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FLEET REQUIREMENTS AND STARSHIP DESIGN 
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I posted this on the earlier forum, and because it forms the foundation of what the FRS view of the fleet is all about, I'm going to post it here as well. Don't try to read it all at once -- take your time and think about it and if you like, let it guide our discussions here.

FLEET REQUIREMENTS AND STARSHIP DESIGN

I recently found some background material I had put together when I was doing the Federation Starship Recognition Chart. This is just the kind of material needed to get the design process going around here. Because I see this as a collaborative effort, I'm going to share it with you.

Todd and I had quite a few discussions when I was doing that chart. I think it is fair to say we didn't see entirely eye-to-eye on it, because he thought I was nailing things down a bit too much by fixing those silhouettes to a bunch of mentioned-but-unseen starships. So, consider this as background material that informed my choices, and not as anything anyone else necessarily agreed with.

When Todd did Volume 2 of SotSF, I contributed text about the deployment of PAs, and how that strategy had evolved. What follows was also an extension of that thinking.

In the navy, a fleet is centered on one or more ships that are the center of that fleet's operations. Everything is organized around those "high value units." Logistics and support ships, ships deployed in an inner screen that emphasizes anti-aircraft defense, ships in an outer screen that emphasizes anti-submarine defense, outlying pickets whose role it is to provide the main body with information about an attacker, and slow it down if possible. Removed from the fleet entirely are the tools of electronic warfare -- countermeasures, counter-countermeasures, and support. Everything in the fleet is organized around the threat axis -- the likely direction of attack, estimated by assessing environmental conditions and the potential battle space.

These facts informed my view of how Star Fleet looked. Ship design was based on a fitting of these naval realities into an outer space scape. Certain ships were needed for certain roles. They might or might not be multi-mission, but even the multi-mission ships were better at certain tasks than at others. What constituted the organization of fleet elements also informed my view of system defense, and spherical defense -- the strategic organization of fleets and other elements in defense of the Treaty Zone.

So, we have fleet organizations that might spread over as much as 600-1,000 AU in the time of TOS, where fleet elements might average warp factor 6 maximum speed. This puts any element of the fleet within thirty minutes of any other element, and the pickets within fifteen minutes of the main body, at maximum speed, under space normal (Wf = c^3) conditions.

Pickets would be organized to detect and engage if possible. The outer screen would be organized against slow but stealthy attackers. I ordained for my purposes that any cloaked starship, or any starship with significant stealth characteristics, takes a significant hit in the speed department. In fact, the degree of stealth exhibited at any time significantly diminishes each of the triad of starship design characteristics -- SSW, or speed, shields and weaponry. Increase stealth, decrease the other three. If the triad elements add up to 1, maximum stealth (undetectability) also adds up to 1. And any starship's triad plus stealth can only add up to 1 at any one time.

Similarly, as far as weaponry is concerned, the ability to launch ship-to-ship attacks would only constitute 1/3 of the SSW=1 total. But multiship attack ability =2/3. And fleet killer weaponry = 1, leaving a "fleet fatal" ship without stealth, speed or shields. (An example of this kind of weapon is a ship that invades a fleet and commits suicide by igniting its warp drive, taking out a large number of ships over a large area. It uses its total potential, or SSW, in one attack.) For speed, maximum speed of warp factor 10 also =1, while maxWf 9= 9/10, maxWf 8= 8/10, etc. As far as shields are concerned, a ship that requires the firepower of an entire fleet to breach its shields=1, while one that would be breached by multiship attack = 2/3, and a ship vulnerable to having a single ship breach its shields = 1/3.

So, an example using this simplistic way of balancing the triad with stealth might have a heavy cruiser at Wf 6 be vulnerable to a single ship's attack breaching its shields, and not be able to launch a meaningful counter attack. But, by dropping the speed to Wf 4, the ship can only be breached by multi ship attack (with no counter attack) or single ship attack, with equal counter attack capacity. In any of these cases, stealth is nil.

Obviously, I was seeing stand-off attacks as the norm, with fireships launching "mega torpedoes" (like the Romulan plasma weapon) into fleets that would use their pickets and outer screens to take out what they could, while their inner screens would (hopefully) take out the rest.

As I noted above, this model would be modified accordingly to describe the defense of fleets, systems, and the entire Federation. As such, it would also be modified to describe the fleet at different time periods, with the size involved, speeds, armor, etc, adjusted to the level of tech.

