February 2008

Star Fleet Fiction Continued


The D5 is an exceptional ship whose design is without any extraneous component. The designers of this ship put much thought into exactly meeting the needs of the crew - no more, no less. Throughout the ship, I have found small useful and clever aspects of design I would not have thought of until I had seen it in use. Although the engine design is highly functional, the ship in general is somewhat lacking in redundancy.

The ship appears to be sturdy, but I have reservations in this matter. As a light cruiser, it is naturally smaller than the battlecruisers, and there were several compromises in its structure to make room for the considerable array of weapons it possesses. This increases the level of maintenance required to a measurable - though not great - degree. The crew has to work harder to keep the D5 running.

The weapons array, like everything else on a D5, provides just enough of everything one needs in battle.

The tactical flexibility of the design is exceptional, but there is one caveat. Once damaged, this ship's capabilities will decline rapidly due to a lack of redundancy. Reserve power, sensors, and scanners are particularly vulnerable. The Marine contingent is smaller, perhaps too small in my opinion, and Kivv has managed to pick up a few extra troops as he agrees with my assessment. These deficiencies are tempered by somewhat superior shielding, but the ship must use maneuver to spread damage over multiple shields. This advantage coupled with the superior arc of the main weapons is, I believe, at the heart of how the D5 should be used in all levels of combat.

My initial tactical assessment is that this vessel is an excellent addition to a fleet in long-range engagements as its fire power is equal to any full cruiser at those ranges. However, once the fleet engages in close combat, the D5 must be allowed to maneuver rather than be tied to a rigid formation. This goes to the core of the ship's design. To mitigate its shortcomings, it needs to maintain speed and maneuver. It is easy, upon cursory inspection, to want to use the D5 as a sort of battle escort for larger units, employing its exceptional array of point-defense weapons. This, however, is a trap as that will constrain the ship's maneuver too much and waste its real potential as an agile oblique combat vessel. This convinces me the D5 may be one of the finest ships available to conduct the flanking mission successfully. At ninety degrees port or starboard, its medium range firepower is nearly equal to that of a D7 forward arc. I should like to see the wing phasers upgraded to the new advanced heavy types like those on the boom.

In squadron combat, this ship should always fight obliquely; first on one side and then the other, spreading damage over as many shields as possible and showing its fore and aft shields to the enemy only when on the initial approach. Flown well, it is my belief this ship could hold its own against battlecruisers.

I believe that those officers selected for command of D5s must be of a different breed than those selected for D7s. While commanders of D7s are expected to remain locked in a tactical formation to maximize their firepower, commanders of D5s must have a very different mindset, with the heart of a fighter pilot. They must be warriors who seek only battle, not advancement, as the free-form tactics of this class will not serve commodores or admirals in good stead. The fleet should select for these commands a new breed of young, aggressive warriors with the ability to react to a situation without having to have their staff study every option. Captains selected for D5s should see these ships as the ultimate expression of their passion for war, not a steppingstone toward squadron and fleet commands, and they must be happy in that role. Let the captains of D5s relish battle and never want promotion to higher command.

I regret that our squadron has not seen any combat that would put this ship to a real test which I could observe. We have been shadowed by a Kzinti scout frigate continuously. Four weeks ago, we engaged a Kzinti strike cruiser and a drone frigate. That battle ended with only minor damage to both sides. I think they were surprised. They attempted to overwhelm us with drones, but these were easily countered by the anti-drone arrays. Six weeks ago we chased a Cartel Raider into the radiation zone while patrolling sector 0905. Had she not had the zone to escape into we might have caught up with her. The D5 engines are very fast.
I recommend leniency for commanders when requisitioning supplies and Marine assignments whenever possible. A few additional khads on these vessels could prevent a much greater loss in a bad situation.

If the D5 is to be used in single-class squadrons like this one, then a leader version is definitely needed. The ship might also be suitable for several more variant types than are currently planned.

I would like to leave you with this thought, if the designers were to take this design paradigm and apply it to a larger hull the resulting ship would be truly impressive and possibly take the Empire to Galactic dominance.

Respectfully, Commander Korgan Marsett
Executive officer, IKV Renegade.

Korgan sat back in his chair and looked over his composition for errors while finishing off his protein drink. He then wrote a brief letter of congratulation to his father who had been promoted to a Brigadier after the success on Luminan. After that. there would be time to work out in the gym before he had to report for duty on the bridge.

Bridge of the Renegade two weeks later

Korgan was working at the weapons station with the Chief Weapons Officer, Lieutenant Commander K'Lar. She was a woman of medium build and moderately good looks, but also of fine character. She was skilled in her job and a tough warrior. Today she was explaining to Korgan the unique ways the disruptors were able to reach such extraordinary arcs. Korgan sat at the terminal while K'Lar leaned over him.

"Here is the secondary swivel control. In case the primary is damaged, this actually bends the energy stream to achieve the necessary range of arc. It plays havoc on the entire system, so you never want to use it for anything other than a last resort, or you'll have maintenance slipping an agonizer into your bunk that night," K'Lar said with a smile.

