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Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 206
# 26
08-10-2012, 05:25 AM
Originally Posted by dontdrunkimshoot View Post
it took about 5 seconds to check memory alpha. it lists every appearance nice and neatly.

they arent supper rare just because the hero ship didn't cross paths with them that often. there would have been hundreds of ambassador class built, just not thousands like there were excelsiors and mirandas. the ambassador was the federations top battleship from the 2330s to the 2360s, until the galaxy was introduced and replaced it in that role. they just don't build as many battleships as they do light cruisers.
I have a theory on the visible rarity of the Ambassador class and the overt prevalence of the Miranda and Excelsior. Forgetting the obvious issues with television production costs, re-using already built models for the movies, using existing footage, etc.. my fictional theory goes as follows.

The largest ships in production up to the Ambassador era were ships like Excelsior. Massive boats compared to the aging Constitution class, the Excelsior class proved a decent exploration vessel for several decades. Since the Excelsior was the next step in the evolution of the Cruiser line, the Constitutions were no longer needed. An attempt was made to replace the Miranda class around that same time, but the Miranda's bulky frame and dual shuttlebays made it an ideal platform for general patrol and colony support duty within the Federation's borders. The Centaurs weren't made in any large numbers for this reason, because their smaller form also limited their application to varied duties.

The Federation tried again to replace the Miranda, this time with the Constellation class. Unfortunately the Constellation class was considered underpowered, and was "always on the verge of flying apart at the seams". It's forward facing shuttlebay, mounted dead center of the saucer section, and it's distinctive 4 warp nacelles were innovative features, but still the tried and true Miranda seemed to do the same jobs just as well, with fewer warp coils.

Being relegated to mostly safe duty within the Federation's borders, the Mirandas weren't subject to the same "loss" rates as ships like the Constitution. The Miranda's spaceframe allowed for easy addition of semi-modular mission packages, allowing the same basic ship to be fitted with more weapons, or more science equipment, depending on it's assignment.

Decades passed with the Excelsiors in deep space and more were built, and in time a great deal more of known space was explored.. pushing the boundaries of the unexplored frontier further out. With the peace treaty with the Klingon Empire, the Excelsiors saw an improved survivability rate as they went about their exploration missions. However, as the distances and durations of exploration missions got longer, the Excelsior began to prove that it simply didn't have sufficient crew, recreation, and cargo space for the longer missions it was starting to require. Starfleet naturally began trying to respond to the modern needs of deep space exploration. They needed a heavier ship, loaded with more room for crew, cargo, and so on, with more social space for long-term deep space deployment. The answer was of course, the Ambassador Class.. bigger, heavier, and more robust in every way to the Excelsior.

In a short span of years, following the success of the Ambassador's trials, the Excelsiors in deep space duty were recalled. These ships were generally replaced with the larger Ambassadors, which were sent out on deep space exploration missions, with enough crew and supplies to take on the longer missions. The Ambassadors were sent out, and performed their duties admirably.

Excelsior begins to carve itself a new niche as the Support ship of choice within Federation space, and the Miranda becomes relegated to more menial tasks, replacing the vastly underpowered Oberth class science vessels.

Decades pass, and some ships are naturally lost. It is the way of space exploration.

Over time, as the boundaries of known space are pushed back again by the Ambassador, it becomes clear to Starfleet again that as these missions grow ever longer, the ship's capacity needs to get larger. Additionally, crews start complaining heavily of missing their non-starfleet families, and Starfleet begins suffering a brain-drain as otherwise qualified and interested officers and crew begin resigning their commissions to remain with their families.

The result is the Galaxy Class Starship Development Project. Over a span of approximately 10years, this massive new starship was devised that would actually allow for the ship to carry not only the needed crew cargo and supplies that it would need for deep space exploration, but allow crew members to actually bring their own families and children with them on the journey. Equipped with a school, holodecks, athletics facilities and more, the ship itself was designed to separate in half, leaving the bulkier "crew section" behind with families and such left in a safe location, while the secondary section could venture alone into more hostile situations.

The first run of Galaxy Class starships were rolled out fairly slowly with the first ones arriving presumably in the early 2360's, and only a few were produced in the initial run. The class was almost recalled when the U.S.S. Yamato exploded due to a computer virus it accidentally downloaded from a Romulan vessel.

