The Resolute-class heavy cruiser was introduced in the late 2380s as a modern replacement for the long-serving Excelsior-class cruiser, which had just passed its tenth decade in continuous service. Designed with many well-tested technologies, the Resolute is intended to replace the Excelsior as Starfleet’s standard ship-of-the-line, handling routine duties and patrols alongside the Reliant-class light cruiser that it complements. It is a solid, well-rounded design that represents a substantial improvement over its predecessor, while also offering resource and personnel savings over its contemporaries like the Nebula and Insignia-class heavy cruisers. Like the Reliant, the Resolute was built with reliability and longevity in mind, while similarly having the capability to be quickly upgraded into a more combat-capable vessel for wartime, with the lessons of the Dominion War still firmly in Starfleet’s design ethos when they were conceived.
Exploration and Science
The Resolute is a highly competent exploration platform, with a robust planetary sensing suite on the underside of the saucer section, as well as two wide bands of lateral sensors in the secondary hull. This makes this vessel well-suited for long-duration charting missions where a more capable explorer might be wasted. In addition, these sensor bands allow the ship to perform its scientific duties while also patrolling along the Federation’s borders. This vessel carries approximately the same complement of labs as an Intrepid-class light explorer, and these facilities are tasked with ongoing scientific studies independent of the ship’s main mission.
Unlike the Nebula and the Insignia, this heavy cruiser does not have a large volume of mission-configurable scientific space; individual labs can be tailored to specific experiments, but a large portion of the ship’s interior volume not devoted to the ship’s primary systems is devoted to cargo space and crew facilities. This makes the Resolute a fine choice for generalist scientific missions, but a poor one for missions that require a large amount of specialized equipment. This vessel also lacks the accommodations to handle large groups of visiting scientists like her peers have.
One of the Resolute’s primary functions is to transport admirals and ambassadors, given her relatively high top speed and impressive defensive capabilities, taking over this function from the Ambassador in large part. There is a full conference suite aboard as well as configurable quarters for dignitaries of most humanoid and non-humanoid races, though her role is often more as a transport than as the site of actual negotiations. It is especially common to transport delegations to and from neutral worlds, as it is an impressive enough vessel but isn’t particularly intimidating. These ships are used less often with larger powers, though, where a full explorer-type vessel would be used instead.
There are four large lounges on deck 4 that have large viewports looking out into space, which are designed to play host to diplomatic delegations in comfort, while also being a suitable space for other types of conferences and as a crew recreation area when not in use for official functions.
Where this ship truly shines in a diplomatic capacity is in its ability to perform humanitarian aid missions. Designed in the wake of the Romulan supernova, this ship has extensive cargo space that can be used to carry supplies, but which can also easily be converted into hospital space or barracks for the emergency transportation of refugees. The lower levels of the saucer section and a significant portion of the secondary hull have cargo bays with direct space access. While not as capable as an Olympic-class ship, the Resolute has the advantage of also being well-armed and shielded, allowing it to perform these functions in war zones as well as secure areas.
At a distance, the overall arrangement of the Resolute-class is clearly within the same family as the Excelsior-class: a saucer section joined to a long engineering hull by a wide neck and equipped with slender warp nacelles. However, the Resolute’s proportions also take inspiration from the Sovereign-class, with the saucer stretched into an ovoid shape, and the warp nacelles mounted on swept-back pylons. This class has a similar overall volume to her predecessor, with a larger saucer section but a slightly smaller engineering section. While several members of the Excelsior-class had been retrofitted with saucer separation abilities, the Resolute has been designed to do so from the start, with impulse engines in both sections and a similar set of docking latches as used on the Odyssey-class.
Systems in use aboard the Resolute have all been tried and tested across multiple other classes, as the emphasis with the design brief was on reliability and high average performance rather than excelling in any one particular area. As with most other ships introduced in the late 24th century, this class is equipped with bioneural circuitry and full-ship holographic projectors. The class uses a streamlined version of the Type-9 warp drive first introduced aboard the Intrepid-class, with limiter software in place to restrict the resolute to a maximum speed of Warp 9.9, which lags behind many of the fleet’s fastest ships, but her cruising speed is a swift Warp 8. Like the Reliant, her lack of sprint speed is compensated for by her quite high cruising speed. The ship’s engineering computers were designed with the ability to be reprogrammed in times of fleet-wide emergencies to override this limitation, but reliability would suffer significantly if this was done.
