U.S. AKRN-345 William R. Connolly class Fast Vehicle Cargo Ship:

While the US Army had an incredible arsenal at its disposal, they vehicles and supplies necessary to fight a war on foreign soil were not self-deployable. They had to be transported to locations around the world by other means before they could bring the fight to the enemy.

In the early twenty-first century the Algol class transport ships were beginning to show their age. Their General Electric steam turbine engines had seen better days and were becoming more and more difficult to maintain. However, during the 2012 war with India, the eight Algol class ships gave a good account of themselves, transporting the entire 1st Calvary Division and 3rd Infantry Division to the combat zone. However, that was their last hooray. While they were unloading, two of the ships were sunk by Indian air strikes, two others ran aground while maneuvering in close to shore to unload, and  one other sustained a massive engine failure in port.

The U.S. Army was without the fast transport it required to meet the United State’s global commitment. They placed heavy pressure on the U.S. Navy for immediate replacements. The Navy pointed out that the Bob Hope, Maersk, AmSea, and Watson class ships were just as capable of moving heavy loads, though at a much slower pace, and the president and congress agreed. It was almost twenty years later, when the slower RO/RO ships had reached the end of their careers that funding became available for a new class to fast transport ships.

These purpose built high-speed ships had approximately 450,000 square feet of vehicle space, and  were designed to carry up to 200 M-1A7 MBTs or up to 650 HMMWVs. The were designed around the highly successful RO/RO (Roll-On/Roll-Off) ships of the late Twentieth century. Alternately, the vessels were capable of carrying 25,000 tons of equipment. Each had roll-on/roll-off ramps port and starboard for easier loading and unloading as well as a pair of 70-ton cranes.

These fast cargo ships were originally fitted with four new generation gas turbines that could drive the ship up to 33 knots. Later these engines were replaced by fusion turbines which increased top speed to 35 knots as well as giving virtually indefinite endurance. In a surprising move, the class were fitted with variable pitch propellers for greater maneuverability in port facilities.

The revolutionary new super-strong alloys and composites had been just a few years before and they were already being incorporated into the new Concord class cruisers. Congress mandated that the new fast cargo ship would be built from the keel up using these new materials. Granted, the Navy already planned to use these new materials on their new vessels. There was never any thought to try to make the ships stealthy in any way, as the cost would have been prohibitively expensive and would have greatly increased development time.

In addition, the Navy decided that the new class of fast vehicle transports would not suffer the same fate as the Algols. Two Mk 49 RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile) launchers and a single Mk 15 Phalanx CIWS were carried to defend against incoming missiles. These were replaced with the Mk 44 “Sea Sabre” combination missile and rail gun defense mounts later in the ships’ service lives. There was some consideration of installing a system to launch medium range missiles while the engines were being replaced, but this idea was discarded due to the cost and difficulties involved.

When these vessels operate in posts where there may be hostile threats nearby, there are often light gun crews out to deal with small boat and similar threats. Rarely at sea are they actually manned. Originally the ship had .50 caliber machine guns but later replaced by light rail guns. Basically these are identical to those carried by the USA-PA04 SAMAS although with a greater payload.

Other than the four defense mounts, these vessels relied mostly on chaff and decoy systems in order to protect them from missile strikes. However, they did mount a jamming system although there were always concerns about missiles homing on the jamming signals. For protection against torpedoes, these vessels were fitted with towed decoys.

Theses ships carried the bare minimum of sensors, but there were plans to upgrade them in the early Twenty-Second Century. Initial plans were to mount only a surface search radar but with the potential of air threats, it was decided to mount a reasonably capable air search radar. The EADS 3D TRS-16, designated the SPS-75 in United States Navy service, was selected. An older radar system, the radar had already been mounted on a number of smaller US Navy and Coast Guard vessels.

