In a two-part article, we’re going to be taking a close look at the USS Thor, under the command of FltCapt. Aron Kells. Join us as we take a deep dive into this ship and her crew!
The Vesta class is a multi-mission explorer with a crew capacity of around 750 with a 3,500 evacuation limit. It is fitted with one 1,500+ Cochrane warp core and is also QSD equipped. In addition, the Vesta class boasts a formidable armament and a state of the art class XIX Bioneural/Isolinear Computer Core.
To put the Vesta class into some sort of perspective, when lined up against the Galaxy class it’s 30 meters longer, but 268 meters shorter in width and around 107 meters shorter in height.
To get a more tangible sense of the Vesta class, its capabilities and role within the fleet, I sat down with the Thor’s current CO, Fleet Captain Kells, and First Officer, Lt. Commander Geoffrey Teller to talk about the USS Thor – the fleet’s currently active Vesta class vessel.
Garcia: First, thank you both for taking time out to talk about the Vesta class. Why don’t we start by learning a bit more about each of your backgrounds. Fleet Captain Kells, while the Thor is the fourth starship you’ve served on, it’s the first Vesta class, yes? Can you tell us more about your career in the fleet and how the Thor differs from your previous ships?
KELLS: So what you need to know first is that I have a reputation of being the “weird ship” guy, ha. I inherited the Mercury for Kells first command, and from there I moved my crew to the Garuda, a Galaxy class ship. That was purely because I was a TNG fan first! But after that, I knew I wanted to launch something that was a little odd, which is how I came to both the Invicta and the Za, both of which are non-canon designs, and fairly unusual ones at that. By comparison, the Thor is actually pretty standard and quite powerful, which is a fun change of pace for me as a CO. Basically, the Thor can do whatever its simmers can dream up!
Lieutenant Commander Teller, you’re an engineer at heart, and have experience of commanding experimental starship designs, yes? Can you tell us more about your unique career path and how this has helped prepare you for the Vesta class?
TELLER: I’ll certainly try! Compared to the Thor, the first vessel I was posted on in the fleet was quite small and spartan, but the Veritas will always hold a special place in my heart. It was designed for a different era of Starfleet and it had the attitude to prove it. She was also the first ship I served aboard as Chief Engineer, so I could wax poetic about the injector assemblies or the warp core for hours, but I doubt your readers would be interested in that. If I had to boil it down, I’d describe the Veritas as “no frills.” Everything a Starfleet ship needs to be, distilled down to the basics and bolted together to last.
The Diligent (NX-87651), in contrast, was barely bolted together at all. Our situation at the time meant we had to put to space in a ship that was deeply incomplete and riddled with design issues, but she kept us safe when it really mattered. The Diligent class is a robust spaceframe for a utility starship – again, very few luxuries, but in a ship designed as a first responder you shouldn’t really need them. They’re designed to run in and provide a quick reaction force, but they’re only meant to hold the line until something like the Thor comes along.
Compared to that, being aboard the Thor is like being the kid in the proverbial candy store. Our resources are nearly mind boggling in comparison.
What would you say is the overall design philosophy of the Vesta class? What kind of missions is she built for and what makes her best suited for these roles?
KELLS: The most recent ship I created, the Za, was my attempt to get at the ethos of the original Enterprise: to boldly go, to discover new worlds and new civilizations, and to do so with minimal support for weeks or months, or even years. Surprisingly and happily, that’s also exactly where the Thor excels. The Vesta class is like a mobile city (that can move thousands of times faster than light!), and that means we can be an isolated group of explorers out on the frontier. So far, we haven’t been able to develop that too much, but just you wait!
TELLER: The Thor herself represents a radical new design philosophy for starships in general, built on our learnings about Slipstream travel and the Warp XV drive core. A radically different hull and nacelle geometry, a seamlessly integrated primary and secondary hull, and a redundant warp core system all make for a ship that can go further and do more than any other I’ve served on.
As far as her mission profile – just look at her. This ship was meant to run – to explore…and to bring her crew back to port at the end of a mission. Both things the Thor has proven eminently capable of already.
Does the Thor – or the Vesta class in general – have any quirks?
