U.S. FFN-1108 Richard E. Byrd class Nuclear Frigate:

The United States Navy and United States government leaders have never shown a consistent opinion on frigates. At times, the small combatant vessels are seen as too small to fulfill the roles that they would be expected to perform and that destroyers were a better investment. At other times, they are seen as cheaper alternatives to larger destroyers and are more expendable.

The view that frigates were cheaper alternatives to destroyers was the opinion of the executive branch when the revolution of super strong composites and alloys made virtually every existing military designs obsolete. The leaders of the Navy and some in congress preferred the idea of large destroyers over frigates but not enough support was available to override the president and his defense secretary’s opinion.

A temporary solution to the mass obsolescence of vessels was to refit the existing vessels with new armor materials but it was considered strictly temporary by most navy leaders. As a result of much persuading by the navy, so programs for new vessels were a priority. Frigates were a good solution due to being quick to complete and were relatively inexpensive.

With the support of both Congress and the President, a large class of frigates was authorized which later became the Richard E. Byrd class. The original plan was for around sixty of these frigates to be constructed but this was later reduced to thirty-eight frigates when the navy was able to get support for larger destroyer type vessels. Later, this class was further reduced down to only sixteen and instead a dozen additional Rosette class destroyers were authorized. Most of the frigates were built in small yards while the larger yards concentrated on cruiser and destroyer classes. An interesting note is that even though the Richard E. Byrd class has considerable missile capability, they are not considered guided missile frigates but are instead considered conventional frigates.

Even though the Richard E. Byrd class was very minimalist in design, they remained in service even when many newer vessels entered service. The frigates were considered very useful and released newer vessels to preform what was seen as more important roles. Before the revolution in super strong materials, combat vessels were normally expected to remain in service for thirty years. With the new materials, this was tripled to around ninety years and many vessels using the new composites and alloys show little sign of wear even up to the present time.

The Richard E. Byrd class often performed the odd jobs that required a capable combatant vessel but did not require a more powerful ship. As well, these ships were often used in roles that the Navy did not want to risk a large and more expensive vessel. Jobs performed by the frigates included the escorting of small convoys and patrolling restricted and potentially hostile waters. In many cases, a frigate patrolling hostile waters would have an additional vessel or even a task force supporting them outside of the danger zone. If the frigate is attacked, the supporting ship or ships would strike against the attackers.

While acting as bait, several of the frigates were attacked. No Richard E. Byrd class frigates were sunk while preforming this mission but several were damaged including one which was hit by a cruise missile and one which struck a heavy mine. Both the Eve Castleman (FF-1115) and Barry Solomon (FF-1121) needed extensive repairs and were selected as test vessels for new systems while being rebuilt.

As the Francis Darcey class guided missile frigates entered service, all but the two refitted vessels of the older frigate class were assigned to the Naval Reserve Force with a composite active and reserve crews. Still, the Richard E. Byrd class frigates were often deployed overseas and performed all the roles they did before being assigned to the Naval Reserve Force. Even though the Navy was initially against the idea of the frigates, they had no plans to remove them from service and a smaller alternative to the Francis Darcey class was being considered just before the coming of the Rifts. These ships were often home ported in smaller ports which were more likely to survive the coming of the Rifts.

Unlike the Rosette class destroyer and similar cruiser classes, the Richard E Byrd class has a clipper style bow for better sea keeping. To further improve the frigate’s sea keeping, it was designed with a relatively broad beam and was fitted with stabilizers. Like most naval designs being designed at the time of the Byrd class, the frigate was designed with a reduced radar cross signature which was further improved with the use of composites for the hull and superstructure. In addition, the hull was designed to produce very low noise and has a bubble masking system to further reduce the chance of the frigate being detected by sonar.

The advantages of the new super strong materials were manifold. One of the most obvious was that the frigates could withstand far greater damage than could previously be imagined for a vessel it’s sized. In addition wear due to normal operation is minimized and corrosion was likewise reduced. As a result, the likelihood of these ships surviving the coming of the Rifts and to the present time is actually quite high.

Power was originally produced by two gas turbine engines which produced over twice the power of the engines used in the Oliver Hazard Perry, which were produced in large numbers several decades previously but had all been retired long before the time that the Byrd class entered service. The ships used two variable pitched propellers which used electrical transmission to drive them. All previous American frigate classes used a single propeller. The powerful gas turbines gave the frigate a top speed of more than thirty-two knots. The whole class was later refitted by fusion turbine engines which gave the Byrd class frigates virtually unlimited range and increased the top speed by three knots.

