Flagship of a New Fleet
In 2399, spurred by an increase in space piracy and the repeated destruction of the under-construction Babylon stations, International Police Organization chief Benjamin D. "Gryphon" Hutchins created the IP Space Force, a special arm of the IPO, for defense of Experts of Justice assets like the station and more aggressive pursuit of the IPO's mission in the reaches of space.
The fledgling Space Force had no ships or personnel when created. In the very short term, this was solved by borrowing a pair of ships from the Wedge Defense Force. While these vessels patrolled the Babylon construction zone in the Bajor system, Gryphon gathered together his most talented contacts in the field of starship engineering and set to work providing the IPSF with its first permanent starship. In April of 2400, he acquired the now-abandoned original Utopia Planitia Naval Shipyards complex around Planitia (Zeta Cygni II), founded the International Police Yards, and set to work on the first of a new breed of warship.
This project, codenamed Sovereign, was intended as a direct challenge to the Federation Starfleet's new Galaxy class of heavy battleships. Designed by Gryphon's old starship engineering firm, GZK Enterprises, the Galaxy-class ships, though they flew Starfleet colors, were heavily influenced by the growing sway of the Earth Alliance within the Federation. The class was created specifically to give the fleet a weapon more powerful than the WDF's front-line Iowa-class battlecruisers.
The effort failed, either because GZK now lacked the engineering talents of both Gryphon and his co-founder, the legendary Zefram Cochrane, or possibly because the new management at GZK were aware of Earthforce's ulterior motive and sandbagged a bit. In any event, the Galaxy class, while quite capable, proved to be inferior in speed and maneuverability to the Iowa class, though it did outgun the older ships. Starfleet accepted them for service anyway in 2401.
"The Galaxy-killer", as Sovereign became informally known around the offices of the newly formed IP Yards, was designed by a virtual dream team of starship designers. Spearheaded by Gryphon, they included Zefram Cochrane, Nadia Davion, WDF Captain of Engineering Montgomery Scott, and Utopia Planitia chief engineer Robert "ReRob" Mandeville. Revolutionary development techniques were introduced in the course of its design, not least of which was the time-saving measure implemented to allow development to go forward while the Yards themselves were still being refurbished: the virtual prototype.
Computer-aided design means that computer models of starships have existed for centuries, of course; but Sovereign was the first ship to be completely prototyped as a fully integrated neural-interface virtual reality simulation before any physical construction began. The International Police Starship Sovereign (NX-04401), first starship of her class, exists only in cyberspace.
The second ship in the class, and first physically operational model, was constructed starting in September of 2402 at the newly-reopened IP Yards. After much consideration, Gryphon decided to name the new ship Challenger, after both the parallel-universe Federation starship (Miranda-class, NCC-1870) he briefly commanded during his sojourn in that universe and the 20th-century NASA Space Transportation System orbiter (OV-99) lost in 1986.
IPS Challenger (NX-04462) was launched on October 12, 2404 with Gryphon in command, and underwent space trials - first in the Zeta Cygni system, then on a shakedown cruise in the Rigel Sector, and finally in the vicinity of the Babylon construction site, throughout the winter. She was declared fully operational on April 11, 2405, and is still posted to Babylon 5 at the present time.
Challenger in flight
(Sovereign-class model by Rick "pneumonic81" Knox, redressed by Kelly St. Clair)
NAME/MODEL#: Sovereign class DESIGNER/MANUFACTURER: International Police Yards, Zeta Cygni II COMBAT DESIGNATION: Dreadnaught CREW: 500 POWER SYSTEM: IPY Mark II matter-antimatter annihilation reactor Three Corellian Engineering Corporation Type 78 fusion reactors PROPULSION SYSTEM: CEC Magnadyne tandem impulse drive system SPEED RATING: 100 MGLT FLIGHT CONTROL SYSTEM: IPY Mark I integrated reaction control system MANEUVERABILITY RATING: 30 DPF NAVIGATION: British-AnimeTech Model 2190 superluminal isolinear computer core FTL: IPY Mark II Cochrane space distortion drive (warp drive) CEC 7677.492c motivator drive unit (hyperdrive) British-AnimeTech 1337 metaspace transition point generator WARP SPEED RATING (CRUISE): Warp Factor 12 WARP SPEED RATING (MAX): Warp Factor 17 HYPERDRIVE FACTOR: .5 WEAPONS: Twenty WDF Armory P-112 point phaser arrays Four WDF Armory G-950 strip-collimated phaser arrays Five WDF Armory Mark VII photon torpedo launchers One IPY Weapons Shop Mark I quantum torpedo launcher SHIELDS/ARMOR: IPY Mark IA projective deflector shield system (rated at 3000 SDB) Composite reinforced tritanium alloy hull (rated at 2500 RU)