The Sword-class Frigate is an iconic Imperial Escort ship. A staple design amongst the various fleets of the Imperial Navy, Sword-class Frigates have a reputation for being solid, dependable warships, earned over their ten millennia of service.
Escort class ships are designed to support heavier warships during patrols, cruises and engagements, protecting the larger and often much slower and ponderous voidships' vulnerable flanks from opportunistic strikes. It is exceptionally rare to see an Imperial Battleship or Cruiser without at least two, if not more, Sword-class Frigates by its sides. The Sword-class is a very old design, which has seen service since the earliest days of the Imperium. A staple class upon which many other variants of Imperial Escort have been based, all its components have been tried, tested, refined and if necessary redesigned over innumerable engagements, resulting in a surprisingly efficient warship.
As an Escort, the Sword-class Frigate is expected to come under fire, and was designed with this in mind. Its bulkheads are thicker than would be expected, and the beams and supports that hold the warship together have redundant copies that will take the load if the primary beam or support fails. Its banks of Void Shields are also strong and sturdy, designed to offer maximum protection for a voidship of its tonnage. Due to this, the Sword-class Frigate can take more punishment than would be expected for a ship of its diminutive size. Its laser-based weapon batteries provide equivalent fire power to those of the less-reliable plasma-based alternatives. These batteries are able to fire to both sides, or forward with full strength. The class' plasma engines are powerful, yet simple enough to be maintained by a freshly ordained Tech-priest, and are regarded as reliable even under extreme duress or after the warship has suffered heavy damage.
The Sword-class Frigate does suffer from one drawback: while potent, its laser-based weapon batteries are by void warfare standards short-ranged, and a Sword-class Frigate captain must always be wary of biting off more than he can chew. Whilst its strong Void Shields and superior structural integrity allows a Sword-class Frigate to go head-to-head with even an Iconoclast-class Destroyer and emerge battered but victorious, its lack of long-range armament can prove detrimental in larger engagements if it finds itself without any support from heavier warships. This flaw was perfectly illustrated during the Battle of Belatis, when the duo of Sword-class Frigates Pegasus and Achilles came under surprise attack from the Murder-class Cruiser Charybdis and its escorting Infidel-class Raiders. Caught too far away from the Cruiser they escorted to withdraw back to it in time, both ships boldly decided to bring the battle to the foe rather than flee, but the Pegasus was destroyed by a concentrated torpedo volley from the Infidels before it could get into firing range. The Achilles fared slightly better, crippling one of the Infidels before powering onward towards the Charybdis; but was finally obliterated by its much larger opponent's broadside before being able to manoeuvre itself into firing range.
Sword-class Frigates are so well-liked and efficient that even many Space Marine Chapter fleets include them in support of their Battle Barges and Strike Cruisers whenever they can. Because of their excellent performances, Swords are also valued by Rogue Traders, who usually convert them to contain more cargo space to meet their merchant needs. Pirate fleets have also been known to operate captured Sword-class Frigates.
- Tempest-class Strike Frigate
- Firestorm-class Frigate - The Firestorm-class Frigate is a variant of the Sword-class attempting to deal with the latter's range problem. The Firestorm-class replaces the Sword-class' multiple laser batteries with a single prow mounted heavy Lance.
Notable Sword-class Frigates and Squadrons
- Achilles - The Achilles fought during the Gothic War. It participated in the Battle of Helia IV and the evacuation of the planet Belatis. During the battle, the Achilles and its sister ship the Pegasus were ambushed by the Murder-class Cruiser Charybdis and its escorting Infidel-class Raiders. Unable to retreat to the cover of the Gothic-class Cruiser Drachenfels, the Achilles opted to go down fighting, boldly trying to outflank the Chaos formation. The Achilles managed to cripple one of the Infidels, and powered through their protective screen in order to strike at the Charybdis, but the much larger Cruiser contemptuously exposed its flank and obliterated the Achilles with a massed broadside volley before it could get into firing range.
- His Hammer - The Sword-class Frigate His Hammer is a part of the Escort Squadrons of Battlefleet Corribra that protects Imperial worlds in this sector from alien attack and invasion. They are a part of the fifty warships that have the duty to patrol and guard the Corribra Sector, no small task for so few ships.
- Mariatus - Commanded by Captain Payne, the Mariatus was the lead ship of a squadron of three Sword-class Frigates that took part in the defence of Tarsis Ultra from the encroaching Tyranids Hive Fleet Leviathan.
