Today, boys and girls, I wanted to geek out a little. Just a little. Call it a tour in world-building. Some writers talk about how they write, or why, and I do that. But I really wanted to spend some time inside the place I have spent so much time lately.
Auberon is an Republic of Aquitaine (RAN) Strike Carrier. She was designed to a complement to fleet Heavy Cruisers, being built on the same general hull. This means she is as fast as a heavy cruiser, and has some offensive armaments. In this case, two Primary mounts and two Type-3 beams, where a standard Heavy Cruiser has four and six respectively. On engines and shields, she is comparable.
Additionally, a Strike Carrier normally carries nine fighter craft, arranged in three groups of three, with a lead and two wings. (For comparison’s sake, the Fribourg Empire flies squadrons of twelve in pairs and fours.) On most Strike Carriers, the Flight Wing consists of nine fighters of a single type, or sometimes one of the wings will be swapped out for a Special Operations section.
This is what Auberon is like when Jessica Keller takes command. Six fighter craft (M-5 Harpoons instead of the more advanced M-6 Gungnirs) in two wings. However, for reasons never explained adequately by the records, the third wing consists of a single P-4 Outrider as a scout, flown by Senior Flight Centurion Ainsley Barret, and the two S-11 Orca medium bombers, Damocles and Starfall, commanded by Leila Ketevan and Edgar Khachaturian respectively.
Where things get weird is in the shuttle bay. Normally, a Strike Carrier has three utility shuttles. Think big straight trucks or small semi rigs. They’re for hauling things and people around, safely, but with not much comfort. On the frontiers, especially the quiet ones, a ship might have to scrounge, or might find something interesting and decide to use it. Thus, Auberon.
Instead of the normal three shuttles, the bay has been reconfigured and expanded to accommodate a Kartikeya-class GunShip, Necromancer, and a Nightshade-class DropShip (Assault Shuttle), Cayenne.
Kilo for Kilo, Necromancer is actually better armed than the former Revenue Cutter CR-264, in terms of guns and missiles. She does not have Jumpdrives, nor the ability to go on long sails, being a short-range, short-duty killing machine.
Cayenne is, for all intents and purposes, almost a medium freighter for size, but not cargo capacity. She is designed to deploy a company of marines into close combat, or a platoon of marines and two armored fighting vehicles. As such, she has good shields, thick armor on her belly, and weapon racks and a ventral turret for support. And a crazy pilot, Hollis Dyson, Gaucho.
However, the Strike Carrier design is not a very common one. It has not proven to be generally successful, because it requires a Command Centurion willing and able to take the vessel into direct combat with other vessels, something that most Carrier commanders do not have experience with.
There are several other RAN Carrier designs. Smallest is the Pocket Carrier, built on the same hull as a Destroyer, minus the Primary mounts and Type-3 beams, but with more missile tubes and a single Wing of three fighters. The Pocket Carrier usually operates as part of a Destroyer Squadron of three vessels, providing a scouting, melee, or heavy element depending on the type of fighters flown.
Next largest is the Escort Carrier, built on a Light Cruiser hull. This vessel flies two wings, for a total of six fighters, at a loss of most of the Light Cruiser’s offensive firepower. Interestingly, this class of vessel is frequently attached to Carrier Task Forces as an escort, where it can range far afield of the Fleet Carriers and support a very large Flight Wing without requiring them to return to the main vessel.
At the Heavy Cruiser range, the Republic of Aquitaine Navy also has four vessels classed as Hospital ships, where they will add medical facilities instead of missile storage, and carry a six shuttles and a Mobile Hospital, an Assault Shuttle-sized DropShip with a self-contained Emergency Surgery facility that can be dropped right into a disaster zone to provide medical services.
Finally, the Queens of the battlefield, the Fleet Carriers. They are of a size with Dreadnaughts, but are purpose-built from the keel up. In a manner similar to the Strike Carrier, the Fleet Carrier carries some offensive armaments, namely two Primary mounts, and four Type-3, to go with a forest of Type-2 and Type-1 beams. However, the Fleet Carrier’s power lies in three Flight Wings, twenty-seven fighters, almost always M-6 Gungnir’s, the top of the line. Without escorts such as corvettes and light cruisers, that many melee fighters could annihilate Fribourg Empire Battleship. RAN Ajax and RAN Archon are two examples of the Fleet Carrier design.
Built on the same hull as the Fleet Carrier is the Assault Carrier. This is a Command and Control vessel that sacrifices all of the offensive armaments (but none of the defense) in favor of a Wing of medium bombers, an entire squadron of DropShips and an elite armored regiment.
One last note. The Republic of Aquitaine Navy currently has one Dominator-class Space Control Ship, the RAN Athena. As the RAN Flag, this gigantic vessel combines the firepower of a line dreadnaught with an entire Flight Wing from a Fleet Carrier. While she rarely sees combat, her crew is composed of the very best the entire RAN Fleet has to pick from.