Ships of 2320AD
Above: The Esprit de Casablanca in
October 2319 launching its integral pair of AB.400 landers ‘Rick’ and ‘Ilsa’
from a crowded Earth orbit to collect a number of
From crossing the shelf we were bombarded with messages of congratulations and welcome both from passing ships and relayed through OQC traffic control. Smiles broke out across the bridge and the relief of homecoming washed over us all, for us the war finally was over. At least for now.
The devastation of the French Arm wasn’t reflected at all at Sol. The system was plump with merchants, miners and passenger ships. The outward vector to the FTL shelf was crowded with racing ship outbound to dozens of ultimate destinations. The Tall Ship Esprit de Casablanca was one, which also tight-beamed across a recording of one of their famous and risqué cabarets.
Myrmidon Class Corvette
Above: A pair of Freihafen Raumwaffe Myrmidon corvettes the K-4 and K-7 patrolling in the Alpha Centauri system late in 2319. The Raumwaffe is currently undertaking a fleet wide upgrade of its Myrmidons.
The Myrmidon Class is armed with a pair of lasers, two submunition dispenser and four missile hardpoints which gives it a respectable punch. It is not designed as a warship however, but rather as a cutter and picquet ship capable of screening and guarding tasks. FSI’s design was cheap, quick and easy to manufacture at even the smallest shipyards and the company was willing to licence the design for a very small amount.
The result was that the Myrmidon was taken up by dozens of nations to use as a colonial guard ship and free up regular warships. Even colonies often purchased these small vessels from local budgets and several system defence forces grew dramatically or formed for the first time. The design was also taken up by a number of privateers who could not afford more expensive craft.
The Myrmidon saw action in dozens of engagements throughout the 2nd Kafer War of which the contribution of those in the hands of the local Raumwaffe at the Battle of Nibelungen was perhaps the most notable. The successful conclusion of the war found a situation where the Myrmidon had been over-produced and most nations were looking to reduce their holdings of these vessels. A few were scrapped but many were demilitarised and sold onward into private hands.
Today Myrmidons can be found throughout human space in any number of configurations. Most ply there way as small trading vessels on the frontiers, while others remain in military service including in the hands of the AAVF in Ylii space. There are also a number of Myrmidons in the hands of people on the edges of the law as smugglers, privateers and even pirates. FSI no longer manufactures this ship however there are some smaller yards who turn out limited numbers of the ship each year.
The Myrmidon typically has 24 crewmembers, although six of these are embarked troops who may in fact be replaced by additional crew or passengers. It is a small ship however and lacking many creature comforts the crew must live cheek by jowl. The ship has no spin habitat however there are a number of small ‘hamster cages’ that can be used for health purposes during longer voyages.
Above: The IFS Rochemont transitions to action stations during manoeuvres with the Fifth Fleet in the Gamma Serpentis system. The Amiral Class is the mainstay of the ESA nations’ combat power in the Kafer Sphere and skirmishes with Kafer infiltrators are not uncommon.
The Amiral Class cruiser is the lighter cousin of the Suffren Class and is a significant evolution of that craft which is simpler to construct while retaining most of its capability. At one stage the Vengeur Class CGL looked likely to be the main replacement to the Suffren however for all its ship-killing credentials it still lacked the all round versatility of the Suffrens. The onset of the 2nd Kafer War kick started the process to produce new warships and the new Admirals were high on the list of priorities.
The lead ship of the class the Bertrand was
launched in 2308 with a sister ship due to come off the slips above
The Amiral was chosen in 2306 as the Light
ESA Cruiser (LESAC) design and several of these ships were commissioned with
the British as the Furious Class, Ukrainians as the Borodin Class. Azania and several other nations operated these cruisers and even
The Amirals feature a powerful broadside of 14 LL108 lasers as well as a pair of submunition dispensers. The integral and distinctive missile armament was no fewer than 12 heavy missiles with the option of the installation of additional missile packs in the two small bays. In terms of pure combat performance the Amiral is more than equal of the Suffren, what it lacks is the embarked troop complement.
