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03-SUBSPACE LINKS
87-1701D
93-74205
95-74656
01-NX01
17-1031
20-75567
66-1701

Trent class light destroyer

Trent class light phase gun destroyer

At the turn of the century, Star Fleet well understood the importance of cruisers—of all types—to both the military defense of the Federation and its growth through the soft power benefits the multi-mission vessels could provide. However, the distinct mission, roles, and value of destroyers were far less clear. There were certainly interested and informed parties, but no one doctrine could rise above the discussion. As a result, little in the way of advance planning and virtually nothing in terms of contingencies existed for the destroyer force.

The Marshall heavy destroyers, first commissioned by the United Earth Starfleet in 2156, were still the frontline vessels and there was no plan to replace them; the expense was deemed too high when the doctrinal focus was on much heavier vessels. Calls for a viable defense craft for frontier worlds mounted, but shipbuilders failed to provide anything that met Star Fleet’s requirements in the two requests for proposals submitted in early 2204. Empress Ship Design & Building presented an out-of-spec proposal later that same year: a mission-designated “attrition” craft that could still make use of the aerodynamic hull form seen as necessary for catastrophic survival of the crew in harsh locales. This light destroyer provided that lifting body in a saucer form, trailed by a detachable propulsion section, such as utilized by Placido class surveyors.

The issue of firepower was another area of concern: torpedoes, long a stalwart of destroyers of all eras, were no longer capable of pounding the hulls of target vessels that were defended by the advances in shielding technology; conventional fusion and photonic torpedoes provided the long-range hitting armament necessary to a modern destroyer’s survival, if they could get through the shields. Phased particle guns were a solid answer to this problem, chewing up a ship’s defensive screens for the arriving torpedoes to slip through, but no light destroyer could carry both space-intensive systems in any meaningful way.

Empress had an idea for this too: divide the small vessels into two types. The Type L cannon-equipped destroyers would work in a 1-for-1 relationship with identical—but torpedo armed—ships to harass the larger capitals. Two equally threatening targets could overwhelm, if the proper supporting fire & maneuvering tactics could be practiced and perfected by both crews. It was with this concept in mind that the Trent phase cannon destroyers began production in 2205, each set to be ”married” to a partner Horatio torpedo destroyer.

Horatio subclass light torpedo destroyer

The Horatio subclass was the 2nd half of Empress Ship’s plan to revitalize the Star Fleet destroyer program (and the destroyer production program). The design phase of the ship required nearly no additional time at all: removing three Type L phase cannon mounts from the Trent plans and replacing them with one medium ventrally-embedded torpedo launcher, with two off-centerline magazines for the 30 conventional fusion and photonic torpedoes. A fifth 700 MW laser emitter was installed on the dorsal aft end of the propulsion hull, to compensate for the more restrictive cone of fire of the primary weapon.

USS Ascot prototype light torpedo destroyer

Star Fleet had briefly considered developing a two-nacelle variation of the Trent class light destroyer before the altercation at Gamma Demetrius demanded new destroyers off the lines. The initial proposal sought to bring torpedo technology to a higher level of output than could be sustained by the present Horatios. The concept had the T-Pylon crested by the fully-automated torpedo pod, with the two wing struts to the nacelles running through it. However, practical testing of the USS Ascot (NCC-418), a Trent chosen to serve as the test vessel, showed that the plasma wave guides interfered with the intended layout of the automated torpedo loading machinery, requiring Rube Goldberg-esque designs that only overly complicated the procedures to get the torpedoes from storage to the launcher. Moving to the default manned torpedo launcher freed up additional space to allow the inclusion of two additional (aft-firing) launchers, but the T-pylon could not adequately be widened to allow a turbolift access to the pod; the climb from the primary hull would be too slow to man the pod in emergency scenarios. Ascot was provided with a shuttlecraft docking port on the ventral side of the pod, but that was seen as impractical a procedure as climbing the ladder, especially in combat. Underpowered combat systems, when all three weapons systems were engaged, resulted in serious discussions on the feasibility of combining phase cannons and torpedoes on such a small platform, an issue that had already been resolved with the very concept of the sister classes.

