The Baker class destroyer, first brought into service in June 2274, had a unique development history. The original contracts called for a research vessel with limited combat capabilities; these initial designs were accepted by Starfleet's procurement office, and construction began in March 2272. As the construction on the main hull neared completion, however, Starfleet's admiralty felt that a new destroyer was needed to supplement the Larson class; at the same time, the admiralty was of the opinion that fewer research cruisers would be needed on the frontiers, so the Baker class was redesignate as a destroyer.
In order to accomplish its new mission as a destroyer, the Baker class underwent a number of changes. The laboratory facilities were removed, and crew quarters and recreation facilities were expanded. Baker class vessels would become well known for their spacious quarters and crew comforts. Another change came in the weaponry. The original design had only four phasers, and the finished design, known as the Mark II, was fitted with six phasers and two torpedo launchers.
The Baker class destroyer was brought into service with the commissioning of the U.S.S. Baker, U.S.S. Stafford, and U.S.S. Peterson. After that, as many as 224 ships of the class were commissioned. As was intended, these vessels were used to replace the aging Larson class destroyers in more hostile areas, the latter being used more and more along trailing and rimward frontiers.
The Baker class had a compartmented dual-wall internal structure to give additional protection from explosive decompression during battle. Earlier designs with single-wall protection often ruptured when one compartment decompressed, victims of a domino effect that would eventually render the entire vessel incapable of sustaining itself. Although compartmentation was not new in ship design, double walls separated by a pressurized dead space was. Such a dead space counteracted the forces on the outer wall surfaces by means of sensors that detected any changes in pressure and trigger units that regulated the pressure inside the dead space. This system later became a standard feature on all Federation vessels.
The Baker class destroyer was the first vessel in Starfleet to be designed with the newer-style nacelles; previous uses were all refits. The FWE-2 warp drive system was installed to give a cruising speed of Warp 7 and emergency speeds of Warp 8, as well as greater maneuverability, making it more efficient in battle than many of its counterparts. The weapons arrangement of the Baker class was unusual by Starfleet standards. Two of the phaser banks were capable of firing in all quadrants except directly to the rear, unlike most other Federation vessels on which they were usually positioned to fire in only two quadrants.
The Baker class remained unchanged until an experimental model, the U.S.S. Knutson, completed its testing of an impulse drive system that would increase the total power output of the vessel by 25%. The Mark III went into production, but was quickly replaced by the Mark IV with upgraded FP-1 photon torpedo tubes, and all Mark III's were refitted to this design.
Baker class vessels
- U.S.S. Baker
- U.S.S. Cooper NCC-4791
- U.S.S. Knutson
- U.S.S. Mirfak NCC-4823
- U.S.S. Peterson
- U.S.S. Richardson
- U.S.S. Silverion NCC-4752
- U.S.S. Stafford
- U.S.S. Taylor