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Author Topic: WarShip of the Week: Essex I  (Read 3367 times)

Jellico

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WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« on: 22 January 2015, 08:02:19 »
(If they ever fix up the art...)
Essex I-class destroyer: FR2765:Periphery

Over the years Battletech authors have named dropped numerous WarShips then promptly stuffed up the dates. The Essex is a classic example with references long before its 2711 introduction. The 2765 Field Report series has tried to correct this, bringing us to this week’s WarShip of the Week. The Essex I.

In the late Star League era the Essex II fills the low end of capability next to the more capable Lola III, and in the Terran Hegemony era the Essex I has the same relationship with the Lola I. Introduced in 2351 the Essex I served as the default destroyer for the Hegemony until the introduction of the Naga in 2645. 300 years of service for such a underpowered hull may seem remarkable, but it is important to compare it to its role. The Essex is a step between the Vigilant and the Lola I. Its job is not to fight fleet battles, but to patrol space and act as a police force. As a ship intended to hang around and beating up smaller craft the Essex is very capable.

Over the years most of the Essex were scrapped or sold off to the House navies. However in the 2760s the Capellan Confederation got their hands on the plans. I am sure a few of our Capellan readers are going to be horrified at this. In a universe where Free Worlds League is building League IIs and Atreus, and the Federated Suns is building Davion IIs and New Syrtis, mass producing tiny primitive Essex I and Vincent Mk39s. Soyal production basically stopped with Amaris. But given the alternative was nothing, the Capellans have/had to be happy with what they got. As normal, these ships and the ability to produce them were eliminated by the First and Second Succession War.

By modern standards the Essex I is clearly vulnerable, but in the Reunification War it was still competitive. In anti-ship terms it is roughly comparable to a League I, Baron or Naga. Note the Nagas replaced the Essex Is after 2645. On the other hand the Essex I is awful as an anti-fighter platform. Even its throw weight (ability to help other ships) is amongst the weakest in the game.

Structurally the Essex I is soft. Really soft. It has the least armour of any destroyer, while its structure is the same as the Baron. At least it has usable thrust. Firepower comes mostly from NAC10s clustered around the bow. An extensive naval laser battery fills the gaps. The NAC batteries are nearly useless at bracketing while the lasers lack the damage to make it worthwhile. Four NL45s in the aft arc are useful for planetary bombardment, which would be one of the roles the Essex I is designed for. Surprisingly it is comparable to a Lola I, though the Essex I loses out in the protection stakes. Indeed the layout seems a hybrid of the Lola I and Essex II.

The flight deck consists of 12 Small Craft. Not a full wing it suggests a mix of a squadron of combat ships and a squadron of support ships. The traditional hundred-thousand ton cargo bay allows extended operations. And as one of those ships that seemed to hang around forever in House fleets when better ships were retired, we have to assume the Essex I is a pretty reliable ship.

So, how do we use an Essex I? Before 2600 you can send it into battle against its peers fairly happily. It is no Davion II (or Davion I), but the Essex I will be available in numbers and have plenty of bigger friends. Pick on corvettes and DropShips. Avoid aerospace fighters. In many ways it is better to think of the Essex I as a big corvette. It is cheap and expendable. Put it in stupid places like orbit where it should be able to dominate the surface, and you don’t care if it gets nuked because it’s better than losing a cruiser. Likewise distant patrol out on the frontier or gate keeper at a jump point. It is a nastier trip wire than a Vincent and allows you to keep your strike force hidden. Tactically your best bet is brawling. You can’t bracket so just cross everything, get those bow NACs into play at short range, and start praying.

After 2600 you are talking singletons in the House fleets and of the Capellan’s growing fleet. Stick with your buddies and pick on the weak. The Cappies are going to have the luxury of facing League IIs on one flank. A League II is about twice as capable as an Essex I so do the maths. Aerospace fighters will work about equal, but the League II’s DropShips could be a problem. Don’t think about Atreus. On the other flank we are talking Davion IIs. That’s about 4:1 odds. You can see where the Capellan fleet went. Avoid, avoid, avoid. Use the Soyals and Du Shi Wangs, offensively, ASF concentrations defensively, and send the Essex Is everywhere enemy WarShips aren’t.

There is not really much to say about killing an Essex I. Aerospace fighters are probably the cheapest way given the lack of armour and weak defences. Hitting it with NACs is probably the fastest way. 86 points in one arc will kill it. Imagining what a Narukami would do is pretty shocking.