Later, we can discuss how this influences what ships are needed, and what they should be able to do, and how this influences what they would look like. We also need to discuss that threat axis, and how it varies with matter density (affecting chi, and thus the speed available to an attacker).

Comparing Ship Types, Part One

While SSW+Stealth = 1, each ship type has a different "1". "1" for a CC is different than "1" for a destroyer. This is where it gets interesting. From the Romulan War until the LN nacelles come online, the type and number of nacelles largely determine what power is available to a ship. That nacelle contains most of the ship's ability to create positive and negative energy, in order to generate a spacewarp. A ship will also have some ability to create positive and negative energy in-hull, in order to provide for gravity and structural integrity (and possibly other things, which we'll go into in a moment). A ship's total possible positive energy (positive energy availability, or PEA) = what is available to weapons. Whether the ship has weapons that can handle that much power is another question entirely. The ship's total possible negative energy (negative energy availability, or NEA) = what is available to fields, shields and screens but again, it might not have the generators capable of handling the available negative energy. Finally, the sum of negative and positive energy is what's available for speed -- warp, antigravity impulse and conventional thrust.

All ships with two PB-18 nacelles have almost the same PEA and NEA. For purposes of comparison we might say a PB-18's PEA is 9, while its NEA is also 9. The design with two such nacelles would have a total PEA+NEA of 36 to work with, discounting additional in-hull reactors or negative energy cavities (cavitons, Casimir cavities, null spheres, or whatever other name you might want to give such things). This is the real number that determines SSW+Stealth. And obviously, the number alone only determines speed potential (and possibly stealth potential). NEA determines shielding potential, and PEA determines weapons potential. The kind and mix of phasers, photorps, shield generators, singularity lamps/containers and warp rings/coils, etc. will then determine what all this power can funnel into, and what the real, resulting, comparative, relative SSW+Stealth will be for any particular ship.

Comparing Ship Types, Part Two

For the TOS era, I am working with the following types:

Cruisers
Heavy Cruiser CH
Battlecruiser CB
Through-deck Cruiser CD
Cruiser CA
Light Cruiser CL
Scout Cruiser CST
Protected Cruiser CP
Gun Cruiser CG
Attack Cruiser CC

Frigates (Frigates and Heavy Frigates are fire platforms, with more powerful reactors than destroyers and aggressors, plus expanded drone/embarked craft capacities)
Heavy Frigate FH
Frigate FR
Small Frigate FS

Aggressors (Essentially offensive. Twin nacelle, heavy destroyers and fleet destroyers augmented w/modules (like Pompey))
Destroyer Aggressor AD
Shielded Aggressor AS

Destroyers (Essentially defensive)
Fleet Destroyer (anti-stealth attack -- Twin nacelle type, with ability to divert all power to extend screens and distort space to divert incoming fire, and limited ability to divert power to rapid fire weapons -- to take out incoming fast attackers) DDS
Fleet Destroyer (anti-fast attack--Twin nacelle type, with ability to divert all power to rapid fire weapons -- to take out incoming fast attackers -- and limited ability to extend screens and distort space to divert incoming fire) DDF
Destroyer DD (single nacelle)

Patrol Combatants
Cutter CT (Fast, lightly-armed and frequently used in patrol work)
Sloop S (A multi-mission convoy escort type. Slow, but with long range to operate with convoys. Usually armed with one or two small turrets and warp charges, to be employed against stealth attackers that evade the outer screen. Warp charges are photorp-like but slow, and seek out warp-entry points and cloaked vessels)
Clipper CP (Designed for interdiction surveillance and special warfare support. Combat systems don't compare well with other ships of similar size -- ~100 feet long. High top speed, and fast trace phaser capability, though with limited power output. Crew of 20.)
Corvette CV (A small, maneuverable, lightly armed warship, smaller than a frigate, used for pursuit. Well shielded for its size, but lacking in more than rudimentary sensing ability.)
Corsair CR (A small pursuit ship, crew ~20, only ~ 6,000 MT displacement, carrying 6-10 manned interceptors and/or drones)
Interceptor IN (Very small, designed specifically to intercept and destroy enemy stealth attackers)
Escort ET (small, fast general purpose warship with anti-stealth emphasis)
Large Perimeter Action Ship PKA
Perimeter Action Ship PA

