Echelon Class

From Bravo Fleet
This article is official Bravo Fleet canon.

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The Echelon-class light cruiser is a mid-sized starship developed as a rapid response vessel for humanitarian relief missions and high priority engineering assignments. Designed alongside the Sagan-class light explorer, the Echelon has very similar internal components, though in a simplified arrangement—a single warp core and pair of nacelles provide sufficient range for her duties within Federation space and on the frontier, and they make her substantially easier to produce and operate than her more complex sister.

Science and Exploration

As with all Starfleet cruiser classes, the Echelon carries a full range of science labs, sensor pallets, and scientific specialists. These ships perform generalist duties within Federation space, which includes stellar mapping and routine scientific studies. Given that the majority of her time is spent on things other than science, many of her labs are mission-configurable, and she is able to embark scientists working on independent projects while the ship carries out patrol or relief missions. They are also ideal for missions of scientific interest where a smaller vessel would be out of its depth, but a large Sutherland-class research cruiser would be in too much danger.

Echelon-class ships have oversized small craft capabilities, just like the Sagan, and so they are a good platform for launching scouting missions via runabout and for deploying probes. They also routinely service scientific outposts, so they support Starfleet’s scientific agenda in indirect ways.

Diplomacy

Echelon-class starships are intended for second-contact missions and other routine diplomatic interactions with established powers. In particular, they are useful where a large amount of cargo must be moved as part of a humanitarian or diplomatic process. They are not luxurious, either in their facilities or in their interior finishes, but they do have dedicated guest quarters, conference facilities, and variable life support systems. These starships are also good candidates for transporting ambassadors within Federation space, as well as providing transport to foreign dignitaries.

Engineering

Though they are outwardly very similar to Sagan-class starships, Echelon-class starships do not incorporate the same Borg-derived advances in their systems. Systems aboard the Echelon are tried-and-true, optimized for ruggedness and ease of maintenance over performance. Their internal complexity is also comparatively less, because of not needing a second warp core or full second set of warp nacelles. Like with the Sagan, a roughly circular saucer section is joined to a flat secondary hull, with the nacelles mounted above the ship. Warp speeds match the Sagan, but with half the endurance.

Secondary craft facilities dominate the aft end of the ship, with three hangers on the stern and a fourth connected to a staging area behind the bridge. These hangers are interconnected with cargo bays as well, making the Echelon adept at engineering and humanitarian support missions. Echelon-class cruisers are among the smallest vessels to have industrial replicators as a standard feature, which allows them to create the parts necessary to fix any engineering problem, while their high speed allows them to deliver anything that can't be replicated easily. These vessels are much faster and better armed than utility cruisers, which makes them ideal for handling engineering missions in dangerous frontier areas—or at least to stop the immediate crisis to give time for utility vessels to arrive to do the bulk of the work.

Tactical

Echelon-class starships are well-armed and well-shielded. As are mid-level ships, they are intended to operate in groups or with larger vessels when deployed on a tactically-oriented mission. They can hold their own against single opponents long enough for other ships to catch up to them when they are sent to the frontier on an urgent mission. Their phaser armaments are identical to the Sagan, with 8 Type-XIV phaser arrays around the saucer and secondary hull. Torpedo armament is reduced by half, because of her lack of lower nacelles to two forward and two aft torpedo launchers in the pods on the nacelle struts. Metaphasic shielding is standard. While this arsenal is significant, and easily out-classes older ships, Echelon class ships’ power generation capabilities are half that of the Sagan, which reduces her firepower. Ton for ton, the Inquiry, Alita, and other tactically-oriented vessels are more powerful, while she's a match for her contemporary and cousin, the Duderstadt.

Unique amongst current starship classes, their weapons have been specifically tuned with traceable payloads which can ionize the hulls of their targets to allow them to be tracked. This allows the Echelon to essentially tag threats that it can’t handle on its own, so it can either pursue them through warp and/or summon help to deal with them. This capability is especially useful in pursuing smugglers, pirates, and others who will tend to run rather than stand and fight. If an Echelon-class ship were being sent on a tactical mission, it would be able to offload some of its runabouts and fighters to embark a wing of twelve starfighters, should the mission parameters deem that necessary.

Humanitarian & Medical

Much of the internal volume aboard the Sagan that is reserved for additional fuel tanks and other systems that increase her range have been given over to humanitarian and medical facilities on the Echelon. Though not a hospital ship, the Echelon is excellent as a first-response vessel for medical emergencies, as she has a large sickbay complex with direct access to the multiple shuttle bays and a dedicated evacuation transporter. These ships can stabilize patients while setting up field hospitals or while waiting for hospital vessels to arrive on the scene, as their top speed is significantly higher than either the Olympic or older cruiser classes that have been converted for hospital duties. They can also serve as ambulance vessels, transporting critical care patients back to starbase hospital facilities.

As mentioned above, Echelon-class starships carry industrial replicators, which allows them to quickly produce food, water, and portable shelters to handle humanitarian events. They also have dedicated storage bays near the main hangers with sufficient deployable facilities to set up a planet-side camp for up to five-thousand refugees within hours. These same capabilities also make Echelon-class cruisers ideal for full resettlement missions, where a colony must relocate to another planet because of some sort of disaster. Their life support capabilities are significantly enhanced from the Sagan to be able to handle up to 10,000 evacuees—though not in much comfort, with bunk rooms set up in the cargo bays and even cots in the corridors being required for a full load.

Shipboard Life

Echelon-class starships are optimized for their overall performance and the ease of internal access to critical systems, meaning that they are sleek and spartan like most other ships of this era in starship design. As on the Sagan, crew quarters are smaller than on some older classes, and there are fewer quarters with windows. Crew recreation is thus focused on communal areas, including several lounges, bars, and mess halls. Holodeck facilities are state-of-the-art.

This class is still quite new, so it is considered a good assignment, but it is well-known that Starfleet intends to keep these ships on mid-level assignments. New officers will cut their teeth on these ships before being sent to more exciting ships headed further out into space. This is also a proving ground for new captains.

Echelon-class History

Design on the Echelon and Sagan classes began in the early 2390s at the San Francisco Fleet Yards. As part of a general trend in Starfleet shipbuilding towards the aesthetics of the 2290s—clean lines, fewer windows, and fewer curves—this project was originally envisioned as just one class with both two and four-nacelled units to serve as close and long-range versions of the same basic mid-sized cruiser design. As this process progressed, though, Starfleet chose the four-nacelled design to become not just another heavy cruiser design, but a long-range explorer and the testbed for many Borg-inspired systems developed from extensive research into Voyager’s systems and work on the so-called Artifact. Production on the Echelon class began in 2394, and the first vessels entered service by 2397.

By the early 25th century, the Echelon-class is still quite new, but is becoming a recognizable part of the fleet throughout Federation space.

The Echelon Class In-Play

  • Echelon-class starships are externally identical to the Sagan, but with only two nacelles. They are shorter range, have a smaller crew, and are meant to serve as cruisers, rather than venturing off too far into deep space. They’re new and capable, but a little less special than the Sagan.
  • Compared to the Alita, the Echelon is the superior humanitarian and engineering vessel, while the Alita is the superior tactical vessel.
  • This class has a large shuttle/cargo complex, so it would be good at similar types of missions to the Cerritos, like engineering support, but it’s also much better armed, so those support missions could happen in more dangerous eras.
  • We have seen that in this era of Star Trek, things are shiny and polished, with little emphasis on luxury. Fewer windows means either smaller quarters or at least fewer quarters with windows, so your crew are going to have to get to know each other in the lounge or bar.