||10-12-2012 09:12 AM
I don't like the idea of the Niagara simply being a costume, or a configuration, however; this wouldn't stop cryptic from offering the Niagara as a variation despite the fact that the ships are different in sizes. While yes, the Ambassador and Niagara are both 'cruisers,' there is a bit of a difference.
Type : Enhanced scientific/diplomatic explorer
Unit Run : NCC 26849 USS Adelphi - Active
NCC 10521 USS Ambassador - Active
NCC 1701-C USS Enterprise - Destroyed
NCC 26517 USS Excalibur - Active
NCC 265134 USS Exeter - Active
NCC 266324 USS Gandhi - Active
NCC105324 USS Horatio - Destroyed
NCC 26198 USS Valdemar - Active
NCC 26510 USS Yamaguchi - Destroyed
NCC 26136 USS Zhukov - Active
plus 48 others built in total. 27 have been lost in all.
Commissioned : 2330 - 2357, class remains in service
Dimensions : Length : 526 m11
Beam : 320 m12
Height : 125 m12
Decks : 36
Mass : 2,350,000 metric tons
Crew : 550
Armament : 10 x Type IX phaser arrays, total output 30,000 TeraWatts
2 x Type 1 burst fire photon torpedo tube with 250 rounds
Defence Systems : Standard shield system, total capacity 2,025,000 TeraJoules
Standard Duranium/Tritanium Double hull plus 7 cm High density armour.
Standard level Structural Integrity Field
(TNG scale) : Normal Cruise : 6
Maximum Cruise : 8.8
Maximum Rated : 9.2 for 12 hours.
Notes: Now an important footnote in the lineage of many a starship, the Ambassador Class is no longer the backbone of Starfleet's exploration nor defensive arms. Once the pride of the fleet and considered, at the time, to be the pinnacle of starship development, technology developed for the Ambassador class has exploded into common usage among other classes of starships, while the grand spaceframe has slipped from active production and is slowly being replaced by newer designs, it still remains a notable class of vessel that continues to serve with distinction.
The Ambassador Class starship was a large departure from current trends in ship design when it was conceived. Nearly twice as large as the current mainstay, the Excelsior Class starship, the Ambassador class would change the face of Starfleet and influence ship design for decades to come. Initial design concepts were developed and toyed with at the newly formed Advanced Starship Design Bureau, Mars in 2249; some of the first concept models and drawings are still on display at the ASDB Museum. However, given the scale of the craft, the concept would remain just that until 2292, when a dramatic shift in Galactic Politics occurred. A shift that would effect the Federation, the Romulan Star Empire and the Klingon Empire well into the next century.
In early 2290, a marked increase of hostilities along the Klingon and Federation border occurred. This disturbing trend reached a peak in 2291 when the USS Oberon (NCC 4998) was forced to withdraw from an engagement against 2 B'rel Class Birds of Prey. According to published reports, Captain Oded Hammlin believed the vessel to be an arms smuggling corvette enroute from Andor to Klingon Space, and stopped the vessel before entering the neutral zone. 2 B'Rel Class Birds of Prey intercepted the Oberon and threatened to defend the corvette, accusing the Oberon of piracy. When the Oberon refused to withdraw, the B'Rel vessels engaged and disabled the Oberon while taking minimal damage. The Klingon Council quickly learned of their new vessels clear advantages against the backbone of the Federation and became increasingly daring in their action in and around the Neutral Zone. Up until the Ambassador class was launched, several more incidents of Excelsior class starships being forced to withdraw from tense confrontations due to being outgunned and out shielded by the newer B?rel class Birds of Prey occurred. The withdrawals illustrated just how dated and stagnant the United Federations of Planets Starfleet had become. Immediately, the design teams at Utopia Planitia quickly addressed this situation and, blowing the dust off of their concept models, quickly began work on the Ambassador Class Starship. Official sanctioning by Starfleet occurred in 2311 after the Tomed incident and funding and resources were allocated for the development of a new Defense Cruiser.
The Ambassador project would prove to set a new standard in starship design for the Federation, giving Starfleet a starship that was better armed, better equipped and more diversely equipped than any other starship ever before. The design brief for the Ambassador class starship called for a heavily armed Battlecruiser which could also serve the non-combat roles of heavy transport and deep space exploration. The resulting design exceeded expectations and the Ambassador class was quickly put into service.
Several design aspects of the Ambassador class made the space frame unique and were carried over into future designs. Among these was the increased internal cargo, crew and fuel capacity combined with an increased lift capability that gave the Ambassador class not only great size, but an endurance that rivaled the Excelsior Class and crew amenities allowing for much longer on station and patrol times, meaning more Ambassador class starships could remain on patrol longer and with less crew fatigue. Some of the last Ambassador class starships also had thick duranium armor, the precursor to the Defiant Class ablative armor, added to protect the vulnerable areas of the ship. Finally, the development of Phaser Array, which replaced the traditional Phaser Turret found on previous hull types such as the Excelsior and Miranda class hulls, were made standard for the Ambassador class. The arrays allowed for quicker recharge times and the ability to fire at multiple targets out of one array, rather than targeting turrets individually.
So successful were the Ambassador Class vessels, that the production team began looking at designing an improved Ambassador Class vessel. While shaving nearly 15 meters of length, resulting in a much smaller cargo hauling capability, the team was able to make the already hearty Ambassador Class more nimble in combat situations. The addition of 4 more phaser arrays also gave the class more bite. Further improvements in shielding, sensor, and computer technology would be implemented in the Ambassador-Refit design, but these advancements would not be enough to warrant a further production contract beyond the initial 1000 starships ordered by Starfleet. While the final 150 Ambassador Class vessels were of the Refit variety, the improvements and advancements made by the Ambassadors would be short-lived as a new age of Starship production was about to begin.
However, with the advent of the successful Akira and the announcement of the "Grand Redesign of the Fleet" with the Cheyenne, Galaxy and Nebula class starships, production of the Ambassador class slipped markedly. The Nebula Class, the new workhorse of the fleet, could fill the same roles as the Ambassador class, and could do them more efficiently and with greater range. As a result, the Ambassador mission role became more and more limited to the role of border patrol and defensive specialist with fewer and fewer assigned to deep space exploration and diplomatic transport. Continued refits kept the majority of the Ambassador class starships in service, despite the end of their active production run. The currently active starships serve the Federation well, but the recent Borg incursions and war with the Dominion has cut down severely the number of Ambassador class starships that remain in active service. Most of the Ambassador class starships were lost or damaged beyond repair, resulting in the decommissioning of the majority of active Ambassador starships. The current trend in Starship has also phased the Ambassador class out, with less crew intensive starships being the order of the day.