On the 21st of October, 1805, twenty seven ships under the command of Admiral Lord Nelson met against thirty-three French and Spanish ships of the line in The Battle of Trafalgar off the coast of Spain. Nelson's ships spanned an entire armada of different types of boats. Frigates, corvettes, cruisers and massive ships of the line "Man O' Wars." This was to be the final blow to France and Spain during The War of The Third Coalition.
The opening salvo of broadsides was deafening. All of Nelson's Man O' Wars fired their entire cannon volley at once. An almost one thousand gun barrage. The Spanish and French ships returned fire, as Nelson's frigates routed the French Man O' War's. Cruisers on both sides began ramming each other, creating a quagmire of tangled rope and mass. Lord Nelson's own flagship, the massive HMS Victory was struck several times by cannon fire. Moments later, Nelson was shot down by an enemy sniper perched on one of the Spanish ships. His last words before the British victory were "God and my country."
In the Halo universe, the amount of space-faring combat vessels is staggering. From UNSC, to Covenant and more the black void of the final frontier is hardly empty in this space opera. Unlike Lord Nelson's wooden and steel armada, Halo's ships are constructed of futuristic materials and armed with equally futuristic weapons. So how do these ships stack up against once other, and how and what makes them so intricately formidable?
Let me take a seat in the captain's chair, and I'll tell you.
BEFORE YOU READ FURTHER, IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU READ MY PREVIOUS ARTICLE ON THE HALO UNIVERSE'S IMPLEMENTATION OF FASTER THAN LIGHT TRAVEL.
THE UNSC FLEET
Created in 2160, the UNSC Navy is the branch of the UEG responsible for all space-born operations. The Navy has several ships in it's inventory, from light frigates, cruisers, destroyers, battleships, carriers, stealth vessels and massive battle-fleet flagships. These ships are grouped into massive fleets, either exploratory or military. These fleets are further divided into several battle groups, which are formed on an as-needed basis and vary in size from three ships to large strike groups able to strip clean entire solar systems.
Light frigates within the UNSC are used mainly as escort ships, meant to safeguard larger vessels which are not as maneuverable in space-based combat. Four classes exist currently in the UNSC's inventory, they are the Stalwart, Paris, Charon and more recent Strident. Each class however, has maintained a length of roughly 575 meters. Light frigates are protected by ceramic-titanium alloy, which is similar to the real world series 7000 aluminum used by modern day military aircraft. Light frigates are also able to conduct ground operations thanks to their hanger bays, which are capable of carrying dropships, insertion pods and ground vehicles.
The oldest, and most heavily used class are the Stalwart, which saw action in every major battle of the Human-Covenant war. The Stalwart class was assembled at the UNSC's main shipyards on the planet Reach, where over several hundred vessels of the class were built throughout their life-cycle. The ship has the usual light frigate construction, with the bridge facing the bow section and the hanger bays facing aft. Crew compliments are light, as the smaller size of the vessel means that larger ships were often nearby to provide better crew luxuries when needed. The ship boasts several armaments, including one magnetic acceleration cannon, thirty archer missile pods and up to eight high caliber Rampart point defense guns. Most of the Stalwart class light frigates were destroyed during the war and those which remain in inventory are being phased out by the newer Paris, Charon and Strident classes. Nonetheless, the Stalwart class ships which survived are still heavily used throughout UNSC space.
Perhaps the most famous Stalwart class ship was the "In Amber Clad" which was present during the first battle for Earth and at Installation 05 (Delta Halo.)
The successor to the Stalwart class is the Paris/Charon class light combat frigate. While keeping the same armor and armaments, the ships are slightly larger by several meters. The Paris and Charon classes also have much better crew compliments, a larger hanger bay (capable of holding the equivalent of three M808 Scorpion main battle tanks) and are able to transport up to two battalions of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers with re-entry vehicles. This makes the Paris class a versatile tool within the UNSC Navy, often times going on solo assignments to keep a low profile, but with the firepower to hold its own when engaged. During the second battle for Earth and Installation 00 (The Ark,) a single Charon class light frigate designation "Forward Unto Dawn" wreaked significant havoc on Covenant Forces.
The latest and most advanced light Frigate is the Strident class, constructed post war. The Strident is larger than the other classes by a dozen or so meters and has newly constructed neo-titanium-A plating in addition to energy shielding. The ship is much more streamlined and is capable of carrying a much more varied payload than other frigates. This includes, but is not limited to, nuclear missiles, 70mm point defense guns, conventional Archer missile pods and assorted magnetic acceleration payloads. Several Strident class ships are direct escorts for the UNSC's flagship "Infinity."
Destroyers & Battleships
The UNSC Navy excels at both quick, debilitating first strikes within enemy territory and hard line defense tactics. Ideally, these strategies are implemented at long range with heavy weapons platforms. No other vessel has the potential to strike deep, or defend strategic interests like the Halberd class heavy destroyer and Vindication class battleship.
