NCC 1862 USS Endurance was converted into the first of the Endurance class reconnaissance frigate under project NXP2284FR. Publically this design was a science-specialised variant of the Miranda class. One aspect that was not discussed was the reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering aspect of the Endurance design. Optomised for sensors, Endurance class gave Starfleet an asset that could be used for command and control of border protection assets. Endurance class quickly succeeded Soyuz class in this role.
The Endurance class became possible with the development of the Da Praesa exploratory package, of which the Costias Long-Range Data Pod (LRDP) is the principal component. Unlike the Miranda class light cruiser and the earlier Avenger class heavy frigate refits of the original Miranda class design, the Endurance class sacrificed the photon torpedo capability for the additional sensors. KWIL precise, short-range sensors are mounted underneath the LN-64 warp nacelles. Even the 'Emperor' Omni-Directional Phaser Cannons (ODPC) of the Miranda class light cruiser design were replaced by the Chng Li A2H sensors.
Starships Vigilant, Hippolyta and Oberon were amongst those that joined Endurance as sister ships. The KWIL sensors located on the LN-64 nacelles required some internal modifications to the warp nacelles. Starfleet Intelligence was exposed to be the sponsor of the new Endurance class design. The investigative article made the point that the Endurance was able to perform Electronic INTelligence (ELINT) and COMmunications INTelligence (COMINT) missions along the Romulan and Klingon borders - a role for which the Endurance class had been purpose-built.
After the loss of both the Enterprise and Hood in recent years - a direct consequence of the disappearance of the Organians from their homeworld - Starfleet Command wanted to improve the intelligence picture and start to be proactive, rather than reactive. Endurance class was designed to give that extra information that was an improvement on the aging Soyuz class design of the 2270s. Like the historical Nimrod aircraft of 51 Squadron of the RAF in the 20th and 21st Centuries and their RC-135W Airseeker successors, the Endurance class was there to learn about cultures from what could be extracted from open space and the right side of the border.
After the end of the Argus mission, wanting to capitalise on the Klingon experience, Ensign Hawkins was assigned to a rotational mission between Klingon border station Delta Two and doyen of the class U.S.S. Endurance. Delta Two allowed Hawkins the experience of a station assignment, monitoring Klingon activities and transmissions along the Federation-Klingon border.
Station Delta Two was almost the most rimward of the monitoring stations along what was the Klingon Neutral Zone, in the Gariman Sector not far from the Alwanir Nebula, Ch’ramaki and Terajuni systems. From this location it was possible to monitor and track the Klingon patrols around both of these regions. With the actions of the U.S.S. Valiant in 2294, the Klingons were weary of more colonies declaring independence. The Valiant herself remained in the region and called in on Station Delta Two at least once during Hawkins’ assignment there.
The Delta Two assignment is homage to monitoring Station Epsilon Nine from The Motion Picture. A near-identical facility, this is one of the Delta and Epsilon series of stations that monitored the Klingon Neutral Zone. Regardless of the Khitomer Accords, the stations were still there in the mid-2290s; the good intentions to dismantle the space stations and starbases along the Neutral Zone were marred by the Terajuni Incident, cooling the fledgling relations between the Federation and Klingons.
U.S.S. Endurance rotated its analysis crew from Station Delta Two and its own crew, allowing time closer to the Klingon border. The specialist sensor equipment on the Endurance allowed Hawkins to decrypt information for specific Klingon facilities and warships. After the Terajuni incident of 2294 the Klingon honeymoon period was definitely over and the patrol schedules on the Klingons had reverted to an almost pre-Praxis level.
Endurance liaised with the regional Belknap strike cruiser Excel subclass U.S.S. Azuma with Akula class U.S.S. Haikou and Vortigern as the close-protection destroyers. The Endurance class cruiser was used in the hope that a lightly-armed reconnaissance starship would not provoke the same hostile reaction as a tactical vessel would.
This Endurance assignment was chosen by me as a reflection on my visit to HMS Endurance in 2006.I’m also a fan of the design from Ships of the Starfleet and the U.S.S. Sheffield was close to being a member of this sub-variant of the Miranda class. Azuma is named for the new Virgin East Coast train (and Japanese cruiser).
Endurance class Reconnaissance 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, Cryptography department.
04 VIP lounge, Officers Quarters, Arboretum, Quartermasters office, Sensor analysis 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
Defences: Deflector shields
Endurance class comes from the fantastic non-canon Ships of the Starfleet volume 1. A frigate derivative of Miranda class, this ship (left) is illustrated with the additional sensor pods on the warp nacelles and the sensor pod replacing the Miranda class torpedo rollbar. This presents itself as being a natural successor to the Soyuz class which also has sensor pods mounted over the ship. This suggests a ship with a reconnaissance role.
All this and the ability to detect emissions from bordering nations, allowing Starfleet Intelligence to 'listen in' on the communications along the frontier and anticipate the mood of the neighbours. And their possible future actions. It is all about gathering intelligence and being one step ahead of any possible threat. In light of this, I would argue that Starfleet put the Antares class into mass production as soon as the design was approved. That way the borders could be made less permeable and the pirates, smugglers, traffickers and terrorists could all be addressed; this would not be a popular design with the neighbours and threats.