Minimum crew requirements

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Grendelsbayne, Jun 29, 2014.

  1. Grendelsbayne

    Grendelsbayne Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Location:
    Netherlands
    I've been thinking about the idea of a small Fed. Scout ship on an extended mission in uncharted space and I was trying to decide what kind of crew it would have (based on the idea of having the absolute minimum necessary to keep the ship safe and running smoothly). The smallest canon starship I know is the Defiant, which Memory Alpha says had a crew of 40, although I rarely remember seeing that many (probably many of their missions were so short that they didn't bother taking a full crew compliment).

    The numbers I'm coming out at are around 30-40 (depending on how many crew would be capable of performing a double function) which matches up well with the Defiant, but I'm curious if anyone here can think of any truly important functions that I haven't thought of.

    So this is the list so far:
    Obviously you need three command officers (because the mission is long term, the ship's normal day has to be based on the standard three shifts so that the crew has time to relax), ie, Captain, XO and Second officer. Certainly the so and probably the xo could perform a double function.

    Further bridge crew is: helmsman, navigator, tactical, science, communications and operations officers, three each to cover all shifts (although it could be cut down further by requiring the helmsman, navigator and tactical to all be proficient in each others' specialties so that one person could cover all three areas during a routine shift, and the same for science/comm/ops).

    Medical staff is necessary, but the availability of the emh/lmh means you could probably get away with just one doctor and two highly trained nurses. One of those three would likely double as counselor.

    Which leaves just Engineering and Security, which seem to be the only departments that absolutely must have a larger number of crew. My guess is the absolute minimum, considering it would be a small ship, would be nine to twelve crew each, so three or four per shift. Under normal circumstances, security would not be too high, and so a portion of the on duty security officers could be employed in any kind of general work that may pop up (ie, please fetch x from the cargo bay or go see what that weird sensor reading in the mess hall is).

    So are there other very important positions that i'm forgetting? Do you think a ship could function on its own for years in deep space with such a small crew?
     
  2. Rarewolf

    Rarewolf Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2002
    Location:
    Devon, England
    Any ship bound position could have an emergency holographic backup.

    I think its more about how easily are replacements available - you could loose half your crew in a single battle.
     
  3. USS KG5

    USS KG5 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    England's green and pleasant land.
    I always worked on the assumption that the ships can basically fly themselves, you need a crew to make decisions and fix things when they break. Voyager did a good episode about this where Seven is stuck alone and starts losing her marbles.

    I'd say a small scout like a Nova class is a good example, with 607-70 crew. I doubt Starfleet packed crews of 250 odd onto Miranda class ships in the Dominion War, the hulls were essentially disposable so a crew of 30-40 was probably appropriate, any major repairs carried out with help from the big ships, or a Starbase.

    The trend with modern warships IRL is for smaller and smaller crews, with more automation, and a tacit acknowledgement that they just can't hang in a fight like they used to (at least try) and do in WW1 and 2.

    If a modern warship, even a carrier, is as much as hit by a modern sea-skimming missile or torpedo it is likely enough to put them out of the fight, or sink them, so extra crew are not required.

    In trek, the majority of the crew seem to survive even massive damage ("our casualties were light" after the ship crash lands in GEN for example) so they clearly prioritise keeping the crew arrive, rather than having "spares". They also have very advanced medical technology to get crew back on the line faster.

    All this excludes marines of course - while there has been little direct reference to large scale ground combat in Trek, we have in DS9 Starfleet marines. I'd suspect a Galaxy class ship could happily carry a whole division on a short trip.

    But for the OPs questtion, on long-range missions Starfleet seems to send larger ships with full crews of specialist scientists, security and so on. Clearly this is anything from Voyager's 150-odd to the 800-odd (minus families) of the Galaxy class. A small literal "scout" like an Oberth just zipping out, scanning for class M planets or life signs then zipping back, maybe 30-50 like the Defiant?
     
  4. HIjol

    HIjol Admiral and Consummate Peacemaker Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2014
    Location:
    In a time and place long past...
    Someone related to food and nutrition?...hydroponics?...yeomen/yeowomen....
    xenobiologist?...linguistics expert....me?...I am due for an extended mission...

    ..sorry, got carried away...
     
