Welcome to Starship Sunday, presenting a new spaceframe for the Star Trek Adventures roleplaying game, filling in some gaps until official material can be released.
We’re trekking to the Kelvin Timeline for December, the alternate reality created by the time travelling Nero who killed Kirk’s father. This week is the lost exploratory ship, the Franklin-class.
The U.S.S Franklin fits uncomfortably into the timeline, having been lost prior to the re-entry of the Nerada. Scotty also labels it as one of the first “Warp 4 vessels” suggesting it pre-dates the NX-1 Enterprise, which had a Warp 5 Engine. Reconciling this information means the U.S.S. Franklin was launched prior to the NX-class before being reassigned for use by Starfleet, potentially refit following the founding of the Federation. Following the losses of the Earth-Romulan War and need to transfer ships from the United Earth Starfleet to the new Federation Starfleet, it’s very likely ships like the Franklin would be re-purposed.
While the ship could have been a prototype, it’s possible there were more Franklin-class vessel built, being smaller and easier to construct than the NX and Columbia-class ships. Starfleet would have had many number of uses for small warp-capable vessels beyond exploration. In interviews following the movie, the co-writer of Star Trek Beyond said the Franklin was a MACO (Military Assault Command Operations) vessel. Further extrapolating the purpose of the class, Star Trek Beyond implies that the ship was capable of holding a large percentage of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. This suggests the ship was able to transport a large number of people in tight quarters, which is consistent with it being a MACO troop transport. The class might have been used for military-based construction and engineering projects or hauling important cargo.