Stalwart Heavy Cruiser
The Stalwart Heavy Cruiser was the first advanced interstellar warship of what most in the Protectorate refer to as the “Modern Age.” It was the largest warship ever built at the time, 5 years before the first war with the Arkhon. It also incorporated a host of new technology that had been gleaned from the newfound friendship with the Xintrin and a rapidly progressing Protectorate. Heavily armed and armored for its time, the Protectorate sent it into the fray against the Arkhon with confidence.
The cruisers and their brave crews were slaughtered.
Nobody at the time knew the capabilities of cerasteel, and the Stalwarts relied entirely on energy weapons. What’s more, their tight, advanced construction made refitting them with kinetic weapons virtually impossible. By necessity, the first war became a war of carriers and fighters, instead of the capital ship slugfest the Arkhons wanted, and would have won. The Stalwarts, the pride of human galactic warfare achievement, were regulated to escorting the Archer carriers, which were little more than refitted and armored cargo containers filled with star fighters.
The Protectorate had sunk a tremendous amount of resources into the Stalwarts. They were to be the Ship-of-the-Line. And in the run-up to the war, the Protectorate worked overtime cranking out vessel after vessel. Even taking very heavy losses during the war, there were still dozens of Stalwarts left after the war ended. The Protectorate scrapped the ship from its Order of Battle, and was left with a massive surplus.
Some estimates put the number of surplus Stalwarts as high as 200 at the end of the war, noting that the Protectorate had built at least four dozen that were never even crewed and commissioned. Some scoff at this number, saying that if the Protectorate had half that amount they’d be surprised. No one is sure because the Protectorate closely guards its fleet strength, even on decommissioned ships.
The Protectorate was in a quandary: These ships were too expensive to just scrap and eat the losses, but they wanted to control whose hands they ended up in. Eventually, they decided to sell the ships to the independent Free Colonies at cost. They thought this would be for maybe a dozen or so. Imagine their surprise when the colonies bought up nearly the entire lot.
The Protectorate still is not sure where the struggling colonies got the money, but shortly afterwards both Bifrost and New Tortuga announced deals with the Xintrin Merchant Guild to lease massive amounts of land (and in the case of New Tortuga, an entire moon) and allow them access to the human market. The smaller colonies took out large loans from Bifrost and New Tortuga, and soon the Stalwart became a symbol of the Free Colonies defense fleets, the independent frontier law enforcement agency known as the Guardsmen, and even began showing up in the hands of larger companies and the extremely wealthy.
It turns out that when the Stalwart is not up against the
Arkhon it fairs pretty darn well. Its weapons are powerful enough to threaten
any non-cerasteel armored ship. Its armor is slightly below military average
now, but it might as well be impenetrable when you consider the resources of
most bandits and pirates. When paired with the Free Colonies’ large supply of
In the end, the colonies got a reasonably strong fleet, the Protectorate got a much-needed infusion of cash to assist with post-war reconstruction, and it’s likely that it also led to the Xintrin getting real access to the human consumer market. The Protectorate also knows that the military might of the Free Colonies is manageable, and not a threat to the Fleet.
In truth, the Stalwart was an excellently designed ship for its day. It just had the misfortune of being built at a time when humanity faced an enemy whose unique technology made it ineffective in battle. Who knew?
Its main armaments are a pair of large chemical oxygen iodine lasers (COIL) that could still core a destroyer like an apple on one or two good hits. These are backed up by a pair of early particle beam cannons, a significant payload of multi-warhead nuclear missiles, and a well-distributed network of point-defense laser turrets.
The ship incorporated many innovations, some of which became standard, and some of which were not used again. Instead of a bridge, it has a massive, decentralized command section. This is a large, open area with two decks, one serving as a balcony, that houses helm control, communications, and fire control. It takes up fully ¼ of the ship. In case of battle damage or decompression, it can be cordoned off into pressurized sections, to prevent all of command and control being lost. It was believed that this would lead to increased efficiency, and while it lead to a much greater social bond among the crew, the efficiency increase never appeared. This does, however, make it VERY hard to simply target the bridge. Enemies tend to aim for the forward view port, when they would have to destroy that entire forward superstructure to cripple the ship. Needless to say, this section has nearly double the armor plating as most other parts of the ship.
Additionally, because the Protectorate did not originally plan for its star fleet to be based around carriers and fighters, the Stalwart was designed to carry four fighters into combat. Originally, the Protectorate planned to deploy the Stalwarts in task forces of three, along with several pinnaces and destroyers. That would give each task force a squadron of 12 fighters. Before the war they thought that would be plenty. While limited in use during the war, the four fighters add excellently to its anti-piracy duties.
The Stalwart is a spacious ship, with ample cargo room and private quarters for every officer onboard. It compares starkly to the sleek, lean and mean warships fielded by the Protectorate today. One can clearly see how a harrowing war has made the Protectorate straighten up its act militarily.