One Galaxy Class starship was the Federation flagship, the U.S.S. Enterprise, but unlike the other ships of her class, Enterprise served a flagship duty mostly within the bounds of known space, hosting dignitaries and tending to peacemaking duties.

With the Galaxy Class proving itself a solid replacement for the Ambassador Class, Starfleet began recalling those ships in deep space. The Horatio, having been one of the early ships to return for reassignment. The ship was destroyed in 2364, not long after the Enterprise's launch in the events leading up to the "Alien Infiltration" event of 2364.

It's also clear that at some point since the Initial launch of the Ambassador Class ships, these ships had received some pretty massive refits, particularly in the Engine department. Nacelles have been lowered, Bussards have been redesigned, and Impulse Engines have been moved. Changes are made to the bridge moduls and sensor dome, Deflector dish, and number of lifeboats, and the entire secondary hull is widened, making room for a much larger primary shuttlebay, as well as the addition of a large structure below the primary shuttlebay, which houses a THIRD shuttlebay. A fairly extensive refit indeed. Perhaps this is the refit that adapts these Exploration ships for known-space duty, with added cargo and shuttle capacity and new engine internals. It's also possible that these ships represent a "later generation" version of the Ambassador class.

It seems that Starfleet's number of surviving Ambassador class starships was limited, or the refit process was fairly lengthy. Only a small number of known Ambassadors began seeing service within federation space for limited duty. (at least the ones that crossed paths with Enterprise). One such was the USS Zhukov, which is notable for ferrying Ambassador T'Pel to the Enterprise, where she was later to be conducted to a peace negotiation with the Romulan Empire.

By 2367, the Yamaguchi had returned, and found itself engaged with the fleet against the Borg incursion at Wolf 359.

By 2368, the Excalibur, having encountered the Borg "on the night shift" (clearly outside of Wolf 359) and survived, was undergoing a "major refit and repair" (possibly it's conversion from 1701C-type to Zhukov-type?).

Over the next decade, more Ambassador class vessels would return. Some would be decommissioned, while others found themselves involved with the Dominion war.


TNG only lasted 7 years, and presumably only covered 7 years of Starfleet history. Given that the Galaxy class was brand spanking (golly gee, wow) new when the show began, it's pretty clear that some Ambassador Class starships would not yet have returned from their 5-10 year exploration missions by the end of the series!

Deep Space 9, unlike TNG, took place for the most part in one little corner of space near the Bajoran wormhole. Even if the Ambassadors continued to return and be pressed into service slowly replacing the Excelsiors, it's clear that there were just so darn many Excelsiors within Federation space already, and surely those Ambassadors would need refits. (With the "Complete Refit" of the much smaller Constitution Class taking a whopping 18 months.. you can imagine that this project on the Ambassador's scale would be quite time consuming.)

Voyager of course, took place in the Delta Quadrant, and never returned to "officially explored space" before using the Borg's transwarp technology to return home.

The question comes, why so many NEW ship designs within a span of years after TNG. The answer is the Dominion, and the Borg.

It seems clear to me that ships like Voyager were being built to fill a new need as a light, deep space science vessel (perhaps owing to a "too big for just science" problem with the Nebula class?) and Defiant slated to handle the new realities of war close to home. Sovereign was clearly the "far,known-space" choice for patrol and support, with enough power to handle the new (borg) threats that could come from nowhere. This duty is PROBABLY where the returning Ambassadors carved out their new niche, with their added survivability against the Borg compared to the Excelsior.. But the advent of the Borg clearly diminished the standing fleet, and made Starfleet rethink it's needs. The Sovreign's "Extended duty/known space" assignment is why it too became the Federation Flagship, since that really is the same duty that the EnterpriseD had performed. The absence of a clear "Exploration Cruiser" is notable here, but the fact is that between the Dominion and the Borg, I'm sure Starfleet decided they needed more focus on defense, with the Galaxy Class still mostly deployed in deep space.
Username: PodSix
Join Date: 11/09/2009
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Last edited by podsix; 08-10-2012 at 07:19 AM.