There is something about men and comparing sizes. Especially in wartime. Just think about Terran history of the 20th century. The Schwerer Gustav, the Bismarck, the USS Enterprise (the aircraft carrier!), the Tsar Bomb, ICBMs… Well some things don’t change, no matter how much time passed.
In the General War, the Klingon Empire started the size-race. The House of Gar’Oth proposed first to create a starship of massive scale, outclassing everything previously designed. Having bad memories of the K’el Ri’anda Class though, the High Council was reluctant to grant funds for this audacious project in the middle of the war. But when the Gar’Oth returned with finished plans and a prototype’s keel already laid, the Council agreed to support the design.
But it soon became clear that the House of Gar’Oth massively overstated the capabilities of this new starship. It became evident even before the prototype was finished. Although its firepower was indeed formidable, the Ber'taa Class* turned out to be slugghis at both warp and sublight speed, and its slow turn ratio meant that it was vulnerable to attacks from multiple smaller ships.
Eventually none of the Ber’taas entered service during the General War. Only the prototype reached the stage of completion to leave spacedock on its own power but it was considered to be too expensive and underdeveloped to risk losing it in battle. Of the other three, two were half built before they were towed out of spacedock and used as mobile weapon platforms, and were finished only after the peace treaty was signed. The fourth Ber’taa Class ship’s keel was laid but not even its superstructure was finished, before it was scrapped.
Fortunatley for the Klingons, when Starfleet Intelligence learned about the development of the ship, they only learned about House of Gar'Oth's claims, bu not the actual performance data. Starfleet was running several simulations to test its starships against the new Klingon desing and they were terrified by the results. The Ber'taa seemed like a ship capable of destroying any Federation ship, unless heavily outnumbered. The prospect of meeting a ship like that on the battlefied made Starfleet actions far more cautious, as even the possibility of facing one of this ships could be the reason of canceling an attack plan altogether. So at least some good came from these statements.
Starfleet Intelligence made it top priority to hinder the development of this ship. These efforts were unsuccessful, but it didn't matter, because the Ber'taa Class became too expensive and its development was slowed down as the war went on.
The Ber’taa Class eventually saw action in the Four Years War, but its shortcomings made it impractical and generally disliked among Klingons. Although no ship of this class was lost, they were soon pulled out of service to give way to the second wave of huge ships.
The Federation couldn't let the Klingons have such a formidable starship without something to counter it. Their answer was Project Yamato, Starfleet’s own huge ship. This ship didn’t leave the drawing board before the end of the Four Years War, but a test hack was built from already existing starship modules to test the EPS system and the warpdrive of the design. It was called the USS Yamamoto.
The Yamamoto is a unique ship, and it was never officially assigned to any fleet within Starfleet, but it saw some action during the Four Years war. Later it was parked at the Starfleet Museum and served as a display of mid-23rd century Starfleet technology.
The Ber'taa and the Yamamoto started a race of size between the Klingons and the Federation. While both fleets tried once and again shock the other with a starship of previously unseen size, these huge ships were usually considered too complex and too expensive to risk them in combat. They served the role however similar to ICBMs in the Terran Cold War as mutual deterrence which upheld an unlikely peace with limited conflicts for the next decades.
The knowledge the designers gained from these ships made it possible to design much bigger ships for the main forces as well. In the next century this was leading to an exponential increase in starship size, from the Constitution to Excelsior, the Ambassador and the Galaxy Class, while the support ships of the main class went through a similar size change. Just compare the Miranda to the Luna or the Akira Class to see the difference!
The Ber’taa and the USS Yamamoto represent the other new ship class I was already mentioned in the previous article: huge ships. These spaceships are available only in a limited number and they are a massive investment to acquire. But once built, they can be a real asset to your fleet. You’ll be able to build the Ber’taa Class. It is a fully functional, very powerful battleship, but it’s too expensive and too slow to be left alone, so keep it well guarded all the time! The USS Yamamoto is another matter. It’s faster, it represents the best technology the Federation can offer, but it’s a unique ship. You can request it only once, and if it is destroyed, you can’t get it back!
If you have any question about these ships, as always, feel free to ask!
*Check out the surprisingly similar choice of name by the Terran German Empire