- "At Kuat Drive Yards, we're driven to excel. It is this uncompromising commitment to performance that has made us the largest military shipbuilding corporation in the universe."
- — Kuat Drive Yards Advertisement
Kuat Drive Yards, often abbreviated as KDY, is one of the top three starship manufacturers in the galaxy, along with the Corellian Engineering Corporation and Sienar Fleet Systems. KDY is also one of the original Signatory Sponsors of the Corporate Sector Authority.
KDY is controlled by the ruling families of the planet Kuat, with each new ruler being chosen from among the most competent in a vote. However, it was determined that the Kuat family had the most aptitude for running the huge corporation, and the ruling families established the Inheritance Exemption. This allows control of KDY to pass from one generation of the Kuat family to the next, thereby ensuring that the most able of the Kuat minds is continually in control of the corporation.
KDY has become an expert at building large capital ships. Kuat slipways utilize a unique method to build these massive ships quickly. To maximize productivity, the hulls of ships under construction are wrapped in an airtight shroud, allowing workers to avoid wearing bulky space suits. This shroud is also part of the launching ceremony for a new ship. The work crew is evacuated, and the atmosphere ignited, burning the material away. The ash then settles on the ship until it is moved, where it will be shaken off as the new vessel emerges, clean and tempered.
The actual Kuat Drive Yards are a collection of various facilities throughout the Kuat System. The primary shipyards make up a nearly solid ring, called the Orbital Array, that surround the planet Kuat itself. These stations are split into smaller units, designated as slipways, offices, machine shops, factories, drydocks, or apartments for workers. Most Kuati citizens live within this ring, never setting foot on the surface of the planet below. The orbital array is lightly armed, sufficient to deal with pirates or small warships, though anything above a frigate is beyond the capabilities of the array's defenses.
Kuat's two moons, Bador and Ronay, are used for weapons and drive testing to prevent damage to the main facilities or planet in case of any accidents. Further out are a number of secondary facilities. While the orbital array contains the most important shipyards, they are far from the only ones. A massive belt of stations, docks, and repair facilities orbit at the fringe of the Kuat system itself, making up the bulk of KDY's construction capabilities.
Kuat Drive Yards security has a long and convoluted history of independent and Imperial defenders. In the centuries up until the Clone Wars, the Kuat Sector was protected by a large defense fleet, made up of KDY vessels.
During the Clone Wars, these defense forces were built up and upgraded, and huge minefields scattered around the sector to dissuade attack. Despite this, Kuat lost its defense fleet in a single battle. After an incident involving the near defection of the Rendili Home Defense Fleet to the Separatists, Chancellor Palpatine managed to convince the Galactic Senate to nationalize all sector and system defense fleets into the Republic Navy. Kuat's fleet was made up of a disproportionate number of modern and heavy warships, and became a major addition to the Republic Fleet.
Despite this, Kuat began to rebuild its defense force. Under Kuat of Kuat, Kuat Drive Yards made an arrangement with the Empire to provide its own security. Again, ships bearing the emblem of KDY patrolled the system. However, the Imperial fleet became nervous about increasing Rebel raids, and stationed several ships near Kuat to provide a rapid response. After the Battle of Endor, the Empire took full control of Kuat's defense. At least fifteen Star Destroyers are stationed in the system at all times.
Besides physical defenses, Kuat Drive Yards undertook other measures to protect themselves or prevent capture. Every ship built or upgraded at a KDY facility has secret backdoor codes installed, allowing KDY security forces to access and gain control of that ship, or simply shut it down. The KDY facilities and some ships are fitted with secret self-destruct mechanisms to prevent capture.
Kuat Traffic Control
Kuat Traffic Control is a highly organized system run by KDY that both reduces the number of ships traveling in the Kuat System, but also increases security by a vast degree. The system is based on a concept of staging areas. Three stations, each dozens of kilometers in size, are positioned far outside the Kuat system proper and the shipyards that surround the system.
Each of the three ports is assigned a role. Kuat Passenger Port handles all civilian travel to and from Kuat. Kuat Freight Port manages the flow of goods and materiel into and out of the system. Finally, the Imperial Transfer Post is a staging area for all military operations in the system, as well as for deliveries of warships. Each port is only accessible by four systems, two inbound and two out. Passengers enter from the Redrish and the Ulion systems and depart to the Drurish and the Kidir systems. Freight is imported from the Monadin and the Horthav systems, and exported to Venir and Renegg. All information on the staging systems for the Imperial port are classified.
Once in the system, all traffic to and from the four ports are controlled by Kuat Central Authority, though during combat situations, warships defending the system can take command of traffic control. Ships inside the system are sent to a number of nav points, and then routed to their final destination within the system.