  5. varek

    varek Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2009
    Location:
    Danville, IN, USA
    Good point about replacements. You could lose a lot of crew members in a battle or some kind of crisis, as the Enterprise often encountered.
     
  6. Grendelsbayne

    Grendelsbayne Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Location:
    Netherlands
    True enough, but while that's of course applicable to any mission, I would imagine this kind of mission to be far less hands on that what the Enterprise usually did. Avoiding conflict would be one of the highest priorities. The ship would probably be designed around it - extremely fast engines, maybe more shields than weapons and, if possible, some kind of cloak (or other stealth technology).

    I agree a large amount of automation exists. Obviously, in ST III a handful of people was able to successfully pilot a capital ship by themselves. What I'm getting at with 'absolute minimum' is the point where further reliance on automation becomes simply too dangerous - like in STIII, even though they could fly the Enterprise to Genesis without issue, they were completely incapable of mounting a proper defense against a sudden attack (there's only so much that can be done from the bridge stations).

    I also agree Starfleet probably didn't fully crew every ship in the Dominion war, though I was always under the impression that Mirandas were still reasonably large ships. Wouldn't they need at least 70-80 even on a skeleton crew?

    I can see the benefits of larger ships on exploration missions, but they do have drawbacks as well. If you need hundreds of people and some of the largest ships in the fleet, then you're sending huge chunks of the fleet far away from the Federation and the number of exploration missions you can support is severely limited. Not to mention the intimidation potential of such a massive ship. I'm imagining a system of lots of small, fast ships mapping out lots of general areas of the galaxy in reasonable but not extreme detail, picking up basic details of major powers and maybe tidbits or even just rumors of smaller entities, the information from which probably be used to guide the decisions of which direction the larger, more detailed exploration missions would be sent.

    Of course you can come ;)

    I doubt this small a ship would have a dedicated nutritionist. Monitoring health would be the doctors full responsibility. Knowledge of xenobiology would be his/her responsibility as well.

    Chefs or such would be the kind of luxury that small a ship couldn't afford - it would be either eat from the replicator or cook for yourself. I'm not sure if hydroponics are truly necessary or not. Replicators should be able to provide the necessary nutrition, and hydroponics would take up a lot of space. Was there any specific reason given for why the Enterprise had a hydroponics bay?

    The linguistics expert obviously would be the Communications officer.

    I'm curious exactly what the generally accepted job description of the yeomen/yeowomen is. Based on the scenes I can think of, it seems like (especially on a small ship) they could be eliminated entirely without much issue, but maybe there's more information somewhere about their duties that I don't have.
     
  7. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Urectum
    If it is such a small ship on a long-range scouting mission, all the crew would need to be trained to cover multiple duties and tasks (look for any/all reference material on the Archer-Class scout). That being said they would all have specific duties to carry out.

    Since you mention EMH/LMH then I assume its set sometime in the 2370s onwards, which is what I'll base this breakdown on.

    Command: Each shift would need an officer in charge. 'Alpha' shift would be overseen by the Commanding Officer, however there are three different options for the other shifts: [1] the First and Second Officers are standalone roles and each commands their own shifts (this'd be handy if you planned on having all of the senior officers spread out across the three shifts instead of keeping them all together); [2] the other two shifts have a designated Watch Officer, a command division officer in training (this allows the First Officer to be on alpha shift with the CO); [3] the other shifts are overseen by one of the bridge officers (in "Disaster" the bridge was watched over by Lieutenant JG Munroe at the conn before her untimely death). If you had the space, you could include a non-com administrations assistant (yeoman) to keep on top of all the paperwork, records, filing, etc, but this is necessarily essential, there wouldn't be just that much for a crew of 40-odd.
    Crew Variation: 1-4

    Bridge: In the 24th century there is no need for separate helm, nav and comm officers, with the first two covered by the Conn Officer and the last added to the list of duties for the Ops Officer. The SCE/CoE ebooks have three bridge officers per shift: Conn, Ops and Tactical, which would be more than enough—though if you wanted you could scale this down to two officers per shift: Conn/Ops (like Dax seemed to do on the Defiant) and Tactical. Since this is a scout ship they won’t be doing very in-depth studies of planets and phenomena, but having at least one science officer per shift could prove handy (especially if you have a joint conn/ops officer).
    Crew Variation: 6-12

