April 2011

Class Histories
Federation Destroyers Part 4

     In our previous installments of this series, we presented the class histories of some of the most famous Federation old-series destroyers in Star Fleet history. Their tales of valor and glory, of missions accomplished and victories won, of worlds explored and civilizations contacted, reflect the highest standards of the Star Fleet. Destroyer crews were, it would appear from those earlier entries(particularly Part 2 and the DDG sub-class), the hand-picked elite of the best space navy in the galaxy.
     But now, in the fourth and final part of the series, we come to those ships which, it might be said, restore the law of averages. If the elite were concentrated into nearly a hundred of the best ships in the fleet, what was Star Fleet to do with those who gave it the old Academy try and just didn't quite reach the level expected? These are their stories.

     USS LOLLIPOP: The first ship of the class, it was given this name due to a misunderstanding of 300-year-old records. By the time of Star Fleet, nobody really remembered just what a "Lollipop" was, and the historical databases (disrupted by the various wars on Earth during the 21st and 22nd centuries) had only two references. One was a fragment of an old dictionary which defined "lollipop-shaped" and included an illustration, and the other was a cross-reference to the "Good Ship Lollipop" in the cultural database (the actual reference having been lost). After the ship was commissioned, further research discovered the true nature of the term and Star Fleet quickly sent the ship on a five-year mission somewhere, anywhere, that was out of sight of the media.

     USS KAUFMAN: A standard four-photon destroyer, the Kaufman was, for reasons never really explained, built with the single warp engine facing backwards. This unique arrangement allowed the ship to fly at top speed away from the enemy while keeping all of her torpedoes bearing on the pursuing enemy force. This ship served with distinction on the Klingon front, until its continuing retrograde brought it within range of Romulan squadrons. There, its success continued. Romulan ships maneuvered to uncloak "behind" the fast-moving destroyer, only to find themselves facing the four hot torpedo tubes of the "Killer" Kaufman!

     USS PEQUOD: Driven by a maniacal captain determined to rid the Pacifica sector of space monsters, the ship exploded after being rammed by a Moray Eel.

     USS DERRINGER: Intended as a carrier escort, the Derringer had phaser-Gs replacing all of the photons and phaser-1s of the basic destroyer design. Popular with admirals (but not its crews), the USS Derringer was constantly in demand by carrier group commanders maneuvering to have it assigned to their force. The enemy could detect its weapons and always target it with the entire fleet's long-range fire; USS Derringer had the distinction of being the first ship put out of action in six separate battles. On a deep space mission, the ship disappeared into the Pardessus Pocket and was never seen again.

     USS BUZZSAW: A unique variant with photon torpedoes replacing all of its phaser-1s, the ship exploded during its first test firing. After years of study of the wreckage, a Board of Inquiry ruled that the explosion was due to a design error in which the naval architects had failed to convert inches into millimeters.

     USS YO-YO: The original test ship for the drogue, the system never functioned correctly and continuously released and recovered the drogue during its entire combat career. Enemy (and friendly) ships stayed as far away from the Yo-yo as they could.

     USS HERMETIC: A standard destroyer, the USS Hermetic was designed with a unique damage control system designed to seal hatches and doors in the event the pressure was lost in part of the ship due to battle damage. Unfortunately, the system malfunctioned and sealed the door to every compartment (including the crew quarters) during the shakedown cruise. The captain and senior officers, suspecting that their careers would be ruined if the event "leaked out," simply never reported it to Star Fleet, although they did recommend (fortunately!) that the damage control system not be used and advised Star Fleet that they had deactivated it. As every compartment was sealed, the crew could only move around the ship (e.g., from the quarters, to the mess hall, to their duty stations) by means of the ship's transporters. The work-around worked well enough, and the crew eventually became quite accustomed to this mode of intra-ship transportation, using transporters to report to work at the start of their shifts and to go "home" at the end. The crew was so happy with duty on the Hermetic that no one ever asked for a transfer off the ship! When Star Fleet needed a ship for a long-duration mission, the Hermetic was selected because the crew was obviously quite happy on board and wouldn't mind being away from home for years. Stopping at the first Class-M planet they encountered, the crew discarded the useless turbolift cars (nobody had used them to get to their stations in a year) and filled the turbolift shafts with water and fish beamed up from the planet's oceans, then filled the useless corridors with grass and small animals (the local equivalent of chickens and rabbits). Plumbing drew water from the turbolift shafts to irrigate the corridors, and collected water vapor to refill the "on-board ocean". Waste from the crew was used to feed the animals, plants, and fish on board. In this way, the ship could grow its own food as it went along and did not have to rely on tasteless replicator rations (further contributing to the ship's unusually high crew morale!). The cooks would, when mealtime approached, use transporters to beam the selected livestock (minus the useless innards) directly to the oven.

     When the General War began, the USS Hermetic was brought back from the Second Fleet and thrown into combat. During the Second Battle of Blackfoot Pass, the USS Hermetic took heavy damage but almost no crew casualties due to its extremely high "internal compartmentalization factor." The ship was boarded by over a hundred Klingon Marines, who rampaged up and down the corridors but could not get into any of the compartments. The crew did not even realize that Klingons were on board until two weeks later, when enterprising Klingon combat engineers managed to pry open the doors to the turbolift shaft, flooding the corridors on the lower decks and triggering alarms when the turnip crop was waterlogged.

     Faced with an ecological disaster, the crew had no choice but to fly to a nearby fleet repair dock which cut open the long-sealed hatches and restored the ship to its proper design standards. Morale fell to such a low level that the entire crew resigned en masse (something Star Fleet allowed because no other ship would accept the transfer of such unhappy crewmen)

     USS AMAZON: Crewed entirely by Alpha-Centaurans, this ship was known as a hellcat in combat. The captain once told a Klingon admiral: "You just don't get it, do you?"

     USS FRISBEE: Apparently another ship resulting from incomplete database records of obscure terms, this ship disappeared in Y165 after suffering a breakdown during a High Energy Turn (the warp engine was torn completely away from the hull) and tumbling out of control. It was last seen in the jaws of a large space monster which literally ran away with the ship.

     USS TITANIC: Destroyed by the impact of an uncharted comet during its maiden cruise. The ship was considered so invulnerable to damage that it had no internal air-tight doors.

     USS GRISWOLD: Protected by improved heavy armor, the ship was used to lead attacks by directly ramming the enemy flagship. Captain Jethro Gibbs reportedly asked one captured Klingon admiral: "Did you learn anything?"