Space Era Ships

Write ups for space ships from the Space Era. There is additional information on other technology and colonies.

Military Spaceship Classes

The following identifies various military spacecraft types, gives the standard hull designation letters for each, and describes the versions currently used by the Earth Military Space Force.

Singleships

Small, one or two person armed spaceships. Lightly armed and short range, these vessels are dangerous to larger craft only in large numbers. They deploy either from station based hanger facilities, dedicated carriers, or rarely from temporary launch frames on non-carrier spacecraft. Singleships are also sometimes referred to as fighters.

Patrol Craft (PC)

A variety of small, fast, low-endurance craft used to provide mobile defense for specific locations or stations. Patrol craft typically mass 50-125% of contemporary frigates, but are often more heavily armed since they are meant for short-range operation. A few are about the size of destroyers, and are known as Heavy Patrol Craft (PH). Purpose built patrol craft are also known as corvettes (rarely K designation), and most are operated by policing forces or station militias. A few corporations and criminal organizations also have corvettes. The category also includes civilian craft modified for the same role, generally referred to as Modified Armed Craft (MACs) or unofficially as “vigs,” short for vigilante. MACs are usually overgunned, underarmored, and poorly crewed, giving them a bad reputation among fleet personnel. The fact that most MACs in the current day are operated by criminals or pirates does not help their reputation.

Because of their size, most patrol craft focus on one type of armament. Gunships (PG), usually armed with PPCs, are the most common, followed by missile craft (PM), which are gradually being replaced by torpedo boats (PT). The EMSF does not currently operate any patrol craft, instead relying on fixed emplacements, frigates, and single-craft.

Monitor (BM)

A cruiser-sized vessel built for short-range defense, monitors were as heavily armed as contemporary battleships and even better armored. Also called mobile fortresses or pocket battleships, these vessels are considered obsolete. The most recent monitors were third generation ships. None are known to be operational, save for a handful of museum ships with active commissions for tradition’s sake. There are persistent rumors of pirate bases defended by freighters converted into makeshift monitors.

Frigate (FF)

The smallest class of fleet vessels, frigates are very fast and maneuverable, but lightly armed. Like patrol craft, most carry a dedicated armament. Gun frigates (FFG) and torpedo frigates (FFT) are fielded in about equal numbers, while the older missile frigates (FFM) have been largely phased out. Frigates typically operate in squadrons of three to six ships, with a squadron having armament and capability roughly equivalent to a destroyer or hunter-killer. Frigates are the main ships used by poorer or smaller militaries, though some larger police forces and a handful of the biggest ship-building companies also operate them. The occasional pirate is able to acquire a frigate as well.

The EMSF uses frigates according to a slightly different philosophy. Frigates are considered a wartime vessel, a cheap, fast-building hull that can be used to fill out a force to bridge the gap between the start of a conflict and the completion of larger, more sophisticated ships. The EMSF also operates frigates for training, as hunter-killer escorts, and for station defense during peace time, but actually tends to have fewer frigates than destroyers in service at any given time. The EMSF currently operates three standard frigate classes. The sixth generation Carvanha-class gun frigate is the replacement for the older fifth generation Pidgey-class, but the conversion is only half done, so both classes continue to operate interchangeably. The Sharpedo-class torpedo frigate has been fully deployed, displacing the older Beedrill-class.

Scout Frigate (FFS)

An exception to the normal frigate roles, scout frigates exchange most of their armament for large sensor, electronic warfare, and communication suites. Carrying systems comparable to those found on a cruiser, scout frigates operate alone, ahead of other formations or in long-range reconnaissance modes. Many carry sophisticated stealth systems to increase their survivability. These specialist vessels tend to have much more experienced crews than typical frigates.

The EMSF operates the Zubat-class scout frigate, a heavily modified version of the sixth generation hull shared by the Sharpedo and Carvanha.

