Starfleet Procurement Policy Draft

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Nob Akimoto, Sep 21, 2013.

  1. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013
  2. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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

    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?
     
  3. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    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 )
     
  4. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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. :techman:
     
  5. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    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.
     
  6. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ 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).
     
  7. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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. :rommie:

    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!
     
  8. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    Don't mind at all, Praetor. The whole point of writing things like this is for cross-germination afterall.
     
  9. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    Next Chapter:

     
  10. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2013
  11. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    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!
     
  12. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    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.

    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).

    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.

    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.
     
  13. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    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:

    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.
     
  14. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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. :)

    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.

    Agreed wholeheartedly on these points.

    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:

    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!
     
  15. Workbee

    Workbee Commander Red Shirt

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

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    Chapter 3!

     
  17. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    Chapter 4

     
  18. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I don't have much to add, besides bravo. Thoroughly enjoying both of these chapters. I still thinkthe ratio of Miranda to Excelsior might be too high, though. Otherwise, love it.
     
  19. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    High in what sense? That there's too many Mirandas? Or not enough Excelsiors?
     
  20. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Mostly there not being enough Excelsiors, as I feel that those Miranda numbers are quite reasonable.

    I feel like they seemed somewhat closer in number during the Dominion War than what those numbers suggest.