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"Deo Adjuvante Labor Proficit" (Latin: "With God's help our labour is successful)"
―ship's motto
UNSC Sheffield (DDG-522)
Production information
Class

Vengeance-class destroyer

Manufacturer

Harland and Wolff

Technical specifications
Length

581.4m

Engine

three linked Mark X FURY deuterium fusion reactors

Hull
  • RADAR absorbant, plasma-refractive coating
  • 1800mm titanium/ceramic armour plating
  • plasma-resistant anti-spall carbon nanofibre backing
Countermeasures

AN/SLE-311 decoy launcher (3) (after 2561)

Armament
Complement
Crew
  • 292 naval personnel (37 officers, 355 enlisted)
  • 20 flight technicians and flight crew
Usage
Era(s)

Human-Covenant War

Role(s)
  • escort and protection of larger vessels
  • deployment of ground forces
  • extended patrol and rapid response duties
Commissioned

19th July 2544

Affiliation

United Nations Space Command Navy

Known captain(s)
  • Cdr Anand Sekar (2544-2547)
  • Cdr Lee Sunsin (2547-2551)
  • Cdr James Redfern (2551-2553)
  • Cdr Will Marshall (2561-2562)
  [Source]

UNSC Sheffield (DDG-522) was a Vengeance-class destroyer in service with the UNSC Navy during the Human-Covenant War. Sheffield was the third UNSC vessel to be named after the city of Sheffield in Great Britain, and was constructed by legendary shipwrights Harland and Wolff above Barrow. Sheffield was commissioned in July 2544 and was, at that time, among the most advanced fighting ships of the UNSC Navy. She possessed, along with the other ships of her class, three full sized fusion reactors, extensive automation, redesigned magnetic accelerator cannons and a significantly expanded armament, in an attempt to produce a ship that could engage the Covenant on more favourable terms. Sheffield unexpectedly fought at Miridem in February 2544, while there undergoing trials ahead of her commissioning in July. After commissioning, she was assigned to Battlegroup Swiftsure, alongside which she later fought at the Battle of Tribute, where her actions in battle gained her lasting notoriety. Sheffield was one of nine ships of her class to survive the war, and participated in several battles during the subsequent Remnant War.

Operational history

Main article: Vengeance-class destroyer

Sheffield was the second vessel of the Vengeance-class to be commissioned, a class which was designed to address the chronic problem of age amongst serving UNSC destroyers. The UNSC Navy operated a large number of outdated destroyers, the majority of which were worn-out after longer and harder service lives than they were designed for. The Navy's surviving destroyers had seeing hard use without any significant refit, and only hasty, ad-hoc repair. The Vengeance-class destroyer would supplement or replace existing destroyers wherever possible, reducing the UNSC's maintenance requirements and increasing the fleet's effectiveness in combat against the Covenant. Replacing a large number of elderly classes would both reduce logistical and technical burden on the UNSC and potentially reduce hull losses to enemy action.

It soon became apparent that the expense of completely replacing the Navy's fleet of destroyers, even staggered over more than a decade, posed too large a challenge both economically and practically for the UNSC. Instead a far smaller number of new Vengeance-class destroyers would be produced to supplement continued production of the cheaper and more numerous Halberd-class destroyer. The Vengeance-class would provide the UNSC Navy with a high capability space combatant, while the Pioneer-class would provide the bulk of the Navy's destroyer strength. Wherever possible, elderly destroyers would be decommissioned and scrapped as newly built vessels became available. In reality, diminishing shipyard capacity as inner colonies were lost, coupled with unsustainable hull losses in combat against the Covenant, meant that older destroyers were kept in service until they were physically unable to be maintained. Production of the Vengeance-class took place above Barrow between 2540 and 2550, with the first example of the class, UNSC Vengeance, being commissioned on May 16, 2544. Far from the originally planned 190 vessels, the funding and shipyard space allocated allowed for just 25 over ten years to be constructed.

Construction began on the hull to be named UNSC Sheffield in March 2540, in a construction dock specifically adapted for vessels of the class. Much of the construction was carried out on the world's surface, with orbital elevators carrying components to the dock. Construction of the ship's hull was carried out in blocks, which were then assembled in orbit. Construction had been completed by September 2543, following which Sheffield embarked on her space trials.

