copyright 1997 by Wade Racine
(weapon facings: 1=bow, 2=starboard bow quarter, 3=starboard broadside, 4=starboard stern quarter, 5=stern, 6=port stern quarter, 7=port broadside, 8=port bow quarter)
As America began to once again assert her position as a global power, it became apparent that the ASF, if for nothing other than prestige, would need to build a battleship. The problem was that the ASF budget did not have the funding, and Congress was strictly enforcing the Balanced Budget amendment of the Constitution. The money was found in one of the most unusual places...the United States Marine Corps. The Marines had a budget to build Marine crewed Iwo Jima class troop transports, but had been fighting the ASF for access to the shipyards to build them. In an unprecedented move, the ASF agreed to carry an entire Marine Interface Unit onboard the new battleship and clear space on the building schedule for the Iwo Jimas, in exchange for getting the additional funding for the battleship. The American press dubbed the Columbia "the White Elephant of the ASF," claiming that it could not serve as an effective platform for a small Marine Interface Brigade and be a battleship at the same time.
The 6th Marine Interface Unit was assigned to duty on Columbia. The Columbia was commissioned on Inauguration Day, 2302. After an abbreviated shake down cruise, she was immediately dispatched with a strong American squadron to join the fleet gathering at Queen Alice's Star, with Rear Admiral Lauren Redd in command.
When the Kafers hit that system on July 12, 2302, Admiral Redd was eager to prove the worth of all the money the ASF had spent on Columbia (and also eager to prove the American Press they were wrong). She was dismayed when Adm. Graham ordered Columbia to stay in a reserve position. However, when the action was the fiercest, and the human forces were beginning to lose faith, one of Columbia's long range sensors picked up the emissions of a lone Kafer Delta class battleship that was not joining in the fray. Rightly guessing that this was the Kafer flagship, the Admiral moved her ship in to engage. USS Columbia moved close in to the Delta, and for two solid hours exchanged broadsides and full missile salvos. After those furious two hours, all but one of Columbia's FS-17A fighters had been destroyed, she had exhausted her complete complement of missiles, and had only four of her original twenty-seven turrets in operation. The only good thing about the whole engagement was that the Delta was in similar shape. With few options left to her, Admiral Redd grimly ordered what was left of the ship's complement of over 500 Marines to prepare to shuttle across to the Delta and seize it the hard way.
Then, just as the CIT-IIIA class landers were about to take off, a flight of Harrier class fighters from the British carrier HMS Nelson arrived, dropping their LHH-637 submunitions over the prone Delta. Within minutes, the lasers of the submunitions had started a chain reaction of explosions within the Delta's engines, and she exploded in less than three minutes. The tide of battle turned, and the Columbia limped back to the rest of the fleet, bloodied, but still capable of fighting. Admiral Redd was hailed as a hero when Columbia returned to Earth for repairs (although some say she should have been court martialed for risking such an expensive ship by disobeying Adm. Graham's orders). Columbia is expected to rejoin the fleet in November of 2301.
Warp Efficiency: 3.115 (fully loaded); Power Plant: 450MW Fusion; Fuel: 6,871 tons (see below); Range: 7.7; Movement: 6 (see below); Screens: 6; Radiated Signature: 7; Radial Reflected: 7; Lateral Reflected: 11; Targetting Computer: +2; Radial Profile: 0; Lateral Profile: +4;
Mass: 53,175 tons (fully loaded); Armor: 9; Hull Hits: 505; Power Plant Hits: 320; Cargo Capacity: special, see below;
Crew: 42 Bridge, 57 TAC, 91 Engineering, 54 Small Ship Maintenance and Crew, 552 Ship's Troops (see below), 30 Passengers, 3 Stewards, 28 Medical; Comfort: 0; Total Life Support: 847 people for 180 days;
Weapons: four x2+2 dbl 812; three x2+2 dbl 123; four x2+2 dbl 234; three x2+2 dbl 345; three x2+2 dbl 456; three x2+2 dbl 567; four x2+2 dbl 678; three x2+2 dbl 178
TTA's and Submunitions: 10 communicators
Ordnance/Ships Carried: 40 SIM-14's in four bays (10/bay, launch 1/turn), 2 HD-5 Drones in one bay (launch 1/5 turns), 10 FS-17A fighters in two bays (5/bay, launch 1/turn), 12 CIT-IIIA landers in three bays (4/bay, launch or recover 1/turn);
Active: 16 and redundant; Passive: 12 and redundant; Navigational; Deep System; Gravitational
CRITICAL HITS, CREW SECTION
TAC: 2 x Active Operator, 2 x Passive Operator; 10 x Remote Pilot; 16 x Flight Control, 27 x Fire Control
Bridge: Captain; Navigator; 4 x Communications; 10 x Engineer; 5 x Computer
The Columbia carries fuel for it's smaller craft. It carries enough to refuel each FS-17A fighter and each HD-5 drone six times, each CIT-IIIA lander ten times, and each vehicle in the Marine Interface Unit five times.
COST: MLv 1,339.7
American Marines on-board the USS Columbia
The 6th Marine Interface Unit has been assigned to the USS Columbia. Each of the three companies in the unit has one special mustering area (bay) connecting to the launch bays for the CIT-IIIA landers. The bays carry the full complement of each company's vehicles in cramped conditions, but there is enough room to perform basic repairs and maintenance, as well as load the vehicles onto the CIT-IIIA's. The MIU is organized as follows:
6TH MARINE INTERFACE UNIT
1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment
--Three companies (A, B, C)
----Three platoons per company (1st, 2nd, 3rd)
------Four squads per platoon (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th)
--------10 Marine Infantry, 3 APC crew, 1 M24A3 APC per platoon
C Company/12th Armor Battalion
--Three platoons (1st, 2nd, 3rd)
----12 tank crew, 4 M9 hovertanks per platoon
A Company/2nd Battalion/11th Interface Group
----12 ship crew, 4 CIT-IIIA landers per platoon
C Company/1st Batalion/12th Marine Aviation Regiment
----4 pilots, 4 Lakota close assault gunships per platoon
Each lander would require five trips to and from the planetary surface to land the full MIU. Each lander may carry one of the following payloads in one trip:
A. 40 individual Marine infantry (one platoon, less vehicles)
B. 1 infantry squad, APC crew, and APC
C. 1 hovertank and crew
D. 1 close assault gunship and pilot
The weight of the MIU, including extra fuel, landers, spare parts and ammunition, is about 2,601 tons. In the event that Columbia journeys forth without the MIU, her warp efficiency increases to 3.167, but movement remains 6.