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Cavalry class light destroyer

Cavalry class light phase gun destroyer

The durable maxim that generals are always prepared to fight the last war holds true with the proposal, design, and production of the Cavalry light phase gun destroyers. This is not to be read as an admonishment of that decision, though the vessels could barely operate even as chaff against the later Romulan threat of the 2150s. Instead, it is an acknowledgment of the defensive concerns of the United Earth Starfleet in the 2140s.

In that period, the most urgent requirement for Earth and her then-major colonies were ships to serve in what were essentially police operations to quell the irksome raids of the Kzinti, a blustering feline race with origins to the (then-unknown) Xindi civilization of the Delphic Expanse. The UESF had developed and placed a great deal of faith in cruisers armed and armored with the most cutting-edge technology currently available to Humans, in order to protect ships of the Earth Cargo Authority and United Earth Space Probe Agency. This demand on the heavier vessels meant that system defenses either relied on patrol cutters—often without the capacity to bring heavier weapons to bear—or cruisers that happened to be system-adjacent, not a scenario any planetary administration would accept.

Tactical scenarios also envisioned a potential alien invasion to be predicated upon a large starship—such as made familiar with the Vulcan voidships—which would best be countered by multiple interceptors armed with forward-facing heavy weaponry conducting constant and coordinated strikes. As these vessels would not need to be focused on interstellar missions, they would have no distance nor FTL requirements of the deep-space explorers and cruisers, nor anti-fighter weaponry often required for the counter-piracy roles of convoy duty.

Hence, the Cavalry class light phase gun destroyer was designed to carry four 6-gigawatt plasma cannons on the bow, with a heavy Type A phased particle cannon in the 500-gigawatt range centered on the bow as well. Heavy polarizable armor was embedded on the dorsal fore to allow lined-up strike approaches and, on the ventral side, as protection during the violent banking maneuvers away from the attack run. The warships had one S65 ventral nacelle powered by the S66-D fusion reactor via two sturdy pylons, with a maximum capacity of warp 3.1, more than enough to allow system patrollers to form up for interception runs. The subspace matrix normalizer was deemed a necessary addition to the nacelle itself, as a formation of closely-maneuvering starships would cause localized tetryons to behave chaotically, impacting the stabilization of warp fields on the trailing ships. The waste delta radiation from the normalizer dictated a position as far as possible from inhabited interiors; the open frame just forward of the device helped to reduce unnecessary mass.

The crew of 84 “enjoyed” an intimate operational environment, as the narrow hull had to hold all departments’ equipment in a fore-to-aft configuration necessary to restrict the beam perspective. There was enough room on the dorsal stern to support a two-pod shuttlebay with aft entry, a much more tolerant design than the ventral bay of the Enterprise class explorer that debuted the same year. The two dual-use airlock/docking ports located on opposing sides of Deck 3 and the lifepod station on the dorsal midsection comprised the entirety of embarkation points, until the first inclusion of a single-person transporter in 2156. Though equipped and supplied for an endurance of two years, the “mission range” reflected more upon the lack of capacity of some colonies to support their defenders.

Strachan subclass light torpedo destroyer

The most dominant feature of the Cavalry class light destroyers—to those who crewed them—was the cramped interior space. That was all fine and good for a vessel tasked with staying within the relative confines of a system’s neighborhood where a patrol might last, at the most, up to 5 or 6 weeks. Since the defensive mission was to protect the colony planet (or Earth and its system outposts, for a few select ships), the confined internal spaces were tolerable, as going groundside was a common evolution. Starfleet did not deem the mission as dependent upon a higher-warp nacelle nor the latest in innovative reactor designs, such as with the dilithium-regulated total annihilation reactor of the concurrent Enterprise design.

However, that did not mean the Cavalry class was underpowered. The fusion S66-D warp reactor was more than capable of fully energizing the plasma necessary for the S65 nacelle, a recent design utilizing 14 well-established coils, with plenty of power remaining to also fully charge the two high performance impulse engines. This allowed the ship to make drastic sublight maneuvers that would bring her onto target and then off on an unanticipated bearing before too much counterfire could be drilled into her armored hull. That energized plasma was also more than enough to allow all four plasma cannons and the main phased particle weapon to engage in rapid-succession chain fire or all-out alpha strikes.