Specialized
Carrier SC
Dreadnought DN
Command Ship CO

Class One Auxilliaries
Transport TR
Transport/Tug TT
Tender TE
Combat Support Ship SP
Escort ET

This list is meant to be a de-volution from the list in SotSF1. In terms of fleet organization, these types might be arranged soemthing like this:

Inner Screen
Sloop S
Fleet Destroyer DDF
Destroyer Aggressor AD
Frigates FR
Heavy Frigates FH
Battlecruisers CB
Attack Cruisers CC

Outer Screen
Corvette CV
Escort ET
Fleet Destroyer DDS
Shielded Aggressor AS
Cruiser CA
Heavy Cruiser CH

Picket
Cutter CT
Clipper CP
Scout Cruiser CST
Light Cruiser CL
Protected Cruiser CP
Gun Cruiser CG

Most of these are fairly familiar types -- even the aggressors are linked to the Heavy Destroyers and Todd's Pompey. But not all these ships would look familiar. An overall design philosophy is at work. Simply put, ships with saucers represent a certain type of starship, essentially multi-mission compared to strictly military types, and requiring large crews. The assumption is, any starship can get by with 100 people running it at most. By running it, I mean the operations and engineering and command personnel. On a ship like 1701, everyone else would have been mission personnel -- scientists and security. Ships with that many mission personnel need a lot of lab space and quarters, but what about a strictly military design? And what about designs that have even more going on?

My guess is that just as we have been playing for thirty years with saucers and nacelles, a strictly military design would be based on something akin to a "secondary hull and nacelles" model -- no saucer. And, a design that is devoted to moving large amounts of men and material, but not a multi-mission crew, might utilize a "delta and two nacelles" model (like the Iceland-class from ENT -- don't snicker). This in order to provide lots of aft space for embarked craft to enter/exit, and many troops/ colonists. A ship like Ariel then is a combining of the last model with a multi-mission profile -- that ship has many flight specialists but also many security troops, doctors, scientists, etc.

Cruisers would almost always follow the saucer model in this period. But destroyers? I think not. The ships we think of as being more oriented to the combatant roles might only follow that model for designs to be deployed in the less-traveled areas of space, and "where no man has gone before."

Scoops were a later modification of Ariadne class clippers to specialized duty in areas of higher space matter density, to act as intelligence gatherers and stealthy, fast patrol combatants. Breakers were ships that were designed to "break" through picket and outer screen to launch multi-ship, or even fleet killer weaponry into the high value units. Very small crews -- sort of a variant on the perimeter action ship idea that applies stealth and the ability to launch disproportionately large attacks for your size to the fleet action arena.

Also, remember this is about Strategic Command. There is a Tactical Fleet, and it is organized very differently, with a focus that is in no way built around fleet action. It wouldn't even have the type of hardware to engage in that kind of warfare. And, there would be an Exploratory Command, that would... well... explore. It would have permanent elements like surveyors and explorers, and ships from the main fleet on temporary assignment. There would also be unusual assignments. like the 5 Year Mission ships, on semi-permanent assignment, acting at one and the same time as independent roaming cruisers AND the center of widely-spread deep space task forces.

Let's look at ship design, as it relates to the requirements of the kind of fleet organization I've described, and the stealth-SSW triad equation.

I see the single-nacelle destroyers doing this "system defense" job. PKAs would be the center of PA groups, adding firepower at intervals to the speed of the faster but less-ably gunned PAs, their groups acting as a tripwire along contested borderspace and on frontiers calculated as being probable areas of conflict.

Fleet destroyers, cruisers, some heavy cruisers (those with dedicated military profiles versus the multi-mission types), frigates, heavy frigates, shuttlecarriers and battlecruisers make up the numbered subfleets.

Twin-nacelled fleet destroyers, cruisers, and heavy cruisers are in roving cruiser groups, acting as the middle barricade that is engaged once the outer PA tripwire is tripped. Strike cruisers would also perform this kind of role in clearly-contested space where their speed and ability to engage foes of greater size would be important. Fleet destroyers would be capable of deep space duty escorting convoys, screening for task forces, etc. The single-nacelled ships are the workhorses of the planetary system defense groups.

Frigates and heavy frigates also rove in separate frigate groups and pair with the battlecruisers that are stationed at vital strategic spots, acting as the next, inner line of defense (after the cruiser groups). The frigate groups team with shuttlecarriers for task force duty, attacking entrenched forces planetside (or performing colonization or humanitarian relief missions).

