Given the ongoing threat to Federation trade from the Orions, other pirates, and raids by the Klingons and other enemies, Starfleet decided in 2258 to design a new escort ship to replace the aging Guardian and Majestic class vessels, neither of which was worth further uprating. The development project began in 2259, and ten years later Starfleet launched the Hellespont class Escort. The class served the Federation admirably for half a century, and was finally decommissioned in 2319 following the general diminishment of the Orion threat in the first two decades of the 24th century.
- Class and Type: Hellespont-class Escort
- Commissioning Date: 2269
In a design aesthetic clearly presaging the Miranda class Cruiser, the Hellespont consists of a Constitution-like saucer with a rectangular Engineering hull attached directly to it aft center. The warp nacelles are mounted almost directly to the Engineering hull dorsally (and, in some variants, have a stabilizing bar joining them dorsally at their midpoint). The impulse engines flank the Engineering hull. Many of the Hellespont's systems were borrowed or adapted from the Saladin/Hermes Development Project, or were created in conjunction with that effort.
While not as heavily armed as later vessels such as the Miranda, for its size the Hellespont packed a powerful array of weaponry; four Type VII phaser banks and a photon torpedo launcher. (After 2271, many Hellesponts began carrying the new Type II torpedo, and in some cases were upgraded for channelled phasers.) When necessity demanded, Starfleet pulled the Hellespont off primary escort duty and used it as an escort for Explorers and Cruisers as they went into battle against the Klingons or other foes.
Noteworthy Vessels/service records/encounters:
- USS Hellespont, prototype;
- USS Crimea, NCC-3302, destroyed with the loss of Captain Thara Reska and most of her bridge crew while protecting a Federation merchant convoy from pirate attack (2271);
- USS Bretha, NCC-3325, accidentally crossed into Gorn space, provoking a brief skirmish with two Gorn vessels and a major diplomatic incident (2277);
- USS Matterhorn, NCC-3457, escorted the first legitimate Federation civilian merchant convoy into Klingon space (2294).