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Trek Tech Pass me the quantum flux regulator, will you?

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Old July 13 2014, 08:26 PM   #1
Unicron
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Specialized designs

This topic isn't restricted to Trek designs, but I recently acquired some new information on warships in the Battletech universe, and I've always found their Yardship concepts interesting. Basically, the Yardship is a specialized hull built around a forward dock and is able to function as a mobile support/repair unit for other capital ships. Only two such designs, the Newgrange and the later Faslane exist. Jackill's Kentwood class bulk transports are sort of a Trek analogue, albeit only designed to transport other ships to specific places.

I suppose one could argue the Defiant was considered highly specialized when it was originally developed to fight the Borg, though one could also say it's not too different in principle from other warhorses in sources like FASA and Jackill's manuals. Does anyone else have specific designs they like, and opinions on how "specialized" a design might theoretically be (depending on what its purpose is)?
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Old July 13 2014, 09:52 PM   #2
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Re: Specialized designs

I seem to remember talk in the TMP novel about a billion ton super-spacer...

The first two designs seem to belong to FOSS type universes--TTA style.
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Old July 13 2014, 10:14 PM   #3
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Re: Specialized designs

I always thought of the Nova-class as being a science vessel, intended for long-term follow-up planetary and stellar studies after a larger ship did an initial exploration. Small and not particularly fast (by late 24th-Century standards), I imagined a Nova-class ship could spend weeks if not months conducting research & analysis on a single planet and its inhabitants.
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Old July 15 2014, 10:42 PM   #4
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Re: Specialized designs

FASA has great stuff in this particular department. I like the Grayson and Derf buoy tenders, all the weird tugs, and to some degree also the oddball scouts or survey ships like Bader and Keith. It would make sense for scientific instrumentation to have an effect on the design or at least detailing of a starship, even one based on standard military hardware and operated by the military.

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Old July 16 2014, 12:14 AM   #5
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Re: Specialized designs

FASA was certainly more creative than most up to that point when it came to Star Trek ship designs. They still tended to stay in the limitations of the TV or film warp nacelle designs and generally used rescaled saucer sections on many ships...but not everything. There are a few FASA Federation ships that are wildly different from anything on screen, aside from the warp nacelles. Probably because they were not sure if those could change, since the only ships they had to work with had identical nacelles to each other within their respective time periods. USS Excelsior rocked the boat for them, but they couldn't capitalize on it much since it was the newest thing, and they lost the right to make stuff by the second season of TNG.

There TNG designs were just horrible though. Not enough advancement in tech, and the shapes for their destroyers and cruisers would be almost impossible to make in metal for miniatures. The ships we finally did get from the later seasons kitbashes and the First Contact ships were much better, and had more variation in nacelle design.


They did manage to flesh out the Romulans by a lot though. The Klingons too.
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Old July 16 2014, 12:28 AM   #6
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Re: Specialized designs

I must disagree on the FASA TNG destroyers, not as a matter of principle, but just in order to defend the Decker. Sure, she's spindly, but she's also a beauty! Just ignore the generic engines (like one could and should ignore the copy-paste engines on the TOS-movie-era ships) and perhaps apply something a tad more elongated, and you have a winner there.

The fun is in figuring out how to execute the shape in three dimensions. And then assigning treknological rationales to all the components...

I'm still struggling with how to "squint" to turn the Moscow or the Wellington into a tolerable design, but all the Decker really needs is proper TNG decals and a few lifepod hatches.

FASA's imagination with specialized ships ends before their run of TNG designs, alas. Unless one counts the weird M'Benga hospital ship, which by their chronology isn't quite TNG yet.

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Old July 16 2014, 01:15 AM   #7
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Re: Specialized designs

The secondary hull to neck to saucer part on the Decker-class seems difficult, at least, to make into a model. The nacelles suffer from "not enough information" on FASA's part when it comes to TNG, and can be fixed.

The problem is that the three angles given don't quite line up. But she is the best looking of the FASA TNG designs. Though the FASA Ambassador, resigned to fit the time period, looks nice.
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Old July 16 2014, 02:10 AM   #8
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Re: Specialized designs

FASA's TNG ships were always a little weird, even by their standards, but I sometimes wonder if perhaps they were meant to represent a new form of warp geometry? FASA assumed that transwarp would work, which made sense in the context of the information they had then (and still does to my mind, since the exact results of the Excelsior project have never been thoroughly explained in canon), and made it clear in the TNG module that it was considered a major revolution by that time.

