U.S.S. Explorer was a later series Constitution class vessel, part of the Levant Class authorised by Starfleet in the late 2280s. Her career may have been brief, but was still memorable enough to earn her a place in Starfleet Academy training and the sacred history of Starfleet. Launched in 2289 and joined the fleet later in the year, the Explorer was commanded by Captain Adam Gibson. Gibson had forged his career aboard three Constitution class vessels: the Essex, the Forrestal and the Ark Royal. The former science officer had found his calling in exploring the final frontier. Freshly off shakedown, Gibson and the Explorer were to find themselves at the middle of the largest crisis of the end of the 23rd Century.
Starfleet Intelligence had discovered that the Romulan Star Empire was preparing to detonate a subspace weapon named Shiva. The Explorer was the nearest Starfleet vessel and Starfleet Headquarters were confident that the new Constitution class vessel could stop the Romulans. Unfortunately the timely intervention of a Klingon D-8 K'T'inga class battlecruiser motivated the Romulans to detonate their device early. The Klingon vessel was destroyed in the explosion, however the subspace wave released a series of star systems from imprisonment and the Romulan vessel Melak was lost in the gravitational well of the nearest planet.
U.S.S. Explorer had intercepted the last of the messages from the Melak. She was ordered into the region under the premise of a rescue mission; the discovery of not only one planet but a series of systems meant Starfleet Command had to plan exploration of the systems whilst staying away from the Romulans and Klingons. Thus the Explorer was ordered into the region to investigate the new worlds that had appeared. The Klingon Empire was sending ships to investigate the loss of their battlecruiser and the Romulans were investigating the loss of their scout ship. The Federation Council, and by extension Starfleet, were concerned that the other two nations were going to treat these new worlds as sources of new minerals and resources, when their may be indiginous lifeforms there that under interstellar law would be the rightful theirs. Starfleet was composing a scientific and diplomatic convoy with full engineering and tactical support to establish science bases to learn about the new planets.
Admiral's briefing, Stardate 8987:
I wish I could be there to brief you in person, but the appearance of the new systems has thrown the entire quadrant into chaos. Since the Melak opened it up, numerous systems have spilled from the anomaly void into our space. Many of them contain M Class worlds rich in dilithium. We were concerned the Klingons and Romulans would go to war over them; such a vast amount of resources would give the victor a crushing military advantage. Then, one of our deep space probes picked up this broadcast: 'People from Space, please help us.. weak power.. inflicted.. plague.. it is worse.. in the name of the Power... we beg you help...' We, the Taubat, have have settlements across a range of anomoly system planets. so we assume they are capable of interstellar flight. The colonies operate under a loose Commonwealth. Their inability to deal with the plague suggests a social breakdown of some kind. Karasin has been selected as the first site for a Federation Outpost in the area and you will be its first leader. Our presence will deter Klingon expansion and provide the necessary medical facilities to fight the plague. It will also serve as our point of First Contact and set the tone for Federation-Taubat relations.
A team of Starfleet Engineers has already constructed a first stage colony Hub. Your mission is to grow that structure into a fully functioning colony. The complete list of buildings required is logged in your computer core. The engineers on site confirm the plague is spreading at an exponential rate and appears to affect only the Taubat. Every effort must be exerted to find a cure. The central cluster of cases indicates the worst affected area. Scan it with your tricorder and research the results. The engineers also report the Taubat seem to regard generation of power as a religious act, but our long-range scans reveal their power station temples are crude and unstable. Conduct a thorough survey of their power temple and see if there is anything behind this belief. This mineral field should supply complete resources for the colony: from building materials to dilithium for power.
While the Taubat government is desperate to involve the Federation, the civilians are non-plussed. Handle them with kid gloves, they're deeply superstitious and could easily be offended. Because this is our First Contact with the Taubat, it is imperative none of their people are injured or killed. One mistake could taint all future Taubat-Federation relations.
