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MACPHERSON -CLASS STARSHIPS

Throughout its 250-year history, the United Federation of Planets has fielded many different starship designs: cruisers, destroyers, and science vessels, all have made a substantial contribution to the knowledge and growth of the Federation but few starship types have made a fundamental impact on the Alpha Quadrant than the MacPherson-class starship. Initially designed by one of Starfleet's most brilliant engineers, Commodore Ian Eisenhower, the MacPherson-class starship was built to replace the aging Lagrange-class tugs. But it was the second generation upgrade(Block II) of this class of ship that profoundly altered the history of the Federation. Including it's newly built Pods, the MacPherson-class starship was the most powerful vessel of it's time. The Block II MacPherson-class vessels were upgraded from tug to cruiser with the addition of heavier phaser mounts, the addition of the SPY-EYE long-range sensor, and the development of the Esta Weapons Pod and the Nimitz Carrier Pod. The MacPherson-class cruiser was designed to take these pods into battle. The development of these pods was forced upon the Federation by a devastating conflict with a newly discovered race, the Cardassians. The Esta-class pods had more firepower than a Galaxy-class starship and in conjunction with these pods, the MacPherson's destroyed a total of 3,340 Cardassian fighters and 288 major Cardassian combatants(including 80 Galor-class warships).These were the only Federation ships to carry fighters during that conflict.
   
This paper will focus on the design, construction, and history of the MacPherson-class starship, and its substantial impact on the Federation-Cardassian War. Although the fundamentals of the start of this war is well known (the Federation's support of the Bolians in their war with the Cardassians) those events will not be pursued in this article. A total of forty-four MacPherson-class starships were built, and their stunning ability to withstand damage accounted for the loss of only one vessel due to enemy action (the USS Hadley). That fact made them immensely popular with their crews and the staff at Starfleet Command.







 






 
The MacPherson-class starship was the brainchild of Commodore Ian Eisenhower, one of Starfleet Command's most famous, and prolific, engineers. Throughout his 60-year career in Starfleet, Commodore Eisenhower developed nearly 30 key engineering systems, many of which are still used in modern starships. He not only developed the Federation's first orbital beanstalk (at Urbanos) but also designed the MacPherson-class tug to be the first truly multi-role starship. Working at Starbase 660(in the Malagasy System), Commodore Eisenhower also developed several critical engineering systems that are widely used within Starfleet today. The most important of these systems being the first generation of docking latches(predecessor of the Galaxy-class docking system). Another important system was a detached upper pylon, which the MacPherson- class used as a deuterium storage tank and was also the location of the SPY-EYE long range sensor system. The MacPherson-class tug was first developed in 2344 at Starbase 660 and the Block II starship was developed at Newport News, Terra/Sol in 2356.
   
Starfleet Command pursued a fast-track design and production plan for the MacPherson- class starship that intended to save both time and money. Commodore Ian Eisenhower took only seven weeks to prepare and submit a design, which was approved by the Federation Council two weeks later. The first MacPherson-class tug was laid down at the Nimitz Yards/ Pike System on Stardate 24543.3 and was completed twelve months later. The USS MacPherson(NCC-27300) was the first ship in this class and was piloted out of the Nimitz Yards by her Captain, Sun Cen. The MacPherson-class tug was initially designed to carry up to 400 personnel, but the Block II Upgrade has much higher personnel requirements(731 officers and crew). The vessel has a gross weight of 900,000 metric tons and is 721 meters in length. The flagship of this class is the USS Lagrange(NCC-3916A) which is currently assigned to 9th Fleet in the Bajor Sector.







 
 
 






 
Esta-class Pods
The detachable Esta-class Transport Pod was also designed Commodore Eisenhower as he neared the end of his long life. Considered one of his crowning achievements, the Esta-class pods were built exclusively at Esta Yards orbiting the planet Golden in the Dubhe System. These cargo pods were built mainly to transport bulk cargo within the Federation but as relations rapidly deteriorated with the Cardassians into a full-scale conflict, the Esta-class pods were refitted into powerful phaser platforms. These extremely heavy phaser arrays, at close range, could destroy a fleet of Cardassian warships utilizing their tremendous firepower. As the conflict between the United Federation of Planets and the Cardassian Union wore on, additional Esta-class cargo pods were refitted into Nimitz-class fighter/carrier pods. Given the extensive use of fighters by the Cardassian Union(and the associated damage of Federation starships), the UFP began deploying its own fighters in 2357, and from Nimitz-class pods in 2358. These pods were highly effective in projecting fighters with Federation task forces and fleets, and the Cardassian fighter losses reached catastrophic levels whenever a MacPherson/Nimitz combination was used in Starfleet operations. The Nimitz-class pod can carry 99 fighters and their associated flight crews, spare parts, and additional weaponry. The Nimitz-class pods(CCV-77) were designed with the following motto: "Strength in Numbers".