« Last Edit: 22 January 2015, 15:06:53 by Jellico »

Wrangler

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #1 on: 22 January 2015, 08:44:50 »
Thanks for the article, Jellico! 

This is a ship, which is product of it time and i think it fits just right.  "Disposable", but reliable Warship which was built in larger numbers which is good thing. The Age of War didn't have a lot of WarShips among nations when they first came out, but Terran Hegemony had all the toys.  ;D

The Bonaventure (2317) and Vigilant (2320) were in service acting as surveillance and border reaction force at time Essex was introduced.  I'd  imagine the Essex-Class was used give them additional firepower to those 4-ship formation the corvettes were using. 

The Lola I-Class does over shadow Essex, that ship's armor, firepower, and other capacities. However, in-universe those ships had problems, i expense and problems with the design would I think keep Essex in production longer.  Since they both made up in the end making up the bulk of the old Hegemony fleet. I think duo wasn't bad combo of light destroyer and "heavy" destroyer. 

Most of the heavier ships in the Frigate/Cruiser range and beyond (except for the Dart-Class (2317)) that most of the big ships were slower Essex and other smaller ships. Next type ship up from Essex I was the Quixote-Class (2350) Frigates which jumps up in armor, but firepower is in the concentrated in missiles and numerous drop collar capacity which anything below a Frigate at time doesn't have. Not it's not bad thing, but you don't want go brawling with it. I'd imagine Essex would be riding herd and giving escort for the frigate when ships manage close in.

I wish Capellans had been able to refit their repeat Essex I ships when they started producing them in 2700s.  Least they'd had some abilities to survive into the early Succession Wars.  More i think of it, having the League's navy come in and sweep them would make some sense why House Liao's navy up and disappeared from the old fluff of House Books.
« Last Edit: 22 January 2015, 08:59:49 by Wrangler »
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marauder648

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #2 on: 22 January 2015, 08:56:25 »
Great article :) The Essex I is to me the B-tech version of this.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower-class_corvette

A small and probably cheap, easy to produce picket vessel and light escort that in the B-tech universe would act as you said as a visible reminder that the SLDF is around so please don't try anything.  In wartime they would probably be called up to look after jumpship convoys as well as carry out picket roles and if needs be, massed together into large squadrons for a naval engagement.
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Wrangler

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #3 on: 22 January 2015, 09:03:13 »
In wartime they would probably be called up to look after jumpship convoys as well as carry out picket roles and if needs be, massed together into large squadrons for a naval engagement.

I'd like see if the new Interstellar Operations will make  things easier to operate squadrons of these ships.  I know SO has rules, but I don't trust myself in translating them right.  I don't own Alpha Strike or its Companion yet, but i heard of the Capital Radar map, I'd image that would make things fun.   

I do wonder how radically changed the stats for the ship will come out in AS/BF form.
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marauder648

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #4 on: 22 January 2015, 09:06:36 »
What I saw of the rules for Battlespace were that it was horribly complex if I recall, and it put me in mind of Babylon 5 Wars which was a great game but was quite complex (especially once you started introducing League races) and could not be played in big battles because going outside of say 2 - 3 ships per side would just take the entirity of a day.
« Last Edit: 22 January 2015, 09:14:04 by marauder648 »
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Stormlion1

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #5 on: 22 January 2015, 12:50:11 »
Now turn it into a drone ship and send them at an enemy and let them waste ammo on them.
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Diablo48

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #6 on: 22 January 2015, 21:40:49 »
Honestly, I am seeing a lot of value in keeping these around for secondary duties well after they are obsolete in actual combat thanks to their reliability and flexibility.  I would transfer them to support of ground formations once the replacement start filtering in because they offer a great blend of capabilities in that roll.  Besides the obvious orbital bombardment roll, they will do a decent job of stiffening the hordes of ASFs in checking an enemy counterattack either in a coordinated attack on smaller WarShips or, preferably, going after transport DropShips while the ASFs keep the enemy off it.  Also, that nice large cargo bay means it will do a great job in support of your other cargo ships because it can haul a substantial amount of cargo while also providing protection which is always a good thing.  Just keep them out of heavy fighting if you have any say in the matter and they should perform admirably in any era.


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Jellico

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #7 on: 23 January 2015, 00:09:57 »
But do they do it better than a Vincent?

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #8 on: 23 January 2015, 00:36:04 »
Also, I'm thinking this was more a PRESENCE ship to tell people that yes, the Hegemony had the capability to reach out and have as many starships as possible in as many systems as possible with a fairly hefty punch to tell What The Rules Are. Actually, I'd almost put a platoon of Marines onboard as well, and use the shuttle bays so the ship can do inspection work.

