Parliament-class starships are sleeker and more advanced than their older California-class cousins, sharing many design features but being significantly faster and more capable. Like other utility cruisers, they are assigned to missions almost exclusively within Federation space, though they primarily deal with engineering missions, with scientific and medical tasks being secondary priorities. They also coordinate the efforts of other utility vessels for the most complex of assignments.
Science and Exploration
Adept at second-line follow-up surveys, the Parliament-class science departments are large and well-equipped. While not quite as advanced as a fully-outfitted Olympic-class science cruiser, these ships have just the right balance between capability and economy to linger for long-duration assignments involving complex research. Like the California-class, these ships don’t generally conduct the first pass of a new star system, but they are better equipped to be able to occasionally venture outside the Federation’s borders when something interesting appears on sensors.
Most Parliament-class ships are routinely assigned to large-scale engineering support projects, and so their science departments often include research & development personnel, along with other specialists whose expertise intersects with both space-based and ground-based projects, including planetologists, geophysicists, experts on gravitational theory, and chemists.
Parliament-class ships are significantly faster than their California-class cousins and so are better-suited to diplomatic tasks. Their greater internal volume also allows for expanded guest quarters and diplomatic spaces. With that being said, they are still generally relegated to second contact missions, as the heavy responsibility of first contact falls to dedicated explorers and diplomatic vessels. As a second contact platform, though, the Parliament-class is highly-suited to helping new cultures develop the infrastructure they need to communicate to the wider galaxy.
Though they share substantial commonalities with the California-class, the Parliament-class is a substantially more capable vessel than the older class. The sixteen-deck saucer section is integrated directly into a superstructure containing enhanced impulse drive systems (geared for towing missions), with a four-deck secondary hull underslung from the saucer that contains the deflector dish. The angular warp nacelles are connected to extra-large pylons which offer both extended structural support and, unusually, habitable deck space.
Warp power is provided by a class-eight warp drive system, which on a ship of the Parliament-class’s size gives it a cruising speed of Warp 8, with a maximum speed of Warp 9.5. While outclassed by a number of different starship types, this is far faster than any other utility vessel in Starfleet’s inventory. The enhanced impulse systems are overpowered to give the ship enough power to move objects many times its own size.
The vessel’s large aft shuttle bay contains myriad shuttles and utility vehicles to help the ship complete engineering support tasks. Given that major engineering projects are so often under the charge of these vessels, they have large, well-trained engineering crews. Placement on these ships can be competitive for engineers, as it means being part of some of the most complex and interesting construction and repair tasks in the Federation.
Parliament-class ships’ tactical systems are largely the same as those found aboard the California-class and they are not suited to combat. While they can defend themselves, their armament is limited to two type-X phaser arrays on the dorsal and ventral surface of the saucer section, as well as two torpedo launchers located in modules above the saucer. Their shields are quite powerful, though, and their speed makes them able to outrun most threats long enough to seek help.
This class’s lack of tactical power is what keeps it relegated to missions within Federation space, as they are too valuable to risk sending to areas where help isn’t close at hand, at least without an escort. They are attractive targets for raiders and pirates, given the advanced equipment that they carry.
Similar in many respects to the California-class, Parliament-class ships are comfortable but not luxurious assignments. Junior crewmembers (ensign and under) sleep in residential hallways, which are wide corridors that also contain individual bunks and communal lavatory facilities. Lieutenants Junior Grade and higher are assigned to private quarters, which are comparable to other modern starships’ accommodations, and there are several holodecks, a large lounge, and numerous other recreational facilities available for the crew. Like with the California, the Parliament has a larger crew than would be typical for an exploratory vessel of her size, because the extra crew are necessary to conduct the ship’s engineering support missions.
Unlike her older cousin, however, this ship is seen as a choice assignment by engineers and scientists, as they typically engage in more exciting missions and have access to more advanced equipment. For engineers hoping for a career with the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, this is a particularly exciting posting. For command-level officers, though, this isn’t a particularly sought-after assignment, as the Parliament-class is often under a significant amount of supervision and rarely leaves Federation space. These crews do consider themselves superior to those of other utility vessels, however, given the increase in complexity and capability of their vessel.
After ten years of production, the California-class design came up for review in 2377 to consider possible upgrades for future iterations of that class of utility cruiser. The class was noted for being slow but reliable, becoming one of the most successful (and ignored) starship designs of the 24th century. However, a need was seen to create a more advanced version that could handle more complex tasks and get to their assignments faster. A limited number of so-called “heavy” utility cruisers were ordered that would be primarily tasked with large-scale engineering projects but which could also coordinate the efforts of other utility cruisers on general assignments.
The Parliament-class (with all of its initial members named after cities in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and other members of the Commonwealth of Nations who historically employed parliamentary systems) was a natural evolution from the California, incorporating design cues from the Sovereign-class and its derivatives to both simplify the design by bringing the secondary hull closer to the saucer and employing a slightly more angular design aesthetic. Uniquely, habitable space was included in the nacelle pylons, and so the ship has a significantly greater internal volume compared to the California without being substantially larger.
These vessels first came into service in 2380, with a handful of them being produced every year since then. Their introduction did slow the production of their California-class cousins, but the two classes remain in production in tandem. The class served with distinction during the Federation’s efforts to save the Romulan people by constructing many of the new settlements on border worlds to house refugees. In addition, many have been deployed to enhance fleet yards and build new ones to cope with the loss of Utopia Planitia.
- Though these ships are relatively advanced, they’re still not venturing out and doing their own exploring. They handle important engineering tasks and coordinate other vessels during extremely complex missions, serving as a sort of flagship for Starfleet’s utility ships.
- Unlike the California, the Parliament is built to a single specification without major variants for individual mission profiles, but they have a higher baseline capability in science and medicine than the older class. They’re more of an all-rounder.
- It’s a mixed bag about whether this is a prestigious assignment or not. If you’re an engineer, certainly. If you’re an explorer, not at all.
- The California is a dime a dozen, but these ships are a little rarer.