 






 
Block II Upgrade
The Block II Upgrade was first conceived of by Admiral Esteban Cervantes at the outbreak of the Federation-Cardassian war, when every available starship was needed for the conflict. Although initial reports of the MacPherson-class vessels indicated that they would not be of help in the current conflict with the Cardassians, this situation was reversed with the destruction of Lassa's World and introduction of the Esta/Nimitz pod conversions. Even with these new and powerful pods, it was noted that the `tugs' would need serious refitting to survive in a combat environment. These plans were completed at Newport News, Terra/Sol and all ten ships(at that time) were refitted to the new design. The modifications included:

*Installation of an advanced Combat Information Center(CIC) in the primary hull of the MacPherson-class starships radically enhanced this classes' defensive capabilities and the long range capabilities of the SPY-EYE sensor system gave Starfleet combat technicians unprecedented surveillance abilities,

*With the Block II Upgrade, the MacPherson-class starship also received Starfleet's newest photon torpedo launcher, with its accompanying rapid-fire capability,

*Six heavy phaser arrays were also installed aboard these vessels while being refitted, including two large Mark I phaser strips on the Saucer Section,

*Upgraded shield generators were installed aboard all MacPherson-class vessels, and an additional twelve fusion engines to power these systems.







 





 
CARDASSIAN WAR CAMPAIGNS
This is a brief history of one of the MacPherson-class starships(the USS Idaho) during the Federation-Cardassian War of 2355-2367. Although the conflict lasted twelve years and many Starfleet vessels were involved in the war, our focus here will be on the MacPherson-class' involvement in the war.
   
Laid down at the Nimitz Yards in the strategic Pike System, the USS Idaho(NCC-27313) was built as a Block II vessel from the keel out. She was launched on Stardate 23347 under Captain Sean O'Reilly and underwent a brief shake-down cruise before being deployed to the front lines of the fighting in early 2360. The USS Idaho's first mission was to take part in the evacuation of Kapidann Prime, along the Federation-Cardassian border. Although this Federation ally's monarchic government had collapsed in the face of the brutal Cardassian conflict, the Federation was determined to get its personnel out. The USS Idaho performed flawlessly during the operation, although there were some losses among the ship's Marine contingent.
   
The Idaho also fought in the Oriskany Campaigns of 2361 against the Cardassian fleet, including the Battle of Rodessa and the Borunne Uprising. Unfortunately, Captain O'Reilly was killed during the Battle of Rodessa and Tarmo Ru(an Efrosian) replaced him as captain. On Stardate 23357, while escorting three large Marine transports to Bolarus, the USS Idaho came under attack by four Galor-class vessels. With nearly 30,000 Starfleet Marines under his protection, Captain Ru deliberately let the Cardassian vessels attack his ship while the large Marine vessels desperately sought to avoid action. During this battle, the Idaho took heavy damage but triumphed over the Cardassian warships by utilizing its Esta-class phaser pod. Unfortunately, the USS Idaho also took 67% personnel losses during this brief fight, and diverted to Starbase 440 for crucial repairs.
   
In 2362, the USS Idaho was deployed to the Bolian Homeworld and defended it in the Fourth Bolarus Raid, in which nearly 130 Cardassian warships attempted to sterilize the planet, and knock the Bolians out of the war. The Idaho was carrying a Nimitz-class fighter pod at the time and played a vital role in that battle, destroying 233 Cardassian fighters and fourteen warships.
   
The Idaho, under Captain Edward Angel, assisted civilian relief efforts during the Korel Empire Collapse, including transporting nearly 30,000 people off the dying capital world(a prodigious number to those familiar with this type of ship).
   
One of the most critical missions the USS Idaho took part in was escorting the uncompleted Bolian dreadnoughts Grys'mos and K'ydela as they evacuated from the Bolian colony Boganar Three. A running fire fight ensued between the Idaho and Cardassian military forces as they closed on the indefensible system. After several days of vicious fighting, Captain Angel and his crew eased both dreadnoughts safely into spacedock at Carema III.
   
On Stardate 23727, tragic events in the Bolarus III Spacestation almost destroyed the Idaho. She suffered serious collateral damage when the Bolian heavy cruiser K'dapt exploded as her antimatter mines were being disarmed prior to off-loading. The USS Idaho lost 215 officers and crew killed or missing in the explosion, including three senior bridge officers. She required extensive refit before being put back into service, which took almost six months.
   
