The Corona-class frigate was a combat starship produced by Kuat Drive Yards for the New Republic. A successor to the successful EF76 Nebulon-B escort frigate line, the Corona-class was designed as part of the New Republic's drive to modernize and standardize its naval forces, moving away from the eclectic collection of starships that it had inherited from the Alliance to Restore the Republic. The frigate was designed to incorporate the New Republic's philosophy of not allowing starships to operate independently for years at a time, and to be tied to a home base for support.
Physically resembling its predecessor, Corona-class vessels were intended to operate both independently and in larger fleet formations, as well as perform a variety of mission profiles, including reconnaissance, close-line fire support and anti-starfighter screening operations. They boasted an array of offensive and defensive weapons, as well as hangar space for thirty-six starfighters. Corona-class frigates were deployed to the New Republic Defense Forces by 11 ABY, seeing service during the assaults on the New Republic by Imperial Admiral Natasi Daala.
Designed by Kuat Drive Yards, the Corona-class frigate was patterned after the EF76 Nebulon-B escort frigate, which had been a successful design for the company. The basic configuration of the Corona-class resembled the layout of the Nebulon-B, with a forward section connected to the drive unit by a central spar. The fore section extended down from the main body of the frigate, while the central spar had been thickened from the original Nebulon-B design to provide extra protection. The drive unit housed the main engines, with a stabilizing fin extending from the lower part of the section on either side. Corona-class vessels required 782 crew members to operate, as well as fifty-six gunners; however, the frigate could be manned by a skeleton crew of 281. The ships also carried a complement of eighty soldiers.
The Corona-class was 275 meters in length, clocking in at twenty-five meters shorter than its predecessor, and had less cargo space for supplies and consumables, in line with the New Republic's doctrine of having its ships be reliant on home bases rather than be able to operate independently for years at a time. Corona-class vessels could carry 4,000 metric tons of cargo, with enough provisions to last one year before resupply. The Corona-class was armed with ten turbolaser cannons and ten laser cannons for offense, as well as four ion cannons to disable enemy vessels and two tractor beam projectors. The shield generators on the frigate produced the same amount of protection as those on the Nebulon-B, but it had a stronger hull, allowing it to take more punishment in combat. The Corona-class incorporated a Class One hyperdrive unit, which was an improvement over the Class Two hyperdrive on the Nebulon-B. Three squadrons—thirty-six starfighters—could be deployed aboard the Corona-class, compared to the two squadrons carried on a Nebulon-B frigate, although not all line units carried a full complement, and some were only equipped with short-range fighters.
The Corona-class frigate was used as a patrol vessel and could fulfil a variety of mission profiles. The vessel could operate independently, performing reconnaissance-in-force, or as part of a larger fleet formation, providing close fire support and anti-starfighter screening for larger vessels. The frigate could also be used as a starfighter assault platform.
As the New Republic began to establish its legitimacy in the wake of the Battle of Endor, the guerrilla war that they had fought for years slowly turned into a conventional war. As the New Republic liberated the galactic capital of Coruscant, the commanders of the New Republic Defense Force saw that they needed a regular navy to both prosecute the war against the Galactic Empire and to defend their assets. The motley collection of vessels that the New Republic had inherited from the Alliance to Restore the Republic were no longer sufficient for that purpose. It was decided that new classes of vessel be designed and put into production to standardize the New Republic's naval forces.
Prior to 9 ABY, Kuat Drive Yards was commissioned to produce a line frigate, which they chose to model after the popular and successful Nebulon-B design that had served both the Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire during the Galactic Civil War. At the same time, the New Republic's Defender program was underway, and the Corona-class was added to the program to allow Kuat Drive Yards to participate in the project, alongside Loronar Corporation's Belarus-class medium cruiser. Production of the Corona-class was disrupted by Grand Admiral Thrawn's campaign against the New Republic in 9 ABY, as well as the return of Emperor Palpatine a year later. Following these delays, the Defender program was resumed and became part of the New Class Modernization Program. Physically similar to its design ancestor, Corona-class vessels were in service as early as 11 ABY, and several ships saw duty during Imperial Admiral Natasi Daala's assault on the New Republic. Orders from the New Republic Defense Force for the Corona-class were modest but steady, resulting in a limited production run of the design.
Several Corona-class frigates served the New Republic Defense Forces during the early years of the New Republic. The lead vessel of the class, Corona, operated in the Core Worlds. Two Corona-class vessels, the Endor and the Shooting Star, collided with each other after a mistimed hyperspace jump. Both ships were destroyed, with the loss of all hands. In 11 ABY, the Corona-class frigate Boldheart encountered the Teljkon Vagabond, an organic starship used by the Qella as a genetic repository to ensure the survival of their species following an ice age on their homeworld of Brath Qella that threatened their extinction. The Boldheart fired a shot across the Vagabond's bow; the Vagabond responded by disabling the frigate's engines with a single shot before fleeing into hyperspace. The holos from the encounter provided the New Republic Intelligence Service with its first images of the Vagabond.
Behind the scenes
The Corona-class frigate was first introduced in Cracken's Threat Dossier, published by West End Games in 1997. It appeared in the section dedicated to the events of The Black Fleet Crisis trilogy by Michael P. Kube-McDowell, and its entry established that several vessels mentioned in the novels—Boldheart, Endor, and Shooting Star—were of this class. It is unknown where the name originated from; although used in Cracken's Threat Dossier, the term also appears in Kube-McDowell's FAQ regarding The Black Fleet Crisis. While his statements regarding background material for the series cannot be considered canonical, it may be that the authors of Cracken's Threat Dossier adopted the name when writing the sourcebook, thus making it official. The Corona-class later garnered mentions in The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Galaxy at War, and The Essential Guide to Warfare.
- Cracken's Threat Dossier (First identified as Corona-class frigate)
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Galaxy at War
- The Essential Guide to Warfare