U.S.S. Peterson
Registry:       NCC-61815
Class:          Saber Class Mk-I
Type:           Light Cruiser, Destroyer Leader
Role:		Escort / Patrol / Interceptor
Length:		220m
Decks:          11
Crew:           75 to 250
Max Speed:      Warp 9.2
Endurance:      6 months
Armament:       5 x Type X Phaser Arrays
                5 x Photon Torpedo Tubes (4f,1a)
Aux Craft:	8 Standard Shuttlecraft
                2 Runabout or Cargo Shuttle
                64 Escape Pods
Saber Class Development Project:

During the early phases of the low intensity but persistent Cardassian Border Wars (circa 2350), the need for a small, well armed, maneuverable starship grew apparent as Starfleet's overreliance on large, long-range cruisers regularly left Federation presence spread thin along the border. Since the border region geographically favored the Cardassian side whose starbases, shipyards, and supply lines were much closer to the boundary, frequent incursions often left distant Federation colonies and outposts outnumbered and overwhelmed by fast Cardassian raiders. Starfleet simply did not have enough numbers in the region to enforce policy without withdrawing forces from the Tzenkethi region, a species regarded as a greater threat at the time. Existing starships of the type needed, such as the Miranda class, were long out of production and approaching the end of their service lives. A new starship class would need to be designed and fielded immediately or the Federation's outlying positions would soon become untenable.

The Saber class was conceived as a durable, medium range escort and defensive starship designed to protect Federation interests along the volatile Cardassian border. On paper, it packed the armament and endurance of a light cruiser but geopolitical considerations resulted in it being classified under an ambiguous "Escort" or "Frigate" type. As the lengthy border region was in a constant state of flux, the design emphasized high speed in order to respond to incursions quickly and powerful armament to defeat or delay anticipated opponents when operating alone or in a flotilla. Additionally, overall complexity had to be kept in moderation so as to be able to mass produce units in great quantity.

The first 24 starships entered service amidst the most turbulent period of the Cardassian border war alongside the Nebula, Cheyenne and New Orleans class starships they were designed to complement. These were known as the Mark-I batch, known for their good endurance, reliable engines, and defenses considered formidable for the time. Few teething problems were encountered due to the widespread usage of off-the-shelf proven technologies. Cardassian forces were caught off guard by the new vessel and attempted to escalate the conflict by invading Federation colonies at Setlik III and Minos Korva. However by this point, the new Saber class had arrived in significant numbers that effectively neutralized the Cardassian numerical advantages earlier in the war. Operating in squadrons of three to twelve, they scored several key victories often against superior Cardassian warships, eventually driving all opposing forces out of the contested zones by 2360. The Saber class Mk-I would eventually number over 200 units before the end of the border war.

The peace that came afterwards brought about a number of questionable decisions. With no major threats to the stability of the quadrant, Starfleet and the Federation in general became extremely complacent in the ensuing years. While the grand launching of Starfleet's newest, largest and most advanced flagship- the Galaxy class- gave many a sense of security, there was no further increase of fleet strength in this period. Starfleet turned its eyes back to the frontiers of exploration while overall fleet tactical abilities stagnated or declined.

In 2365, a Starfleet vessel, propelled by the Q entity, encountered a hostile, invasive species known as the Borg. While there was great attention paid to the new threat by Starfleet Tactical, the Admiralty had expected much more lead time until an eventual encounter; the first Borg vessel was found in the distant J-25 system, a star located 7000 light years from Federation space and over a decade away at maximum warp. Additionally, some had taken comfort in the fact that despite the superior strength of the Borg cube, a Galaxy class vessel could inflict some (albeit limited) damage upon it; surely a combined fleet would stand a much greater chance of defeating one.

The subsequent invasion by a Borg cube less than two years later came as a profound shock. In the Battle of Wolf 359, the Borg caused the total destruction of dozens of capital starships and the near capitulation of Earth with only sheer skill and audacity of the Starship Enterprise turning the tables at the last instant. Upon extensive review, existing weapons and tactics proved entirely ineffective in this new form of adaptive warfare. Federation leadership immediately called for a massive buildup of fleet strength on a scale not seen in the history of the Federation. For the first time in decades, a major external power threatened the very existence of sentient life in the quadrant and every available resource was thrown towards defensive efforts.

The mass buildup seemed daunting to even seasoned officers as it envisioned a fleet more than double in size and quadruple in combat firepower than the fleet of 2365. However, most of these developments would take years to complete and a stopgap measure was needed immediately lest another hostile power, the Romulans and Cardassians for example, take advantage of a weakened Starfleet. The Saber class was selected after careful deliberation due to its fast construction times, low operating cost and reliable weapons platform. The other existing designs selected for the massive construction program were the Akira and Steamrunner classes, chosen for their headroom for tactical upgrades. The New Orleans and Cheyenne class were canceled; their generalist capabilites deemed inefficient use of limited resources.

Some argued that the Saber class was not the best choice as several had been lost in the engagement at Wolf 359. Nevertheless, fleet planners recognized the refit potential of the basic design and ordered an optimized version be drawn up and put into mass production as soon as possible. Many modifications would need to be implemented if the ship was to be produced in significant numbers. In the ensuing redesign, the Mark I was practically gutted. Only the basic superstructure and main warp power systems remained as a wartime version was built around it. The previous warp-optimized hull shaping was removed in favor of flat, easy-to-manufacture hull plates. Crew complement was cut in half with new automaated systems replacing many noncritical posts. In terms of armament, the Mark-II was equipped with fewer but more powerful phaser arrays along with increased shielding. Whereas a Mk-I required 18 months from keel laying to shakedown, the Mk-II cut down construction time to under 7 months. It could also be built in less advanced yards due to its simplified design. The Mark-II could be built in massive numbers without severely impacting supplies of critical materials needed for more advanced starships. While it is generally accepted that the Mk-I was built to a higher quality finish with superior amenities and appointments, it was largely equivalent in performance as the Mk-II, with the latter having an edge in shielding and reactor power and the former being slightly faster.

The Mk-II batches, arriving in huge numbers just in time to fill the ranks just prior to the Dominion war, proved to be a valuable asset in nearly every major subsequent engagement. It was, by far, the most produced Federation starship during the conflict. But by 2373, (owing to the rapid progress in defense technologies) it was outclassed and eventually replaced by its direct descendent, the Defiant class in the role of tactical escort starship. Remaining Saber class vessels were relegated to secondary roles in the post war era in increasing numbers.

Authors Note: The Saber Mk-I is my version of the "peacetime batch" Saber class, modeled for Star Trek: Ships of the Line 2015. Since the original version from First Contact was a low resolution model meant only for background shots, I took some liberties to increase the density of detail as well as steer the style more towards the Galaxy class with some subtle hints at the Defiant and Nova class lineage as well. The U.S.S. Peterson is named after my good friend and expert modeler Eric Peterson who has often assisted me in the finer points of engineering and practical design.

-D. M. Phoenix

  • DMP_Saber_B
  • DMP_Saber_C
  • DMP_Saber_A
  • DMP_Saber_D
  • DMP_Saber_E

The Saber Class Mk-II featured a more angular, faceted hull that was much faster to mass produce during times of war.

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