|14 History of the ST Class Dreadnought|
|The ST-series dreadnought forms the backbone of the UGTO’s offensive capabilities. At just shy of 1600 meters, they are the largest conventional warships fielded by the loyalists across the numerous fleets, second only to the station in terms of durability and firepower. One hundred and sixteen examples currently exist, with the line still in active production.
The hull can trace its origins to the Agincourt-class Fleet Carrier. During the Third Stellar Conflict, these vessels, slightly smaller than their contemporaries, formed the core of the UGTO Navy. Though generally obsolete by any modern standards, the lessons learned during the class’s fairly short period of superiority ensured the UGTO’s survival as a stable military power.
In 2258, the Cygnus system’s government formally applies for ICC membership, it sets into motion a series of events that will lead to the UGTO declaring war on the Farstars. Though officially claiming that their rivals are failing to prevent pirates from within their borders attacking loyalist worlds, the truth is that the UGTO are frustrated in their attempts to keep the fringe governments in line. A state of war will validate the need for martial law in regions near the front, and also provide an opportunity to expand Earth’s influence. So begins the Third Stellar Conflict.
Up until this point, the Navy’s Agincourt’s has only been tested against the poorly-equipped Stellar Freedom Alliance and other criminal groups. Air superiority is considered the primary goal in UGTO doctrine, with it, an enemy fleet can be destroyed almost at leisure.
From an historical perspective, it is clear that the UGTO had greatly overestimated the effectiveness of their carrier groups, whilst simultaneously underestimating the preparedness of the ICC for a protracted conflict.
Expecting a victory within months at most, the UGTO are shocked to find that their most prized asset, the Agincourt is near useless against an organized enemy. Anti-fighter technology has achieved several major breakthroughs during the eight years of relative peace. Without their numerous fighter squadrons, the ships have very little offensive capability, and instead must rely on smaller support ships to fight for them.
Slow to react, the UGTO continue to use their outdated carrier tactics, until realizing their futility in the Battle of Luyten. Out of three fleets ordered into combat, only five ships survive. The era of the aircraft carrier as the center of naval operations ends, after over three hundred years of dominance. The UGTO Navy is a spent force, and Earth braces itself for the inevitable defeat at the hands of the ICC.
By a stroke of sheer luck, however, the UGTO successfully attains a ceasefire, but in return is forced to surrender all territory it has lost. The political groveling shows just how devastating the war was. Members of the senate vow never again to be caught so unprepared; the incumbent Grand Chancellor is suspended following a movement by the senate and a major reorganization of the military is put into place. Almost as soon as the conflict had ended, preparations are made for the next one.
The Bifrost Fleet Foundry is greatly expanded in preparation for the Navy’s reconstruction. New ships, however, will be needed.
The UGTO turn to Zain Iskandar, a ship designer and part of the team that had created the Agincourt. He argues that while the basic design had been sound, the reliance on only one aspect of naval warfare and the failure to update the fleets with new technologies as they became available had allowed the ICC to gain the advantage. Given a generous budget, but a strict time schedule, he sets to work.
Less than six months later, Iskandar and his team reveal what will become the ST-101 Carrier Dreadnought. Though initially displeased that all he has given them is a scaled-up Agincourt, military officials warm more to the design when he reveals that the weapons systems are deliberately modular, and that the hull can be used for a variety of roles. The design is approved and the first keel is laid down on December 6th, 2260.
Accelerated construction allowed by the Bifrost Foundry’s new shipbuilding facilities means that the first ship is completed on May 11th, 2261, almost a day to the war’s end. With limited armament and with only a skeleton crew, the hull is used as a test bed for the new technology it incorporates.
These tests are carried out on the outer edges of Sol. Nearly all aspects of performance are scrutinized. A number of mothballed Agincourts are used as target drones.
Initial results conclude that while offensive and defensive aspects are a huge advancement over previous designs, speed and handling are unsatisfactory.
To compensate for this, Iskandar proposes the addition of two additional power plants to the design, both of which will be housed in nacelles attached to the main hull with three reinforced braces.
Up until this point, the vessel has housed only a single main engine at the rear of the hull, giving it an appearance that is very reminiscent of its predecessor. This new revision, though not part of the original design, will radically change the ships appearance, and influence the style of all UGTO ships to come. Permission is granted to implement the changes and the test bed returns to Earth.
One month later, the modifications are completed and the ship is once more rolled out of Bifrost. Iskandar has demonstrated his genius and has created a vessel that is a perfect balance of naval might and architecture. The refitted design solves the handling issues, and increases fuel economy and energy reserves with few compromises. The changes are incorporated onto all other examples currently under construction.
Fully armed, and crewed with graduates from the new Gagarin Naval Academy, the test bed is formally commissioned on July 6th 2261. Grand Chancellor Margret Cooper christens the ship “Dreadnought” and hails the ceremony as “a new dawn for the UGTO in its strife for peace.”. As an ST-101 Carrier Dreadnought, Dreadnought’s hangars are half the size of those of an Agincourt, but she enjoys far greater durability and combat power.
Over the course of the next few months, more ST-series dreadnoughts will be commissioned, including a number of dedicated battleships and command ships. It is these behemoths, in the form of the ST-105 Battle Dreadnought, ST-106 Command Dreadnought and ST-111 Elite Assault Dreadnought, that will be at the forefront of the UGTO’s naval warfare for years to come and will help ensure Earth’s control of its territories.
The military is now in possession of a growing number of expertly trained personnel, which include ship designers. Under Iskandar’s wing, these new teams set about designing different hull classes in the same style to replace those currently in service. These are completed with similar expediency.
Rearmament is so rapid that by 2263, the UGTO Navy is stronger than it was before the war. During this time, Iskandar has several disputes with military directors. Finding him increasingly frustrating to deal with, he is swiftly put to one side and Relaia Calerin is installed as chief designer. Fearing a possible leak of design secrets to the ICC, the Grand Chancellor grants permission for Iskandar to be silenced.
Calerin’s tasks will not be as daunting as those of her predecessor. Instead, she will oversee many small adjustments to current designs, both to improve their efficiency and remove any flaws caused by the haste of their construction. She will also direct the refitting and recommissioning of all surviving Agincourt hulls.
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