British Royal Navy Dreadnought class Ballistic Missile /
Thunderer class Cruise Missile Submarines:
Developed as a replacement for the Vanguard class, the original Dreadnought class ballistic missile submarines were cancelled in the hopes that all ballistic missile submarines could be retired. However, it never quite worked out that way and as a result the Vanguard class ended up soldiering on for far longer than expected. As time went on, the old ballistic missile submarines became harder and harder to maintain.
Originally they were expected to serve for around thirty years but in the end they ended up serving almost twice that in some cases. When the revolution in high strength materials occurred, the navy was stretched thin to even refit old vessels with the new high strength materials. Along with the Astute class fast attack submarines, the Vanguard class ballistic missile submarines were refitted with the new materials but the Royal Navy would have vastly preferred replacing the submarines with new boats. The only new construction they were authorized was five and then later seven of what was classified an “Improved” Astute class fast attack submarine.
Ultimately the Vanguard class served until the early fifties, at which point they were so old that their hulls and reactors were in some cases dangerously close to forcing the British Navy to pull the whole class out of service. Some press reports indicated that the vessels were in danger of catastrophic failure. While this was an exaggeration, it was closer than the Lords of the Admiralty wanted to admit.
When this became public, the outcry was so great that there was concern that British government might fall. While this was also an exaggeration, the outcry was huge. The public would not allow the government to lose Britain’s nuclear deterrence. Several newspapers had been quick to point out that the loss of the nuclear ballistic submarines would lower the country to the level of France, which had given up its own ballistic missile force a decade before.
Over the years, starting in the 2030s, the shipbuilders of BAE systems had proposed the utilization of the Dreadnought class ballistic missile submarine hull for a cruise missile submarine. The design was periodically updated to take advantage of new technology. Budgets were tight however and each time the project was shelved for lack of funds.
Prior to this, the United States had converted four Ohio class submarines into cruise missile submarines when the United States was forced to cut their ballistic missile submarine force to fourteen boats with the Start II Treaty. As the Ohio class submarines in question were only about twenty years old, the United States was loath to retire the boats. These converted boats could carry one hundred and fifty-four BGM-109 Tomahawk missiles along with a relatively large troop compliment.
Later, the United States did something similar with the Kraken class cruise missile submarine. When the Columbia class ballistic missile submarine was cancelled, the hull was utilized for the Kraken class cruise missile submarine. Ultimately, the construction of the Kraken class allowed for the production to switch over to ballistic missile submarines if required and the boats themselves could be converted to that role if required. In the end, the United States Navy decided to go with the Francis Scott Key class, a much larger ballistic missile submarine design but the Kraken class did keep the technology developing.
Now, acting upon the public outcry, the British government ordered four new ballistic missile submarines based on the updated Dreadnought hull design. All four were to be laid down at one with upgrades to the design being done while the vessels were under construction. Some major upgrades were even planned for when the new submarines came in for refits. Any later models of the class would be constructed using more modern systems, but the first four had to be finished fast. The entire Vanguard class was decommissioned as soon as the first four Dreadnought ballistic missile submarines were completed.
After the first four boats were completed, an additional pair of ballistic missile submarines and a pair of cruise missile submarines all based on the updated Dreadnought hull design were laid down. Construction of these four boats was at a less frantic pace. Generally the cruise missile submarines are considered to be the Thunderer subclass for the first boat completed. When the HMS Thunderer and HMS Triumph commissioned, they were a welcome addition to the fleet. The eventual goal was for eight ballistic missile submarines and four cruise missile submarines to be completed.
The updated Dreadnought class, and Thunderer subclass, were of roughly the same size and general shape as the United States Ohio class ballistic missile submarines. Major obvious external differences were that the Dreadnought class was design with “X” shaped the dive planes being relocated into the hull from the main sail, and mounted a pump jet instead of a conventional propellor. The Dreadnought class was designed to carry twenty ballistic missiles, which while greater than the sixteen carried on the Vanguard class but still four less than the twenty-four ballistic missiles carried on the Ohio class.
At the time, the United States Navy was working on the development of a new ballistic missile but the British Navy decided not to wait and instead simply updated the UGM-133B Trident II ballistic missile on the Dreadnought class. While relatively old, the missile was still seen as quite capable. There was a question as well if the United States would be willing to share the design of the new UGM-166A “Thunder Bird” ballistic missile because the relationship between the two countries was not as cordial as it once was.