Above: The Tanger moving away from the Beowulf on the French Arm in transit to Kimanjano. The Tanger is currently operated by Arianelines but saw significant action for over ten years in the Kafer War.
The Ariane 25 Class
liners are the antithesis of the Tall Ship or
These relatively fast ships were employed on the long runs out from the Core to the Beta Canum Cluster or on charter out to the other colonial arms, however with the Kafer War eight of these ships were among the first to be seconded to the military. Stripped of even the normally spartan fittings these vessels were able to nearly 2000 soldiers in reasonable comfort, thanks to the recreational facilities. This made these vessels ideal for long duration mission such as the invasion of Gamma Serpentis.
Since returned to civilian service the remaining vessels retain a glamour associated with their role in the war and many proudly display battle honours and scars. Several ships were utilised for many years for disaster relief on the French Arm and elsewhere Although beginning to show their age the Ariane 25’s are ageing gracefully and each has very much its own character and simple décor themed along with its name.
The ships are capable of carry over 600 passengers with 160 crew on board. They have a complete area dedicated to sport and recreation to allow their passengers to arrive at their destination in the best condition possible. The ship usually relied on off-board interface capability but also carries a pair of landers for movement of people too and from a world.
Above: The Scandinavian Union owned Ringvul on operations deep in the American Arm some time in 2019.
The Beagle Class is a response to ships like
The ship is actually produced by the British
Cargo yards as a commercial venture from a largely Canadian led design. Over
twenty of these ships have been procured by an array of countries, foundations
and commercial ventures. The Beagle Class have been seen operating on all arms
of human space and even deep in other areas such as beyond Ylii
space. Many nations such as
The Beagle operates with a crew of 50 spacers which includes a scientific team of 16. It has a substantial fuel load enabling operations of a significant duration. The ship has a significant small craft compliment including two stutterwarp capable sensor drones, two small craft to aid ice processing and 6 re-entry modules containing an array of sensors and remote drones. In all it is capable of conducting a thorough initial survey of a system utilising its own and off-board sensors and then a thorough remote exploration of a single world with its re-entry modules.
The Beagle Class has been generally a successful, simple and robust design. Several have been encountered with owner modifications such as self defence armament or enhanced cargo carry capacity. At least one has been operating as a trader on the frontiers of the American Arm.
Above: A famous CGI image from a ESA documentary about the Kafer War showing three of the first India Class ships to infiltrate the French Arm.
The India Class destroyer, commonly known as the ‘infiltrator’ became the most notorious Kafer naval vessel of the Kafer Wars. Manned by only the most experienced crews and with a performance matching modern human destroyers these ships ranged deep into the French Arm and beyond sowing havoc and scouting in advance of the main Kafer task forces. Ships of this class were detected on several occasions in the core and one was even destroyed in the Clarkesstar system.
In combat the
It is widely believed that the India Class was designed with substantial Ylii assistance which is one the reasons for their high performance. Intelligence assesses that the captains and crews are chosen from the most intelligent, experienced and independent Kafers. As a result they were believed to be regarded as rather unreliable by their Kafer commanders. Persistent unconfirmed rumours abound that a number of these ships were captured by human forces and have been modified and have operated as Q Ships in Kafer Space in an extension of the ‘Blind Mice’ project.
Above: The Arromanches in the Alpha Centauri system in 2318 during flight testing of the Martel-II.
The Arromanches Class is the second generation of French starfighter carrier and there are currently two in service with the MSIF. Its firepower rests in its complement of 5 squadrons of Martel-II fighters which gives the vessel a powerful standoff punch.
The ship followed on from the Joffre Class which proved to be over complicated and prone to maintenance difficulties. Laid down in 2306 the Arromanches was a much simpler design which maximised launching bay space above all else whilst maintaining a large internal workshop area. Conditions on board were cramped and claustrophobic even for experienced spacers with small internal spin habitats for sleeping quarters and messes and minimal recreational space.