Most of the larger combat vessels being designed by the United States Navy at the time of the Richard E. Byrd class were designed with multiple, usually four, phased array radar system. The systems were considered too large and costly for a low cost frigate design. They also did not want to go back to an older system such as the SPY-1F or SPY-1K systems.

Instead, a single rotating phased array radar system was developed for the frigate. The system is similar to the Sampson system which the British used on their Daring class cruiser. The American system was smaller but did not have the ability to track as many targets and had a shorter range. Tracking is about equal to that of the old SPY-1 radar system. Even though the system is both a search and fire control radar, its designation of SPS-88 is that of a search radar system. A multi-purpose radar system should be either designated SPY or SPQ.

The two damaged frigates were upgraded with the SPX-1A Radar replacing the older radar system. The ships were used to evaluate the system but was not replaced when evaluation was completed and the two frigates were the old two to remain in active forces until the coming of the Rifts. The SPX-1A system is also a single rotating phased array radar system and should have been designated SPY or SPQ as well. The system has a much greater tracking ability than the SPS-88 system and was much longer ranged.

In addition to the radar systems, the frigate mounts an advanced hull sonar and an advanced towed array system. One of the primary missions envisioned in the design of the frigate was anti-submarine warfare and powerful sonar systems were needed to perform in this role. A variety of other sensor systems are carried on the frigate including powerful jamming systems.

The weapon suite of the frigate is basic and already developed systems were used for lower development cost. Still, the weapon’s array is quite effective. For the main cannon, a rapid fire 76 mm is mounted on the bow. While the design of the cannon was around sixty years old when the Richard E. Byrd class was designed, it was still considered quite effective. The cannon had been mounted on the Perry class frigate as well as several Coast Guard cutter designs. Even after the Richard E. Byrd class frigate was completed, the same type of gun was mounted on the Hazzard class trimaran cutter and salvaged 76 mm cannons have been mounted in post Rifts vessels. As well, similar 76-mm cannons have been mounted on classes around the world up to the coming of the Rifts.

Behind the 76-mm cannon, the frigate mounted a MK 41 vertical launch missile system on a raised platform. The launcher contains thirty-two cells and is strike length and can use a vast array of different missiles. The launcher can mount one cruise missile, two long range missiles, or four medium range missiles. The normal multi-mission load-out is four cruise missiles, sixteen anti-submarine rocket boosted torpedoes (long range missiles), sixteen normal long range missiles, and forty-eight medium range missiles. This loaded can vary by mission. For shore bombardment and anti-ship roles, sixteen cruise missiles and sixty-four medium range missiles might be carried. For anti-submarine escort roles and submarine hunting roles, thirty-two rocket launched torpedoes (long range missiles) and sixty-four medium range missiles.

For inner point defense, originally two RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile) launchers were mounted on either side of the superstructure. These were replaced by combination point defense mounts which combine a long range rapid fire rail gun with a short range missile launcher. Like most American, and NATO, ships designed for anti-submarine warfare, the Richard E. Byrd class frigate mounts medium size quad torpedo tubes on either side of the superstructure near the rear.

To reduce crew requirements, considerable automation is utilized. The frigates were considered more expendable than other classes and one of the design features was small crews to minimize the loss of life if a frigate was destroyed. While the old Perry class frigate required a crew of between 215 and 235, the Richard E. Byrd class have a crew of only 105. A fringe benefit of the small crew size is that crew berthing is very comfortable and spacious for a frigate.

Originally, the frigate was not planned with a hanger. It was seen that the number of hanger spaces available on other vessels was seen as compensating for the frigate’s lack of a hanger. Only a helicopter pad was planned for the frigate. When designing the frigate, it was found that there was enough space for a single place hanger and it was integrated into the design. For short periods of time, a second aircraft can be carried on the flight deck. The ship does not have the ability to carry troops and has no facilities for flag personnel.

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: FFN-1108 class Frigate.

Vehicle Type: Ocean, General Purpose Frigate.

Crew: 105; 9 officers, 14 chief petty officers, and 82 enlisted (Has a high degree of automation).

