NSC Polaris class Escort Submergence Vehicle
Above: Seal of the North Sea Confederation
Below: Plans of the NSC Vengeance ESV-9400
Modified Polaris class Escort Submergence Vehicle (ESV)
Miles & Carpenter, Portsmouth, U.K.
Estimated Construction Cost:
Approximately 15 Billion USD per unit
Vengeance ESV-9400 - 2037
Vengeance ESV-9400 - 2040
Vengeance ESV-9400 - 2040
Length: 270.0m (886 feet)
Beam: 61.3m (201 feet)
Height: 35.4 (116 feet)
Titanium double hull supported by a reinforced composite steel frame, hull covered by a UEO 3rd Generation bioskin. Critical sections of the hull are covered by prototype Somerset armour packages and "SARST" sensors.
Built to specifications comparable to the original seaQuest DSV, the Polaris class features a double titanium hull that is reinforced at key cross bulkheads by a variety of reactive armours, alloys and carbon composites. This design pattern is common to many NSC and UEO vessels built since 2020, but features several notable changes and advancements that make the hull an integral part of the ship's defence network.
The Vengeance, being technically considered a prototype vessel under the auspices of the NSIS, was subject to many experimental technologies, with two of the most remarkable being the Somerset armour and SARST defence systems.
The NSC witnessed first-hand the destructive potential of subduction weaponry in 2029 when two terrorist events - now codenamed "Crown" and "Aegir" - obliterated most of the northern British Isles, and caused unparalelled devastation to the mediterranean coastline. Consequently, European research in to technologies that counter these weapons is some of the most pionerring in the world. Qinetiq systems thus developed "Somerset" armour with this kind of weapon solely in mind. Like the hugely successful Chobham armour (and even later UEO armour packages), Somerset armour uses multiple plates of different materials in a single panel to dampen shock damage caused by explosive weapons (in this case, torpedoes.) The similarities end there, however, as Somerset armour incorporates a liquid gel layer that is designed to be ionized by an incoming subduction round, it refracts and absorbs much of the potential damage. (This is comparable to UEO armour designs that are designed to collapse and rapidly resolidify as a hardened resin when faced with such weapons.) This technology, regrettably, is difficult and expensive to manufacture, meaning that future vessels will likely use the more accessible UEO-designed reactive armour as found aboard the Reverence class Battlecruiser.
SARST technology, or Submarine Active Reduction of Sonar Targetting, is the result of a recent, classified military research project that is now being trialled aboard the Vengeance, and could conceiveably find its way on to any submarine that utilizes a bioskin. Massively expensive, the system uses a network of delicate sensor packages that are laced throughout the ship's bioskin. These sensors record the exact amplitude and wavelength of active sonar signatures that hit the hull. Each sensor contains a small transmitter which can then transmit a low-power signal in direct anti-phase, effectively cancelling out the active sonar ping. This system is reckoned to be flawless against more traditional sonar systems that rely on acoustic detection, but is less effective against newer Hypersonar systems that contain a laser component in their detection techniques. Regardless, this innovation has had the effect of making the Vengeance acoustically invisible at any ranges greater than approximately four nautical miles. (Any closer, and Hypersonar systems tend not to suffer from the refractive degradation they suffer over extended ranges.)
Greater than 20,000 feet.
2 Rolls Royce PFR-5 Fusion Reactos, powering 4 Rolls Royce Humber advanced aqua-return drives.
Maximum: 155 knots
Standard Cruising: 130 knots
IBM-IX Neural Optical Computer Core.
An immediate predecessor to the X-series core found in the UEO's own Reverence class battlecruisers, the IBM-IX core is a hybrid design that incorporates a combination of integrated optics and neural networking technology. While not as sophisticated as the series that followed and now finds mainstream use in the UEO fleet, the IX benefits from being a system that is far easier to maintain, retaining synthetic circuitry that does not degrade in the same fashion as later bio-organic materials in Neural cores.
The IBM-IX was one of two possible cores that was considered for the Reverence class. While the X was ultimately developed and selected in favour of this core, it remains highly successful and found popular demand from the North Sea Confederation, who sought more affordable and easier to maintain solutions for its own fleet.
Arguably, the key difference between the IX and X series it that the latter possesses a far greater capacity for integrated networking and systems management - a factor that the UEO navy considers critical in the implementation of its battlenet systems. As the NSC does not operate a military information network that is as massive or sophisticated, this was a secondary consideration that made the IX practically ideal for the Polaris class ESVs.
