Well, here's the Eclipse rendered with my craptacular freehand rawing skills.
Click the image for a big view.
Noteable Design Thingies:
The brown plating is overlapping ablative armor. I hope the lightish color indicates that it's not really very thick. (Yes, I know it looks gray on the scan. It's brown on the paper. Honest.)
The red sections are bussard collectors (top and bottom of the primary hull), phaser arrays (the long, thin strips; two strips running down from the bridge between the nacelle pylons are not visible) and the impulse exhaust (rear of the primary hull) respectively.
The bridge is still a distinct module on top, but it fits into the contours.
The gap at the bottom is where the Captain's Yacht docks. I didn't draw it in, yet this hole would ordinarily be closed with a moving cover. Pretend it just undocked.
The gray door behind the bridge is the shuttlebay exit. Yes, it has one on the other side, too.
The nacelles wouldn't actually be lit up like that when the annular warp drive is attached, since the plasma is not channelled through the warp coils there. I noticed that after coloring it, so eh, just pretend the annular warp drive thingie glow bright blue and the nacelles are dark, 'kay?
There's twin deflectors sunk into the front of the primary hull, Intrepid-class style. The ventral deflector is smaller, but flanked by the two pulse-fire torpedo tubes; the dorsal main deflector is bigger and surrounded by various Slipstream-related gizmos. There is armor plating that covers the Slipstream stuff in normal flight; it retracts like a camera shutter when Slipstream is in use.
The rear is supposed to look "Borg-ified", as it contains the Borg Transwarp.
1 - Project Overview and Mission Profile
The stated goals of the Eclipse-class project were to develop a medium cruiser with the following attributes:
- Combat performance comparable to or exceeding Intrepid-class levels
- Capability to utilize Non-Cochrane FTL drive systems for evaluation purposes - specifically, Quantum Slipstream and Borg Transwarp technology
- Hostile Environment capability
- PROTEUS testbed
Inofficially, the Eclipse-class project also researched methods to apply "plausible deniability" to a Starfleet Intelligence mission. This includes flexible mounting points for equipment which may have to be installed or removed quickly while under flight, low observability as well as high resistance to physical and electronical intrusion.
Therefore, the typical mission profile for an Eclipse-class ship is to proceed to its target alone to gather data - whether on natural phenomena or enemy forces. If threats to the Federation or its allies are found, the ship is resilient enough to investigate or, in extreme case, lead a focussed attack; alternatively, it is to use its transwarp capability to evacuate the area and return to Federation space at maximum speed to buy as much time as possible for a concerted defense action.
2 - General Design and Development Problems
Eclipse-class ships follow the arrowhead shape with their primary hull, which resembles the Intrepid design to some degree, but is larger and has a deeper profile akin to the Prometheus class. The secondary hull is considerably less sleek and follows a generally boxy construction. Four massive struts form a pyramid shape and jut out backwards from the middle of the secondary hull, while connecting to the annular warp drive on the other end.
Other prominent surface features are the dual deflectors, located in indentations of the ventral and dorsal surface along the ship's centerline. Strategic areas of the primary hull sport ablative armor, but the coverage is far from complete. The customary bridge dome remains, but most of the actual bridge is buried beneath the hull. Running along the edge of the primary hull is a single pronounced "ridge", which contains multiple airlocks and modular attachment points.
Inside, useable volume remains at a premium. The PROTEUS system aboard has reduced space requirements considerably, but not every plan worked out - and the Eclipse-class ships are woefully under-equipped when it comes to raw evacuation capacity or diplomatic missions. With every attempt made to take essential systems and shrink them to a minimum possible size, the design took a large number of gambles - some have paid off, some haven't.
The Eclipse-class design is frequently criticized for its lacking torpedo launchers; the subject is examined at greater length in the Tactical Systems section of this document, but one of the main points of debate is the inclusion of only two pulse-fire torpedo tubes both facing forwards, thus sacrificing flexibility for being able to project a devastating (if short) burst of firepower forward. The phaser system has also come under fire; the most powerful array can not be fired at any forward angle, while the powerplant does not adequately support full power use of all available weapons.
All of this should not be taken to conclude that the Eclipse-class project is a failure; the ships produced have proven to be very capable when used in their intended mission, but many comparisons along the lines of being a "souped-up Intrepid" have set high standards the class is not capable of archieving, particularly when it comes to being a jack-of-all-trades - the Eclipse was designed to tackle a handful of very specific problems instead of being an all-purpose workhorse.
3 - Tactical Systems
Like most Starfleet designs, the Eclipse-class project was designed with Phasers as the primary weapon system. An Eclipse features a total of six Type X phaser arrays mounted on the primary hull; two arrays each run down the sides atop and below the "ridge", while the two other arrays follow a course from behind the bridge module to the ventral Yacht docking port, crossing over the back of the primary hull. Further, a single Type XII array is mounted on the trailing edge of the annular warp drive, but standard operating procedure prescribes that the array be set to multiple beam mode for better rear coverage, which means that the raw power of the Type XII is rarely brought to bear unless the ship is being pursued by a single large target.
