When someone thinks of Star Trek, probably the first thing that comes to mind is one of the Enterprise incarnations or Voyager. Some may think of the Klingon B'Rel class (better known as the Bird of Prey) which was a turning point in the show as being the first ship to feature a cloaking field. The massive Romulan Warbird, outclassing even the Galaxy-Class Enterprise in its first appearence is another iconic starship of the Star Trek genre. However, I have chosen to write about a vessel that only appeared once in the actual show, the episode 'Messege In A Bottle' of the Voyager series. The USS Prometheus is the first (and only truly canon) vessel of the Prometheus class. Still, the vessel has featured in a number of novels and is a favourite among the star trek role playing community. Despite the conflicts this may cause, there are some accepted assumptions regarding the class. The Prometheus class was not a widley produced vessel, to an even lesser extent than the Galaxy class (of which there were roughly a dozen known ones). This is likely, again like the Galaxy class, its massive cost. Additionally, the Prometheus is a war vessel rather than an explorer supporting much more weaponry than most Federation starships. Ever the diplomats, the vessel was viewed as too aggressive to see widespread deployment and the few that exist act as a 'home guard' for key systems or border patrols along dangerous routes.
The ship has a relativley low crew capacity for its size as it employs an advanced computer interface to conduct much of its operations. Sporting a mix of phasers and photon torpedoe launchers of the same number as a Galaxy class initially this isn't looking to be much of a warship. What sets this vessel aside from the rest is its regenerative shielding ability. Its shields are, when correctly adjusted, capable of absorbing the energy output from enemy phasers and disruptors. The result is that these enemy weapons end up strengthening the ships' shields rather than weakening them. On top of this is the Prometheus class' ultimate and unique maneuver, a true ace in the hole: The Multi-Vector-Assault-Mode, or MVAM:
The Prometheus class is capable of splitting itself into three seperate vessels, the main traiditonal 'saucer' section and two smaller parts comprising of a portion of the vessels 'neck' and a pair of nacelles (these smaller vessels strongly resemble the prototypes of the Akira class, the most widely used war grade vessel of the Federation). The two smallers ships are fast and nimble sporting numerous phasers while the slow and lumbering saucer section houses the torpedoes. This maneuver can turn a one-on-one fight into a 3-on-one, a useful trick. Additionally, when faced with a situation where retreat is the only option the saucer section can be sacrificed to distract foes with torpedoes set to auto fire whilst the two smaller parts make their escape (as the saucer section cannot jump to warp as it lacks nacelles).
While not being one of the better known vessels, in my opinion it is certainly a landmark of Federation inginuity and brings entirley new tactical options to the art of galactic warfare.