Eventually twelve ships of this class were built to meet the Army's increased demand for transport. They were named for decorated Army personnel who gave their lives in the line of duty. SSGT. William R. Connolly took command of the remains of his tank battalion after all the officers were killed during the brief war with India in 2012. He successfully halted an offensive flank attack by superior Indian mechanized forces thus giving the American spearhead the chance to turn and destroy the entire force. He was posthumously the Medal of Honor for his actions.

Like the Yosemite class Dry Cargo Vessels, the Connolly class were expected to get caught in combat areas and that the ships are armed, the vessels of the class were crewed by a mix of Naval Personnel and Merchant Marines. Because of the civilian component of the crew, crew quarters are more comfortable than they might be for a ship with a pure Navy crew. In addition, there tends to be a bit less discipline expected than a true military might although the crew are still expected to do their jobs.

Also due to the fact that the ships might be called on to carry nuclear weapons, there was space set aside for carrying a compliment of marines and /or army personnel. The policy of surface vessels not carrying nuclear warheads had been rescinded and the vessels had to equipped for the possibility. A small number of either APA-15 “Semper Fi” power armors with flight packs or USA-P04 SAMAS can be embarked along with them. If the personnel were army, it was almost certainly SAMAS which would be embarked, but marine personnel could operate either armor.

In addition, the vessel is designed with a hanger for a single cargo aircraft. These are used to carry cargo to vessels the ship is supporting or to shore. Usually a single Kingfisher VTOL aircraft are carried although originally the Osprey tilt rotor were used. Even later in these fast cargo ship’s careers, nuclear versions of the Osprey design would be used instead of the newer Kingfisher due to shortages in the newer design.

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.

Model Type: AKRN-345 (SL-15) SSGT. William R. Connolly class Fast Vehicle Cargo Ship.

Vehicle Type: Ocean, Auxiliary (Fast Vehicle Cargo Ship).

Crew: 66 total; 18 military (2 officers, 1 chief petty officer, and 15 enlisted) and 48 civilian. [Has a high degree of automation].

Troops: 4 Kingfisher / Super Osprey crew members, 6 power armor pilots, and up to 20 troops (army or marines) for protection of special cargo.


Robots, Power Armors, and Vehicles:

Power Armor Compliment:



USA-PA-04A SAMAS Power Armors or APA-15 “Semper Fi” Power Armors with flight packs.

Aircraft Compliment:



EV-84A Kingfisher General Cargo / Search and Rescue or V-22N Super Osprey Tilt Rotors.

Tanks and Other Vehicles (in storage):



M-7A1 “Jackson” MBTs, M-21 “Schwarzkopf” hover tanks, or M-22 “Mackintosh” Tank Destroyers (or)



M-8A1 “Maverick” IFVs, M-9 “Morgan" Missile Vehicles, or M-10 “Galahad” Self-Propelled Howitzers (or)



M-15 “Longworth” Glitter Boy Transports or M-16 “Sheridan II” Troop Transports (or)



HMMWVs or M-4044 “Sand Rat” Hover Jeeps.

Usually an appropriate mix of vehicles will be carried so that the lose of any one ship will not result in critical losses in vital equipment. One possible mix would include:



M-7A1 “Jackson” MBTs, M-21 “Schwarzkopf” hover tanks, or M-22 “Mackintosh” Tank Destroyers.



M-8A1 “Maverick” IFVs, M-9 “Morgan” Missile Vehicles, or M-10 “Galahad” Self-Propelled Howitzers.



M-15 “Longworth” Glitter Boy Transports or M-16 “Sheridan II” Troop Transports.



HMMWVs or M-4044 "Sand Rat" Hover Jeeps.

M.D.C. by Location:


Hanger (aft):



[1] Rear Flight Deck:



[2] Main Bridge / Superstructure:



[3] EADS 3D TRS-16 (SPS-75) Rotating Phased Array Radar System:



Roll-On/Roll-Off ramps (2, one of each side of the rear):

750 each.


Vehicle Cranes (2, center):

500 each.


