|Propulsion:|| 3x warp nacelles|
|Cruise speed:||Warp 5|
|Top speed:||Warp 8|
|Sensor array:||Type 4 Sensors/Scanners|
The USS Federation is the long-time flagship of Starfleet, the Fleet's big bruising battleship and the only vessel of the grand Nichter-class. The venerable old warhorse of Starfleet, commanding the Federation was once the greatest honour a starship captain could receive, and her crew was the finest in the Fleet. Although the Federation has since been surpassed as the Fleet's prestige starship, it is still a proud vessel, and amongst the ships still serving in Starfleet is both the oldest and the one with the most storied tradition.
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In her youth, the Federation may have been the most contentious and (until the advent of the USS Kiev) the most revolutionary starship Starfleet would ever introduce. Despite the fact that she turned out to be an entirely unique starship in Starfleet's arsenal, the Federation in her final form was in fact significantly toned down from her first form.
The need for Starfleet to have a headline battleship was immediately evident to eventual Fleet Admiral Mitch Blackman, one of Starfleet's earlier Commanders-in-Chief. Blackman drew up the original plans for the Federation, which was originally conceived to be a far larger ship than it finished as. The original USS Federation was 37.5% larger than the already massive ship turned out to be. However, the cost in terms of antimatter usage to effectively move such an overwhelmingly gigantic battleship, combined with the need for warp engines many times larger than any previously constructed, nixed this design.
A more practical design for the Federation was later advanced by John Falkenberg, and under his direction the Federation received the most comprehensive overhaul in the history of Starfleet. Virtually every wall, room, and system was torn out and sent to the scrapyard, while an entire section of the secondary hull was removed and several other rooms were consolidated into cargo space to save on mass. Falkenberg's Federation shared little more with Blackman's than the name and most of the shape, but it was an entirely superior construction and was far, far more efficient than its older self. However, it still proved to be considerably larger than any other ship in the fleet, even the grand Excelsior. In maintaining her firepower and considerable size, Falkenberg also maintained the Federation's status as Starfleet's warhorse.
(On an OOC level, the total redesign of the Federation was to accomodate the new room restrictions when TOS Space reached roughly its current version in 1996. Mitch's design encompassed better than 90 rooms, while the battleship requirement was (and is) 50 rooms. As a result, Falkenberg was forced to tackle one of the most difficult rebuilding projects ever. It was, however, done, and the Federation continued on its merry way.)
In addition to Blackman and Falkenberg, the Federation can post such illustrious commanders in her early history as Chipper Jones, Galinda Myron, Thomas Lynx, and Jeremiah Banks. The Federation earned her flag during the Ikaran War, when she came across the crippled USS Ulysses adrift in space, her crew brainless and her engines deprived of power. Under the command of then-Admiral Falkenberg, the Federation retrieved the Ulysses's logs and, shortly after, became the first vessel to survive an Ikaran attack when an Ikaran warship assaulted her with the mind control strategies that would become typical of the conflict. The quick actions of Commander Chipper Jones, who was Falkenberg's first officer, saved the Federation from lowering her shields and possibly being overcome by the significantly outgunned Ikaran vessel. Although the shields would eventually go down, by that time the crew of the Federation (obviously much larger than that of the scout Ulysses) and Admiral Falkenberg himself were beginning to overcome the control, allowing Federation to summon the nearby USS Excelsior and overcome the Ikaran threat.
Over the course of the War, the Federation and Falkenberg would consistently be at the forefront of the conflict and the innovations which allowed the combined Alpha Quadrant powers to eliminate the threat. The "Simon Says" plan was the brainchild of Admiral Falkenberg, and the Admiral led the Alpha Quadrant fleet into the Battle of Ikar from onboard the Federation. The Battle was mostly remembered for the individual heroics of Captain Gavelin Brody and the loss of a Romulan battleship with all hands, but the Federation fought boldly, and returned to Starbase One to a hero's welcome.
After Ikar, the requirement for a starbase-busting large-scale warship such as the Federation diminished over time. It remained a prestige command, but the actions of Excelsior captain Brody during the Battle seemed to represent, in hindsight, a symbolic passing of the torch from grand battleships such as Federation to more nimble cruisers, of which the Excelsior was Starfleet's most legendary example. Within a few years, the Federation had become a specialty ship, and was seldom rolled out even for diplomatic missions which had once called for all sorts of pomp and grandeur.
When the Excelsior unintentionally coined the term Stellar Run, the Federation became the last relic of a bygone era in Starfleet. Starbase One was of a similar age but was, of course, a starbase, and had aged quite well thanks to good maintenance as the centerpiece of the entire Federation defense network. The Federation, by contrast, was not the prize peach it once was. Her computer system was laughably outdated, and the structural havoc wreaked by her total refit had finally begun to show in the form of increasing mechanical failure and a proud history of nagging technical problems that would only be later surpassed by the USS Saratoga. Engineers assigned to the Federation faced an uphill task trying to get her up to spec, and upgrades long delayed by simpler needs facing more glamorous ships meant that officers used to the systems on the Excalibur or other Starfleet ships faced a steep learning curve.
