LAST EDITED ON Feb-12-20 AT 02:53 AM (EST)
[Phil found us a picture! --G.]
Consider the Source!
from Galactipedia, the Galactic Encyclopedia
redirected from HMS Reckless (X204)
The only known photograph of HMS Reckless at sea, taken for the RN archive by Akasaai; declassified 2158
The Re-class superfortress battleships were a class of experimental warships designed by the Royal Navy of Earth's United Kingdom during the 21st-century global crisis known as the Fog War (2038–2059).
In actual fact, the notion of the Re-class as a "class" at all is a misnomer; though four vessels were planned on paper, three of them were never built, nor even truly intended.
The "Re" class was conceived in 2048 as a desperate attempt to break the complete stranglehold of the Fleet of Fog on the territorial waters surrounding the island of Great Britain. Like all of Earth's island nations, the UK suffered terribly under the Fog's interdiction of the seas, since 21st-century Earth's economy had been so thoroughly globalized for so long that such countries could no longer be anything approaching self-sufficient and maintain an acceptable standard of living for their existing populations.
The answer Britain's increasingly frantic naval architects came up with was to pool every last scrap of advanced, experimental, and/or alien technology that could be pulled together into a single vessel, designed and constructed for maximum power and survivability, with the hope that such a ship would be able to clear the Fog presence from the English Channel and enable Britain to re-establish contact with the continent of Europe. In an attempt to prevent the full scale of the project from being revealed by its stupendous cost, it was documented as a development effort intended to produce a class of four superfortress battleships. In reality, only one was ever expected to be built: the prototype "lead" ship, codenamed HMS Reckless.
Reckless was intended to be the most powerful vessel of any kind—including starships—constructed on Earth to date, capable of going toe-to-toe with the fearsome Fog North Atlantic Fleet. Her chief designer, British naval architect Sir Miles A.G. Thurston (a descendant of the prominent early-twentieth-century ship designer Sir George Thurston), envisioned her as a weapon capable of confronting even the North Atlantic Fleet's flagship, a Fog realization of the never-built German super-dreadnought H-40, and her escorts—a force which had all but annihilated the RN's Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow ten years before.
To this end, virtually every offensive or defensive technology available was incorporated into her design, including fragments of captured alien hardware and the products of black projects undertaken by a dozen or more countries during the Contact Wars. These were included regardless of whether human scientists fully understood them, or even understood them at all, so long as they could be gotten to work.
The ship's name, Reckless, reflects this risk-indifferent, glory-or-disaster approach to development. As Thurston later wrote, "Every one involved was aware that the result of our labours might be an uncontrollable Frankenstein monster of the seas, as dangerous to us as to the enemy; but what choice had we? At the time, we could see no alternative."
The centerpiece of this radical, half-comprehended mélange of technologies was the crown jewel of the human naval intelligence community's largely fruitless campaign against the Fog menace: a device captured at hideous expense from one of the enemy's repair stations on the French coast shortly after the war began, and believed to be the intact core of a Fleet of Fog vessel.[what?! citation VERY MUCH NEEDED] As a result of this inclusion and other alien influences, the final form of the vessel as constructed is reputed to have been at some variance with Thurston's original plan. However, frustratingly little documentary evidence exists; since the project was conducted at a level above top secret and covered up after the fact, no photographs or drawings, either of the ship as planned or as built, can now be found.
As such, we have virtually no specifics of Reckless's design or capabilities, beyond the vague references and allusions to be found in Thurston's memoirs, those of a crew member, and the one extant work of contemporary history on the British Fog campaign (Constanza Cigrand's 2160 book Never Shall Be Slaves). According to these sources, the ship was over 1,500 feet long, displacing somewhat in excess of 200,000 tons, and equipped with a mix of armaments ranging from 25-inch conventional naval artillery to phased plasma beam emitters, guided missiles, and a gravity wave weapon reputed to be "capable of destroying a seaport at a stroke" (Thurston, 2101). She was also supposedly equipped with some equivalent to the Fog's energy armor, in addition to an abundance of physical armor made from a mix of advanced alien alloys and composites. There are also reports that she had a flight deck for automated attack drones, but virtually nothing is known about these.
Because she was designed and constructed to be largely self-operating, she had a crew complement of only 20 people, in spite or her gigantic size. These personnel ran the ship from a control center in the superstructure, where the bridge of a conventional vessel would have been. In the event of the ship's loss, they were provided with a submersible lifeboat in which to attempt an escape.