Neural network technology is controlled by the UEO's bioengineering corps; a division of the Military Science Bureau.
Internal: Hypersonar; active and passive sensor suites
Effective Range : Approximately 160 nautical miles
External Sensors: Stingray UCAVs, towed passive sonar array
(Range dependant on ocean condtions)
18 24-inch forwards firing tubes (fwd & midships)
4 ‘Thunderbolt Mk3’ Long Range Particle Lasers (fwd)
4 ‘Lightning Mk3’ Medium Range Particle Lasers (fwd)
3 Weapons bays (fwd)
SeaShadow cruise missiles can be launched from the weapons bays
10 ‘Gatekeeper’ Mk4 PDL turret (misc)
Mk IX and X Intercept Torpedoes
Limited stocks of Hedgehog Anti-fighter torpedoes
ECM Packages and Noise Makers
Faced with very different needs than the combined fleets of the United Earth Oceans and Macronesia; the North Sea Confederation took a notably different path in the field of weapons development. The staple weapons-of-choice for the UEO have typically always been high numbers of rapid-firing torpedoes complemented by a range of medium-laser systems. Meanwhile, the Alliance typically devoted much of their time and resources to the development of more exotic core-weapons systems such as particle-decelerating subduction rifles.
The North Sea Confederation, on the other hand, pursued far more conventional tactics. To ensure joint-operability between all of its member states and allies, and to increase the odds of being able to match the super-subs of other confederations (most notably, seaQuest DSV) the choice of large, 24-inch torpedo tubes was made shortly after the Third World War. Over time, virtually all NSC munitions were built to fit these tubes, and as a result the latest NSC weapons have a considerably larger warhead and longer range than their 21-inch counterparts (as commonly used by the UEO and Macronesia.)
This choice comes at a cost. Larger weapons have resulted in understandably smaller load-outs and longer reload times that have made rapid-cycling systems such as the UEO RAFIT battery difficult to implement. (Notably, the use of retractable sleeves inside the torpedo tubes allows NSC warships to use smaller munitions where necessary.)
On the face of it, this would have seemed to put the NSC fleet at a significant disadvantage in terms of raw firepower, but has rather led to unique innovations that have gone some way to equalizing the apparent gap. (In some cases even giving the NSC fleet the advantage through providing a level of versatility that other vessels lack.) North Sea Confederation warships are commonly equipped with purpose-built weapons bays that house either a single eight-tube rotary launcher (similar to the UEO RAFIT system) or a larger, fourteen-round torpedo rack. These bays are fully capable of launching any NSC 24-inch munitions, including SM-14/AF ‘Hedgehog’ anti-fighter torpedoes, SM-9/ASW ‘Lionfish’ torpedoes, Stingray UCUVs or even SSC-30 Sea Shadow Cruise Missiles.
Additionally, North Sea Confederation vessels do not typically rely on Intercept torpedoes as their primary method of self-defence, allowing much more of the torpedo armament to be allocated towards offensive duties. During the mid-2020s, when the subfighter was proving to be a controversial subject with the MoD, these vessels were being equipped with small laser systems that the NSC found could be adapted to fit within an automated defence turret that was coupled to a similarly small fighter-derived combat hypersonar. This resulted in the creation of the NSC’s first Point Defence Laser system – a system which has evolved in to the current Mark IV “Gatekeeper” PDL. As of 2037, this weapon was considered the supreme ship defence system.
Finally, the NSC inherited many laser technologies from the UEO, and natively developed their own arsenal of anti-submarine directed-energy weapons systems. The “Thunderbolt” MkIII is considered roughly equivalent to the UEO SLR-81, while the Lightning MkIII is considered equal to the SMR-72. Like most ship-borne laser systems, these are primarily used as close-quarters anti-ship weapons, with anti-fighter duties being relegated to the purpose-built Gatekeeper PDLs.
36 fighters (various)
8 other vessels
(April 2041 Vengeance deployment: 12 Tornado Mk3 strike fighters, 12 Rafale aerial subfighters, 12 Typhoon subfighters, 1 Dakota Mk2 DSRV, 5 Dakota heavy shuttles, 2 Dauphin light shuttles)
The Polaris class was the NSC’s first home-built medium/heavy carrier design. All NSC fighters are capable of being deployed from Polaris class ESVs, from the ageing but still effective Tempest, to the large Tornado strike fighter and even the prototype Rafale aerial subfighter. This makes the Polaris a flexible carrier asset, although it predominantly uses these forces in a supporting role.
