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Old September 21 2013, 06:54 PM   #1
Nob Akimoto
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Starfleet Procurement Policy Draft

So this is built on a discussion started in the initial Yesterday's Enterprise thread and building a bit on some of the talks of how Starfleet's procurement patterns. I decided to take a page out of books like Conway's History of the Ship and describe the general procurement policy and shipbuilding attitudes taken by Starfleet's admiralty. The first completed section deals with the Post-Khitomer environment.

Let me know what y'all think.
Post-Khitomer Era: 2290 - 2310
The Cartwright Conspiracy resulted in wholesale resignations at Starfleet's top echelons. Heihachiro Nogura was coaxed out of retirement to once again take the position of Commander-in-Chief, while Margaret Sinclair-Alexander became Chief of Staff. With his experience in reforming Starfleet after the Rittenhouse Conspiracy, Nogura was viewed as the ideal candidate to oversee Starfleet's transition from war to peace.

While the post-Khitomer system lacked the overt hostility of the post-Organian Cold War, the Federation, Klingon Empire and the Romulan Star Empire remained in a tenuous multipolar order. The weakness of the Klingons was matched by a Federation with expanding peacetime commitments and a Romulan Star Empire facing economic challenges within its own borders. Contrary to the concerns of Starfleet's more militant members, the post-Khitomer order would continue to require a strong Federation Starfleet. What remained uncertain was what form this strength would take.

Upon taking office Nogura tasked Sinclair-Alexander with a wide-ranging survey of Starfleet's strength to determine what size and composition the fleet could sustain over the coming years. The survey began with an audit of the material state of the whole fleet. Each ship was assessed on the basis of hull age, amount of dockyard attention received, and remaining hull life estimates with regular levels of refitting. With the knowledge of each ship's average lifespan between refits, Starfleet could then make informed decisions of force levels.

The Federation Council had signalled its intention to reduce fleet expenditures by at least 10-15% as part of a "peace dividend" over the next decade and to free up resources for economic aid for Klingon reconstruction. This provided Starfleet Command the necessary baseline expenditure levels to determine whether it was possible to maintain current fleet strength. With the fleet composition audit and the budgetary figures in hand Starfleet Command set a goal of a baseline of 350 cruisers, 600 frigates and 1,000 scout or destroyer sized vessels.

The building programs of the 2270s and the 2280s represented the bulk of Starfleet's available strength in 2295 when the first decennial plan was introduced. A consequence of the build-ups after the V'Ger Incident and the Genesis Escalations, Starfleet had a large number of ships scheduled for refit or paying off between 2295 and 2305.

The question raised after the Khitomer Accords was whether or not to continue construction of ship types with limited peace applications like strike cruisers and destroyers. Most combat oriented designs tended to have lower endurance, while their power and propulsion systems generated greater strain on their hull elements. With resources already allocated to the construction of these vessels Starfleet Command ordered them completed and fitted out in order to free up their dockyard slips for new construction.

This decision was rooted in the comparative life-spans of ship hulls on active service. Ships with strong multi-mission capabilities and exploration oriented designs were built with the expectation they would go long periods without refit or repair at dock facilities. Despite the component commonality and similar hull forms, the Belknap-class Strike Cruiser required refits every six years as opposed to the Constitution's ten. Pre-Khitomer fleet policy focused primarily on military capability over efficiency, but a more constrained budgetary environment meant less dockyard work would allow Starfleet to field a larger fleet.

The reality remained that Starfleet's short and medium term strength would largely be drawn from war era building and its hodge podge of designs. To maximize the longevity of new ships, Starfleet chose to employ its stock of militarized starship designs during the first half of the decennial plan. Newly completed strike cruisers and destroyers were placed into service within the tonnage/number restrictions of the Khitomer Accords, while brand new Excelsior, Miranda, Oberth and Constellation class hulls were placed in inactive reserve. Because the Khitomer Accords allowed both the Federation and Klingon Empire to keep non-activated hulls "off the books", this allowed Starfleet to continue to build a large number of hull frames while adhering to the letter of the agreement.

Although all of the new frames bore an exterior resemblence to existing starships, the post-war generation of starship hulls all took advantage of early truss and frame construction techniques pioneered on the USS Excelsior (NX/NCC-2000). The permanent integration of the Structural Integrity Field network into the ship's hull frames allowed Starfleet to make starship interiors a set of customizable modules. In turn this style of construction made hull frames substantially more durable while allowing a ship to rapidly be shifted from an empty spaceframe in ordinary into an active starship. Just as importantly it allowed these spaceframes to be fitted with the latest equipment even if the hull had been finished several years earlier.

Between the time the Khitomer Accords fleet limitations went into effect in 2294 and 2300 Starfleet operated a force little changed from its pre-Khitomer era. The backbone of the fleet remained a mix of Constitution, Belknap, and Miranda based cruisers maintained at a slightly reduced number at 200. A handful of block I and block II Excelsior-class starships took up the most demanding roles, while destroyers, frigates, cutters and corvettes filled in the rest. Older ships requiring extensive refits were retired and either sold to private concerns or placed in backwater surplus depots. Remaining war era ships in the dockyards and spacedocks were completed to fill the gaps left by retirements, but no new keels for these vessels were laid in this period.

