Wing Commander ships borrow their names from all nations and conflicts in history. Today, we are going to start looking at the ships of the Victory Battle Group from Wing Commander III. We'll look at one of the ships in each update, so be sure to check back in the coming weeks for complete coverage!
The addition of escort ships to the player's carrier was a nice touch that added to the immersion of gameplay. You felt like you were part of a bigger fleet that was taking on the Kilrathi at every turn. Often, the three ships escorting the TCS Victory just cruised alongside her. Their turrets ready to engage any target that might threaten the carrier. The three escorts were part of Destroyer Squadron 67, commanded by Jason Bondarevsky who had his flag on TCS Conventry. The largest of the escorts was the Tallahassee-Class Cruiser TCS Ajax. It's the focus of today's update.
TCS Ajax takes her name from the Greek hero of the Trojan War. Both the United States Navy and Royal Navy have named ships Ajax in the past. Currently, no ships in either fleet bear the name but a new British submarine will carry the name in the future.
For most of Wing Commander III, the TCS Ajax gently glides beside the Victory. Her guns only fire in anger in a few missions. When they do, they unleash a punishing amount of damage. In Hyperion 2, Colonel Blair is ordered to escort the capships of DesRon 67 as they destroy an incoming Kilrathi Fleet. Few fireworks displays match what happens at Nav 3 when the Ajax battles it out against a Frathli II-Class cruiser. The massive turrets that spot the hull of the cruiser are listed as 12 dual laser turrets, although in game not all the rounds fired from the turrets are red. There are also slower moving yellow bolts that do considerably more damage than a standard turret laser and faster moving white bolts.
Returning to the real world, eight ships in the Royal Navy, and four in the US Navy, have been named Ajax. The ships in the Royal Navy have, for the most part, been heavy gun ships. The first four in the Royal registry were 70+ gun ships-of-the-line. The first Ajax saw extensive service in the American Revolution before being sold after the war. The second ship to bear the name fought at the famous Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
The first two Royal Navy ships to bear the name Ajax.
The fifth ship was the first to bear the name as an ironclad battleship in 1880. The next ship to bear the name was the fourth ship in the King George V class of battleships. Launched in March 1912, she only saw action during the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916. She received no hits and it is unclear whether any of her shells found targets because of the large number of ships involved.
The fifth ship in the Royal Navy to bear the name Ajax is, perhaps, the most well-known. Commissioned in 1935, this Ajax was a Leander class light cruiser. While serving as the flagship for Force G (comprised of Ajax, Exeter, and Achilles, an all-cruiser force) in the South Atlantic, the ships encountered and engaged the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee in the Battle of the River Plate. During the engagement, Ajax was hit seven times, disabling two turrets, damaging the upperworks of the ship and causing 12 casualties, including 7 killed. The British were able to convince the Germans that a much larger force was awaiting them if they steamed from Montevideo and the Admiral Graf Spee was scuttled instead. Later in the war, the Ajax took part in the Battles of Crete and Malta. After sustaining a 1,000 lb bomb hit on New Year's Day 1943, the ship went to Norfolk Navy Yard for an extensive refit. When she rejoined the Fleet, Ajax, as part of Force K, bombarded Gold Beach on D-Day and in the process destroyed some six-inch gun emplacements that could have hindered the landings.
The last three Royal Navy ships to bear the name Ajax.
The most recent Royal Navy ship to have the honor of being named Ajax belonged to a Leander class frigate launched in 1962. The ship did not see action during any of the British conflicts of the period before being scrapped in 1988. Currently, the Royal Navy plans to use the name Ajax in the seventh submarine of the Astute class. It is planned to be in service by 2024.
US Navy ships to bear the name have not been combat vessels, save for the first ship which was an armored monitor commissioned after the Civil War and saw service in the Spanish-American War. Three other ships have used the name: a collier later converted to a seaplane tender in 1901, a research vessel purchased in 1917, and the most recent a Vulcan class repair ship launched in 1941 and decommissioned in 1989. There are currently no planned US ships to be given the name.
Three of the four USS Ajax, only the research vessel is not shown.