[4] USA-M31 Medium Defense Rail Guns (4, sides):

50 each.


Mk 44 Combination Anti-Missile Defense System (4, sides):

200 each.


[4] Chaff / Decoy Launchers (4, hull / superstructure):

10 each.


Outer Hull (per 40 foot / 12.2 meter area):



[5] Main Body:



[1] If the flight deck is destroyed, no aircraft can be launched or land.

[2] If bridge / superstructure is destroyed, the ship can still be piloted from engineering but with a -15% to piloting rolls. Communication and sensor equipment are not concentrated on the bridge to reduce the effectiveness of bridge hits.

[3] Destroying the TRS-16 (SPS-75) rotating phased array radar panel will destroy the ship’s main fire control systems but the vessel has backup systems with a shorter range (Equal to robot vehicle sensors.)

[4] These are small and difficult targets to strike, requiring the attacker to make a “called shot,” but even then the attacker is -4 to strike.
[5] Destroying the main body causes the ship to lose structural integrity, causing the ship to sink. There are enough life preservers and inflatable life boats to accommodate everyone on the ship.


Surface: 40.3 mph (35 knots/ 64.8 kph).

Range: Effectively unlimited due to fusion engines (needs to refuel every 20 years and requires maintenance as well). Ship normally carries two months of supplies on board.

Statistical Data:

Draft: 37 feet (11.5 meters) fully loaded.

Length: 946 feet (288.5 meters).

Width: 105 feet (32 meters).

Displacement: 31,000 tons empty and 59,700 tons fully loaded.

Cargo: Can carry 25,000 tons (22,680 metric tons) if not carrying vehicles. Each enlisted crew member has a small locker for personal items and uniforms. Ship’s officers have more space for personal items.

Power System: Originally conventional gas turbine propulsion, converted to four nuclear fusion turbine reactorswith an average life span of 20 years.

Black Market Cost: Not for sale but costs around 300 million credits to construct. If found and sold on the black market would probably cost 1 to 2 billion credits. Cost does not include embarked craft and power armors.


  1. Four (4) USA-M31 Medium Defense Rail Guns: Originally M2HB .50 Caliber Machine Guns were fitted in these locations. These weapons are mounted with two on either side of the hull for defense against small boats and similar threats. Not considered effective against aircraft or missiles. These rail gun mounts were identical to those carried on the USA-PA-04A SAMAS power armor although outfitted with a double sized ammunition drum. The rail gun has fewer bursts and is heavier but the rail gun inflicts more damage than the post Rifts C-40R.

    Weight: Rail Gun: 110 lbs (49.9 kg), Double Ammo Drum: 280 lbs (127.0 kg).

    Maximum Effective Range: 4,000 feet (1,200 meters).

    Mega-Damage: A burst of 40 rounds inflicts 1D6x10. One round inflicts 1D4+1.

    Rate of Fire: Equal to the combined hand to hand attacks of the gunner (usually 4 or 5).

    Payload: Each has a 4,000 round magazine for 100 bursts.

  2. Three (3) Mk 44 “Sea Sabre” Combination Anti-Missile Defense Systems: Replaces original Mk 15 Vulcan CIWS and Mk 49 RAM launchers. One is mounted on the front of the superstructure and two others are mounted to either side of the rear superstructure. This anti-missile defense system combines both a rapid fire rail gun and a short range missile launcher. While mounted in one system, both defense systems have separate tracking and fire control systems. The short range missile launchers can target up four targets and can fire a volley up to twice per melee. Quite powerful, the rail gun is capable of destroying any missile or inflicting serious damage on aircraft. The rail gun can fire on automatic at up to six targets per melee (Has +3 to strike missiles and +2 to strike aircraft). In its design, the rail gun is very similar to those carried on the Sea King cruiser and it is likely that the Sea King’s rail guns came from a prototype of this system. The system also can be used against other ships and ground targets. The system has a 360 degree rotation and can elevate up to 90 degrees to fire at targets directly overhead.

