Just a quick bit of worldbuilding. Doing this partially as a response to a recent Spacedock video (and Bradford Walker’s post on it) but also as a way to get my ideas actually written down and organized better.
Some of you might notice that ships sizes are very close to those in David Weber’s Honor Harrington Series. That wasn’t completely intentional but it is more or less how I’m thinking these days.
Third Generation Post-Newtonian Warship Classes
Conventional Classes as of 4010.
DN Dreadnaughts: Massing around 5 or 6 million tons dreadnaughts are the queens of battle and the main measure that determines a star nations power and prestige; even if light cruiser and destroyers do most of the actual fighting. Dreadnaughts however are quite expensive and require enormous repair yards in order to keep them maintained. Thus the constant temptation to build smaller battleships despite proper dreadnaughts being generally more efficient ton per ton. Major fleet battles are however quite rare so capital ships mostly sit around in orbit and look menacing.
BB Battleships: Averaging about 3.5 to 4M tons Battleships are defined as the minimum ship that can effectively stand in the ‘wall of battle’ as part of a major fleet engagement. Armed with long range missiles and heavy energy batteries and paired with strong enough shields and armor to resist such weapons; battleships command respect and project power. Even an obsolete battleship can still be a dangerous opponent as even the oldest ship can still to refitted to fire state of the art missiles.
BC Battlecruisers: Averaging around 2M tons and with newer ships approaching two and half million tons the emergence of the true capital missile carrying battlecruiser is the defining event of third generation post-Newtonian warships. Battlecruisers are used primarily for deep raiding and heavy strikes against targets of opportunity. This was done to absolutely devastating effect against Breylands scattered colonies and border worlds during what later be called The Brafen Raids. The VBN which had previously rejected building battlecruisers has since changed their mind and adopted a more aggressive forward deployment doctrine.
CA Heavy Cruisers: Averaging around 400k tons heavy cruisers are mostly used defensively as picket ships and escorts. Few pirate bands or rogue states can wield ships of this size so a lone CA is generally going to have a firepower advantage against such non-state enemies.
CL Light Cruisers: More or less standardised at around 100k tons light cruisers are the multirole workhorses of virtually all space navies. Able to act as scouts, raiders, escorts and system defence pickets no fleet ever truly has enough light cruisers. Light cruiser are usually captained by Lt. Commanders.
The Viceroyal Breylandic Navy has learned through hard fought experience to never place a woman in command of a light cruiser.*
DD Destroyers: The smallest truly useful warships destroyers have standardised at the 55k ton mark, partially in due to what is known as the Curtis Mass Limit. By being under the Curtis Limit destroyers do not create an ‘exit signature’ upon exiting jump space and can then go immediately into full stealth, making them even better raiders than light cruisers. Destroyers are also fast and agile enough to flee from an engagement that is going poorly. This comes mostly at the cost of having limited ability to carry consumables and supplies, greatly limiting operational range and deployment time. Destroyers are usually captained by fairly senior Lieutenants or recently promoted Lt. Commanders.
FF Frigates: The smallest possible jump capable warship frigates tend average 40k tons. While most navies do not even bother building ships of this size the Viceroyal Breyland continues to use frigates in large numbers as the VBN is badly overextended has to cover and patrol a large number of sparsely populated systems. The VBN also prefer to use frigates for messenger duty instead of building smaller and cheaper dispatch boats.
FAC Fast Attack Craft: FACs are small gunboats typically around 30k tons that lack warp drives and are used for planetary defence and customs patrols. FACs are an inexpensive way to put a lot of firepower in space very quickly but they have numerous drawbacks. While VBN doctrine considers FACs vital to curbing smuggling and maintaining government control of the orbitals, these ships inherent lack of hyperjump capability means that unlike destroyers FACs are unable to retreat from a superior force. They also require orbital stations to operate from and many Breylandic colonies are lacking in orbital infrastructure. Plus you have to actually ship to the system in question using fairly large freighters.
AMC Armed Merchant Cruisers: Due to the increasing focus on missile weapons armed merchant ships are increasingly proving to be a threat that needs to be respected. However once a true warship gets inside effective energy weapon range AMCs quickly become little more than targets as they lack agility and tend to have defensive EW systems. Large converted merchant ships are however quite useful utility ships, often used as troop transports or supply ships. The VBN has also been known to arm such ships with small numbers of capital ship missiles giving them a long range punch that most opponents don\t really expect. AMCs also can carry a lot of munitions and consumables allowing them to stay on station for extended periods of time.
Intermediate and Emerging Classes.
BBL Light Battleships: Generally 3-3.25M tons. While there are a lot of older obsolete ships generally referred to as light battleships. The modern light battleship was developed once the lessons of the Brafen Raids had sunk in and is a system defense ship specifically designed to defeat a battlecruiser in a one on one duel. These ships are still at a fairly big disadvantage in a major fleet engagement if they are forced into joining the wall of battle but allow for a larger number of systems to be covered.
CB Super Cruiser: The enormous and steadily growing gap between heavy cruisers and new built battlecruisers is increasingly leading to naval theorists to speculate about an intermediate ship between the two classes. These ‘super‘ cruisers would be about 800k tons and would likely be used offensively against weaker targets too unimportant to commit capital ships against. No major navy currently has ships of this class in service but the concept is widely discussed and quite trendy among armchair admirals.
CM Medium Cruiser: As a result of a budget crisis Breyland built a number of 200k ton Arbalest-class cruisers and the resulting ships turned out to be surprisingly useful as lone patrol ships even if they did not fit into existing fleet doctrine. Additional medium cruiser designs are being considered and the VBN may rethink its entire cruiser construction priorities in the near future.
DDH Heavy Destroyer: Several smaller navies are beginning to question the conventional wisdom about the usefulness of building ships under the Curtis Mass Limit, as the lack of a hyperspace exit signature is not that big of an operational advantage. The result of this is building heavy destroyers in the 65-70k tons range.
*Yes that’s a direct On Basilisk Station reference.
Brad’s post in question.
Chapter One of Decisive Action (which will be need to rewritten.)