The standard Romulan starship from at least the early 2360s on, the D’deridex Class warbird’s fierce reputation is well deserved. Larger than any other mainstream starship employed by any major power in the Alpha Quadrant at the time of its introduction, it is heavily armed even by today’s standards, its armament ranging from disrupters to photon torpedoes. Powered by an artificial quantum singularity, its capabilities are roughly equal to that of a Starfleet Galaxy Class explorer but its cloaking device and uncertainties regarding intelligence on numbers in service are troublesome factors for the Romulan Empire’s neighbours to consider.
Introduced before the Empire’s return to intergalactic affairs, the D’deridex, initially labelled the B-type Warbird or simply the Warbird Class by Starfleet in the absence of concrete information, was the supreme frontline vessel in the Alpha Quadrant and, quite possibly, the Beta Quadrant until the advent of the latest Federation and Klingon designs. While those powers were priding themselves on their latest technological advances in the forms of the Galaxy Class and, several years later, the Vor’cha Class, the Romulans had managed to win the overall race. Not only were their technologies on a par with the Federation and the Klingon Empire, but they had managed to mass produce their most advanced starship design in total secrecy, using their lead time of several years to build an impressive fleet of Warbirds capable of performing many of the same tasks required of their most adaptable counterparts among the other galactic powers.
This, at least, was the image portrayed to those outside the Star Empire. While not inaccurate, the Romulans were well aware that their policy of pursuing the D’deridex above all other designs had created weaknesses in some respects. Due to issues the nature of which have never been disclosed to Federation sources, the giant warbird had been designed with certain combat duties in mind. After reviewing the design, analysts at Starfleet highlighted what they felt to be the requirements behind the warbird’s design. Quite evidently, the Romulans had been required to move massive numbers of people, not necessarily troops, although that option was obviously allowed for. They had also been required to field vessels capable of ship-to-ship and, most notably, outstanding ship-to-ground combat performances. Speed, stealth and, as became apparent during the conflict with the Dominion, the design familiarity afforded by large numbers had also been factors. Equally, the retention of key capabilities that were not combat-oriented had been a consideration for the Star Empire’s ship designers, as evidenced from the advanced sensor, transporter, communications and other technologies known to be deployed as standard on vessels of the class. Perhaps most telling of all was the absence of other capital ship classes in the Romulan fleet, despite the obvious ability of the Romulans to design and field craft comparable to those employed by their immediate neighbours.
While primarily based on conjecture, Starfleet’s analysts deduced that, for several decades, the Romulans had been engaged in a number of sizable and forceful expansions, the success of which had depended on overcoming strong yet limited resistance from multiple sources scattered across the Beta Quadrant. In the analysts’ eyes, the Star Empire had invested all of its resources in building a one-stop-shop starship, something that, independently of armed escorts, could move thousands of troops or colonists speedily and confront and overcome known threats without any resulting significant degradation of the fleet’s non-combat capabilities. The absence of other capital ship classes indicated, at least in the analysts’ eyes, the confidence of the Romulans that no technical shortfalls could be exploited by their presumedly inferior but determined enemies. Whether these deductions are accurate has never been learned, but the apparent slowness with which the Star Empire was able to field a completely new capital ship design – the Norexan – and the inability to swiftly regear towards possible and actual confrontations in the Alpha Quadrant indicated a construction infrastructure totally devoted to churning out the D’deridex, a strategy unthinkable among even the design-loyal Klingons.
In the face of new threats, the Romulan Star Empire has reduced its production of the D’deridex Class in favour of new designs such as the Norexan and, Starfleet Intelligence believes, possible experimental ship types designed to employ the Reman cloaking system. Despite this, the D’deridex remains one of the known galaxy’s foremost starships. Due to its unique power source – a forced quantum singularity – it has a virtually limitless supply of energy at its disposal, a factor that allows it to remain in the field without resupply for lengths of time far surpassing those enjoyed by even the thriftiest of Starfleet designs. This is believed to be the technological advancement that allows the D’deridex, despite its expansive volume, to achieve velocities almost on a par with its non-Romulan contemporaries while still remaining cloaked. Admittedly, not even the vaunted Romulan stealth system, thought to be superior to that found on Klingon vessels, is perfect and has been known to falter in its efficacy at speeds exceeding warp 6, displaying a subspace variance identifiable from long ranges. While recent developments have reduced this side-effect somewhat, the limitation remains and is a constant concern for warbird commanders seeking to move stealthily yet quickly.
In terms of firepower, the D’deridex is second only to the Negh’var and, Starfleet believes, the Sovereign and the Prometheus. While initial reports were sketchy and could by no means provide accurate information on the technical characteristics of the weapons employed on the large warbird, it is believed that vessels of that class have undergone at least one upgrade since the Star Empire’s resumption of activities along its borders with the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire. This supposition was supported somewhat during the Dominion War when warbirds exceeded their previously suspected top speed of warp 9.6 and, despite even recent evidence provided through Starfleet-Romulan hostile encounters, managed to withstand attacks to the same degree as uprated Galaxy Class starships while doling out unexpectedly vicious levels of destruction.
Starfleet Intelligence, working with the Klingons from time to time and using eye witness reports from the Dominion War, now knows that the Romulans employ one T class heavy disrupter and up to thirteen P class heavy disrupters – following a naming convention in which the chief inventor seems to be recognised as opposed to referring to the “type” of disrupter created – on the D’deridex. Estimates of these weapons’ strengths are worrying, equating the T class to a phaser array of twice the strength of a Federation Type XII and the P class to something closer to the Type XII. Of course, lacking the technological achievement that is the linear array, Romulan disrupters do not have the prolonged output levels of their Starfleet counterparts, a disadvantage added to by the fact that the warbird’s P type complement consists solely of singular emitters rather than proper cannon. However, they remain some of the most powerful weapons currently in use.
It is believed that, due to the size of the D’deridex fleet and the losses suffered by the Star Empire during the Dominion War, the Romulans have been unable to maintain its previously outstanding exploratory and scientific elements at the same high level enjoyed in the 2360s and early 2370s. Recent intelligence reports suggest that advances employed on vessels of the Norexan Class have begun filtering down to their D’deridex counterparts, but question marks hang over the true extent of these developments. It is known, however, that a major post-war drive to refit warbirds with the latest technologies has met with considerable success. Given the Romulan Star Empire’s abilities, this is by no means surprising and, coupled with the sheer number of D’deridex Class warbirds built to date, leads watchful external observers to assume that the class will remain in service for many decades yet.
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Ships of the Line
- IRW S’Task