The Argonaut-class was born from the numerous designs that had been considered for what would eventually become the Intrepid-class. One such design, dubbed the “Argonaut” by her designer in honor of the recently destroyed USS Argonaut, became one of the final shortlisted proposals but was ultimately not chosen. Instead the idea was filed away, perhaps for later use.
In late 2372, with the development of the Dominion threat, Starfleet massively increased production of vessels and searched for designs that could be produced in a short time frame. Subsequently, the “Argonaut” was re-discovered and, since it had already progressed to a relatively late stage with extensive studies, projections and presentations already produced in the recent past, there was little that needed to be done in order to re-open the project and press ahead with production. The design was also relatively simple so it was believed possible to build in 24 months or less, albeit with less-than-ideal production values.
Only very minor tweaks were made to the proposal, mainly an increase in her tactical capabilities by installing the new pulse phasers developed for the Defiant-class. However the Argonaut received much less powerful, and therefore much less power-consuming Type-X pulse phasers compared to the Defiant-class’ Type-XII. The class was rushed to the shipyards with three vessels ordered constructed immediately. By the time the Dominion War began in late 2373 the three Argonaut-class vessels were approximately 50% completed. Production efforts were redoubled and the new USS Argonaut was launched late 2374, although several internal sections of the vessel were still incomplete. Nevertheless, she was fully armed and after the briefest possible shakedown immediately joined the front lines. The two other initial ships of the class followed soon after, launched and sent to help with the war effort as soon as possible.
By the end of the war in late 2375, six Argonaut-class vessels had been constructed and all had seen action, performing admirably despite incomplete sections and inevitable problems associated with a project rushed and built with all possible haste. Eventually some design flaws were discovered in the warp design and weapons systems. Most notably was that there was only enough power to fire either the pulse phasers, or the phaser arrays, at once; not both at the same time. This has resulted in a very unique combat tactic for the ship.