Unfortunately, as time has gone by, the Free Colonies have been less than perfect in their stewardship over the Stalwarts. At least a dozen have fallen into the hands of mercenaries, pirates or independent organizations with questionable motivations. And, although there has been no official confirmation, some rumors and vid footage suggest that brand new Stalwarts are beginning to appear on the market for wealthy buyers.
While originally, Stalwarts were named for principles of willpower, such as the Resolve, the Indefatigable and the Steadfast, currently, there is no standard naming convention.
Model: CA-Type A Heavy Cruiser
Class: Advanced Heavy Cruiser (most military analysts drop the “advanced” at this point, however)
Crew: 25 officers, 320 crew, and four flight officers (pilots for the fighters).
Troops: Most colony-owned vessels have two platoons of militia for boarding operations, defense, and to engage targets planetside, for a total of 20.
Combat Craft: Four fighters, usually Arrow Interceptors, but can be any one-man combat fighters. Alternately, the docking bay can be used for two small shuttles.
M.D.C. by Location
Light laser turrets (8) – 200 each
Particle beam cannons (2) – 800 each
Long-range missile launchers (2) – 2,000 each
COIL Laser Cannons (2) – 1,000 each
Primary communications dish – 450
Sensor array – 200
Main thrusters (4) – 2,000 each
Docking bay – 3,000
*Forward command section (front ¼ of the ship) – 10,000
**Main Body – 28,000
*Destroying the forward command section of the ship destroys fire control, helm control, and many primary systems. The ship can still be partially controlled from engineering, but at -4 to strike and dodge, and with only the defensive laser turrets and missile launchers available as weapons.
**Depleting the M.D.C. of the Main Body will leave the ship a floating wreck with no primary power and multiple hull breaches. This will activate the escape pods in order for surviving crew to escape. Reducing the M.D.C. to -5,000 will cause the vessel to explode, doing 1D4x100 M.D. to everything within a 2,000-foot radius.
Maximum Sublight Speed: .02C (20% of the speed of light)
Max Acceleration/Deceleration Rate: 6G’s per melee round
FTL Speeds: Cx183 (roughly half a light-year per day.
Top Atmospheric Maneuvering Speed: Mach 5 (can achieve escape velocity on a full engine burn, no maneuvering)
Height: 135 ft
Length: 640 ft
Width: 238 ft
Cargo: 50,000 tons
Power Plant: Two anti-matter reactors
Range: 91 light years (carries six months of consumables for standard crew)
Cost: Varies, but generally about 500 million credits.
1. COIL Laser Cannons (2): These large laser weapons are the last chemical lasers still in use. They unleash lasers in the gigawatt range. This was seen as a step-up from the microwave laser, but was short-lived due to limited payload. Currently, the Protectorate uses neodymium glass solid state lasers in most of its weaponry. These weapons have good range, and, in their day, had decent stopping power. Now, however, they are considered light weapons for a cruiser.
Primary Purpose: Anti-Ship
Mega-Damage: 5D6x100 M.D. per laser. 1D6x1,000 M.D. for a dual blast.
Rate of Fire: Twice per melee round each.
Payload: Unlike most energy weapons, this weapon relies on a
finite chemical supply, giving it 200 shots for each laser before needing to be
reloaded at an
2. Particle Beam Cannons (2): These early particle beam weapons focused on being rapid-firing secondary guns that fed off the main reactor. Each cannon can rotate 90 degrees up or down.
Primary Purpose: Anti-Ship
Mega-Damage: 1D6x100 M.D. per blast.
Rate of Fire: Six times per melee round each.
Payload: Effectively unlimited.
3. Long-range Missile Launcher: These are large, long-range multi-warhead nuclear missiles with tactical warheads. These were originally designed to be used against stationary planets and space stations, but the Stalwarts tended to find them most effective against opposing enemy capital ships.
Primary Purpose: Assault
Mega-Damage: 2D4x100 M.D. to a 50-foot radius.
Rate of Fire: Individually, or in volleys of 2, 4, 8, or 12. Each launcher can fire one volley per melee round.
Bonuses: As smart missiles, these missiles receive an additional +5 to strike, and can dodge enemy fire with a +4. Has two attacks per melee and will chase enemy ships down until they hit, the target is out of range, or until the missile is destroyed.
Payload: 48 missiles each, for a total of 96. There is one reload in storage for each launcher, but it takes a half an hour to load them.
4. Defensive Laser Turrets (8), these two-man laser turrets are distributed across the hull to cover the ship from all angles. They can rotate 360-degrees and have a 90 degree range of elevation. They are used to fend off attacking star fighters and destroy incoming missiles. They have also been known to be used to deliver powerful, combined “broadsides” against enemy vessels at extreme close-range.
Primary Purpose: Defense
Mega-Damage: 2D6x10 M.D. for each dual blast.
Rate of Fire: Equal to hand-to-hand attacks of the gun operator.
Payload: Effectively unlimited.
Sensors: The Stalwarts have fairly standard starship sensors, most having been updated after the war. Mass sensors have a range of 4 million miles, and short-range, detailed sensors have a range of about 20,000 miles.