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Macronesian Orion class Attack Submarine

Specifications based on Flight III Orion, circa 2036

Class:
Orion class Fast Attack Submarine (SSN)

Estimated Construction Cost:
Approximately 1 Billion USD per unit

Keel Laid:
Orion: 2024

Launched:
Orion: 2025

Commissioned:
Orion: 2025

Dimensions:
Length: 135.0m
Beam: 35.0m
Height: 20.0m

Submerged Displacement:
Approximately 12,000 tonnes

Hull Composition:
Unknown. Speculation based on Alliance ship building techniques implies a double Titanium hull with composite armour/sound attenuating external plates.
Composite steel support frame.

Crush Depth:
Estimated 8,000 feet.

Propulsion:
1 Deon Intl. fusion reactor powering four large, aqua-return propulsion drives

Speed:
93 knots

Computer System:
Deon Systems fiber optic network. (Class 3A)

Sensors:
Internal: Hypersonar; active and passive sensor suites
Effective Range : Approximately 170 nautical miles


Hypersonar technology relies on a combination of 'traditional' acoustic monitoring equipment such as active and passive sonar, and laser-based range finding, it stands for Hypersonic Navigation and Ranging; as the name implies, it uses faster-than-sound technology to detect shipping, map terrain and aid in navigation. The Orion class mounts a single large parabolic hypersonar array on the bow, with two arrays mounted astern on the port and starboard, providing nearly total coverage. The specifics of these systems isn't well known, and are suspected to be constantly subjected to upgrades and improvements as refit cycles permit. The Orion's systems are significantly less advanced than present UEO military-specification sonar, but otherwise work on the same principles.

Operating passively, hypersonar sensors use broad-spectrum laser sensors to build up a 3D picture of the environment while an integrated passive array intelligently detects and identifies acoustic signatures within that environment. This is the preferred method of operation, as it maintains complete stealth capability for the submarine while still providing at least a marginal picture of the environment around the vessel - while there is no guarantee that a submarine will be detected by the passive components of the array, the laser array ensures that even if targets cannot be identified, they will be detected, ranged and targetted.

Used actively, hypersonar becomes a double edged, but ultimately infallible sword - First sweeping the area with a high-sensitivity laser array to gather preliminary data, the ship's computer then isolates targets of opportunity which are then battered with a series of uni-directional audio pings, the system literally bounces sound waves off specific solid objects in the water repeatedly and reflects them back to the array, with each ping building up an incredibly detailed picture of the target in real time. The only draw back to this system is that the target being 'illuminated' will also have access to the same information - acoustics work both ways.
Nonetheless, the system is a marked improvement over first-generation active sonar technology used throughout the later part of the 20th century where a single ping could be detected by any submarine in the area. The new directed-array used in hypersonars will limit the 'saturation' of the ping to one specific vector, thus maintaining the submarine's stealth against any other target in the area. Only a sophisticated inter-ship battle network (Such as the encrypted, globe-spanning communications system used by the UEO military) would be able to make use of another ship's sensor information in real time, and forces which do posess such communications ability are very rare; most certainly, the Battlenet has been one of the UEO's major advantages over the Macronesian navy's own (and significantly less advanced) command and control network.

Combining active hypersonar on a single ship with such a network between a taskforce would enable an entire battlegroup to receive real-time and incredibly detailed target information without revealing their locations.

Armament:
6 auto-loading 21" torpedo tubes (bow)
2 auto-loading 21" torpedo tubes (stern)
2 long-range Pulse Particle Lasers
10 VLS tubes mounting Griffon-I Hypersonic Cruise Missiles (Flight III Orions from 2036 onward)

Defensive systems:
Intercept Torpedoes
ECM Packages and Noise Makers

At the time of its commissioning in 2025, the Orion was built to a fairly standard arrangement of weapons and systems designed to be versatile and flexible. It was larger, faster and more heavily armed than the UEO's leading Trident class submarines, and provided the Alliance with a potent force of fast attack submarines that were more than able to meet a growing threat of piracy, smuggling and mercenary raiders. By 2030, many of these criminal trades had all but disappeared within the Alliance, with no small thanks being due to the Orion's proven capabilities. Until 2031, when the UEO commissioned the first of the Defender class attack submarines, Orions had no peer above or beneath the waves. With 6 bow torpedo tubes that could support a wide range of Alliance armaments, including high-yield torpedoes and tube-launched cruise missiles, and the addition of two defensive stern tubes, the Orion represented a difficult target to assail, perhaps being vulnerable only to fast-moving subfighters. (A problem that was answered, albeit unsuccessfully, with two long-range laser cannons under the bow. These weapons however lacked the targetting accuracy to hit such fast and unpredictable targets, and have been used since as first-strike weapons against other Attack Submarines in the vessel's own weight class.)
The Orion class continues to be able to support the latest in Alliance weaponry, including subduction torpedoes and missiles, although the deployment of such weapons is very rare due to the cost of the weapons, and the risk that is posed by placing them on a class of submarine which is becoming increasingly vulnerable to the latest generations of UEO naval technologies.

