Following the Dominion War, Starfleet had lost a great deal of it’s fleet, specifically older ships that had been relegated to work horse duties. While some of the unfinished, mostly empty Galaxy class vessels were able to pick up the slack, as the need for these ships in front-line roles began to increase, a clear need for a replacement was found. By 2377, the Federation had rolled out the “Starfleet Working Class Ship”[Filler name] program, with the need for a low-cost, easily producible ship to replace the lost Miranda, Excelsior and Oberth class vessels.
While a few designs came up, many of them were resource intensive and required the development of new production facilities. One design that came up was decided on for its ease of production, due to utilizing facilities already in place. It would utilize the saucer and engineering section production facilities for the Galaxy class that already existed, though making efforts to develop a new, smaller version of the parts, and assemble them in dry-dock. Further, where the Federation had wanted a ship able to be adapted to multiple roles easily, the design team came up with the option of creating different variants that could easily be interchanged as needed. Thus was born the concept for the California class.
During development, most core functions of the ship were contained inside the saucer section so that it would be as independent of the stardrive as possible. This meant that crew accommodations were tightened as development on the rest of the components took place. As such, instead of the usual bunking arrangements, a communal “hallway” style bunk area was set up on the lower decks of the ship, occupied by non-commissioned officer and junior ranks alike. Even mid-level officers slept in bunks, though slightly more private, to keep accommodations as tight as possible, making place for an internal fusion reactor inside the saucer of the ship.
Further in the development, the idea that the saucer could be left behind as a temporary orbital facility was developed such that it could be used for any manner of deployments. Often referred to as the ‘Catalina class starbase’, named for the small island off the coast of California on Earth, it is less a formal designation and more a joke between engineers. In addition, it is possible to chain up different saucers in order to provide a more substantial presence for deployments that require multiple capabilities.
It must be noted that the saucer alone is incapable of warp and cannot move beyond limited impulse adjustments. When the saucer is detached, the “sled”, which is the nacelles, deflector, and struts, can be returned to a base under limited command, and resupplied with a new saucer for different mission profiles.
There are a few major variants of the California, all easily noticed by the colour of striping on the hull, a nod to the uniform colours of the various branches.
Intended as a fully stocked engineering facility, the Engineering variant is often deployed to places that will require extended engineering support from Starfleet. This can be as a “second contact” ship to help a potential new ally improve their quality of life, or as a portable repair facility, moving to various places to repair damaged starships and starbases.
Scientific and Medical:
Replacing the expansive engineering facilities with medical and scientific facilities, the scientific variant is focused more on research and study.
Acting more like a general purpose variant, the Aerospace Control is mostly used as a “command” vessel, focusing on coordinating vessels. This is the version most often used as a temporary orbital facility.
If a marine base is needed, the Marine variant provides large marine housing facilities and a focus on landing craft. Note that Marine compliment may be increased to as much as 60 by replacing some Starfleet crew for this variant.
|Height||110m (55m of decks, 31m of strut, 23m of nacelle)|
Saucer: 11 Decks
Engineering: 3 Decks
Weapons & Defensive Systems
|Weapon Systems||Type X Phasers: 6|
Burstfire Torpedo Launcher: 2
|Shuttles||Type 6A Shuttle: 4|
|Runabouts||Aero Class Runabout: 1|
|Note||These may vary by Variant with Engineering replacing larger auxiliary craft to maximize the number of workbees or Medical replacing shuttles to have more runabouts. Examples of such options are shown below:|