Approximately 450 (Includes ship's crew, Marine contingent and EVA/Subfighter corps)
Development history and class background...
Aftermath of the Third World War…
The Second Cold War brought about a bold new era in naval rearmament around the world. Nations that were once the soundest of allies faced each other across political divisions that were formed as much out of fear as they were suspicion. The origins of Europe’s newest class of warship go back as far as 2013, and the launching of the seaQuest DSV. At the time of her commissioning, the NORPAC flagship was unrivalled in its capabilities – large, heavily armed, fast and almost untouchable due to her ability to dive further than any other submarine on the planet. Indeed, it could be argued that seaQuest was the very beginning of an arms race that would last until 2040. Within weeks, virtually every major confederation had tendered its own plans for submarines that could conceivably compete with the seaQuest, but because of the immense resources and cutting-edge technologies involved – none would meet much success.
The NSC was one such confederation, but it would take countless delays, much controversy and nearly twenty years for their project to be realized. Initially, the NSC recognized that there was no way to directly counter the NORPAC flagship, and was among the first confederations to develop a series of new, modern submarine designs, many of which were used as test-beds for technology that was intended for use in the NSC’s “FDSV” project (Future Deep Submergence Vehicle).
Among the first of these submarines was the Taranto class SSGN. While nowhere near a match for the NORPAC seaQuest, this submarine was nonetheless a capable vessel that was in many ways superior to the latest-generation attack submarines of virtually every other confederation. Research in to the FDSV project was slow, and had made little headway by 2017 when the political scene drastically changed with the formation of the United Earth Oceans Organization.
Over the next two years, tensions between the major confederations steadily eased as the organizational mandate and peacekeeping operations of the UEO were established, and many military budgets came under dramatically increased scrutiny. With the UEO now forming its own military from the contributions of member nations, the need for projects such as the FDSV became increasingly controversial. Still faced with questions of overpopulation throughout its remaining cities in the wake of the Third World War, and with the UEO now providing an unprecedented level of security in the member states, the North Sea Confederation focused on civil matters, directing much of the military budget towards community service and colonial expansion beneath the waves. With increasingly more crews and resources being transferred to the UEO as part of the defence agreement, these cuts were sometimes severe, and the FDSV program was indefinitely shelved.
This decision did not last.
The Second Cold War…
In 2022, seaQuest was presumed lost at sea with all hands. With precious few resources in the fleet at this point, the power vacuum left meant that those peacekeeping operations across the world began to destabilize. The chaos that came in the decade that followed, of course, would speak to this and the ramifications would be felt for even more decades to come. While something would eventually fill the void left by the seaQuest, it was clearly a long way from fruition, and the NSC allocated what funds it had left in to continuing the abandoned FDSV program.
The early 2020s was a controversial time for submarine design. The UEO was eager to develop the concept of the subfighter in to feasible, combat ready designs that could conceivably replace what was commonly accepted as the modern Nuclear Attack Submarine. This idea however was not universally accepted by every confederation military. The SF/A-2 Spectre would certainly go a long way to establishing the subfighter as a viable military asset, but at such risk and expense, many confederations opted to continue their development of more ‘traditional’ next-generation submarines.
Ranking staff in the North Sea Confederation are typically career officers with fairly conservative beliefs and views. Indeed, almost without exception, those that did not join the UEO military were of this particular school of thought, and did not place much faith in the new UEO subfighter programs. Because of this, the FDSV program would continue without the inclusion of significant EVA assets, being developed as a dedicated fire-support platform with a multitude of torpedo and missile systems that were far in excess of anything the UEO currently had planned.
It was, regrettably, the single greatest tragedy in European history that changed this mantra. In 2029, the North Sea Confederation was attacked by terrorists who had somehow attained two strategic subduction devices. Detonated in the North Sea and Mediterranean Sea, the devastation was unparalleled: the British Isles were in ruins, and the face of what was formerly known as the Mediterranean coast was permanently reshaped by a weapon that had literally ripped apart the sea floor and collapsed thousands of miles of coastline. With the death toll measured in the millions, the NSIS quickly set about in finding those responsible.
In an action which remains unexplained in both the UEO and the Macronesian alliance, the Macronesian cities of Sydney and Darwin were both obliterated by nuclear weapons just fourteen days after the European attacks. The North Sea Confederation had never openly accused the Alliance of responsibility for the actions which had so devastated Europe, and similarly, Macronesia was never able to prove just who had destroyed their cities. UEO investigations in to the matter were inconclusive, but tensions between the confederations had never been so high.
