First commissioned in 2130, the U-4 class was the first successful Romulan Warp engine Cruiser design. Although primitive by modern standards, the design was superior to any ship in the Earth Starfleet at that time.
Powered by a Fusion Reactor, linked to twin RFTL-1 warp nacelles, the design exhibited many of the traits of later Romulan designs. It had a bird wing like shape to the nacelle supports, and stressed manoeuvrability over power generation. In all 30 U-4 class cruisers were built between 2130 and 2137. The 28 of these still in service were upgraded to U-4B standards from 2144 onwards, with enhanced RM-C2 cluster missiles and RDB-2 Drill beams.
The U-4 was one of the first designs positively identified by the Allies, when on 01 January 2152 U-04-026 engaged the ACS Runemark near Canis Minoris 12. The Runemark (an Alpha Centaurian Zoenamy class Corvette) was destroyed in the long running skirmish, and the U-4 escaped with minor damage.
Three U-4Bs attacked an escorted Convoy of Tellarite G’buqoff class transports in sector 10E on 10 September 2153. Three U-4s (013,020,025) attacked the convoy and inflicted some losses before retreating after the destruction of 020. On 08 January 2157 U-04-005 (the oldest still in service, known as ‘Lucky Lucius’) entered into combat with the Thara, an Andorian Tanathooef class Cruiser near the Pretoric system. Despite the experience of her crew, 005 was destroyed in the battle, although it did destroy the Thara in a battle to the death.
The loss of 005, against a far smaller vessel, prompted the Romulan high command to withdraw the 18 surviving U-4Bs from frontline service in February 2157 and redeploy the ships on training duties and lower risk tasks. On 30 July 2158, three U-4Bs on a low risk mission destroying Earth sensor probes encountered two Tellarite Dagbaxis class Frigates. The three U-4s crippled one frigate, and forced the other to retreat, showing that the old ship still had life in it., although one U-4 was lost in the encounter.
The desperate shortage of ships in September 2159 prompted the return of the15 surviving ships to frontline service, after being modified to U-4C standards with RM-C4 Cluster missiles replacing the C-2s. However, six of these vessels (008,009,016,019,025,028) were lost almost immediately in the raid by Earth Alliance forces against the fleet base at Manaraam on 25 November 2159, this raid destroyed over 30 cruisers and gunboats before they could fire a shot in return.
A further 5 ships were lost in the Cheron campaign (008,011,017,026,021), and after other losses only 4 U-4C class cruisers survived to the truce in September 2160 (007,013,022,030). Ship 013, preserved in orbit around Romulus, serves as a monument to the sacrifice of her class.
The class, despite the appalling losses suffered, was highly successful; it suffered from the problem of continuing in service in a fleet role when it had been outclassed. The U-4’s return to service in 2159 was a desperate measure forced by the turning tides of the war
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