Drydocks

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Wingsley, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    A few questions about the purpose of structures seen in STAR TREK-style dry docks:

    Whether it is the laticework structure of the first dock seen in TMP, or subsequent space stations or other dock-like structures, or even fan-made designs, why do these docks feature arms and laticework that either partially or completely envelops the sides of the ship in dock? What purpose do these "cage" like structures serve?

    Does the arm / cage serve as a tangible boundary for zero-g maneuvers of spacesuited personnel and free-floating equipment and materiel? Do these structures serve as a platform for containment forcefields to keep authorized personnel, equipment and materiel "in" and unauthorized things (like micrometeoroids or intruders) "out"?

    Has anyone ever tried to figure out how the docks themselves are structured? Do these docks maintain crew quarters or other habitats for dockyard personnel to live/operate from? Has anyone ever drawn a blueprint of a drydock?
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2011
  2. AriesIV

    AriesIV Lieutenant

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    I like how you've started this. I would say it is partly to serve as a boundary. Keeps things contained.

    You would be able to install tractor fixtures here and there along with work-lights.

    Thermal control would be big as well. Going from dayside to nightside would result in thermal expansion and contraction. This would throw off your structural alignments.

    And yes it would keep the debris out of your workzone. Nothing like a 340 year old shard of urine dumped overboard by a primitive Space Shuttle to ruin your newly welded hull!

    And in times of Security you could put up sheets of Obscurium or Hideitall to block sensor-scans of what you are working on in there.
     
  3. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The structure could also shield against mundane everyday things like solar flares too.
     
  4. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    The drydocks could also contain moorings that keep the ship from drifting as well as umbilicals that provide the vessel with external power.
     
  5. SchwEnt

    SchwEnt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yeah that sounds good.
    The cage-like arms and frames comprising the drydock hold emitters, deflectors and tractors.

    This surrounds the vessel and immediate work area.
    Makes it a controlled environment, keeps things in place, keeps things in or out of the work area, protects the area during construction and repair.

    Sounds good to me.
     
  6. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    Do any of you get the impression that the upper part of TMP's drydock houses either dock-crew quarters or some kind of office complex / workshops for use when a starship is berthed there / being built there?

    And what about the paneling along the sides? Could those be massive photo-voltaic panels to absorb solar enregy to keep the dock powered?
     
  7. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    On your first point, I strongly suspect "all of the above" being the case. The quarters are probably "industrial-barracks"-type affairs, like you'd find on oil rigs in the here and now.
     
  8. AriesIV

    AriesIV Lieutenant

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    Why have barracks at all when you can beam home at the end of your day?
     
  9. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    If you can imagine thousands, perhaps millions, of shipbuilder-workers committed to projects in orbit at any given time, it's not hard to imagine at least some of them living in space like platform workers on a deep-sea oil rig. I would imagine that personnel transporters have limitations due to their level of power consumption. So maybe people don't just "beam down" to Earth any time they feel like it.

    OTOH, it's possible that the top levels of the drydock are merely a staging area, with offices, work bee hangars, workshops, storage and the like. We don't really know, do we?
     
  10. Aahz

    Aahz Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    The top portion of the TMP drydock (as envisioned by Andrew Probert) contained storage and fabrication facilities for the components needed for construction/repair of starships, hangar and stowage space for the various vehicles (cargo bees, work bees, travel pods, shuttles, etc) and other equipment, and office and living facilities for the various personnel involved with the operation of the drydock complex. I doubt that any offices there were for VIPs (except perhaps Chief Engineers), since the orbital office complex orbits nearby the drydock.

    It may be that the drydock doesn't have transporters. In TMP, Kirk said he couldn't beam up to the Enterprise because the transporters were out, but he beamed up to the office complex (a long way from the Enterprise) instead of the drydock (which was right there). Maybe the fabrication facilities use up too much energy to allow transporters to be present as well.

    I recall seeing a closeup of one of the hangar bays on the model that included a shuttle and a couple of bees, but here's one showing a travel pod:
    http://www.foundation3d.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=40804&d=1278398859

    The design and shape of the thing is, as with most things, a compromise. Probert's original vision was of a form-fitting latticework that allowed the ship to be seen from the outside, but would need to open up to allow the ship to exit (big dramatic scene which was actually part of the TMP script). See here:
    http://drexfiles.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/tmp-dock-probert-av-presentation/#more-7601

    However, budget and common sense necessitated changes. The opening-up feature was nixed as an unnecessary expense, so the drydock was redesigned to be open on both ends. The common-sense part was that such a facility would not be designed for one particular class/shape of ship, so it wouldn't be very form-fitting. It would, however, be resizable. The rows of little "Devo-hat"-looking shapes between the larger sections were cylinders that would allow the drydock to be resized horizontally and vertically to accomodate different-sized ships. Probert bemoaned the fact that the model was always shown in its fully-expanded configuration, never revealing this feature.