Human-Covenant War

Battle of Miridem

The fourth and final phase of Sheffield's sea trials were carried out in orbit of Miridem, once the ship had been handed over to the Navy, and involved a full range of functions including complex orbital manoeuvres and three atmospheric entries. As Sheffield neared completion of the trials, a long range RADAR station in Miridem's orbit detected a Covenant fleet exiting slipspace near the edge of the system. Sheffield was ordered by Commodore Henry Ward to form up with the rest of the defence fleet, giving her exhausted crew no respite. Sheffield participated in the opening trade of fire, scoring five MAC hits on enemy vessels and gaining her first kill, an SDV-class corvette, and two assists. Sheffield was saved from serious damage by the Hope-class destroyer DD-344, which blocked seven incoming plasma torpedoes, first against its hull, then with its vaporised remnants, by steering itself into their path. After the Covenant Navy launched an invasion force and withdrew out of weapons range, Sheffield, along with the rest of the UNSC fleet, attempted to prevent them making landfall, but failed due to their overwhelming numbers. Sheffield assisted the UNSC forces in prevailing against Covenant ground forces by in providing gunfire support from low orbit, firing over three hundred RSGM-16 Archers and two BSGM-14 Harpoons, the latter completely obliterating a Covenant landing zone. She later retreated as part of the wider UNSC withdrawal from the system, as the Covenant rushed in to glass the world.

Attempted capture (2547)

Sheffield was detached from her battlegroup in July 2547 and recalled to Reach, ostensibly to have her auxiliary life support systems checked for a fault her sister ship, Vengeance, had suffered a week previously. In reality, Sheffield embarked a contingent of three Office of Naval Intelligence officers whose purpose was to monitor the results of her next mission. The destroyer was ordered to the Eridanus system, which had been devoid of a permanent UNSC presence since the Covenant invaded in 2530. The system was strongly suspected of both harbouring rebel vessels and acting as a base for illegal activity in the surrounding systems. All of the UNSC Navy's attempts to accurately measure the enemy's strength in the system by reconnaissance vessels had failed, so instead a more overt course of action was to be attempted. Sheffield would conduct a search patrol through the system, alone, in an attempt to entice any rebel forces to give battle. Onboard Sheffield, only her captain, Commander Lee Sunsin, and the ONI officers were aware of the actual reason of the patrol. Through disinformation, ONI allowed a select few individuals suspected of holding insurrectionist tendencies to discover Sheffield's rough mission. They knew a lone UNSC vessel would move through the system, and on what date, but crucially not the intention to draw out rebel forces. ONI expected any anti-UNSC organisations to present their most powerful forces to attack and destroy Sheffield, but in actual fact they orchestrated a concerted effort to board and capture her.

The Eridanus rebels, operating out of their base, Eridanus Secundus, organised a force of sixty two small, fast vessels, ranging from D-77 Pelicans to racing skiffs. This fleet of boarding craft would move into position within Eridanus's vast asteroid field and ambush the UNSC vessel once it entered it, a tactic that had negated UNSC vessels' superior targeting and weaponry in the past. At 0917 on August 19, Sheffield inadvertently tripped one of several magnetic sensors hidden within stable asteroids. The rebel vessels moved into position and, though Sheffield detected their movement from several million kilometres away, she did not indicate this to the enemy. At 1509, the rebel vessels suddenly powered up their engines and moved towards Sheffield at high sublight acceleration. Though Sheffield's RADAR silhouette was different from any other existing UNSC ship classes, the rebels' sensor systems were not sensitive enough to register this, neither did they possess any AI to examine the sensor results. It was only once the rebels entered visual range that they realised the ship they had attempted to ambush was, in fact, the UNSC's most advanced destroyer, by which time Sheffield had already opened fire.

Sheffield turned to face the enemy at 1513, and fired her first salvo of twenty RSGM-16 Archer missiles. In a fine test of Sheffield's air defence capabilities, her search RADAR was able to track all sixty two rebel ships in real time, even with the interference the asteroid field caused, and simultaneously engage them with missiles. Thirty nine of the craft had been destroyed before the surviving rebel ships turned back, though Sheffield ultimately succeeded in destroying all but four of the enemy ships. Sheffield sustained no damage during the action; the closest boarding craft had been destroyed at a distance of three thousand kilometres. Though activated, none of Sheffield's CIWS had fired, as no enemy vessels entered their engagement range. After the incident, the hull and manpower strength of the rebels in the Eridanus system was dealt a significant blow, though they continued operating until destroyed at the Battle of Eridanus Secundus in late 2552.

Battles of Reach and Tribute (2552)

Turret firing

One of Sheffield's 4.1 inch Mark 22 guns firing on August 18.