    Medical: You’d need to have at least one medic on each shift, not necessarily a full blown Doctor or even a Nurse, a non-commissioned Corpsman or Medical Technician could handle the routine medical needs with a hologram available for emergencies. That being said, a flesh-and-blood Doctor on-call for when they were needed wouldn’t hurt, especially as they could carry out biomedical/xenobiological research on mission as well. The duties of Ship’s Counsellor could be handled by anyone on the crew (not just medical staff) who had undergone the proper training, however, if you have space for one having the role be standalone could also be of benefit—especially if you made them multi-trained in diplomacy and social sciences, so they could be a cultural advisor to the CO on first contact missions.
    Crew Variation: 3-5 (holograms not included)

    Security: Personally I like to have security teams of four individuals, don’t ask me why as even I don’t really know. If you went with this, you could either make the Tactical Officer the Security/Tactical Officer (as we’ve seen with Worf and Tuvok), so there would be three guards roaming around the ship seeing to the security of key systems, performing weapons checks, running drills, etc. However, you could make the two separate (again like in the SCE ebooks), with the Tactical Officer on the bridge and the Security Chief below decks overseeing their department. Since all Starfleet personnel need to be trained to defend themselves and others, then you wouldn’t need more than a single dedicated team per shift.
    Crew Variation: 9-12

    Engineering: This is always a department that sticks with me, since I am not the most technically minded person. You would need a shift supervisor as well as a few general engineers to go about and fix things (lets say anywhere between 1 and 4 per shift), but you would also need experts in certain fields (computers, environmental, propulsion, structural, to mention just a few). You could either have one specialist per shift, or split them up and so their talents are spread throughout the day (for example, alpha shift would have diagnostics, impulse and sensors, beta would have environmental, damage control and warp, and gamma would have computer, power and structural). Given the small crew the latter option might be the best to go with.
    Crew Variation: 12-42

    Miscellaneous: If you wanted you could include another science specialist, locked away in the lab, on each shift, but this isn’t essential. There is however the Operations Department, the men, women and others who work behind the scenes on data management, telemetry analysis, communications protocols, cargo inventory, transporter maintenance, shuttle control, etc. Granted not many of these tasks would need a fulltime crewmember to see to them and many could be combined to keep a couple of people very busy on shift.
    Crew Variation: 6-12

    Looking at this, you could have a total crew complement of anywhere between 37 and 87 (though the higher end is if you just go nuts with engineers onboard). If you did want a smaller crew, then you could play about with roles and duties, taking some crew away and adding their assignments to others.

    One thing I will say is, remember that there will almost always be more non-coms and crewmen than officers, many of who will have more practical experience and skills, so could easily fill some important posts—they don’t all have to be held by officers (for example, what about a Senior Chief as the ranking science specialist onboard).

    Hope that helps.
     
  8. USS KG5

    USS KG5 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    England's green and pleasant land.
    Well in the 23rd century, absolutely that is what is put on-screen, though it is a little anachronistic as frankly these days we would expect to be able to run the whole ship from an iPad, let alone in 300 years. The problem in TSFS seems to have been Scotty's automation system was jury rigged and not up to combat. He was also working with a damaged ship.

    They were certainly not small, 40-50 or 70-80 either is possible, though it is canonical they can run with as few as 12, admittedly not in a combat role.


    I'm more in the Starfleet is huge camp, I've always thought they must have built at least 50 Galaxy class ships - but I'll put my can of worms away!

    I think that is basically canonical, I'm sure at least half the episodes of the show start off with a report from another ship that the hero ship is following up!
     
  9. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2011
    Location:
    The Black Country, England
    For a true minimum. a 3 shift system would have to be replaced by 2 12 hour shifts.

    With cross-training, each shift would need a helmsman/navigator, communications/tactical and a senior officer on the bridge, plus 3 engineering staff. That makes 6 people per shift - 12 crew.

    In addition, out of the total of 12, a couple should also have some med skills, at least three with piloting and navigation skills and an extra engineer or two. It would all be down to multi-skilling.
     
