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U.S. CGN-81 Charleston class Nuclear Missile Cruiser:

With the aging of the Ticonderoga class, the United States Navy needed a replacement for the vessels which had served well for around half a century. The time which the old missile cruisers were being decommissioned was one of reduced budgets and many politicians felt that the Burke and later classes of destroyers could fill the role. The United States Navy was able to get some funding for development but much less than they wished.

The first of the Concord class gun cruisers had just been commissioned and it was selected as the basis for the new guided missile cruiser class. The Charleston was designed with as many features in common with the Concord as possible and in appearance they look very close. A similar design criteria was used for the previous Ticonderoga class cruiser which shared the same hull and lower levels of the superstructure to the Spruance class destroyer. The main change is the reduction in number of gun barrels and increasing the number of missile launching cells.

While the cruiser was under development, Congress changed the naming convention back to the way it was originally. Originally cruisers were named after United States cities but it was changed first to congressional leaders and then to state names. The entire twenty ship class was named after American cities. The United States Congress changed the cruiser naming convention yet again after the Charleston class and the next class, Delaware class, was named after States.

Like the Concord, the Charleston is heavy based on the DD-21 program and shares many of the same features. The missile cruisers actually share about ninety percent of the same systems as the Concord class gun cruisers and shares the same hull and virtually the same superstructure. Like the Concord, the Charleston was constructed from high strength alloys which made it both very tough and virtually immune to corrosion. For these reasons, these missile cruisers lasted far longer than most classes that preceded them and were still serving when the Rifts came.

The hull and superstructure were designed to give the vessel a reduced radar cross signature. Their main role was as carrier escorts like most previous missile cruisers. Due to this, the ships rarely carried a large amount of cruise missiles even though they have the capacity for them. The Delaware replaced these ships as the main cruisers of the United States Navy but the Charleston class was still considered too valuable to remove from service. The Delaware class is actually slightly smaller and displaces less while having a similar payload of missiles. If any vessels of the Charleston class survived the cataclysm of the coming of the Rifts is unknown but quite possible.

The main changes between the Concord and Charleston are the weapon systems. Instead of triple barrel 155 mm cannons, the Charleston carries single barrel cannons of the same caliber. The weight and volume from the reduction in cannons allowed for the carrying of two thirty-two cell MK-41 missile vertical launch system (VLS) in addition to the two sixty-four cell VLS. The decks that hold the sixty-four cell VLS are stretched slightly and one of the small VLS is fitted before the superstructure and the other is fitted behind the ship’s stacks and is above the hanger. The ship has a total one hundred and ninety-two VLS cells as compared to the Concord class having one hundred and twenty-eight cells. The side mounted Mk-55 medium range missile launchers were retained for medium range point defense.

Like the Concord class gun cruisers, these vessels were originally fitted with four RAM missile launchers. They are in the exact same place as on the Concord class as well. Also, like the Concord, these close-in point defense missile launchers were replaced by combination rail gun and short range missile launchers. This system was carried in virtually all United States Navy combatant vessels. These ships also carry torpedo tubes because it is expected that they would be used in anti-submarine warfare.

Most of the electronics on the classes are identical but the Charleston carries a more advanced phased array radar system. This radar system was first developed for the Ranger class carrier but was modified for the missile cruiser. This radar system was not quite as powerful as that fitted on the Delaware class missile cruiser but was still considered quite adequate at the coming of the Rifts.

The history of the ships’ propulsion mirrors that of the gun cruisers that they are based on. These ships were originally built using powerful gas turbine engines powering electric propulsion. These engines gave the ship a top speed of 33 knots. These were replaced by fusion turbines based on those developed for aircraft. The new engines increased the top speed to 36 knots. The vessels were originally designated CG (Cruiser, Guided Missile) but when the engines were replaced, the designation was changed to CGN (Cruiser, Guided Missile, Nuclear). The ship was designed using variable pitch propellers for high maneuverability and also has stabilizers and is a surprisingly stable vessel. The ship is fitted with bubble masking to reduce machinery noise.

Initially, a vast reduction of crew compared to the Concord class was considered. This was eventually dropped for the same reason that it was not considered for the Concord class. Simply, there was concern that they crew would not be large enough in an emergency and would be unable to keep up with operations when the ship was on a wartime footing. The ship still incorporated a large amount of automation and does require a slightly smaller crew than the Concord does. This is mainly due to the lower manning required by the gun mounts. These ships were not fitted as flagships like the later Delaware class cruisers although there were about twenty extra bunks for additional personnel not including the crew for the two helicopters.

