Starship Sunday: Newton

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.
For December, the site is travelling to the Kelvin Timeline, the alternate reality created by the time travelling Romulan, Nero. This week is the Newton-class.

The Newton-class was seen in the background of both 2009’s Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. Little is known about the class, even the proper name of the class, which is pulled from one of the known examples, the U.S.S. Newton.

As it’s unlikely the class will be expanded in the future, this allows some freedom in defining its purpose in the fleet. The Newton has the standard saucer and twin nacelles classical to Federation designs, but is unique in that it has two secondary hulls, which I do not recall seeing in other designs. This is an interesting design, but seems somewhat impractical as travelling between the hulls would be slow: one would need to go up to the saucer and then back down to move a short lateral distance. And it increases the manufacturing requirements, devoting a larger surface area to the outer hulls, which has to be reinforced.

Separate hulls do offer a few possible advantages. First, hauling hazardous reactive cargo would be made less dangerous by isolating components in different hulls. Twin shuttle bays also have a number of uses. For construction or humanitarian missions, two bays would allow ships carrying supplies or people to dock and launch simultaneously. This suggest the class would likely serve as a military supply ship or transport. For alternative military uses, the two hulls would allow multiple fighters to launch and dock simultaneously (like Battlestar Galactica‘s twin flight pods). But Star Trek ship combat tends to be more naval inspired, and carriers are uncommon, making this purpose unlikely.

Alternatively, the ships might be assigned to Starfleet Diplomatic Corp: as a diplomatic vessel, opposing factions could land and be received in different locations, and the twin hulls could have different gravities and atmospheric composition. I can envision them dispatched to negotiate ceasefires between warring factions or solving problems between Federation members.

Despite ostensibly being from the Kelvin Timeline, the ships have nacelles similar to the Einstein-class in that movie, being smaller than the Enterprise‘s. This suggests an older origin, allowing their origin to be slipped into the years between eras. They could be used equally prior to The Original Series and Discovery or during those two shows.

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