A wet Navy ship to think of would be the Marine National's Floreal class frigates and the cutters of the US Coast Guard. While a fully capable combatant ship, the primary duty is Naval Presence, vice combat fleet.

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BrokenMnemonic

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #9 on: 23 January 2015, 13:43:20 »
I wonder what kind of numbers the Capellans ended up manufacturing the Essex I in - if it was cheap and easy enough to produce, they might've been attracted to the idea of trying to out-produce their opposition. Or it might've been an expensive boondoggle compared to producing something else. I keep looking at the Essex I and thinking "sure, it takes four of them to stand a chance at defeating a Davion II, but it's also four planets that can be bombarded from orbit to the Davion's one."

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Jellico

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #10 on: 23 January 2015, 15:33:42 »
A wet Navy ship to think of would be the Marine National's Floreal class frigates and the cutters of the US Coast Guard. While a fully capable combatant ship, the primary duty is Naval Presence, vice combat fleet.

I think you are selling the Essex short. They are the OHP to the Lola's Spruance. Sure they are weak in 2600. But in 2350 they are fine. Yes Essex are about cheap presence, but they are a considerable jump above any of the corvettes.

sillybrit

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #11 on: 23 January 2015, 19:16:49 »
I keep looking at the Essex I and thinking "sure, it takes four of them to stand a chance at defeating a Davion II, but it's also four planets that can be bombarded from orbit to the Davion's one."

The question is whether you can buy and operate four for the cost of a single Davion II.

Diablo48

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #12 on: 23 January 2015, 19:31:29 »
But do they do it better than a Vincent?

Given the fact that the Vincent cannot really provide sustained orbital fire support very well, I think the Essex is the clear winner in support of ground troops which is really its most important job when attached to a ground command like I was thinking.  The real competitor for the roll is honestly the Bonaventure which is a great way to get big guns pointed at the ground for cheap, but it is an older ship and has a host of other problems so I see the more capable Essex supplementing and/or replacing the Bonaventure in the direct support roll.


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Liam's Ghost

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #13 on: 23 January 2015, 22:57:53 »
Great article :) The Essex I is to me the B-tech version of this.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower-class_corvette

A small and probably cheap, easy to produce picket vessel and light escort that in the B-tech universe would act as you said as a visible reminder that the SLDF is around so please don't try anything.  In wartime they would probably be called up to look after jumpship convoys as well as carry out picket roles and if needs be, massed together into large squadrons for a naval engagement.

Given their age they seem more like these, with the contemporary Vigilant and Bonadventure filling the Corvette (or world war I era sloop of war) role.

I have developed a deep love of obsolete hardware in the battletech universe over the years. As such, the Essex I is filled with charm for me. I'm also fond of it because it excellently demonstrates why the Baron, Carson, and Naga were considered as replacements. My secret impossible wish would be to see the discovery of an entire mothballed fleet of these ships by some incredibly lucky lostech prospector, just to have them strutting their stuff in the modern inner sphere.
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Jellico

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #14 on: 24 January 2015, 22:46:53 »
Given their age they seem more like these, with the contemporary Vigilant and Bonadventure filling the Corvette (or world war I era sloop of war) role.

I have developed a deep love of obsolete hardware in the battletech universe over the years. As such, the Essex I is filled with charm for me. I'm also fond of it because it excellently demonstrates why the Baron, Carson, and Naga were considered as replacements. My secret impossible wish would be to see the discovery of an entire mothballed fleet of these ships by some incredibly lucky lostech prospector, just to have them strutting their stuff in the modern inner sphere.
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BrokenMnemonic

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #15 on: 28 January 2015, 05:33:28 »
One oddity I noticed is that Field Report 2765: Periphery lists the intro date of the Essex I as 2351, but in the Star League sourcebook there's a sidebar on page 16 entitled "Battle of Thorin's Shores" that has a Captain Michael Cameron commanding the Essex-class THS Monitor during a battle in the Thorin system. The sidebar details his ship being sent to investigate reported enemy activity in the system, and spending a week sculling around in the asteroid field before being ambushed by converted civilian ships.