While the American cruise missile launchers used on the converted Ohio class and the later Kraken classes cruise missiles submarines use launchers for seven cruise missiles that take the space of a single ballistic missile, the Thunderer was designed differently. Instead, the Thunderer was designed with forty cruise missile launchers identical to those carried on the Ursula class fast attack submarine. With four cruise missiles per launcher, the Thunderer could carry a total of one hundred and sixty cruise missiles. These missiles were normally divided between land attack missiles and multi-purpose missiles.
Compared to the Dreadnought class ballistic missile submarine, the Thunderer class cruise missile submarine did have a number of additional changed. The Thunderer also has a slightly different sail which is designed to carry some of the gear for special forces which were expected to be carried onboard. In addition, the forty cruise missile launchers and magazines required less space than the twenty ballistic missiles and the space below the magazines was converted to support marines. Along with quarters for forty troops, the space was used store twenty power armors and a significant amount of other gear. Forward and aft of the missile launchers were the hatches for the troops’ use.
Both submarine designs were equipped with a retractable blue-green laser mount in the sail of the submarine and four 533 mm torpedo tubes in the bow. The number of torpedoes was significantly increased in the Dreadnought designed compared with previous ballistic missile submarines although still far less than most fast attack submarines carried. Initial Dreadnought class were not fitted with an automatic loading system for the torpedo tubes but were later backfitted. Later Dreadnought class and all Thunderer subclass submarines were fitted with the automatic loading system while under construction
Sonar systems and other electronics are mostly identical to the Ursula class and systems originally to be mounted in several Ursula class were instead used in the fitting of the first four submarines of the Dreadnought class. This caused delays in the fast attack program but the ballistic missile submarines were considered far more important. Even so, the first two boats of the Dreadnought class entered service without towed sonar arrays and had to be fitted when the boats went in for refits.
While not originally part of the design for the Dreadnought class, the gel layer system first pioneered by the Ursula class was fitted to the ballistic missile submarine while under construction. Although the general hull design of the Dreadnought class was less efficient than the Ursula class, the gel layer system still gave these submarines incredible stealth characteristics. There were some attempts by various nations to find the British ballistic missile submarines and the task was found to be next to impossible.
Often called “Cramped but comfortable,” these boats had improved habitability compared to previous British submarine classes. Still, the standard of submarine should not be considered the standards of those on land or of even surface vessels. Officers staterooms were tiny and designed to be shared by multiple officers. The only exceptions being those for the captain and executive officer. Each enlisted crew member did have their own bunk and there was no need for hot bunking.
Dreadnought class ballistic missile submarines were operated by two crews. One would deploy while the other trained on shore and was given time with family and friends. Thunderer subclass cruise missile submarines only had a single crew. They were expected to spend less time deployed so crew could get other activities done while in port in most cases.
When the Ark Royal task force deployed, the HMS Thunderer was assigned to support it, along with two Ursula class fast attack submarines and an older Ramillies class fast attack submarine. The group was mainly meant for gunboat diplomacy but the possibility of conflict made the Thunderer a welcome addition.
When the task force was attacked by Argentinian bombers using Chinese stealth technology, HMS Thunderer, along with the rest of the task force, was thought destroyed by nuclear weapons. In fact, the submarine was rifted forward in time from what was to later become the South American Sea Triangle. For several weeks the world teetered on the brink of nuclear war but somehow it was averted.
The Argentinian Military could be considered lucky because it would have been unlikely that they could have destroyed the Thunderer and the guided missile submarine would have responded. While all of the missiles that would have hit the task force were destroyed, several exploded outside of the task forces defense and would have been considered an act of hostility in any cases. While the Thunderer carried no nuclear warheads, 160 cruise missiles could have inflicted a huge amount of damage.
Author Note: With respect to time line, these designs may or may not reflect our modern time line. The time line of these writeups diverged from our time line starting around 1999. Consider the universe that these designs are created for to be an alternate universe not bound by ours.
Dreadnought class Ballistic Missile Submarine.
Thunderer class Cruise Missile Submarine.
Ocean, Ballistic Missile Submarine.
Ocean, Cruise Missile Submarine.