Destroyer (DD)

Destroyers are long-endurance, mid-sized fleet vessels. They mostly carry balanced armaments and good armor. A destroyer’s primary role is to escort larger vessels, typically capital ships or merchant convoys, and defend them against more-heavily armored, shorter ranged attackers. Most designs are flexible enough to be used in independent general operation, though this is rarely an ideal use of the craft. Smaller navies rely on destroyer hulls as their largest ships, but in those cases often field vessels with dedicated armaments in order to deal with larger enemies. The most common are command destroyers (DDL), which exchange armament for powerful communications and electronic warfare suites, and torpedo escorts (DDT). Guided missile destroyers (DDM) have been rendered obsolete and have been mostly phased out. Proposals for proton cannon armed destroyer-sized ships (DDC) have been made, but none have been built as of yet.

The EMSF have recently completed deployment of the new sixth generation Wargle-class destroyer. This vessel has proved very reliable and highly effective, to the point that some have suggested simply making a slightly larger version with additional modular hardpoints instead of investing in a new cruiser class. The EMSF operates more destroyers than any other class, but cruisers are a close second.

Hunter-Killer (HK)

Based on destroyer hulls, hunter-killers exchange armor and flexibility for greater speed and stealth systems. Ideally a hunter-killer carries a forward armament equivalent to contemporary destroyers, but are capable of achieving frigate speeds for short periods. Hunter-killers are meant for just that – searching out and killing enemy ships. Their prey consists of merchant vessels and military vessels of up to cruiser size, if they can catch them alone. Hunter-killers can work alone or in squadrons, or alongside frigate squadrons. In wartime they can operate in scout, commerce raiding, or deep-strike roles. They excel at high speed, hit-and-run tactics, but lack the endurance to stand up to anything larger than a frigate in an extended engagement. In the past, some criminal groups, pirates, and even large corporations operated hunter-killers, but it has been decades since one was seen in the hands of such groups.

The EMSF operates the Sneasel-class hunter-killer, which is based on a modified Wargle-class hull. Crews have found that the class actually functions better under heavier operational stresses, tending to develop minor malfunctions when kept within standard cruise conditions. As a result, the ship’s captains tend to be regarded as hot-headed and aggressive, as they go everywhere at attack velocities.

Cruiser (CL)

Mid-sized, flexible ships designed to fulfill a variety of roles. Cruisers form the backbone of larger navies, and are the class most often seen in independent general operation. Most designs feature a larger number of modular hardpoints, allowing cruisers to be quickly refitted to meet mission demands. Jacks-of-all-trades but masters of none, cruisers get the most work during peace time. Only militaries operate cruisers.

The EMSF currently relies on the fifth generation Eevee-class cruisers, a well-liked and highly dependable hull. The Eevee is very easy to maintain and amazingly tough. It is eventually scheduled to be replaced by the sixth generation Shaymin-class, but the start date of replacement has been pushed back three times already.

Armored Cruiser (CA)

Generally based on equivalent cruiser hulls, armored cruisers are the smallest category of capital ship. Restricted to fleet operations, armored cruisers lack the flexibility of cruisers, instead carrying heavier armor and weapons. They are the smallest class to carry proton cannons. Because they are specialized fleet ships, they always work with escorting destroyers or cruisers. They are the largest and most powerful vessels currently in service, outside of the EMSF. Armored cruisers are generally poorly regarded in civilian colony circles, since most believe that they are the minimum vessels required to destroy a station (though in fact this is untrue), which suggests uncharitable motivations on the part of forces that operate them.

The EMSF uses the Eevee-class based Blastoise-class armored cruiser. Unlike the Eevee, the Blastoise is not well liked, considered slow, underpowered, and antiquated. Built to match the speed of contemporary battleships when first designed, it is now the slowest class in the fleet. Plans to swap in the much more advanced sixth generation Magmortar-class have been delayed due to problems with the new power plants.