Secondary arnament is comprised of two pulse-fire torpedo launchers that flank to the ventral deflector. The volume requirements of modern burst-fire tubes prevented their use, but the pulse-fire arrangement is generally viewed as adequate replacement - while the ship loses tactical flexibility, the tubes are easier to maintain in the field, more reliable and easier to adapt to future torpedo technology. The Eclipse herself was involved in test-firing three iterations of Starfleet's new transphasic torpedo design while still undergoing systems integration herself.
The shields installed on the Eclipse are of medium capacity, but designed with an unusually high energy dissipation rate and regenerative technology. This design makes the shields much more effective against a large number of low-power attacks and is intended to counteract the numerical superiority an Eclipse-class ship is likely to encounter when faced by threat forces. Conscious of the many potential failings of relying on shields alone, the SIF system is among the strongest in the fleet.
Unlike many Starfleet designs, the Eclipse-class project was envisioned as working in hostile space, and consequently, the interior design is quite defensive. Many hallways feature "panic buttons", which - when used - automatically set up internal forcefields to isolate the section and alert Security. Further, a sealed-off section shuts down and secures its computer systems rapidly; among the oddball features in this case are small explosive charges strategically placed to seperate important ODN cables, reducing system access from the section to Comms. Turbolift shafts are also fitted with retractable armor plates to physically seal off deck access and delay hostile forces from reaching important stations on the ship. In case of an emergency, the entire bridge module can be easily seperated. The secondary bridge doubles as control area for the Captain's Yacht; officers who can reach the Yacht have both effective systems access and a capable escape vehicle at their disposal.
4 - Propulsion, Power Generation and PROTEUS
Although nacelle warp drive remains the primary FTL drive technology within the Federation, annular warp drive has kept pace as coil improvements and new control systems were adapted to the different geometry. While the Eclipse drive systems are a generation behind the cutting edge, they generate a warp field that is inherently easier to balance; this characteristic of annular warp drives was viewed as desirable when used to interact with advanced drive technology such as Borg transwarp or Quantum Slipstream. However, the Eclipse incorporates warp coils into the connecting struts between secondary hull and the annular warp drive. If the warp ring is jettisoned, the struts shift into a four-nacelle configuration with modest performance, but outstanding reliability - should the advanced drive systems fail, an Eclipse-class ship may be required to sustain high warp for a long time without routine maintenance. However, this high degree of redundancy (in effect, three-and-a-half FTL drive systems) comes at a heavy weight and volume penalty.
The Eclipse design is fed from a single uprated Intrepid-class core; Starfleet acknowledged that the Dominion War showed the inefficiencies of low parts commonality between classes, and the Eclipse is designed to make use of off-the-shelf components where suitable. Standard EPS is used to distribute power throughout the ship.
A novel concept for the Eclipse design is PROTEUS, Personal Room Organisation and Transporter-Enhanced Universal Storage. The entire ship is equipped with low-capability holo-emitters - enhanced with alien Particle Synthesis technology - to generate "hard light" objects. This means that no "real" furniture needs to be permanently installed - holographic consoles can be called up where needed, cupboards, tables and seats can be moved around on a whim to adapt to different tastes. This helps make the comparatively small quarters aboard much more versatile and "feel" more roomy. The system requires only low amounts of power to project these images - power draw more in line with traditional holodeck technology is only experienced when these objects are interacted with, and even then the ship does not have to provide real-time rendering and projection for a whole scene, but only for select parts. Theoretically, most of the ship could be empty room, with decks and rooms reconfigured as needed, but PROTEUS is still experimental, and safety guidelines establish that the ship must still be useable even if PROTEUS suffers completely systems failure - therefore, critical consoles and furniture are physically present, with command centers like the bridge particularly light on PROTEUS use. PROTEUS is supplemented by a low-capacity hologrid throughout strategical areas of the ship for projecting fully interactive holograms (such as the EMH). A particularly compact bit of PROTEUS-enabled engineering is the cargo bay arrangement, which features the three main bays all connected to a central "entrance" room. Aside from bulk cargo, the cargo bays can easily be reconfigured as mess halls, conference rooms or triage centers (with the connecting room as central prep area for medical personnel). Cargo Bay 3 is also "doubled"; it is a fixed installation aboard the Captain's Yacht, but when the Yacht is undocked, the roof of its docking bay can be lowered one deck to create another, "spare" cargo bay.
5 - Other Installations
The Eclipse design includes a medium size sickbay with ten state-of-the-art biobeds, three of them in a subdividable isolation chamber. When required, more beds can be created using PROTEUS, but the cargo bay triage mode is supposed to account for large numbers of casualties. The sickbay is flanked by a cryogenic morgue and a VAC (Variable Atmospheric Condition) lab that is designed to sustain alien lifeforms whose preferred atmosphere would be hazardous to the rest of the ship. It can also be used as a maximum security containment room; owing to its tough construction, it does not rely on forcefields for effective containment and can be isolated completely from the rest of the ship's environmental controls even in the event of catastrophical general system failures aboard the ship. Owing to its position deep within the hull, it offers enough room for a skeleton crew to "bunker in" and increase their chance of survival in situations where the ship is likely to be destroyed.