Unusually for a ship of this size, the warp core is arranged in a horizontal configuration, running down the length of a large semi-cylindrical module on the surface of the engineering hull. In an emergency, the core can be ejected aft through a break-away panel, or the entire warp engine assembly can be jettisoned from the ship in case of a larger issue. This module is hardened with ablative armor and a dedicated secondary shield generator to keep it safe during combat, but this arrangement allows for more space in the secondary hull to be devoted to cargo and mission equipment.
Impulse power is provided by two large engines in the saucer section which are the ship’s primary sublight propulsion system. Additional power is provided by impulse engines in the warp nacelle pylons, which use plasma from the warp power transfer conduits to feed their subspace driver coils, rather than stand-alone fusion reactors. This reduces unnecessary fuel tanks and lines in this section of the ship, but it is not as efficient as fusion power at low speeds. Automation greatly decreases the amount of crew needed from 750 on the Excelsior to 500 on the Resolute.
Cargo capabilities on this vessel are extensive, with no fewer than thirty-four standard-size cargo bays with direct exterior access as well as five larger bays with space doors, one in the undercut of the secondary hull and four in the neck section. This allows this vessel to transport a vast quantity of materials and supplies, which makes it ideal for moving sensitive equipment between manufacturing facilities and shipyards, as well as for colonial development missions. Small craft support is provided by two medium-sized shuttle bays, one in the neck above the cargo bays and another in the fantail. Bays 26-30 in the aft section of the secondary hull connect in the center of the ship, allowing for a through-deck cargo area that also connects to the secondary shuttle bay. There is a very large tractor beam emitter above the lower cargo bay that allows the Resolute to perform warp tows of other starships.
The Resolute-class is a well-rounded combat platform, though she is not primarily intended as a tactical vessel. This is a common flagship type for admirals who do not need a ship such as an Odyssey but do find themselves leading from the front, as they maintain a suite of offices and a small flag bridge for such a purpose, making them suitable for leading smaller task groups.
Shields are the latest regenerative standard pioneered aboard the Sovereign-class, and the ship’s hull has partial ablative armor over sensitive areas. Type-XII phaser arrays are employed, with two large dorsal arrays on the saucer section, two dorsal arrays on the engineering section, and two ventral arrays on the sides of the secondary hull. The underside of the saucer section has eight smaller arrays arranged in a horseshoe pattern around the planetary sensor array and the lower cargo bays, in an effort to decrease space requirements and increase reliability, though some of the later units in this class are instead being built with a single long array in this section of the ship. In addition, there are four single-emitter banks to round out the coverage: one forward of the bridge, one on the keel of the secondary hull, and two above and below the aft shuttlebay.
Torpedo coverage is provided by two forward launchers and two aft launchers in the secondary hull. These launchers are of the same design developed for the Reliant-class, which are capable of launching salvos of three. During normal conditions, the Resolute carries a relatively small torpedo stock, as her energy weapons are more than capable of handling most threats.
Uniquely for a cruiser, the Resolute has four mounting points for phaser cannons, two in the secondary hull and two in the saucer section. In their stock configuration, they are merely hardened EPS taps capped off with plugs, but should a situation require it (such as a war), the Resolute fleet can be fitted with either pulse phaser cannons or fixed heavy phaser banks. In addition, the structural members above the planetary sensor array have been reinforced to handle a Sovereign-type quantum torpedo turret, which could be swapped in within a few weeks at a starbase. Starfleet maintains a small stock of such weapons that could be added to this class, but no current models use these options, the intent being that the Resolute could quickly be converted into a front-line command vessel and “pocket Sovereign” in the same way that the Reliant can be converted into a destroyer.
Given that her overall volume is similar to the Excelsior but with a much smaller crew, the Resolute is a comfortable posting. Accommodation standards are similar to those employed aboard the Intrepid-class, though there are more dedicated recreational facilities such as an arboretum deck, four large lounge areas (when they are not being used for diplomatic functions), gymnasia, and a dozen holosuites. Most crew members have their own quarters or a private room in shared quarters, which means there is less space for visitors, but the ship isn’t expected to host many guests other than VIPs. This high standard of accommodation helps make up for the fact that this ship doesn’t get sent on the flashiest or most interesting assignments and keeps morale up. There is a VIP set of quarters on Deck 2 that is often used for the ship’s captain, or the admiral in situations where the ship serves as a flagship.