Battleship (BB)

The largest and most powerful spacecraft ever built, battleships fear no other vessels. In a one-on-one engagement, only another battleship or a very well crewed battlecruiser can hope to win. They carry the best weapons and the thickest armor. These behemoths can match the entire fleets of small nations. If armored cruisers inspire worry, battleships cause terror. However, they are incredibly expensive to build and operate, and only the EMSF bothers to do so in the modern era.

The EMSF recently introduced the massive Dialga-class battleship, a sixth generation warship of incredible power. It provoked a political firestorm as other groups questioned Earth’s motivations. To date, only eleven of these leviathans have been completed, with a twelfth and final hull still under construction. The twenty fifth generation Palkia-class ships have already been phased out of service.

Battlecruiser (BC)

Sometimes referred to as super hunter-killers, battlecruisers scale the concept behind the smaller class up to capital ship size. Based on either enlarged cruiser or lightened battleship hulls, battlecruisers can outfight anything they cannot outrun, and outrun anything they cannot outfight. They often feature forward armaments that match or even exceed those carried by contemporary battleships. They are the only class capable of killing an enemy battleship on their own, but only under ideal conditions. Battlecruisers fulfill the same roles as hunter-killers, though of course on a larger scale. They typically operate alone, or rarely with a support squadron of hunter-killers.

The most technologically advanced spacecraft ever built, the Lugia-class battlecruiser is the pride of the EMSF. With only three in service, the class is the first battlecruiser fielded by the ESMF in over five decades, since the failed fourth generation Spearow-class.

Escort Carrier (CE)

Cruiser-sized ships designed to deploy and support singleship. They are fast enough to operate alongside destroyers, giving light forces a singleship capability without having to slow down for larger carriers. They often also help to escort convoys during wartime. They do carry some armament of their own, but rarely even as much as a destroyer. Most escort carriers can also deploy power combat armor without modification, allowing them to serve as large assault troop landers. Escort carriers are both the smallest class of dedicated carriers in current use, and the largest fielded by any force other than the EMSF.

The EMSF recently reintroduced escort carriers with the Combee-class, a sixth generation hull that has received high marks from its new crews. The class has proven so effective that the EMSF is considering phasing out fleet carriers altogether, and fielding more escort carriers instead.

Fleet Carrier (CV)

Massive capital ships given over entirely to providing a mobile base for singleships, fleet carriers sometimes mass even more than battleships, but are much less well armed. Instead they are capable of deploying vast numbers of small craft, often as much as double that carried by escort carriers. Some even carry patrol craft alongside or instead of singleships. They can deploy power combat armor as well, and often carry at least one platoon at all times, but rarely is one switched to a landing ship role entirely. Fleet carriers have largely disappeared in the modern era, since modern defensive equipment is very difficult for singleship weapons to defeat.

Only the EMSF currently operates fleet carriers, the fifth generation Vespiquen-class. Though refitted with better engines to keep up with battleships, Vespiquen-class vessels are entirely dependent on escorts and their carried craft for defense. The EMSF currently does not have a replacement design under development, and is considering retiring the fleet carrier concept entirely.

Military Spaceship Development Timeline

A rough guide to how improving technology made military ships more and more dangerous.

Pre-Space Era

Prior to the space era, spacecraft consisted of single use capsules or multi-use spaceplanes launched from Earth via rockets. These vessels took humanity as far as the Moon. Early military spacecraft were simply armed versions of civilian craft. The space era itself is marked by the establishment of the first permament manned station, which was quickly followed by the development of entirely space-based ships.

Generation 1 Military Spaceships

The first generation of military space-only ships were often built mostly from existing components, such as habitat modules, parts of civilian craft, and drives intended for probes or even stripped off earth-to-orbit rockets. Life support and crew accomodations were primitive, and most had very little armor. They used fission reactors to power either direct fission or fission-electric drives and ion thrusters. Many carried chemical thrusters for backup. Singleships utilized radioisotope batteries for power, with a few using radioisotope rockets while others continued to use chemical rockets. Armament consisted primarily of guided multi-purpose missiles, supported by experimental railguns. Point defense was handled primarily by counter missiles, with flak cannons for last-ditch efforts. Despite the limitations of their technology, Generation 1 ships were in some ways the most dangerous, since they pre-dated the ban of weapons of mass destruction in space. Thus, they routinely carried nuclear explosives and impactors. The largest Generation 1 spaceships were classfied as cruisers, but massed less than modern destroyers.

