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Swords At Phobos

The Sword class Fast Frigate was the first spacecraft designed as a warship.  The Commonwealth Space Force called it a police and patrol vessel, but with a 2.5 meter 250MJ ultraviolet laser in the nose and eight two stage buckshot missiles facing forward, it stood to reason that police actions would end in surrender or destruction.  And the two 25mm close in support cannons discouraged any boarders or portside troublemakers.  But in forty years of service, the Swords never needed to fire more than warning shots; there wasn't a lot of pirate activity in the years before the turn of the twenty-second century.

Fast was a misnomer as well.  Maximum delta-V was over 500kps, but with few frontier fuel facilities, the ships were effectively limited to 120kps maximum in the course of an in-and-out voyage.  And that was at top efficiency pushing a whole twentieth of a gee when fully loaded.  This limited the effective six-month cruise range to no further out than Jupiter.  This wasn't an issue when the first ship entered service in 2070, but by 2100, over four thousand people lived out at Saturn.

As with all vessels, the Swords were a series of compromises.  The thirty meter swing arms could provide gravity for the crew of twelve when stationary or coasting, but when the main engine fired, ten thousand square meters of fragile radiator surface area stretched far away from the core, so rotating and thrusting weren't compatible activities.  Patrol duties such as search and rescue were also limited by the lack of additional quarters, and the forward section was mostly fuel tank, with no capacity for additional drop tanks.

In spite of these limitations, the Swords were reliable vessels and well-loved by their crews.  Admiral Zhang's memoirs recount her fondest memories from the five tours during which she commanded the Tulwar.

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

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