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Rittenhouse guided the construction of the Federation-class dreadnought USS Star Empire, and intended to use it in his attempt to overthrow the Federation government in a military coup. Before his plans could be brought to fruition, the Star Empire was stolen by a group of officers determined to stop Rittenhouse. His plot exposed, Rittenhouse attempted to ram the Star Empire with his ship, the USS Pompeii, which was destroyed by the USS Enterprise. (TOS novel: Dreadnought!)
The actions of Rittenhouse were very damaging to Starfleet's reputation. Admiral Heihachiro Nogura stated to James T. Kirk that many in the Federation were associating Starfleet with secret cabals and admirals with too much power in his bid to convince Captain Kirk to accept a promotion to admiral. (TOS novel: The Lost Years)