To tend to its many automated systems, the Eclipse-class design allots generous volume to its engineering lab, where complex mechanical and electronical systems can be easily built, modified or repaired. The position close to sickbay is not accidental; with a ship that may, among other things, be sent as advanced scout against the Borg, it is vital that the ship's experts both for technological and biological matters be able to work together closely. Also, Startrek Command noted that the failure rate for field-modified equipment was generally high, but recognised that the equipment itself was frequently very necessary. Under this point of view, having a qualified team of doctors close to a place where catastrophic malfunctions of experimental gear are likely to occur is merely good defensive design. Of course, the lab and sickbay are not directly adjacent - it wouldn't do for a spectacular equipment failure to take out sickbay in the blast...
As part of the "Adaptability" credo for the class, the Eclipse design also includes a large industrial replicator instead of the more commonly carried semi-industrial models. While this accounts for a comparatively large amount of volume within the ship, it also allows replacement of lost embarked craft with relative ease and can be used to manufacture almost every important part of the ship. While the thought of a self-replicating starship is still far off, the modular design and manufacturing capacity of an Eclipse-class ship allows the crew to repair many otherwise crippling defects themselves without drydock assistance - even the annular warp drive can be replaced, although that requires supplemental materials and large amounts of "manual" labor to manufacture the actual warp coils in the engineering lab.
The Eclipse shuttle bay is rather small - shuttles can, after all, be replicated with little lead time, and the Captain's Yacht is projected to be a commonly used auxilliary craft. The shuttle bay is housed in the primary hull to keep embarked craft clear of the annual warp drive. As a side effect, it also makes the Eclipse-class design one with the highest primary to secondary hull volume ratios among starship designs that feature an actual secondary hull - but the distinction is largely technical, because the Eclipse is not designed to disconnect from its secondary hull. Under normal circumstances, the shuttle bay houses two Type 11 shuttlecraft and enough prepared warp coil assemblies to equip six more, as well as two Type 18 shuttlepods. The Type 18 shuttlepods are projected to see heavy use for many mission profiles, mainly because they can be replicated in one pass and be fully prepared for duty after a one-hour software transfer and pre-flight function check. It is even said that it's often faster to recycle a damaged Type 18 than attempt a repair, and some engineers joke that the "dead algae" synthpaper techmanuals for the Type 18 are only shrinkwrapped so Starfleet can check whether the engineering crews are actually paying any attention to the technical details.
6 - The Captain's Yacht and the HES
While the Eclipse design accomodates hostile locations well, its Yacht was specifically built to withstand a wide range of environmental conditions. Its hull is rated to withstand temperatures as high as 15,000 Kelvin, is formulated to be as close to chemically inert as practical, and resists up to 50 GigaPascals of pressure, making it suitable for deep intrusions into liquid environments and the upper regions of gas giants. As previously described, the Yacht includes Cargo Bay 3 and the secondary bridge; its warp drive makes it a viable interstellar craft, much more capable than most embarked craft aboard other starships. It also carries a a dedicated Type VII phaser array and microtorpedo launchers for combat capability. The large cargo bay's floor can be lowered to open the space to the outside; this allows the Yacht to rapidly load and unload bulk cargo in space without transporter use, as well as letting the ship serve as dropship for many types of Starfleet-issue ground vehicles.
Somewhat unique to the Eclipse-class project (but slowly filtering into the fleet) is the HES, or Hostile Environment Suit. This versatile piece of gear is, essentially, the outgrowth of both mechanized infantry suits and spacesuits, providing a versatile system for use under adverse conditions. Built into a humanoid shape, the suit acts as powered armor, helping the user survive exposure to space, micro-meteorite exposure, high heat and pressure as well as chemically reactive surroundings - not to mention weapon fire. The main arms feature extendable gauntlets and remote-controlled hands able to handle most standard Starfleet equipment, such as Tricorders and weapons, but the suit can bear much heavier equipment specifically designed for it. For precision work, the armor's chestplate also features to retractable waldoes capable of computer-assisted fine dexterity. The logarithmic strength enhancement provided by the suit enables the wearer to effectively handle large loads, jump great distances (with the suit automatically compensating for different gravity for consistent "feeling") or deform tough materials. With applications literally ranging from disaster response over HE exploration up to heavy mechanized combat, the HES is projected to be an important part of the Eclipse-class project's formula for success. A standard Eclipse-class ship carries two HES units and can replicate more as needed, although the long system calibration time and the complex certification required for efficient use make it unlikely that they will fully replace standard spacesuits in the foreseeable future.