|General Plans and Schematics|
1,200 feet (366 meters)
1,000 feet (305 meters)
2,500 feet (762 meters)
55,000 tones (600 hours)
Two squadrons of Alliance gunships
After winning the Unification War, the Alliance moved quickly to consolidate its hold over the Border planets and Rim planets. The Tohoku-class cruiser was conceived as a mobile base for pacification operations, and a visible symbol of Alliance power and prestige.
In essence, each Tohoku is a self-contained city in space, providing a platform for the Alliance to bring the benefits of civilization to the backward worlds of the Rim. The cruisers are manned more like a city than a spacecraft: information and development specialists, economists and financiers, public administrators, and the staff to support them all. A few high-ranking officials even bring their families aboard. The Tohoku design consists of 5 towers (two large, three smaller) projecting out of a wide, horseshoe-shaped base. The base provides primary support services, including engines, power, and life support. On the underside of the base and inverted with respect to the rest of the cruiser is the landing field; a control tower projects downward to provide oversight. The main towers, hundreds of feet across at the base and hundreds of levels tall, offer maximum surface area for heat management and contact with the outside.
Listing all the capabilities and gear for one of these fortresses would be pointless. Suffice to say that while virtually any sort of defensive weapon is available in quantity, Tohoku class ships are unarmored and rely on their gunships for defensive actions.
First off, we have the only ship larger than Serenity seen in Firefly: the Tohoku-class cruiser. According to the Serenity RPG, pg. 128, under the bland title 'Alliance Cruiser', this "mobile base", "a self-contained city in space", comes in at a volume of 5.5 million tons and the standard ships carried are two squadrons of Alliance Short Range Enforcement Vessels, although in all fairness, there's no other choice for gunships in the RPG. As stated in its own entry, the Alliance gunship represents several ships, each "slightly larger than the size of a standard shuttle" (a standard shuttle is 20 tons), and the Alliance Short Range Enforcement Vessel is listed at 40 tons. Also as noted in the entry on the gunship, the wing configurations seen in the first episode of Firefly are wrong for an ASREV. Good job, whoever spotted that. Still, we're left with 5.5 million tons carrying 2 squadrons of gunships.
A Tohoku-class cruiser resembled a group of skyscrapers bound by a base, which contained the main engines and power generators. Secondary engines were placed near the top of the large twin central towers.
The port side of the vessel had three towers; a large central tower, a smaller tower to port and a much smaller tower aft. The starboard side's large central tower was joined to the portside tower by a 'skybridge'-like structure around a third of the way from the base section. To the aft and starboard of the central tower was another smaller tower. In addition to these five upper towers, a sixth tower was located on the lower side of the starboard half of the ship. The much smaller tower on the top and the tower on the underside of the ship are not counted among the ship's 'four towers' design, and variations exist between individual ships. For example, there was a significant variation between the Magellan and Dortmunder. The latter had a large engineering section which spans between the two main engines on the legs of the superstructure, while the former was missing this assembly.
- I.A.V. Alexander (Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale)
- I.A.V. Cortez (Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale)
- I.A.V. Dortmunder
- I.A.V. Magellan
- Crew of note: Unidentified Magellan captain
- The cruiser visited by the Hands of Blue
- The cruiser which apprehended Serenity
- The name is a reference to the Tōhoku region, an area of Honshu.
- The ship bears a passing resemblance to the ore refinery towed by the USCSS Nostromo (Alien)
Behind the scenes
The crew of Serenity only encounters Tohoku-class cruisers during the television series, despite the Serenity Role Playing Game stating that the Longbow-class Patrol Cruiser and the Crete-class Carrier were more commonly used. This is due to the fact that Longbow-class and Crete-class warships were only created for the film.
It is also conceivable that, from a story perspective, the Tohoku-class was (unlike the other classes of vessels) most commonly deployed in the far reaches of The Verse for policing operations. The design gave the crews enough independence from a central base so the Alliance did not have to build numerous shipyards in the outer systems. The ships carried enough weaponry to deal with most threats, such as pirates and limited revolts.
No Tohoku-class cruisers are seen in the Universe Battle, possibly on account of their minimal armor and the non-military personnal carried. Two of the four Tohoku-class cruisers seen in Firefly TV series' episodes ("The Train Job" and "Bushwhacked") were not labeled.