When Voyager returned to the Alpha Quadrant in 2378, an immediate effort was undertaken to understand the technology that had been applied to the  ship, both by the post-Borg modifications, as well as technology brought forward by a future, alternate version of Janeway. While much of the technology was eventually either locked down by the Corps of Engineers, or the Department of Temporal Affairs, the bits that were still usable were parted out to various design bureaus to begin getting an idea of what the next generation of starship would look like. 

One such design was little more than an aggressive rebuild of the existing Intrepid-class, with modernized systems from after the war. However, with a focus on smaller, more general purpose ships, and larger, more grand ships in the forefront at the moment, the napkin doodle of a ship was placed into a data storage system, and ultimately forgotten about. 

Following the attack on Mars, the destruction of Utopia Planitia, and the loss of ships under construction there at the time, old designs were drafted to begin a massive overhaul of the Fleet that was remaining. With designs like the Curiosity and Inquiry leading to the design philosophy of building parts elsewhere, and bringing them to various fleet yards for construction, designs that could make the most of that were searched for and prized. One such design came in the form of the Pathfinder project. The ability to take existing Intrepid space frames, many of which had been mothballed due to excessive damage surrounding the Dominion War, and repurpose them for the sake of this new ship was a tempting offer. With the USS Aeneas secured, a ship crippled during the siege of DS9, the Pathfinder development team set to work. 

The mission brief for this new class of ship was to fulfil three crucial roles:

  1. Make use of high fidelity sensor systems for use in exploration and security operations
  2. Be capable of fielding itself as both a warship, and a explorer, like its predecessor
  3. Provide anti-cloaking support as part of its ongoing efforts to prevent the rise of piracy and marauding following the collapse of the Romulan Star Empire. 

At the core of the design was a massively improved active and passive sensor system. Borrowing the Intrepid Class’ secondary deflector dish system, the space around it saw heavy additions to its sensor suites. Due to the extra power in the area, and additional functions added on, the area was left exposed to allow for passive cooling into space when not in active use. A feature borrowed from the Vesta-class and her massive heatsink. This new sensor system allowed the Pathfinder project to map areas far greater than its predecessor.

Since the sensor systems were considered the forefront of the design, deck one was dedicated to a massive astrometrics and sensor study facility, tied directly to the sensor suite itself. Able to process data in real time, the Pathfinder gave its operators a massive space to work with, with next to no processing delay. The space even featured its own small form computer, pulled from a shuttle originally, to allow quicker computations when the main computer was down. This moved the Bridge to deck two, which was accessible from the sensor facility by a pair of curved stairs leading down from the deck to the bridge. This allowed Commanding Officers to command from either the astrometrics facility, or the bridge, by their preference. 

This system also allowed Pathfinder classes later assigned to Anti-Cloaking operations to overcharge the sensor systems, and more accurately track cloaked ships that considered themselves hidden. 

While it functioned excellently in the first two roles, there was a degree of concern given by the team about the role of being a combat ship. Many of the delicate systems were exposed, and had little armor covering them due to their placement. The hope from the team was to gain access to the Beam-On Ablative Armor technology, but by the time they had time to study it, they realized the energy requirements, and storage systems needed to make the technology work would actually be detrimental. Instead, a series of blast doors were devised, known as the Combat deployable armor system, which sealed all windows, the bussard collectors, shuttle and cargo bays, and the secondary deflector as needed. This system was programmable, and different sections could be closed without needing to activate the others, a win over the other technology system. 

Due to its heavy sensor capabilities, the Pathfinder was utilized by Starfleet Intelligence as one of its mainstay ships. This, combined with the modernized low-sensor pick up armor applied to the ship, and ability to reduce EM emissions further by use of the sliding armor, made for a very excellent stealth ship, without the need for a cloak. Intelligence crews would often run down most other systems, besides the sensors, and drift along scrubbing data as part of their scans with the doors closed, in a maneuver most called “running dark.”

Like her forebear, the Pathfinder class has variable-geometry nacelle pylons. These however are not for subspace field damage, but rather to aid in the low-emissions mode the ship is capable of. At lower warp speeds, traveling with the nacelles in their “downwards” configuration decreases the amount of energy required, and ostensibly the ship’s EM signature. However, to reach higher warp speeds, the nacelles must pivot upwards to form a more powerful warp profile, which in turn drastically increases the likelihood of being picked up by sensor suites.

Length: 431.4
Width: 158.8
Height: 62.7
Number of Decks: 14
Warp Factors
Cruise: 8
Maximum: 9.975
Emergency: 9.985
Quantum Slipstream
Cruise: 1
Maximum: 2
Emergency: 2.25
Defensive Systems
Auto-modulating shielding (Deflector Based)
Multiphasic Shielding
Ablative Armour
Combat deployable armour
Offensive Systems
Type XII Phaser13
Type U Pulse Phasers2
Burstfire Torpedo Launcher4
Auxilliary Craft
Type 9 Shuttle3
Aero Class Runabout1
Type 11 Shuttle2

Ships of the Line

Naming Convention:

USS PathfinderNCC-97600Active
USS Voyager-BNCC-74656-BCanon Ship
USS AlouetteNCC-97605Reserve
USS Carbon CreekNCC-97611Reserve
USS ShukarNCC-97613Reserve
USS PatarNCC-97604Reserve

Deck Listing

Deck Number Description
1 Bridge, Captain’s Ready Room, Briefing Room