Destroyer escorts are assigned to convoy escort missions.

I think the through-deck cruisers would be swinging between 1) being bases for "screening wings" of attack shuttles on convoy escort missions and 2) supplementing the frigate groups (that are not always centered on shuttlecarriers or battlecruisers).

Clippers, Cutters, etc. are assigned to space lane police roles. 2170-2250 era clippers evolve and expand into PAs. But the clippers are smaller -- between 15 and 50 complement.

Some cruisers and heavy cruisers would be lone operators, outside of groups. Some would be fitted out for this role in a primarily military capacity, and some would be multi-purpose. They would be on the outer perimeter in the deep-space mission role, in areas where PAs might roam but also in wholly unexplored space inside and beyond the frontier. In short a melding of the 20th century cruiser's predecessor -- the sailing frigate -- and the WW 2 era cruiser itself. Other CAs ans CHs would be in midspace in cruiser croups as part of the three layer deployment.

When in groups, the light cruisers might supplement cruiser groups, acting in the role of the fleet destroyers, though with greater firepower. Or they would perform a similar role as the center of roaming destroyer groups. Cruisers and heavy cruisers would be the main body of the cruiser groups, but many would be deployed on detached duty, either on the frontier (CH) or in situations requiring less endurance (CAs).

Inner Screen
Sloop (A multi-mission convoy escort type. Slow, but with long range to operate with convoys. Usually armed with one or two small turrets and warp charges, to be employed against stealth attackers that evade the outer screen.) S
Corsair (A small pursuit ship, crew ~20, only ~ 6,000 tons displacement, carrying 6-10 manned interceptors and/or drones)
Fleet Destroyer (Twin nacelle type, with ability to divert all power to rapid fire weapons -- to take out incoming missiles and torpedoes -- and limited ability to extend screens and distort space to divert incoming fire) DDF
Destroyer Aggressor AD (Twin nacelle, able to conduct offensive operations and divert all power to either speed, shields or weapons. Abilities the addition of various add-on modules
Frigates FR (Frigates and Heavy Frigates are fire platforms, with more powerful reactors than destroyers and aggressors,
Heavy Frigates FH
Battlecruisers CB
Attack Cruisers CC

Outer Screen
Corvette CV (A small, maneuverable, lightly armed warship, smaller than a frigate, used for pursuit.)
Interceptor IN (Designed specifically to intercept and destroy enemy stealth attackers)
Escort ET
Fleet Destroyer (anti-ship) DDS (Twin nacelle type, with ability to divert all power to extend screens and distort space to divert incoming fire, and limited ability to divert power to rapid fire weapons -- to take out incoming missiles and torpedoes )
Shielded Aggressor AS
Cruiser CA
Heavy Cruiser CH
Strike Cruiser CS

Picket
Cutter CT (Fast, lightly-armed and frequently used in patrol work)
Scout Cruiser CST
Light Cruiser CL
Protected Cruiser CP
Gun Cruiser CG

Some cruisers and aggressors have three reactors, allowing fire or shields to be maintained w/o detriment to speed.

Reactor strength
sloops, cutters, clippers
corvettes
escorts and short range destroyers
fleet destroyers
aggressors (augmented fleet destroyers and heavy destroyers)
frigates
heavy frigates
cruisers
battlecruisers
exploratory cruisers (3 reactors)
space control ships (3 reactors)
dreadnoughts (3 nacelles)

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"...here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." -Thomas Jefferson, 1820


18 Jan 2009 13:43
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So, this idea of "triple ring" with independent floaters could be a standard for star fleet deployment across the board, and not just for fleet ships. I mean, this concept of 3+x could be carried to every type of "defensive deployment" for SF, from system defense to ship's defenses.

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22 Mar 2009 01:55
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You're right, this is a lot to take in at once, so I'm still kinda thinking it through as I post. One question I have is what general time period in Federation history does this scenario apply to? Reason I ask is that I've recently imagined that even in Kirk's time...his early years at least...individual star systems still took a good bit of responsibility for their own local defense, system law enforcement, disaster/crisis management, etc. This would assume that many systems maintained their own sovereign fleets of various ship types to respond to local needs, while the role of Starfleet leaned more towards defense and exploration of the Federation as a whole. Of course these local units would be fitted with a variety of Federation standard systems to allow them to effectively operate with and support Starfleet units should a major Starfleet engagement approach their system. (By 'standard' I'm referring more to communication, information-sharing & tactical coordination systems than weapons, etc.)

