“Every government has as much of a duty to avoid war as a ship’s captain has to avoid a shipwreck.” – Guy de Maupassant
If peaceful exploration is the mission of Starfleet and the defense of the Federation its great responsibility, the lifeblood of both missions is diplomacy and communication. The allies of the Federation need reassurance, Starfleet’s forces require coordination, and at Starfleet’s best its enemies are only the right words from becoming its friends. As the borders of the Federation have continued to expand away from Paris and Starfleet Command, the need for a mobile command platform ready to serve as a nerve center to Federation efforts far from home has only grown.
The Odyssey was created to answer that need.
By sheer mass, Odyssey-class starships are amongst the largest vessels in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, and certainly amongst the largest ever built by Starfleet. Built to new standards in crew comfort and with such advances as holographic control interfaces, reconfigurable command spaces, formidable defenses, the largest shipboard communications arrays ever built, and an advanced form of slipstream drive, Odyssey serves as a roving embassy and command-and-control center, as effective holding a peace summit as she is coordinating exploratory missions from the frontier.
Exploration and Science
The commitment to command support and diplomatic quarters – as well as the considerable space required for all the experimental hardware aboard and several promising sensor and lab technologies originally planned for the spaceframe that failed to mature as quickly as early tests indicated they might – necessitated significant cutbacks in the original scientific and exploration capabilities planned for the Odyssey. Put under pressure to prioritize, Starfleet opted to leave the premier exploratory taskings of the fleet on the shoulders of the proven Century design.
Still, as with the Galaxy before her, Odyssey is equipped with top-of-the-line scientific and exploration facilities. Her considerable mass allows for both specialized and configurable labs, along with vast sensor arrays and huge stores of probes. During normal operations, these resources are split amongst several hundred separate scientific investigations, and the ship has the capacity to regularly embark up to 250 visiting scientists using the ship’s facilities for short-term assignments relevant to the ship’s current area of exploration.
One of the areas in which Odyssey particularly shines is her ability to operate in separated flight mode to conduct multiple missions in the same area. For example, the secondary hull could be used to investigate an interstellar phenomenon while the saucer section conducts an in-depth survey of a nearby star system, all while the support ship is engaged in an archaeological dig, a capability not present with any other single starship.
Odyssey is the premiere diplomatic platform in Starfleet. Equipped with guest quarters for up to four-hundred visitors on short notice (and a much higher overall capability to handle guests who do not require overnight accommodations), Odyssey is a very capable diplomatic platform, with a variety of conference spaces suitable for negotiations ranging in scale from first contacts, to inter-planetary disputes, to full-scale interstellar treaty summits. Having an Odyssey-class ship in orbit above one’s planet is considered a major show of respect by the Federation, but her considerable tactical capabilities also allow her to operate safely in areas where reinforcements are unlikely should negotiations fail.
Combined with her advanced communications system, Odyssey is capable of hosting negotiations in her holodecks with guests connecting remotely, and all of her diplomatic spaces and quarters are fully reconfigurable using holographic technology.
Built in a very similar arrangement to the most famous starships of history, with a primary hull containing most of the crew quarters and a secondary hull containing the ship’s primary propulsion systems, Odyssey is an iconic design that instantly identifies itself as a Federation starship.
The large, elliptical primary hull (dubbed a chevron, rather than a saucer) is connected to the secondary hull by a series of magnetic latches and pass-throughs for power conduits, turbolifts, and jefferies tubes, allowing it to separate completely from the secondary hull. Unlike earlier vessels, Odyssey’s primary hull is equipped with warp coils in a horse-shoe around the ventral surface of the ship and its own warp core, allowing it to achieve speeds of greater than Warp 8 routinely. In addition, this section has two impulse engines that are only revealed after the separation sequence has completed. This section contains the majority of the ship’s scientific and medical facilities, in addition to crew accommodation and recreation facilities, along with a very large hanger deck.
The ship’s secondary hull has a large upper section that serves as the command and control area of the vessel when it is separated, and which contains the forward torpedo bays and the ship’s main impulse engines. This area is connected to the main hull by twin catamaran-style interconnecting dorsals which reduce the ship’s mass while still providing structural support. The main deflector at the forward end of the secondary hull also includes many of the ship’s long-range sensor suites. The ship’s main warp nacelles are connected to the secondary hull with long, graceful pylons also containing the ship’s secondary impulse engines, giving the ship an elongated profile.
Compared to earlier vessels, there is more redundancy between the two hull sections, which allows them to operate more fully without one another–there are science labs in the secondary hull and engineering facilities in the primary hull, as an example.
A support ship is docked in a special cradle built into the stern of Odyssey. This small vessel, an Aquarius-class escort based on the Diligent-class design, is designed to provide the ship with additional exploratory and tactical capacity, as it is able to embark on short missions away from the mothership that would either be too dangerous to risk the whole crew or which would be too trivial for the whole ship to need to be present. Equipped with landing legs, the support craft is also able to serve as a planet-side base for short periods of time.
