The vessels crewed 550 officers and crew, with room for up to 1,600 passengers. Additionally, the New Orleans could carry 4,200 persons in an evacuation situation and measured 345 meters in length.
The New Orleans used warp engines rated to cruise at warp factor 5 and max out at warp factor 9, with an upper maximum of warp 9.3 sustainable for 12 hours. The weapons had a 720 degree arc phaser emitter, with forward, aft, port and starboard firing arcs. The vessels had two standard photon torpedo launchers but due to the module nature of the ship it is possible to increased this number. Every Launcher is capable firing spreads of 8 torpedoes from a magazine of 200.
Pod or not, if someone want to take out the weapons he simply shoot at them. It doesnt matter if they are built into a pod or into the hull.
And not to forget, not all of the weapons are in the pods. Pods are just an additional module to the normal spaceship to increase its performance.
If i had the Technical Manual right in mind, all of the Torpedos had a own force shield to seperate the antimatter from the deuterium. So as long nobody fires on the torpedo shells itself, they should be safe.