Meanwhile analysis into the data gathered by Sinclair-Alexander's team allowed Starfleet to choose a handful of hull types suited for long-term standardization. The Miranda, Constellation and Excelsior classes were chosen as baseline vessels for their combination of durability, future expandability, crew size, and capabilities. All new construction orders after 2294 were in one of these classes, with the hull frames carefully constructed in Starfleet shipyards and placed in Ordinary reserve. Existing shipyard slips at Beta Antares, Tranquility Base, and Utopia Planitia built Miranda and Constellation class hulls, while new yards capable of building the much larger Excelsior-class were built at Earth Station McKinley, San Francisco Fleet Yards, and Utopia Planitia. Between 2295 and 2310 an average of 50 Miranda-class hulls, 12 Constellation-class hulls and 9 Excelsior-class hulls were built each year.

The last generation of pre-Khitomer starships started requiring refit in 2300. Rather than occupy dockyard slips that could be used for new construction, Starfleet decommissioned most of these starships and instead fitted out the hulls in Ordinary. Due to continuing production of new hull frames, the process took longer than original estimates from a lack of available dockyard space. Between 2300 and 2305 Starfleet commissioned an average of 30 Mirandas, 8 Constellations and 6 Excelsiors each year compared to the 60-75 vessels decommissioned. This shortfall was expected to grow as new ships required maintenance and repairs, tying up valuable dockyard space. Hoping to expand its ability to commission new ships without sacrificing new hull production, Starfleet chose to source some new construction to civilian owned shipyards.

Starfleet's record with civilian shipyards building starships was mixed. Most shipyards were able to produce good work given time, but a lack of experience often led to long delays and cost overruns. Further, when conducrting repairs, civilian shipyards were liable to take far longer than their initial estimates when confronted with damage or hull stress types unencountered in private sector operators.

Worse, many shipyards tended to cut small corners when constructing the ship frames. These corners were harmless for civilian equipment given the tendency for overengineering of safety margins, but hampered starships used in more strenuous roles in Starfleet. The system of fitting out preconstructed frames allowed Starfleet to avoid the pitfalls of their older public-private partnerships while retaining the greater capacity. Further by having three ships of different levels of complexity shipyards were able to "practice" on Miranda hulls before moving on to more complex Constellation and Excelsior frames. Yoyodyne Propulsion took advantage of this system to rapidly expand its shipyard business at facilities on Luna, Copernicus and 40 Eridani A.

A stable interstellar political environment allowed the first decennial plan to proceed with only minor changes. Nogura retired from Commander-in-Chief at the end of Ra-Ghoratreii's final term in office in 2300, but with Sinclair-Alexander appointed as his successor, the standardization and building plan continued over the next three presidential administrations. The only significant change between planned forces and final forces was ending production of the Constellation class in starships in 2301 and focusing resources on more Excelsiors and Mirandas in the wake of rising tensions with the Romulan Star Empire.

Fleet Strength as of 2295
Excelsior-class Starships
  • In Service: 12
  • Ordinary Reserve (Hull only): 3
  • Undergoing Refit/Repair: 0
  • Lost/Missing: 5
Miranda-class Starships (Note Includes only post-2293 builds)
  • In Service: 50
  • Ordinary Reserve (Hull only): 25
  • Undergoing Refit/Repair: 0
  • Lost/Missing: 9
Constellation-class Starships
  • In Service: 16
  • Ordinary Reserve (Hull only): 18
  • Undergoing Refit/Repair: 0
  • Lost/Missing: 2
All Other Ship Classes
  • In Service: 1007
  • Undergoing Refit/Repair or in Reserve: 872
  • Lost/Missing: 19
  • Decommissioned: 63
Total Fleet:
  • In Service: 1,085
  • Ordinary (Hull Only):46
  • Undergoing Refit/Repair or in Reserve: 872
  • Lost/Missing/Decommissioned: 91

Fleet Strength as of 2310
Excelsior-class Starships
  • In Service: 91
  • Ordinary Reserve (Hull only): 75
  • Undergoing Refit/Repair: 6
  • Lost/Missing: 2
Miranda-class Starships (Note Includes only post-2293 builds)
  • In Service: 566
  • Ordinary Reserve (Hull only): 385
  • Undergoing Refit/Repair: 50
  • Lost/Missing: 8
Constellation-class Starships
  • In Service: 39
  • Ordinary Reserve (Hull only): 0
  • Undergoing Refit/Repair: 8
  • Lost/Missing: 2
All Other Ship Classes
  • In Service: 555
  • Undergoing Refit/Repair or in Reserve: 208
  • Lost/Missing: 13
  • Decommissioned: 70
Total Fleet
  • In Service: 1,212
  • Ordinary (Hull Only):460
  • Undergoing Refit/Repair or in Reserve: 272
  • Lost/Missing/Decommissioned: 95

Last edited by Nob Akimoto; September 21 2013 at 11:55 PM.
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Old September 22 2013, 03:07 AM   #2
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Re: Starfleet Procurement Policy Draft

Wow. Quite simply, this is awesome, the nerdy kind of stuff I get into.