105 total; 10 officers, 12 chief petty officers, and 78 enlisted.
40 - Usually Royal Marines or Special Air Service (SAS) personnel.
Robots, Power Armors, and Vehicles (Thunderer Cruise Missile Variant):
Power Armor Compliment:
BA-V FPA-05D Gypsy Moth Power Armor.
M.D.C. by Location:
Ballistic Missile Launchers (20, aft of sail - Dreadnought Ballistic Missile Variant):
Cruise Missile Silo Hatches (40, aft of sail - Thunderer Cruise Missile Variant):
533 mm (21 inch) Torpedo Tubes (4 - bow of submarine):
Retractable Blue-Green Laser Cannon Mount (1, mounted on front quarter of sail):
Troop / Power Armor Hatches (2 - Thunderer Cruise Missile Variant):
 Bow Planes (2):
 Pump Jet Propulsor (1):
 Main Body:
 Destroying the submarine’s bow planes will reduce the submarine’s ability to change depths but will not eliminate it. It also makes it difficult for the submarine’s crew to control the submarine giving a penalty of -25% to all underwater piloting rolls.
 Destroying the submarine’s pump jet propulsor causes serious problems. The submarine will no longer be able to use forward momentum and the bow planes to keep the submarine level. It is recommended that ballast tanks are immediately blown so submarine comes to the surface.
 Depleting the M.D.C. of the main body destroys the submarine’s structural integrity, causing it to sink. If the submarine is underwater, the entire crew will die unless protected by environmental armors that can withstand the pressure that the submarine is under. If on the surface, there are enough flotation devices and inflatable life rafts to accommodate everyone aboard.
Water Surface: 26 knots (29.9 mph/ 48.2 kph).
Underwater: 31 knots (35.7 mph/ 57.5 kph).
Maximum Depth: 4,920 feet (1,500 meters).
Range: Effectively Unlimited due to fusion engines (needs to refuel every 30 years and requires maintenance as well). The vessel carries nine (9) months of supplies for the crew on board.
Draft: 38 feet (11.4 meters).
Width: 43 feet (12.9 meters).
Length: 612 feet (183.6 meters).
Displacement: 17,764 tons standard and 19,750 tons submerged.
Dreadnought class: 12 tons (10.88 metric tons) of nonessential equipment and supplies.
Thunderer subclass: 24 tons (21.77 metric tons) of nonessential equipment and supplies [normally used for equipment for Royal Marines / Special Air Service (SAS) personnel.]
In both cases, these submarines are very cramped. Each enlisted crew member has a small locker for personal items and uniforms. Boat’s officers have a bit more space for personal items although still extremely cramped. Most of the boat’s spaces are taken up by extra torpedoes, weapons, and engines.
Power System: Nuclear fusion; average energy life of 30 years. Normally refuels every 15 years.
Black Market Cost: Top secret! Not available; but costs hundreds of millions of credits to build with all the standard features and weapons. Each UGM-133B Trident II ballistic missile could probably cost over 250 million each. Cost does not include embarked craft and power armors.
One (1) Pop-Up Blue Green Laser Mount: The weapon is mounted in the top of the sail, and has complete coverage of the sky. The turret fully retracts as to not interrupt water flow while the submarine is underwater. Limited to low underwater speeds [5.8 mph (5 knots / 9.3 kph) or less]. This was a relatively weapon mount which could be used against small vessels, power armor, and missile volleys. Actually many commanders felt that the mount was one of the most useless items on the subs, since more than ninety-nine percent of each deployment was spend underwater anyway with the laser considered by most to be of limited use against torpedoes. The laser mount had its own gunner and could rotate 360 degrees and had a 90 degree arc of fire.
Maximum Effective Range: In Atmosphere: 6,000 feet ( 1,828.8 meters). Under Water: 3,000 feet (914 meters).
Mega-Damage: 6D6 M.D. per single blast.
Rate of Fire: Five (5) blasts per melee round.
Payload: Effectively unlimited.
Four (4) 533 mm Heavy Torpedo Tubes: On the upper bow of the submarine are four torpedo tubes with two on each side. Tubes are 21 inches (533 mm) wide and torpedoes can be used against both surface ships and submarines. Torpedo tubes have a special automated reloading system to reduce noise. For warheads, heavy torpedoes should be treated as having long range missile warheads. Along with standard torpedoes, the launcher can also fire missiles (long range or cruise missiles) in special canisters and rocket boosted ASW torpedoes. Missiles are rarely carried however. Submarine normally carries twenty-eighty reloads for torpedoes (in addition to six torpedoes in the tubes) and can carry up fifty-six mines in place of torpedoes.
