The Akira-class starship entered service in 2355 and has quickly become the pride of Starfleet’s next generation of starships. With 3 variants already in production, there truly is an Akira class for any possible mission or threat that Starfleet can devise.
Initial production of the Akira class began at the ASDB Integration Facility, Antares Fleet Yards, Antares IV, and has since expanded to include the ASDB Integration Facility, Utopia Planetia, Mars, where nearly 15 of these vessels enter service each year. The first of the Carrier variants were assembled and launched from the ASDB Integration Facility, Balikinur Kosmodrome, Earth, before being consolidated with the rest of the primary production facilities at Utopia Planetia.
Akira-class vessels are a result of the new belief that smaller, faster, more maneuverable Starships are needed to better serve Starfleet’s and, by extension, the Federation’s needs.
Unlike many larger starships of the era in which saucer separation is a prerequisite, Akira-class vessels to date cannot separate into two vessels. As a result, the Akira Class does not have the twin hull design that has been seen in vessels such as of Excelsior, New Orleans, Galaxy, and Ambassador classes. This means that the primary hull and the engineering hull are no longer separate, with no “neck” section. While this division of saucer and stardrive has been blurred, it does allow the Akira to make a smoother, less polluted entry into subspace during Warp. Also, because of this "no stardrive" design, the surface between the two hulls has a much more gradual descent and streamlined appearance created by the dorsal mid-ships section, which slopes up to where the two hulls connect. The Akira spaceframe appears very similar in design to that of an ancient earth sailing boat known as a catamaran. With the nacelles parallel to the main hull, they can be more adequately protected by the primary and secondary shield generators with only a minimal loss in shield efficiency.
Heavily armed, the design philosophy for the Akira class drew on lessons learned in the Defiant Project. A combined forward/aft torpedo bay is located along the aft dorsal "sail" portion of the hull, while a second set of forward launchers is located just under the nose of the ship. Combined with the Type X phaser array, the Akira class can return fire, torpedo for torpedo, with the vaunted Galaxy / Nebula-class launchers.
Even though the Akira class is a relatively young class of Starship, Starfleet and the ASDB has already devised two variants on the Akira space frame. These variants are the Akira-Uprated and Akira-Carrier—each striving to make the space frame a more combat-oriented vessel in the current chaotic political situation.
The Akira (Standard) Class ships are by far the most numerous of the Akira class vessels built to date. Boasting 2 high-speed, fixed-focus photon torpedo launchers and 6 Type X phaser arrays, ships of this class boast a respectable amount of firepower for any situation.
The Akira-Uprated Class was spawned during the end of the first production run and implemented during the vessel’s second production contract at both ASDB Facilities. Realizing that relations with the Cardassians was going to deteriorate before they improved, and the looming presence of a Borg incursion, Starfleet requested that a portion of the new Akiras be refitted with more weaponry and upgraded shields. The resulting upgraded Akira class mounted 15 fixed-focus photon torpedo tubes spread between 5 launchers scattered around the vessel (4 located on the aft sail, and 1 mounted on the ventral portion of the vessel just under the main deflector).
The Akira-Carrier was devised shortly after the beginning of the first production run of the Akira class when Starfleet Command had its attention fully on the possibility of a Borg attack. It was reasoned that smaller, quicker vessels would stand a better chance against a Borg Cube than larger ones (a painful lesson learned at Wolf 359). Several Akira-class ships were outfitted with a full fly-through hangar on Deck 11, from which fighters could be launched. This, combined with the 2 photon torpedo launchers (located in the aft sail) and 6 Type X phaser arrays standard on the Akira class gave the carrier impressive sublight combat capabilities. However, these improvements were made at the expense of the long-range endurance of both the vessel and the crew. The hangar bays necessitated the removal of the Holodecks and Holosuites. While these have been supplanted by a Recreation Deck, no Holographic facilities can be found, meaning the few Akira Carriers still in service are tied to a static Facility such as a Starbase or Outpost. Continued development of the carrier-style Akira led to the final development of the LeJeune variant, which has proven to be the most successful of the Akira-Carrier variant.