Like most of the Epsilon Eridani Fleet, Battlegroup Swiftsure was not in the system when Reach was attacked, and was instead conducting a patrol far beyond the edge of the system. The battlegroup returned at best possible speed following the declaration of WINTER CONTINGENCY, arriving in the system late on 15 August, over a day after Noble team had destroyed Long Night of Solace, and the arrival of the Fleet of Righteous Vigilance. Battlegroup Swiftsure fired on Covenant vessels already glassing Quezon from orbit, concentrated MAC fire from the seven vessels destroying three CCS-class battlecruisers. Although Covenant Navy and Army forces were groundside and on the offensive, Battlegroup Swiftsure was significantly outnumbered and withdrew to await reinforcements. A significant portion of the 2nd Fleet, approximately 60 percent, steadily arrived at Reach over the next week. On August 24, with the Covenant commencing glassing of New Alexandria, the UNSC Navy made the decision to intervene, and sixty UNSC vessels assaulted the Covenant from orbit. The UNSC achieved victory with no losses and limited collateral damage, and all Covenant vessels on Reach were destroyed. Sheffield, along with the rest of Battlegroup Swiftsure, deployed her Marines and remained in atmosphere to provide gunfire support, aiding UNSC Army forces in destroying the remaining Covenant ground presence.

For a few days, it appeared that the UNSC would be victorious and repel the Covenant from Reach long enough to evacuate its population. However, at 0500 on August 30, the Fleet of Particular Justice, totalling over 300 vessels, entered the system and advanced towards Reach. Sheffield, along with Battlegroup Swiftsure, was immediately ordered to retrieve its Marine forces and redeploy them to Tribute, which was virtually devoid of defence following the rush to Reach. Admiral Freemont was fully aware that splitting his forces lessened his chances of victory at Reach, and therefore logically Tribute had a better chance of surviving if he massed his forces together. However, Freemont was virtually certain that he could not save either colony with the forces at his disposal. His decision to divert some of his forces to Tribute was instead intended to act as a stalling action at Tribute, after his own fleet at Reach was destroyed, to allow as many civilians as possible to be saved.

The battlegroup reached Tribute at 0712, without being intercepted, and immediately began preparations for defence. By this time, with the overwhelming majority of the UNSC fleet at Reach destroyed, the fate of the system was all but sealed. The Covenant diverted forty of their roughly 150 remaining vessels to Tribute, which was defended by twenty one UNSC Navy warships and a solitary orbital defence platform. Civilian vessels had been already been steadily leaving the system since 0500 that day, while advanced preparations for a full scale evacuation had been in place since 14 August. The UNSC Navy's sole objective was to hold off the Covenant Navy for as long as possible. Fire from Tribute's ODP held off the Covenant fleet for forty minutes, a crucial window in which Covenant indecisiveness allowed dozens of civilian and UNSC merchant vessel to escape the system, including the freighter Floral Express. The Covenant fleet suddenly advanced, however, at 0756, opening fire on the UNSC Navy force nine minutes later, and commencing the Battle of Tribute.

The cruiser Swiftsure was immediately mortally damaged by an energy projector lance that impacted her bow and burned a hole clean through the the ship, emerging from the ship's stern. The rest of the battlegroup returned fire, concentrated on the Covenant's capital ships, and succeeded in destroying a CAS-class assault carrier and two CCS-class battlecruisers before they were hit by a volley of dozens of plasma torpedoes. With Swiftsure unresponsive and adrift, and no orders forthcoming, Commander James Redfern moved Sheffield into a firing position behind the cruiser's wreck, using RCS thrusters to 'pop up' and fire at Covenant vessels and shield herself from their return fire. In doing so, Sheffield fired twelve MAC rounds, destroying four CCS-class battlecruisers including Ardent Fury and Tenacious Resolve. When a second energy projector lance burned through Swiftsure's now-twisted wreck, narrowly missing Sheffield herself, Redfern decided to retreat into Tribute's atmosphere and defend her main urban areas in a last stand. All of the UNSC's other vessels, including four of the five other ships of Battlegroup Swiftsure, had been destroyed by Covenant return fire, with the fifth, Resurgence, severely damaged and out of control. With the destruction of the Navy force above Tribute, the Epsilon Eridani Defence Fleet existed in name only.

The Covenant fleet advanced with unexpected ferocity, presumably due to its heavy losses earlier at Reach, and subsequently deployed ground forces. Despite the heroic efforts of the UNSC Marine Corps, Army and several SPARTANs, the planet was lost with heavy military and civilian casualties. Other than Sheffield, only two other UNSC Navy vessels escaped the battle; the carrier Leander, which had been ordered to retreat at 0720 with fifty thousand civilians onboard, and the frigate Resurgence, which jumped into slipspace after suffering severe damage.

Battle of Earth

Remnant War

Operation: REAR GUARD

Unflinching Contrition incident

2562 refit

Armament

Embarked complement

Commanding officers

  • 2544-2547: Commander Anand Sekar UNSCN
  • 2547-2551: Commander Lee Sunsin UNSCN
  • 2551-2553: Commander James Redfern UNSCN
  • 2561-2562: Commander Dan Marshall UNSCN

Trivia