I don't have tons to add. I think you've thought it all out quite well, and dramatically I enjoy that you refer to the Genesis debacle as the "Genesis Escalations." Is that from somewhere or did you come up with that? I had to Google the Rittenhouse Conspiracy, but then I immediately realized. And, I enjoy that you group it into Excelsior, Miranda, Constellation, and "other." This really makes the speculation we've discussed about Khitomer Accord ship limits make sense.

In my Excelsior TM, I skirted around pinning things down as much as you have. Your numbers though do roughly fit my projections about the Excelsior class. I have them ramp up production during the 2340s due to Cardassian and Klingon fears and I think I end up saying there were 500 Excelsiors built for all time. (I was trying to explain the NCC-4xxxx registries with the continual production.) Are you employing a batching system in your thought process, or simply that x number are built per year? Or maybe I'm splitting hairs and they're actually the same thing.

I'll re-read a few times and see what else I can think of... but wonderful work. Do you plan to write additional chapters?
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Old September 22 2013, 03:19 AM   #3
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Re: Starfleet Procurement Policy Draft

A little commentary along with answering your questions:
I tried to use as much current novelverse continuity as possible (such as Nogura being in active service again circa 2298 from The Sundered, Sinclair-Alexander being CinC circa 2311 in Serpents Among the Ruins, along with things like the same novel implying Enterprise-B had received a substantial upgrade by 2311 to her tactical systems) while also trying to extrapolate from existing sources.

A lot of the policy shifts that are described are based on some naval administrations in history, namely the Melville Admiralty of the Royal Navy circa 1812 - 1830s, and the planning for post-war naval administration in the US.

For the Excelsior batches, the whole idea is that the hulls in Ordinary don't really receive anything more than the bare minimum necessities. As a result they're ready to be "finished" and given a commissioned registry number somewhere down the line. When Starfleet has a sudden need for new hulls or escalation, they'll shift production from "reserve" hulls (that are available for finishing later) and simply use dockyards to fit out the preassembled hulls with the most modern technology.

I figured this was the best way to explain why a number of 24th century Excelsiors and Mirandas seemed to have very modern interiors. Specifically the USS Righteous from Star Trek: Borg and the Lakota from DS9's "Paradise Lost" along with the interiors of TNG/DS9 Miranda class ships. The concept of modular interiors as "floating" within a hull frame come from the TNG:TM, and I would imagine Starfleet found the "truss and beam" system of creating hard SIF reinforced exteriors to be the equivalent of the Steppings Diagonal Bracing system in creating a new generation of more economic, stronger ships.

And yes, I do intend to write additional chapters.

Probably the next one will be the "Romulan escalation and Tomed Incident" section, followed by Cardassian First Contact/Betreka Nebula.

(If you're interested, I'd recommend reading up on the Seppings system, because to me it would have some bearing on your Excelsior TM, in that Excelsior's vastly greater size might be comparable to how post-Seppings line of battle ships were able to grow considerably in size.

You can read about it in some detail here: http://www.maritime.org/conf/conf-goodwin.htm )
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Old September 22 2013, 04:41 AM   #4
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Re: Starfleet Procurement Policy Draft

I forgot about the thing with the Structural Integrity fields. It occurs to me that that might have been a seriously important innovation at the end of the 23rd century and that the original Constitution design might have been refit in the first place to accommodate an early version of it. STI fields would allow starships to withstand mechanical forces that would rip their immediate predecessors in half and even offset some of the more deleterious effects of inertial dampening fields.

Just my two cents. Overall: Awesome.
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Old September 22 2013, 04:47 AM   #5
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Re: Starfleet Procurement Policy Draft

Christopher will probably correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall something either in Ex Machina or Forgotten History that implied the initial Enterprise refit didn't have an SIF.
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Old September 22 2013, 06:06 AM   #6
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Re: Starfleet Procurement Policy Draft

^ No, but possibly an earlier and less capable version of it known by some other name (or otherwise never referenced at all since it wasn't that useful in the end).
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Old September 22 2013, 04:00 PM   #7
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Re: Starfleet Procurement Policy Draft

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
For the Excelsior batches, the whole idea is that the hulls in Ordinary don't really receive anything more than the bare minimum necessities. As a result they're ready to be "finished" and given a commissioned registry number somewhere down the line. When Starfleet has a sudden need for new hulls or escalation, they'll shift production from "reserve" hulls (that are available for finishing later) and simply use dockyards to fit out the preassembled hulls with the most modern technology.