Unfortunately, that proved to be underwhelming when the ships met the Romulans in the 2150s. Though the enemy went unidentified at the time, his shielding proved extremely effective against the UESS Carronade’s plasma and phase cannons in the raid upon Defense Outpost 4 in January 2152. Early analysis suggested that a torpedo weapon might be the necessary factor to hammer those shields to the point that energy weapons fire could then penetrate and strike the protected hulls. Since the Cavalry’s electroplasma system for the plasma cannons could not be easily swapped out for ones with the capacity to support the higher-output phase cannon, and because they had a higher rate of fire, it was instead decided to swap out the main weapon. Two vessels already under construction, UESS Strachan (ND-610) and UESS Procope (ND-611), had two torpedo tubes installed alongside the centerline. The majority of the complement of 24 torpedoes were stored openly in the passageways aft of the tubes, along overhead rails that ran into the bay; taller crewmembers either had to bend down to traverse the passageway or take an alternate route.

The Strachan subclass light torpedo destroyer also saw the addition of additional polarizable armor at three points on the forward section and both pylons. This was the second of eight evolving armor locations the entire class would undertake in order to counter the latest in Romulan firing patterns.

Mars subclass light torpedo destroyer

The second full production run of the Cavalry light destroyers (the Strachan subclass being an alteration to the first) was fully influenced by the growing tensions (and associated conflicts) with the unknown Rihannsu. Not only was additional polarized armor installed to cover larger areas exposed to known enemy aim points, but the four plasma cannons of the Cavalry and Strachan ships were substituted by advanced warp-accelerated lasers. Though down by one tube in comparison to the second subclass, a dedicated magazine enabled 12 torpedoes to be effectively stored and efficiently primed for combat. The dedicated facility did reduce the overall complement by 50%, but the firing rate increased by almost that same amount, a critical factor in combat that was often timed in mere minutes.

Seventeen Mars subclass light torpedo destroyers were completed between 2153 and 2156, with four additional hulls suspended when it became clear the conflict was rapidly transitioning into open warfare in areas too far-flung for the light destroyers. The last Mars to be built, UESS Cavalier (ND-628), was also the last Cavalry lost to Romulans, heavily damaged well after the September 2060 ceasefire was proposed. The United Earth Starfleet ship crash-landed on a borderline Minshara-class planet in May 2161; the crew was rescued in January 2162, unaware of the founding of the United Federation of Planets but soon lauded as heroes in the postwar period of collaborative rebuilding.

Turing subclass light destroyer (United Earth)

United Earth Starfleet (later Earth Fleet) livery

Four Mars light torpedo destroyers, previously mothballed in an incomplete state in 2156, were commissioned in 2160 with advanced sensors and graviton shielding, in order to fulfill a long-range armed reconnaissance role. Because of their extremely low cruise speed (warp 2), they were not rolled up into active task forces, but instead sent on solo missions to seek out Romulan activity in low-threat areas. Due to the large amount of internal space required to support the sensors’ computing and added defensive systems, the ships were armed with only two 800 MW laser emitters and one central 500 GW phased particle cannon, a throwback to the first Cavalry. It was understood these were peashooters when compared to the Romulan warcraft, but it was a reminder to these commanding officers—generally alumni from other ships in the series—that they were there to find, report, and get the hell out of Dodge. It could be presumed that this message sunk in, but in reality the ships were barely activated before the ceasefire proposals started winging their way through subspace.

The armor placement depicted on the Turing image here represents the last one presented on all ships of the Cavalry class; Romulans had discovered that the Deck 3 personnel hatches had inherent structural weaknesses associated within the bulkheads supporting the atmospheric pumps for the airlocks. The Turings left drydock with an armor configuration intended to rectify that vulnerability.

One other way these ships stood out from their predecessors was in their incorporation into the UFP Star Fleet, an honor not afforded to any other Cavalry, Strachan, nor Mars. While the Turing light destroyers served admirably in the next conflict to also end in a draw—against the Tarn in 2162 through 2164—the first three subclasses in the Cavalry series were partially sold to other local UFP navies. As within the newly re-titled Earth Fleet, the small warships served as gapfillers until more advanced defensive craft were produced, though no later than 2168. The Turings, however, filled an early exploration role for that respective command, until being decommissioned in 2193.

As aficionados of early Star Fleet well know, the five founding members of the Federation each took responsibility for developing one major division of the newly unified force. The Exploration Command, as represented by the Human’s United Earth Space Probe Agency (UESPA), was overseen by the senior officer of the (now former) United Earth Starfleet, Admiral Samuel Gardner. It was his decision to incorporate a blocky variation of the UESPA warp delta into the command insignia, as utilized in the Turing class patch.

United Federation of Planets Star Fleet livery


Cavalry class light phase gun destroyer

Strachan subclass light torpedo destroyer

Mars subclass light torpedo destroyer

Turing subclass light destroyer (United Earth)

Turing subclass light destroyer (United Federation of Planets)

Author: RevancheRM

Illustrator Adrasil

Original Inspiration: FASA; Stan Goldstein, Fred Goldstein (Spaceflight Chronology)

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Last Updated on 2403.12 by admin