Marathon-class heavy cruiser
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The Marathon-class heavy cruiser (hull classification symbol: CA) is a classification of cruiser in service with the UNSC Navy. Built as a replacement for the Halcyon-class light cruiser, the Marathon-class is nearly 1.2 kilometers long, heavily armored, and equipped with two Magnetic Accelerator Cannons and an impressive arsenal of missiles.
These vessels were most often deployed in attack and defense roles, serving as the backbone of UNSC fleets, though they were also popular among high-ranking UNSC officers for use as command ships, and were even deployed in rare instances in a light carrier configuration. They were primarily used during the Human-Covenant War, though their numbers were heavily diminished and only very few remain in service in the conflict's aftermath alongside their successor vessel, the Autumn-class heavy cruiser.
Superstructure and hull
At 1,192 meters (3,910 ft) long, Marathon-class heavy cruisers are more than twice the length of a typical frigate. Despite their size, Marathon-class cruisers are dwarfed by most Covenant cruiser classes. As the successor to the Halcyon-class cruiser, these vessels have a similar profile, with a forward 'head' and large engine segment protected by armor cowlings, yet are not not identical and feature a streamlined inwards-slanted underside. The class also sports a thick 191-centimeter hull of Titanium-A armor, enabling it to withstand substantial amounts of fire even from plasma weaponry. By 2552 the Marathon was considered to be one of the more powerful warships ever built by humanity, outclassing its predecessor in virtually every respect.
Like all warships of the UNSC Navy, Marathon-class heavy cruisers have a degree of operational flexibility that is achieved through the use of modular mission packages and reconfigurable hangar bays. Though a rare configuration, these cruisers could be modified and equipped to function as a light carrier, sacrificing missile pods and all of its cargo bays for additional hangar capacity.
Crew and complement
Marathon-class heavy cruisers feature a standard complement of one thousand personnel, and are typically commanded by a captain or rear admiral, often being reserved for admirals to use as command ships due to their characteristic durability and firepower. They are also known to have the capacity to carry Marine contingents as well as accompanying dropship transportation.
Cruisers of the Marathon class are fitted with at least two hangar bays. A large deployment bay containing numerous Single Occupant Exoatmospheric Insertion Vehicles, referred to by Orbital Drop Shock Troopers as "Hell's waiting room", is located amidships. Space aboard a Marathon is optimized to maximize the amount of heavy weapons and armor equipped on each ship, preventing the cruisers from carrying more space fighters; despite this, Marathons can carry two dozen GA-TL1 Longswords.[Note 1]
Marathon-class heavy cruisers are mounted with two Magnetic Accelerator Cannons as their primary armament, supplemented by a missile delivery system with 1,800 Archer missiles and five fusion rockets. In addition, the Marathon-class utilises a network of point-defense guns.
The Marathon-class heavy cruiser was commissioned and built as a replacement for the Halcyon-class light cruiser, a smaller and more lightly armed cruiser which suffered from excessive production costs and a lack of tactical viability. After a brief era of service, most ships of the Halcyon-class were decommissioned, which led to the Marathon-class rising to prominence. By 2525, the Marathon-class was the most popular line of cruiser in service with the Navy.
Several Marathon-class heavy cruisers served in Battle Group X-Ray under Vice Admiral Preston Cole during the Battle of Harvest. Throughout the early years of the Human-Covenant War, Marathons continued to serve in Cole's Third Fleet. Several Marathons from the fleet, including UNSC Prophecy, participated in the Harvest campaign. At least one Marathon-class heavy cruiser, UNSC Dresden, participated in the Battle of Biko, where it was destroyed by the Covenant.
As their numbers were diminished by the onslaught of the Covenant, many Marathons were reassigned to the defense of the Inner Colonies and Earth during the later years of the Human-Covenant War. As of July 2552, only 20 cruisers remained within the UNSC fleet, possibly at least among the FLEETCOM Sector One.[Note 2] Vice Admiral Michael Stanforth's flagship Leviathan of the Battle Group Leviathan was present at the Battle of Sigma Octanus IV in July 2552 and was severely damaged during the battle. Numerous Marathon-class heavy cruisers participated in the Fall of Reach, many of which were destroyed, including Leviathan.
At least eight Marathon-class cruisers (including UNSC Canberra and Say My Name, assigned to the Fifth Fleet, a part of the UNSC Home Fleet) were present at the onset of the Battle for Earth. Led by Fleet Admiral Joseph Harper aboard Canberra and supported by sixty-seven Stalwart-class light frigates, these ships formed a defensive perimeter around the orbital defense platform cluster over the Mediterranean to prevent the Fleet of Sacred Consecration from reaching Earth's surface. Admiral Carl Patterson's Battle Group Omicron, drawn from the Home Fleet, contained one Marathon-class heavy cruiser that participated in the Onyx Conflict, where she was destroyed with the rest of her battle group. Several Marathon-class cruisers of the Home Fleet were presumably destroyed over the course of the Battle for Earth, particularly after the final wave of Covenant reinforcements arrived.
Most remaining Marathon-class heavy cruisers were decommissioned after the Autumn-class heavy cruiser was introduced, with only a handful staying in service. The Autumn class became slated to serve as the core of the reconstituted UNSC Navy's fleet, a role the Marathon class had previously fulfilled. A Marathon-class heavy cruiser served as the flagship of Admiral Graselyn Tuwa during an operation on Gao in 2553. The presence of the cruiser prevented Minister of Protection Arlo Casille from taking naval action against the UNSC, realizing that the cruiser could easily decimate his entire fleet of patrol corvettes.
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