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Prometheus Class

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docked mode

Universe : Prime Timeline
Affiliation : Federation
Class Name : Prometheus Class1
Type : Attack Cruiser
Unit Run :
NX 59650 USS Prometheus1 - Active
Dimensions : Length : 415 m2
Beam : 163 m3
Height : 64 m3
Decks : 15
Mass : 2,100,000 metric tons
Crew : 175
Armament : 124 x Type XII phaser arrays1, total output 60,000 TeraWatts
24 x Pulse fire quantum torpedo tube1 with 290 rounds
Defence Systems : Regenerative1 shield system, total capacity 3,915,000 TeraJoules
Heavy Duranium / Tritanium Double hull plus 18 cm Ablative armour.1
High level Structural Integrity Field
Warp Speeds
(TNG scale) :
Normal Cruise : 8
Maximum Cruise : 9.95
Maximum Speed untested as yet
Strength Indices :
(Galaxy class = 1,000)
Beam Firepower : 1,200
Torpedo Firepower : 1,350
Weapon Range and Accuracy : 1,175
Shield Strength : 1,450
Hull Armour : 3,100
Speed : -
Combat Manoeuvrability : 3,250
Overall Strength Index : 1,340
Diplomatic Capability : 2
Expected Hull Life : 84
Refit Cycle : Minor : 1 year
Standard : 1 years
Major : 12 years


After the first major encounter between the Dominion and the Federation at the end of 2370 Starfleet responded to the new threat by reactivating the Defiant project and continuing development of the Sovereign project. However, it was felt that further action was needed; the Sovereign class ships were relatively resource intensive, and while the Defiants were easy to build they were also rather limited on range and endurance. It was decided to combine various technologies into the new ship. The ablative armour and quantum torpedoes which equipped the Defiant and Sovereign classes were included, as were the advanced hull geometry and warp field technology of the Sovereign and Intrepid classes.

Starfleet also decided to incorporate the separation concept into the new vessel. Many Starfleet ships have had the ability to separate their primary hull from the rest of the ship, but this has historically been an emergency measure intended to allow the engineering hull to be abandoned in the event that a warp core breach is imminent. Reconnection has generally required the services of a starbase or drydock in a process which takes several days.

With the Galaxy class, Starfleet took the separation process a step further. The primary and engineering hulls both had impulse engine systems, allowing them to operate as fully equipped STL spacecraft in their own right. The engineering hull was able to use its warp drive whilst separated, not simply as an emergency measure for a few seconds or minutes but as a viable interstellar drive system. The intent was to allow the primary hull to escape a combat area with the civilians and family members whilst the engineering hull kept the enemy occupied.

However, this concept was never really as successful as Starfleet wanted. The primary hull was essentially stationary by warp drive standards, making it an easy target for an enemy which defeated the engineering hull in battle. What was needed was a ship which could split into multiple sections, each capable of independent warp speed travel. This is the technology Starfleet decided to incorporate into the new Prometheus class.

The ship which emerged from the drawing boards was capable of separating into three sections - the upper and lower engineering hulls and the saucer section. Both parts of the engineering hull had two nacelles whilst the saucer section had a small auxiliary unit which would deploy once separated.

The warp core arrangement was also unique. The efficiency of a warp core is in part dependant on its height - the longer a core is, the more accurately the matter and antimatter streams can be controlled. Starfleet had initially wanted to equip each section of the Prometheus design with a Defiant-style warp core. This is very compact at only three decks tall, but suffers from inefficiency as a result. It overcomes this by using multiple matter and antimatter streams, so achieving high fuel throughput and so high power output. This gives the core a very high fuel consumption, something considered acceptable for the short range Defiant but not for the Prometheus.

To solve the problem the designers came up with a unique core design for the engineering hull. The warp core has no less than three reaction chambers along its height. During normal operation matter is fed in at the top of the core and antimatter at the bottom, as in any normal warp core. The fuel streams pass directly through the upper and lower reaction chambers and continue down to their meeting point in the central chamber. The core thus operates in a manner similar to any standard model, achieving high efficiency through the long core design.

The central reaction chamber lies on the separation plane, and once the ship splits it is shut down. In the lower engineering section a secondary matter feed just under the central chamber comes into operation, feeding deuterium down to the lower reaction core. This process is mirrored in the upper engineering section, with an antimatter feed sending fuel up to the upper core.

As a result, the combined engineering sections can operate at an efficiency level comparable to any contemporary starship, while the separated sections lose a measure of efficiency because of the shorter warp cores. The primary hull operates on a separate Defiant-style warp core when separated.

The original intent was to have the saucer serve to evacuate civilians as in the Galaxy class, but at warp speed. The idea of carrying civilians was quickly abandoned, however, and the saucer section up-gunned to match the remainder of the vessel. In separated mode the ship is thus able to attack on enemy from three different directions simultaneously, a tactic known as "multi-vector assault mode".

