The Nazca-class is a second-generation space battleship introduced in CE 71, originally intended to replace the older and slower Laurasia-class. Until the introduction of the FFMH-Y101 Eternal and later the LHM-BB01 Minerva, the Nazca-class destroyer was the fastest vessel in service anywhere in the earth sphere.
Since this ship class is designed as a battleship, it is equipped with several powerful weapons. Its most powerful weaponry are two 177cm high-energy beam cannons while two 100mm dual railguns serve as side weaponry. For defensive purposes the ship is equipped with ten 58mm CIWS turrets, mounted accross the hull to defend against incoming missiles. This makes it, until the advent of the much more heavily-armed Minerva, the most powerful and well-armed mass produced ship class in ZAFT's forces.
Its heavy armament for a battleship is further augmented by its ability to carry up to six mobile suits, deployed from a single linear catapult in its bow.
An experimental anti-nuclear weapons system developed by ZAFT between CE 72 and 75 was fitted to the Nazca-class Marie Curie. This system obstructs the hangar and launch catapults, rendering the ship incapable of carrying or deploying mobile suits. It uses an array of quantum fresnels to generate a long-range pulse that forcibly triggers nuclear weapons. When the Alliance's Peacemaker Force launched a nuclear attack on the PLANTs in early CE 75, the Neutron Stampeder was activated, destroying the missiles well before any of them reached their targets. Additionally, the mobile suits that had launched the missiles were destroyed, as were all ten of the Peacemaker Force ships when the Neutron Stampeder caused the detonation of the numerous nuclear missiles still stored within the ships' holds.
Originally rolled out in CE 71, the Nazca-class remains one of the fastest classes of space battleships ever produced, outdone in this only by the brand-new prototype flagship Minerva or the Eternal.
The Nazca-class saw extensive action during the First Junius War. In particular, the Vesalius, commanded initially by Rau Le Creuset, which repeatedly engaged the Alliance's LCAM-01XA Archangelfrom the attack on Heliopolis onwards. Though originally intended to replace the Laurasia-class, in practice the two classes of vessel were frequently assigned together - for example, the Le Creuset Team's Nazca-class Vesalius was consistently deployed alongside the Laurasia-class Gamow until the latter's destruction. The same continues to hold true years later, as although production of the Laurasia-class ceased entirely in CE 72, a number of ships of that class remain in service.
Two Nazca-class vessels are assigned to the command of First Junius War Yzak Joule, the Voltaire and Rousseau. Following his reassignment as captain of the Minerva, he hands over command to Shiho Hahnenfuss and Dearka Elsman. These two ships would prove instrumental in the operation to prevent the fall of Junius Seven - thereafter called the “Break the World” incident.
One Nazca-class ship, the Marie Curie, would be fitted with an experimental device called the Neutron Stampeder, a countermeasure designed in the event of another nuclear strike against the PLANTs. This device causes the premature detonation of nuclear warhead by forcibly precipitating the nuclear fission reaction. The Neutron Stampeder would prove its worth shortly after “Break the World”, destroying the Alliance’s warheads and its Peacemaker Force. Such was the size of the explosions that resulted from the detonation of the missiles stored within the holds of the ten Alliance ships that they were faintly visible even from the Earth's surface.
Upon the Minerva's eventual return to space, Yzak resumes overall command of the Voltaire and Rousseau, folding both ships into a single team led by the Minerva. The three ships would play a pivotal role in the end of the Second Junius War.