    There are four tractor-beam units at the base of the structure for holding the ship at station-keeping. There are a number of umbilicals, although some of them don't appear to actually contact the ship, so perhaps they're some type of specialized equipment or maybe just localized lighting (those hexagonal panels can't fit into tight spaces). There is one major umbilical or concourse that connects to the port side of the saucer which is a walkway allowing construction personnel to enter/exit the ship. It connects to a little docking port hub on the outside of the structure.

    Since there are already those large hexagonal lighting panels as well as the smaller lighting units, the blue panels built into the latticework may be to supply heating more than additional ambient light to provide a constant-temperature work environment, for the reasons AriesIV suggested.

    As for some of the other speculations, it would make sense that such a facility would have various protection capabilities to prevent micrometeoroids or space debris from damaging a ship under construction or the complex itself.

    Don't know about solar panels -- I don't think the drydock had solar panels for two reasons. First, 23rd-century Treknology had better power sources for such a large facility. Solar power isn't that efficient, and solar panels for a drydock this size would have been enormous by comparison. Second, there is nothing that looks remotely like solar panels on the drydock. We have seen Trek ships/stations with solar panels (Relay Station 47 comes to mind), so we know what 23rd-century solar panels look like, and drydock doesn't have them.

    OK, that's enough from me for now. Time to let somebody else have a say... :cool:
     
  11. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    ^ Great analysis and speculation.

    That impressive screencap from TMP drives home that the built-in "complex" on the drydock's topside might offer as much, if not more, habitable internal volume than any starship of that day. If the refit-Enterprise's crew was involved with the dockyard crews in final assembly and getting the ship up and running, it might be that they all bunked in drydock quarters until the starship's quarters were ready.
     
  12. The Inquisitor

    The Inquisitor Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Would full refits be completed in drydock or would such a proceedure require a ship to be moored up in a spacedock? Also, would the dry-docks have industrial replicators available? By the looks of things (comparing saucer section thickness) there appear to be at least 5-8 decks worth of drydock at the top of the structure.
     
  13. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    I don't buy the shielding argument; too many holes there, literally!

    That is, if a sieve-like structure is sufficient for protecting the sides and top of the ship, then the protective function fails because the bottom and the front and back ends are open. If in turn even less structure is needed for protection, then the side and top structures are excessive.

    There may be protective functions to the structure, such as pressor beams and shield generators installed here and there. But those obviously don't dictate the shape of the structure; the rationale for that must be found elsewhere.

    Yet we know that transporting to a destination does not require transporter facilities there! So a better explanation for Kirk's choice would be that, since he found out that his ship lacked transporters, he transported to the person responsible for this shortcoming, to ask for an explanation and to get things back on track. Said person wasn't on the ship, so Kirk transported to the orbital office instead.

    The structure doesn't appear to have much in the way of conventional rails for conventional, mechanical cranes. Tractor beams probably play a major role in the moving of heavy components in there, then. But the framework could well accommodate "spot" workstations, clamped just at the required location for accessing the spot that needs working on. In both ST:TMP and ST2, the ship would be past the most intensive periods of mechanical work on exterior features, so the workstations (possibly including mechanical cranes, probably featuring a variety of more refined tools at the ends of stabilizing arms) would have been removed and clamped onto other dockyards elsewhere. All that would remain would be basic moorings for easier attaching of refueling, other restocking or ventilation hoses... That, plus the always useful lighting fixtures.

    That is, refueling and otherwise restocking a starship might more resemble the refueling of a nuclear submarine than the corresponding work on an oil-powered warship. There would be a major call for dockyard facilities for this as such mundane yet seldom-performed procedure. If there was no need to refuel, the ship would simply "transrep", beaming up supplies, or get stuff from lighters that would fly into the shuttlebay or float next to the appropriate umbilicial connections. The big mushroom Spacedock could do that with more style (hardwired transporter connections, easy gangwalk access, more powerful pumps for emptying the bilge tanks and pumping in the basic protein goo for the food fabricators) and might be required for replenishing the less self-sufficient civilian vessels.

    The box docks (which are certainly "dry" in the absolute sense, but seem to better match the classic "wet dock" or floating dock concept in the relative sense) would probably be reserved for scheduled overhauls and refills, and would seldom be free for a randomly visiting ship, much as we see in the TOS-R version of "The Menagerie"...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  14. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Nobody believes me, but I firmly believe even now that the dry docks are relatively simple platforms equipped with high-capacity antigravs and tractor fields emitters. They're essentially free-floating cranes: the dock descends to ground level, picks up the mostly-finished starship, then carries it up to orbit altitude again where it uses thrusters to accelerate to orbital velocity for final shipfitting and testing.
     
