The early 2350s was a time of both settling peace and renewed trepidation for the United Federation of Planets. The friendship initiated with the Klingon Empire by the sacrifice of the USS Enterprise-C and her crew was burgeoning into a full alliance, one that would continue to shape the course the Alpha and Beta Quadrants would take over the coming decades. At the same time, however, trouble was stirring on another border. The Cardassian Union, a growing power, was expansionist, militaristic and deceptively cunning in its dealings with neighbours. While the Federation Council hoped for peaceful relations with the Union, it was not blind to the dangers posed by this new threat darkening the edges of the Federation’s territories.
In 2351, Starfleet had been issued with a design brief for a fast frigate and medium-to long-range explorer. Working under the project name Iceland, the ship was to have warp capabilities greater than those of comparable vessels then in service and one of the finest sensor suites available. Though thought was given to a premature technical review of the Type IX phasers that outfitted the largest and newest vessels being produced at the time in order to impressively boost the Iceland’s armament above and beyond anything known at the time, it was decided that such work would delay the project’s progress and consume too much time and resources to be of benefit to the fleet.
With the emergence of the Cardassians as a viable foe – albeit a completely unprovoked one – Starfleet Command ordered the Iceland back to the initial stages of its planning. While a capable combatant, something Command felt may prove most useful in the days to come, it was also believed that the planned Sabre Class and refitted Steamrunner Class would be more than capable of strengthening Starfleet in this regard. What was needed, Command believed, was something specifically geared towards possible combat with the Cardassians.
Starfleet Intelligence, always wary of possible threats to the Federation, had begun compiling information on standard Cardassian military tactics shortly after the Union’s intents became suspect. From this knowledge, Starfleet was able to detect a preference for small to light combat vessels little larger than fighters, which were used to patrol short stretches of the Cardassian border at a time and, most importantly, to support the Union’s capital ships in major engagements. This, Command felt, was a factor that Starfleet could not blindly ignore.
The fleet’s own fighters were adequate, the newest designs were still few in number or had not yet gone into production. While it was known that the new fighters would be numerically sufficient if hostilities broke out in the 2360s, such hopes could not blind Starfleet to the possibility that war with the Cardassians might be more imminent. As such, existing Federation fighter craft would we woefully outgunned by the numerically superior and comparatively advanced Cardassian craft then moving onto the Union’s front lines.
It was decided to tackle this failing through a stopgap measure. The Iceland had been a hard argument for Starfleet to win. After all, the previous decades had seen newer and better starships going into service, a trend that would likely continue well into the 2360s and beyond. Why design and build another ship that would, for all intents and purposes, be identical to everything else then being produced? With the intelligence on the Cardassians, however, Command was able to argue for a complete overhaul of the class, guaranteeing its ships would see the light of day.
The plan was simple enough, an extension of the multi-arc tactics that made phaser banks and arrays so useful in combat. The new class would have its considerable armament reduced to Type VIII phasers, ranging from one large array mounted on its forward dorsal section to no fewer than thirteen phaser banks dispersed across its hull at key locations. This was intended to provide the new ship, not with great firepower, but a great field of fire, an advantage Starfleet sometimes lacked in engagements with enemy fighter craft.
Perhaps most significantly, the new ship was designed to fight fire with fire. While the Curry Class had proven itself an admirable troop and fighter carrier, it was too poorly armed for modern combat to survive for very long without support. The new ship class, hastily renamed the Norway, was to have its impressive scientific equipment removed and overall warp capacity reduced in favour of several extended shuttle bays. When fully loaded, the Norway would be capable of carrying a complement of 24 fighters and four shuttlepods. Space was at a premium, of course, but it was felt that anything lost – the powerful sensor arrays, the science laboratories and the new weapons systems – would be more than outweighed by what was gained when the Norway was deployed in its field of expertise.
Construction on the first ship of the class commenced in 2356, a full year late due to the lack of resources available to the project. Much attention was focused on the slowly emerging Galaxy Class at the time and the vast majority of Starfleet’s efforts were being put into building the largest starship it had ever produced. The Norway, in contrast, continued without much attention, and would have closed on more than one occasion if not for Starfleet Command’s insistence that the project was worthwhile.
The USS Norway was commissioned in 2359, but did not enter into active duty for another year. Its shuttle bays were drastically redesigned after launch to better accommodate the newer fighters then coming on line. Normally, such activity would have required a reduction in the overall number of fighters, as the newer varieties were larger than those for which the Norway had been designed, but the designers instead chose to forego all but one of the ship’s shuttlepods. Work was under way to correct this loss when war with the Cardassians erupted.
The Norway and her three sisterships – the Finland, the Viking and the Dane – were deployed immediately. Untested and untried in combat, Starfleet hoped that initial engagements with the enemy would prove the class’ worth to the naysayers who had dogged its progress since the early 2350s. Unfortunately, fortune did not favour the class in the first weeks of the war. A wing of Cardassian destroyers rapidly defeated the Finland while all of the other ships of the class suffered damage to one degree or another. The Norway herself was nearly irreparably crippled in a border clash during a patrol operation with its task group.
The third month of the war saw the class’ fortunes shift, however. For the first time since the outbreak of hostilities, one of the class – the Viking – engaged the type of enemy forces for which it was designed, namely, fighters. It handled itself superbly. In the space of a few minutes, a squadron that would have taken a Sabre or even an Excelsior over a quarter of an hour to defeat was completely annihilated and another suffered heavy losses. Only the arrival of a Cardassian destroyer to reinforce the position compelled the Viking to fall back. However, the loss of two full patrols of small attack craft meant that Starfleet was able to invade a nearby star system later that week. The Viking – and the Norway Class by extension – was heralded as the key to that particular victory, and all without deploying its own fighters.