KELLS: The bowling alley. On what other ship are you going to find a fully integrated bowling alley complete with bar? When I first saw it on the deck layout, I figured we’d retcon it away or sim that it was removed with a remodel, but since then it’s become something of a central spot for shore leave. I don’t know if every Vesta comes with a bowling alley, but I do know we’re not getting rid of the Thor’s.
TELLER: The thing about being on the cutting edge is that sometimes, you do manage to slice yourself. The Thor’s complex and requires constant monitoring and minute adjustment to keep at peak form. It’s a bit like a race car – capable of a lot, but it asks a lot in return.
Finally, why should a CO or FO be excited about taking up command of a Vesta class?
KELLS: My general philosophy is that there’s an exciting challenge in every ship you choose. If you choose something smaller, like the currently active Resolution or the inactive Miranda-class Drake, then there are obvious limitations to personnel capacity, power output, defensive systems, etc etc, and those can help guide the story. On a ship like the Thor, there are less obvious limitations, but that doesn’t mean that you can or should sim the powerful ship winning the day without any conflict or development. Rather, any potential CO or XO who’s interested in something as powerful as a Vesta should be as excited about the large-scale storytelling potential. The threats can loom more largely, the problems can be bigger and more complex, and you can generally just do a lot with all of the potential the ship has.
Fleet Captain, Commander, thank you both for your time and insights into the Thor and the Vesta class.
To help take a finer look at the Thor’s operational capabilities, I’m meeting with First Lieutenant Greaves, Acting Chief Marine, in between one of his cross-department drills with Engineering.
Lieutenant Greaves, as part of your role as Chief Marine Officer you work closely with Engineering on operation drills, such as your recent damage control simulation. From a Marine’s perspective, what are the advantages and challenges of operating on a Vesta class ship?
GREAVES: Well operating on anything but a troop ship is always a unique assignment for us as the facilities aren’t necessarily tailor made for troops. The Vesta class however is an exceptionally spacious vessel which gives us plenty of room to train and work in. Surprisingly though, that doesn’t carry over into the shuttle bays. We Marines pride ourselves on the work our pilots can do in fighters, but there simply isn’t enough room for many small craft in a Vesta. We make do, but I know my maintenance teams aren’t happy about it.
From a Marine’s perspective, are there any features on the Thor that make her unique compared to other Vesta class ships?
GREAVES: Nothing exceptional comes to mind. With a Marine detachment assigned to the ship, we’ve taken over most of deck 9 for our own purposes, oh and we’ve got a real bowling alley aboard as well!
Out-of-character you’ve been one of several crew contributing to the Thor’s wiki, in particular the deck listings. Could you describe the general philosophy of the Vesta class deck layout, its pros and cons?
GREAVES: Well, we started by brainstorming all the facilities a ship of the Vesta’s size would need, and then we went deck by deck using reference photos to build out cross sections of the ship to get an idea of the sizes we were working with. From that point, we worked on placing compartments and corridors in something resembling a logical fashion. She’s definitely a large ship, and therefore a lot of space goes back into providing for the large crew complement of a ship of her size.
How does the Vesta class compare to that goliath of starship design, the Galaxy class?
GREAVES: Ah, the Galaxy. So iconic, with that massive saucer section. The Vesta on the other hand is much more sleek than the Galaxy. Her secondary hull is massive compared to the Galaxy, and so is deck one. Whereas most ships just have the bridge on deck one, the Vesta’s topmost deck runs half the length of the ship!
Is there anything you’re working on to “tweak” the ship past her standard specs? Or, any special projects on the go right now?
GREAVES: Nothing here! I’ve just finished up really fleshing out the Thor’s Marine detachment so I’m due for another project. Maybe this is a good opportunity…
Haha! No time like the present. Well, Chief Greaves, thank you for your time and sharing your insights into the Thor and the Vesta class.
Coming up in part two of this Ship Closeup special, we’ll explore the medical and scientific capabilities of the Vesta class with an in depth interview with the Science and Medical teams!
Visit the SB118 Wiki to learn more about the Thor and the technical specifications of the Vesta class in general.