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California, Here We Come

June 27, 2023

The Intelligence Office is making a major change for junior officer Command options. Members who hold the ranks of Midshipman, Ensign, Lieutenant JG, and Lieutenant are no longer eligible for a Raven or Phoenix-class auxiliary ship. Going forward, the first Command option for Bravo Fleet members is the California-class utility cruiser.

All current junior officers with a Raven or Phoenix may request a class change but may be grandfathered in. Any current junior officer who has not yet requested a Command can choose any available California.

Since the start of this iteration of Bravo Fleet, we have known two things. The first is that every member IC represents a command-level officer in the Fourth Fleet; this is the model Bravo Fleet is built around in both creative writing and members’ OOC progression. The second is that we want the rank of Lieutenant Commander to feel special, as it represents weeks of commitment and involvement in the fleet. Originally, junior officers wrote only aboard their Task Force headquarters, encouraged to write runabout missions in the nearby sector, but this worked better when we used the old forums than on the current website. This was replaced with the Raven – and later, the added option of the Phoenix – as a small auxiliary craft to be used in a similar way. The idea was that members would then earn a starship once they reached Lieutenant Commander.

However, Star Trek stories are almost exclusively about starships. By giving brand-new members a little ship, we were asking them to write stories for which Trek has no template, but instead break the mold of Trek storytelling right out of the gate. The Intel Office has felt this discouraged members from really immersing themselves in the genre and storytelling styles we’re trying to evoke in Bravo Fleet. Likewise, we encourage junior officers to participate in fleet-wide events, like the recent Fleet Action, but those plotlines are designed with starships in mind.

The California-class is a beloved ship by many – but by design it is inauspicious, a plucky underdog even in the 2380s. By the 2400s, it is a capable utility ship able to be the unsung hero in a thankless task, or perhaps punch above its weight with an ingenious crew. We believe that with a California-class command, junior officers will have an easier time writing Star Trek stories in Bravo Fleet from the very beginning. We also believe that, while the California is a fun and appreciated class, members will still be eager to move onto something a little bit more exciting once they reach Lieutenant Commander (statistics back me up: the California has historically been perhaps the least-popular of any starship class, especially at lieutenant commander). Ravens and Phoenixes will be available ships for Lieutenant Commanders.

There are still ways for junior officers to tell stories not all that different to the ones told on Ravens or Phoenixes. With away teams, auxiliary craft, or with stories evoking that Lower Deck feel, you can still write about a small, tight-knit group prevailing against the odds on a California class. But now, the moment you’re settled into Bravo Fleet? You’re a starship captain.