Old Ships, New Tech

So I’m wondering about this. I don’t see any reason why, lets say, the federation couldn’t do a re-design of the constitution class that keeps it in relatively the same size and proportions as it was in the TOS era, but using newer technology from the TNG+ era. Or Romulans could have an older Warbird with new tech, or Klingons a D7 with new tech, etc etc. From a shipyard/manufacturing point of view I could see it as being practical.

From a gameplay perspective I wonder how the stats, equipment, or whatever else might change with the advancement in technology over the 100 years or so difference?

That is effectively what the refits do. Stat wise, at least.

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To an extent, this is what refits do, and a ship class will receive those kinds of upgrades periodically throughout their service lives. Klingons are still using K’t’inga-class battlecruisers - a refitted version of the 2250s/2260s D7 - during the Dominion War. Starfleet still has Excelsior- and Miranda-class ships in active service during that time as well.

But there’s a practical difference between “make X with Y tech” and “make a ship with Y tech in it by design”. There’s a reason modern cars don’t look like 1920s cars, and it isn’t just the materials and technologies they’re composed of, and while there’s nothing to say that an older model can’t be functional for a long time to come, developments push forwards.

Just as the Excelsior is still in service during the late 24th century, expect Sovereign- and Intrepid-class ships to still be in service well past 2450, by which time they’ll be the old workhorses being phased out in favour of shiny new designs.


Star Trek Online takes the idea of older ship hull silhouettes and updates them with "modern’ technology. In STA terms all you need to do is change the date on the ship, you dont have to worry about upscaling thir stats unless you want to mix them in alongside of the TNG era vessels, all stats are otherwise relative, its just how you narrate things.

Ships are designed along practical needs. Some are specialists and some are generalists. Constitution was a generalist and explorer. Later larger more advanced ships were also designed as generalist explorers like the Ambassador, Galaxy, and Sovereign.

So in the end, are you just asking for a scale 4 ship with very spread out stats and adaptability like the ones above?

one thing to keep in mind is that things like the Conny scale refit would realisticly be rare. historicly ships being rebuilt on that level where rare and only done to ships that where important for historical reasons. or because treaty limits restricted the building of new ships so it became worthwhile upgrading your odler ships to modern spec, ala the British and Japanese warship rebuilds due to the washington naval treaty. I’ve personally head cannoned that part of the Organian peace treaty imposed new limits on starship construction, partiuclarly on heavy exploration cruisers. and that the Khitomor accords that replaced the Organian treaty altered it. this would explain why we seem to see so many designs that look to date from around the late 22nd to early 23rd century in service. Starfleet was finally able to replace old out of date designs with new designs such as the Miranda, Constellation and Excelsior.

A couple additional thoughts, ships age. Let’s take the oldest warship in commission, the USS CONSTITUTION. She has been rebuilt so many times, a case could be made that she is not really the original connie!

In our parlance, refits only give a +1 to a section, so computers gain a +1 refit, or Weapons gain a +1 refit. In actuality, ships cannot be continually refitted, or no new warships would every be built! When the original USS ENTERPRISE CVN-60, came into port for her first way overdue refit and refurb, much of her ducting was literally worn away, and only the insulation was left. It became a much more intense refit than anticipated. Old warships have to face the rigors of sea and wind, salt and storms…in space, there have to be allegorical threats to a ship, thereby aging it.

Powerplants, conduit, “wiring” etc all have a service life. All ships are built with an intended lifespan in mind. Take a WW2 Battleship and rip out the steam plan, and stick in a nuclear reactor, and put them back in commission as missile platforms. So many problems with this, not the least of which is cost. Yes, the old battle wagons would be virtually impervious to modern missiles (Let’s not get into the mission kill discussion) because of their armor. The bottom line I am getting at is cost. Yes, in Star Trek we have no currency, but honestly, everything has a cost, and continually refitting older warships is a loosing proposition because they continually get more expensive to maintain and keep up. The Batteship memorial in Texas, the USS TEXAS, floating at her permanent berth, started listing and was in danger of rolling over because her hull and fittings had finally rusted through.

No ships, like people, have lifetimes. They may be long an illustrious, but everything has a useful lifespan.


