The Earth-Romulan War


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Earth-Romulan War
The-beginning romulan-war.jpg
Two NX-class ships engage the Romulan forces
Date:

2156-2160

Location:

Alpha and Beta Quadrants

Result:

Creation of the Romulan Neutral Zone

Belligerents
Notable commanders
  • Captain Jonathon Archer
  • Commander Thy’lek Shran
  • Admiral Valdore
  • General Tomek
Strength
  • 256 starships
  • 300 starships
Casualties and Losses
  • 104 starships
  • 120 starships
[ Source ]


The Earth-Romulan War was one of the most defining conflicts in Federation history. The war was fought between the Coalition of Planets, led by Earth, and the mysterious Romulan Star Empire from 2155 to 2160. The solidarity created by the fledgling alliance would help lead to the formation of the Federation, and thus drastically change the galaxy’s political climate and shift the balance of power in the Alpha Quadrant.

The Romulan Cold War

During the early part of the 22nd century, the Romulan Star Empire had followed a policy of covert expansion. Through subterfuge and destabilization tactics, they were able to disrupt control of minor empires and followed up the chaos with their fleet, promising to bring order. This early expansion favored to the galactic northeast as the burgeoning Klingon Empire to their south followed a more aggressive expansion policy. The Romulans, not to be deterred, had their sights set on the territory claimed by the Klingons, but knew that an outright attack could be devastating. Instead, the shifted their attention to their southwest, where a number of smaller empires had been vying for power in the region.

The Vulcan and Andorian empires seemed to be always poised for war, and the Tellarites seemed to have little patience for the other races. A fourth empire, the fledgling United Earth, was the weakest militarily, but had on more than one occasion found a way to preserve the peace. The Romulans found this peace unacceptable, and counterproductive to their ultimate goal. By keeping the region’s four major powers at odds, it could lead to a power vacuum that the Romulans were eager to fill. In 2154, they set their plan in motion, seeing the reunification movement on Vulcan as the perfect opportunity.

The Battle of Andoria

The Enterprise (NX-01) stands between the Andorians and Vulcans

Sometime before the start of 2154, citizens of both the Romulan and Vulcan empires sought to reunify their people after the Romulan’s mass exodus several centuries before. The Vulcan High Command, under the leadership of Administrator V’Las, planned a preemptive strike against Andoria, citing Andorian development of a Xindi type weapon as the reason. Shortly before the plan could be executed, the Earth embassy on Vulcan was bombed, killing the leader of the Earth Starfleet as he saved the life of the Vulcan ambassador to Earth. The Earth starship Enterprise NX-01, under the command of Captain Jonathan Archer stayed in Vulcan orbit to investigate the bombing, claiming that they had the right to investigate as the embassy was technically on Earth soil, much to the chagrin of V’Las. The Starfleet investigation led them to the attack on Andoria, but the Enterprise warned the Andorians and intervened before the two empires could go to war. Archer’s investigation also uncovered that there was no evidence of an Andorian superweapon, and that the Battle of Andoria and the bombing of the Earth embassy were instigated by V’Las. What was not uncovered, however, was that V’Las had been working alongside a Romulan operative for several years. (ENT: “The Forge”, “Awakening”, “Kir’Shara”)

The Babel Crisis

Romulan Drone Ship

With the failed attempt to cause war between the Vulcan’s and Andorians, the Romulans experimented with a new tactic. Later that same year, Romulus utilized automated drone ships to attack Tellarite and Andorian ships. These drones were capable of disguising themselves to appear as any other ship, and used this advantage to insight war between the Andorians and Tellarites. Earth involvement, this time Captain Archer and the Enterprise intended to act as mediators in a dispute between the other two empires, leads to the discovery and identification of the Romulan drone ship. After a battle with the Romulan ship, the Enterprise is reported attacking a Rigelian ship. While the Rigelian Trade Commission calls for Archer’s arrest, the crew develops a way to detect the drone ship’s warp signature, as well as a sensor grid to extend the detection range. However, the number of ships needed to for the grid is far more than Earth and Vulcan could assembly. He would need the help of the Andorians and Tellarites. Archer is able to convince the two sides to come to an agreement, explaining that staying at odds is exactly what the Romulans hope to accomplish. Putting aside their differences, The Andorian and Tellarite delegation agrees to assist in the operation, and pledge their support for the sensor grid. Through this cooperation, the combined fleet is able to locate the drone ship and ultimately destroy it. (ENT: “Babel One”, “United”, “The Aenar”)

