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The SEV Torch (HSC-4-13-X), originally christened as Sol Fleet Vessel Arrow, is an old Mako-class corvette recommissioned and modified for interstellar survey missions. The vessel is the result of a deep space exploration project overseen by the Sol Central Government (SCG) and multiple corporate investors, primarily the Expeditionary Corps Organisation (EXO) and certain skrellian organizations.
The SEV Torch's primary mission, a joint venture by the SCG Expeditionary Corps and EXO, is to establish the first contact with as-of-yet undiscovered alien species. Secondary objectives include collecting data of scientific significance, surveying unclaimed regions of space for resources of strategic importance and assessing celestial bodies for colonization potential. <ref>Roland Bartholomew Cole, Mission Briefing, SEV Torch Project</ref>
It is a vessel of the Expeditionary Corps, with volunteer SCG Fleet personnel, a contingent of science and other corporate staff from the various corporations that make up EXO and finally various private contractors filling out the gaps. The Torch makes extended expeditions out of Sol, visiting numerous star systems and other points of interest over the course of six months. After each expedition it returns back to Sol for repairs, resupply and crew rotation. With the Torch being the safest bluespace vessel the Expeditionary Corps have, a lot of officers of Captain rank within the EC are encouraged to take command. Usually they hold command for the entirety of one expedition, passing it to the next officer upon return to port.
The SEV Torch is a vessel of the Expeditionary Corps' "Helios" project, a focused, long term exploration mission to seek out new life (amongst other things). While the lead of the program, it was launched along with four other vessels, two of which were also Mako-Class corvettes, with the other two being re-purposed vessels from the SCG Fleet. The other vessels being the SEV Magnus, SEV Icarus, SEV Helios (the flagship of the Expeditionary Corps) and SEV Sagan. Out of the five launched, only three are still actively confirmed in service, those being the Torch, Helios and Sagan. The Magnus and Icarus are classed as missing, and their current status is unknown.
Designed and constructed at the Hermes Naval Shipyard in the Sol system, the Mako-class corvette SFV Arrow was commissioned in 2250. The prototype's armament consisted of a bluespace artillery cannon, four mass drivers, and two missile pods. Arrow was refitted in 2260 to replace two of the mass drivers with personnel carriers. For propulsion, Arrow utilized four main-engine thrusters and three external quick-propulsion systems. During its time in the SCG Fleet, the Mako-class ship primarily served in scouting and long-range patrol operations. Due to lackluster performance in comparison to other corvette classes as well as a general Fleet-wide refit, SFV Arrow was decommissioned and placed in orbital drydock at Phobos after just fifteen years of service.
The discovery of the phoron star Erebus, in the frontier system of Nyx, renewed interest in phoron research and deep space exploration. In 2301, following a debate with representatives in the Colonial Assembly, the SCG approved funding for a new and ambitious long-range expedition—soon known as the Helios project. After the lobbying of multiple corporate entities, collectively some of the project's major contributors, the SCG approved the creation of the Expeditionary Corps Organisation (EXO), a conglomerate of multiple corporations overseen by a board of directors (including an Expeditionary Corps Admiral) to provide research personnel to accompany the expedition as passengers aboard the vessel, acting as the vessels science complement.
After lengthy consideration of cost-effectiveness, operational range, and other factors, SCG engineers selected the SFV Arrow for reactivation from the SCG reserve. The Corvette was removed from storage and towed to the Shiva Fleet Shipyard at Mars. Along with losing its name and designation, the vessel was stripped to the bulkheads and rebuilt from the hull up with updated materials and technology. EXO, now a primary sponsor for the expedition, replaced the ship's old fusion reactor with a new supermatter engine provided by NanoTrasen and installed an integrated shipboard artificial intelligence unit provided by DAIS Portions of the vessel, including the old missile pod housings, were refurbished as ad-hoc xenobiology and virology laboratories and a hangar deck was attached to make the vessel capable of prospecting, small-craft missions, and long-range resupply. The skrellian corporation Krri'gli, in exchange for priority access to the expedition’s findings, provided the project with a prototype bluespace drive for faster than light travel. Upon completion of its five year refurbishment and upsizing, the vessel was delivered on-schedule and slightly under-cost to SCG Expeditionary Corps headquarters and recommissioned as the Sol Expeditionary Vessel Torch in December 2306, to launch with the new year.
Torch includes five decks, numbered from top to bottom.