The Omicron Incident
One of the Federation's few claims to fame during the post-Ikar years was as one of the lead ships in the Omicron Incident, during the race for Tholian space. The Federation was, along with the Republic and the Excalibur, one of the three ships that Admiral Gavelin Brody had stationed at the unclaimed Tholian outpost Omicron to try and give the Federation a foothold in former Tholian territory. The OOC debate over the Omicron events are told in detail elsewhere, however, it became necessary after a time to evacuate Omicron and the three starships therein. With several starship crew already Romulan captives, Admiral Brody elected to leave the Federation behind and return for it later once the Republic and Excalibur were safely in Federation space.
Unfortunately, in possibly the single and only mistake Gavelin Brody ever made as a Starfleet officer, he had left the flagship unlocked at Omicron, which even as the Excalibur and Republic steamed into Starbase One was being overrun by Romulan troops.
With the starship crews exhausted and near the breaking point due to extremely difficult conditions on Omicron and during the retreat, Brody was unable to go back himself to grab the Federation. The task was given to Thomas Lynx, the Starfleet Academy Commandant, and the beloved bucket of bolts known as the USS Ulysses. By the time the Ulysses reached Omicron, the Federation was already in space under escort from the cruiser ChR Valoth, leaving Lynx's Ulysses about as outgunned as it was possible to be.
Using prefix control of the Federation to his advantage, Lynx overcame first the Valoth, then a Romulan destroyer sent to relieve her. After a long and difficult battle, Lynx retrieved the flagship from Romulan hands and returned it to Port Alamo. This, as it turned out, would be the Federation's most glorious combat experience for several years: as the pawn for a scout trying to save it from capture.
The Federation seldom got out on patrols in those days, and was reduced to the lowest spectacle such a grand starship could ever make of herself: a Starfleet Academy training ship. Even in this role, she was underutilized, as a big hulking battleship was hardly the ideal learning environment for young and, it must be said, impatient cadets. After serving ingloriously as a training ship the Federation was given a new life by Captain Jeremiah Banks who oversaw a refit that included a new computer systems and other upgrades. Unfortunately, the refit was poorly executed and run on a shoestring budget. Long-standing problems were bandaged and attempts at long-term solutions were mostly in vain. The refit failed to address many of the Federation's shortcomings. During the Mirror Universe crisis, a situation in which some large Starfleet assets were taken and where the Federation would be seemingly invaluable, the flagship played third fiddle to the USS Excalibur and the Saratoga, and was best remembered for accidentally destroying Port Alamo immediately after Rigley O'Connor issued an order to take the outpost intact.
The last regular commander of the Federation was then-Lieutenant Commander Roger Wilco, who was a great admirer of the Federation in his youth but lacked the crew and the resources to do much of anything. The assignment of a mere Lieutenant Commander to command the grand old flagship spoke volumes about how far the Federation had fallen in public perception. Even after the losses of the Saratoga and the Excalibur, the Federation saw no action even as a stop-gap measure while the Fleet regained her strength. After Wilco moved on to Starfleet Command, the Federation was given to Rigley O'Connor, who had commanded the Federation before Wilco and held a second tenure of about ten minutes before once again leaving to move on to bigger and better things, stranded on planets.
The Federation is currently part of the USS Tardis flight group, and lacks a regular crew but has still seen a small handful of cruises since joining the Tardis group. Though, technically, still Starfleet's flagship, the Federation is subsidiary to the Tardis in her flight group and does not perform any of the duties associated with a fleet flagship. As such, her status as the fleet's first vessel fundamentally does not exist and has not for a number of years.
With peace raging throughout the galaxy and a lack of large-scale intergalactic battles requiring her presence, the Federation is increasingly becoming a floating museum. The loss of the Ulysses in battle with the Klingon Empire made the Federation Starfleet's last ship to have served in the Ikaran War, and among the last in the galaxy. It would be hard to say that any Starfleet vessel has more character than the Federation, and in an era where more opulent starships such as the Excelsior-class have been phased out with an eye towards utilitarian Constellation-class vessels, and Constitution-class ships have rapidly given way to the inelegant Mirandas, the Federation is the only remaining grand floating city in the old tradition.
The Federation is no longer a real duty vessel (although some are pushing for it to return to this role), and though it was snubbed for the uncomfortably cramped USS Pericles and USS Tardis on recent diplomatic missions, the Federation remains one symbol of the Fleet that representives of all empires can recognize immediately. Perhaps modern feelings towards the Federation can be summed up simply: not everybody may like it, but they all have to respect it.
As a result of the aforementioned discussions regarding the return of the USS Federation to duty status, the grand old bird has been granted a massive, and complex refit and overhaul; the eventual cost of this complete retrofit to current fleet standards is expected to cost over a third of the original (adjusted) construction price of the battleship. While some in the Federation Council and Starfleet Command are undoubtedly expected to balk at this relatively enormous cost, it is indeed significantly less than building the entire ship over.
As CO of the flight group, ultimate authority over the refit has been given to Rigley O'Connor, who has the unenviable job of bringing the Federation back to the glory she once knew. Interestingly, the new Federation design is to include the "Gavelin Brody Memorial Crew Lounge", as a testament to the late Admiral who brought Starfleet much of the glory it once knew.