The Coalition of Planets

Thanks to the great strides forward made during the Babel Crisis, the powers in the region had grown stronger than ever. In early 2155, a conference was held on Earth, inviting delegations from Tellar, Andoria, Vulcan, Rigel, Denobula, and Coridan. The conference initiated talks to form a loose alliance between their people, called the Coalition of Planets. Although some xenophobic feelings on Earth nearly ruined the talks before they could begin, quick action by Captain Archer saved the conference, and talks to form the Coalition resumed. (ENT: “Demons”, “Terra Prime”)

However, the Romulans knew that such an alliance would make their expansion quite difficult without a major military operation, but they had gone too far and expended too many resources to back out now. The Romulan military knew that the strength of the Coalition would be held by the four largest members, who had thwarted them at Babel. But their control would mean much less without the support of the smaller members. Having already tried to cause mistrust between Earth and Rigel, the Romulans instead turned to the People’s Republic of Coridan. A covert strike was planned to prevent the dilithium reserves of Coridan Prime falling into Coalition hands. Several unmanned ships engaged at high warp into the planet’s surface. The vast amount of destruction led to the death of over half a billion Coridanites when the dilithium reserves ignited. Outraged, the Coridan Chancellor backed out of the Coalition talks, despite urgings from the other planets that this was what the Romulans wanted. The Chancellor’s counter argument was that joining this alliance could be more costly to his people than not joining. Agreeing with the argument, the United Rigel Colonies pulled out of the talks as well. Despite losing two potential members, the conference continued, and the Coalition Compact was signed in March of 2155, with Prime Minister Nathan Samuels as one of the signatories.

In July of that year, the Romulan Empire stepped up the number of raids. Using commandeered Klingon vessels, the Romulans attacked Alpha Centauri and Draylax, causing those worlds to request membership in the Coalition. Unlike Coridan and Rigel, Alpha Centauri and Draylax both felt that having protection of the larger worlds would deter attackers, not provoke them. Despite reservations from the non-human allies about adding another human planet, both worlds were admitted to the Coalition.

The Romulans had hoped that using Klingon ships would cause the Coalition to suspect Quo’nos. The Klingons, unsure of what was going on with their ships, were helpless to prevent it yet very nearly were blamed for the attack. However, Earth was not so sure. During the same month, the Earth starship Enterprise rescued several dozen irradiated and injured colonists from an attack on Tarod IX. Starfleet was confident that the Romulans were behind the attack. In September that same year, three United Earth destroyers were attacked by a single warship. The survivors were able identify the ship, whose ventral hull was emblazoned with a golden bird. The ship had identified itself as Romulan in origin. Its trajectory was cross referenced with that of the Babel drone ship. Finally, the people behind these attacks could be confirmed. In October, 2155 the United Earth declared a state of war between Earth and the Romulan Star Empire, followed shortly by Alpha Centauri and Draylax.

The Earth-Romulan War

Two Romulan Birds-of-Prey

Despite having Alpha Centauri and Draylax as allies, Earth was forced to bear the brunt of the early fighting. Because only a handful of ships were warp five capable, including the Enterprise, the Columbia, and the rushed to launch Challenger and Discovery, most of the early fighting were minor skirmishes in open space. The remaining planned NX-class ships, the Atlantis NX-05 and Endeavour NX-06 were still under construction. Draylax was able to provide a few warp five ships, but did not have the industrial base that Earth had. Most of the United Earth starships were of the older JS-class, and were not capable of speeds above warp 3. This would limit their use in the conflict. However, Earth focused its industrial base on building smaller warp five equipped ships, the versatile NC-class. These ships were based on previous, simpler designs, but modified to use the newer engine. These smaller ships were easier and quicker to build, in addition to requiring smaller crews. Even though the design was in place in 2154, it would be several months before the first ones would leave drydock.

