|Excelsior II Class|
|Expected Design Life||
|Expected Refit Cycle||
|Expected Resupply Cycle||
M/AM Warp Drive
Warp 9.9 (36 hours)
The Excelsior II-class heavy cruiser was introduced in the late 2380s as a modern update to the long-serving Excelsior-class cruiser, which had just passed its tenth decade in continuous service. Unlike the similar-looking but much larger Obena-class explorer, the Excelsior II is designed to fill precisely the same niche held by the Excelsior: a medium-sized all-rounder. Working in tandem with her contemporary, the Reliant-class frigate, the Resolute is a solid, dependable cruiser that shores up patrol lines and handles generalist duties within and near to Federation space. Originally intended as a stop-gap measure to shore up the fleet while the Inquiry-class heavy cruisers were still being built, the refit to the Excelsior has been so successful that Starfleet anticipates their continued service for at least another fifty years.
Exploration and Science
The Excelsior II is a highly competent exploration platform, with a robust planetary sensing suite on the underside of the saucer section, as well as two wide bands of lateral sensors in the secondary hull. This makes this vessel well-suited for long-duration charting missions where a more capable explorer might be wasted. In addition, these sensor bands allow the ship to perform its scientific duties while also patrolling along the Federation’s borders. This vessel carries approximately the same complement of labs as an Intrepid-class light explorer, and these facilities are tasked with ongoing scientific studies independent of the ship’s main mission.
Unlike the Nebula, this heavy cruiser does not have a large volume of mission-configurable scientific space; individual labs can be tailored to specific experiments, but a large portion of the ship’s interior volume not devoted to the ship’s primary systems is devoted to cargo space and crew facilities. This makes the Excelsior II a fine choice for generalist scientific missions, but a poor one for missions that require a large amount of specialized equipment. This vessel also lacks the accommodations to handle large groups of visiting scientists like her peers have.
One of the Excelsior II’s primary functions is to transport admirals and ambassadors, given her relatively high top speed and impressive defensive capabilities, taking over this function from the Ambassador in large part. There is a full conference suite aboard as well as configurable quarters for dignitaries of most humanoid and non-humanoid races, though her role is often more as a transport than as the site of actual negotiations. It is especially common to transport delegations to and from neutral worlds, as it is an impressive enough vessel but isn’t particularly intimidating. These ships are used less often with larger powers, though, where a full explorer-type vessel would be used instead, such as the Obena or Odyssey.
Many lounges have large viewports looking out into space, which are designed to play host to diplomatic delegations in comfort, while also being a suitable space for other types of conferences and as a crew recreation area when not in use for official functions. The rim of the saucer section has nine large rooms with floor-to-ceiling viewports that can be configured however the mission dictates thanks to holographic technology.
Where this ship truly shines in a diplomatic capacity is in its ability to perform humanitarian aid missions. Designed in the wake of the Romulan supernova, this ship has extensive cargo space that can be used to carry supplies, but which can also easily be converted into hospital space or barracks for the emergency transportation of refugees. The lower levels of the saucer section and a significant portion of the secondary hull have cargo bays with direct space access. While not as medically capable as an Odyssey-class explorer or an Olympic-class hospital ship, the Excelsior II has the advantage of also being well-armed and shielded, allowing it to perform these functions in war zones as well as secure areas. These ships often supplement larger ships or themselves lead convoys of utility cruisers for major humanitarian missions.
At a distance, the overall arrangement of the Excelsior II-class is clearly within the same family as the Excelsior-class: a saucer section joined to a long engineering hull by a wide neck and equipped with slender warp nacelles. However, the Excelsior II’s proportions also take inspiration from the Sovereign-class, with the saucer stretched into an ovoid shape, and the warp nacelles mounted on swept-back pylons. The neck has also been extended forward significantly, taking the leading edge of the secondary hull with it. All of these design cues follow directly from the Obena-class, but made rounded and more organic-looking. This class has a similar overall volume to her predecessor, with a larger saucer section but a slightly smaller engineering section.
Systems in use aboard the Excelsior II have all been tried and tested across multiple other classes, as the emphasis with the design brief was on reliability and high average performance rather than excelling in any one particular area. As with most other ships introduced in the late 24th century, this class is equipped with bioneural circuitry and full-ship holographic projectors. The class uses a streamlined version of the Type-9 warp drive first introduced aboard the Intrepid-class, with limiter software in place to restrict the resolute to a maximum speed of Warp 9.9, which lags behind many of the fleet’s fastest ships, but her cruising speed is a swift Warp 8. Like the Reliant, her lack of sprint speed is compensated for by her quite high cruising speed. The ship’s engineering computers were designed with the ability to be reprogrammed in times of fleet-wide emergencies to override this limitation, but reliability would suffer significantly if this was done.
Automation greatly decreases the amount of crew needed from 750 on the Excelsior to 500 on the Excelsior II. Cargo capabilities on this vessel are extensive. This allows this vessel to transport a vast quantity of materials and supplies, which makes it ideal for moving sensitive equipment between manufacturing facilities and shipyards, as well as for colonial development missions. Small craft support is provided by two medium-sized shuttle bays, one on the stern and one in the undercut beneath the secondary hull. Combined with her speed and medical facilities, all of this space makes the class one an excellent choice for evacuation and transport missions in hazardous areas, often being one of the first ships into a crisis zone. Saucer separation and reintegration capabilities were standardized in this variant, though this is something that had been retroactively added into several of the original class.
The Excelsior II-class is a well-rounded combat platform, though she is not primarily intended as a tactical vessel. This is a common flagship type for admirals who do not need a ship such as an Odyssey but do find themselves leading from the front, as they maintain a suite of offices and a small flag bridge for such a purpose, making them suitable for leading smaller task groups. This role can also be held by a senior captain in command of a ship of this class, especially for leading patrol groups in border areas or coordinating smaller humanitarian ships. For missions where combat is expected, a Gagarin-class vessel would be a better choice.
