The U-19B entered service in 2154. If it had been available in large numbers, it is possible that this ship would have won the war for the Romulan Empire.
The original U-19A began testing and evaluation in 2151, the trials proved it to be a superb vessel; it far outclassed any Earth ship, and was not far behind Klingon or Vulcan technology.
The U-19A prototypes were assigned to the Tal’shiar for testing. The Tal’shiar had obtained a number of Suliban cloaking devices, and installed them on these ships intending to use them as surveillance or covert operation ships. One of the ships was used to obtain close in scans of the Earth’s NX-01 UES Enterprise in 2152 after that vessel strayed into a minefield.
In November 2152, the three ships, in company with three U-13As, were deployed on an intelligence-gathering mission in what is now known to be Tholian space. The U-13s, acting as support ships were trailing behind the U-19s when they vanished from sensors. When the U-13s caught up, they found the U-19s caught in some kind of subspace flux. No other ships were in the vicinity or had been detected on sensors, and it was concluded that the cloaking devices were to blame. As the only people with real knowledge of the cloaking device technology were aboard the ships, the cloak programme suffered a setback from which it would take almost a century to recover. Additionally, only three cloaks had been procured from the Suliban, and an increase in tension following Suliban incursions precluded negotiations for further units.
The fourth prototype U-19 was completed to the same design, but without the cloak. Concerns existed about the cost and time required to build the ships, the U-19 cost 8 times more than a U-15, and took over four years to build each unit. The U-19A design was modified to simpler hull and nacelle design to become the U-19B. The U-19B still cost 6 times more than and requires three years to build, compared to 8 months for one of the simpler U-15s. This was largely due to the use of the immensely light and strong, but scarce and expensive metal Tritanium in the primary hull structure and plating. The wing assembly used duranium as all other Romulan ships did.
As a result, only 24 U-19Bs were completed before the end of the war (and a further 12 post war), and most of these were deployed along the Klingon Frontier to stop a much-feared invasion while the Fleet was occupied elsewhere. A single U-19C was completed to evaluate the use of duranium for the primary hull, but was deemed a failure, and was cannibalised to produce the U-21 prototype.
There is no doubt that had mass production of the U-19 been practical the outcome of the war would have been less certain, and were it not for the intervention of what is now called the Tholian (or Defiant) rift the cloaking ability of the U-19A could have caused havoc
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