Yeah, I know individual ships have lifetimes, but I often wonder about ship classes in the Trek universe. I suppose there has been tech advancement in the universe, but once you reach a certain point, like warp travel, it doesn’t feel like there’s much to improve on other than refinement. Like I would expect a brand spanking new constitution to be on-par with newer designs of similar size.

If a design works, why change it, especially if you have infrastructure in place to build them.

Use the JJ Abrams film ( Kelvin timeline ) Enterprise design as the still in use Constitution refit as an option.

Just because something works, doesn’t mean it cannot be improved upon, to quote Shuri in Black Panther.

Clearly, there are reasons why Starfleet retired the Constitution class and produced the Excelsior class instead, just as there were reasons why they stopped making the NX class or its Columbia class redesign a century earlier. There must, logically, be reasons why you couldn’t just keep making those old ships but with newer tech, beyond a certain point.

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I don’t know… I think the “reasons” have more to do with making cooler and newer looking ships for whatever audience they are making the movies for. But whatever. I guess I can just run my campaign the way I want to if I ever get a group together hehe.

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@JohnDW One idea is that you could use a Constitution Refit in the TNG era (upgraded accordingly with the refit rules) as a Starfleet training vessel that wandered too far into a real situation or was forced into a desperate battle by Starfleet command to hold the line. :hushed:

“Starfleet training vessel that wandered too far into a real situation or was forced into a desperate battle”

Why does this seem familiar … like a movie or something … :wink:

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@Kaybe The Star Trek Online MMO uses this plot hook as the new player experience.

I don’t recall it ever coming up on screen that the Constitution was retired. The Enterprise was retired, making way for 1701-B, but I don’t remember any source saying the class was taken out of service. (Yes, the core rulebook says that, but I’ll refer to the shows and movies as primary canon.)

In fact, the Stargazer was originally meant to be a Connie, hence they were meant to be in service into Picard’s career, at least. The Constellation class got its name because they could just dub Constellation over Constitution in post production for an episode rather than filming the scene in which the class was named all over again.

Further, judging by the Majestic and Nautilus (Miranda class ships with five digit registries), the Miranda remained in production well into the 24th Century. So, why not the Connie? Why shouldn’t we see NCC-31418, USS Georgiou, as a Constitution class starship in 2371? I’d imagine their role in the fleet will have changed. They wouldn’t have quite the resilience or range of the Excelsiors and such, but I could see them as mid-level explorers, escorts and patrol craft. Think of all the things that could be hidden even in the core sectors of the Federation which they might explore, while the larger ships push the boundaries of known space out still further.

Don’t forget Wrath of Khan. The Enterprise was being used as a training ship for fresh cadets when they lost contact with Regula and realized they were the closet ship available to check it out.

@Kaybe I had forgotten that!

One possible reason behind the dropping of the design: At the time of design and production of most of the Constitution class vessels, the metals and material used were of a lower quality and required less time to manufacture, and could be more easily pieced together in the ways needed for the design to work.

Example: Design of wooden 3-mast galleons. You wouldn’t simply make a 3-mast galleon out of metal struts, wires, and the like. Granted, it is possible, but the time it would take in order to do so for the exact design of an old 1700s+ galleon would simply not be worth it compared to making a modern-day ship to withstand harsher weather and modern warfare.

Except that 2 and 3 masted sailing vessels are still in use - I’ve a friend who has sailed as an engineer rate aboard several. All they do is add an engine below decks in case of being becalmed…

Yes, they are still in use here and there, however… Would any of them be used in emergency situations, or alongside modern vessels in a military conflict? No. That is one of the main points of Starfleet, to be used in emergency situations and conflict resolution. You would rather have an old patrol craft from WW2 during those situations than one of the old Galleons.

Granted, for an emergency situation of transporting relief materials, or evacuating people, an old Galleon may be preferable to the patrol boat for the simple fact that they could carry more.

There is nothing saying that the older ships in Trek may still have some operating as museum/touring/passenger/cargo vessels, especially in the relatively peaceful areas of the Federation, but you would not want one on the front line unless there was no other choice in a major emergency.