Once the destroyers entered full demand, the Dace torpedo subclass became the spiritual successor of the Horatio, with the same limited inventory of torpedoes. Ascot was returned to her original configuration (though her T-pylon was disassembled and installed upon a later sister ship).

Apache subclass scout

The ease and rapidity in which the light destroyers had been built (construction concluded in 2208), and the alleviation of the dwindling destroyer numbers, led scouting proponents (including Empress Ships) to suggest a slight re-tooling of the Trent series production lines. Ten vessels were authorized in late 2209 to address the scout vessel shortage. The only weapons were to be defensive: the five 700 MW lasers were not backups to phase cannons or torpedo launchers. Instead, the heavier weapon spaces were replaced by re-configured work areas and computing assets that supported the three ventrally-mounted tactical sensors. All else remained the same as far as auxiliary craft, defensive shielding, and transporter systems; the only other notable difference was a slightly lesser number of assigned enlisted crew members.

The vessels performed primarily alongside their light destroyer brethren in small task forces or the occasional expeditionary reinforcement flotilla. Within the Trent series, the Apache subclass was the first to be completely decommissioned, with all ships removed from the active registry by 2235.

Kovaris subclass light phase gun destroyer

While the Trent and Horatio light destroyers took away some of the meager pressure to modernize small combatants, after their initial run was completed there was no serious intent to continue with another. An abbreviated attempt was made to explore upgrading the present ships into dual phase gun/torpedo destroyers, with the USS Ascot (NCC-418), but that was quickly proven to be a fool’s errand. The series’ specific tooling machinery was being readied for their own mothballs when Empress Ships employed its lobbyists to successfully call for the procurement of ten more ships with the Apache scout subclass.

However, in 2209, the loss of USS Sentry (NCC-1010, Advance battle cruiser) to Klingons over the refugee crisis of Gamma Demetrius (also known as Boreth) created a panic in Star Fleet to update contingency plans. Those plans required more attrition units than were presently listed in the registry. The exploration of two nacelles with the USS Ascot was deemed a favorable path and, so, rather than produce more Trents, Star Fleet opted for a preplanned upgrade of a new subclass, wherein the I pylon was replaced by a T one, and two PB-17 engines were mounted. This was less for the slight increase in dash speed and maneuverability than for redundancy in case of deep space mishaps.

As with the Trents and Horatios, the Kovaris light phase gun destroyers would be built concurrently and paired with the Dace light torpedo destroyers. The initial production run was ordered at 40, split equally among the two types. As the production started spinning up, present and future destroyer crews entered simulators and practiced attack drills, honing their long-atrophied flotilla skills. To test their readiness, Star Fleet created an opportunity for true flotilla action, by invading the Beta Rigel region in 2211, to “secure” the area from “rampant piracy”. Confrontations with Nausicaans, Orions, Elasi, and numerous invested small powers from the former Delphic Expanse soon outnumbered what had been perceived to be ideal “training” operations. However, the experience acquired was certainly a fair investment for the confrontations that were to occur with warships of the emerging Klingon Empire.

Dace subclass light torpedo destroyer

The Dace subclass light torpedo destroyer was a continuation of the dual-type production plan originating with the Trent/Horatio phase gun/torpedo series and produced in conjunction with the Kovaris subclass. Both of the latter types saw a slight maximum speed increase (from warp 6 to 6.3 on the Original Cochrane Unit scale) over that of the single-nacelle predecessors, but otherwise maintained the same crew complements, weapon packages, and magazine allotments as with the earlier vessels.

All of the destroyers would be upgraded with the more advanced PB-25 nacelles, starting in 2214.

Trent Flight II light phase gun destroyer

In 2214, Star Fleet took advantage of a miniaturization surge to introduce the PB-25 nacelle to its light destroyers. The slightly longer twin to the original PB-17s resulted in a significantly higher warp benchmark, 7.1, at dash speeds for nearly the same power requirement. This refit was also an opportunity for the destroyer types to focus on keeping their primary mission capability—that of torpedo delivery—up to technological parity with their primary aggressors, the Klingons. Updated sensors for both phase gun and torpedo types increased the spectrum range for detection and tracking, computers with faster firing solution algorithms were swapped in, power relays with a higher dedication to weapons systems were embedded, and maneuverability was tweaked through modifications to the impulse drive and reaction control systems.

