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The Explorer was commanded by Captain Gibson during the Metar Crisis of 2290 to 2291. From stardate 8987.4 until 9133.4 this starship supported the efforts of Starfleet's Colonial Operations division in the Tabula Rasa systems as the Federation attempted to open diplomatic relations with the indigenous population of these worlds--the Taubat--and protect them from the Klingons and Romulans as both those powers tried to exploit their worlds.
The Federation took the wrong approach in this respect, as the Taubat turned out to be a genetically-engineered vassal race who, under the Federation's protection, managed to reawaken their masters, the Metar. This re-awakening led to heavy losses amongst all three powers until the Metar could be re-imprisoned, with the help of the Metar's own ancient enemy, the Hubrin.
Among the Federation's losses in this campaign was the USS Explorer, which crash-landed--mostly intact--on the surface of the desert planet Al-Fadir on or just before stardate 9133.4.
With the Metar occupation of Al-Fadir and the subsequent re-sealing of the Tabula Rasa systems into inter-dimensional space, Starfleet was unable to savlage the wreck. She will remain stuck in the sands of Al-Fadir for millennia to come. (ST video game: New Worlds)
- This ship was seen in-game, as well as being listed in the game manual and shown in the introduction movie with the given name and registry number clearly written on her hull.