Excelsior II-class ships are often tasked with patrols within the Federation, especially along major starlanes, where they serve as a deterrent against pirates and raiders, and perform customs enforcement and search and rescue duties, while Inquiry and Gagarin-class ships generally patrol the Federation's borders.
Shields are the latest regenerative standard pioneered aboard the Sovereign-class, and the ship’s hull has partial ablative armor over sensitive areas. Type-XII phaser arrays are employed, with two large dorsal and two ventral arrays on the saucer section, two dorsal and two arrays on the engineering section, and a further two aft phaser arrays.
While phaser coverage is relatively standard, the Excelsior II maintains a larger torpedo armament than may be expected for a ship of her size and role, with six forward-firing torpedo tubes and two aft-firing torpedo tubes. These mounts were added to allow the Excelsior II to serve in a front-line combat capacity, should a conflict like the Dominion War erupt once again, but the ship does not normally carry a large number of torpedoes
Given that her overall volume is actually larger than the original Excelsior but she has a much smaller crew, the Excelsior II is a comfortable posting. Accommodation standards are similar to those employed aboard the Intrepid-class, though there are more dedicated recreational facilities such as an arboretum deck, large lounges, gymnasia, and a dozen holosuites. Most crew members have their own quarters or a private room in shared quarters, which means there is less space for visitors, but the ship isn’t expected to host many guests other than VIPs. This high standard of accommodation helps make up for the fact that this ship doesn’t get sent on the flashiest or most interesting assignments and keeps morale up.
In support of the ship’s humanitarian capabilities, the Excelsior II has a large medical suite aboard, with most of deck six in the saucer being devoted to medical facilities. There is also a secondary sickbay near the aft shuttle bay. This large medical department makes this ship a popular choice for new medical officers, who can experience life in a hospital-like setting while also serving on a frontline starship.
Given the high level of automation, engineering crews don’t often find this to be a particularly engaging assignment, so there has been a culture aboard these vessels of pushing their reliable, standardized ships to limits beyond what they were designed on paper to do, leading some of them to be much faster than they are supposed to be. In addition, the amount of free time available to engineers had made their machine shops and development labs a hotbed of technological innovation.
By the end of the Dominion War, the Excelsior-class was still a staple of Starfleet, even with the older models approaching their 90th birthdays. They had been upgraded numerous times over the years, but the limitations of the spaceframe to handle new technologies such as ablative armor, phaser arrays, and other modern systems were becoming more and more limited as time went on. Starfleet knew that a true replacement for this class was necessary; though the Nebula was quickly proving itself to be a very effective successor class, it was nearly as complex and resource-intensive to build as the Galaxy-class, sharing almost 80 percent of its systems and volume. More and more Ambassador-class ships were also relegated to generalist heavy cruiser duties rather than front-line exploration, but they too were crew and resource-intensive to build and operate.
The Obena-class explorer was already in development as a design sharing the Excelsior's lines, but scaled up to almost twice the original size, but Starfleet recognized that there was a sweet spot at around 450 to 500 meters for a heavy cruiser design that would strike a balance between use of resources and capabilities that could replace the Excelsior one-for-one. While the new Luna-class light explorer was approximately in this size and capability range, Starfleet never intended to keep these long-range ships close to home or operating within Federation space, so a new heavy cruiser project was authorized.
This design program would eventually result in the Inquiry-class heavy cruiser, but the destruction of Utopia Planitia in 2385 prompted an entirely different conversation at Starfleet Headquarters. A number of reserve ships had been brought back into service for the evacuation, but now there was a need to make sure the Federation was protected and they couldn't wait for the new class to be compeleted. Instead, they ordered a full refit program for the Excelsior class.
While the brief retained large cargo facilities to allow it to serve better in humanitarian functions, the emphasis was on bringing Starfleet's aging workhorse up to a modern standard, with tactical systems capable of standing up to modern foes.
The first vessel to be retrofit was the USS Excelsior herself, the second vessel of the class to bear the name, in 2386 at Beta Antares Fleet Yards, with three others ordered at other yards across the Federation and being constructed in parallel.
The Excelsior II class proved to be an immediate success in the fleet, and Starfleet placed a continual production order across ten yards to refit all of the existing Excelsior-class ships to the new standard. This had the added benefit of standardizing between the two existing variants. By 2399, all Excelsior-class ships have been reconfigured as Excelsior II-class vessels.
- The Excelsior II is the modern replacement for the Excelsior as a Federation ship-of-the-line for day-to-day duties around and near the Federation. Just like the Reliant class, she is capable but doesn’t particularly excel in any one area, other than humanitarian missions. Unlike the Reliant-class, though, she’s very much capable of hosting a flag officer as a true flagship, rather than just a transport.
- Excelsior II-class starships are powerful for their size, significantly moreso than the Excelsior-class that they replaced, which often lulls raiders and pirates into a false sense of security due to their experience with the older vessel.
- A Excelsior II captain would be more senior than a Reliant captain, but this is still a vessel that would be appropriate as a first command. It is unlikely that an officer under the rank of Captain would command one, however, as they have a crew of 500.
- In some ways, the Excelsior II is the economy version of both the Odyssey and the Sovereign, as she is tactically capable, diplomatically capable, and can serve as a flagship. She is a much more reasonable and economical alternative to one of these big explorers for missions closer to home or for missions that require more discretion.
- The Excelsior II's saucer separation ability allows the secondary hull to leave the primary hull in orbit of a planet or out in space to go off and perform another mission, or it could be used in combat to surprise other ships.