The Saber Class of starship was born out of the need for a scout ship, as well as to counter smaller ships of other powers, such as the Cardassian warship known as the Hediki. These ships were small, maneuverable and well armed. The Federation projected that if war with the Cardassians occurred, they would suffer heavy ship losses and massive causalities due to the large numbers of these ships the Cardassians had.
One thing was obvious at that point though. The Federation needed to go back to basics with their starship designs. By 2340, the launch of the massive Galaxy, Cheyenne, and Nebula Classes were well over ten years away, Starfleet was becoming desperate for a new long range, heavily armed scout ship. This posed some interesting problems for the design teams. All previous Scout ships had been small and fast, but never well armed. Work was already underway on the Peregrine class Courier/Raider, however it was a small modular ship which either had firepower or speed. The designers faced an interesting premise.
The basic mission brief for what became the Saber Class was well documented. This class had to be small; under 200 meters in length. Armaments were to be heavy; at minimum two aft and two forward torpedo tubes with multiple phaser banks. The design had to be sleek and fast; at minimum a sustainable warp factor of 9.8. To top everything off its shield capacity had to be nearly double that of the Excelsior.
The reaction for Federation Design agencies was a complete negative. The Vulcan Design agency stated ‘to sustain such a high warp factor while keeping the shields running at such a high level of performance would be an illogical premise’ Even the famed San Francisco Fleet Yard design team returned the project with the statement ‘a ship with this brief would be theoretically impossible with current technologies’.
Out of a total of 209 Federation design teams, only five briefs were returned. After review by the ASDB the Class was closed due to unfeasibility. However two months later the ASDB received an unprecedented design from one of the five design agencies who had been rejected. Advanced Idea’s Designs, based on the island of Ibiza on Earth had forwarded a completely modified version of the original design they had submitted. All major concerns had been addressed and improvements on the original design had been made. After much consideration the Design Brief was sent to Starfleet Command and was deemed as unsuitable by the ASDB. In an unusual move though Starfleet disagreed. Admiral T’Kal spent much time considering the design and thanks to his previous experiences he saw the uncanny logic of the ships design. The Brief was returned to the ASDB with an approvement letter and although the ASDB did not like it, they were forced to push the design forward.
From that point began what has been called ‘one of the weirdest projects in Starfleet’s history’. The Advanced Idea’s Design team relocated to the old San Francisco construction facility and work began. A two hundred strong team of engineers were assigned to the project and work began. After nearly 3 years the basic ship was finished. At this point the ASDB had reprimanded the Design team fifteen times for breach of procedures and had even closed the project down for a month. The major problem was most of the design work was done ‘on the fly’ without the correct developmental work being tested. With the ship in basic configuration and ready to test the ASDB finally put their foot down after inspecting the work completed. The ship was deemed not spaceworthy, much the upset of the design team. On the Sunday after this occasion the majority of the Engineering team were ordered to return to Utopia Planitia for Reassignment, however a small group had different ideas.
The Chief designer and four of his team along with a twenty strong team of engineers stole the ship from space dock and then Kidnapped Admiral T’Kal, transporting him onto the main bridge of the ship. This incident became known as the Saber proxy. It had all been planned down to the letter. Starfleet intelligence had received an anonymous tip that someone was about to steal a starship and after the master of the San Francisco Yard (who was in on all of this) reported that the Saber had been stolen from spacedock, Starfleet mobilized three Excelsior Class ships to intercept and recapture the Saber. By the time the Saber had reached Saturn the Excelsior Class Crazy Horse, Sawyer, and Quasar were in tight pursuit. Numerous shots across the bow did not get any attention and several heavy poundings on the aft shields did not cause any damage at all. As the Saber reached the edge of the Terran system it jumped to warp. The Excelsior’s pursued, but it soon became apparent that the Saber was more than capable of out running the Excelsiors. In a last ditched effort the Sawyer fired two photon torpedo’s after the Saber without inflicting any damage.
The point had been proven. Melvin Duke, the head designer received a four month sentence for grand theft and kidnapping, although the latter charge was dropped at the behest of Admiral T’Kal. The ASDB used this as an excuse to completely close the project however the facts were well too strong and Admiral T’Kal himself vetoed the move by the ASDB and officially endorsed the project.
Within two years the USS Saber was officially commissioned and with a turnover rate of less than three years many more ships of this class were to follow. The Saber Class of starship is a highly successful class which is easy to build thanks to its small size. With a projected turnover of three years it is one of the simplest designs in the fleet. Thirty vessels were originally ordered by Starfleet and at this current moment there are 354 Saber class starships in active Federation service.