The Halberd class began construction shortly after the first shots of the insurrection were fired. Acting as a long range, medium sized interdiction vessel, the Halberd class destroyers are meant to both take, and hold key points of value for the UNSC. All ships in the class are constructed to the same general specifications, with a long, forward bow holding the ship's magnetic accelerator cannon and a bulky aft section tailored for crew and cargo. The ship is medium sized, coming in at about 485 meters. Unlike other vessels in the UNSC, Halberd class ships feature a specialized battle and command station meant to coordinate with other ships. This ability to communicate throughout the fleet both quickly and efficiently has lead to the ship being favored among captains leading battlegroups.
UNSC destroyers are more heavily armored and armed than standard light frigates, and can both give and take considerable damage. Featuring slanted titanium-A armor and specialized heat resistant alloys, the Halberd class destroyers were formidable ships during the Human-Covenant war. Because of their slanted armor and jagged forward sections, captains often used the ship to ram Covenant cruisers to great effect (Jacob Keys leading the UNSC "Iroquois" was one such example of this tactic.) The Halberd class destroyer is armed with an enormous amount of firepower which included a magnetic accelerator battery, over-pressurized Archer missile pods (26 pods,) and even a compliment of Shiva class nuclear missiles. Defensive systems include multiple 70mm gun batteries and at least three clusters of 50mm point defense guns. In addition, its cargo bays can deploy numerous squads of ODST and vehicles ground-side.
After the Human-Covenant war, the UNSC began to see the importance of heavily armed, fast attack vessels and began construction on a new type of destroyer. This would lead to the construction of the most heavily armed ship of its size, the Vindication-class light battleship. The Vindication class battleship is an evolution of the Halberd class heavy destroyer. It serves the same role as the Halberd class, but offers a more versatile platform for sustained combat. While possessing the same armor, the Vindication class battleship possess a much greater array of weapons, including two magnetic accelerator cannons, twice the amount of Archer missiles, and an array of defenses for engaging heavily armored vessels.
During the Human-Covenant War, no other vessel was more iconic and strategically important than the UNSC's vast compliment of cruisers. Constructed on the planet Reach's Aszod shipyards, there are currently four classes in the Navy's inventory, Halcyon-class light cruiser, Marathon-class heavy cruiser -
Autumn-class heavy cruiser and the current Valiant-class super-heavy cruiser. While each classes' armor and weaponry vary heavily, each vessel keeps the somewhat uniform length of 1170 meters. All classes of cruisers are constructed into hexagonal sections, staggered upwards into multiple airlocked compartments in case ejection of a damaged section is necessary. Unlike destroyers and frigates, cruisers have much better crew amenities. For example, the Halyon class cruiser designation "Pillar of Autumn" had a full mess hall, recreation center, lounge and featured a much more specious interior.
A number of service corridors run the length of the cruiser, which are used to transport personnel and create easy access to sub-systems. Engineering especially, has several access routs to the ship's fusion reactors. The corridors serve a secondary purpose of lessening the ship's considerable mass, increasing acceleration and maneuverability. This is especially important when engaging enemy ships, as the vessel must be forward facing the target to effectively use its magnetic acceleration cannon.
Cruisers within the Navy hold the role of assault and large scale defense vessels, engaging in planetary invasions or defending key systems from massive assaults. In addition, cruisers are lead ships within battlegroups, coordinating fire-support and fleet movement. Their spacious interiors hold dozens of vehicles, dropships, ODST reentry vehicles and due to the full sized armory mid-deck, houses thousands of weapons for on-board soldiers. A multitude of hangar bays are located on each side of the ship, for quickly launching dropships. To preform their role successfully, all cruiser classes within the UNSC are heavily armored and armed. Featuring the latest in titanium-A armor plating and ceramic-neodymium composite materials, cruisers are able to withstand a withering barrage of plasma munitions before becoming crippled. In-fact, cruisers are able to operate even after a crippling blow has terminated primary systems. This is because the ship's weapons systems are not attached to the main power coupling. During the battle For Earth, a Marathon class cruiser was nearly sheered in half by a Covenant assault carrier's ventral particle beam. However, the ship continued to fire munitions despite the critical damage.
Armaments on all classes of cruisers are nothing less than devastating. The main armament of all cruisers is a specialized magnetic acceleration cannon which can launch standard ferro-tungsten rounds, or "shredder" rounds which splinter similar to a shotgun blast once the munition has impacted the target. Secondary armaments include several hundred Archer missile pods, which when launched simultaneously create a storm of high explosive ordinance, a compliment of remote Shiva class nuclear missiles, seven 50mm cannons for point defense and a large number of Longsword fighter craft held within hangar bays.
