Archer Class and Curran Class Patrol Cruisers
Written by Dan Carlson and Masao Okazaki
Archer Class (PC-59)
Perhaps more than any other class, the Archer system patrol ships were responsible for saving the outer colonies of the United Earth (UE) during the perilous early months of the Earth Romulan War. These tiny ships were often all that stood between the mighty Romulan war machine and thousands of colonists on the two dozen planets within striking range of the Romulan empire.
Archer was designed in the early 2150s to serve as a semiautonomous intrasystem patrol vessel for protecting colonies and performing police actions against raiders and pirates. The United Earth Stellar Navy (UESN), whose strength at that time was still at its extremely low prewar levels, had barely enough ships to patrol the major spacelanes and protect UE core worlds, much less to defend colony worlds at the far reaches of its territory. The UE frontiers were simply too vast to be reliably protected by the UESN’s lumbering interstellar cruisers, such as those of the Alexander-class, which could barely make Warp Factor 2. To provide for colonial defense, Archer -class ships were to be based singly or in pairs at each border system, where they would operate under nominal local control. Unlike larger UESN cruisers, the 62-m-long Archer carried only a small, high pressure 6N-4A fusion reactor, a single Firefly III in-line warp nacelle, and a small supply of deuterium. This drive system allowed Archer to respond at moderately high warp speeds (wf 2.7) to trouble within 500 AUs of its base but not to travel to other star systems.
All Archer-class ships were all built at the Monarch R & U Shipyards in orbit around Mars and were transported to their bases four at a time by specially modified Bison cargo ships similar to the later Yorktown-class carriers. These small ships could be based in orbit around colony worlds, at asteroids or spacestations, or even at tenders far from any planetary body. Archers required little maintenance (a support team of 30 was standard) to be kept in a constant state of readiness and could be launched on a mission with its crew of 20 in as little as 15 minutes. Because of their relatively modest drive systems, Archers had more room available for sensor and targeting systems, lasers, and missiles than did interstellar ships of similar displacement.
The lead ship of the class, UES Archer (PC-59) was launched in the summer of 2154, just as the Romulan threat was finally being publicly revealed. In view of this threat, the initial order of 25 ships, which was believed adequate in peace time, was immediately doubled. Through 2157 some 73 Archers entered service with the UESN.
Even before the formal declaration of hostilities between the United Nations of Earth and the Romulan Star Empire in March 2156, Archer-class ships had already begun countering incursions by Romulan raiders and scoutships. For example, in May 2155 an anomalous energy signature was detected by orbital sensors near the Dokura colony in the Mandelbrot-G system. The single Archer based there, UES Suri (PC-74), was sent out to investigate and soon detected faint sensor traces suggesting the presence of small, stealthed Romulan ship. The two vessels played a desperate game of cat and mouse for 3 days before the intruder was destroyed.
After the start of the war in March 2156, Archers did much to blunt Romulan thrusts in the desperate days following the attack on Station Salem One. In the first 4 months of the war Archers were credited with the destruction of some 25 Romulan ships, including six half-million-ton CABBAGE-class cruisers. In June 2156 two CABBAGEs and three smaller ELBOW-class cruisers attacked the UE colony on Mohannak VI. Three Archers (UES Pemberton, PC-60; UES Haar, PC-66; UES Hachez, PC-92) and one San Francisco-class corvette (UES Taipei, CL-73) based there engaged the attackers near the system’s Kuiper belt. Four of the Romulan ships were destroyed (including one destroyed in a suicide attack by UES Hachez), and the fifth escaped back across enemy lines.
