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Audacious Passage

The Audacious class patrol frigate was the true successor to the Sword class and it incorporated many of the lessons learned in the operation of that earlier vessel.  Three decades of technological progress also helped, allowing for more powerful and efficient power plants and engines.  It could achieve a total 1000kps delta-V, allowing a round trip to Saturn in the course of a six month deployment.  Better accommodations and more reliable systems allowed for a full year deployment, putting Uranus in range as well, but that system's population didn't top a hundred people until the mid twenty second century.  However patrols periodically made the Pluto/Charon run from the inner system; with fueling facilities established on the moon Nix, a round trip was still possible within a year.

 The patrol frigate's normal crew was twenty-four, with a dozen living quarters in each of the swing habitats.  Like the Swords these habitats were retracted while under thrust.  But unlike the Swords, the Audacious class could support twice its standard complement for a full year and had a large cargo bay to store contraband, life boats and even small shuttles.

Armament was only marginally advanced from the Swords.  In general, any sort of weaponry would discourage or force the surrender of pirates and other criminals.  A hit from one of the fourteen missiles or either of the lasers or auto cannon would easily disable the radiators of a non-compliant vessel, preventing it from using its power plant for all but the most minuscule thrust.  After that, it was merely a matter of matching velocities and boarding the troublesome vessel.

 The main problem with the Space Force's patrol protocols was simple the vastness of space.  While populated regions were well patrolled by Byzantium class fast frigates, once a ship left the neighborhood of a planet or heavily settled asteroid, it was often the only ship within a hundred million kilometers.  With only twelve Audacious class patrol frigates authorized and only ten of those completed, most of the solar system was still an uninhabited unforgiving frontier.

 --Darrow's Guide to Combat Spaceships: The First Interplanetary Age, Free Avon Press, 2505

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