During the fast and hard-hitting ground actions that were conducted during the Dominion War, it became quickly evident that the Marines on the ground had to move fast, and be transported from one front to another even faster. Upgraded weapons systems and an ability to collect and redistribute ground forces over an entire planetary system proved crucial to the success of many of the SFMC actions conducted in that brutal conflict.
Following the Dominion War, the Starfleet Marine Corps and Starfleet decided that mobile platforms must be made ready and available to the SFMC. Generally to be manned by Starfleet personnel, but held in semi-garrison duty, these vessels would be able to pick up their assigned marine contingents, already being pre-loaded with vehicles, equipment, and supplies, and head for the combat zone, within one hour of an alert’s arriving at the ship or marine HQ. Several platform designs were evaluated, and it was decided that, except for the largest unit, the regiment, existing platforms would be used and converted to marine use. The Akira-class vessel—already well-established and battle-proven—provided the ideal base platform for the use of the SFMC Ready Response Forces (RRF).
The USS Southern Cross, launched in 2170 and placed on “active patrol” duty with the 11th Fleet since, was one of the first such class of vessels to undergo this refit.
COMPUTER SYSTEM UPDATES
Unlike the original Akira-class ships, the LeJeune ships are upgraded to the same tested computer relay system based on bio-neural gel packs, in addition to the traditional Isolinear chips used on the Puma class ships. Classified as M16-Isolinear III, it still utilizes synthetic neurons based on the organization of neurons and synapses in the humanoid brain. The system essentially "grows" new synapses as needed. This allows the computer to take a "best guess" in cases where there is insufficient information to make a definitive statement in a logical manner, rather than having to spend the time attempting to calculate all possible actions. In essence, it uses a more intuitive process to arrive at a decision. The LeJeune ships also carry the AIDE. program internal to the computer system (Artificial Intelligence Determination Enhancement). This system is less likely than the older E.V.E. system to override the command team’s decisions during combat situations.
TACTICAL SYSTEM UPGRADES
The Akira already mounted an impressive and powerful tactical suite. This included the six Type X phaser strips as well as the fifteen (15) Mk 80 torpedo launchers carrying the reliable battle-tested quantum torpedo. The ship carries the FSQ shield system and the CETIS Mk III with Type 225 TACAR fire-control suite as standard equipment. However, with advances in technology and weaponry it was decided to upgrade both the weaponry and the shielding for the new class. The six phaser arrays were upgraded to type XII. In addition, the LeJeune carries 20 type IV-G point defense phaser mounts situated around the primary and engineering hulls to protect against both missile and suicide shuttle attacks. All the torpedo launchers were upgraded to the Mk 98rf rapid firing launchers; while still carrying the powerful quantum torpedoes, it will also carry the lesser-technology photon torpedoes and EMP burst torpedoes. Finally, the LeJeune is one of two sub-classes that integrate the active Photonic Ablative Armor system with their existing shields – in this case the new FSS shield system. Like the Akira class, the LeJeune is designed to carry fighters, and has a through-deck hangar bay designed for this purpose. The forward bay is equipped with launching facilities, and the two rear bays are equipped for retrieval.
For her size, the LeJeune class carries a large crew of 500, while still providing a large quantity of berthing, storage, and training space for the 800 marines assigned to the ship – primarily Armoured Air Cavalry. While most of the ship’s staterooms are dual-occupancy, maximizing living space while still offering privacy, the marine enlisted personnel have insisted on remaining in barracks modules. Like its predecessor, the LeJeune retains the advanced scientific and diplomatic suite on the Akira class. Though not as advanced as those found on the Galaxy, it does give the LeJeune an intelligence-gathering and analysis capability that both surprises and pleases the Marine Commanders on the ground.
(Acknowledgement: The detailing and specification listing of the LaJeune-class Akira used here is based on the work of Scott Akers, and our thanks are expressed for his approval to use his excellent body work for our purposes.)