These ships initially did not carry any marines onboard but after the beginning of the New Cold War it was decided that some would be carried onboard for defense against boarding and other roles. These marines took up the space for extra personnel and a small section of deck berthing was divided from the rest and was taken over by the marines. The marines generally had about eight flying power armors onboard.

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: CGN-81 class Cruiser

Vehicle Type: Ocean, Guided Missile Cruiser

Crew: Normal of 233; 25 officers, 20 Chief Petty officers, and 188 enlisted (Has a high degree of automation and can be run effectively by 120 crew members)

Troops: 4 Helicopter Pilots, 6 Pilots for SAMAS, 6 pilots for Semper Fi Power Armors, and 8 soldiers in body armor that are retained on board the ship

Robots, Power Armors, and Vehicles:

Power Armor Compliment:



USA-PA-04A SAMAS Power Armors.



APA-15 “Semper Fi” Power Armors (with flight packs).

Aircraft Compliment:



Helicopters or other VTOL Aircraft (Usually EVS-84A Kingfisher ASW model).

M.D.C. by Location:





[1] SPY-4E Phase Array Radar Panels (4, superstructure):

200 each.


Mk 58 Single Barrel 155 mm / 62 Cannon Barrels (2, mounts):

100 each.


Mk 58 Single Barrel 155 mm / 62 Cannon Mounts (2, forward and aft):

225 each.


Mk 44 “Sea Sabre” Combination Anti-Missile Defense Systems (4, superstructure):

200 each.


Mk 41 Strike Length 64 Cell Vertical Missile Launchers (2, forward and aft):

440 each.


Mk 41 Strike Length 32 Cell Vertical Missile Launchers (2, forward and aft):

220 each.


Mk 55 Medium Range 8 Cell Vertical Launch Systems (2, sides):

300 each.


Quad Mk 52 12.75 inch (324 mm) Medium Torpedo Launchers (2, sides):

40 each.


[2] Chaff / Decoy Launchers (2, superstructure):

10 each.


Hanger (aft):



VTOL / Helicopter Pad (aft):



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



[3] Main Body:



[1] Destroying the SPY-4E phased array radar panels will destroy the ship’s fire control systems but guns have backup systems and panels can partially compensate for each other.

[2] 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.

[3] 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: 41.5 mph (36 knots/ 66.7 kph).

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

Statistical Data:

Draft:    24.6 feet (7.5 meters) hull and 30.5 feet (9.3 meters) including sonar dome.

Length:  688 feet (209.7 meters).

Width:   80 feet (24.4 meters).

Displacement: 14,550 tons standard and 17,600 tons fully loaded.

Cargo: Can carry 800 tons (726 metric tons) of nonessential equipment and supplies. Each enlisted crew member has a small locker for personal items and uniforms. Ship’s officers have more space for personal items. Most of the ship’s spaces are taken up by extra ammo, armor, troops, weapons, and engines.

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 if found on the black market would probably cost 600 million or more credits. Cost does not include embarked craft and power armors.


  1. Two (2) Mk 58 Single Barrel 155 mm/62 Naval Guns: One mount is mounted in the front of the vessel and the other mount is mounted on the rear. Based on the gun carried by the DD-21 class destroyer and shared similarities to army artillery weapons. The weapon is more powerful than the previous 127 mm cannon carried on many destroyers and cruisers. The weapon mount is heavily automated and is capable against other ships, against ground targets, and against aircraft. The weapon can use special artillery rounds, rocket assisted rounds, and can even fire Extended Range Guided Munitions. The mounts can rotate 360 and have a 90 arc of fire.

    Maximum Effective Range: 13.7 miles (11.9 nautical miles / 22 km) for standard projectiles, 23.5 miles (20.4 nautical miles / 36.4 km) for rocket propelled rounds, and treat Extended Range Guided Munitions as medium range missiles (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)

    Mega-Damage: Standard Projectiles: 2D6x10 to a blast radius of 25 feet (7.7 meters) for High Explosive, 3D6x10 to a blast radius of 6 feet (2 meters) for High Explosive Armor Piercing, and 4D6x10 to a blast radius of 25 feet (7.7 meters) for Plasma. Rocket projectiles: 2D4x10 to a blast radius of 20 feet (6.1 meters) for High Explosive, 2D6x10 to a blast radius of 4 feet (1.2 meters) for High Explosive Armor Piercing, and 3D6x10 to a blast radius of 20 feet (6.1 meters) for Plasma. Extended Range Guided Munitions: Treat as medium range missiles (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)

    Use the statistics for 155 mm artillery warheads (Go to Battlefield Artillery for Rifts for more information - standard or rocket assisted as appropriate) when using artillery rounds.

