Operation Pedestal was an operation conducted by the Colonial Fleet prior to the Fall of the Colonies.
With the cuts scheduled for the Colonial Fleet by the Adar Administration it was decided to conduct a weapons test on two decommissioned battlestars, something that had not taken place in years. Previous tests were done on the smaller escort battlestars, this time the Fleet would test their weapons on two regular battlestars. In this case the Columbia-class Athena and the Mercury-class Ares were selected, as they had the least chance of being reactivated.
Rear Admiral Scott Tolan's Battlestar Group 66 was selected to oversea the tests. The five to six week event would involve using experimental weapons on the battlestars to ascertain the damage caused for use in the future battlestar designs. Also planned were simulations based on attacks by pirate groups, such as the Eastern Alliance, or terror groups, such the Sagittaron Liberation Army.
There was some objection to the ships being deliberately destroyed by the Colonial Fleet, and a committee of former crew members and other supporters, attempted to save both ships for use as museums. Their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. In a letter to them, Vice Chief of Fleet Operations Adm. Robert Lee Wilson explained:
"Battlestars Athena and Ares will make one final and vital contribution to our national defense, this time as a live-fire test and evaluation platform. Their legacy will serve as a footprint in the design of future battlestars — ships that will protect the sons, daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Colonial veterans. We will conduct a variety of comprehensive and will be collecting data for use by architects and engineers in creating the next generation of battlestars. It is essential we make those ships as highly survivable as possible. I know both of these prouds ships have earned a very special place in your hearts for your service aboard. I ask that you understand why we selected these ships for this one last crucial mission and make note of the critical nature of their final service."
Prior to the scheduled tests, a ceremony to salute Athena, Ares, and their crews was held at the ships’ piers at the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility located at the Genesis Orbital Facility above Aerilon.