One of the most complicated space vehicles ever developed by any species, Odyssey has two warp cores and sets of warp coils, a slipstream drive controller, six impulse drive assemblies, and four computer cores spread across two fully-independent hull sections, not to mention an embarked escort-class vessel. “Main Engineering” is still in its traditional place in the secondary hull, but there is another full engineering section in the saucer section, meaning that most Odyssey-class ships have at least two senior engineering officers who’d qualify as Chief Engineer on any other ship. Even with increased automation from earlier heavy explorers, Odyssey still requires a large, highly-trained engineering complement.
Warp speed is very impressive for a ship of her size, with a maximum emergency speed of Warp 9.96, but her primary long-range propulsion is provided by an advanced slipstream drive system based on the ones used aboard the Vesta-class explorers, allowing her to get anywhere in the galaxy within months, rather than decades. With both sets of impulse engines active in the secondary hull, the ship’s maneuverability is very impressive for a ship of her size, but markedly inferior to her smaller cousins.
Computing power is provided by four cores, two in each hull, all equipped with bioneural circuitry. These advanced computers are necessary to process the intense navigational demands of slipstream, along with handling the needs of the ship’s many scientific systems. Computer interface is provided by standard touch screens, voice control, and holographic displays in many areas of the ship. Projectors for full-scale holograms such as the EMH are located in all compartments.
While Sovereign was intended to be one of the most tactically capable Federation starships ever built, with a quantum torpedo turret and no fewer than eight other torpedo launchers, combined with a powerful suite of phaser weapons with extensive forward coverage, Odyssey is similarly the most defensive Federation starship built to date. Few threat vessels could expect to successfully defeat her in a one-on-one confrontation – those able to endure sustained fire from her weapons systems are highly unlikely to breach her shields before she is able to disengage at a sprint speed difficult for them to match.
Odyssey’s first line of defense is her impressive shield coverage, with redundant shield generators powering full metaphasic shielding.
She is also provided with comprehensive phaser coverage, with Type-XII arrays positioned to give full coverage along all arcs, including directly aft. Because of her dual warp cores, she is fully capable of using up to 75% of her arrays simultaneously, allowing her to defend against swarms of smaller ships effectively and to target multiple points on larger threat vessels. Torpedo coverage is provided by six burst-fire torpedo launchers, four in the forward quarter and two in the aft quarter.
Whether in peacetime or in wartime, Odyssey’s mission parameters call for extensive communications facilities. With powerful active subspace arrays capable of cutting through nearly any other interference through sheer power, Odyssey is suited both to leading fleets and to coordinating exploration efforts from the front. On long-range missions, she serves, if not as the literal flagship for an expedition with an admiral embarked, as the coordination center through which communications traffic is filtered and distributed to vessels with more traditional communications arrays. These systems are also used to coordinate her extensive complement of embarked craft which are used to supplement her exploratory efforts.
The default bridge configuration for the Odyssey-class is a very large main bridge with three separate spaces spread across two levels, a relatively-traditional bridge arrangement in the center with fixed command consoles projecting holographic interfaces; an area forward of the viewscreen with a large forward-facing viewport that is normally empty but which can be configured holographically as a second command space, a briefing area, or other purposes as needed; and a third space down a set of steps from the main command area that contains a large chevron-shaped table and four fixed holographic crew work stations, which can be either used for briefings, to control the ship, or as a mission control space. These three spaces are all equally capable of controlling the whole ship or serving as a flag bridge, which is useful for an embarked flag officer or mission commander to be close to the bridge but to also have space separate from the ship’s actual operations.
For combat situations involving a fully-embarked headquarters command consisting of an admiral and their command staff, there is a dedicated flag bridge located on Deck 08, with direct links to the ship’s communication arrays and the two primary hull computer cores.
Auxiliary Craft Facilities
Odyssey has two shuttlebays, a massive hanger located in the primary hull that spans a full five decks, as well as a small shuttlebay located in the lower section of the secondary hull, to support that section of the ship in separated flight mode. With standard loadouts, Odyssey carries two runabouts, two scout vessels, twelve personnel shuttles, twelve shuttlepods, six cargo shuttles, and 24 Sphinx work pods. In wartime situations, the Odyssey is also a capable carrier and can embark a wing of fighters with the reduction of other small craft.
While integrated small craft, such captain’s yachts, the Aeroshuttle used with the Intrepid-class, and the Waverider used with the Nova-class, have been around for decades, Odyssey is the first vessel to embark a small starship, a light escort using a specially-designed docking cradle in the stern of the ship. This vessel, the Aquarius-class, is designed to undertake any number of missions that are either too dangerous or too trivial for the mothership to undertake. In many respects, this craft draws on design elements found in the Diligent-class, though in a simplified, miniaturized fashion.
