U.S.S. Courageous continued the traditions set down by the Miranda class starships Emden, Sheffield, Demeter and Oberon. By 2300, when the Courageous started her mission, the Azetbur regime had been in power in the Klingon Empire for a little over seven years. The Federation had enjoyed peace for four of those years, but an attack by 'rogue' Klingon elements on Starbase 11 ended that era.
The Courageous missions both featured Ilani onboard, on the first mission as Science and Second Officer and on the next mission as the Science and First officer. Lieutenant Ilani was brought aboard after her double tour on the Emden gained her knowledge on the Klingon Empire principal characters. Later, on the Hathaway, Ilani had spread her knowledge to include the Romulan Star Empire as well. With the fall out between the two empires in the early 2290s, it was impossible to study one regime without acknowledging the other.
The 2300 mission was commanded by Captain Russell Walker and the 2306 mission was commanded by Captain Re'Narth Jerbes. On the 2300 mission the first officer was the Andorian Lt Commander Kelev, whom Ilani succeeded during the refit in 2305. The command crew were vital to the success of these missions, which were operated under a veil of secrecy - classed as exploring sociological anomalies in the Beta Quadrant.
The Courageous was based at Starbase 20 Key Stone, the main administrative Starbase for operations along the Klingon border area - and the former Neutral Zone. Further supplies were taken onboard at a classified location, to allow for sensitive personnel and equipment to be placed onboard away from the prying eyes of spies. The principal locations used for observing the Klingons is classified, but it is thought that it was very close to the border itself - rumours of missions which 'strayed over the line' occasionally surface as well.
The Courageous mission also included a mandate to upgrade Station Aljetarius to starbase standards as the newly-minted Starbase 77. The science station has been a forward-operating station for Starfleet for decades, but this was cementing a Federation and Starfleet presence officially in the Borderland/Triangle region. The first upgrade missions would be fraught with close inspection and occasional intimidation by both Romulan and Klingon frigates, destroyers and even fellow light cruisers. On at least one occasion a Romulan D-7R Ventarix class cruiser was 'closely monitoring' the activities of the Courageous. This establishment of a forward-operating starbase in the region would allow Starfleet scientific missions a place to re-equip and refurbish without having to go back to Starbase 20 Key Stone. The lawless region that thrived on smuggling, trafficking and slavery would now be monitored more closely; the hole in Federation security since its formation would finally be closed.
The Courageous operates rather like a modern nuclear submarine. The mission length is 3 - 4 year duration with 5 years as a stretch length for Miranda class. Russell Walker is the first commanding officer mentioned here and Re'Narth Jerbes is the legendary captain for the second. The mission here is to follow-up the Emden and Saratoga missions, looking at how the Praxis explosion has affected the Klingon Empire. Places like V'stok show how the Klingon fleet has deteriorated since the Gorkon Era; delapidated and patched up D-6 and D-7 Koro class warships are forced into use along with the D-8 K'T'inga class. Conflicts along the Romulan and Gorn borders are also monitored.
Occasionally the Courageous would appear at the other border-side starbase - Starbase 36. From scuttlebutt and rumours there are also stories of the Courageous encountering Klingons warships of D-6, D-7 Koro and D-8 K'T'inga variants. Occasionally the ship required patching up after 'close encounters with anomalies'. The Courageous was also involved in first contact with the Sha' Kurian race, although the incident was classified and it is unknown what kind of an exchange - if any - took place.
Captain Re'Narth Jerbes was a veteran commanding officer from Constellation class starships. Jerbes had served, amongst others, on the U.S.S. Valkyrie - exploring the further reaches of frontier space to the outermost reaches where the Federation had taken a manned starship. His assignment to the Courageous was seen as a man whose career was winding down. Classified mission logs would reveal that this was not the case, and Jerbes strong leadership got the ship out of some sticky situations.
The Romulan build up in tensions in the mid 2300s brought about a change in mission and the Courageous was re-assigned to Starbase 10. The emphasis was placed upon the Romulan situation and the Sheffield required some assistance in dealing with the sheer volume of data that was generated. Again, many of the mission details were classified, although it is known that some cutting-edge equipment was installed.
After the Tomed Incident, both the Sheffield and Courageous were in need of a refit and both docked at Starbase 10. During the refit of early 2312, Lieutenant Commander Ilani was contacted by Vice Admiral Kylie Hudson and approached for the role as First Officer of U.S.S. Sheffield. Ilani had the choice of many assignments but it was the Sheffield mission that took her eye. Meanwhile, Re'Narth Jerbes was put up for promotion to Commodore - leaving the Courageous open for a new Commanding Officer and First Officer.
Whilst the Emden is based on the original Miranda class starship, the Reliant, and the Sheffield is a state-of-the-art upgraded version, the Courageous is an intermediate improved version of the original Miranda class. This is like the Constitution class Essex or Star Trek IV Enterprise-A and Saratoga, with early Okudagrams matched with the early movie-era bridge set. Still only one turbolift here until a later upgrade brings in a second. This is a Miranda class starship that has been in frontline service for around twenty years and has been placed lower down the priority list of refurbishment for the glamorous Constitution class refits and newbuild Excelsior and Constellation class.
U.S.S. Courageous, NCC 1861, Miranda class Light Cruiser specifics:
01 Main Bridge, Ready Room.
02 Executive Deck - First and Second Officers offices and Briefing room.
03 Senior Crew Quarters, Junior Crew Quarters, Crew Quarters, Social Sciences Department
04 VIP lounge, Officers Quarters, Arboretum, Quartermasters office, Mathematics and statistics laboratories, aeronautics and aquanautics labs, Main Deflector, Main Impulse Drive, Deuterium Tanks, Main Engineering
05 Officers mess, Gym, Swimming pool, Crew Quarters
06 Crewman and NCO quarters, Food synthesis equipment, Primary navigational deflector, Shuttlebays
07 Main deck - Sickbay, Transporter Room
08 Docking level - Docking ports, Aux fire control, Fabrication facility, Laundry, Reclamation, Anti-matter Storage, Cargo
09 Computer laboratory, Intelligence department, Temperature regulation
10 Circuit breaker deck Cargo
11 Main Sensor Array, Navigation dome
Length: 233 metres
Beam: 142 metres
Height: 58 metres
Crew: 223 [23 officers, 200 enlisted]
Cruising Warp 7 [OCU]
Max Warp 11 [OCU]
Maximum Speed: Warp 9.2 for 12 hours (new scale)
Armament: 6 dual type-7 phaser banks; 2 pulse phaser cannons; 4 photon torpedo launchers
Defences: Deflector shields
Author's Notes: U.S.S. Courageous is named both for the Royal Navy aircraft carrier of World War II, and for the preserved Nuclear Attack Submarine H.M.S. Courageous, now open to the public at Plymouth naval base. Courageous is a name most fitting to the personnel of Starfleet, and so I thought it more then appropriate to name a ship for this most important of traits.
U.S.S. Courageous joins the U.S.S. Emden as being one of the starships that played a low-key but vitally important role in the formation of peaceful relations with the Klingons. One of the factors I consider important to Star Trek: The Interim Years is developing not only stories about what is currently occuring in the Interim Years, but to also develop what has already happened in order to reach the current state of affairs.