The Watchtower-class station is a Federation starbase designed and deployed in the 23rd century. At the time, they were major bases of operations for Starfleet, while capable of supporting civilian endeavours such as colonisation efforts. While heavily dated by 2399, their robust construction and changes in Federation borders in that time have kept a significant number still in service.
Approximately 500 metres in diameter, the Watchtowers have a saucer-shaped primary hull, with a central command tower that houses shuttlebays, the medical centre, offices, and the operations centre. The primary hull itself contains four main docking bays, though due to the age of the station it can hold ships no larger than the old Constitution-classes, and thus only small Starfleet ships by modern standards. Above the spacedock is the habitation section, while below are the support facilities, crew quarters, and computer core. Below is the secondary hull, primarily constituting cargo and maintenance facilities, which supports the external docking wheel. The lower hull includes the energy reactor, while the sensor array is located at the very bottom.
Long-term sustainability of the Watchtower-class has been aided by progress in automation technology. Upgrading and refitting internal systems has allowed the station to reduce its standard crew complement to approximately 900, and this increase in available space allows the Watchtower to offer living and working facilities more tolerable to late-24th century officers. This is even more necessary with the Watchtower's expectation that it will support Federation civilians.
However, little about a Watchtower is cutting edge. In high-profile regions, the stations have been dismantled and replaced by more modern starbases. They have remained in operation largely in regions that have been rendered more marginal by geopolitical developments, built in places which were once key borders but are now more comfortable inner-world territories, or peaceful frontiers. They are unimpressive workhorses, able to enable Federation administration of a region or provide a Starfleet presence so long as it does not require the most advanced technologies or support for the most large and significant of starships.
Watchtower-class Stations In-Play
- Watchtower-class stations are respectable enough facilities, if rather second-rate. There is always some reason they are still in operation and have not been dismantled or replaced; what needed a state-of-the-art Starfleet bastion a century and a half ago must be able to make-do with an old facility that is small and unsophisticated by modern standards. They have been successfully refitted with modern technologies, but are not cutting edge or particularly impressive.
- These stations are most often along what are now mid-level transport routes or stable borders. A Watchtower is enough to make pirates and raiders think twice, especially if it is backed up by support vessels, but a Watchtower on a dangerous frontier has likely been replaced.