  15. The Inquisitor

    The Inquisitor Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    ^ That makes pretty much perfect sense to me. So they would be used to ferry warp core carrying starships safely through the atmosphere rather than for any meaningful refit. Seems reasonable.
     
  16. Aahz

    Aahz Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Well, you can firmly believe that if you like, but as Arlo Guthrie once said, "you're wrong." ;) The TMP drydock is a space-based structure that was never designed to operate in the atmosphere. A ship enters the structure at one end, gets serviced/refit, then exits the other end.

    One clue to this is the navigational lights on the drydock itself. The "starboard" side of the dock has green lights and the "port" side has red lights. On the entry end, the green lights are on the right and the red are on the left. On the exit end, the green lights are on the left and the red are on the right, which if you tried to enter the exit end would appear wrong -- you always keep the green on the right. This wasn't very apparent in the movie, but take a look at the restored movie model:
    http://www.modelermagic.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/IMG_6758.JPG
    The model artist who did the restoration, Ed Miarecki, is standing in the center of the exit end, and the colors of the nav lights are very plain in this photo. Here's one of the restored 1701-A model inside the drydock model:
    http://www.modelermagic.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/IMG_7221.JPG
    Why is there the need for entry/exit orientation? Well, because the access gangway that attaches to the port side of the saucer is only on the port side of the drydock (the side with the red lights).

    If the drydock picked the ship up from the surface, it would orient itself over the ship and there would be little need for the red/green nav lights. Only white or amber lights would be needed to show location of the structure, not orientation.

    Also, here's a flash photo of the restored drydock model showing mucho detail:
    http://www.modelermagic.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/IMG_6716-1.JPG
    One thing to take a look at here: Notice how the various light panels and umbilicals/aux lights/whatever are attached. They're connected to the latticework with these swivel adapters. Although only one configuration was seen in the movie, I've seen production stills with the light panels in a different configuration. Perhaps Timo is correct in that these are items that are attached to the framework at whatever location is needed for the job at hand, and can be added/moved/deleted as needed. These swivels are also used to retract the arms when the ship is ready to leave drydock.

    Perhaps this is the reason for the latticework design of the structure -- the tube framework is for the attach points, the "wire-like" portions are for suspending the blue panels (away from the attach points to prevent damage to the panels), and the "Devo-hat" cylinders are for adjusting the size of the structure to bring the elements as close as possible to the ship being serviced. There -- we now have a reason for why the drydock looks like it does! :techman:
     
  17. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    Oh, wow!

    Those photos are impressive, Aahz!

    Your detailed discussion of the drydock model is equally impressive.
     
  18. Aahz

    Aahz Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Thanks, Wingsley, but what's REALLY impressive is the restoration work Ed Miarecki had to do on the drydock. The original model had been severely modified to be the drydock from which the Enterprise-B launched in "Star Trek: Generations". When Ed got the model from the collector, it was in its post-Generations configuration (and in pretty ratty condition as well). Fortunately, the collector got all (well, most) of the removed parts along with the main model from the auction. Ed put the thing back to its original TMP configuration and condition.

    By his own admission, this was Ed's most complex model to either build or to restore. But as you can see from the pix, he did an AWESOME job!!
     
  19. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    The more I see of the Ed Miarecki restoration images, the more it seems that the TMP drydock was meant to depict not just a cradle to house a starship during shipbuilding/refit operations, but as its own full-fledged space station, with habitable upper section, crew habitat, hangar facilities, boarding dock for the starship, and so on. Given this, it does seem a little odd that a drydock would not have its own transporter room(s), unless the drydock's workshop facilities would make transporter power loads problematic...
     
  20. Aahz

    Aahz Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Yeah, that's what I had said in my first post. The upper section contains fabrication facilities, hangar space, and living areas -- all the support necessary to operate such a facility on orbit.

    My suggestion that the drydock didn't have transporters was more of a justification of Kirk's beaming up to the office complex instead of the drydock and Scotty ferrying him over. The script called for the travel pod flyby for a dramatic introduction to the new Enterprise, but what would be the logical reason behind it? Perhaps Kirk did beam up to the office to meet with the person responsible for the refit (Scotty), but why wouldn't the person responsible for the refit already be over at the drydock? :confused: Because he (Scotty) took a travel pod to the office complex to pick up Kirk, since the drydock didn't have transporters. :)

    BTW, wanna see something cool? CGI artist Tobias Richter created an insanely-detailed CG model of the TMP drydock, and with the guidance of Andrew Probert (got that? ANDREW PROBERT - the original designer) created a version of the drydock for Star Trek Phase II that shows not only the expansion capability of the drydock but also the flexing capability as well:
    http://www.foundation3d.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=41819&d=1281544452
    Note that this version is smaller than the TMP version -- it is five lights long and only two rows of latticework (the bottom curved row isn't present).