The destroyer is a starship classification within the UNSC Navy. Fast, maneuverable, and designed for long-term endurance, destroyers were intended to escort larger vessels, such as the Marathon- and Halcyon-class cruisers.
Although some vessels of this classification are only seven meters longer than some UNSC frigates, they have almost double the mass. Unlike most ships in the fleet, destroyers carry no fighters; rather, their large mass comes from the one and a half to two meters of Titanium A battle plate that covers the ship. Dr. Catherine Halsey once stated that destroyers are essentially the same as frigates except for this additional armor, which is strange because a destroyer has two MAC guns rather than one like a UNSC Frigate.
The destroyer's armament comes in the form of two Magnetic Accelerator Cannons, twenty-six oversized Archer Missile pods, and three Shiva-class Nuclear Missiles. For defense against starfighters, the Destroyer carries eight point-defense autocannons.
In 2497, the Gorgon-class heavy destroyer, what was then a heavy destroyer with a single MAC, was introduced into service. Later ships classes would include two MACs as they became standard armament on UNSC warships. These warships were used to put down the Eridanus Rebels during Operation: TREBUCHET, with the loss of several vessels. The destroyer CMA Heracles was the command ship of Battlegroup 4 during the disastrous first contact with the Covenant.
In 2525, shortly after first contact at Harvest, UNSC Pioneer took the remaining SPARTAN-IIs to the Eridanus II asteroid belt on their first field mission : To capture rebel leader Colonel Watts. The ship was ordered to deploy and pick up Spartan 117 and his team or to extract them if the mission went bad. The Pioneer's fate is unknown, but it may been destroyed during the war.
During the Human-Covenant war, destroyers were looked down upon by many in the Navy since they were initially considered too ineffective against the superior Covenant ships, but in reality, it could receive and dish out a considerable amount of damage for its size, and in groups could prove a match for the Covenant's larger CCS-class battlecruiser. Senior naval officers estimated that, on average, seven UNSC Destroyers were generally a match for four Covenant Frigates. As a result, many were destroyed during the war.
In January 2534, UNSC The Heart of Midlothian was en route to pick up survivors from the Battle of Algolis when it was boarded by a Covenant SpecOps team. The ship was then destroyed by the AI Mo-Ye with the help of the sole human survivor, ODST sergeant Michael Baird, as per the Cole Protocol. It was presumably listed as "Lost with all hands."
Commander Jacob Keyes commanded a destroyer, the UNSC Iroquois during a short skirmish over Sigma Octanus IV. During this engagement, he devised the Keyes Loop as an act of desperation. The Iroquois managed to single-handedly destroy two Covenant Frigates and a Covenant Destroyer, however damaging the Iroquois severely.
- In the first pages of Halo Wars: Genesis, a picture of a UNSC Destroyer leaving Slipspace is shown, this being the first canon appearance of a UNSC Destroyer. It had previously only been described in the novels. After this, different incarnations of the UNSC destroyer have appeared in The Babysitter and the animated version of Midnight in the Heart of Midlothian. This could depict different classes of destroyers or show that some have been specially refit.
- Halo Encyclopedia, page 248
- Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 139 ("What those critics forgot that a UNSC Destroyer sported 2 MAC guns, 26 over-sized Archer missile pods and 3 nuclear warheads. Only seven meters longer than a frigate. No single ship fighters. Almost as heavy as two frigates combined mass.")
- Halo Waypoint
- Halo: First Strike, page 207
- Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe - The Impossible Life and Possible Death of Preston J. Cole.
- Halo Wars: Genesis