Generation 2 Military Spaceships

Generation 2 ships were a significant improvement over their predecessors. All of their components were purpose built for space-only military operations. Life support, sensors, and armor improved markedly. These ships moved also away from using the radioactive rockets, though they still used fission reactors. Most used VASIMR drives alongside ion thrusters. Singleships continued to use radioisotope batteries, but began to switch to VASIMR drives. Many still relied on chemical rockets, though. Primary armament continued to be guided missiles, now of the cruise, assault, and anti-fighter designs. Railguns became common secondary armament. Counter-missiles continued to provide primary point defense, though the flak cannons were replaced with flak-coilguns. Early Generation 2 spaceships carried nuclear explosives and impactors, but these were retired after the signing of the weapons ban treaties. The first armored cruisers were developed, massing around 90% of a modern cruiser.

Generation 3 Military Spaceships

For the most part, Generation 3 ships were an evolutionary improvement over Generation 2 vessels. Armor, life support, and sensors continued to improve incrementally, and electronic warfare suites became common on large vessels. The primary changes were in power plant - the first light fusion reactors came online, allowing new ships to finally rid themselves of fission power. Fusion rockets replaced VASIMR drives. Chemical rockets disappeared from singleships as well. In armament, the first shipkiller missiles appeared, though cruise and assault missiles remained in service. Railguns became more important as missiles became larger and EW became better. Flak coilguns took on larger portions of point defense duties. The largest ships were called battleships, but they massed about as much modern armored cruisers. Singleships began to carry railguns in addition to missiles.

Generation 4 Military Spaceships

As fusion power improved, military ships were able to carry more weapons, better armor, and significantly improved EW suites. It was the last that caused the most significant changes. Generation 4 ships were a straight-line development from Generation 3, but the overall changes were vast. They were much larger and their armor much thicker, but were in many cases faster than their predecessors. Guided missiles remained a primary armament, but cruise missiles had been phased out entirely, replaced by shipkillers. Assault missiles were re-assigned to anti-fighter roles. Railguns became a parallel primary armament, and the first generation of plasma pulse cannons were deployed. Flak coilguns took over point defense roles entirely. The largest battleships reached a mass within 80% of their modern equivalents. Singleships, though, remained largely unchanged.

Generation 4.5 Military Spaceships

The so-called Generation 4.5 were Generation 4 ships modified to carry torpedoes, a new form of indirect fire weapon. Initially torpedo launchers were added alongside guided missiles, but once the torpedoes proved themselves the guided missiles were retired.

Generation 5 Military Spaceships

Considered the first fully developed military spaceships, Generation 5 vessels were designed from the ground up to use fusion reactors, fusion rockets, torpedos, railguns, and PPCs. They were approximately the same size as Generation 4 vessels, but had better armor and tended to be slightly faster. Point defense was supplemented with HELCs. Some singleships began using fusion batteries, and the first fighter-class PPCs were deployed. Many Generation 5 ships are still in service today.

Generation 5.5 Military Spaceships

Generation 5.5 vessels were Generation 5 capital ships that were refitted to carry particle beam projectors. These ships also had upgrades made to their power plants to support the PBPs.

Generation 6 Military Spaceships

The newest and most advanced generation, Generation 6 vessels are an evolutionary improvement. These vessels use a new fuel storage system, allowing them to carry more deuterium for the same mass. They thus have greater ranges and higher acceleration than their predecessors. Additionally, capital ships were designed from the ground up to use particle beam projectors, making them much more effective. Fighter class PPCs became standard issues, and experiments with singleship launched torpedoes have begun.

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