Ishikawajima Harima Industries piloted the Tikopai class. The design was based upon technologies introduced incrementally onto the Constitution class, with a view to building up the heavy cruiser fleet by thirty hulls within a five year period. When the Enterprise returned from her five-year mission, she had already been enhanced with new technology (see ST: Phase 2 episodes after Enemy: Starfleet) and the intention was for Montgomery Scott and the construction staff at San Francisco orbital yards were to refit the Enterprise to the new specifications within an eighteen month to two year period. For the first twelve month, the Enterprise was sat in mothballs awaiting work to begin. Ishikawajima Harima Industries argued that, as part of the private sector, they could produce a cheap and rapid fleet of upgraded Constitution class vessels starting almost immediately and completed within five years.
Ishikawajima Harima Industries’ argument was that Montgomery Scott and the Starfleet Corp of Engineering were working on an overly-complicated, complete redesign of the entire Constitution class. What Ishikawajima Harima Industries was proposing was a design built using technologies already available. Whilst the final vessel would not quite be as capable as what Montgomery Scott was proposing, it would deliver a heavy cruiser design rapidly, that could be further upgraded upon delivery. The linear warp drive technology had been pioneered on U.S.S. Decatur and the system enhancements were already on standby for manufacture. Outwardly the Tikopai class would look nearly identical to the proposed Constitution II refit design, but internally the bridge module and other systems would be of a more basic design more closely matching the Soyuz class technology (see the bridge in TNG: Cause and Effect). The Tikopai class soon was being talked about in Starfleet Headquarters as being both a cheap and nasty version of Constitution II, but at the same time a quicker filler of the perceived heavy cruiser gap. With the Ferasans having recently caused trouble along their De-Militarised Zone, and threatening trouble by both the Klingons and Mirak, Starfleet could ill-afford to wait for Montgomery Scott and his team to come up with a refit design that would then have to be rolled-out onto ships as and when they returned from their five-year missions.
U.S.S. Tikopai NX-1800 was launched in 2272 amidst fanfare from Ishikawajima Harima Industries as the new generation of heavy cruiser. Almost immediately the design showed that the use of multiple partners to produce the ship had produced a vessel that initially did not work as a whole. The computer system was devised by one company and did not interface with the new warp drive system, for example. Whilst the issues were being debugged, the Enterprise was refit and launched to face the V’ger crisis. Tikopai had not been able to leave spacedock and later analysis showed that she would have been unlikely to have survived the encounter. When Tikopai was eventually launched, the issues had been resolved and Starfleet now had the basic model refit Constitution class that they had been promised.
Ishikawajima Harima Industries, through subcontracting, then delivered the other 32 Tikopai class vessels in rapid succession, boosting the heavy cruiser numbers during a vital time for Starfleet. Starfleet continued to refit the Constitution class vessels after Enterprise as they came in for refit. By the 2280s, Starfleet was wanting more of the full-spec Constitution class and the proposal was put forwards to refit the Tikopai class to Constitution II refit specifications. With the design and construction of the Levant class, Tikopai class vessels were added to the list of Constitution-derivatives that would be refit to the new specifications.
By the 2290s, U.S.S. Tikopai was operating as a Tikopai class refit to Levant class specifications. Whilst the 2280s had seen the Enterprise decommissioned and rumours of a cull of the class, the reality was that there was no replacement for the flexibility of the Constitution class. Tikopai was away on a five-year mission when the Tabula Rasa crisis had broken, and missed the ISC Pacification War whilst away exploring the Alpha Quadrant and in refit.
Currently, at the time of the Interim Years, the U.S.S. Tikopai is on her latest five-year mission of exploration towards the Beta Quadrant frontier. Her commanding officer is Captain Christina Romanov from Kiev. The ship is now on its seventh deep space mission and has been exploring round the region of the WYN cluster and Lyran Star Empire. She has had encounters with the Orion Syndicate and observed activities around the region of the ISC Armistice Line that bring into question whether the line has been crossed by freighters coming out of the ISC. Whilst not strictly illegal, this would mark a possible change in ISC policy and something for Starfleet intelligence to keep an eye on. The U.S.S. Tikopai is due back into spacedock for a refit in 2313, emerging in 2314 ready for whatever new assignment Starfleet decides to give this fine vessel.
Five year missions:
2272 – 2277
2278 - 2283
2284 – 2289
2290 – 2295
2296 – 2301
2302 – 2307
2308 - 2313
I’ll admit it, I liked Ships of the Starfleet and I liked their rationale for the different variants of Constitution class: Constitution, Bonne Homme Richard, Constitution (II), Tikopai class, Enterprise class and Enterprise (II)/Levant class; it all made sense. Now it is all under Constitution (refit) it is a little cloudier, especially given Enterprise was the first of the class to be refit; current naval convention would have it named Enterprise class.
The names of the Tikopai class were taken from stars and this seems a bad idea because some sound silly, and secondly you are a starship navigating in space, so naming yourself after star systems could cause confusion. With the appearance of Agincourt, NCC-1813 in Starfleet Academy, and the onset of the Levant class, I see the Tikopai class and Constitution becoming merged in the 2290s under Constitution class.