The situation couldn't be much worse. You'll be caught between the greed of the Romulans and the vicious colonialism of the Klingons; both will be watching, so don't slip up.
The Explorer had barely finished her shakedown period and had been thrust into the forefront of the greatest feat of rapid exploration that Starfleet had done in decades. With only a couple of Excelsior class starships commissioned and a handful of Constellation class, the Explorer was one of the most modern starships in the Fleet. The fear in Starfleet Command was that a couple of the flagships - Hood and Enterprise - had been lost in 2285 to Klingons. This would be the first occasion when one of these new Levant subclass of the Constitution class would face the Klingons.
Explorer was soon not the only new Levant class member in the region, with the Temeraire re-assigned to assist her sister. The tried-and-tested Constitution class soon showed that she was more than up for the challenge of studying the new planets and systems as they spilled out of the anomaly. The design was perfect for diplomatic and scientific studies of the fauna and flora, as well as the First Contact with the Taubat Commonwealth.
Captain's Log Stardate 8987.4
Adam Gibson recording. We have arrived in the Neutral Zone to find it littered with new systems since the ill-fated Romulan experiment went so horribly wrong. The spatial anomaly they caused brought with it so many new worlds, and so much potential wealth, that some kind of conflict now seems inevitable. The Romulans are here in force, claiming ownership because they caused this. The Kingons are just determined not to miss out on the potential riches and honour they could gain. As for the Federation, we're trying to do the impossible - to keep the peace, and to see who, or what, really inhabits these new worlds, and whether they are still in residence.
The U.S.S. Explorer made First Contact with a race called the Taubat, a race of crudely-formed humanoids both physically and mentally, who worshipped radioactive power generating facilities. The Starfleet team immediately applied protectorate status for this indiginous race.
The Explorer was then tasked to set up science bases on Karazin (and other worlds closest to the Federation border) to study the Taubat and their world, whilst keeping an eye on the activities of the other two nations' forces. The Miranda class U.S.S. Ranger, NCC-1975, was also pulled from Neutral Zone patrol to assist in surveying these new worlds. Starfleet Command immediately knew that two starships would not be enough; U.S.S. Potemkin was diverted to the region from her scientific study and transport Hirayama was diverted to Starbase 20 Key Stone for colonial supplies, before being escorted to the new systems by Jupp class escort destroyer Electra.
The Hirayama and Electra were attacked by the aggressively expansionist Klingons. Potemkin was able to save both vessels but there was a serious loss of life. This was a reminder that the study of these new worlds in neutral space was as dangerous as had been first feared. Once this initial attack had been resolved, the Hirayama could deliver her cargo to Karazin and the scientific stage one Hub could be assembled by the Starfleet Corps of Engineering.
The Federation walked into making a colossal mistake, as the Taubat turned out to be a genetically-engineered vassal race. Under the Federation's protection they managed to reawaken their masters, the Metar. The release of the Metar led to heavy losses amongst all three powers until the Metar could be re-imprisoned, with the help of the Metar's own ancient enemy, the Hubrin.
Among the Federation's losses in this campaign in November 2290 was the U.S.S. Explorer, which crash-landed mostly intact on the surface of the desert planet Al-Fadir on stardate 9133.4.
With the Metar occupation of Al-Fadir and the subsequent re-sealing of the Tabula Rasa systems into inter-dimensional space, Starfleet was unable to salvage the wreck. She will remain stuck in the sands of Al-Fadir for millennia to come.