Maximum Effective Range: 40 miles (34.8 nautical miles / 64 km) for torpedoes.
Mega-Damage: By heavy torpedo warhead type (See revised Rifts torpedoes for details), can fire missiles (long range or cruise missiles) in special canisters as well (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
Rate of Fire: Can fire heavy torpedoes one at a time or in volleys of two (2), three (3), or four (4) heavy torpedoes. Reloading takes one full melee round.
Payload: Four (4) heavy torpedoes total [Has twenty-eight (28) additional heavy torpedoes for reloads.]
Missile Launchers: The hull behind the sail carries twenty Trident ballistic missiles in the ballistic missile version of the submarine and the cruise missile variant of the submarine carries forty cruise missiles instead of the ballistic missiles along with two hatches for troops.
Twenty (20) Upgraded UGM-133B Trident II D-5 Strategic Ballistic Missiles: Behind the submarines sail are two rows of ten ballistic missiles. These missiles make the Dreadnought class one of the most dangerous ship classes on the Earth. Missiles can be launched at depths up to 300 feet (91.44 meters) underwater. The British simply bought the designs from the United States, but fitted British electronics. Missiles have a range of 6,000 nautical miles but essentially enter a low orbit to do so they would probably either be destroyed by the debris rings or by defense satellites. Missiles can be launched at targets less than 1,000 nautical miles without entering a ballistic trajectory. Each missile has fourteen warheads that are each the equivalent of a nuclear long range missile warhead. The missiles can hit targets up to 100 miles away from where the missile breaks into its multiple warheads and can target multiple targets. Each warhead has independent guidance and is considered a smart missiles.
Maximum Effective Range: 6,904.7 miles (6,000 nautical miles / 11,112 km ) but must be launched ballistically, 1,150.8 miles (1,000 nautical miles /1,852 km) with missiles being launched sub ballistically. Missile warheads can hit targets withing a 115 miles (100 nautical miles /185 km) of where the missile breaks into fourteen warheads.
Mega Damage: Each ballistic missile have fourteen (14) warheads which each are equal to a nuclear long range missile warhead (See revised bomb and missile tables - nuclear warheads for details.)
Rate of Fire: Can fire UGM-133B Trident II missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2) or four (4) missiles per melee round and can be fired at multiple targets at the same time.
Payload: Twenty (20) Trident II ballistic missiles total. Submarine carries no reloads.
Forty (40) Cruise Missile Launchers: These silo-style launchers are located aft of the submarines sail and face upwards. Missiles are launched in special canisters that enable the missiles to be used in depths down to around 150 feet (45.7 meters.) The system is the same as that carried on the Ursula class fast attack submarine but the Dreadnought class has more launchers. System has an automatic reload system and launchers are located within the pressure hull of the submarine. All launchers operate as one system and are used to engage enemy ships and ground targets. The cruise missile usually carried was the hypersonic Fasthawk in its sea skimming anti ship and semi ballistic land attack guises.
Rate of Fire: Can fire cruise missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2), four (4), eight (8), sixteen (20), or twenty (20) cruise missiles and can be fired at multiple target at the same time. Can be fired once per melee round.
Payload: Four (4) cruise missiles per launcher for a total of one hundred and sixty (160) cruise missiles. Normal cruise missile complement is eighty (80) land attack and eighty (80) sea skimming anti ship Fasthawk cruise missiles.
Eight (8) Advanced Decoy Drones: The submarine carries eight advanced decoy drones. They are a small automated vehicles that creates a false sonar image designed to mimic the submarine’s sonar signature. It has a small propulsion system that can simulate movement [has a maximum speed of 23.0 mph (20 knots / 37.0 kph)] and maneuvers. In addition to be able to be used to decoy torpedoes, they can sometimes be used to trick another vessel while the submarine moves into position. If decoys are not destroyed, they can usually be recovered and repaired if they can be retrieved. Rifts Earth decoys systems are assumed to not be effective against Phase World / Three Galaxies guidance and targeting systems due to technological differences.