However, where the PB-25 failed to deliver was at supercruising, i.e., sustained travel at warp 5. The powerplants were positively feeble when compared to the requirement to maintain power output at the minimums necessary to travel at that factor. This was a critical element to the heavy losses sustained at the Battle of Arquin Pillar in 2223. The conflict between the Klingon and Federation expeditionary forces was typical of the border skirmishes of the time, with neither wanting to put their valued cruisers at risk. Instead, frigates and destroyers feinted and prodded, attempting to pull the other’s assets out of their defensive formations. The prolonged battle was notable for several reasons, but specifically for the Trent series, the unreliability of the warp core to maintain sustained power at warp five meant two of the assigned ships had to fall out of formation, with their absence noted when the conflict was at its most violent.

On the positive side, the superior sensors of the ships outperformed those of the Klingons’ in the environment of the superdense nebula. USS Kwajalein (NCC-406) and USS Jacoubet (NCC-479, Dace Flight II) used the tendrils of the nebula to ambush the Klingons several times, disrupting the enemy’s attempts to get clear shots at the Federation cruisers. Their actions to protect the capital ships earned the commanding officers of both posthumous Medals of Honor.

Horatio Flight II light torpedo destroyer

The Horatio light torpedo destroyers, along with the sister ships of the Trent, Kovaris, and Dace subclasses, swapped out their PB-17 warp nacelles in 2214 and 2215 in exchange for the slightly longer PB-25s, adding around 5 meters to the length and nearly 4,500 metric tons (double that for the dual-nacellers) to the mass. As previously reported, the primary intent was to allow the vessels to finally achieve supercruise (warp 5) capacity, but the fusion-powered warp cores were just not able to sustain that level of required energy output. For dash speeds, the full warp factor (and more) pleased the crews when applied to exercise and operational scenarios.

In sub-light combat, the less mass of only one nacelle was a maneuverability advantage, when compared to that of the Dace. In the combined torpedo efforts of the paired classes, mobility options were embraced and crews assigned to Trent and Kovaris ships were extremely appreciative of being assigned a Horatio partner, as it was perceived that more firing solution options would present themselves at a faster rate (actual engagement analysis rarely supported this perspective). For Dace crews, however, knowing they had a larger statistical chance of maintaining warp capacity meant they would be more likely, in the military parlance, to “charlie-mike” (i.e., continue mission); in a combat mission, the loss of the only nacelle meant the chance to “RTB” (return to base) was less than likely for the unfortunate Horatio crew.

Kovaris Flight II light phase gun destroyer

Like the other light destroyers of the Trent series, the two-nacelle Kovaris phase cannon platforms were upgraded to make use of the aforementioned PB-25 nacelles, with the anticipation of a higher cruising speed of warp 5. Unfortunately, this proved unattainable with the endemic and underpowered warp core. Despite the other upgrades to sensors and maneuvering systems, the complex nature of two ships performing one mission (torpedo delivery upon enemy hulls) continued to be a sophisticated challenge, limiting the effectiveness of both the phase cannon and torpedo types.

Shortly after the frustrating “victory” of the Battle of Arquin Pillar in 2223, Detroyat and Syracuse destroyers began arriving in large enough production numbers to supplant the lighter craft. Their heavier weaponry (based around forced-intermix antimatter torpedoes) and greater mass allowed them to undertake longer uninterrupted attack passes on capital ships and stay engaged with their equals in ways that a pair of collaborating Trents could not. All four variants of the light destroyers were relegated to Activation Class Two and sent to the silent Romulan border for patrol duties. No member of the series would ever again engage a Klingon vessel. The one-nacelle variants started retiring in the mid-2240s, and the two-nacelle ships were all decommissioned (and some mothballed) in the “big sweep” of 2250.

Dace Flight II torpedo light destroyer

Upgraded in 2214-2215 with the PB-25 nacelles, the Daces fully returned to active duty alongside their sister light destroyers. However, as with the three other mission platforms, effective use of their weaponry proved to be the most challenging endeavor.