  10. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2001
    Location:
    Ferguson, Missouri, USA
    I once wrote a fanfic long ago about something like this. Personally, I had the ship with a crew of 30 (5 officers, 25 enlisted) with the bulk of the crew consisting of engineering and security personnel. The way I set the ship up was that it was solely for intelligence-gathering purposes and pretty much everything it discovered was transmitted back to Starfleet. The ship was not much more than a warp-capable sensor platform and wasn't really a research platform like a true science or exploration vessel, as many of its missions involved high-warp sorties into dangerous territory (go in fast, quickly scan as much as possible, and then get the hell out). Data analysis would be done later at a starbase.
     
  11. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2012
    Location:
    USS Berlin
    Which is another fine example that Matt Jefferies was light-years ahead of his own time. Jefferies felt that the whole ship could / should be run just from the Bridge.

    The empty engine room featured in the first TOS season looked like his idea prevailed for some time. ;)

    Bob
     
  12. USS KG5

    USS KG5 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    England's green and pleasant land.
    Yeah, a great man :)
     
  13. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2009
    Location:
    T'Girl
    Or two shifts, eight hours on, eight hours off. Rinse and repeat.

    Some US Navy crews do that for months, but can you do that with a crew for multiple years without burning them out?

    For a truly small crew there might not be any dedicated security personnel, all Starfleet personnel receive weapons training. So when a "security detail" is require, it would be composed of available crew members.

    :)
     
  14. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2001
    Location:
    Ferguson, Missouri, USA
     
  15. Grendelsbayne

    Grendelsbayne Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Yes, that was the idea exactly. Thanks for the tip about the Archer class.

    That was my feeling as well. And whatever paperwork may exist could easily be postponed until a particularly uneventful shift, which should be a fairly regular occurrence in deep space.

    I knew some of those duties were combined more often, but I never realized that was an official setuo in the 24th cen. Thanks! I think two plus a command officer probably is eniugh, though I would be more inclined to combine conn with tactical and ops with science.

    I hadn't really even thought about engineering specialties yet. I agree option 2 would be the most likely solution.

    This is part of what I go back and forth on. I would assume things like maintenance would fall under engineering's resonsibility. Data management seems like it wouldn't come up much at all and would be handled by the ops officer on the bridge during his shift. Telemetry would go to the science officer whenever necessary. The main time consuming duties that don't naturally fit anywhere would be inventory control, etc. I thought for a while that engineering and security might share that responsibility as long as there was no crisis (and if there is a crisis, then it can wait). I'm not sure if that's realistic, though. On the other hand, you could lengthen the work day to nine or ten hours, which still allows reasonable down time, and have the whole crew share the load (regular eight hour shifts followed by an hour or two of general operations duties). The ship may be small enough that the crew could rotate through, so an individual may only work one ten hour shift a week.


    I agree that combining duties would be the answer. That's also an excellent point about non-coms - i'll definitely remember that. You have been very helpful. :-)

    That certainly was part of the problem. It is anachronistic, but at this point it is part of star trek, so that doesn't bother me too much. I just think of it like the bulky tricorders or the overly large tos communicators.

    Hadn't really thought of it, but you're absolutely right.

    I would agree with t-girl that that's probably beyond the acceptable minimum. People who are spending years trapped together in a very tiny ship will need a reasonable amount of downtime to keep from going crazy. I would say 12 hour shifts would be reserved for yellow alert status, so as to have more crew ready and on hand during an emergency.

    That's very close to my idea, although I wouldn't necessarily call it intelligence gathering. But I am very glad to see that everyone else's numbers come so close to what I had in mind.
     
  16. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Urectum
    Here to help. When creating fanfic ships I always try to create the department allocations, for my Border Service cutter I actually have the full duty roster (126 people) worked out.
     
  17. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2009
    Location:
    T'Girl
    If the ship were to be carrying say a "special forces" unit, with the intent to insert them into a tactical reconnaissance type mission, that unit would not be a part of the ship's company.

    :)
     
  18. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2001
    Location:
    Ferguson, Missouri, USA
    They wouldn't be part of the ship's crew at all and the ship itself would not be the specific one I was talking about.
     
  19. varek

    varek Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2009
    Location:
    Danville, IN, USA
    Is your roster for 3 shifts?