EVA Assets:
None: Two external airlocks on the port and starboard provide support for shuttles and speeders.

Crew Complement:
110 (15 officers, 95 enlisted)


Development history and class background...

The Orion was built as Macronesia's first stage in rebuilding the New Australian armed forces, and has since grown in both capability and numbers to be the most numerous force of attack submarines on the entire planet. In the first five years of 2025 to 2030 alone, over 70 of them were constructued in shipyards across the Alliance, with major construction yards located in Adelaide, Zanjiang, Cape York, Jakarta, New Sydney, Norfolk, Fremantle, Broken Ridge and Garden Island. As of 2041, their exact numbers are not known, but they continue to be produced in nearly every Alliance shipyard, albeit in decreasing numbers.
For a time, the Orion was also the fastest class of Attack Submarine anywhere in the world, capable of 93 knots, it was over 10 knots faster than the UEO Trident, and with many times the range thanks to its fusion reactor - one of the first to be deployed on a submarine in mass-production. During the second half of the 2020s, this gave the submarine uncontested dominance in the southern pacific, and with the emerging Lysander class, piracy and smuggling within the borders of Macronesia ceased nearly entirely.
The Orion herself, Alliance designation SSN-80, replaced the first of the Australian navy's ageing fleet of Collins-class diesal submarines in front line service in 2025, and presented Australia - and soon the Macronesian Alliance - with its first ever submarine capable of proper blue-water operations. Over three times as large as the Collins class it was replacing, Orion was initially also nearly twice the price due to the new technologies involved in its construction. As more orders were placed, and manufacturing costs were returned to the builders, this cost rapidly declined, and mass-production of the submarine ended up making it one of the most affordable submarines of the 2030s. Despite the fact it had been outclassed by the UEO's newer and larger Defender class, the Orion continued to outnumber the UEO submarine fleet by a margin of two to one for the remainder of the 2030s, and later improvements to the class resulting in the Flight II and Flight III variants, which featured improved sonars (as above) and better computer systems ensured that they remained on the front line of service.

The Orion class was never truly tested in battle until the advent of war with the UEO in November 2040. Ironically, their first real trial by fire against the UEO's latest technology was also the incident that sparked the latest conflict. Eight Orions engaged in a skirmish with the lone UEO DSV Atlantis, in which four of the attack submarines were destroyed, and another seriously damaged before withdrawing. In return, the UEO flagship received no damage, and highlighted just how far the UEO had come since the Orion was first pushed in to service. This incident however represents a case not typical of the Orion class. Normally, Orions will never engage in battle with enemy forces with support from other Alliance units, including Aleus class carriers and much larger Tempest class heavy cruisers. Throughout most of the 2030s and the war to date, Orions have been kept from direct action in their efforts to closely support Alliance carrier task forces. On the ocassions where Orions have fought the UEO's battle fleet in ship-to-ship warfare, their record has been unremarkable, with kill-loss ratios well in the UEO's favour, and survivability that is not envied by other crews. The reason for this can be largely attributed to the UEO's progressively more advanced forces; Defenders are frequently able to engage Orions at two to one or better with a favourable chance of emerging victorious, while Defiance class cruisers represent a kind of warsub that had not even been considered at the time of the Orion's design - well outside their weight class, capabilities and firepower.

For these reasons, despite still existng in numbers extending to the hundreds, the Orion has gradually been pulled back from the front line. While they are relegated even more to escort duty, the Alliance's growing cruiser fleet and standing subfighter forces have been increasingly mobilized to match the UEO. Since the late 2030s, when the disparity between the latest warships of the UEO and the bulk of the Alliance became more apparent, the UEO office of naval intelligence has been expecting the Alliance to produce a newer class of SSN to replace the Orion in front line service. Thus far, this is yet to happen, with Alliance R&D and construction efforts apparently being heavily directed to modernizing the cruiser fleet and developing and sustaining next-generation subfighters such as the Nosferatu and Broadsword classes, which began to appear in large numbers towards the end of 2040 and early 2041.

 

Copyright 2006-2009 James Ward. All reference pertaining to "seaQuest DSV" and "seaQuest 2032" are copyrights of Universal/Amblin enterainment and no claim is made to these titles. Atlantis DSV and all related themes are copyright of James Ward and associated writers.

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