The valiant efforts of the USS Jacoubet (NCC-479) were covered previously. However, the USS Targa (NCC-467) also has heroic credentials. As with the one-nacelle Horatio subclass, the Daces were built around the concept of the spatial torpedo, which was first adopted by the United Earth Stellar Navy in 2111 with conventional explosives; in 2148, antimatter warheads were developed and first deployed. By 2219, Star Fleet‘s efforts to perfect the effectiveness and reliability of antimatter torpedoes were so frustrated, the Vulcan’s proposed an alternate technology of warheads based upon pulse waves. The Targa had the fortune to be outfitted with those experimental devices and employed them against a magnetic storm menacing the inhabitants of Balaka III, with immediate success, dispersing the threat before any undue effects resulted. On a grimmer side, USS Enderbury (NCC-480) became Star Fleet’s first pulse wave torpedo “kill” when a defective warhead detonated right after leaving the launcher. The explosion ripped open the pressure hull of the destroyer and killed most of the test crew immediately; radiation took a further death toll, as hyronalyn treatment was not as effective as Federation science would eventually achieve.

USS Apache prototype scout

When Star Fleet decided to equip the Trent destroyer series with the longer Pleshun PB-25 nacelles, it considered—briefly—including the Apache scouts in on the refit. However, because the destroyer program had already started spooling down well before the latest bout of increased tensions with the Klingons, Pleshun had ceased production of the problematic nacelles and ready spares were projected to be too sparse to accommodate the less vital subclass. Nonetheless, USS Apache (NCC-823) was brought into the yards and had her single nacelle swapped out. While she would retain the nacelle, her sister scouts missed out on the resulting warp speed increase at Exploration Command’s insistence on the more reliable PB-17.

Kovaris Flight III light destroyer

The era in which the Trents represented Star Fleet’s top-of-the-line light destroyers dawned 82 years earlier, and in 2287, all the surviving vessels of the various variants had been decommissioned or mothballed for at least 37 years. However, now the Organians were unexpectedly gone and concerns that the cold war with the Klingons would re-flash were not only real, but probable. Despite the flurry of contracts for corporate shipyards and the ramping up of capacity in the state’s fleet yards, hull numbers had to be increased immediately. Twelve two-nacelle Kovarises and Daces had their mothballs dusted off, their lasers ripped out, their targeting computers wiped and upgraded, and the latest in weaponry technologies thrust upon them. The existing nacelles were retained, simply having their coils re-spooled with modern materials and the limiters re-coded with higher tolerances, enabling the two subclasses (identified together as Kovaris Flight III now that they were identical) to achieve sustained warp 5 and maximum warp 8.8. Each now massed 238,200 metric tons due to the new coils and heavier Common Claw torpedo tube. The ships did not serve on what was conceived to be the front lines, but instead protected the equally aged fusion-powered Titan carriers in simulated planetary assault missions, not ever seeing direct action in the modern age.

USS Stenersen (NCC-499), named after a post-Romulan War merchant held in high esteem on Andoria, holds the distinctions of being the final Dace off the ways in 2215 and the last of the Trent series decommissioned in 2295.

Blueprints/Orthos

Trent class light phase gun destroyer

Horatio subclass light torpedo destroyer

USS Ascot prototype light torpedo destroyer

Apache subclass scout

Kovaris subclass light phase gun destroyer

Dace class light phase gun destroyer

Trent Flight II light phase gun destroyer

Horatio Flight II light torpedo destroyer

Kovaris Flight II light phase gun destroyer

Dace Flight II torpedo light destroyer

USS Apache prototype scout

Kovaris Flight III light destroyer


Author: RevancheRM

Illustrator: Adrasil

Original Inspiration: Starfleet Battles; Denial of Destiny (FASA)

Permission is granted to save and use above images. While permission to download files with Delta Dynamics’ label is granted, re-hosting or provision of the files (or any parts contained within) must include proper citation of Delta Dynamics or the name of the relevant artist, at a minimum.

Last Updated on 2403.16 by admin