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Steamrunner Class

Size Comp
Universe : Prime Timeline
Affiliation : Federation
Class Name : Steamrunner Class
Type : Light Cruiser
Unit Run :
USS Hiroshima [1] - Active
USS Steamrunner - Active
NCC 52136 USS Appalachia [1] - Active
plus 237 others built in total. 80 have been lost in all.
Commissioned : 2342 - 2363, class remains in service
Dimensions : Length : 244 m [2]
Beam : 160 m
Height : 40 m
Decks : 9
Mass : 375,000 metric tons
Crew : 185
Armament : 6 x Type VIII phaser arrays, total output 13,000 TeraWatts
2 x Pulse fire photon torpedo tube [3]
2 x Standard photon torpedo tube with 155 rounds
Defence Systems : Standard shield system, total capacity 891,000 TeraJoules
Standard Duranium / Tritanium Double hull plus 4.8 cm High density armour.
Standard level Structural Integrity Field
Warp Speeds
(TNG scale) :
Normal Cruise : 6
Maximum Cruise : 8.8
Maximum Rated : 9.5
Strength Indices :
(Galaxy class = 1,000)
Beam Firepower : 260
Torpedo Firepower : 750
Weapon Range and Accuracy : 455
Shield Strength : 330
Hull Armour : 580
Speed : 955
Combat Manoeuvrability : 5,930
Overall Strength Index : 513
Diplomatic Capability : 3
Expected Hull Life : 48
Refit Cycle : Minor : 3 year
Standard : 3 years
Major : 24 years


During the late 2340's Starfleet became increasingly worried about the average age of the ships in the fleet. Although vessels such as the Miranda and Excelsior class were performing adequately as mid sized cruisers and destroyers, these designs dated back between 50 and 100 years and were lagging behind the latest technology despite frequent refits. Rapid expansion of the Federation was also putting a great strain on both the exploratory and defence capacities of Starfleet, and although the Nebula class was under development Starfleet was predicting that it would be unable to meet all of its commitments by 2365.

The Steamrunner design was fielded in the early 40s along with the Saber as part of a major fleet wide programme of modernization. Essentially the Steamrunner's serve a similar function to the modern day Intrepid class - a smaller, faster counterpart to the cruiser class ships which would be deployed in large numbers to augment the more capable designs. The first of the class was launched in 2342, and series production began after a six month flight test programme.

The Steamrunner introduced several innovations into Starfleet; she was the first to be equipped with an isolinear computer system rather than the duotronic system then in use. Her hull form was also rather unusual in appearance; the angular profile of the primary hull was claimed to be an inherently stronger shape than the traditional circular/elliptical shape, allowing a reduction in the thickness of the structural beams which decreased the overall vessel mass by some 12%. This made for greater acceleration at both impulse and warp. However, some flaws have surfaced in the design; Steamrunner class ships which engaged in extended periods of high warp speed found some cracking in the structural members of the primary hull. Several fixes were tried to correct this problem; Starfleet finally found that a combination of a modified Structural Integrity Field system and slight changes to the Warp drive itself eliminated the harmonic vibrations which were causing the problem. Those vessels already damaged had to have some of their main hull support structure replaced, a task which set construction of the class back some time.

Although the Steamrunner is relatively limited in its capabilities to perform scientific and exploratory functions compared to a larger ship, its real difficulties lie in the diplomatic area. Like the Intrepid class which is now replacing it, the Steamrunner is capable of holding only limited diplomatic venues. Despite this the Steamrunner's have proved their worth in diplomacy, helping to settle many matters in sparsely populated areas where Starfleets "big guns" rarely make an appearance.

Today the Steamrunner is beginning to take a more back seat as the Intrepid class becomes more common. The last few years have seen many units of this class moving from the outer territories to the core of the Federation. Thirty six of the class were recently been rebuilt as border patrol craft. This involves a reduction in Shuttle craft Facilities by approximately 50% in favour of a larger load of photon torpedoes and a refit to the shield generators. Serving with the Typhon Sector Fleet, these ships were heavily involved with the Borg attack of 2373 where they suffered severe casualties. [4] More recently Steamrunner class ships have been serving as scouts during the war with the Dominion. Losses here have also been significant.

Colour key

Canon source Backstage source Novel source DITL speculation


# Series Season Source Comment
1 Star Trek Encyclopedia
2 David Stipes, DS9 visual effects supervisor Taken from a posting to the DS9 Newsgroup.
3 Generic canonical information
4 Star Trek : First Contact
Book : Star Trek Encyclopedia
Source : David Stipes, DS9 visual effects supervisor
Comment : Taken from a posting to the DS9 Newsgroup.
Source : Generic canonical information
Film: Star Trek : First Contact


Certainly the most unusual looking of the ships which appeared in First Contact, many don't like the Steamrunner much. I thought it was too strange at first, but after getting a good look at the design I've come to like it quite a bit. There are two major depatrures in the Steamrunner - first, the nacelles are becoming integrated into the saucer section. This is also done with the Saber class, but the Steamrunner has the bussard collectors on the top of the saucer, which makes it look a bit odd. The second odd feature is the rollbar pod, which is supported directly from the nacelles alone and hangs down under the ship rather than up above. This pod doesn't seem to hold any weapons, but carries the ships navigational deflector. All in all a definite departure from the norm!

Like the Akira, the Steamrunner has some design elements from the Sovereign - most notably the lifeboat hatches. However, the registry of the Steamrunner class USS Appalacia (NCC 52136) is even lower than the Akira class ships we've seen, indicating the Steamrunner dates from somewhere around the 2340's or so.

In size the Steamrunner is a bit smaller than the Akira, about the size of the Miranda. I've classed her as a light cruiser also, and to distinguish the two I've tried to suggest that Starfleet was trying out a few new ideas with this ship - ideas which basically didn't work out all that well in some cases, which is why we haven't seen more ships looking like this.

The Steamrunners we saw in First Contact where getting really hammered by the borg, and the relative lack of them since indicates to me that Starfleet doesn't really want to throw these ships into a pitched battle. So I've assumed that they aren't all that stong in combat, maybe as a result of their design problems. My guess is that the Steamrunner would be a scout type, and as such is basically an older version of the Intrepid.

© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 128,700 Last updated : 31 Jul 2004