The Steamrunner class was a type of Federation starship in service with Starfleet during the late 24th century. Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards was one of the sites this class was constructed at in 2371. (VOY: "Relativity")
Entering service some time during the early-2370s, the Steamrunner-class was a common fixture in Federation fleet deployments, appearing on the front lines of numerous engagements, including against the Borg and the Dominion.
In the years to follow, several vessels of this class were assigned to Starfleet's Second Fleet during the Dominion War, which participated in Operation Return in 2374, the second Battle of Chin'toka, and the Battle of Cardassia in 2375. (DS9: "Favor the Bold", "Sacrifice of Angels", "The Changing Face of Evil", "What You Leave Behind") They were also frequently stationed near Deep Space 9 during the war. (DS9: "Statistical Probabilities", "The Magnificent Ferengi", "Afterimage", "Field of Fire")
The Steamrunner-class was a somewhat drastic departure from other Starfleet vessels of the era, in that it featured a large saucer section, and a detached secondary hull, not completely unlike the design employed in the Oberth-class, but was joined at the aft to the ship's nacelles. The nacelles themselves were directly attached to the saucer section by large cowlings, which housed the Bussard collectors. The ship's deflector dish was housed in the rear, on the detached secondary hull, while the bridge module was inset between the Bussard cowlings. (Star Trek: First Contact, et al.)
Ships of the class
The Steamrunner-class starship was designed by Alex Jaeger at ILM. The USS Appalachia, featured in First Contact, was apparently intended to be named "Streamrunner" originally, as based on the name appearing in Jaeger's sketch of the revamped "USS Streamrunner," dated 4 April 1996. This name was a homage to a song by the band Fold Zandura. The reasoning for the name change to Appalachia was unknown, and was subsequently adapted (or adopted) by the Star Trek Encyclopedia and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual, but the original name, albeit misspelled, was retained as class designation.
Jaeger, in far more detail, recalled in 2009,
"Here's a bit of background on the Steamrunner: As one person pointed out, it was originally to be called the StReamrunner. This was the name of a song from a band called 'Fold Zandura' (formerly 'Mortal'). It had a sci-fi feel to it and I thought it made a cool ship class name. But somewhere in the process the 'R' got dropped in one of the approval pages and it became the Steamrunner, which is still kinda cool retro-steampunk sounding. So the name stuck. Also on the design, it is actually the merging of two different designs I did. The front saucer section of one ship combined with the catamaran nacelles and boom section of another. The boom section of the second ship was then flipped upside down so the deflector was underneath. The first design had a secondary hull, but instead of struts to hold the nacelles, they where instead mounted to the saucer section and then cowled over. There was even a 3rd version with 4 nacelles, two on the top and two more attached to the lower secondary hull. "The second design was more to my liking, it was a bit more 'automotive' in its design shapes. It featured the catamaran nacelles, but instead of being mounted on top of the saucer, they were mounted underneath and the saucer sort of bent around them. The Deflector dish boom was then mounted more like the boom on the Akira-class only this wasn't a weapons pod per say. In the end I was asked to combine the front of #1 with the tail of #2 and after some adjustments, bam the Steamrunner as it appears in First Contact. Some of the more angular features were also a result of the rough model as well. So the more rounded #2 design would've been less economical from a VFX standpoint too."
According to the Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 519, p. ?), the USS Hiroshima (β) was a Steamrunner-class vessel. This ship name was referenced in the 2nd edition from behind-the-scenes sources ILM, John Eaves, and Alex Jaeger and was absent from the 3rd edition. The original ship scale with alternate names can be found on John Eaves' blog.
It also appeared in Star Trek: Legacy as a playable ship.
In Star Trek Online, the Steamrunner-class Blockade Runner Escort is an unlockable ship obtained by installing the game with Valve's Steam DRM software and purchasing the "Steam Starter Pack". It would come with a Tier 1 and a Tier 5 version of the ship with the Tier 1 version coming with a Console which would grant it the power "Team Fortress", named after one of Valve's flagship titles. After the revelation that Steam users were exploiting Steam's refund procedure with DLC, it was removed from Steam and put into the main game
The following specifications are given in the Starfleet Operations Manual supplement for Decipher's Star Trek RPG:
- Type: Heavy Frigate
- Dimensions: Length, 375 meters; width, 270.9 meters; height, 79.5 meters.
- Complement: 200 officers and crew
- Performance: Warp 9.6 for 12 hours
- Armament: Four type-10 phaser emitters, two photon torpedo torpedo launchers.
According to issue #54 of the Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, the Steamrunner-class was a type of frigate with a length of 356 meters, an approximate crew of 200, and a top speed of warp 9.6. This class was equipped with Type-10 phaser emitters and photon torpedoes.