Kuat Drive Yards was founded in the early days of the Galactic Republic by a group of Human aristocrats known as the Ten. These merchants, led by the Kuat family, joined together with the intent to create the largest, most efficient shipyard in the galaxy. They hired terraformers to change the planet Kuat into a paradise world while engineers designed and built the first six of many orbital shipyard complexes.
This project faced opposition from fledgling trade consortia as well as internal dissent within the merchant families. Despite their use of sabotage, espionage, and hired pirate groups, the trade groups failed to stop the Kuati families, who settled their internal differences by signing the Inheritance Exemption which gave the Kuat family perpetual control over Kuat Drive Yards.
After these early difficulties, the shipyard grew rapidly in both size and prestige, and by 5,000 BBY it was known as a first-class galactic ship builder. In the millennia that followed, the shipyards became noted for building warships that served in the Republic Navy throughout both the Old Sith Wars and the New Sith Wars.
Rising to the Top
KDY was not a top tier shipyard, however; that title was held by the triumvirate made up of Core Galaxy Systems, Corellia StarDrive, and Hoersch-Kessel Drive. Kuat set its sights on becoming a member of this group, and engaged in a vicious competition with Core Galaxy Systems.
Between price wars, industrial espionage, and more underhanded tactics, Core Galaxy suffered severe losses and was forced to sell its assets. In 500 BBY KDY bought the company and retired the Core Galaxy Systems name. With this purchase, Kuat took its place as the top ship builder in the Galactic Republic. It was soon joined by the Corellian Engineering Corporation, which had bought out Corellia StarDrive when the older company lost its entire senior design team in a shuttle accident.
Prior to the Invasion of Naboo, it was expected that KDY would support the Trade Federation in its opposition to the proposed taxation of trade routes. However, ties between the two soured when Nute Gunray orchestrated the assassination of the rest of the Trade Federation Directorate, including the two Kuati delegates.
The Clone Army and RHE-built vessels soon saw their first action at the Battle of Geonosis, a skirmish which kicked off the Clone Wars. With a number of major shipyards under the control of the Techno Union and other members of the CIS, Kuat was suddenly besieged with orders for capital ships. Within days of the Battle of Geonosis, an order for an additional 1,000 Acclamator transports was sent. More orders followed for a wide variety of warships, support vessels and ground armor, everything from medical ships to heavy assault walkers.
Despite being the single largest and most powerful shipyard in the galaxy, the scale of the Clone Wars was beyond even KDY's ability. In order to keep up with the demand for vessels and match Separatist shipyards, KDY joined forces with other loyal companies such as CEC and Rendili StarDrive. CEC focused on small troop transports, corvettes, and gunships, while Rendili and KDY formed the Victor Initiative Project to share development experience for heavy multi-role warships.
Enter the Star Destroyers
Two key figures would emerge during this program: Walex Blissex and his daughter Lira Blissex. Walex was assigned to head the Rendili effort, which resulted in the Victory-class Star Destroyer. The Victory-class was rushed into full production six months early when a Techno Union fleet broke the blockade of Foerost. The Victory Fleet managed to defeat the Bulwark Fleet at Anaxes and won significant support for the concept of heavy capital warships.
Soon afterwards, the KDY team led by Lira produced two designs. The first, the Venator-class Star Destroyer was designed to be a multi-role warship and an escort for larger battleships. The Venator was larger than the Victory, and carried a far larger fighter complement. The second design, the Imperator-class Star Destroyer was highly controversial, with various strategists opposing the ship on the grounds of the massive cost of the project. It would take more than a year, and a marriage to Denn Wessex for Lira to gain the political support to begin construction of the Imperator.
Kuat, flush with wealth, finally began construction on the Imperator as the Clone Wars drew to a close. At the same time, a more heavily armored design would also begin its production run, the Tector-class. The new Imperial (renamed from Imperator following the Jedi Purge) and Tector classes would go on to become flagships of key Imperial task forces, such as the one under Darth Vader, and would see service for decades. The Clone Wars-era Victory, Acclamator, and Venator-class starships were shifted into support roles or simply replaced by the newer KDY designs.
Ship of Command
Because of their support for Emperor Palpatine, KDY received a majority of the contracts for building up the Imperial Navy. In order to focus on capital ships, Kuat Systems Engineering was folded back into the main KDY line, and several of the starfighter designs were sold to Sienar Fleet Systems.
The pinnacle of the KDY line was to be another Lira Wessex contribution. Shortly before the Battle of Yavin, KDY drew up plans for a titanic warship. The new Executor-class design was vehemently opposed by a number of Imperial Admirals, but Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine took a personal interest in the program.
As the Death Star project neared completion, the Imperial Navy changed its mind and most Admirals began to support the concept of "terror styling" that the new design represented. It was also hoped that the new ship could provide the Navy their own superweapon to compete with the Death Star.
KDY has since continued to provide the Empire with its most fearsome designs, easily ensuring that it stays one of the most powerful and influential shipbuilders in the galaxy.