Curran Class (PC-132)
With the introduction of shipboard matter/antimatter (M/AM) power systems in 2158, the UESN launched an improved version of Archer, designated the Curran class. Although outwardly resembling Archers, Currans, which were also constructed by Monarch R & U, were powered by M/AM fuel cells similar to those carried by the famous Minotaur fighters. However, unlike Minotaurs, Currans did not carry a fusion reactor capable of creating and sustaining a warp field for interstellar flight. Minotaurs were usually carried internally at warp speeds by Yorktown-class carriers and released deep within enemy territory. After attacking a target within 300 AU of its release point, the Minotaur would rendezvous with the Yorktown and be carried back to UE space. However, if a Minotaur were unable to rendezvous with the carrier or if the carrier were destroyed, the Minotaur could return to UE space at low warp speeds using its onboard fusion reactor. In contrast, Curran’s fusion reactor was used only to power internal systems and the sublight impulse drive; warp drive was powered only by fuel modules. Within these replaceable modules, 10 of which were carried by Curran, matter and antimatter were stored, then reacted at narrowly controlled rates. However, because Currans were never expected to travel interstellar distances under their own power, a large fusion reactor was unnecessary. This weight savings allowed Currans to mount more powerful sensors with which to detect attacking ships and to carry more missiles with greater ranges and speeds and larger warheads with which to destroy them. They could also achieve higher peak speeds (wf 4.2) than could Minotaur or Archer for intercepting enemy ships and making attack runs.
In the last 2 years of the war, 30 Currans entered service with the UESN. Although Curran was a more powerful attack ship than either Minotaur or Archer, it did not achieve the fame of either of these earlier ships because by the time it was introduced the tide of the war had turned in the UE’s favor. In the latter half of 2158, UESN task forces, spearheaded by powerful second- and third-generation M/AM reactor-equipped cruisers and carriers had begun their drive towards the Romulan homeworlds. Although the UE’s outer colonies were still under threat of Romulan attack until early 2160, by 2159 the Romulans had begun to withdraw from their most forward bases and to consolidate their defensive sphere around their core worlds. Thereafter, Romulan forces made only occasional nuisance raids against the UE’s outer colonies, which were now much more heavily defended than in the early years of the war.
Archer and Curran were purely defensive patrol craft that took no part in the great UESN offensives of the last 2 years of the war. However, by defending the outer worlds of the UE against Romulan attacks in the war’s early years, they saved the lives of thousands of UE citizens and held the line until the UESN was itself ready to go on the offensive.
Archer Class Specifications
Length: 61.8 m
Beam: 17.6 m
Draft: 18.5 m
Standard displacement: 7,362 t
Crew complement: 20 (4 officers + 16 crew)
Weapons: 24 Amazon offensive/defensive missiles, 2 pulse laser cannons
Warp drive: 6N-4A fusion reactor with 1 midline Firefly nacelle
Velocity: Warp 2.2, standard; Warp 2.7, maximum
Units commissioned: 73
Commissioned: August 2154
Curran Class Specifications
Length: 62.7 m
Beam: 18.1 m
Draft: 18.6 m
Standard displacement: 7,227 t
Crew complement: 17 (4 officers + 13 crew)
Weapons: 36 Janus offensive/defensive missiles, 2 pulse laser cannons
Warp drive: 5N-6E fusion reactor and 10 36D antimatter power modules with 1 midline Dragonfly I-A nacelle
Velocity: Warp 2.4, standard; Warp 4.2, maximum
Units commissioned: 30
Commissioned: June 2158
For more information on the Archer Class, the Curran Class, and other small cruisers, you may want to consult these titles:
- Barclay, Robert J., Jr. Archer: The Final Line of Defense. NOLC 978419, 2162.
- Chang, Justin. Tin Cans: The Archer Class Patrol Cruiser. NOLC 356706, 2158.
- Fredrickson, Lee. Hunter, Prey: The Front Lines of the Earth-Romulan War. Navato, Qualor II: Independence Press, 2163.
- George, Micheal. The Ships of the U.E. Stellar Navy. Victory Edition. NOLC 830202, 2160.
- Okazaki, Masao. U.E. Small Combatants, Including Light Cruisers, Missile Boats, and the Orbital Navy: An Illustrated Design History. San Francisco, Earth. SFLC 0709-643225, 2209.
- Quillan, Peter. The Hot Dogs: A New Look at the Patrol Cruisers of the UESN. NOLC 642796, 2165.
- Robinson, Kim S. Birds of Prey: The Colonial Line. Navato, Qualor II: Frontier Press, 2165.
The Archer Class and Curran Class starships were designed by Masao Okazaki. © 2001. Patrol cruiser concept by Dan Carlson.