As an analogy to the United States, Starfleet would handle 'Federal' level responsibilities as do the Navy, Border Patrol & FEMA, while individual member planets would have their own equivalents of the National Guard, State Police and other 'State' entities, with States generally holding their own except in rare cases of outside invasion, Hurricane Katrina or some other Federal/Statewide disaster. Maybe you need to go back a 100 years or so for this analogy to make more sense I'm not sure, but I guess the defensive organization I'm suggesting would be something a little less in scope than the current U.S. model, but more centralized than NATO or the EU.

So in this scenario, for system defense at least, the inner sphere might be local defense units, the middle sphere Starfleet units assigned to that sector and the picket further out.

I don't know, this is all just stuff I've been kicking around in my head for awhile, so I'm not sure how beholden I am to it myself or if I even like it, but thought I'd throw it into the discussion. The thing that's got me pondering all this is the numerous times in TOS that we see a single Starfleet ship being all that stands between a massive threat and a number of highly populated member worlds. Of course this was a dramatic tool mainly, but it's made me wonder at times just how significant Kirk's 'only 12 like her' comment might've been? On that note you might recall an old thread at the BBS called 'Musings On A 12 Ship Fleet' where I traded some thoughts with Timo. I just went over and copied relevant excerpts below, rather than formulating my thoughts a 2nd time. They allude to some TOS examples for support. See what you think.

Ahkyahnan: "This early in Federation history (TOS), Starfleet may not yet have taken over full responsibility for patrol and defense. The bulk of routine patrol duty might still rest with pre-existing fleets of member planets. Going back to the crime analogy, the "Feds" only get called in for situations the locals can't handle independently, or for tasks that are squarely Federation responsibilities, so a small Starfleet might suffice at that stage. Later on as the Fleet grows (TMP-TNG) it begins to assume responsibility for more and more of these tasks.
 
I'll probably forget something, but aside from exploration, we usually saw the TOS Enterprise defending/supporting colonies, fending off major border adversaries, and showing the flag for the Federation proper. Things that would fall outside the responsibility of an individual member planet. I rarely recall the Enterprise visiting or coming to the aid of a member planet itself. No call for help from Andor to fend off an attack by Orion pirates for example. It always seemed to be colonies, base facilities, or some non-member planet that the Federation had a "national" interest in.
 
So with local fleets still handling day-to-day patrol & basic defense, you might only need one large Starfleet ship in any given sector to handle those occasional extraordinary situations such as giant amoebas, doomsday machines, imperfection sterilizing space probes, and other emergencies affecting the Federation as a whole."

Timo responded: "Perhaps so. But the hero ship is also often tasked with stuff such as flying crucial medication from A to B, B being a major established colony or member world in distress. Such assignments would intolerably tie down "silver bullet" resources, unless we argue Starfleet has enough silver bullets to operate a regular machine gun belt."

Ahkyahnan: "The above actually kind of supports what I was getting at. The key word in your post being 'crucial'. The situations you mention are usually described as being planetwide disasters affecting millions of inhabitants. Not the annual flu outbreak that again local fleets of the era could handle on their own, but yet another extraordinary yet infrequent emergency, albeit not of a defensive nature as discussed originally. The idea I was getting at was that if the fleet was still fairly small in those early days of TOS and local planetary forces were still handling the more routine transport, defense & other functions, then a single large Fed ship might be relatively free to roam the sector cataloging plantlife and updating starcharts until the next sector-wide emergency popped up. Granted a planetary epidemic might break out the same day a planet-killer decides to have lunch, but the odds of that happening might be deemed acceptable.

Regarding the fleet that almost faced the Klingons in Errand Of Mercy, who's to say that wasn't only 2 or 3 Starfleet capital ships coordinating numerous frigates & destroyers assembled from member planets? Or maybe a fleet of 4 Starfleet vessels against 5-6 Klingon ships?

Actually that last point might be a good indicator of a larger Starfleet. Romulan & Klingon ships are often shown operating in groups of 3, indicating they have larger fleets we'd have to defend against...unless their overall territory is a lot smaller and they don't have to disperse their fleet as much."

