One of the most advanced tactical vessels in the fleet, the Prometheus is a sleek, well-armed starship that has been handling Starfleet’s most dangerous missions since the late 2370s. Exceedingly rare due to their complexities, they rival the larger Sovereign due to their unique Multi-Vector Assault Mode capability, which allows the Prometheus to split into three escort-sized vessels.
Science and Exploration
Unlike the smaller Defiant-class, the Prometheus is fully capable of performing light to medium-intensity exploratory missions, with a full suite of science labs and advanced long-range sensor arrays, though these sensors are primarily tuned towards tactical applications. She is outclassed by other vessels in her size category, such as the Luna and Intrepid, however, and generally, she is kept to missions of a purely defensive nature, as her capabilities in this area are so great that it makes sending her on scientific missions to be a waste of resources.
Prometheus-class science departments see the most work when the ship is sent on long-range tactical missions, which often affords them the opportunity to see things that other ships never get the chance to, behind hostile lines or in otherwise dangerous areas of space. The attitude among these crews is to get data when they can and make the most of wherever the ship happens to be at the time.
One exploratory advantage the Prometheus does have is its ability to separate into multiple sections, some of which have unique flight characteristics that have been exploited by their crews: the Alpha module for instance has been proven to handle atmospheric operations in gas giants particularly well, while the Beta module’s maneuverability in asteroid fields is unmatched.
The Prometheus has since her inception served capably as a transport for flag officers and diplomats, thanks to her high top speed. She remains one of the fastest ships in the fleet and can comfortably get important people where they go with a minimum of fuss and without the need for an escort. Modest diplomatic quarters are located in the Alpha section and she has the facilities for small-scale diplomatic talks between multiple parties. A Prometheus-class ship being assigned to mediate a talk can often be a statement in and of itself about how serious the Federation takes a situation.
As a diplomatic platform, the Prometheus has a unique ability to protect itself and to conceal its precise tactical capabilities, as the majority of her weapons systems are hidden between the ship’s separation planes and only become evident once she has engaged separated flight mode.
As one would expect for three independent, warp-capable escort-class starships joined together, the Prometheus-class is a maintenance-intensive vessel. Though she can be operated by a crew as small as four, she requires constant maintenance to keep her advanced tactical systems functioning. Outwardly, her design is roughly similar to contemporary designs, though the Prometheus is more angular than the Sovereign and Intrepid. A large triangular primary hull (the Alpha Section) is joined to a long, flat secondary hull (the Beta Section), which is itself joined to a tertiary hull (the Gamma Section) containing the main deflector array. These sections are connected with sturdy docking latches and all have two warp nacelles, though those of the Alpha section are significantly smaller than the other two sections.
All three sections are equipped with a class-nine warp drive, using the same dilithium swirl chamber in use aboard the Intrepid-class, though only the Beta and Gamma sections are capable of reaching the ship’s full Warp 9.99 maximum speed alone. The Alpha section can maintain such speeds if it separates while still at high warp but is otherwise limited to a more modest Warp 8. Main Engineering, located in the Gamma section, and Secondary Engineering, located in the Beta section, each contain a traditional vertical warp core, while the Alpha section has a horizontal core. When integrated, the ship relies on the warp core in the two engineering sections to feed the primary warp nacelle, with the saucer core remaining on hot standby until the ship separates, though the ship is capable of using all three at once if necessary.
The complexity of this engine system far outstrips any of the other systems aboard the ship, and keeping the engines running consumes enormous amounts of time. This is helped by automation in other areas of the ship, but the Prometheus must often spend at least a week in port between assignments while her warp cores are detailed.
The Prometheus-class is an unparalleled combat vessel in Starfleet’s arsenal. Though she doesn’t have as much raw power as the Sovereign or quite as much concentrated firepower as the Defiant, her unique ability to split into three escort-type vessels allows her to overpower much larger targets thanks to the maneuverability of the sections in concert. Integrated, the ship is still an extremely capable vessel as well.
While only the Alpha bridge needs to be manned for most operations, all three sections have their own bridge which can be used to command each section independently. In general, the ship’s movements are computer-controlled, and the secondary and tertiary bridges are mainly used to provide manned support in case of an emergency. In situations where the captain anticipates a battle, command is sometimes transferred to the Beta section, as its position deep within the hull during integrated flight mode is more defensible.