The remainder of the Cardassian War saw more Norway Class starships produced and a definite equalisation between the powers in the sphere of fighter combat. Norways were routinely deployed as support craft or border skirmishers, their efforts focused solely on wiping out every small craft of war the Cardassians threw at the Federation. Even the relatively large and powerful Hideki Class patrol craft failed to match the Norway and its complement of fighters.
The war officially ended in the mid 2360s. The Norway had earned itself a fierce reputation during those bloody years but it was universally realised that the class could not be supported indefinitely in peace time. Firstly, it would always be overpowered by its contemporaries, let alone the new starships then coming into Starfleet service. Second, it had been too good a teacher. Starfleet designers, seeing the benefits of the ship’s hull design in the early 2350s and, later when hostilities with the Cardassians loomed on the horizon, its ability to unleash waves of fighters, had quickly commenced work on what was termed the Norway’s big brother, also known as the Akira Class. While both ships would serve much the same role in terms of being carriers, the Akira’s size and technology, including vastly superior shielding, allowed its designers to turn it into a completely independent and powerful warship in its own right. The ship’s hull was significantly greater in size than the Norway’s to accommodate the advances and, in contrast to the Norway’s design, the Akira was to have a weapons pod located directly between its catamaran engineering section.
Starfleet, faced with the new designs of the 2360s and the existence of nearly two dozen Norways, could not contemplate phasing out the class altogether. It had been too great an asset during the war and, as some argued, could still be of use. Others asked how, to which the answer was to have the ship completely refitted. Gone would be the massive fighter bays, to be replaced with diplomatic facilities on a par with the Ambassador’s. Gone, too, would be the numerous point defence phasers, the internal volume their machinery consumed now occupied by a larger warp core and fewer, but better, phaser arrays.
Tactically, the Norway’s fighting capacity was reduced in comparison with its warrior days. However, now operating in a role that had nothing whatsoever to do with anti-fighter warfare, the larger and more powerful arrays were felt to make up for any specific deficiencies. The Type IX array the original designers had hoped for was finally installed, replacing the main Type VIII array on the dorsal hull, while a full Type VIII array covered the ship’s ventral side. Two more Type VIII arrays were installed at the end of the catamaran hull, facing directly aft. The Norway’s torpedo launchers were left unchanged, deemed adequate for the missions and areas it would be dealing with, but its actual torpedo complement was increased by 50%.
The class benefited in other areas. As mentioned, a larger warp core was installed. Combined with the latest advances in field coil technology, the Norway’s top speed was returned to warp 9, its initial design parameters. More power was also available to the ship’s defensive systems, meaning that the ship could be easily adapted to accommodate shielding technology developed in the early 2370s. The class’ scientific capabilities were never fully restored, however, and the Norway would remain as effective in that arena as the Sabre. It did, however, receive a considerable overhaul of its diplomatic facilities, an essential factor if it was to be successful in its new role, that of diplomatic courier.
Due to the internal layout and close confines of the Norway, its engineering section is divided into three rather than two decks, the upper and lower segments being narrower than usual.
|Cruising Speed||Warp 6|
|Maximum Speed||Warp 8.4|
|Emergency Speed||Warp 9 (for 12 hours)|
|Runabouts||Delta Flyer Runabout: 1|
|Shuttles||Type 11-A Shuttle: 1
Type 15 Shuttlepod: 1
Type 9 Shuttle: 2
|Defensive Systems||Ablative Armour|
|Shielding Systems||Auto-Modulating Shields
|Phasers||Type IX Array
Type VIII Array: 3
|Torpedos||Burst-Fire Torpedo Launcher: 2
– Quantum Torpedoes: 30
– Photon Torpedoes: 70
|1||Bridge, Captain’s Ready Room, Briefing Room, Observation Lounge|
|2||Conference Hall 1, Ambassadorial Quarters, Diplomatic Holosuites (1-3)|
|3||Communications Array, Holodeck 1, Executive Officer’s Office, Conference Hall 2, Diplomatic Chambers, Auxiliary Tractor Emitter|
|4||Senior Officers Quarters, Senior Crew Offices, Primary Shield Generators, Chief Operations Officer’s Office, Deflector Array|
|5||Junior Officers and Crew Quarters, Crewman Mess Hall, Transporter Room 1, Deflector Controls|
|6||Upper Engineering, VIP Quarters, Diplomatic Chambers, Holodecks 2 and 3, Transporter Rooms 2 and 3|
|7||Sickbay, CMO’s Office, Main Engineering, Counsellor’s Office, Conference Hall 3, Diplomatic Chambers|
|8||Main Shuttle Bay and Shuttle Bay control, Fighter Element Hangar and Offices, Lower Engineering, Forward Torpedo Launcher|
|9||Science Offices, Science Labs 1 and 2, Stellar Cartography, Chief Science Officer’s Office, Secondary Sickbay|
|10||Ten Forward/Main Lounge, Environmental Controls, Upper Computer Core, Cargo Bay 1, Aft Torpedo Launcher|
|11||Forward and Aft Phaser Array, Lower Computer Core, Cargo Bay 2, Secondary Shield Generators|
|12||Waste Management, Tractor Beam Control and Emitters|
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