The Groumal Class, a freighter that eventually became the mainstay cargo carrier for several major Alpha and Beta Quadrant races, was ironically first designed and built by Bajorans. A few short years after the Cardassian Union first offered to assist the struggling Bajor, a joint endeavour was undertaken by the two peoples. It had two aims. The first was to provide the Cardassians with a functional, but inexpensive new freighter class. The second was to provide a stimulus to the ailing Bajoran economy via a capital project.
Although the design process had started prior to the Cardassians becoming involved in Bajoran dealings in 2309, final drafting and full construction was left for several years until the dynamics of the working arrangement could be worked out. For a time, Bajoran and Cardassian worked hand in hand, the former providing most of the levels of labour involved and the latter acting as executive management and design consultants.
The first Bajoran-produced Groumal Class freighters began construction in 2312 and flew off the assembly lines in 2313. A test project, these initial vessels and those in the second batch that immediately followed were neither as advanced nor capable as later batches, but they would prove sufficient for the Cardassians’ purposes until the next batch could enter construction, at which point modifications to the progenitor ships could be made to bring them up to spec. The second batch of Groumals took longer to produce at a full two years, starting in 2317, but it would not be for a further three years following the completion of the second batch and the commencement of what became known as the Cardassian Occupation that the third batch, comprising the configuration of the Groumal that became the standard for all future models and refits, got under way.
Cardassian policy was to remove all but a handful of skilled Bajorans from their professions. The Union, though now a great believer in using Bajorans as slave labour, was not ignorant of the probability that many members of the subject race were capable of much more than mining dilithium or tending crops. There were a number of notable engineers among the older generation, those who had grown up and been educated before the coming of the Cardassians, and it was these surviving Bajorans who were put to work designing a more advanced fleet of merchant vessels.
Progress was slow. Beginning in the 2320s, the revised project met with disaster after disaster. Many Bajoran engineers and scientists refused to do what was asked of them in protest of the Cardassian occupation of Bajor, refusals that resulted in their prompt executions. This thinned the available pool available to the Cardassians, but the supply of first and second generation Groumals was sufficient to meet the Union’s needs in the short to medium-term and work proceeded regardless. Resources were few and far between, the project receiving a bare fraction of what was required, a dilemma that forced many of its managing directors out of their positions.
By 2340, following staggering delays, the first of the redesigned Groumals was launched on its maiden voyage. It was, however, an unfortunate trip. Though travelling with cargo, the freighter and its escort of Cardassian attack craft were waylaid by Klingon Birds of Prey and destroyed. The Cardassians were suitably displeased with the Groumal’s lack of performance in combat and ordered that later ships of the class be better armed and protected. This priority, however, was never given the level of political and financial support required. As such, four spiral wave disrupter banks were all that could be afforded and new shields were not put in place. The freighter’s top speed was increased, though, the designers understanding the greater need for the Groumal’s ability to flee a fight rather than survive one.
The first modified batch of Groumals was launched in 2343 and put into service immediately. Plying the spacelanes within Cardassian space, they became a common sight throughout the Union and beyond. It was at this time that the Klingons, who were never on good terms with the Cardassians, came to respect the Groumal’s cargo carrying capabilities if not its ability to fight. However, due to the growing possibility of a furtherance of hostilities with the United Federation of Planets, the Empire was unwilling to devote resources and ships to the capture and analysis of any Groumals.
The Bajorans stepped in. Working secretly and with the intention of undermining their oppressors’ position in the Alpha Quadrant in any way possible, relatives of some of the engineers who had worked on the project – and been executed shortly afterwards – arranged to sell the plans for the freighter to the Klingons in return for disrupters, munitions and impulse reactors. The Klingons agreed, knowing a good deal when they saw one, and immediately began constructing the first of their Groumal variant, using their own technology and materials. Although the ships were initially identical, a major break from the established design undertaken by the Klingons resulted in significant modifications to both the Groumal’s size and warp capabilities. Now, with large shield generators located in the bow, additional nacelles at the rear and an overall increase in size, the Klingon variant could transport a considerably greater amount of cargo than the original Cardassian ship.
The Cardassian Union has used the Groumal Class as a general purpose cargo carrier since its inception, relying on it to transport vast quantities of much needed materials in bulk across their space. Entire cargo containers must be removed in cases of heavy loads that are not easily transported even by the freighter’s better than average transporter systems. As a result, the Groumal is modular in design, divided between five columns of removable cargo containers, the bow section with its sensors, docking systems and primary shields, and the aft section with its engines, crew quarters, computer systems and bridge.
|Cruising Speed||Warp 5|
|Maximum Speed||Warp 6|
|Emergency Speed||Warp 6.5 (for 4 hours)|
|Shuttles||Type 1 Shuttle: 1|
|Transports||Wyvern Cab Hopper: 1|
|Workpods||Work Bee Workpod: 1|
|Shielding Systems||Standard Shielding System|
|Disruptors||Spiral Wave Banks: 4|
|1||Bridge, Captain's Quarters, Cargo Bays 1-5 Level 1, Dorsal Disrupter Bank|
|2||Crew Bunks, Mess Hall and Kitchen, Water and Food Storage, Cargo Bays 1-5 Level 2, Male Showers, Female Showers, Replicator Station 1|
|3||Upper Propulsion Assembly, Upper Engineering, Anti-Matter Reactant Injectors, Sickbay (keep only 2 people overnight), Personnel Transporter (2 person), Cargo Transporter 1, Upper Ship's Spine|
|4||Environmental Controls (cargo and non-cargo areas), Waste Management, Personnel Private Storage, Upper Propulsion Assembly, Main Engineering, Port Cargo Bays 6-10 Level 1 (minor stores), Starboard Cargo Bays 11-15 Level 1 (minor stores), Forward Dorsal Disrupter Bank|
|5||Lower Engineering, Auxiliary Transporter Controls, Matter Reactant Injectors, Plasma Ejection Ports, Computer Core, Port Cargo Bays 6-10 Level 2 (minor stores), Starboard Cargo Bays 11-15 Level 2 (minor stores)|
|6||Auxiliary Engineering Sublevel, Warp Core Ejection Hatch (manually initiated system), Navigational Sensors, Primary Shields, Cargo Transporter 2, Plasma Ejection Ports, Main Docking Clamps, Docking System Controls, Deflector Array, Airlock 1, Central Ship's Spine|
|7||Cargo Transporter 2, Port Cargo Bays 16-20 Level 1 (medium stores), Starboard Cargo Bays 21-25 Level 1 (medium stores), Plasma Ejection Ports|
|8||Main Cargo Storage Controls (controls cargo container), Port Cargo Bays 16-20 Level 2 (medium stores), Starboard Cargo Bays 21-25 Level 2 (medium stores), Chief Cargo Handler's Office, Forward Ventral Disrupter Bank|
|9||Cargo Transporters 3-5, Replicator Stations 2&3, Auxiliary Deflector Control, Lower Propulsion Assembly, Lower Ship's Spine|
|10||Cargo Bays 26-30 Level 1 (heavy stores), Lower Propulsion Assembly|
|11||Cargo Bays 26-30 Level 2 (heavy stores), Airlocks 2-4, Lower Docking Clamps|
|12||Primary Structural Integrity Field Controls, Auxiliary Environmental Controls|
|13||Storage Bays 1-7, Reserve Computer Storage, Communications Array|
|14||Storage Bays 8-12, Port Tractor Beam Emitter, Starboard Tractor Beam Emitter and Controls|
|15||Cargo Container Management Systems, Remote Control Functions|
|16||Ventral Disrupter Bank, Ventral Tractor Beam Emitter and Controls|