In the meantime, the slower ships were used to reinforce the core systems and defend supply lines, while the few faster ships were initially used as scouts. Enterprise and Columbia were both involved in several skirmishes with Romulan ships, usually of the smaller warbird type that the drone ships were based on. One such engagement was in June of 2156. The Discovery had been patrolling near Tau Ceti IV when it was attacked by three Romulan birds-of-prey. Until this point, the four NX-class ships had been able to operate with little resistance, besting the Romulan ships in every engagement. However, the Romulans had caught the Discovery by surprise. The ships commanding officer, Captain Stiles, had attempted to draw the enemy ships away from the colony, and was successful in destroying one of the three ships. Unfortunately, the Discovery was badly damaged, and watched helplessly as the Romulan vessels fired atomic weaponry at the colony below, completely destroying the settlement. The remaining ships then focused on the disabled starship, destroying it as well. While only losing one ship, the loss of one of the few warp five capable ships at the Battle of Tau Ceti IV was a devastating loss for the Earth Alliance.

Request for Aid

During the early period of the war, Earth tried desperately to bring her allies into the war. Although the fighting had only just begun, Earth knew that the Romulans had superior numbers, and even with the help of the Centauri and Draylaxians, the forces of the Earth Alliance were vastly outnumbered. The other Coalition members, despite agreeing to cooperate and come to each other’s aid for the sake of defense, the Vulcans argued that Earth rushed in to the conflict, when other means were still available to end the fighting before it began. Commander Thy’lek Shran of the Andorian Imperial Guard argued that diplomacy was never really an option with the Romulans, and reminded his Vulcan and Tellarite counterparts that the Romulans tried to drive them apart, and that the humans were the ones that prevented war. If anything, he argued, they deserved their support then more than ever. While the Tellarites continued to vocally oppose the war, the Vulcans remained stoic. They seemed to know something about the Romulans that they wished to keep secret from the others.

The war continued while the other members of the Coalition of Planets debated. Draylaxian patrols suffered minor defeats to Romulan fighters, with Centauri fleets meeting similar fates. The first major battle of the war took place in November of 2156. A Draylaxian scout discovered signs of Romulan movement around the Orion Colonies. Two squadrons of Romulan ships were en route towards Rigel. Starfleet assembled a fleet of equal force and intercepted the Romulan fleet at Prantares. The battle ended as a tactical stalemate, with both sides taking heavy losses. Despite this, the Romulans were forced to retreat because even if they were able to defeat the Alliance forces here, their numbers were too small to break through the defenses at Rigel. By forcing the Romulans to turn back, the Battle of Prantares was considered an Alliance victory.

Impressed by the victory, Andoria pledged support to the Earth Alliance. Although they did not join the conflict outright, they offered passage through their territory and resupplies at any Andorian base. The added support from the Andorians allowed Earth forces to push closer to Romulan territory and extend their operating range. They were now able to patrol much further from Earth while still utilizing the slower ships. This increased range did not go unnoticed by the Romulans. In early 2157, three birds-of-prey attacked one of the Alliances resupply bases, the Andorian colony on Threllvia IV. At the time, only one Andorian ship was present to defend, the Ka’Thelan Krotus. After a valiant attempt, the Ka’Thelan Krotus was unsuccessful in fighting off the Romulan attackers, and the colony was destroyed by atomic weaponry fired from orbit. The Imperial Guard used the Battle of Threllvia as a battle cry, and by the end of the month, Andoria declared war against the Romulans and joined the Earth Alliance.

The Romulan Invasion

Initially the help of the Andorians lifted morale among the other Alliance members, but this morale boost was short lived. Romulan forces increased their pressure on the Andorian and Earth fronts. They won several victories against the Alliance. A squadron of Romulan birds-of-prey invaded the Berengaria system in May of 2157. The Alliance forces, including Earth outpost 1 and the Earth starship Atlantis tried to defend the system, but ultimately failed. Both the ship and the station were destroyed. The Romulans also fired upon and destroyed a Vulcan research station, but the Vulcans still refused to enter the war.

The Romulan victory at Berengaria gave them a launching point to make further attacks into Alliance territory. Romulan forces were able to spread out from Berengaria and take several Allied planets, including Deneva. The Earth forces in particular were on their heels, being forced back towards Earth and suffering heavy losses. The colony at Galorndon Core suffered quite heavily when Romulan bombardment left the atmosphere ionized and unfit for civilization.

