A Mercury Ship is a class of starship that is the largest in the Gudersnipe fleet. The first was G.S.S. Mercury. Since the late Second Age, 140-150 Mercury-class ships have been in service, with numbers varying as different ships are decommisioned and others commissioned. Of those 150, 19 are capable of ripping apart an earth-sized planet. These are called the P.K. 19.
G.S.S. Mercury was the first such ship commissioned and also the first in the P.K. 19. It's hull was struck in A.Y. 1952, and it is the second oldest commissioned warship in the fleet, with the oldest being G.S.S. Geomancer.
Size and Armament
Differing from traditional ship-building techniques, each Mercury ship is radically different from its sister ship, yet still bears the same class-name. Mercury ships are typically personified by extremly thick and dense hulls, centered around a single main weapon. The weapon is usually a compressed energy weapon such as a beam cannon; though as of the late A.Y. 6900s ships began to be produced with hybrid cannons and many older vessels retrofit. Only a handful of Mercury Ships produced in the early Third Age ever used laser systems for the primary weapon, and these were all decommissioned well before the Necromanic Wars, making them the shortest-lived vessels of the entire Mercury line.
The largest non-Mercury-class ship in the fleet is the Heavy Battleship, the smallest Mercury ship ever commissioned(the G.S.S. Cleopatra) had roughly 300 times the mass of a Heavy Battleship. The largest ship of the line. G.S.S. Roger Young, was over 14 times large than the Cleopatra. Though, due to the size of Roger Young's guns, it was only around 12 times the mass.
The main weapons are designed for use against hardened targets such as bases, Orbital Habitats, and other very large warships. Additionally, some of the smaller Mercury Ships can emply sweep attacks where they turn as the main cannon fires, "sweeping" the battlefield. Since very few ships can withstand a direct hit from a Mercury Ship, this is a highly effective tactic; however it relies on the target area being clear of friendly contacts.
Use in Battle
The Mercury Ship's combat role is primarily psychological warfare. They are too large and slow to keep up effectively with the rest of the fleet (most having a maximum speed of around 10 P.S.L.), however when they enter a combat zone they become unstoppable juggernauts. They are impervious to normal weapons fire, and contain a weapon capable of destroying any enemy they encounter. They don't have to be effective in combat, as long as they are effective at looking very, very scary.
Mercury Ships typically enjoy an active lifespan of 200-500 years. Depending on the design and style, they may be scrapped completely, converted into fixed weapon platforms, refit as space stations, or simply taken to Colony Lun for future salvage.