    Rate of Fire: Normal Projectiles: Up to four (4) single shots per barrel/cannon per melee round (Can up to 8 shots with both turrets). Extended Range Guided Munitions can be fired at the rate of one shot per barrel/cannon per melee round (Can fire up to 2 shots with both turrets).

    Payload: 1,000 rounds total (500 per turret) - Each Extended Range Guided Munitions round takes up space for two normal rounds.

  2. Four (4) Mk 44 “Sea Sabre” Combination Anti-Missile Defense Systems: One system is on the front of the superstructure, one system on the rear of the superstructure, and one is on either side of the 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) Mk 41 Strike Length Vertical Launch Missile Launcher: The ship has two launchers with sixty four cells and two launchers with thirty two cells. The forward platform, behind the 155 mm gun, contains a 64 cell launcher behind the gun and a 32 cells launcher closer to the main superstructure. The deck above the hanger contains a 32 cell launcher forward and a 64 cell launcher aft. These are the longer strike version of the missile launcher and can carry the longer cruise missile. From the beginning, the launchers have been found to be very flexible and adaptable. The launcher was originally designed for the Tomahawk and Standard SM-2 Missile. In later service, the launchers have been adapted to hold one cruise missile, two long range missiles, or four medium range missiles per cell. Cruise missiles are usually used against hardened fixed targets, long range missiles are normally used against aircraft and other large targets, and medium range missiles are normally used against closer targets such as incoming missiles. Anti-Submarine rocket launched torpedoes also can be fired from the launchers (See revised Rifts torpedoes for details.) Normally, the launchers carry all cruise missiles and long range missiles. For close defense, medium range missiles are carried in the Mk-55 missile system

    Maximum Effective Range: As per cruise, long range, or medium range missile type (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)

    Mega-Damage: As per cruise, long range, or medium range missile type (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)

    Rate of Fire: Can fire missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2), four (4), sixteen (16), or thirty-two (32) missiles for all launchers per melee and can be fired at multiple targets at the same time.

    Payload: Two launchers have sixty-four (64) missile cells each for missiles and two launchers have thirty-two (32) missiles cells each (192 missiles cells total with a possible total of 384 long range missiles). One (1) cruise missile, two (2) long range missiles, or four (4) medium range missiles may be carried per cell. Ship carries no reloads.

  4. Two (2) Mk 55 Medium Range Vertical Launch Systems: Unlike most vertical launch systems, these launchers fire the missiles on a six degree angle to the side. This is because the system was initially designed for carriers and is to prevent a missile that fails on its launch from crashing into aircraft on the flight deck. The missiles are arranged in a two by four pattern, and each launch cell has six reloads. One launcher is mounted on either side of the hull of the cruiser and require much less deck space than a Mk-41 or Mk-49 VLS. Each system can launch up to eight missiles simultaneously each and the launcher is automatically reloaded. These launchers often act as the ship’s middle point defense and are normally used to engage incoming air targets and missiles.

    Maximum Effective Range: As per medium range missile type (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)

    Mega-Damage: As per medium range missile type (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)

    Rate of Fire: Each launcher can fire medium range missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2), four (4), or eight (8) medium range missiles. Each launcher operates independently.

    Payload: Eight (8) medium range missiles in each launcher, with forty-eight (48) medium missiles in each magazine for automatic reloads, for a total of one hundred and twelve (112) medium range missiles for both launchers including missiles in launchers.

  5. Two (2) Mk 52 Mk 52 Quad 12.75 inch (324 mm) Medium Torpedo Launchers: Mainly design for anti-submarine warfare but can be used against surface targets. There is one launcher on each side of the ship with four tubes each. The tubes have an automatic reloading system and can be fired quickly. The ships carries a total of 80 torpedoes for reloads. Treat warheads as medium range missile warheads.

    Maximum Effective Range: 20 miles (17.4 nautical miles / 32 km) for standard torpedoes.

    Mega-Damage: By medium torpedo warhead type (See revised Rifts torpedoes for details.)

    Rate of Fire: Can fire medium torpedoes one at a time or in volleys of two (2) or four (4) medium torpedoes per side, launcher can fire a maximum of two (2) volleys of torpedoes per melee each launcher.

    Payload: Four (4) medium torpedoes each launcher for a grand total of eight (8) medium torpedoes. Has an additional eighty (80) medium torpedoes for reloads.

  6. Two (2) Chaff / Decoy Launchers: Located on the superstructure of the ship, they are designed to confuse incoming missiles. Both 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 forty-eight (48) canisters.

  7. 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 destroyer 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. ]

Image drawn and copyrighted by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune). & Mischa (E-Mail Mischa). Click on line drawing for a better view.

Mischa has no art home page at present but many other items on my site.

Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

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