Incidentally, I still find it amusing how the TNG OM describes the radical shift of the Klingons becoming full Federation members in this continuity, to the point where some are apparently questioning the need for Starfleet (or at least a Starfleet on pre-alliance levels), and it's described as being a transitional process, and yet they've already built nearly 150 K'Mirra class ships according to its statistics. The K'Mirra (Alliance) battlecruiser was a hybrid based on the Klingon Komo Val class, mounting Excelsior type transwarp engines and Federation phaser banks.
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Old July 16 2014, 02:42 AM   #9
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Re: Specialized designs

150 starships is nothing if its replacing the 1,000+ of D7s and related ships the Klingons had around the time of Star Trek II in FASA's eyes.
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Old July 16 2014, 07:04 AM   #10
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Re: Specialized designs

Most ships in the real world are specialized, at least to some degree. There are probably 100 ship and boat types and sub types that we have never seen, or very rarely seen in Star Trek. Not all maritime types are translatable to Space. Submarine Tender doesn't make sense, but various types of tenders would and should exist.

In addition to Carriers, Battleships, Cruisers, Destroyers, Corvettes, Cutters and small patrol craft, you would have Research, Salvage/Rescue, Command ships, Tugs, Survey Vessels, Intelligence ships, Tankers, RO/ROs, Tenders, Repair ships, Mobile Dry Docks, Ammunition ships, Dry Cargo, Special Mission Support, Transports, Hospital ships, Barges, Mine Warfare, and many others.

Each of these types would have sub-types. For instance, different kinds of Tugs, Survey or Research ships with different kinds of missions. And all these types and sub-types would have Classes. So there is ALOT of room for a wide variety of vessel types.
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Old July 16 2014, 11:10 AM   #11
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Re: Specialized designs

I've always had a soft spot for the mile-long, "multi-hulled" Defender-class USS Inaieu from My Enemy, My Ally. Specialized as in it's built for a few of elephant sized nonhumanoids. I wish TV/movie Trek were as imaginative.

I was fascinated by Red Sector's "combat support tender". And the way the USS Bozeman was described in Ship of the Line, as "Soyuz class border cutter" under the command of the "Starfleet Border service" is way more interesting than "Generic Miranda variant on generic Starfleet mission"
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Old July 16 2014, 04:05 PM   #12
Timo
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Re: Specialized designs

FASA's TNG ships were always a little weird, even by their standards, but I sometimes wonder if perhaps they were meant to represent a new form of warp geometry?
Whatever the in-universe rationale, both the practical reason and the end result of the FASA approach are fairly evident. Namely, using copy-paste saucers and nacelles and then applying an original secondary hull will necessarily result in very large secondary hulls in comparison with saucers!

The FASA ships are apparently first drawn in side view, and you can't fit much of original work in there unless you draw "around" the nacelles, that is, above, below, forward and aft of them; anything going in between the two nacelles is lost to the side view. Compare this to the actual models used in shooting the shows and movies, which are 3D shapes first and foremost and typically have all the interesting bits between the nacelles, hidden in side view. After all, on screen the ships are virtually never shown from the side, because that would look too much like Flash Gordon.

This is why we get "tall ships" like the Keith or the Bader or the Durrett in FASA, but seldom on screen...

As for diversity of types, at all stages of naval history there has been a drive to minimize the number of designs. This is simple economy, although the exact variables forcing the economy vary with the era. Today, multimission ships rather than specialist designs are built because navies want fewer keels overall, the key variable now being crew salaries, the other being the expenses of idling a specialist vessel when her specialist skills are not acutely needed. Just a bit over a century ago, crews were a completely irrelevant factor, there being an endless supply of seamen of whom few special skills were required; idling cost virtually nothing, too, and ships rotted away at the same rate regardless of whether they were active or passive. The pressure towards fewer types earlier on came from things like steel shortage, lack of certainty about the threat environment, shortage of coal, shortage of timber, etc. etc.

