The George Kelly, whose motto is "All of us would be better off if we set out to be something other than what we are.", was launched from Starbase 134 Integration Facility on Stardate 12011.5. NCC 18880 was used for her shakedown on a classified mission in the Tholian region.
A region rich in minerals and Y class planets. Thought to partly be as a result of the high incidence of subspace anomalies interacting with the planets due to the subspace barriers being thinner in this region of space. The Federation has been studying this region of space from afar since the first encounter with the Tholians in the 22nd Century and the discovery of their sovereign space. The Tholians have expressed their opposition to the Federation being so close with xenophobic displays of force by their patrol vessels. Scout vessels have been seized by the Tholians and charged with espionage. The captains have protested that they were in unclaimed space but the Tholians have countered that they have recently claimed that region in a revision of their borders.
With advances in sensor technology over the 2280s and 2290s, Starfleet science vessels of the Kestrel, Phantom, Endurance, Antares and Trista have been able to stand-off further from the Tholian border and still be able to scan into Tholian space to study the subspace composition, the worlds, populations and fleet movements. Starfleet Intelligence has great interest in the Tholians, especially after the Taurus Reach and Vanguard period 2265 – 2268. With the 2292 Praxis explosion and 2309 conflict with the Klingons displaying a probable connection between the Tholians and subspace/space-time, the interest of Starfleet Intelligence and the Federation Science Council has only increased.
2305: The George Kelly, fitted with an outrigger sensor array similar to the Phantom class Opera, was the latest starship sent to the Tholian border to study the subspace and planetary anomalies that this region of space is rich with. The brief was to examine the Taurus Reach region of space, being careful of both Klingon and Tholian vessels. Lt Commander Nathaniel Hawkins was assigned as Operations Officer and Social Sciences Officer. This is Hawkins’ first move towards command and his first senior officer role. Ever since the destruction of Praxis, the Klingons have been expanding their zone of operations for locating and exploiting power sources and mineral supplies. This has recently caused a reoccurrence of friction with the Tholian Assembly.
The region has both Klingon Bird of Prey scouts and Tholian scout vessels still examining the various worlds with regards their colonial and mineral opportunities, as well as other classified research and discovery missions. With the Oberth class clearly the least armed of the three types of vessel, the ship needed to operate with caution, especially when operating near the borders of either of the other nations. The George Kelly was operating with a specific mandate to study the culture of the Tholians, Klingons and Federation and the specific major players of those species in the region. The computers on the George Kelly would then run an algorithmic model of the individuals and their interactions based on that data. This could then be used as a predictive tool for the future interactions in this often unstable region.
2307: Commander Nathaniel Hawkins is assigned to U.S.S. Roebuck, NCC 9130 Okinawa class as Executive Officer. More time in the Alpha Quadrant. More Tholians. Some Klingons.
Oberth class vessels continue to serve as the primary scout/surveyor class starship. Production continues with a vessel being launched every few months.
This back mission is designed to give Hawkins a past, as well as defining something of the man. Not everyone is a battlefield tactician like Kirk or Picard. Hawkins is a social scientist by training and this experience has, perhaps, flavoured Hawkins preferred battle strategy. It all depends on how accurate this 'scuttlebutt' turns out to be.
Oberth class vessels are science vessels and as such are not designed for combat - just look at the Grissom for the proof. It is interesting to have the cat-and-mouse story overturned with the Federation ship on the run. There will be more on this...
Oberth class arrangement
Deck 1 Bridge, conference room, officer quarters, mess hall, lounge.
Deck 2 Shuttlebay upper deck. Enlisted crew quarters, gym, laundry, cargo bay.
Deck 3 Shuttlebay main deck, cargo bays, escape pod access, cryogenic tankage.
Deck 4 Sickbay, life sciences, transporter, main engineering, computer core, life support, waste recycling.
Deck 5 Deuterium tankage, jeffries tube to secondary hull
Deck 6 Deuterium tankage, jeffries tube to secondary hull, plasma flush vent
Deck 7 Deuterium tankage, jeffries tube to secondary hull, deflector generator, structural integrity.
Deck 8 Science/cartography sensor array, science labs, communication buoy magazine.
Deck 9 Science/cartography sensor array, science sensor processing compartment, buoy/torpedo/probe workshop,
Deck 10 Science/cartography sensor array, aft sensor compartment, life support, batteries.
Deck 11 Science/cartography sensor array, batteries.
The George Kelly has two shuttles:
U.S.S. George Kelly bridge:
U.S.S. George Kelly has a much simplified Bridge layout, mirroring that of most Oberth class starships in the early 24th Century. With this being a scout/surveyor class science vessel, there is a need for the Bridge to be compact and to-the-point.
The central positions on the Bridge are dominated by the command chair and helm/navigation console. The station at the rear of the Bridge is a dedicated System Status board - with a Communications station and Science station flanking this. Tactical operations are duplicated on the Helm and Navigation stations due to the dedicated scientific mission of the Oberth class. This is not a tactically able starship - as the demise of U.S.S. Grissom in 2285 demonstrated.
The reduced size of the Bridge reflects both the small size of the Oberth class and the reliance on the laboratories onboard for a lot of the scientific operations. Summaries of the sensor data and studies can instantly be called up onto the science station, allowing the Bridge to instantly know in real time what is being performed by the ship and crew.
This spartan layout of the U.S.S. George Kelly bridge has been proposed for other starships of larger size, but most likely, this will only be used for small scout class vessels of the Oberth and Okinawa classes. Author's Note - I still can't believe they suggest the Stargazer Bridge was only this size. They reused the Enterprise-A Bridge from Star Trek IV and I would strongly argue the Bridge was at least that size and layout. We just didn't have this confirmed in the low-lit environment.