The Andorians were only faring marginally better against the Romulan advancement, but were still losing ground. However, the retreating Earth forces left a gaping hole in the line near Andoria. Seeing an opportunity, Romulan Admiral Valdore attempted to take advantage of the opening and sent his fleet to Andoria. Because the bulk of the Imperial Guard was away defending the borders, only a meager force was left in defense of the planet against Valdore’s two squadrons. The Andorian defenders attempted unsuccessfully to hold off the invaders, caught completely by surprise. The Romulans commenced surface bombardment and demanded that the Andorians surrender. Andoria was not going to give up that easily, and attacked the orbiting ships from artillery hidden below the ice. United Earth and Andorian forces raced to come to Andoria’s aid. A combined force, led by Captain Archer and Commander Shran, engaged the Romulan forces before they could do any significant damage to the major population centers. Valdore was forced to withdraw his remaining fleet. It was a major victory for the Allies, their first in months. Unfortunately, the race to Andoria left another gaping hole in the allied lines, and Valdore set his sights on a new target.

The Battle of Sol

Early 2158 saw more Romulan victories. Weaknesses in the Allied lines gave the Romulans an opportunity to take Denobula. While the planet had remained neutral in the war, its capture would put the Romulans in a prime location for attacking the Sol system. The Denobulans put up little fight, and the planet was easily taken. Resources taken from the planet were used to resupply and repair the Romulan ships.

In May of 2158, the Romulan fleet launched its attack on Earth. The Romulans had three primary targets: the Verteron Array on Mars, the San Francisco Fleet Yards, and Earth itself. Fifteen Romulan warships left Denobula, dropping out of warp close to Martian orbit. The Verteron Array was destroyed before it could be properly aimed. After the fall of Denobula, Earth forces had retreated to Earth. They were only able to assemble eight starships a few short range corvettes, including the Endeavour (NX-06) and three Andorian destroyers. The Romulans opened fire on the shipyards and defending ships. Several dry docks and under construction ships were destroyed by the initial salvos. The Endeavour led the fight against the Romulans, and fighting for their homes were able to destroy six of the Romulan vessels compared to the two starships and several corvettes lost by the Allies.

The Romulans pulled back to Mars and regrouped. They still had nine ships to the Allies six. They focused their fire on individual ships, despite the Allied attempt to draw their fire. Another three starships were lost, with only two Romulan ships destroyed. With the Endeavour badly damaged and only one other Earth ship and the Andorian destroyer, all had seemed lost for Earth. As the Romulan fleet moved in to finish off the surviving defenders, another fleet of ships dropped out of warp. Six Tellarite ships, flanked by four Vulcan ships drew the Romulan’s fire and came between the damaged Allied vessels. Catching the already damaged Romulan ships by surprise, they were able to destroy half of them and disable the other half while only suffering light losses. Rather than be captured, the disabled Romulan ships self-destructed. The attack on Earth proved to be a disaster for the Romulans. Not only was a significant fleet destroyed, but the strength of the Earth Alliance doubled. The next day, Vulcan and Tellar officially declared war on the Romulan Empire.

Turning the Tide

With the entire Coalition of Planets now at arms, the allied forces could now go on the offensive. Combined forces of Earth and Vulcan retook the Denobulan system shortly after the Battle of Sol. Tellarite ships reinforced the Andorian lines, beginning the push to remove the Romulans from Andorian space. Allied victories at Deneva and Berengaria pushed the front back to where it had been prior to the invasion.

The allies continued to gain ground with the additional support of the Vulcans and Tellarites. Larger fleets were formed of combined groups, each race using their strengths to make up for the weaknesses of the others. They intercepted Romulan forces at Gamma Hydra, Altair, and Vorkado, eliminating the remaining Romulan strongholds. Like at Earth, disabled Romulan ships continued to destroy themselves rather than be captured. By the middle of 2159, the Coalition forces held a commanding advantage over the beaten Romulan forces. Shipyards were running at peak capacity and morale was higher than ever.

The Battle of Cheron

Admiral Valdore, now commanding the Romulan fleet from Romulus, was under intense pressure from Praetor Karzan and the Romulan Senate to turn the war back in their favor. Humiliating defeats at Andoria and Sol had caused the Romulans to lose precious ground, and the forward shipyards that they had built in the early years of the war had been lost. In a last ditch effort, Valdore recalled the remaining ships in his expeditionary force to Romulan controlled space, in the 83 Leonis B system, where they could regroup. Forming a fleet of nearly 60 ships of various sizes, the Romulan plan was to form a spearhead and push straight through the allied forces. The ultimate target was once again Earth. Valdore wanted revenge for all the times his plans had been foiled by the United Earth Starfleet. The fleet buildup began in February of 2160 in orbit of the planet Cheron under the command of General Tomek.