Starfleet probably doesn't care about crew expenses: it's got billions of well-educated volunteers, and its ships are lavishly provided with crew comforts with no hint of holding back. Starfleet is unlikely to suffer from shortages of shipbuilding materials or facilities, either. And we have seen ships idled for decades or perhaps centuries and then rather easily reactivated. But we know Starfleet is permanently short on ships nevertheless, in all eras and all episodes and movies. Perhaps this is because there isn't enough dilithium for more than a certain number of ships, even if the Federation could complete thousands of times more keels? Whatever the key variable, the shortage would have the natural result of gravitating Starfleet towards generalist rather than specialist ships: a minesweeper would be a wasteful investment if she couldn't double as a surveyor and a patrol vessel.

(Oh, and regarding submarine tenders, I could very well see Starfleet or its Romulan counterpart employing a dedicated cloakship support vessel in the TOS era, if cloakships back then were by necessity as cramped and slow as the ones seen. The rationale would be very much the same as for sub tenders today!)

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Old July 16 2014, 08:48 PM   #13
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Re: Specialized designs

Timo wrote: View Post
(Oh, and regarding submarine tenders, I could very well see Starfleet or its Romulan counterpart employing a dedicated cloakship support vessel in the TOS era, if cloakships back then were by necessity as cramped and slow as the ones seen. The rationale would be very much the same as for sub tenders today!)

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MULTIROLE

Indeed, as I said, there should still be other types of tenders, even if there were no submarines to tend. I considered cloakships, but those of course are not submarines, and would not need Submarine Tenders.

Multirole ships have replaced more dedicated specialists in some areas, such as having a multi-role frigate, instead of an ASW frigate. There remains, and will remain, a large number of ship types however.

There is also a move toward greater automation, which can substantially cut down crew sizes. I would actually like to see more of that in Trek. It's also not clear how deep space would shape ship types. But it seems like a very large number of types and sub types would be needed. I don't recall many scenes of the Enterprise in any show being resupplied in deep space, although that would clearly be necessary. It might not make for very exciting television however, so I don't expect we will see too many of those.

STARFLEET SIZE

Yes, it's always been mystery as to why Starfleet seems so tiny, given the colossal size and resources of the immense Federation. The influence on Earth Navy and Air Force sizes and plot needs are probably the out-universe explanations. In-universe, you could say that anti-matter production, while prodigious, remains insufficient to maintain a Starfleet of millions of starships even if the Federation has sufficient building materials and population to manufacture and crew them.

Last edited by AirCommodore; July 16 2014 at 09:03 PM.
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Old July 16 2014, 09:09 PM   #14
Timo
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Re: Specialized designs

I considered cloakships, but those of course are not submarines, and would not need Submarine Tenders.
Ah, if we want to be that literal about it, then I'd say there indeed exists a need for submarine tenders!

That is, we have seen it takes some effort to make starships or shuttlecraft compatible with an underwater environment, and a dedicated aquashuttle is a very bulky piece of hardware in TAS, hobbling a starship's ability to operate other types of auxiliaries. Yet Starfleet would supposedly want to study underwater environments - meaning it would have to deploy dedicated submarines, and probably wouldn't want to tie down entire combat starships for the purpose of operating those.

That is, it would build dedicated tenders - unless various factors favored the building of generic "stay-put" ships for all the survey needs, as opposed to generic "go-places" ships for defense and exploration needs. Basically, an Oberth might be a good support ship for all sorts of surveys, including submersible operations. But something that can effortlessly land and thus physically deploy and recover underwater craft might be preferable.

Are there dedicated submarine tenders in Trek novels or comics? I remember some sort of special oceanographic survey ships being mentioned on occasion, but not the context (no, the obvious From the Depths or Deep Domain don't include such mentions).

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Old July 16 2014, 10:51 PM   #15
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Re: Specialized designs

Timo wrote: View Post
Ah, if we want to be that literal about it, then I'd say there indeed exists a need for submarine tenders!
If there are submarines, there might well be submarine tenders! That is certainly true. I assume there is some Federation or Starfleet Maritime Service. Didn't Tom Paris say something like that? In any case, it would depend on the circumstances. Even supply ships can have supply ships that supply them! Presumably the Federation sub poking around in the alien ocean would be supplied in such a manner.
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