"Yes, I see. Very interesting, but there is still one thing I don't understand. When firing across the ship's lateral axis, how do you obtain the extra degree of arc? I thought these were supposed to have a full ninety degree arc cross beam. But this shows only eighty nine degrees of swivel." Korgan was ignoring her advances, although these might have only been in his own mind.
"Well, you don't want to proximity burn the opposite engines do you?" she said while placing her hand on the back of his neck and squeezing lightly. Maybe it wasn't just his imagination after all.

"Of course not, but the specifications clearly state that the disruptors have a full ninety degree cross beam arc of fire. This could be a very important tactical aspect of the design that must be ..."

"Hold on Commander. The specifications are exactly correct. See that button there?" She pointed to a red button surrounded by a yellow circle. "That is tied into the targeting system. When a target is in the final degree of arc this automatically ties in with the ship's reaction control system. Hit this button before firing and the ship will yaw in the proper direction and give you the final degree of arc. It is also tied into the central computer so that all other targeting systems take into account the action as well as the ship's inertial dampeners, so you won't even feel the bump," K'Lar explained as she bumped the back of Korgan's chair with her elbow.

Korgan looked up at her. "Impressive. Yes, very clever." On the main targeting scanner before Korgan, a faint blip appeared. Immediately the computers locked onto it and started analyzing it. Korgan caught it out of the corner of his eye, and turned to see what it was.

"What's this we have here?" Korgan questioned and started to punch in commands to bring up information on it.
K'Lar stood up, now completely serious and turned to the scanner operator, "Lieutenant Kreeg, we are picking up something on our targeting scanners. What have you got?"

Kreeg was already scanning it. "I am very positive that it is the same Orion we chased into the WYN radiation belt several weeks ago. It is dropping a trail of radiation like it's on fire. It must have just exited the belt."
K'Lar, who was the bridge watch commander for this shift, reached over and hit the com switch. "Captain to the bridge; crew to alert status!"

It was only a moment before Captain Kivv's voice snapped out of the speaker. "This is the Captain. Situation report!"
K'Lar responded. "We are tracking an Orion raider exiting the belt. Scans indicate it may be the same ship we tracked into the belt earlier. The ship is damaged and laying a trail of radiation, bearing 183 mark 024, headed for Kzinti lines."
"Plot a pursuit course and engage maximum speed. Sound battle alert! Contact Resilience and Rogue via narrow beam and have them close on our position," Kivv snapped and then cut out.

Korgan stood up as tall as possible while addressing the bridge crew. "K'Lar, I will take the con until the captain arrives. Come to full battle alert. Weapons begin arming. Helm, compute a pursuit course and execute at maximum warp. We're going to get the jump on him this time!" He then turned to the communications station. "Kerdres, you heard the order?"

"Aye Sir, transmitting now," she replied while throwing the switch that finished the task.

K'lar set the arming sequences of the ship's weapons. Some of them had already been activated for the demonstrations she was giving Korgan earlier. She accepted his taking charge without comment. Technically, she was not a watch officer and this was his shift to command, but the captain had said for her to continue her temporary status as commander of the first watch until Korgan considered himself fully ready. Apparently, he now did.

Lieutenant Kripner, the helmsman, finished computing his course and reported. "Course plotted and locked; executing maximum warp."

The ship started to hum quietly, and then a little louder and higher in pitch as it accelerated to hundreds of times the speed of light. K'Lar soon reported that weapons were armed and ready. Captain Kivv entered the bridge like a blast of hot wind.
"Status report!" he commanded as he swept into his command chair.

Korgan responded quickly. "Pursuit course is locked and ship is at maximum acceleration. Weapons are armed and ready. The raider is still recovering from the effects of the zone and might not be aware we are coming. Raider is maintaining heading at warp two."

"Very well then, Commander, take your post. Helm, as soon as we reach 50 kilikams, slow to maximum tactical speed."

K'lar looked up to Korgan and said. "This concludes our lesson. Shall we take this up some another time?"

"Perhaps, but I think I may already have a good grasp of it. Thank you for the ..."

"Enough! Commander, get me a full strategic assessment. I want to know who and what is within 500 parsecs," Kivv ordered, pointing to the back of the bridge by the scanner station.

"Aye sir!" Korgan took his seat and began assembling the data.

Kivv grumbled a bit then called out to the scanner operator. "Kreeg, what is the condition of the target ship?"

Kreeg reported. "The raider is shedding the effects of the radiation belt. Target appears to have sustained some damage, most likely from the belt itself, and is venting plasma and minor gases. She has also increased speed to warp 2.1."

"Time to tactical range?" Kivv asked of the navigator as he spun back around forward.

"Seven point three minutes, Sir, at current rate of closure," the navigator replied.

Lieutenant Kerdres called for the captain's attention. "Sir, Rogue has responded and says she will join on our position in approximately 22 minutes. Resilience has not yet reported, but Rogue says she is currently on the outer leg of her patrol course and is more than 45 minutes out from their position."

"Rotten luck!" Captain Kivv sighed, "but then, we probably won't need her. Still, one never knows what we should be prepared for." He fell into silence and deeper thought, reflecting on the larger strategic picture involved.