Not long after these events had transpired, the North Sea Intelligence Service discovered two disturbing facts.
The Macronesian Alliance was building a massive, well-armed, state-of-the-art fleet, and they were building an alarming number of Lysander class subfighters – a vessel more than capable of delivering subduction weapons.
When confronted with the evidence so soon after the devastating attacks on their home soil, the NSC Ministry of Defence was forced to reconsider their strategic position in the arms race. With both the United Earth Oceans and the Macronesian Alliance engaged in substantial subfighter development programs, they rapidly begun to reconsider the validity of this new threat. While the Ministry of Defence refused to see the subfighter as the “silver bullet” that would bring about the end of traditional submarine warfare, they were forced to concede that the ability to counter the threat was not only in their interests, but utterly necessary.
This decision brought about the final end of the fighter-less FDSV program permanently, with the funds being reserved for it being allocated to anti-subfighter defence programs. This eventually resulted in the development of the Gatekeeper PDL system, as well as the Indomitable-class escort carrier. The FDSV concept of a large, heavily armed “battleship” would eventually re-emerge as the Renown class battlecruiser.
In 2032, the UEO recommissioned the seaQuest DSV suddenly and without much explanation. (The official explanation that she had been found in a cornfield in Iowa did not satisfy most intelligence services around the world, indeed, it remains a mystery why the UEO chose this explanation at all.) The shock of this was universal, with almost every confederation realizing that once again, the UEO held the upper hand. It would only be a matter of time before states like Macronesia began their own projects to counter the UEO giant, and a few NSC Admirals argued strongly for the need of a new ‘super sub’, lest they be left behind. These pleas fell largely on deaf ears prior to 2035, and for several years the Ministry of Defence continued to include in their budget modest requests for research in to “escort” class vessels. As the term “escort” was defined by the Parliament and treasury as “small”, the requests were granted. In reality, these funds were used to slowly continue with research and design projects, aided by funds skimmed off the top of other budgets.
The United Earth Oceans vs. Deon International.
In 2035, much of this slow and ponderous situation changed dramatically. In the decade between 2022 and 2032 where seaQuest was missing, along with her designer and Captain – Nathan Bridger – major corporations had quickly made claims to the patents that controlled the technology needed to construct such vessels. The legality of this was never challenged as the estate of Nathan Bridger had effectively come to an end with his disappearance. This, more than any other reason, is why the UEO was unable to build a replacement after the vessel’s loss. Of course, this was no longer the case. seaQuest had returned, and Nathan Bridger had come back with it. Deon International – the largest and most influential of the corporations involved – was challenged by the UEO over the ‘ownership’ of those patents. After a two year legal battle in the UEO High Court that had begun in 2032, it was ruled that Bridger’s estate – having never sold the patents, and still bearing legitimate claim to them – was entitled to unspecified royalties and damages from Deon’s infringement.
The effect this had on Deon International was devastating. The payout to the UEO was immense, and the company faced bankruptcy unless significant steps were taken to consolidate its holdings. Share prices skydived, and within a month, Deon International no longer existed as the dominant weapons contractor in either Europe or the United States. The UEO had effectively rid itself of one of the most problematic and corrupt organizations in the world, and while Deon’s operations continued to prosper in the South Pacific (in particular due to their continuing military contracts with Macronesia) the UEO could now continue with the work that had begun over a decade before.
A Dark Horse…
The aftermath of the Deon ruling was complex in its effects. Overnight, the UEO military budget began to inexplicably expand. Hundreds, if not thousands of research and development projects were tendered by the UEO Security Council, and a very large portion of them appeared to be purely conceptual in design. The NSIS, knowing full well what the ruling had truly meant for the UEO, were immediately suspicious and began to examine the nature of the UEO defence budget with increasingly detailed scrutiny. It took time, but over the course of several months the NSIS had discovered that the majority of these projects were little more than elaborate front-operations with no definable goals. The fact remained – the money had to be going somewhere, and this is where the trail ended. Whatever the UEO was doing, it had been wrapped up tight, and not even the combined efforts of the entire North Sea Intelligence Service would unravel it. The NSC concluded that the project was black, and was costing the UEO well in excess of one hundred billion every year. It wasn’t until the massive dredging operation to build the Ares shipyard began in Pearl Harbor that the NSIS would discover the truth: the UEO were developing a replacement for the seaQuest, and it would eclipse anything that the NSC could ever come close to building.
