Excelsior Class Proposal
On Stardate 3198.4, following the collapse of negotiation efforts with the Klingon Empire, the Federation Council reluctantly passed a resolution directing Starfleet Command to issue a Code One Alert; the United Federation of Planets was at war with the Klingon Empire.
All along the nascent front, the respective fleets of the Alpha Quadrant’s two greatest powers prepared to grapple with one another for the first time since the Four Years War.
Many had come to believe the moment was inevitable. To the Federation, the Klingon Empire represented a deplorable totalitarian power who existence critically undermined the very ideals and freedoms the citizens of the Federation held most dear. To the Klingon Empire, the Federation was an upstart usurper, an intolerable impediment to their rightful expansion to every corner of the stars.
To the strategists on both sides, there was an expectation of victory. To the pragmatists, only the wise understanding that the conflict would not be won easily. So many decades later, historians are quick to argue over who would truly have emerged triumphant; the only real point of agreement is that it would have been a long and bloody war which was, mercifully, never allowed to be fought.
With the imposition of the Organian Peace Treaty, Starfleet was given a chance to step back, and with a fuller understanding of the forces which the Klingon had been prepared to unleash, to perform a pre-conflict post-mortem; when it was over, the Admiralty was not heartened by the conclusions.
While every tactical simulation indicated any conflict would have ended in a Federation victory, in terms of projected losses of starships, crews and civilian casualties within the disputed zones would have made such a victory pyrrhic at best.
Armed with these sobering projections, Starfleet undertook a hard reevaluation of the fleet’s tactical doctrine. Up to that point, most strategic thinking was influenced by the two particular conflicts; the Earth-Romulan War and the Four Years War. Although both conflicts saw a heavy emphasis on developing cutting edge technologies with which to equip Federation crews, both wars are also seen as examples of classic attrition warfare. Horses had given way to warp drive, but in the end both conflicts had come down to an arms race; a question of who could field the most warships to alter the balance on the frontlines.
It was during this evaluation phase that a subtle shift in strategic thinking began to take shape. With the Federation in possession of vast research capabilities and numerous technological advantages, the Admiralty came to understand that it did not matter so much how many ships Starfleet had on the frontline as long as those vessels held significant advantages in terms of sensors, propulsion, shields and weapon systems. It was this change in thinking that prompted such programs as the Constitution Class Refit program of the 2270’s. Instead of outbuilding the enemy, the focus became in out-innovating them.
One of the early focuses in this drive to out-innovate was the Excelsior Class program. Originally conceived as merely a Heavy Cruiser which integrated firepower capabilities and lessons learned from the Federation Class Dreadnoughts into a more multi-mission capable platform, the Excelsior Class was more-or-less hijacked into becoming a test-bed not only for the (failed) Transwarp project, but also for a vast array of other technological developments that would eventually carry Starfleet well into the 24th Century.
This graphic represents the ‘Great Experiment’s’ humble beginnings, a drawing board concept sketch from 2267. Parts by