Built to carry a single Line Marine Expeditionary Unit (LMEU), the Tarawa-class was derived from the Hotspur-class heavy cruiser hull and shares a great deal of commonality with the Hotspur design. While armed in self-defense, the class was built mostly for the purpose of carrying, deploying, and supporting a LMEU, with the additional support of a Wasp-class Marine Armor Transport to carry light and medium tanks (later panzers).
The class would remain in service well into the Hegemony era, only entering second-line service with the appearance of the Iwo Jima-class Marine Transport.
Designed to replace the Tripoli-class Marine Transport, the Tarawa-class would consolidate many of the missions that required 1.5 Tripoli-class hulls into a single ship. The biggest consolidation was of troops and troop transports, with the ship carrying eight Knight troop dropships and two Cobra light gunships for drop support. Each Knight dropship can carry up to twenty-two Marines, a single LAV, or a single cargo pod internally, providing the ability to rapidly deploy forces into battle. The Tarawa-class also mounts six drop pod cannons on the dorsal of the ship, which can quickly drop powered infantry troops into battle. The ship carries sufficient drop pods and support pods for up to two combat drops.
The ship shares the same 500mm missile tubs and the bow and stern weapons fit of the Hotspur-class, mostly for self-defense and deployment of bombardment weapons. Because the class would operate closer to planets than most other Imperial ships, the point defense systems were heavier to provide protection against mines and missile strikes. The 500mm missile tubes also gave the Tarawa-class the ability to launch a variety of bombardment munitions, from guided SEAD weapons to pure kinetic penetrators.
Unlike most Imperial warships, the Tarawa-class does not mount a deployable VLBI array, as the general mission of the class would make such an array inconvenient. The ship also carries full command facilities for Line Marine units, an expanded medical bay, and enlarged fabrication systems for equipment upkeep and ammo resupply. While the Imperial-era version of the ship would have a “morgue” (powered armor storage bay) big enough to equip a battalion of troops, Hegemony-era ships would carry enough powered armor to equip every Marine.
The hull would see several major revisions, in the form of battle steel armor, antimatter power systems, and an enlarged “morgue” bay during the Hegemony era. The capability of the class would keep it in service well into the later Hegemony era, only to be replaced by the Iwo Jima-class Marine Transport.
The Tarawa-class would be built in six flights, with the major differences between “flights” being the replacement of the fusion reactors with antimatter reactors, battle steel armor, and minor technical upgrades. The class would primarily operate with Patrol Fleet, followed by Battle Fleet.
The class would not see service in the Ghost Fleets, as there was little need of a Marine transport. Rumors that the largest caches had at least one Tarawa-class to quickly “assume control” of worlds that were being developed by earlier Ghost Fleet caches are continually denied.
Dimensions: 240 m x 25 m x 20 m
Mass: 36,000 tons (consistent across all flights)
2x Yoyodine Type 47 Gravity Fusion Reactors (Imperial Era, Flight I-III)
2x Yoyodine Type 45 Antimatter Reactors (Hegemony Era, Flight IV)
2x Yoyodine Type 45-A Antimatter Reactors (Hegemony Era, Flight V-VI)
8x Q-Coils (350 G acceleration, all flights)
3x Slipspace rings (6 LY/day, all flights)
180 days on stored supplies, fuel scoops (Imperium Era)
180 days of antihydrogen at 90% power, theoretically unlimited material
endurance (Hegemony Era)
One Class VI AI, 26 Officers, 50 NCO, 260 Able Spacers, backup bioshells and cybershells (Imperial Era)
One Class VII AI, three Class VI AIs, three Class V AIs, mixture of uploads and biological crew equaling 410 crew members, backup bioshells and cybershells (Hegemony Era)
Up to 1,700 Marines (Line Marine Expeditionary Unit), with backup bioshells and cybershells.
“Morgue” (powered armor bay) for one battallion (Imperial era) or the entire LEMU (Hegemony era).
8×6.5cm positron beam cannons in double turrets (two dorsal, two ventral)
10x700mm missile tubes with gravity launchers, one array of five port and starboard.
6xDrop Pod Launchers, ventral.
Stealth Systems: Radar sheath, IR dampener w/military specification hypersink, hull form.
ECM: AN/SL(G)-88 Electronic Warfare Array, with “spike” and “strobe” jammer options.
AN/SG(N)-41 Electronic Warfare Array with one port and one starboard “spike” arrays.
8x Rodeo-class missile decoys, 8xMirrorball-class sensor decoys (dispensers ventral and dorsal).
Point Defense: 16 40mm xaser cannons with double-bounce gravity mirrors in independent casemate mounts.
20 20mm xaser cannons with double-bounce gravity mirrors in independent casemate mounts.
6x150mm counter-missile launchers, mounted in pairs bow, port and starboard.
Shields: Standard Hegemony Navigational Shields
Combat Shield Generators-150% capacity bow, 125% capacity dorsal, ventral, port and starboard, 100% capacity stern. (All Flights)
Armor: Fibersteel, 7 cm maximum (Imperium Era)
Battle Steel, 7 cm maximum (Hegemony Era)
8x Dropships, 2xGunships, 2xPinnance, 3xCutter, 6xType 2 Recon Drones, 2xType 3 Recon Drones (Imperium Era)
8xDropships, 2xGunships, 2xPinnance, 3xCutters, 8xHarvesters, 8xType 2 Recon Drones, 4xType 3 Recon Drones (Hegemony Era)
If you need to get boots on the ground, the Tarawa-class is the ship you want. Having both dropships and drop pod launchers, the class isn’t quite a “jack of all trades” (it lacks armor bigger than LAVs), it does quite a few roles very well.
- It’s not quite a hospital ship, but it does have enlarged facilities for medical emergencies.
- Since it carries a Line Marine unit, it can do most missions until Garrison Marines are deployed or the Imperial Army (“Operations other than war,” civil contingencies, occupation/planetary control, etc, etc, etc).
- It has a relatively large fabrication system, so it can start restoring planetary infrastructure during an emergency.
- And, it has a Line Marine Expeditionary Unit, which have fought so many desperate actions that even a short list would be voluminous.
The biggest issue was that the class could only drop a single battalion of powered infantry pre-Hegemony (which limited the roles of drop infantry to raids, securing locations for heavier drop ships, and/or similar “airborne infantry” missions) and it can’t carry heavier armor. While later armor (i.e. panzers) could self-deploy in the late Imperium era, there wasn’t enough space to carry anything more than a company of light armored vehicles.
The later Hegemony-era versions of the ship could equip the entire force with powered armor (relegating the dropships to providing supplies and theater transport on the planet), but the armor issue would remain even with the larger Iwo Jima-class.