The U-22 (codenamed ‘Cabbage’ by the
UESN) entered service in 2156, and was one of the most commonly encountered
Romulan Cruisers during the war. The design was created to allow fleet
advances across interstellar distance. They were equipped with a formidable
arsenal of cluster missiles and Star Bombs, and also mounted the most
powerful plasma weapon yet produced, and this could be carried for distances
further than any other Romulan Cruiser save for the U-13A.
However, this massive capability came at a price; the amount of
deuterium fuel required by the fusion reactors to give the required range
meant that the ships weighed an estimated 500,000mt. Plans to use the
twin-engine system developed for the U-20 were abandoned due to delays in
that program, and a modified version of the long serving RFTL-3 was adopted
in a triple nacelle arrangement. The massive mass of this class badly
affected its manoeuvrability and performance at warp (2.5 maximum speeds).
Early in the War the U-22 was used to great effect, the firepower
overwhelming many Earth Alliance ships, and the sheer size of the vessel
meant that the damage inflicted on the U-22 was easily absorbed. Later in
the war as newer designs entered service with Earth and its allies, the slow
ponderous U-22s became easy prey.
The vulnerability of the U-22 was
demonstrated very clearly at the battle of Hell’s Gate on 21-23 October
2157. This battle saw the Earth Alliance forces crush a massive Romulan
Invasion attempt. 27 U-22 Cruisers were committed to this battle, and not
even one survived, it is estimated that the Romulan loss of life in this
battle was in excess of 30,000 crew and troops.
The cruiser was designated as the U-22A,
at the start of the war some 75 U-22As were in service, and these were joint
by a further 30 built during the war. Numerous variants of the U-22 also
served during the war, despite the change in roles they were all classified
as part of the same series and retained the U-22 designation. The U-22B
(Codename ‘Tonsil’) was a tanker built to support long-range U-22A
operations, production totalled 15. Armament was reduced to just the
defensive cluster missiles.
U-22C (Codename ‘Rodent’) was used
as a subspace sensor/communications ship, often deployed on long
intelligence gathering sorties. This class retained the plasma cannon and
cluster missile, but dispensed with the star bombs to allow for the fitment
of advanced sensor equipment. Only 10 of these specialist intelligence ships
were built. U-22D (Codename ‘Syrup’) was a specialist troop
transport/assault ship; it could carry some 2000 troops. The weapons fit
dispensed with plasma weapon, but retained a full missile arsenal for
self-defence and planetary assault. The U-22D was the second most common
variant, with some 35 seeing service.
U-22 suffered from the compromise made in its design, Romulan fusion engine
technology meant that the only way to gain a long range was to carry massive
amounts of deuterium fuel, this fuel meant that the ship’s power
efficiency and speed would always be inferior to ships built for speed and
manoeuvrability, especially when those ships also used matter/antimatter