Equipped with six Type-X phaser arrays, four Type-X pulse phaser cannons, and four torpedo launchers, Aquarius has similar combat abilities to Diligent, but lower overall endurance. The ship has basic medical and scientific systems but powerful sensor arrays, making it suited for planetary surveys or for tactical scouting missions. It is also equipped with the capability to land and take off from planetary gravities, making it suitable to be a short-term research base when needed. Normal mission parameters call for Aquarius to be separated from Odyssey for a maximum of six weeks at a time.
Odyssey is significantly larger than even other heavy explorers and her crew enjoy a very high standard of accommodation. There are private sleeping accommodations for all crewmembers, though all personnel ranked Ensign or lower share suites with varying numbers of bedrooms connected to common areas and sanitary facilities. Lieutenants and above have their own quarters. All crew members are allowed to combine their living quarters into one larger unit, should they so request. There are four extra-large suites spanning two decks that are reserved for the commanding officer, executive officer, and VIPs, which contain multiple bedrooms, an entertaining area, and a private study, all in the interest of giving senior officers on this very prestigious, stressful assignment adequate facilities to rest and recharge. All quarters aboard Odyssey are capable of being configured to meet any environmental need for a class M, L, K, O, or P, environment, with other configurations being possible with additional life support module. Null-gravity and high-gravity configurations are also available.
Communal recreation spaces are well-equipped on Odyssey. There are eight full-sized holodecks suited for parties of eight or more,and twenty-four smaller holosuites which are suited for two to four people, all with the highest levels of holographic fidelity available. Recreation decks are available in both the primary and secondary hull with a wide variety of games and other entertainments. Fitness facilities are also comprehensive, with recreational and conditioning spaces appropriate for all species serving aboard the ship. An expansive arboretum deck is found in the saucer, along with two public pools. Crew lounges ring the entirety of the saucer’s edge, with a large two-story lounge located on the centerline of the bow, connected to a wide promenade that allows crewmembers to take strolls where they can take in the views of the stars through the lounge windows and get in some exercise. Directly aft of the main lounge is a four-deck “mall,” which is connected to a number of restaurants, replicator facilities, and other similar facilities staffed by holographic attendants and/or civilians, depending on the particular ship.
Medical facilities are extensive, rivaling starbase hospitals. The medical deck on Deck 10 is split between two large sickbay units, with two surgical bays, four medical labs, office space for four physicians, four isolation rooms, and a fourteen-bed ward, as well as numerous individual patient rooms, dedicated medical storage bays, and industrial replication facilities. There are additional field sickbays located in other areas of the ship, as well as another large sickbay unit in the secondary hull.
Odyssey has the largest standard crew complement of any ship in the fleet, because for every economization through automation found aboard her is matched by two more bleeding-edge innovations that require additional crew to handle them, especially with regard to having two full warp drive assemblies and all of their required support equipment.
Initial designs for what would eventually become the Odyssey-class were first started in the 2360’s, though much of this work ended up informing the Sovereign and Century-class designs before Odyssey finally began construction in the 2380’s. Initial construction on the first three units, Odyssey, Verity, and T’Plana-Hath was completed by 2384 and these units began shakedown operations in protected areas around the Federation. Current demand for their diplomatic and command services seem likely to restrict plans to construct more tactical or exploration-oriented variants for the moment, but optimistic projections suggest the class could be fully in service and embarked on long-range exploration missions by 2399.
- Odyssey-class ships are by far the largest starships in Starfleet service. They are built to serve as flagships and can essentially function as mobile starbases for long-range exploratory missions, with a crew over twice that of a Galaxy-class explorer or nearly three-and-a-half times the size of a Sovereign-class explorer. While they are not as good in a standup fight as the Sovereign, they are ideal for flag officers leading from the front. Because of this, their crews are often very senior, with some department heads such as the Chief Engineering Officer or Chief Medical Officer and almost certainly the Executive Officer holding the rank of captain, alongside the commanding officer.
- Odyssey-class ships are an exceptionally-prestigious assignment at any billet, but especially for captains. Because commodores and admirals rarely exercise direct control over a starship, their flagships often have a flag captain who is nominally in command of the vessel itself, but who themselves are relatively junior. Ships not assigned as flagships would be assigned to very senior captains or fleet captains for extended long-range exploratory or diplomatic missions.
- An Odyssey-class ship could be the basis for a game with a lot of departments not normally found aboard smaller ships, such as JAG, an embarked civilian diplomatic delegation, a Starfleet Corps of Engineers battalion, etc. Its size presents numerous opportunities for playing with norms we've seen on the shows. The Odyssey is as revolutionary (in terms of its size and facilities) as the Galaxy was before it, so characters will be impressed to be aboard one, though being a city in space, it's not quite as good as the Century or the Sovereign for independent exploration or combat as they are.