Troops: 4 helicopter pilots / crews or VTOL pilots / crews.

Robots, Power Armors, and Vehicles:

Aircraft Compliment:



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

M.D.C. by Location:





[1] SPS-88 Rotating Active Phased Array Radar System (most of class):



[1] SPX-1A Rotating Active Phased Array Radar System (two frigates):



[2] OTO-Melara Mk 75 Single Barrel 3 inch (76-mm)/62-cal DP Barrel (1, gun mount):



OTO-Melara Mk 75 Single Barrel 3 inch (76-mm)/62-cal DP Gun Mount (1, forward):



Mk 41 Strike Length 32 Cell Vertical Launch System (1, forward):



Mk 44 “Sea Sabre” Combination Anti-Missile Defense System (2, superstructure):

200 each.


Mk 52 Quad 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 SPS-88 / SPX-1A 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.)

[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: 40.8 mph (35.5 knots/ 65.8 kph).

Range: Effectively unlimited due to fusion engines (needs to refuel every 20 years and requires maintenance as well). Ship carries about four (4) months of supplies on board.

Statistical Data:

Draft:    15.5 feet (4.7 meters) hull and 23.5 feet (7.2 meters) including sonar dome.

Length:  384.8 feet (117.3 meters) waterline and 418 feet (127.4 meters) overall.

Width:   48.2 feet (14.7 meters).

Displacement: 3,120 tons standard and 3,850 tons fully loaded.

Cargo: Can carry 80 tons (72.6 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 two nuclear fusion turbine reactors with an average life span of 20 years.

Black Market Cost: Not for sale but if found on the black market would probably cost 280 or more million credits. Cost does not include embarked craft and power armors.

Weapon Systems:

  1. One (1) OTO-Melara 3 inch (76-mm) 62-cal DP Mk 75 Naval Gun: The ship mounts a rapid fire three inch gun mount forward of the superstructure and missile launchers. These mounts were reinforced before being mounted on the Byrd class frigates and come from older Perry and Bear class vessels. The main weaknesses of the gun are its relatively short range and the fact it cannot use rocket assisted projectiles. The gun was carried on many ship classes around the world until well into the Twenty-First century. The guns can be used against other ships, ground targets, aircraft, and even missiles. Theses guns were among the smallest that could use a proximity fuse for their warheads.

    Maximum Effective Range: 4.9 miles (4.3 nautical miles/8.0 km) for standard projectiles

    Mega-Damage: High Explosive: 1D4x10 M.D.C. with 10 foot (3 meters) blast radius per single shot and 3D4x10 M.D.C. with 20 foot (6.1 meters) blast radius for three round burst. High Explosive Armor Piercing: 1D6x10 M.D.C. with 4 foot (1.2 meters) blast radius per single shot and 3D6x10 M.D.C. with 8 foot (2.4 meter) blast radius for three round burst. Plasma: 2D4x10 M.D.C. with 12 foot (3.7 m) blast radius per single shot and 6D4x10 M.D.C. with 25 foot (7.6 meter) blast radius for three round burst.

    Rate of Fire: Equal to the combined hand to hand attacks of the gunner (Three round bursts count as one attack.)

    Payload: 320 rounds. Ship normally carries usually carries 120 High Explosive, 120 High Explosive Armor Piercing, and 80 Plasma.

  2. Two (2) Mk 44 “Sea Sabre” Combination Anti-Missile Defense Systems: One system is mounted on either side of the superstructure and replace RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile) launchers. 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. One (1) Mk 41 Strike Length 32 Cell Vertical Launch System: The thirty-two cell launcher is mounted behind the 76 mm cannon on a slightly raised platform. 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 launcher (See revised Rifts torpedoes for details.)

    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 volley of two (2), four (4), or sixteen (16) missiles per melee round and can be fired at multiple targets at the same time.

    Payload: Thirty-two (32) missile cells in VLS launcher (Possible total of 64 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 52 Quad 12.75 inch (324 mm) Medium Torpedo Launchers: Mainly design for anti-submarine warfare but can be used against surface targets as well. Interceptor torpedoes are also available for launchers / tubes to use against incoming torpedoes. 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 sixty-four (64) torpedoes for reloads. For the most part torpedo warheads are equal to 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 sixty-four (64) medium torpedoes for reloads.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 frigate 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. ]

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Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

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