I figured this was the best way to explain why a number of 24th century Excelsiors and Mirandas seemed to have very modern interiors. Specifically the USS Righteous from Star Trek: Borg and the Lakota from DS9's "Paradise Lost" along with the interiors of TNG/DS9 Miranda class ships. The concept of modular interiors as "floating" within a hull frame come from the TNG:TM, and I would imagine Starfleet found the "truss and beam" system of creating hard SIF reinforced exteriors to be the equivalent of the Steppings Diagonal Bracing system in creating a new generation of more economic, stronger ships.
I have some different ideas about the Lakota, but overall this makes tons and tons of sense - and frankly I'm a bit jealous I didn't think of it.

I think I might include your notion about this and about the SIF system in the Excelsior manual if you don't mind.

I look forward to the next chapters!
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Old September 22 2013, 07:14 PM   #8
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Re: Starfleet Procurement Policy Draft

Don't mind at all, Praetor. The whole point of writing things like this is for cross-germination afterall.
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Old September 23 2013, 12:56 AM   #9
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Re: Starfleet Procurement Policy Draft

Next Chapter:

Starfleet Celebrates 150 Years...
In 2311 Starfleet held a Fleet Review to celebrate the Federation's sesquicentennial. The event marked a sharp contrast to the Centennial Fleet Review held in 2261 and illustrated the changes in Interstellar Politics. Rather than being the target of the Federation's show of force, the Klingon Chancellor was an honored guest, with members of her Honor Guard participating in the Review as the Qo'noS Squadron. The Federation had grown from 51 to 104 member worlds while its territorial responsibilities had tripled in volume.

Like the Federation itself, Starfleet had changed substantially in the intervening fifty years. Fleet size had nearly doubled from 600 to 1,000 starships while the mainstay of the fleet had gone from the 210,000 cubic meter Constitution-class derivatives to the 1,000,000 cubic meter Excelsior. Warp drive, structural and material engineering, and tactical systems had all seen substantial increases in effectiveness. A Miranda-class starship commissioned in 2311 might look externally identical to one built in the 2270s, the SIF-integrated truss and beam system of construction combined with modern modular interior components made the 2311 vessel a vastly superior starship.

The success of the modernization program of the early 24th century could not entirely calm the tendency for fleet planners and the Federation Council's Security Committee to fret. The unveiling of the initial dozen Ivarix-class Warbirds during Empress Ael's funerary procession in 2305 caused a stir within the Federation Council and led to several Committee hearings on Starfleet's military readiness. Despite protests from Starfleet Command that the Romulan Star Empire could not field more than a handful of the new warbirds, the Security Committee's recommendations eventually led to the cancellation of further Constellation-class hull construction and an early 20-year modernization refit of the fleet flagship Enterprise in 2307.

The Security Committee (along with members of the Appropriations and Logistics Committees) also recommended that Starfleet's ammended decennial plan include expanding its procurement base into new territories. This was partly an economic decision, intended to promote greater integration between member worlds further from the Federation core worlds. Existing dockyard facilities used to build Miranda-class hulls were sold to civilian contractors at Qualor Prime, Tau Ceti, Salazaar, and Tri-Rho at a substantial discount. To make up for the lost capacity, the Council authorized the construction of additional large drydock facilities at Starfleet dockyard facilities in the Sol, Tellar, Proxima Centauri, and Andor systems.

The new facilities nearly doubled Starfleet's ability to built and maintain hulls of one million cubic meters or greater. Construction of Excelsior hulls continued at 15 hulls per year, but the new capacity gave Starfleet room to experiment with new configurations. A particular priority was the construction of a design that could slot between Excelsior and Miranda. While the Constellation often filled that role in frontier sectors, in the Federation proper the choice was often between an over-equipped Excelsior or under-powered Miranda.

ASDB proposed two competing designs: The Apollo-class design with a brand new hull configuration, and the Centaur-class derived from a Miranda style reorganization of Excelsior components. Both designs had hull volumes of roughly 600,000 cubic meters, with a good combination of spacekeeping, durability and multi-mission capabilities. Despite similar performance, the Centaur's hull frame compatability with the Excelsior hulls in Ordinary ultimately resulted in larger series production.

The increased building programs would continue through 2315 as tensions in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants remained high. Most members of the Federation Council regarded the Romulan Star Empire's "Neo-Sakoku" policy of isolation after the Tomed Incident with marked skepticism, and the assassination of Chancellor Azetbur in 2311 led to a gradual deterioration of relations with the Klingon Empire. The dreams of a "Long 24th century" of peace and stability seemed hopelessly naive by the time President Gan Laikan gave his First Inaugural Address in 2313.