Vulcan listening posts had detected the massive buildup of Romulan ships. The Coalition forces raced to assemble a comparable fleet in order to intercept the Romulans. Intelligence reported that the buildup was nearly complete, and the Coalition was forced to act earlier than they had hoped. A force of 43 ships under the command of Captain Jonathan Archer, consisting of all of the Coalition members as well as a few ships from Rigel, set out from Tellar. The allied fleet reached Cheron on April 2, 2160.

The allied forces were not able to take the Romulans by surprise. Scout ships were able to send word of the incoming fleet back to the Romulans, despite the Draylax scouts destroying them. The Romulans took up a defensive stance, despite their superior numbers. Tomek had not expected be facing a large fleet, instead he had hoped to overwhelm the opposing forces in his push to Earth. However, the Romulans underestimated the ability of the Coalition forces to assemble quickly.

Despite being outnumbered three to two, the allied ships were well coordinated. The Romulan ships flew out to meet the opposing fleet head on, but the allied fleet was resilient. They were able to inflict heavy casualties on the Romulan fleet, although suffering many of their own. The Romulans were pushed back to Cheron’s orbit, both fleets reduced to less than fifty percent of their original numbers. Tomek had signaled for a retreat, but Vulcan and Andorian ships moved to intercept. The Romulan commander ordered a squadron to stay behind, sacrificing themselves so that the remaining ships could escape. Eighteen of the original sixty ships were able to retreat to Romulan space. Twenty-one of the original forty-three allied ships had survived. All others had been destroyed.

The Treaty of Eden

The Romulan Neutral Zone

The Battle of Cheron would prove to be the decisive battle. Although the losses were heavy on both sides, the Coalition forces all but destroyed the Romulan expeditionary fleet. What had survived was both damaged and defeated. The Romulan Star Empire still had the vast majority of their industrial base back in their home territory, but their forward fleet had been decimated. The Coalition forces damaged and spread thin, but started to gather near the Romulan border for an invasion of their own. Some members of the Coalition, including Earth and Andoria, called for an invasion of Romulus, to put an end to the threat once and for all. Vulcan pointed out the Romulans were a proud people, and would not accept subjugation easily. In addition, the Tellarites were quick to point out that after many long years of war, they were not in a condition to attempt a full-fledged invasion. The death toll on both sides could be disastrous. Ambassador Gral also pointed out that the allies didn’t escape from Cheron in much better shape.

After many long deliberations, it was decided that peace was the best option. In late April of 2160, Coalition forces contacted the Romulans and indicated that it was in the best interest of both sides to end the fighting. The Romulans were invited to send an envoy to meet with a delegation from the Coalition. The Romulans, a highly xenophobic and secretive race, refused to meet in person, but they offered to negotiate over subspace radio. The Coalition leaders found the request curious, but they wanted to bring the war to a close. They accepted the terms from the Romulans, and met the Romulan representatives at the Eden system.

For the next couple of months, the two sides negotiated across subspace radio, Praetor Karzan aboard the Romulan flagship, and delegates from all the members of the Coalition aboard the Vulcan ship Tempok, including United Earth Secretary-General Christofur Thorpe. The eventual treaty would in addition to the cessation of hostilities establish the Romulan Neutral Zone, a region of space one light year wide defined by the boundaries of Imperial and Coalition space. Violation of this zone by a ship from either side, military or civilian, could be considered an act of war unless a peaceful resolve could be reached by both sides. Audio verification from both sides acted as signatures. After five long years, the conflict was finally over.

Aftermath and Legacy

Signing of the Federation Charter

The Romulan Neutral zone would remain unbroken for over a century. While this war did not end all animosity between the Romulans and the members of the Coalition, it did serve to halt open hostility until well into the 23rd Century. However, the most notable outcome of the war had little to do with the Romulans. Instead, the war proved that the Coalition of Planets, although powerful individually, was even stronger when united. The success of the alliance against the Romulans helped pave the way for further talks between their governments. These talks would culminate in the signing of the Federation Charter on 11 October 2161, which created the United Federation of Planets. Without the Romulan Empire's attempts to destabilize the region, it possibly could have happened on its own. But the Romulans gave the independent systems a common enemy to rally behind, and a reason to evaluate what they could become. The Federation would go on to become one of the largest powers in both the Alpha and Beta Quadrants.