U.S.S. Explorer crew 2289 - 90:
Commanding Officer: Captain Adam Gibson
Executive Officer: Commander Uc'exxo (Saurian female)
Science Officer: Torok (Vulcan male)
Helm: Injitta (Deltan female)
Medical: Sutamaya Rann (Betazoid female)
Engineering: Lularani (Orion female)
Special Services: Arapex Tral (Rigelian male)
Security Operations: (female)
Social Sciences: Lieutenant Tina Meyer
U.S.S. Explorer shuttlecraft:
01 - Archer
02 - Cook
03 - Fiennes
04 - Armstrong
05 - Shackleton
Captain Adam Gibson:
The calm, assertive commanding officer of the Explorer, comfortable with his position as the man in charge of his crew, ship and mission. This was the culmination of the career of Adam David Gibson, science officer from previous Constitution class assignments such as the Essex, Ark Royal and his previous assignment, Forrestal. Gibson had graduated as Class Salutatorian and had shown an aptitude with anthropology, sociology and linguistics. Mentored by Captain Ramesh Bharathakulasuriya on his first assignment, the Monoceros class James Clerk Maxwell, Adam Gibson showed a natural skill with cultural studies and First Contact situations.
It was for the second quality that Gibson was assigned to Constitution class starships, to best utilise his natural talent and skills to make first encounters with new races as smooth as possible. A natural leader, Gibson gained rapid promotion from Ensign to Lieutenant over a short number of years. He showed himself to have sound tactical skills and salvaged a few situations where the First Contact had not gone as planned.
With the U.S.S. Explorer, Adam Gibson followed the final stages of her construction and the assembly of her crew. A shakedown run took her to Vulcan before receiving orders to head to the Neutral Zone to meet the Klingon battlecruiser Gh'rokum and stop the Romulans from detonating a subspace weapon. In the event, the Gh'rokum was badly damaged and the Explorer had to deal with the new situation: new star systems, leaking into our universe. Initially, Gibson had his hands full studying the new planets that had arrived, launching more probes in those first hours than almost any Constitution class vessel had done before.
Eric Dane plays Commander Tom Chandler in Sky tv series The Last Ship. His personality, appearance and style best matched the heroic aspect of Captain Adam Gibson. Adam Gibson is a patriot and born leader; this is the poster icon for the modern Starfleet, a command division cadet who has positioned himself to be the 'new Captain Kirk'. Just like Kirk, fate decides to find him just as he gets one of the finest ships in the fleet. With the recent loss of the Hood and Enterprise, and the unreliable nature of the new Excelsior, Starfleet is reeling to get it's mojo back. The Constellation class - like the Stargazer - are great deep space explorers, but the Constitution class are still the best all-rounders. Levant class is the latest incarnation.
The Tabula Rasa systems appear out of nowhere and Captain Gibson is the closest ship. He's late for the party to stop the detonation of the Shiva Device and last to the party for surveying the new worlds. The Taubat distress signal changes the exploration mission and diplomacy with the Romulans and Klingons into a First Contact mission. The repercussions of saving the Taubat will cost Gibson his ship.
Lieutenant Tina Meyer:
Tina Meyer was the social sciences officer on the Explorer. This officer was the frontline for studying the Taubat race and their culture, trying to piece together what had emerged out of the subspace tear before the Klingons, Romulans and Orions contaminated or destroyed them. The race to inteprete the Taubat caused confusion as the pieces of the puzzle did not make sense. The empaths referred to their psyche as feeling 'off' and their behaviour was eccentric. By the time the pieces were put together about their 'masters' and their connection to the Metar, it was too late. Lieutenant Meyer was piecing together the puzzle of the Metar when the Explorer was attacked and went down.
Tina Meyer was transferred to the Apollo after the loss of Explorer. She spent the last few weeks of the campaign working on the Metar culture and helping to make a possible diplomatic solution for the Metar. When this was not possible, the mission becme one of trying to defeat the Metar as their full military potential was realised. She was lost along with all hands when the Apollo failed to escape from Anomaly Space. She is officially listed as: Missing.