Fleet Strength as of 2315
Excelsior-class Starships
  • In Service: 122
  • Ordinary Reserve (Hull only)*: 80
  • Undergoing Refit/Repair: 9
  • Lost/Missing: 0
    *Note: Excelsior-class hulls in reserve were also used for Centaur-class construction.
Miranda-class Starships (Note Includes only post-2293 builds)
  • In Service: 805
  • Ordinary Reserve (Hull only): 510
  • Undergoing Refit/Repair: 50
  • Lost/Missing: 3
Constellation-class Starships
  • In Service: 26
  • Ordinary Reserve (Hull only): 0
  • Undergoing Refit/Repair: 8
  • Lost/Missing: 3
Centaur-class Starships
  • In Service: 76
  • Ordinary Reserve (Hull only)*: 0
  • Undergoing Refit/Repair: 0
  • Lost/Missing: 4
    *Excelsior-class hulls in Ordinary are used if Centaur-class production is needed for activation purposes.
Apollo-class Starships
  • In Service: 15
  • Ordinary Reserve (Hull only): 6
  • Undergoing Refit/Repair: 0
  • Lost/Missing: 3
All Other Ship Classes (Note: By 2315 most pre-2300 starships have been retired. This category instead refers to auxiliaries such as the Istanbul, Sydney, Mediterranean and Shelly-class ships)
  • In Service: 577
  • Undergoing Refit/Repair or in Reserve: 173
  • Lost/Missing: 20
Total Fleet
  • In Service: 1,621
  • Ordinary (Hull Only): 596
  • Undergoing Refit/Repair or in Reserve: 274
  • Lost/Missing/Decommissioned: 33
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Old September 23 2013, 01:53 AM   #10
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Re: Starfleet Procurement Policy Draft

Been reading through this carefully to make sure I didn't miss over anything. Had a theory:

I understand the parallel to modern naval literature, but it bears remembering that Starfleet has always placed a fairly high priority on exploration and research. Every ship class we have seen in Trek history has been seen conducting some type of science mission as well as a combat role, enough for us to expect this to be the normal state of affairs fleetwide. This would mean the suggestion of "frigates and destroyers" existing in vast numbers would represent a huge unseen Starfleet we are in no way familiar with and have never actually seen.

OTOH, the Abramsverse shows us the USS Kelvin, which is pretty close to being a prime-universe Saladin class starship... except that it is actually slightly larger than a primeline Constitution. IMO, it would make sense to reconcile some of those Abramsverse Kelvin kitbashes into the prime timeline if only because THEIR existence is more likely to be canon than any of the FJ or Jackil speculative designs. IOW, those ships fanon traditionally describes as "frigates and destroyers" smaller than Enterprise might actually be LARGER than the Constitutions, balanced for a totally different type of mission that the Constitutions were never designed for (IOW: Constitution is a cruiser while the Kelvin is an aircraft carrier).

It seems to me we should keep in perspective what Starfleet is and how it operates. The US Navy is a combat organization; its largest ships are built for a combat mission. Starfleet is an exploration program; its largest ships are built for an exploration mission. Their version of an "aircraft carrier" is a ship that's designed to enter orbit of an unknown planet and aggressively hunt down and record any interesting piece of information about it. Such vessels would also be quite heavily armed, but may not be as effective in a fight -- especially against the Klingons -- as a larger number of smaller ships with slightly reduced armament.

In the end, I'm thinking Constitutions would be part of a classification scheme that runs from:

- Runabouts
- Scouts
- Cruisers
- Surveyors
- Explorers

Despite what you'd expect, the scheme has nothing at all to do with size, but the capabilities a ship is designed to carry. Size is a FACTOR in that, but that wouldn't actually mean "cruisers are bigger than scouts and surveyors are bigger than cruisers" since size alone wouldn't be sufficient to ensure those capabilities.

Runabouts are self-explanatory: small starships attached to starbases may or may not have permanent crews (in which case, the Jenolan could be interpreted as a giant runabout).

Scouts are also self-explanatory: they're ships you send to look for something or to check out something that's been detected by remote sensing. Can be many different sizes with many different capabilities.

Cruisers are easy to confuse with their naval counterparts but in this case it would describe ships that travel through space with no specific objective, just "cruise" around a particular region of space looking for (or directed to) interesting exploration targets.

Surveyors are the ships that examine those interesting exploration targets in detail. Packed with shuttles, probes, drones, and multiple transporters, the Surveyors can efficiently explore whole continents in one go and can conduct detailed surveys of the flora and fauna, geological meteorological features from the entire world in a matter of days or weeks.

Explorers are the largest and most powerful of the fleet: they must combine the high cross-range of the cruisers with the exploratory muscle of the surveyors. Put another way: cruisers can spot check fifty planets and surveyors can fully explore a single planet. Explorers are the ships that fully explore fifty planets without ever returning to a star base in the mean time.