This colossal shipbuilding effort, in a time of ever-worsening economic and physical circumstances, took the better part of a decade and virtually finished the job of bankrupting the nation; but on August 14, 2058, under conditions of utmost secrecy, Reckless sailed from Barrow-in-Furness and headed south, bound for the Channel and her planned confrontation with H-40.
Her first contact with the Fog came two days later, when she encountered a Fog patrol off the Cornish coast. These patrols, which generally consisted of a dozen or more replica German Type 1934 and British L- and M-class destroyers, had bottled up what remained of the Royal Navy after the Battle of Scapa Flow with little effort. Reckless engaged them at 14:42 hours British Summer Time on August 16. She reported the enemy force destroyed, with no damage to herself, at 14:57. Spurred by her success in that initial encounter, Reckless proceeded northeast along the French, Belgian, and Dutch coasts, marauding through coastal pickets and demolishing Fog installations at Cherbourg, Le Havre, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Antwerp, and The Hague by offshore bombardment.
This ostentatious operational pattern was intended to attract and hold the full interest of Fog Forces in the area, and it succeeded. Early on the morning of August 20, Reckless met H-40 and its escorts in the North Sea, approximately 150 miles east-southeast of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
The details of the battle that ensued are fragmentary at best, since the handful of human witnesses were sworn to secrecy under pain of extreme criminal prosecution after the fact. The only one known to have broken this confidence, a junior rating aboard Reckless, left an incomplete account decades later, and cannot be considered an entirely reliable narrator. [well, exactly]
According to that account, Reckless sank a number of H-40's escorts, including replicas of the heavy cruisers Admiral Hipper and HMS Cornwall, before coming to grips with the flagship itself. During the ensuing artillery duel, the Fog vessel scored a direct hit on Reckless's command center, killing about half of the crew and leaving the equipment there inoperable. Unable to control the vessel, the survivors abandoned ship.
The Fog did not engage the Reckless survivors' lifeboat, either because they failed to detect it, or because it was withdrawing toward home (as the Fog often ignored small craft in retreat). Looking back by periscope, the ranking survivor (name not disclosed in the single extant account of the incident, but supposed to have been the ship's second lieutenant) expected to see H-40 and its remaining escorts finishing off the crippled Reckless.
Instead, he reportedly saw the ship resume the battle of her own accord, opening fire on the Fog destroyers sent in by the flagship to administer the coup de grâce. These ships were destroyed almost instantly by Reckless's concentrated fire, after which she turned her attention again toward H-40. Operating without human intervention, the experimental superfortress outmaneuvered and outfought the Fog dreadnought, battering it into a helpless hulk and then sinking it with her (only vaguely described) "gravity weapon". With their flagship destroyed, the remaining Fog ships attempted to flee, only to be chased down and exterminated by Reckless with what the surviving account describes as "evident malice."
When the survivors made port in Newcastle-upon-Tyne that evening, they reported these events to the Admiralty. Initially, it appears they were not believed, but ultimately someone was convinced enough to risk dispatching an aerial reconnaissance drone to ascertain the whereabouts and current status of Reckless. They found the ship, damaged but appearing fully operational, off the Dutch coast, steaming southwest—evidently bound for home.
What happened next is unknown, but HMS Reckless does not appear in the historical record thereafter. The Navy List for 2058 lists her as having been stricken on August 22, with the cause given as "scrapped". Given the vast expenditure of time, treasure, and irreplaceble technology she represented, this seems unlikely in the extreme. Some[who?] have speculated that, because she had operated autonomously and human control over her could no longer be guaranteed, the British government ordered her scuttled, either with some self-destruct provision or by a nuclear strike (the only regular Earth-made weapon ever shown to be reliably effective against Fog defensive technology).
Only one ship of the "Re" class was ever built, but provision for four was made in the 2048 naval budget, and names for the fictitious other three were reserved. The class's nickname comes from the fact that all the planned names began with the letters R-E.
|H.M. Naval Construction Yard West, Barrow-in-Furness
|Unknown, listed as scrapped, 2058
- Thurston, Sir Miles Archibald George, Seas of Strife, 2101
- Seaman, An Anonymous British, Reckless and Bold, 2138
- Cigrand, Constanza, Never Shall Be Slaves: The Royal Navy in the Fog War, 2160
Categories: 21st-century warship classes | The Fog War | possible urban legends