Military strategy and philosophy have many parallels between the age of sea and sail, and the age of space and displacement drives. Control of the trade links and the waters, or inter-planetary space, around the trading hubs is key to mercantile success. With that comes wealth and resources, allowing a further strengthening of control, in turn bringing even greater wealth and resources. If you can tap into that feedback loop of power and money then success is assured.
It is no surprise that the Three World Empire follows this philosophy to the exclusion of all others. Britannia and Japan, the leading states in the 3WE and two nations with deep seafaring traditions, only have to look back to the glory days of their Earth-bound maritime history to see what a prosperous future they can have, if they re-create that history in space.
And that is what they have done. The 3WE’s military strategists combined the Royal Navy’s “over-whelming strength” strategy – make sure your navy outnumbers the navies of your three biggest rivals, combined – and Japan’s “Kantai Kessen” or Decisive Battle Doctrine that relies on “an intimidating fleet” to knock out your enemy in one decisive strike, leaving the seas under your command, and your enemies at the mercy of your blockades. You can have all the Colonial Marines or Space Operating Forces you want, but if they are stuck planetside then what use are they? But then, just the threat, just the knowledge that you could do this, if you so wanted, will give your enemies food for thought, and maybe make them more willing to offer good terms in negotiation rather than try pushing your patience too far.
So, for the 3WE in 2180 their naval strategy is about projecting power, rather than using it. And for that you need a big fleet, or a fleet with a big reach. The 3WE decided to invest in both.
In recent years the 3WE’s fleet has been adorned by three ships that are intended to shout out their naval strategy from every panel, every rivet, every hardpoint and blister, every hanger and light fighting platform. H.M.S. Yamato was first to be launched, Empress Charlotte symbolically smashing a magnum of champagne in the time-old tradition. Soon HMS Yamato (which translates to “Great Harmony”) was followed by her sister ships, H.M.S. Musashi and H.M.S. Shinano (named after former Japanese provinces). Their purpose? To scuttle enemy battleships, to fight multiple targets, to “out-stick” the enemy, as the old 20th century phrase would have it, by projecting power over a wide expanse of space with the use of fighters and gunships, otherwise known as Light and Heavy Fighting Platforms.
And Yamato was the pride, the flagship, albeit her sisters are identical. A class R vessel, at 752m in length, her displacement drives splayed behind her on five heavy angled booms that maximise their effect and bring her FTL rating down to 5. She’s a big ship and heavy to manoeuvre (Signature of +2 and Thrusters of -1) but then she wants to be seen, in fact needs to be seen to deliver the strategy that the 3WE relies on. And she is not undefended: no expense has been spared and her superstructure is reinforced (hull of 15) and armor enhanced (rating of 10). She also carries a CIWS Laser Array and two stacks of Sensor Drones to hold the enemy off, as well as orbital mines to seed her space with defences. And then she also has her children: 4 fighter decks, each containing 12 Class C Light Fighting Platforms – the Z11 Hariken LFP, built by the Hawker-Camm aerospace corporation. The Z11 is little more than a mobile Railgun with two crew, but devastating when attacking in unison. In addition, there are three hangars each home to one Z19 Hariken Long Range Recon Platform, configured for silent running and reconnaissance instead of battle; and finally there is the Gunship deck, with four Rolls Royce Swift Xi P41 “Tora Tora” Gunships. That’s a grand total of 48 Z11 Light Fighting Platforms, 4 P41 Gunships, and 3 Z19 Recon ships.
But Yamato isn’t just a naval vessel. She carries a detachment of 90 Royal Marine Commandos, 10 “Challenger” APCs and 6 Puma dropships to get them into battle, as well as a tactical nuke array to support ground operations.
A total crew complement of 290 is needed for Yamato to be at full combat readiness, and the ship is equipped with cryodecks and other facilities suitable to a ship of this calibre and fame.
She is a dangerous ship to serve on, and in particular the casualty rate amongst the crews of the Light Fighting Platforms is high. But there is such honour, such pride in serving on a vessel of this kind that there is no shortage of volunteers just waiting to transfer to serve.
She may be the pride of the 3WE fleet, but HMS Yamato and her sisters are not the only great vessels under the 3WE banner that are the envy of their rivals. Stand aside your United Americas Conestoga and Biden Classes, look the other way the UPP’s Bismarck and Kuznetsov Classes, here comes the HMS Ark Royal, the best and badest Super Battleship in the whole of human space. But that is for another time…