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Bry_Sinclair October 6 2012 09:51 PM

Non-Trek Staffing Question
In the back of my mind I've had an idea batting around for a non-Trek sci-fi story. I've yet to set down the universe, work out if/what aliens to include, technology, etc. Also the plot is really up in the air, a couple of things I do know is that it will be set on a space-going container ship (living section at the front, lots of cargo containers down the middle, and the engineering section at the back with the engines, pretty standard layout), and that the main focus would be on one of the deckhands.

The thing is, I want it to have a small crew and have been looking at lots of different sources for current container ships to get some ideas. I have a shortlist drawn up, and I just wanted to see if it seemed reasonable and practical.

Captain - An obvious position, has watch from 0600-1000 and 1800-2200
First Mate - Again a straight forward post, has watch from 1000-1400 and 2200-0200
Second Mate - The last command-level officer, has watch from 1400-1800 and 0200-0600

During each watch, another officer would also be on the Bridge. I'm wondering whether to make the a jack-of-all-trades, or given them specific duties:
Signaller/Radio Operator

Each shift would have an Engineer at work, whether Chief Engineer, Second Engineer or Third Engineer.

Then there would be the deck/services/dogsbody department:
Boatswain - Foreman of the Deckhands, sees to all the on-site work and what not
Cook - Doesn't need explaining :)
Medic - This is a post I'm not sure on keeping, I like the idea of a dedicated medic, due to the nature of the work and long periods away from support, but they wouldn't really have much to do
Deckhands - Six of them onstaff, with two on each shift. They do everything, from low-level maintenance, to loading cargo, to mopping floors, it ain't glamerous but its necessary

That's a crew of eighteen, with six per shift.

Thoughts, ideas, opinions?


Timewalker October 7 2012 04:48 AM

Re: Non-Trek Staffing Question
So you're thinking of having only 2 people on the Bridge at any specific time? :confused:

How likely might it be that this ship would encounter other ships? In that case you'd need Communications.

It would be weird for the Captain to also be the helmsman.

Every ship needs a medic. Especially on a ship where injuries from lifting, loading, carrying, etc. are likely (even if they have machines to do these things, machines can fail or injure people). And what happens if it's 20 light-years to the next stop, somebody gets appendicitis, and there's no doctor?

Bry_Sinclair October 7 2012 06:22 AM

Re: Non-Trek Staffing Question
I was thinking of having a three-man bridge crew at one point: Officer of the Deck, Helms(wo)man, and Comm-Nav Operator (which would handle navigation, sensors and communications).

So if the OOD was called away then there would still be two to cove things up on the Bridge. Plus a Deckhand on occassion who'd passed sufficient training requirments to clear them for Bridge duty (very infrequent, seeing as how they have more than enough to handle).

I might move back to that, seeing as how it would only bump the crew up to 21.

Tiberius October 7 2012 08:16 AM

Re: Non-Trek Staffing Question
Having an eight hour shift broken up into two four hour blocks is a bit annoying. The people only have a maximum of eight hours to themselves. if they had their eight hours in one go, then they have sixteen hours to themselves, which is handy if they want to sleep for nine hours.

Bry_Sinclair October 7 2012 05:24 PM

Re: Non-Trek Staffing Question
I saw that among some information I stumbled on for container ships. It's an idea I'm toying with, though I get what you mean about the split shifts, sometimes you just need a lie in.

As I said before though, this is all still very WIP, so things are likely to change several times before getting it right.

Tiberius October 8 2012 01:18 AM

Re: Non-Trek Staffing Question
Another point about the split shifts is that eight hours is the maximum time between shifts. Assuming that you Go on duty, come off four hours later, go straight to sleep, then wake up and straight back to work, you could possibly be going sixteen hours without any food, and even then getting at most just under eight hours sleep.

A full shift would mean you get off duty, have time for some dinner, watch some TV, go to sleep for eight hours, then get up, have some more food with plenty of time to get ready for your next shift.

Espašo-chica October 13 2012 09:46 AM

Re: Non-Trek Staffing Question
In addition to having three shifts, you might wish to make the crew big enough to give the them down days/weekends off. A commercial ship could spend weeks and months between star systems (slow engines), that a long time to work every single day.


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