- Heroic Endeavour - The Heroic Endeavour was a part of a squadron of three Sword-class Frigates that took part in the defence of Tarsis Ultra from the encroaching Tyranids Hive Fleet Leviathan.
- Von Becken - The Von Becken was a part of a squadron of three Sword-class Frigates that took part in the defence of Tarsis Ultra from the encroaching Tyranids Hive Fleet Leviathan.
- Pegasus - The Pegasus fought during the Gothic War. It participated in the Battle of Helia IV and the evacuation of the planet Belatis. During the latter battle, the Pegasus and its sister ship the Achilles were ambushed by the Murder-class Cruiser Charybdis and its escorting Infidel-class Raiders. Unable to retreat to the cover of the Gothic-class Cruiser Drachenfels, the Pegasus opted to go down fighting and moved to intercept, but was destroyed by a massed volley of torpedoes before getting in range of the Chaos armada.
- Triumph of Juno - The Triumph of Juno patrols the rimward fringes of the Stygies Cluster Sub-Sector, and has seen its fair share of combat with Eldar pirates and Ork raiders. Its armsmen are renowned throughout Battlefleet Askellon for their skills at repelling boarders, and the ship even carries a small complement of attack boats for offensive assaults.
- Absolution Squadron - Almost freshly commissionned at the docks of Hydraphur, Absolution Squadron was initially headed for the Cadian Gate as part of the naval reinforcements during the 13th Black Crusade but was later diverted to the Trail of Saint Evisser. There, it participated in the protection of the Trail’s capital world of Volcanis Ultor, the Squadron’s leading vessel, the Absolution Beta, bravely sacrified itself to ensure the destruction of what it believed was a Chaos Strike Cruiser. However the ships true identity was the Rubicon, a vessel bound in service to the Grey Knights Chapter and on a vital mission to save the Trail from its impending doom.
- Red Squadron - The 202nd Red Squadron was a Sword Frigate squadron that consisted of four Sword-class Frigates that fought in Battlefleet Gothic during the Gothic War.
- Blue Squadron - Blue Squadron was a Sword Frigate squadron that fought in Battlefleet Gothic during the Gothic War.
- Omega Squadron - Omega Squadron was a Sword Frigate squadron that fought in Battlefleet Gothic during the Gothic War.
- Errant Squadron - Errant Squadron was a Sword Frigate squadron that fought in the Taros Campaign against the Tau Empire. It was eventually wiped out while trying to defend an Imperial troop convoy from the Tau Lar'shi'vre-class Cruiser Io'Tar.
- Invictus Squadron - Invictus Squadron was a Sword Frigate squadron that fought in the Taros Campaign against the Tau Empire. It was reassigned to perform convoy protection duty after the annihilation of the previous convoy and the entirety of Errant Squadron by the Tau Lar'shi'vre Cruiser Io'Tar.
- Triumph Squadron - Triumph Squadron is a Sword Frigate squadron that served in the Imperial Navy taskforce called Battlefleet Koronus, undertaking countless patrol and interdiction duties in the Koronus Expanse -- hunting priates, enforcing blockades, and protecting Imperial convoys. There are a dozen Sword-class Frigates in Triumph Squadron, and they are often spread across Battlefleet Koronus' areas of operations.
- Hull: Escort.
- Class: Sword-class Frigate
- Dimensions: Approximately 1.6 kilometres long, 0.3 kilometres abeam at fins.
- Mass: Approximately 6 megatonnes.
- Crew: Approximately 26,000 crew.
- Acceleration: 4.5 gravities maximum sustainable acceleration.
- Dark Heresy: Enemies Without (2nd Edition) (RPG), pg. 35
- Battlefleet Gothic Magazine 1, "The Imperial Navy," & "Battlefleet Corribra," pp. 8, 37
- Battlefleet Gothic Magazine 7, "Wolf Packs - Human Pirates in Battlefleet Gothic," pg. 20
- Battlefleet Gothic Rulebook (Specialist Game) pg. 113
- Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 195
- Rogue Trader: Battlefleet Koronus (RPG), pg. 60-61, 66
- Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign pg. 39
- Execution Hour (Novel) by Gordon Rennie
- Warriors of Ultramar (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Grey Knights (Novel) by Ben Counter, in The Grey Knights Omnibus, pp. 196, 197, 206-219