The case for the Constitutions and Excelsiors would have interesting implications:

In this scheme, the Mirandas and Constellations would both be "cruisers," though Constitution would be a "heavy" cruiser by virtue of its big navigational deflector giving it the capacity to safely operate in uncharted space (like a cruiser with a reinforced bow for icebreaking). The lack of new explorers in Starfleet would in this case reflect the fact that the Klingon menace put a greater priority on scouts and cruisers that could be more rapidly rushed to strategic flashpoints in the event of a Klingon incursion; Starfleet had to accept a temporary dominance of smaller vessels in order to continue to meet its security obligations. I might even go so far as to speculate that the new modular interior scheme was found to work much better on smaller vessels than larger ones, reducing the cost of those hulls to the point that Starfleet ceased to develop new scout and cruisers altogether and instead focused most of its resources on developing newer and explorers (and so saved money by keeping the old scouts and light cruisers in production for decades with superficial upgrades every thirty builds or so). A few new heavy and super-heavy cruisers did see some action (like the Apollo and the Nebula class and maybe even the Akiras) but in peacetime, the surveyors and explorers were the big fleet projects.
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Old September 23 2013, 03:55 AM   #11
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Re: Starfleet Procurement Policy Draft

I'm probably going to go into classification schemes in a later chapter (particularly the 24th century ones), but I do agree that Starfleet's much more likely use a classification system based on roles rather than sizes.

OTOH I'm a bit loath to believe ships like Kelvin are stupendously larger than Starfleet's "ship of the line" like Enterprise nearly 3 decades later. I do think that the later Abramsverse ships gathering for the Vulcan expedition make a better baseline for comparisons than the licensed/fanon designs. I also think expanded secondary craft capability makes sense for something like a survey ship. Given that Starfleet's missions within Federation space are more likely to involve things like humanitarian assistance, infrastructure building and surveying existing star systems, ships that are of moderate size that can pack lots of auxiliary craft make sense.

One thing I think to bear in mind is that purpose built military ships usually make lousy exploration or even surveying vessels. Most of the major research oriented naval ships in the 19th century were either based on sloops (a size-class smaller than cruisers like frigates), or were of non-military ships like luggers or whalers. The famous ships of James Cook like Resolution and Endeavour were based merchant colliers with substantial modifications to their hull forms, rather than using a military post-ship.

On the other hand, the way technology in Star Trek seems to work, the things that make a ship an effective explorer also tends to make them very effective tactical vessels. Size seems roughly to be correlated with both speed and power generation capabilities, along with endurance and mission payload. Smaller purpose built warships also exist, but with a handful of exceptions don't seem nearly as capable as the much larger ships built with the same technology. Defiant for example might be a very powerful warship, but despite that the way the battle in First Contact is depicted, the Enterprise-E appears to be a vastly superior ship.

That is to say, I'm torn. I think the realities of the mid-late 23rd century did force a lot of compromises on Starfleet that were later rectified by a combination of technological progress and the ability to plan. The SIF + modular interiors I think helped them focus on expanding capabilities rather than designing new hull frames, and the newer designs with their emphasis on greater surface area/volume seems to imply attempts to take advantage of those technological traits.

Once we get into the 2380s, I think this changes again because Starfleet begins experimenting with Quantum Slipstream drive that requires radical new hull forms.

As a side note:
My drawing from naval history/literature is generally drawing more on Age of Sail/pre-20th century naval history than anything modern. Part of it is just preference, I find that period more interesting. But just as much has to do with the technological realities that Starfleet seems to face being more akin to sailing navies than modern ones. As such the gap in capabilities between say a very large ship and a somewhat small one is probably smaller in my estimation in terms of TACTICAL capabilities than they are in other areas like spacekeeping and endurance, not to mention flat out speed. In this case I tend to think of Defiant as being a small sloop equipped with the equivalent of very large carronades or maybe rifled shell guns. Perhaps with some armouring to let it actually survive contact with a larger ship.

When I use the term "Frigate" I'm thinking more of "multi-mission ship smaller than the main line combatants" rather than "ASW Escort". The only reason I don't use "sloop" is because it's never used in canon!
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Old September 23 2013, 04:50 AM   #12
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Starfleet Procurement Policy Draft

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
I'm a bit loath to believe ships like Kelvin are stupendously larger than Starfleet's "ship of the line" like Enterprise nearly 3 decades later.
Not stupendously, no. Kelvin's secondary hull is almost the same size as the TOS Constitution, but its saucer section and single warp nacelle are both considerably larger. That Kelvin's established crew complement is roughly twice that of the TOS Enterprise is also a good indicator of its size, if not its mission role.

One thing I think to bear in mind is that purpose built military ships usually make lousy exploration or even surveying vessels. Most of the major research oriented naval ships in the 19th century were either based on sloops (a size-class smaller than cruisers like frigates), or were of non-military ships like luggers or whalers. The famous ships of James Cook like Resolution and Endeavour were based merchant colliers with substantial modifications to their hull forms, rather than using a military post-ship.

On the other hand, the way technology in Star Trek seems to work, the things that make a ship an effective explorer also tends to make them very effective tactical vessels. Size seems roughly to be correlated with both speed and power generation capabilities, along with endurance and mission payload. Smaller purpose built warships also exist, but with a handful of exceptions don't seem nearly as capable as the much larger ships built with the same technology. Defiant for example might be a very powerful warship, but despite that the way the battle in First Contact is depicted, the Enterprise-E appears to be a vastly superior ship.
Well there's also the fact that the age-of-sail comparison completely breaks down when you try to extrapolate it into practical technology: smaller vessels made better explorers because they could maneuver effectively in places their larger counterparts couldn't safely travel and could use a wider range of ports (or no port at all) between missions.