The development and construction of the prototype vessel took three years, and the USS Prometheus was launched in April of 2374. The ship included all of the latest systems, including holographic projectors on every deck so as to facilitate operations of the EMH1 and other such holographic supplements planned to come into service in the future. Initial trials went well, but during the shakedown cruise the Prometheus was stolen by Romulan operatives intent on handing the ship over to the Tal Shiar. The power of the Prometheus was graphically demonstrated during the incident. Although the prototype was still in the test phase, she was able to inflict devastating damage on a Nebula class ship and withstand a combined attack by two Defiant class Escort vessels and an Akira class cruiser. In the same battle she used multi-vector assault mode to destroy a Romulan Warbird with ease. The ship was eventually recovered with the assistance of two EMH units on board,1 and after some assessment of the project's security procedures the testing resumed.

The performance of the Prometheus during this accidental live-fire trial has exceeded all expectations for the ship. The ability to pack firepower little short of a Sovereign class into a ship the size of an Intrepid class offers the prospect of a prodigious increase in Starfleet's potential combat capability.

Colour key

Canon source Backstage source Novel source DITL speculation


# Series Season Source Comment
1 VOY 4 Message in a Bottle
2 Star Trek : The Magazine Based on deck heights and an image of the CGI model used in the episode
3 Star Trek : The Magazine
4 Generic official information
5 Generic canonical information
Series : VOY Season 4 (Disc 4)
Episode : Message in a Bottle
Source : Star Trek : The Magazine
Comment : Based on deck heights and an image of the CGI model used in the episode
Source : Star Trek : The Magazine
Source : Generic official information
Source : Generic canonical information


The Prometheus is one of the more interesting Starships we've seen, largely because of the multi-vector assault mode. We know a little more about the class than most "ships of the week", mostly due to the EMH's asking the computer to give some general specs in the episode. The episode states that the ship has ablative armour, bioneural circuitry and regenerative shields. It is widely stated that the ship was given a speed of Warp 9.9 or Warp 9.99, but in fact no definitive figure is given. The episode merely establishes that the ship is travelling at Warp 9.9 at one particular moment, and states that "this vessel is designed to go faster than anything in the fleet". Note that this is NOT the same thing as saying that it was currently going faster than anything in the fleet, only that it was designed to do so.

One can assume that the Romulans would be going as fast as they could given the circumstances, but this is not as clear-cut as it may seem. Starfleet ships are generally given three speeds - normal cruise, maximum cruise and maximum rated. According to the TNG TM normal cruise is the speed the ship can hold until fuel exhaustion. Maximum cruise is the fastest speed it can sustain for a long but unspecified period of time. Maximum rated is the ships top speed, beyond which you risk immediate engine damage - the Galaxy class can hold its maximum rated speed of Warp 9.6 for twelve hours according to the TNG TM.

Since we don't know how long a trip the Romulans had to make, this only tells us that Warp 9.9 is somewhere between the maximum cruise and maximum rated speed. However, since we know Voyagers maximum sustainable cruise speed is Warp 9.975 ("Caretaker", "Relativity"), then the Prometheus would have to be faster than this to be rated as the fastest ship in the fleet. Hence, I've put Warp 9.9 as the top cruise speed and stated that the ships top speed is expected to be Warp 9.99+.

The Prometheus was able to inflict damage on a Nebula class ship after just a few phaser strikes (some said the Nebula was destroyed, but this is not made clear in the episode). This led me to make the Prometheus' phasers Type 12, very heavy for such a small ship. From her looks, the Prometheus seems to be a cross between the intrepid and the Sovereign. She has Sov-style nacelles, but the basic hull is clearly an Intrepid variant. Her combat power indicates that she is built like the Defiant - no laboratories, no holodecks, etc. to give extra space to support the type 12's.

Much of the speculation regarding the ship is a result of lengthy discussions with Robert Brandt. The warp core layout was largely suggested by Robert, as was the ship's relationship to the Defiant and Sovereign. That the engineering hulls have one large core which splits in two comes from the CGI model of the ship - the split warp core can clearly be seen in close up views of the ship from backstage sources. The three chambers model is only one possible way to explain this - some have suggested that the warp core of the Intrepid class brings the matter and antimatter together at the base and has them reacting all the way up the core, and it's possible that the Prometheus class operates on this principle.

Of course the multi-vector attack mode is something new, but it's hard to see how this would help the Prometheus. The best I can suggest is that it splits the enemy fire and thus gives each section an advantage.

One interesting possibility is that the docked mode is intended to hide the strength of the Prometheus - when docked fully one third of the ships phaser arrays and 60% of the torpedo tubes are hidden from view. The Prometheus could be seen as an attempt by Starfleet to field much more powerful ships while still trying to maintain a non-military face. I don't like this idea, however, as it implies a certain dishonesty on Starfleet's part.

With the Galaxy class I gave strength numbers for the ship only in docked mode, but since the separation aspect is apparently a very important part of the Prometheus concept, I have detailed the weaponry of each section, the total for the separated sections, and the total for the integrated ship. The number of arrays and torpedo tubes carried is taken from a newsgroup posting made by Ryan McReynolds. Ryan says he got these numbers from analysing the pictures of the Prometheus in Star Trek : The Magazine. Since those pictures are made from the CGI model of the ship actually used in the episode, they should be regarded as being pretty solid.

The sizes of the Prometheus are reported to have been given by Rick Sternbach.

© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 119,176 Last updated : 29 Mar 2014