The NSC confronted with the UEO with the evidence they had gathered, and while not conclusive, the threat that so much ground work could be made public steadily brought some of the more high ranking members of the UEO military around, and the existence of the DSX project was finally (but quietly) acknowledged to the North Sea Confederation.
The Ministry of Defence was vindicated in 2036 as they were given the permission and funds to pursue a new class of warship capable of performing multiple roles with equal effectiveness – a DSV. Faced with the impending reality of the UEO’s projects, even the least conservative members of the NSC parliament were aware of the necessity in having something that came close to a technical parity, and if efforts weren’t made to keep pace, then the technological gap – while still inevitable – would be utterly insurmountable.
With consultation with the UEO, a deal was made and in exchange for a number of technologies being developed for the DSX program, the NSIS would continue to aid the UEO Office of Naval Intelligence in keeping the secrecy and security of its latest project. Between the efforts of these two organizations, and the even more clandestine operations of Section Seven, it ensured that no other government would learn of the DSX or the NSC DSV’s existence until it was far too late. Additionally, the NSC agreed in-principle to commit their own DSVs to aid the UEO if needed. Some parts of the Ministry of Defence even saw this as a way of ensuring that the NSC had a voice in UEO policy. Indeed, there were few better ways to express this than having purpose-built NSC vessels escorting UEO DSVs.
The so-called “Escort Submergence Vehicle” (Ironically this was originally penned as a joke by the design team, and eventually found its way in to the official paper work) design team was finally given the resources to complete their work. Some of this included the latest bioskin technology from the UEO, composite armour research and even sonar and computer technologies. (This did not include the unspeakably advanced AI programs which the UEO had managed to keep secret and hidden from the NSC.) The Ministry of Defence was instructed to build four such vessels. With design work largely complete, the UEO’s latest technology and the construction experience that was necessary to build the Renown class, progress should have been smooth. In practice, this was far from the truth.
To build a DSV…
Over the next several years, the political tides pitched and turned, and the MoD had to fight to retain their budget. The project was delayed, set back and numbers were cut, and then cut again. At one point in 2038, it was almost cancelled altogether. The only thing that kept the project alive was the simple fact that the team had no problems whatsoever in integrating all the different technologies, and barring budgetary concerns, the project had never once hit a technical obstacle. Progress was in fact so smooth that it seemed as if someone had already cleared the way…
In fact, someone had. The NSIS had taken an interest in the ESV program (as it was now officially called) and had secretly begun construction of their own vessel. Intended as a clandestine “fifth of four” vessels, the NSIS found that without the political oversight of its sisterships, the Vengeance was proceeding considerably faster. As technical problems were encountered, specialists were drafted to fix the problem - no questions asked – and information steadily flowed back to the Polaris team.
In February 2040, the first of the Polaris class ESVs was launched and commissioned, and the NSC Vengeance, outfitted with several prototype technologies,roamed beneath the waves without anyone ever even suspecting – let alone knowing - that she existed. Polaris herself was completed in October of 2041, and would absorb much of the media’s attention, allowing Vengeance to continue to operate unannounced, and totally unknown.
Of the five vessels of the Polaris class, these two were the only ones to be launched. The Ministry of Defence had finally lost the funding battle with the NSC Parliament, and vast quantities were allocated to other, more “conventional” projects. This however, was not the end of the project. Because of the advanced stages of construction that had been completed with hulls two and three, it was deemed too costly to simply scrap them, and a compromise was reached.
Rather than equipping the vessels with fighters and enduring the operational costs of heavy carriers, the two hulls were reconfigured as straight-up battlecruisers. These hulls would soon be put to sea as the powerful Vanquisher class, which perfectly complemented their carrier-cousins. As the war progressed, and the full value of submarine carriers was realized, the Admiralty authorized the construction of one final ESV – the NSC Victory – although she would not be launched until January, 2044.
Cruiser, Carrier, Intelligence Asset: the Polaris class ESV is a true multi-role vessel. While her nearest UEO equivalent is commonly considered the Reverence class battlecruiser, the boats of the Polaris class are typically tasked with far more sensitive and clandestine missions. Sacrificing brute strength for more advanced ELINT, stealth and C3I systems, the Polaris could more correctly be said to have more in common with the later UEO Antaeus class, which fills a similar hybrid-role. The differences however end there: at double the displacement and over twice the armament, the Polaris is a capable combatant against almost any opponent. Regardless of their mission role, the company of an ESV in an allied battlegroup is always a welcome sight to taskforce commanders who prize information and battlefield intelligence over raw strength.