- For other uses, see Chesapeake.
Unlike the elegant and impressive ships of the line, such as the Constitution-class, the Chesapeake-class was a "no-frills" vessel meant for multiple duties from exploration to medium-range rescue and relay, and was referred to as "an advanced defensive picket ship". (TOS - New Earth novel: Challenger)
The Chesapeake-class had the standard Starfleet saucer design, which was referred to as the "main section", a separate engineering section, and two warp nacelles. The nacelles were mounted below the level of the saucer section. (TOS - New Earth novel: Challenger)
The Chesapeake-class was designed to serve in a "defensive picket ship" capacity, and was equipped with the standard weaponry that was installed aboard Starfleet vessels at the time, including forward, aft, port and starboard phaser banks and two forward facing photon torpedo launchers. (TOS - New Earth novel: Challenger)
This Chesapeake-class had an unusual bridge arrangement for a Starfleet vessel, in that it was split into two distinct levels. As well as the standard forward half of the command deck, a Science/Engineering section (or "sci-deck") was mounted literally on top of the bridge turbolift shaft in a half-circle balcony, a design meant to maximize use of the cruiser's support skeleton. Two narrow sets of ladder steps curved down to the command deck on either side of the turbolift alcove, and the balcony was separated from the more usual bridge layout seven feet below by a cold-molded lattice grid fence that prevented tools and crew from falling under the sci-deck rail.
The command deck bridge stations included the conn, helm, navigation, tactical and communications. Tactical was mounted to the port of the helm console and communications to starboard of the Navigation console, in the standard layout.
The sci-deck bridge stations included science, engineering, and environmental & life support. The engineering console was positioned on the balcony's starboard side, opposite the separate science console to port. The environmental & life support station was situated behind these consoles against the rear bulkhead of the bridge.
The acoustics of this bridge were designed so that the sci-deck personnel could converse amongst themselves while not interrupting similar conversations on the command deck, giving each section some measure of privacy from the other. Ordinary conversation between the sections, however, was no different than on a standard-design bridge. (TOS - New Earth novel: Challenger)
The combat-orientated profile that the Chesapeake-class was designed for, meant that the class was very rarely called upon to perform any form of scientific research, however, a small laboratory space was provided to meet that eventuality. (TOS - New Earth novel: Challenger)
Due to the size of this class, the two hundred crew members aboard had to live in shared crew quarters. These quarters were very utilitarian with few amenities apart from water showers, which hadn't yet been replaced with sonic showers. As a result, there was very little chance for the crew to gain solitude and take "time out" from their crew mates.
- Challenger leaves some uncertainty about the number of crew assigned aboard the Peleliu. On page 34 the complement was given as 80, yet on page 211, the complement was given as 200, which is more realistic for a cruiser-sized vessel. Perhaps the early figure could refer to the number of officer grade crew members aboard.