The Idaho's final mission in the Federation-Cardassian War was participating in the evacuation of Buck Rock. A peripheral Federation outpost, Starfleet had nearly 8,000 personnel occupying this base/sensor station near the Badlands. Several prominent starships(including the USS Wellington) were destroyed while trying to run the gauntlet to reach the surrounded base but several vessels got through and evacuated over half the base's personnel. The task of evacuating the remainder of the base was entrusted to the Starfleet vessels Kyushu, America, and Idaho(which was towing a Nimitz-class fighter pod). After entering orbit, embarkation of Starfleet personnel was begun immediately; there was no thought of trying to bring off any equipment. All that could be done was either blow it up or dump it into the sun. The Idaho's fighter groups held back several Cardassian warships as the evacuation continued. As the situation around the orbital station worsened, the troops already embarked grew nervous and impatient to get under way. But the grey-bearded Admiral Hamish cooly made an inspection round of the whole docking bay area to make sure that all the Bolian rear guard troops were off. Finally, the starships pulled out, loaded with 900 marines, 2,800 Starfleet personnel, a few Hain defectors, plus 49 Cardassian prisoners. The return trip was a nightmare. The Cardassian fighter attacks were continuous, but in the end the USS Idaho and her consorts arrived at Starbase 660 one week later with only moderate damage. The Idaho's fighter flight groups suffered moderate losses during the operation and many pilots received the Federation Silver Star of Valour.







 






 
THIRD GENERATION UPGRADE
The Third Generation Upgrade was the most important refit the MacPherson-class starship has received to date. It not only brought the ship's systems up to date but made this class of vessel one of the most powerful in Starfleet's inventory. Although the MacPherson- class starship is badly outdated, the 3rd Generation Upgrade allowed Starfleet Command to retain these vessels in service for at least another 20 years. The first ship refitted was the USS Lawanna, which underwent this upgrade at the outbreak of the Federation-Dominion War. The most critical system installed aboard the Lawanna was the devastating converging antimatter beam. This powerful weapons system was invented by Bolian scientists at the Bannock R&D Facility after they studied the wreckage of a Jem'Hadar vessel captured by Starfleet. The converging antimatter beam delivers a phenomenal amount of damage to an enemy vessel, nearly ten times the amount a standard shipboard phaser does. Unfortunately, this weapons system is extremely bulky and cannot be fitted in smaller vessels(like the Defiant-class escorts) and its firing arc is extremely limited. Most converging antimatter beams are located in the Saucer Section of a starship, and fire forward in a 30-degree arc. To date, this system has damaged or destroyed more Cardassian/Dominion vessels than photon torpedo and phaser systems combined. All major Starfleet vessels are now receiving this new weapons system.
   
This 3rd Generation Upgrade also includes new Westinghouse-built warp nacelles and the advanced Raakluv Corus III Sensor Package(the HAWKEYE system). Although still highly classified, it is thought that the HAWKEYE long range sensor system can detect warp signatures up to 250 light years away!






 







 






 
FINAL NOTES
In 2374, after substantial debate within the Federation Council, the MacPherson-class vessels were refitted to (potentially) receive cloaking capability. Federation President Ashanti Bu asserted that this capability was justified due to the deterioration in the Federation's security environment. One week before the vote, Admiral Bill Blaze, the Federation's outspoken Defence Minister stated that the Dominion was "encircling" the Federation and was the Federation's "potential number one threat". At the same time, the Romulan Empire and the Federation set up a Joint Working Group to discuss confidence building measures(CBM) along their border, including a reduction in forces, limits on the size of exercises, flight restriction zones, and face-to-face meetings between commanders along the Neutral Zone. These discussions yielded considerable progress, allowing substantial numbers of Federation starships(including the MacPherson-class vessels USS Idaho and USS Lagrange) to be redeployed to the new Dominion border in former Cardassian space.
   
Current MacPherson-class vessels being built are the USS Montana, USS Robspierre, USS Rainhorse, and USS T'uruk. All of these vessels are being built at the newly expanded Deneb Fleet Yards(currently the largest in Federation space).



VESSELS OF THIS CLASS*

USS Delhi(NCC-37323)
USS Einstein(NCC-27314)
USS Hampton(NCC-27320)
USS Idaho(NCC-27313)
USS Indyk(NCC-37330)
USS John Wayne(NCC-27316)
USS Kara(NCC-37324)
USS Lagrange(NCC-3916A)
USS Lawanna(NCC-27315)
USS MacPherson(NCC-27300)
USS Mulholland(NCC-37332)
USS Nevada(NCC-27317)
USS New Hampshire(NCC-27319)
USS New Jersey(NCC-27318)
USS Omsk(NCC-37328)
USS Ordonez(NCC-37331)
USS Rajput(NCC-37325)
USS Rana(NCC-37327)
USS Serrano(NCC-37329)
USS Surek(NCC-37334)
USS Tongdao(NCC-27321)
USS Wolf(NCC-3921C)
USS Xia(NCC-37322)
USS Yazov(NCC-37333)

* Operational