physician a total understanding of the patient's status.
- Another new addition was a medical stasis unit, in which patients whose conditions were considered immediately life-threatening
could be placed into suspended animation until the proper cure or surgical procedure could be established.
Crew quarters were located throughout the saucer section: keeping with Star Fleet tradition, Deck 5 housed the senior officers' quarters.
- On the refit configuration vessels, these staterooms were quite similar to the VIP units on Deck 4, with only a few differences.
- On starships of the original configuration, the officers' quarters featured two areas, separated partly by a wall fragment.
One area was allocated as sleeping area, featuring a comfortable bed, and another as work area, including a desk and computer terminal.
Entrance to a bathroom was provided through the quarter's sleeping area.
- On Constitution-class vessels, the staterooms of the senior officers were composed of two areas which were separated by a retractable partition.
The room's entrance opened into the living area. A library computer terminal and work desk were provided here.
The room's corner circular nook, normally occupied by a dining booth, could be modified at the officer's request.
Aboard the original Constitution-class starships, there were at least six recreation rooms. There was also a holographic rec room, which was the predecessor of the holodeck.
- On the refitted Constitution-class vessels, recreational facilities were further expanded.