The Tikopai sub-class of the Constitution-class heavy cruiser lineage was a class of thirty-three vessels constructed from 2277 and entering service from 2280. Created as a chiefly exploratory variant of the Constitution line, these vessels are classified as Heavy Cruisers of the Second Rate because of their reduced multi-role capability.
These ships were alternately known by the following designations:
- Tikopai sub-class
- Constitution-class Batch 5
- Constitution-class Mark VII
Class History Edit
The Class One starship linear warp drive redesign & refit program had been fully under way since 2270, and many heavy cruisers had already been recommissioned into active duty. However, this did not introduce new units into the fleet; conversely, it took units out of service for around eighteen months while the refit progressed. This then led to a perceived need for more heavy cruisers throughout and outwith Federation space, and put pressure on Starfleet to commission more units.
A requirements analysis performed in 2273 of Constitution-class mission logs from the previous twenty years revealed that only those heavy cruisers assigned to border patrol and interdiction duties had truly made use of the extensive, resource-intensive, and highly complex tactical hardware, software, and equipment packages included on all Class One heavy cruisers. It was further modelled that removing these packages could reduce per-unit build time by a sixth. Further, that the crewing requirements also dropped as the majority of tactical and ordnance support personnel could be omitted, also allowing the extension of mission endurance with the same life support systems installed supporting this smaller crew.
Based on this study a new sub-class of "exploratory" heavy cruiser was authorised in 2275 for construction. These ships would be assigned to long-term deep space exploratory missions, which would free up the "classic" heavy cruiser units for roles that most required their high-end tactical capabilities and staff. The sub-class design was finalised and final dockyard selection completed in 2276, and construction on the first units began in mid 2277.
Class Design Edit
Outwardly resembling the Enterprise sub-class most of all with their New Technology nacelles and hull form, this sub-class blended the look of both that and the Constitution-II sub-class. The most obvious visual difference between the Tikopai and Enterprise sub-classes is at the saucer's dorsal and ventral superstructure, where additional docking ports and receiving facilities are added in place of the executive levels of Decks 2 & 3, and in the lack of the Omega-class tactical sensor suite around the lower navigational dome at Deck 11.
With the omission of this tactical sensor hardware, complex tactical software packages, and the increased systems integration time that resulted from these, these ships were able to successfully cut eight months off the typical four-year build time of a heavy cruiser, and their crew complement was reduced to 440 from 500.
Class Comparison Edit
The Tikopai sub-class is fully comparable to the Enterprise sub-class in its scientific, diplomatic, and exploratory abilities, and can perform these roles every bit as well as they are identically outfitted for these roles.
From an Engineering standpoint, Cruise and Emergency speeds are broadly equivalent though the Enterprise sub-class is slightly faster across all categories.
Long-term mission endurance for the Tikopai sub-class is slightly greater than that of the Enterprise sub-class, as the reduction in crew puts less demand on their identical life support machinery and sustainability systems.
From a Tactical standpoint the weapons systems on the Tikopai sub-class are every bit as powerful as those of the Enterprise sub-class. However, the tactical software packages and computer combat support elements are orders of magnitude less complex and integrated. In real terms this means that the target discrimination and electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) systems of the Tikopai sub-class are much "weaker" than those of the Enterprise sub-class, leading to poorer performance in the harsh electronic environment of full-scale battle. Combined with the omission of the Omega tactical sensors the effective range and phaser power at that range is greatly reduced for the Tikopai sub-class, as is the effective range of their photon torpedoes.
As such, while the Tikopai sub-class more closely resembles the Enterprise sub-class, they are closer in terms of capability to the Constitution-II sub-class and are grouped with the latter for use in strategic deployment planning and mission assignments.