The Prometheus-class is equipped with ablative armor, Type-XII phaser arrays, and quantum torpedoes, which is to be expected for a class with her role. In addition, each section is equipped with a specialized weapons bay that can be used to mount unique weapons for specific missions or to test new systems for Starfleet. Often, these are used to mount double Type-XII phaser canon banks, though they can be swapped out at a starbase in a week or so.
Effectively, this vessel is an escort squadron all on its own, though with greater overall capabilities than three smaller vessels would be alone, as they are able to share resources between them and avoid unnecessary duplication of facilities between sections. The Prometheus is also capable of planetary landings and this feature can be used to gain a tactical advantage.
Though the ship has lots of automated systems to improve efficiency on things like life support, structural integrity, sensor arrays, and computers, she still has a larger crew than the similarly-sized Intrepid-class because of the complexity of her engines and tactical systems. A posting to this vessel requires both high technical acumen and top-secret security clearance, making every Prometheus-class an elite unit. Percentages of science and medical personnel skew lower in favor of security, tactical, and engineering personnel. Many Prometheus-class ships have full-time intelligence sections onboard as well.
Accommodations are roughly the same as the Intrepid-class, though more crew have to share quarters than on the Intrepid. The majority of the crew quarters are located in the Alpha section, but both of the other two sections have contingency bunk rooms to accommodate crew members in the rare situations where the ship is separated for long enough to need them. Medical facilities and two holodecks are also located in the Alpha section, while the other two sections must rely on smaller aid stations and the ship’s EMH in separated flight mode.
A unique aspect about serving aboard a Prometheus-class ship is that communications are monitored and censored much more often than on other Starfleet vessels due to the nature of her sensitive missions. People who serve on these vessels must develop the ability to avoid discussing the specifics of their missions, lest they find themselves reassigned to a lesser posting, or worse: cause their ship’s movements to be known to opposing forces.
First ordered following the Battle of Wolf 359, the Prometheus-class was originally designed simply to be a faster, more tactically-oriented version of the Intrepid-class already under development, but as the design process continued the brief shifted to a vessel that would be the fastest, most heavily-armed medium starship in Starfleet’s arsenal.
While the Defiant-class project was showing promise, Starfleet was concerned with the class’s obvious deficiencies in terms of range and independence. While an escort-sized starship had many advantages as a warship—something that the Klingon Bird of Prey had long since proven—it was difficult to pack any sort of real long-range capabilities into a space frame of that size. To answer this, the Prometheus-class design was altered to incorporate three separate sections that could operate together as a unit in combat, which combined an escort’s size and maneuverability with the long-range capabilities of a larger starship, because the three sections could share fuel, crew, and consumables without overburdening any one section with too much mass.
In 2374, the prototype Prometheus was undergoing its shakedown operations, when it was seized by the Tal Shiar. It was stolen back by a pair of EMH programs, who were able to inflict heavy damage on three Romulan D’Deridex-class warbirds (not to mention the Starfleet rescue force) even in an uncrewed and unfinished state. This served as an immediate proof-of-concept, though it was too late in the war for the members of this class to be able to make much of a difference. Prometheus herself did participate in several pivotal battles in the final months of the war, though.
In the 2370s, production of this class continued at a rate of one unit per year, as priorities shifted back to peacetime goals of exploration and diplomacy. When they can be found, though, they are a favored tool of Starfleet Command for long-range tactical missions, and otherwise serve very capably in defensive and diplomatic roles.
- The Prometheus is a small fleet in and of itself, forming a squadron of escort-type vessels when it enters into Multi-Vector Assault Mode. This makes it an incredibly useful asset, but also one that is very time-intensive to construct and maintain. They’re a very rare sight.
- This class of ship is wasted on anything other than long-range tactical missions or transporting important diplomats or flag officers. These ships just aren’t assigned to milk runs.
- Unlike a Galaxy or Odyssey-class ship, the Prometheus isn’t meant to fly separated for long periods of time. The sections rely on each other for shared resources and consumables, as well as facilities. The entire crew could fit into any of the three sections, but they’d likely be cramped and hungry in one of the engineering sections!