“Standing on the shoulders of giants.”
One of the mainstays of the Federation fleet, the Miranda class has been in continuous service for over a century. A prime example of the adaptability and durability of Starfleet design and engineering, the vessels have undergone a continual cycle of refits and upgrades to maintain their usefulness within the fleet. Despite this, the class is nearing the end of its operational lifespan. The regular improvements to the ships cannot get around one simple fact; the core framework of the vessels is out-of-date and unable to support the very latest of technologies. Many have already been retired from front-line service, now used for simple cargo trawls or leisurely diplomatic runs.
The USS Drake is one ship that has so far avoided this fate. Originally commissioned eighty years ago, she has seen the political landscape shift, serving in the fleet as allies were made and new enemies discovered. Originally helping to form the vanguard of Federation defence and security, as technology progressed, the Drake's role shifted to that of exploration and science, charting new territory and investigating the natural wonders – and dangers – the universe had to present.
The conflicts toward the end of the 24th Century changed that. Beginning with the massive loss of life and ships at Wolf 359 and later with the attrition during the Dominion War, Starfleet had neither the time nor resources to build brand new ships of war and opted to upgrade many of those still in service – including the aging Miranda class.
A slew of upgrades saw the Drake moved from a science vessel to an escort; a more powerful warp core, heavier weapons and more robust shields returning her once again to the front line. The upgrades did not always mesh well with the older technologies aboard and since their implementation, the Drake has been politely referred to as a ship “with character”. Less diplomatic individuals have called it a “buggy, unreliable wreck” and pointed out that even with its upgraded tactical systems, the Drake is a far cry from a ship of war, evenly matched with Intrepid class vessels in simulations.
Thus, the Drake has fallen into the no-man's land of the multi-purpose vessel. Neither a warship or a science vessel, lacking the facilities for pure diplomacy and the internal space for cargo haulage, the Drake teeters on the knife-edge of usefulness and liability. Not yet willing to retire her, Starfleet is searching for the place – and crew – that can get the best out of the veteran ship.
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