    Maximum Effective Range: Rail Guns: 11,000 feet (2 miles / 3.2 km). Short Range Missiles: As per short range missile type (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)

    Mega-Damage: Rail Guns: 3D4x10 M.D. per burst of 40 rounds (Can only fire bursts). Short Range Missiles: As per short range missile type (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)

    Rate of Fire: Rail Guns: Six (6) attacks per melee round. Short Range Missiles: Two (2) attacks per melee round, can fire short range missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2) or four (4) short range missiles.

    Payload: Rail Guns: 8,000 rounds (200 burst) each. Short Range Missiles: Sixteen (16) short range missiles each.

  3. Four (4) Chaff / Decoy Launchers: Located on the sides of the hull of the ship, they are designed to confuse incoming missiles. All four launchers must be operated or effects will be reduced. Rifts Earth decoys systems are assumed to not be effective against Phase World / Three Galaxies missiles due to technological differences. Reduce effects by 20% against smart missiles (Add +20% to rolls for smart missiles) and reduce effects of launchers by 10% per launcher not used (Add +10% to rolls per launcher not used.) Only useful against missiles, not useful against torpedoes underwater.

    Range: Around Ship.

    Mega Damage: None.



    Enemy missile or missile volley detonates in chaff cloud - Missiles are all destroyed.



    Enemy missile or missile volley loses track of real target and veers away in wrong direction (May lock onto another target.)



    No effect, enemy missile or missile volley is still on target.

    Payload: Twenty-four (24) each for a total of ninety-six (96) canisters.

  4. 4 Four (4) SLQ-52B Naiad Advanced Towed Torpedo Decoys: The vessel carries four advanced towed decoy drones. They are each a small automated vehicle that creates a false sonar image designed to mimic the vessels. The decoy is dragged behind the vessel using a cable. If decoys are not destroyed, they can be recovered and repaired. Rifts Earth decoys systems are assumed to not be effective against Phase World / Three Galaxies guidance and targeting systems due to technological differences.

    M.D.C.: 20 each.

    Range: Not Applicable although decoy is deployed approximately 1,000 feet (304.8 meters) from the vessel.

    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: One can be deployed at a time and requires two (2) minutes to deploy (reel out) another decoy.

    Payload: Four (4) towed decoys.

Special Systems:

The ship has all systems standard on a robot vehicle plus the following special features:

[ Altarain TM, Bandito Arms TM, Brodkil TM, Chipwell Armaments TM, Coalition States TM, Cyber-Knight TM, Federation of Magic TM, Free Quebec TM, Golden Age Weaponsmiths TM, Horune TM, Iron Heart Armaments TM, Kankoran TM, Kittani TM, Kydian TM, Larsen’s Brigade TM, M.D.C. TM, Mechanoids TM, Mega-Damage TM, Megaversal Legion TM, Millennium Tree TM, Mutants in Orbit TM, Naruni Enterprises TM, Naut’Yll, New Navy TM, New Sovietskiy TM, NGR TM, Nog Heng TM, Northern Gun TM, Phase World TM, Psyscape TM, Rifter TM, SAMAS TM, S.D.C. TM, Shemarrian TM, Splugorth TM, Stormspire TM, Sunaj TM, Tolkeen TM, Triax TM, Wellington Industries TM, Wilk’s Laser Technologies TM, Xiticix TM, and Zaayr TM are trademarks owned by Kevin Siembieda and Palladium Books Inc. ]

[ Beyond the Supernatural®, Heroes Unlimited®, Nightbane®, Ninjas & Superspies®, Palladium Fantasy®, and Rifts® are registered trademarks owned by Kevin Siembieda and Palladium Books Inc. ]

Writeup by Kamikazi (co366thaw@hotmail.com) & Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 2002 & 2017, Kamikazi & Kitsune. All rights reserved.