Range: Not applicable. Decoys do however have a duration of 30 minutes (120 melee rounds) once launched.
Effects: The decoy has an 80% chance of fooling ordinary non military sonars and non smart guided torpedoes, the decoy has a 50% chance of fooling military level sonars (like those of the Coalition) and non “smart” torpedoes, and the decoy has a 25% chance of fooling advanced military sonars (Like those of the New Navy and Triax) and “smart” torpedoes.
Rate of Fire: Boat can launch one decoy drone per melee round.
Payload: Eight (8) decoy drones.
Noisemakers: The submarine carries noisemakers in order to decoy torpedoes. They are most effective against normal torpedoes and less effective against “smart” torpedoes. Considered in many ways to be the last line of defense against incoming torpedoes and similar systems are carried on most submarines. The noisemakers are launched from the middle of the submarine.
Effects: 50% of decoying normal torpedoes and 20% of decoying smart torpedoes.
Rate of Fire: Two (2) noisemakers at a time (Can be reloaded in one melee round).
Payload: Twenty (20) noisemakers.
Gel Coating: The submarine was designed to form a gel coating around itself by running a low powered electric current through its hull and releasing a set of chemicals into the water surrounding it. Under the influence of the electric current the chemicals bonded with the seawater, forming a thick gel that clung evenly to the hull. This coating absorbed both incoming and outgoing noise, which made the submarine virtually impossible to detect by both passive and active sonar.
The drawback was that the gel would slough off if the sub exceeds fifteen knots of speed, and that the sub only had a limited supply of the gelating chemicals aboard. In order to listen past the coating the sub reeled out a towed sonar array through the gel layer.
Range: Not Applicable.
Effects: The gel layer absorbs, deadens and distorts all sounds from and to the submarine. The sub is -30% to detect [comes in addition to other penalties so is -80% to detect at below 9.2 mph (8 knots / 14.8 kph) and is -60% to detect at below 17.3 mph (15 knots / 27.8 kph).]
In addition to that, if detected there is a 20% chance that the sub will be mistaken for a large school of fish or a whale due to the gel layer having a density much like flesh or whale blubber.
Gel layer has a duration of four (4) days at speeds below 17.3 mph (15 knots / 27.8 kph). Above 17.3 mph (15 knots / 27.8 kph) the layer peels off in three (3) melee rounds, negating its effects.
Rate of Fire: Submarine can form a new gel layer in eight melee rounds, but must be at a speed of 5.8 mph (5 knots / 9.3 kph) or lower!
Payload: Six (6) applications.
The submarine has all systems standard on a robot vehicle plus the following special features:
BAE Systems Type 4045 Advanced Hull Sonar System: This hull sonar system has both a passive and active system built in with system able to track up to 48 targets at one time. Sonar also has built in communication system and sound pulse system to detect obstacles, objects, vessels and fish (schools and large animals), as well as measure distances and depth. Range: 65 miles (56.5 nautical miles / 104.6 km). Bonuses: Sonar gives +10% bonus to Read Sensory Instruments and Weapon Systems skill rolls.
BAE Systems Type 4070B Advanced Towed Array Sonar: Advanced Pre-Rifts sonar system considered the virtual equal in performance of the special purpose SURTASS system developed by the U.S. Navy. The system is basically a long and very sensitive sonar system carried behind the submarine on a long cable. With an active and passive system built in, this sonar system can track up to 72 targets at one time. Range: 200 miles (173.7 nautical miles / 321.9 km).
Rascal UAT-8 Advanced E.S.M. Suite: Radar and radio detection suite. This includes the ability to detect radar guided weapons. Can be used for limited targeting. The system uses an antenna mounted in the sail which is extended in a similar manner to a periscope. The antenna is both very hard to detect visually and is designed with a reduced radar signature. The system can detect another radar system at around 125% of the range of the transmitting radar and is usually subject to radar horizon.
Quieted Propulsion and Anechoic Coating: The boat is designed with a very quiet propeller design, the submarine's reactors make very little noise, and the boat is coated by a sonar defeating rubber coating. The submarine is -50% to detect when traveling at less than 9.2 mph (8 knots / 14.8 kph) and is at -30% to detect when traveling at speeds greater than that. These penalties are increased when the Gel Coating is used.
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