In support of the ship’s humanitarian capabilities, the Resolute has a larger than average medical suite aboard, with most of deck six in the saucer being devoted to medical facilities. There is also a secondary sickbay near the aft shuttle bay. This large medical department makes this ship a popular choice for new medical officers, who can experience life in a hospital-like setting while also serving on a frontline starship.
Given the high level of automation, engineering crews don’t often find this to be a particularly engaging assignment, so there has been a culture aboard these vessels of pushing their reliable, standardized ships to limits beyond what they were designed on paper to do, leading some of them to be much faster than they are supposed to be. In addition, the amount of free time available to engineers had made their machine shops and development labs a hotbed of technological innovation.
By the end of the Dominion War, the Excelsior-class was still a staple of Starfleet, even with the older models approaching their 90th birthdays. They had been upgraded numerous times over the years, but the limitations of the spaceframe to handle new technologies such as ablative armor, phaser arrays, and other modern systems was becoming more and more limited as time went on. Starfleet knew that a true replacement for this class was necessary; though the Nebula was quickly proving itself to be a very effective successor class, it was nearly as complex and resource-intensive to build as the Galaxy-class, and the Insignia which was also in the works would be a bleeding-edge design, so Starfleet wanted a less capable, less resource-intensive design that could replace the Excelsior one-for-one. While no one in the admiralty would fully admit it, there was also a sentimental attraction to the Excelsior-class evident in the fact that no fewer than half of the officers ranked Rear Admiral or higher used them as their personal flagships, thanks to their combination of speed, power, and availability.
The design of this class ran in parallel with the Reliant-class light cruiser, as the two were intended to operate in concert with one another within and near to Federation space. It was envisioned that a task group of two Reliant-class light cruisers and a handful of science vessels or frigates could be coordinated by a commodore or rear admiral with a small staff aboard a Resolute for patrol and exploratory missions. As the design process worked through the 2380s, the brief called for larger cargo facilities to allow it to serve better in humanitarian functions, with an eventual capability very similar to the Nebula-class without expanding the size of the ship much beyond its inspiration.
In the end, the Resolute was about 10% longer than the Excelsior, factoring in larger nacelles and a stretched saucer section, as well as 5% taller, with the engineering hull narrowed slightly but stretched vertically. Production began on the USS Resolute in 2383 at Utopia Planitia, with three others ordered at other yards across the Federation and being constructed in parallel. The project suffered a major setback when the prototype was destroyed in 2385, with the designers attempting to pull her out of the yard to fight off the Synth attack but being destroyed almost immediately thanks to the shield generators not being installed yet. With this setback, the first Resolute-class ship was not launched until 2389, which was a long prototyping phase for a ship of this type and configuration with no brand-new systems.
Uniquely for a Federation starship class, the class leader of the Resolute-class was named USS Heziag, named in memory of the lead designer, Heziag of Sauria. The second USS Resolute was actually a Diligent-class starship launched in 2386 in memory of the design team that was lost.
The Resolute-class proved to be an immediate success in the fleet, and Starfleet placed a continual production order across ten yards, with staggered production times leading to four units being produced a year. By 2399, the 44 completed units are now seen in all corners of Federation space.
- The Resolute is the modern replacement for the Excelsior as a Federation ship-of-the-line for day-to-day duties around and near the Federation. Just like the Reliant class, she is capable but doesn’t particularly excel in any one area, other than humanitarian missions. Unlike the Reliant-class, though, she’s very much capable of hosting a flag officer as a true flagship, rather than just a transport.
- Resolute-class starships are powerful for their size, significantly moreso than the Excelsior-class that they resemble, which often luls raiders and pirates into a false sense of security due to their experience with the older vessel.
- A Resolute captain would be more senior than a Reliant captain, but this is still a vessel that would be appropriate as a first command. It is unlikely that an officer under the rank of Captain would command one, however, as they have a crew of 500.
- In some ways, the Resolute is the economy version of both the Odyssey and the Sovereign, as she is tactically capable, diplomatically capable, and can serve as a flagship. She is a much more reasonable and economical alternative to one of these big explorers for missions closer to home or for missions that require more discretion.
- In-universe, Resolute-class ships almost universally operate in their stock configuration, but they have hardened EPS networks and structural members along with pre-built mounting points that allow them to be converted into battleships within a few weeks, should the need arise. This is not a procedure that would be done lightly nor one that would generally be considered a hot-swap option, but is instead a contingency plan for wartime.
- The Resolute’s saucer separation ability allows the secondary hull to leave the primary hull in orbit of a planet or out in space to go off and perform another mission, or it could be used in combat to surprise other ships.