Designed originally immediately following the Wolf 359 attack by the Borg, the Akira-class has always been more aligned with Starfleet’s defensive aims than its exploratory ones. With extensive torpedo armament and dedicated facilities to hold combat-capable small craft, the Akira-class heavy cruiser serves ably as both direct combatant and as a carrier. Units of this class served with distinction in the Dominion War and Battle of Sector 001.
Exploration and Science
During peacetime, the Akira-class’s large hangar bays allow it to carry scouts and runabouts on long-range missions, which expand its exploratory capabilities significantly. Her extensive torpedo magazines can also be configured to store probes instead. This allows them to survey an entire star system quickly, even if they are not equipped to do so in as great depth as a Nova-class surveyor might be. Science labs on this class are essentially equivalent to those aboard any light cruiser built in the 2370s, as her greater size has been used for hanger facilities. This makes them capable of independent exploratory missions, though they are more often assigned to patrol Federation space.
With her large cargo bays and hanger bays, the Akira-class is well-suited to resupplying outlying scientific outposts or setting up field camps for research expeditions. Otherwise, these ships don’t often find themselves venturing too far beyond Federation space.
The Akira-class is not meant as a diplomatic platform, especially given that she was designed alongside the Norway, which was specifically designed for this purpose. The class is equipped with adequate guest quarters, but its relatively modest top speed limits its utility as a courier. Its place in Federation diplomacy is in being extremely adept at taking down raiders and other threats to potential allies, and so its presence in a star system can be deeply reassuring during negotiations, or it can serve as a reminder of the Federation’s strength to hostile powers.
While the hull shape of this vessel is radically different from most other Federation ships of the time, its actual engines and other systems are fairly conventional. The primary and secondary hulls have been integrated into a monohull, with the nacelle pylons integrated into sweeping catamarans and connected by a small pod. Engine and computer systems are borrowed heavily from the Nebula-class, though the class has simplified warp nacelles.
There is a single forward shuttle bay which connects through the hull to two aft bays, allowing for small craft to fly straight through the ship, which aids in the launch and recovery of fighters in combat situations, as they can leave through the forward bay and return under the protection of the ship’s catamaran structures aft.
The Akira-class is heavily armed, with more torpedo launchers than any other Federation starship currently in service. The primary hull has two forward torpedo launchers, one dorsal and one ventral, as well as two pairs of launchers firing directly starboard and directly port, which is a unique feature for Starfleet vessels. In addition to these launchers, the tactical pod contains four forward torpedo launchers, a single aft torpedo launcher, and two pairs of launchers firing aft-starboard and aft-port. This all-around torpedo coverage allows the Akira to lay down continual barrages of torpedo fire even while maneuvering around an enemy vessel, or to lob torpedoes at multiple threats at the same time.
Phaser coverage is provided by three Type-X phaser arrays, all on the forward end of the ship. This gives the ship blind spots on the aft quarter that are unusual for a Starfleet ship, but she makes up for this by carrying enough small craft to provide cover. On a typical tactical deployment, the Akira two squadrons of twelve Valkyrie-class fighters, or a mix of fighters and bombers. In her standard exploratory loadout, this is reduced to twelve fighters, with a half-dozen runabouts.
Akira-class ships are fairly standard Federation ships of the line, and so they employ diverse, well-balanced crews. These ships spend most of their time on the frontier and supporting frontline colonies, so deployment times tend to be longer than other ships of their size, with more time in between starbase stops.
Like other ships of her era, she has comparatively fewer windows than other ships of the same size, and her accommodations are much less luxurious than those found aboard the Nebula and Galaxy-class starships. Four holodecks complement an assortment of lounges, gymnasiums, and other recreational facilities. By the 2390s, the Akira is considered a second-tier vessel, but the class has a number of unique features that keep her an important part of the Federation’s defensive arsenal, most notably her carrier abilities. Because of this, she is a favored assignment for flight control officers. Unlike the Argonaut-class, the Akira-class typically maintains a set small craft arrangement for extended periods of time, generally a mix of both runabouts and fighters, and so there is more cohesion between the flight crews and the ship’s main crew.
The Battle of Wolf 359 in 2367 led to a radical redesign program for the fleet’s construction projects. Four starship projects, the Akira, Norway, Steamrunner, and Saber-class, which were slated to come into service later in the century were pushed up and their designs were made more suitable for combat, with an immediate halt to production of the Challenger, Springfield, and Cheyenne classes. While the New Orleans-class was the most successful of all of these four classes, it was still decided to cancel its production run in favor of more heavy cruisers–and so the Akira-class is not a direct replacement, but it did take the place of most of these smaller ships’ production orders.
Unlike the Saber, the Akira had to be designed completely from scratch, as the Nebula-class heavy cruiser had just entered service and there were no plans for its successor yet. In the end, even though both designs were designated as heavy cruisers, there was a substantial performance and size difference between the Akira and Nebula, which led to them being produced in tandem. Indeed, both classes continue in production to the current day.
The Akira herself launched in 2371, thanks to extensive borrowing of technology from other starship classes–notably the engines and computer systems–even though the hull shape itself was radically different. While still rare at the beginning of the Dominion War, they were produced in large numbers to replace the Excelsior and Miranda-class ships that were suffering high attrition rates in the first year of the war. By 2375, the Akira was a major part of the Federation’s combat fleet.
Post-war, the class continued in production as it was a capable platform that required a smaller crew than the Nebula but which also offered extensive tactical options to Starfleet Command. Like the later Atlantia-class, the Akira participated extensively in the Romulan evacuation in the middle of the 2380s because of her large hanger.
By 2399, production of this class continues in limited numbers, though it has largely been supplanted by the Inquiry-class.
- While combat-oriented, the Akira isn’t as hopeless when it comes to exploring as the Defiant or the Saber. It can handle run-of-the-mill scientific and exploratory missions, and given its age, it’s more likely to be handed these minor tasks within Federation space. Still, it’s more likely to be on patrol somewhere than hunting down subspace anomalies.
- Fighters aren’t that useful against major threat vessels, but they’re great against raiders and small attackers, which is why this ship excels at frontier defense duties.
- By 2399, this is a relatively common ship, but it’s also potent as a ship of the line. Captains of these vessels would be more experienced than those of smaller ships, but this is no longer a particularly prestigious posting.