Starships, on the other hand, are the evolutionary descendents of real-world spacecraft. In space exploration, the capabilities of the craft depend almost entirely on the payload it can carry, and the limiting factor of payload is actually the launch vehicle itself. It really IS a case of "bigger is better" since starships -- unlike sailing ships or even modern naval vessels -- have a payload capacity directly proportional to their engine power. So if you want to carry more payload, you install a bigger engine. If you need a bigger engine, you need a bigger warp core. If you put in a bigger warp core you need more engineers and thus a slight increase in the habitable section of the ship (slightly bigger saucer). When you then add crew spaces for the technicians who maintain your enlarged payload, your saucer grows even larger to accomodate the increased crew size. If you think about it, that might explain why Starfleet builds ships with saucer-shaped hulls: it simplifies the design process, since the saucer's size can be increased arbitrarily (add or subtract rings to the perimeter) depending on the material needs for the ship's payload. The advent of SIF fields may change this so that larger starships fill the outer edges of the saucer first and then fill the interiors with essential equipment, followed by non-essential equipment, followed by amenities, followed by absurd luxuries.

IOW, starships can be designed in almost the exact opposite progression from naval vessels: you start with a pre-defined payload (it must have X number of sensors, Y number of weapons and Z number of deflectors) and then build a starship around that payload. So every starship is exactly as large as it needs to be to carry its payload, and the payload is determined by the kinds of missions it is going to be assigned.

I think the realities of the mid-late 23rd century did force a lot of compromises on Starfleet that were later rectified by a combination of technological progress and the ability to plan. The SIF + modular interiors I think helped them focus on expanding capabilities rather than designing new hull frames, and the newer designs with their emphasis on greater surface area/volume seems to imply attempts to take advantage of those technological traits.
Here's a thought: the new SIF systems might have given them the capacity to cram heavier/bulkier payloads into smaller hulls without compromising the integrity of the pressure hulls. That would save Starfleet the trouble of having to design totally new starships to carry heavier payloads to the frontier, as new sensors and deflector systems become available to the fleet. The few new hulls they DO design would also benefit from having more flexibility with how those payloads are installed, since the new hull form can be optimized to take fuller advantage of the SIF system and can install sensitive components (e.g. sensor pallets) in places that on other starship designs would be a serious structural liability (e.g. the rim of the saucer section where centrifugal force would otherwise impart vibrational stresses that might damage or compromise the sensors).

As a side note:
My drawing from naval history/literature is generally drawing more on Age of Sail/pre-20th century naval history than anything modern. Part of it is just preference, I find that period more interesting. But just as much has to do with the technological realities that Starfleet seems to face being more akin to sailing navies than modern ones. As such the gap in capabilities between say a very large ship and a somewhat small one is probably smaller in my estimation in terms of TACTICAL capabilities than they are in other areas like spacekeeping and endurance, not to mention flat out speed. In this case I tend to think of Defiant as being a small sloop equipped with the equivalent of very large carronades or maybe rifled shell guns. Perhaps with some armouring to let it actually survive contact with a larger ship.
Fair enough. However, you might want to consider looking into the history of the space race to avoid a possible anachronism stew. The one thing that I've always found highly striking about spaceflight in general is that it is an extremely technical operation that usually has a lot more to do with engineering skill than anything else. Air combat, for example, is slowly evolving into a jousting match between a pair of flying missile batteries with the winner being the guy with the best radar and the most effective missiles. Space combat, though untested, could very well break down the same way: a grappling match between a pair of heavily armed space probes, with victory going to the one that can most quickly and most accurately locate and attack the other's weak point. In that sense -- especially considering what we've seen of their combat record -- Stafleet's science payloads may actually be deadlier than their weapons.

When I use the term "Frigate" I'm thinking more of "multi-mission ship smaller than the main line combatants" rather than "ASW Escort". The only reason I don't use "sloop" is because it's never used in canon!
Also fair enough.

As an aside, I've sometimes borrowed terms from 20th century spaceflight in some works of (trek and non-Trek) fiction. My feeling is mainly that the kinds of people who are going to be probing out into deep space on an FTL drive are probably not going to be programming sailing ships into their holodecks, but are more likely to dream up a romantic vista with Tracey Caldwell and play a couple of Max Q covers.
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Old September 23 2013, 05:26 AM   #13
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Re: Starfleet Procurement Policy Draft

On the whole I agree with a lot of what you're saying, particularly with regards to how starships would more likely be designed with their payloads rather than their hull shape, but I'm going to quibble a bit on one point:

Well there's also the fact that the age-of-sail comparison completely breaks down when you try to extrapolate it into practical technology: smaller vessels made better explorers because they could maneuver effectively in places their larger counterparts couldn't safely travel and could use a wider range of ports (or no port at all) between missions.
It's interesting that Cook chose Whitby Colliers not because they were small, but precisely the opposite reason: They were boxy, had much bigger holds but were shallow draughted vessels. In effect the main problem was that warships simply didn't have a large enough hold for supplies and spares, while colliers didn't have an entire deck made up of guns and could hold a large enough hold.