Within the UNSC and the more specialized Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) reconnaissance of enemy movements and silent interdiction operations are of key importance. In order to accomplish these missions with any rate of success, stealth must be of the utmost importance. This is why the Navy has spent considerable time and resources into the development of the two sub-classes of stealth vessel, the Prowler-Black-Cat and the newer Prowler-Winter.
Prowler class stealth vessels are small stealth ships, operated by a crew of less than twenty. They are ideal for sneaking into enemy territory, gathering intelligence and then slipping back into friendly space unnoticed. The ship is split into three decks, bridge, communications and operations. The bridge is situated in the bow section. "Black-Cat" models have the bridge facing on a downwards slope, while the newer "Winter" model has the bridge facing fully forwards. On the "Black-Cat" model, the communications deck is situated in the mid section of the ship protruding upwards. While in the "Winter" variant, the communications deck is again near mid-section, but is streamlined to fit into the newer "swept" design. On all models, the operations deck is aft near to the weapons bays. The operations deck is responsible for intelligence gathering as well as mission updates to and from FLEETCOM.
Prowlers of both classes are lightly armored in order to maximize maneuverability. The main armor is not the typical protective titanium-A, but instead a specialized hull coated with reflected mirror nano-inlays which reflect incoming light to create a cloaking effect. This enables the Prowler to conduct dangerous operations within enemy territory without being seen or detected. Because of the heat generated by the ship, Prowers are also coated with heat absorbing materials so that the ship cannot be detected on enemy sensors.
Prowlers are armed with several munitions, most notably a full compliment of HAVOK grade nuclear mines. These mines can be layered throughout asteroid fields or key locations, then detonated either by proximity or remotely from a safe distance. This makes the Prowler a deadly vessel capable of destroying entire fleets without being detected.
Currently there is only one flagship representing the entire UNSC's pride, the "Infinity."
The Infinity is a massive, three mile long capital ship capable of laying siege to entire systems. Originally constructed in secret near the Sol System Ort Cloud, the Infinity was meant to be Humanity's last bastion in case Earth fell during the war. After the conflict ended favorably, the Infinity was converted into a massive warship to shore up the fleet's losses.
The infinity is crewed by seventeen thousand individual and is constructed into dozens of decks. These decks are connected by lifts, elevators, catwalks and stairwells. Since the Infinity is so large, movement throughout the length of the vessel is made possible by several tram systems. The bridge is spacious, housing up to a hundred personnel equipped to handle any mission given to them. The official UNSC pamphlet on the Infinity describes her hull as being composed of 4.9 meters of titainum-3A armor. The ship also possesses energy shields, making her the first UNSC ship known to be fitted with shielding systems. The ship's sublight power plant is an XR2 fusion reactor, which combines Human and Forerunner technology into a single engine assembly, the first of its kind. The Forerunner design is capable of dropping out of slipspace with pinpoint accuracy, sometimes within meters of the intended jump target.
Infinity has a spacious interior, and thus has the best crew compliments of any UNSC vessels. Housing several theaters, recreation areas, mess-halls and even a large park area filled with flora and fauna located near the top structure. Infinity also has several recreation events scheduled, included a stern to bow charity run, which sees participants run the entire length of the ship.
Mass deployment on the Infinity is realized by a large number of bays located throughout the vessel. Infinity has three hundred primary bays, one hundred and fifty secondary bays, one hundred and eight material deployment bays, and ten sub-vessel deployment bays: the last of these each carries a Strident class heavy frigate for force projection and escort. This gives the Infinity an entire battlegroup located within the hull, being able to be rapidly deployed when needed. However, the greatest assets absurd Infinity is the full complement of Spartan-IVs located within their own designated section of the ship.
The internal bays, some half-a-mile long, carry hundreds of vehicles, dropships, fighter craft and dozens of Mammoth class siege vehicles. In addition to vehicles, the Infinity has over a dozen full scale armories housing hundreds of thousands of weapons for ground troops. There are several ODST battalions on the ship, with hundreds of reentry vehicles to deploy when needed.
Infinity is armed with four newly conceived magnetic accelerator cannons, thousands of Archer missiles pods, dozens of Onager MAC guns, Rapier and Howler missile pods, fifteen anti-aircraft gun batteries, guided missile payloads, dozens of Hyperion nuclear missiles carrying HAVOC grade munitions and a full assembly of dorsal mounted point defense 70mm guns. This makes the Infinity the most heavily armed vessel in service within the UNSC.
Continued Next Week In Part 2. The Covenant Fleet
A Halo fan since the beginning, 2001. Also a games industry consultant, writer, and educator. These are my thoughts, praise and advice concerning the past, present and future narrative of the Halo franchise.
Halo, all assets within, characters and merchandise are property of the Microsoft Corporation and is developed by its subsidiary 343 Industries.
I do not own, claim to own or retain any rights to the Halo franchise. This is a fan based work, and is strictly non-profit.
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Written, Researched, Produced And Published By Halo-Nation member "Synth Samurai"
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