USS Darwin-A Sphere Section Separation
The USS Darwin-A's most noticeable feature, the containment sphere, enables a unique set of operations that are not available to most other classes of starship. The ship has been designed to take in hazardous materials such as volatile gases, corrosive liquids or dangerous solid objects such as fragments of salvaged ships and transport or study them safely.
Access to the containment sphere is on the ventral hemisphere of the forward section; the containment sphere can act as a vacuum that will suck in liquid or gas, or solid objects of up to fifteen metres in diameter can be tractored through the forward access port. For larger objects, the containment sphere can be temporarily deactivated while the object is tractored into place, then reactivated once it is in position. In this way, small craft can also be contained within the sphere for extra protection should the need arise.
As an additional safety measure, the sphere section of the ship can be separated from the drive section, although this is not viable in a tactical situation in the same way as it would be for a Galaxy-class starship due to lack of armament and combat manoeuvrability. In an emergency situation, crew will be evacuated to the ship’s drive section, which will attempt to get as far away from the sphere section as possible. This will usually only be attempted during a situation where it is believed possible that an explosion in the containment sphere could result in the destruction of the ship and venting of the sphere’s contents is not possible or viable.