Michael Cameron was elected Director-General of the Terran Hegemony in January 2340, and it would seem unlikely for the Director-General to be commanding an Essex I as a Captain on a week-long scouting mission in Thorin's asteroid belt, which suggests that either the intro date for the Essex I is out, or that the account of the Monitor's battle was either fictionalised or that the in-universe author got the class of ship wrong.
« Last Edit: 28 January 2015, 06:28:01 by BrokenMnemonic »

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marauder648

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #16 on: 28 January 2015, 05:57:58 »
Think older than the Flowers back to sloops and 3rd class cruisers.

Oh good point!  The RN kept a lot of old ships in service purely to show the flag off the coast of its dominions etc.  The Essex I's could well forfil this same role even with her being quite obsolete.
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Wrangler

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #17 on: 28 January 2015, 07:52:10 »
One oddity I noticed is that Field Report 2765: Periphery lists the intro date of the Essex I as 2351, but in the Star League sourcebook there's a sidebar on page 16 entitled "Battle of Thorin's Shores" that has a Captain Michael Cameron commanding the Essex-class THS Monitor during a battle in the Thorin system. The sidebar details his ship being sent to investigate reported enemy activity in the system, and spending a week sculling around in the asteroid field before being ambushed by converted civilian ships.

Michael Cameron was elected Director-General of the Terran Hegemony in January 2340, and it would seem unlikely for the Director-General to be commanding an Essex I as a Captain on a week-long scouting mission in Thorin's asteroid belt, which suggests that either the intro date for the Essex I is out, or that the account of the Monitor's battle was either fictionalised or that the in-universe author got the class of ship wrong.

Maybe it was one of the prototype-test ships doing a trial runs prior to the class going to full production.
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BrokenMnemonic

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #18 on: 28 January 2015, 10:25:40 »
Maybe it was one of the prototype-test ships doing a trial runs prior to the class going to full production.
That would make sense. It's potentially a couple of decades of testing, but based on the WarShips that've been published so far, the Hegemony was fielding Dreadnoughts, Black Lion Is, Cruisers, Darts, Bonaventures and Vigilants by 2325 - so nothing between the corvettes and the cruisers - and there was a 20 year gap between the introduction of the Cruiser in 2325 and the Lola I in 2345, so they could've been testing destroyer-class ships for a while before going into production on the Lola in 2345 and the Essex in 2351.

Or the Monitor was really a Dreadnought, and they wanted Michael Cameron to look more dashing retrospectively and stuck him in a destroyer in the stories instead ;)
« Last Edit: 28 January 2015, 10:27:24 by BrokenMnemonic »

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #19 on: 16 February 2015, 14:25:52 »
Neither "Michael" nor "Cameron" are rare or unusual first or last names. I suppose the captain of the THS Monitor wasn't the Hegemony's Director General but another person.
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BrokenMnemonic

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #20 on: 16 February 2015, 15:04:42 »
That's entirely possible - although it would be a bit odd to have a sidebar in the pages detailing the transition of power from the McKennas to Michael Cameron, taken as a section from "A Child's Biography of Michael Cameron", and then have it be an unrelated Michael Cameron not mentioned anywhere else in the text but alive at the same time and also serving in the HAF. If I were a betting man, I'd be more inclined to say it's just a date check error on FASA's part, or maybe the earlier trials ship explanation.

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #21 on: 16 February 2015, 16:36:14 »
Yet another option, a completely different Essex class, possibly even a "predreadnought" combat jumpship.
Good news is the lab boys say the symptoms of asbestos poisoning show an immediate latency of 44.6 years. So if you're thirty or over you're laughing. Worst case scenario you miss out on a few rounds of canasta, plus you've forwarded the cause of science by three centuries. I punch those numbers into my calculator, it makes a happy face.

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #22 on: 18 February 2015, 21:22:12 »
Sounds like a good Ask the Writers question, and potential errata.
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sillybrit

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Essex I
« Reply #23 on: 19 February 2015, 17:51:47 »
It has to be another Michael Cameron. The Michael Cameron who became the first Cameron Director-General was a 30 year old in the Army Reserves at the time of his selection in 2340 (SLSB p20). I doubt that a naval officer would have achieve command of a destroyer, then retired before he was 30 and became an officer in the army reserve instead. While it's possible that the tale of the THS Monitor's battle was published much later than it occurred, it's also worth noting that that the publication is dated 2498.

I wouldn't be surprised if the original author of that sidenote had intended it to be the Michael Cameron and we're just seeing yet another example of the FASA era of poor fact checking, but it's possible to read everything as correct without any need of errata or retcons if the Captain Michael Cameron of the THS Monitor and Director-General Michael Cameron are not the same person.