I suppose it would be like the difference between building a fighter aircraft and an AWACS plane today.

I'd imagine when we're talking starships, the difference becomes that it's just plain easier to load them up with weapons while you're at it in terms of putting in things like sensors and surveying equipment. You don't really pay a penalty for making it bigger (except perhaps for economics) so you're able to build them bigger and better.
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Old September 23 2013, 04:54 PM   #14
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Re: Starfleet Procurement Policy Draft

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
Don't mind at all, Praetor. The whole point of writing things like this is for cross-germination afterall.
Thank you kindly, sir.

I just finished re-reading both chapters. I really admire your style of writing - it has style without being superfluously stylized, which is something I end up being guilty of from time to time.

I like that you've positioned the Excelsior as over-equipped and Miranda as under-equipped, and used them both to rationalize the Centaur and Apollo as "middle" designs. One thing I think you should address more is the Miranda and just why it seems to have such longevity, although perhaps you've already planned this for a future chapter. I think the same goes for the Constellation. To my thinking, the Constellation is sort of the odd duck in the family... as you've said Excelsior and Miranda seem to be at the top and bottom of the cruiser class, but the Constellation almost seems lateral to them somehow, specialized in some way.

All that said, I hope you don't delve too deeply into detail on any one topic, as I think the approach you have so far is great.

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
I'm probably going to go into classification schemes in a later chapter (particularly the 24th century ones), but I do agree that Starfleet's much more likely use a classification system based on roles rather than sizes.
Just to put it out there, while I agree with Crazy Eddie and yourself that size =/= role, it might be worth exploring the notion that Starfleet might have dual classifications for peacetime and wartime operations.

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
I do think that the later Abramsverse ships gathering for the Vulcan expedition make a better baseline for comparisons than the licensed/fanon designs. I also think expanded secondary craft capability makes sense for something like a survey ship. Given that Starfleet's missions within Federation space are more likely to involve things like humanitarian assistance, infrastructure building and surveying existing star systems, ships that are of moderate size that can pack lots of auxiliary craft make sense.
Agreed wholeheartedly on these points.

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
That is to say, I'm torn. I think the realities of the mid-late 23rd century did force a lot of compromises on Starfleet that were later rectified by a combination of technological progress and the ability to plan. The SIF + modular interiors I think helped them focus on expanding capabilities rather than designing new hull frames, and the newer designs with their emphasis on greater surface area/volume seems to imply attempts to take advantage of those technological traits.
I think you may've actually solved your own problem here and not realized it. What you've depicted in the 23rd century is a fleet of hodgepodge ships and limited vessels designed with one or two main purposes in mind, but not really good at any thing else. Then you have the Constitution and Miranda which appear to be good at more things than anyone else, but for my money that's simply because they're cruisers and that's just inherent to the cruiser class.

You've already said that Starfleet is decommissioning classes that have limited functionality in favor of adaptable newbuilds of Excelsior, Miranda, and Constellation classes. It then stands to reason that these very same traits would also allow all new ships to be good at most things, with the only real variables be, as Crazy Eddie has indicated, power and payload. Specifically this:

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
Starships, on the other hand, are the evolutionary descendents of real-world spacecraft. In space exploration, the capabilities of the craft depend almost entirely on the payload it can carry, and the limiting factor of payload is actually the launch vehicle itself. It really IS a case of "bigger is better" since starships -- unlike sailing ships or even modern naval vessels -- have a payload capacity directly proportional to their engine power. So if you want to carry more payload, you install a bigger engine. If you need a bigger engine, you need a bigger warp core. If you put in a bigger warp core you need more engineers and thus a slight increase in the habitable section of the ship (slightly bigger saucer). When you then add crew spaces for the technicians who maintain your enlarged payload, your saucer grows even larger to accomodate the increased crew size. If you think about it, that might explain why Starfleet builds ships with saucer-shaped hulls: it simplifies the design process, since the saucer's size can be increased arbitrarily (add or subtract rings to the perimeter) depending on the material needs for the ship's payload. The advent of SIF fields may change this so that larger starships fill the outer edges of the saucer first and then fill the interiors with essential equipment, followed by non-essential equipment, followed by amenities, followed by absurd luxuries.
Btw, very insightful, Eddie.

But to my thinking, this means that the SIF innovation would suddenly allow them to throw out pages of rules about how you can arrange starships, due to mass, structural members, etcetera. Maybe not all at once and immediately, but by the time the Ambassador class rolled around, certainly.

Can't wait for the next chapter!
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Old September 23 2013, 09:40 PM   #15
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Re: Starfleet Procurement Policy Draft

Awesome work Nob. Took a brief scan of the material and liked what I saw -- I look forward to rereading in depth later.
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