The Arromanches fought at Nibelungen with the Reserve Fleet and was later joined by sister ships Dixmude and Béarns. There were no fewer than four carriers in the French contingent of the Kafer force that invaded Kafer Space including the three Arromanches. Dixmude was lost with all hands above Gamma Serpentis but the others survived.
The remaining two ships are attached to the First and Fifth Fleets in Sol and Gamma Serpentis respectively.
Above: The Patrie on operations in the Kafer Sphere in early 2319 as the flag ship of the human presence. The ship is operating its new Martel-IIRs to increase its sensor coverage. The Bellatrix is seen in the distance as the larger ship's 'goalkeeper'.
The Marseillaise Class is undisputedly the most powerful human warship that has ever been constructed. It was designed following the experience of the Richelieu Class of battleships which bore the brunt of so much fighting in the Kafer Wars and suffered heavy casualties. The Marseillaise design was planned to be able to go broadside on with any Kafer warship and ‘eat Deltas for breakfast’.
The first ship was laid down in 2305 on
resumption of outright hostilities with the Kafers
and the second followed a year later and only two have ever been built. No
other nation has ever come close to building such a vessel, although several
claim to. The Marseillaise has a terrifyingly powerful nose mounted particle
cannon armament designed to ravage opposing capital ships as well as four of
the most powerful laser systems every produced. It also equipped with a
secondary laser armament as powerful as that on the
The Marseillaise was designed to have the same general performance characteristics as the Richelieu Class whilst having enhanced armour, screens and endurance. This resulted in a superb but exceptionally expensive warship, known to the Anglophone allies as the ‘deathstar’.
The Marseillaise was just in time for the Battle of Nibelungen where she shared the destruction of the Over Suzerain’s flagship. Joined a year later by the Patrie these two ships spearheaded the advance of the French Third and Fifth Fleets into the Kafer Sphere with the human assault in 2311 achieving notable victories at Arcturus and AC+18 1890-112. These ships were instrumental in the destruction of the Kafer defences of Gamma Serpentis especially the powerful orbital forts.
The Marseillaise Class have since been slowly upgraded and remain a very visible symbol of French space combat power. One is permanently deployed with the Fifth Fleet in the Kafer Sphere and the other usually stationed above Earth.
Above: The Esprit de Xanadu in transit from Earth via Mars. Although this route is usually not the quickest it is a popular detour for GST’s ships.
The Desarge 8700 is the successor to the popular Desarge 8680 ‘Tall Ship’ liners operated by GST. The Tall Ships are renowned across human for their luxury and decadence, and also for the massive expense of travelling on such a ship. The Tall Ships concentrate on plying the main, lucrative shipping routes from Sol to the colonial arms. There are also a number of exclusive cruises scheduled to remote and exotic locations across space.
The Desarge 8900 had a prolonged developmental period with the first ship starting construction in 2304. The escalation of the war meant that this ship was the only one laid down for nearly eight years and construction was notably slow. 2314 saw the second ship laid down and several others have since followed. While a number of the older Tall Ships saw military service in the rear areas the new liners have remained in GST’s hands throughout.
The ship is notable for its huge five deck ring with observation deck and very striking styling again designed by GST’s eccentric and fabulously wealthy Julius Bourge. The Desarge 8900 has carried on the tradition of individual decor and themes for each vessel. The Esprit de Casablanca has a film noir style whilst the Esprit de Versailles resembles a court of the ancien régime for example.
The recreational facilities on these vessels are unmatched even running to swimming pools, holographic theatres, spas and nightclubs. There are currently six of these ships in service, exclusively with GST. The bulk of the Tall Ships could once be found on the French Arm, now a majority can be found on the other colony arms.
Copyright, 2009 Laurent Esmiol and D Hebditch