HEAVY CRUISERS (CA)
Usually found chasing down pirates or “showing the flag” in distant corners of the Confederation, heavy cruisers were ostensibly designed to accompany battlecruisers or serve as convoy escorts in time of war. Prior to 3030, the mere presence of a heavy cruiser within a few hours of FTL travel was enough to deter all but the most foolhardy of pirates. However, with the rise of the more famous pirate bands (The Crimson Hands, the Screaming Skulls, and the Sons of Lucifer the strongest amongst them) and the destruction of the C.S.S. Brussels, Dresden, and Earheart within a fortnight in 3031, heavy cruisers became increasingly less feared. It was only after the successes of the Exeter-class (most notably the Vincennes and Skopje), the elimination of the Crimson Hands’ leadership under still unknown circumstances, and the utter crushing of the Screaming Skulls’ home base by a Confederation carrier task force that pirates once more learned to fear the sensor footprint of a Confederation CA closing at high speed.
As Ashley always says, “Context!” (Or would that be “Odin” in this case, Ashley?) So the terminology of “heavy” cruisers stems from the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. TL:DR version–Great Britain was broke, the United States was paranoid, and Imperial Japan felt like they were getting punked at the big boy table. Ergo, those three nations plus the other victors of World War I all noted the naval arms race between Germany and Great Britain had just maybe played a small (/sarcoff) part in World War I going from “Germany kicks France’s ass again while giving Russia the Heisman” to “Okay, everyone in the Northern Hemisphere to the mosh pit!” Lots of geopolitics getting glossed over here, but the signatories all came to an agreement that fleets should be limited. While there are lots of important things that come from this ultimately fruitless exercise, the big one is that cruisers are differentiated between heavy (8-inch guns) and light (6-inch guns) with a size limitation of 10,000 tons. Lots of hilarity involves, and for those of you are fans of both the Usurper’s War and Vergassy series, you’re aware of most of it.
For those of you who like your aliens without a side of alternate history, here are the three things that make a cruiser “heavy” versus “light” in the Vergassy Universe:
1.) Percentage of protection vs. armament vs. propulsion. Do I have that ratio figured out? No, and neither does the Confederation Fleet’s Bureau of Ships. Oh, and even if I did, the Spartans are going to kind of screw this chicken sideways with their cruisers. Yes, that’s it, just cruisers.
2.) Function. Light cruisers tend to be destroyer squadron flagships as well as possess a large number of missiles for dispatching small craft / starfighters / etc..
3.) Independent operations. Light cruisers tend to be about 75% the size of heavy cruisers. This affects their ability to go on long cruisers all by themselves due to issues with everything from habitability to an increased risk of being Scooby-snacked by a couple of pirate ships operating in concert. Look at it as a heavy cruiser is sort of like the Punisher, i.e. even if you brought five of your friends, jumping him would be a bad idea. Light cruisers, on the other hand, are that guy who was the baddest mofo in high school, but now that you’ve got your frat buddies you’re pretty sure you could take him.
In any case, with Though Our Hulls Burn in production, expect to see a lot of cruiser action. Remember when we found out a little bit of Mackenzie Bolan’s backstory with regards to his career? As alluded to above, you’re going to find out why the Atlanta and her sister ships tend to fold like steel chairs. It’s not going to be pretty, either.