Author Notes: Australian actress Jessica Tovey as Tina Meyer. The character of Tina Meyer is a role model for Nathaniel Hawkins - then a cadet 4th class on the Potemkin, trying to resurrect his Starfleet career potential before it died at the first hurdle. This was not a crush, this was professional respect from a cadet to a graduated officer in the role he wanted. Hawkins liaised with Meyer about the Taubat mystery for the time he was there. Hawkins stayed in touch and was hurt to discover she did not escape from Anomaly Space. Hawkins dedicated his career to honour her example and never spoke of it openly.
Levant class Bridge, as seen on the Enterprise-A in 2287.
U.S.S. Explorer bridge - copyright Ex Astris Scientia, Modified by BobyE
The inspiration for this Levant class vessel - and the Temeraire - was the entry in Ships of the Starfleet Volume 1. Star Trek V had clearly inferred that the Enterprise 1701-A was a brand new Constitution class starship that had bugs in the system (turbolift doors and communications, for example). The Bridge set had been constructed to plans by the great Herman Zimmerman to replace the Star Trek I - IV Bridge set that had been damaged by water whilst in storage.
The new set was able to be filmed from any station with removeable sections. The floor was carpetted and a creamy beige colour was used with cyan font for the Okudagrams on the computer displays. This matched up wonderfully with the re-use of TNG sets that helped William Shatner to keep the budget down.
The fan products of the time spoke of the new Enterprise as Enterprise II class or Levant class. This ended with the publication of the first canon Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual. In it, Gene Roddenberry's wishes that 1701-A be the rebuilt 1717 Yorktown became lore. As a result, when ST: VI was done, 1701-A was shown to be worn out and shabby internally, reflecting a 45-year-old starship.
Therefore, the Star Trek V sets to me now indicate the new starships of the late 2280s, as opposed to the Star Trek VI 1701-A sets being for older designs. Explorer and Temeraire are brand new Levant subclass Constitution class vessels and I want them to reflect their new status.
Taubat summary notes:
Capital world: HR.201 system, Mazikaan (the snow covered, icy planet)
Interstellar flight: yes (primitive non-warp starships are in use)
General characteristic: religious fanatics, superstitious, brave, but also very naive
General tactics: no special tactics, throw everything they have at time in the blind faith (tanks and photon artilleries).
Unlike Metar, the Taubat can be understood (or so the Federation thought).
Taubat civilian or elder people are the race created by Metar - their masters. Taubat's only duty is to maintain Metar's stasis hibernation fields while Metar is trapped in anomalous subspace. Metar powers comes from ambient energy of normal space, so they were forced to hibernate, but earlier they've created their servants. The Taubat, unlike Metar, do not use any powers from ambient energy, so they can live without it. Taubat has a settlements across a range of anomaly system planets, so they are capable of interstellar flight, non-warp flight to be more specific, because their ships technology is very, very early. Each Taubat colony contains a Temple, which, practically, is a primitive power generator of Metar's stasis fields.
The Taubat regard the generation of power as a religious act, no doubt who is the target of their praises, but Metar could not foreseen an error in Taubat organisms. Each Taubat worker (or priest) working at Temple suffers from deadly desease, which is caused by Temple's inner radiation. Taubat colonies operates under a loose commonwealth and their goverment is located on icy planet Mazikaan. Their ground forces are very weakly shielded and hulls are highly vulnerable. It is highly curious how the organic Metar could develop a race which does not use organic material to construct buildings or vehicles (unlike Metar). Their ground forces consists of phaser tanks and artillery of photon torpedoes.
Taubat people are deeply superstitious and could be easily offended. Also, they are somehow very naive, but this virtue is compensated by their great courage (even if it is blind courage). Taubat beliefs concentrates around Metar, but they also believe in the, closely unspecified, power and the life (maybe the power of the life?). The Federation tried to make the Taubat as an ally. At certain time they really were, but when Federation tried to discover how the Taubat came by their technology (they scanned Taubat's gods structures, including Metar focal point - colony core), the Metar were awoken and Taubat turned against their former allies. Shortly after that, all hell was unleashed.....