The Cardenas Class has a single hull design with a forward saucer section and an aft engineering section and four nacelles. This makes the Cardenas Class on of the few Star fleet designs to have four nacelles. Other examples of four nacelle ship designs are the Nimitz Class, Constellation Class, and the Prometheus Class. Another unique design feature of this class is the Bridge location. The Bridge for the Cardenas class is located at the forward most point of the forward saucer section and is equipped with large view ports built int the forward bulkhead of the bridge giving the bridge crew a commanding view of the space forward of the ship.
The four warp nacelles are arranged into two sets the first set of nacelles are held above the hull on warp pylons that extend upward from the dorsal surface of the engineering hull at a forty-five degree angle. The second set are held below the hull on warp pylons that extend downward form the ventral surface of the engineering hull at forty-five degree angel. Both sets of warp pylons connect to the ships hull just forward of the impulse engines. The twin impulse engines are located in the aft dorsal section of the engineering hull.
The Cardenas Class has a total of ten Type VIII Dual Emitter Phaser Banks. Five of these phaser banks are mounted to the dorsal surface of the hull and the other five are mounted to the ventral surface of the hull. These ships are also equipped with three torpedo launchers. The two forward facing torpedo launchers are mounted in the forward most section of the saucer so they flank the bridge. The single aft facing torpedo launcher is located in the aft ventral surface of the engineering hull. To protect the Cardenas Class ships from damage due to the hazards of space they are equipped with Graviton shielding system.
There are two shuttle bays built into the ships of the Cardenas Class. These bays are located in the forward dorsal surface of the forward saucer section and are located so they flank the bridge. Each of these shuttle bays houses two shuttles and a single work bee.
The sensor systems of the Cardenas Class are divided into two major groupings. The first grouping are the short range sensor systems these short range sensors are housed in the upper sensor dome located just above the ship’s bridge and the lower sensor emplacements located at the ventral most point of the ship’s hull on deck twelve. The second grouping are the long range sensors and are housed behind the ship’s deflector dish. The short range sensors are used primarily for studying objects within the same system as the ship or up to one light year away from the ship. . The Long range sensors are used to study objects up to ten light years from the ship and are the primary navigational sensor systems.
Work started on what would come the Cardenas Class in 2229 this first draft of the design was a front line patrol vessel with limited research facilities. This design was submitted to the Advanced Starship Design Bureau in 2232. The ASDB reviewed the design and returned it with the request to increase the research facilities. The requested changes were made, requiring the addition of another deck to ensure there was enough room for the new facilities and the increased crew levels needed to staff them. This updated design was resubmitted in 2238 and was accepted.
Construction of the USS Cardenas was started in 2238 and was completed in 2243. It was then launched for a shake down cruise during which the ship systems were tested and fine tuned. Whit the completion of this cruise the USS Cardenas was officially commissioned in 2244.
At first ships of the Cardenas Class were tasked with patrol of Federation space and long term research missions to little explored systems within Federation territory. Eventually as older explore class ships like the Yorktown Class were retired from service the Cardenas Class ships started to undertake missions of exploration beyond Federation space.
While many ships of the Cardenas Class were used as explorers this class also saw action in Sheliak Conflict that ended in 2255 and the Klingons wars of 2256/2257 and 2267. During these conflicts these ships were proven to be well suited for combat with only eight percent of the Cardenas Class ships deployed in combat being lost.
By the 2310s the Cardenas Class was staring to be out classed out by newer ships. In 2326 Starfleet Command decided to decommission the class as newer ships were put into service. In 2332 the final Cardenas Class was removed from service.