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From Wiki of the Bravo Fleet Star Trek RPG Group
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The Excalibur Class was a design born from the vastly improving technologies since the launch of the Galaxy Class. With the improvements in computer system technologies, increasing accuracy, range and overall ability of sensor technologies, advancements in phaser arrays, and new forms of offensive weapon technologies the Galaxy Class was becoming out of date for the role of deep space, long range explorer. The Excalibur Class was originally a proposed design for the Sovereign Class, which was rejected in favor of a more tactical design. With the Galaxy Class still the only large scale dedicated explorer, the Excalibur design was reevaluated as a possible candidate to incorporate all of the newest technologies into a larger ship capable of deep space exploration, to serve along side the Galaxy Class. Although with the swaying tides of the battle against the Borg Collective, the development of the Excalibur was considerably slowed in favor of more combat-oriented designs.
The Excalibur was considered to be the next step in the evolution of deep space explorers; not to replace the Galaxy Class, but supplement it. The Galaxy was still years more advanced than most other vessels of exploration, but Starfleet Command dictated the need to incorporate the newest and considerably more advanced computer systems, namely the bio-neural computer systems, into a new generation of explorers. The general idea was to make the starship able to still pack a punch if needed in combat because of the largely unknown nature of long range, deep space exploration, but able to shed away the multiple torpedo launchers and redundant phaser arrays that the Sovereign boasted.
In place of those systems were to be more science labs, extra crew quarters, more deep space oriented departments like multiple hydroponics bays, holographic emitters in all major areas of the ship, shuttle and torpedo/probe manufacturing labs, and an extra shuttlebay. Another design aspect of the Excalibur, which would mirror its Galaxy sister and stray away from its Sovereign cousin, was the addition of even more crew luxury systems like extra holodecks, an extra arboretum, more gymnasium rooms and redundant medical facilities, which gave it the ability like the Galaxy to make large scale evacuations in emergency situations. With such a large vessel, it was also designed to allow a majority of the crew to access their own personal quarters, including junior officers and enlisted personnel. It was found that avoiding cramped conditions improved crew morale. The design was made as much for crew comfort as it was for exploring deep space.
The design was finished in 2372. However, with the quickly escalating conflict with the Dominion the construction of the prototype and shakedown cruise wasn't a top priority, with ships like the Sovereign, Defiant and Steamrunner taking precedence because of their combative natures. A prototype was completed in very late 2374 though and given a shakedown within the core Federation territories. The shakedown cruise of the Excalibur was a farcical exercise and the ship was barely tested before it was ordered to the front lines against the Dominion. The Excalibur was able to take quite a beating and hand one out too, but in large scale battles it was clearly no Sovereign.
The Excalibur was thrust to the Vulcan front on the possibility that the Dominion were going to start a risky campaign to take the core Federation world. After Starfleet was certain that Vulcan was in no immediate danger the Excalibur was reassigned to help attack the Dominion foothold in the Chin'toka system. During the battle the Excalibur was able to successfully take the crew of three separate heavily crippled ships on board and treat them accordingly. The combined might of the Dominion forces were too much for the Excalibur, though, and she fell victim to enemy fire. Most of the crew were able to be evacuated and the Allied fleet went on to obtain a victory.
After the end of the war two Excalibur Class hulls, which were in dock pending completion, were finally finished and Starfleet was overall happy with the success of the Excalibur in battle. How she would perform in deep space assignments was the true test, however, and after a year of shakedown for the two Excaliburs in circulation the design performed well above expectations.
The largest drawback of the Excalibur Class is its requirement of resources to build. Literally one of the largest designs Starfleet has ever employed, it requires even more resources than the Galaxy Class to construct. The construction time for the Excalibur is also nearly a third longer than that of the Galaxy. However, the class is a diamond gem when it comes to long term deep space assignments. The Excalibur Class has since been put into production in very limited numbers and it remains one of the most sought after commands in all of Starfleet.