The thread kinda move on after that, but you can see what was driving my thinking...or pondering I should say...the idea isn't quite up to 'thinking' yet. I think you've entertained some similar ideas at times, so you probably see what I'm getting at. At any rate, that's why I asked what general time period the above refers to, and I'm wondering how you incorporate the lack of a visible large fleet in TOS into it? Bear in mind I'm in no way suggesting there were only 12 major ships in Starfleet, just that at the same time I've recently wondered whether the TOS Starfleet would be quite as large and varied as the one you describe above, as evidenced by TOS at least.

Mark

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24 Mar 2009 15:09
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Theodore wrote:
So, this idea of "triple ring" with independent floaters could be a standard for star fleet deployment across the board, and not just for fleet ships. I mean, this concept of 3+x could be carried to every type of "defensive deployment" for SF, from system defense to ship's defenses.



That's exactly what I'm thinking, yes.

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25 Mar 2009 04:36
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Ahkyahnan wrote:
So in this scenario, for system defense at least, the inner sphere might be local defense units, the middle sphere Starfleet units assigned to that sector and the picket further out.


I'm excerpting just this part because it is really the only thing I'd take any exception to. Other than that, I think you have it down pretty well -- it is meant to reflect an earlier, more "federalized" arrangement of mixed governments at different levels handing responsibility back and forth or joining forces as the need arises. But the three layers aren't really a part of this -- they are all Starfleet. The inner sphere space might be dominated by the densely-packed member planets' own defensive forces, but the "glue" holding them together would be the inner sphere itself. I think the spacecraft of this inner sphere would be wholly military and defensive and might look very different than the "saucer + two nacelles + secondary hull" standard. I think they'd be more a "secondary hull + two nacelles" standard, and that the saucer gets added for all the added space that is needed for mixed-use starships designed for deeper space.

How does all this comport with the scenarios seen in TOS where a single starship stands between a planet and some foe? Well, I see TOS as largely happening beyond the frontier. I see it as being the story of one ship from a special, twelve ship space program composed to stretch the boundaries of the Federation (largely in response to the inconclusive Four Years War). We are seeing the Enterprise darting back and forth from the support facilities in the middle and outer layers to the unknown frontier. It is sometimes catching the high-Cochrane factor "jet streams" to cover the considerable distances between these layers.

The problem is, and always will be TMP. You'd never, ever have one starship between a central member planet and an adversary in this scenario. V'ger might employ its own advanced propulsion systems and the "jet stream" to jump into central space and avoid Starfleet defenses, but the system defense forces and their Starfleet support would be there as a final line of defense (unless eliminated in a previous attack wave). That's why what we saw in TMP must reflect not "the only ship standing in the way", but "the only ship that can intercept, assess the threat and stall". It's fast enough and powerful enough that it has a chance of intercepting V'ger, learning about its weaknesses, and holding it at bay while Starfleet's inner defenses tie together Sol's and other nearby system defense forces. Because Enterprise has zero success impeding V'ger (quite the opposite -- it is V'ger that learns about the Earth's and Federation's defenses), we never see any "last stand" in the Solar System.

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-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia Query XVII, 1783

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25 Mar 2009 05:16
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aridas wrote:
Ahkyahnan wrote:
So in this scenario, for system defense at least, the inner sphere might be local defense units, the middle sphere Starfleet units assigned to that sector and the picket further out.


I'm excerpting just this part because it is really the only thing I'd take any exception to. Other than that, I think you have it down pretty well -- it is meant to reflect an earlier, more "federalized" arrangement of mixed governments at different levels handing responsibility back and forth or joining forces as the need arises. But the three layers aren't really a part of this -- they are all Starfleet. The inner sphere space might be dominated by the densely-packed member planets' own defensive forces, but the "glue" holding them together would be the inner sphere itself. I think the spacecraft of this inner sphere would be wholly military and defensive and might look very different than the "saucer + two nacelles + secondary hull" standard. I think they'd be more a "secondary hull + two nacelles" standard, and that the saucer gets added for all the added space that is needed for mixed-use starships designed for deeper space.

How does all this comport with the scenarios seen in TOS where a single starship stands between a planet and some foe? Well, I see TOS as largely happening beyond the frontier. I see it as being the story of one ship from a special, twelve ship space program composed to stretch the boundaries of the Federation (largely in response to the inconclusive Four Years War). We are seeing the Enterprise darting back and forth from the support facilities in the middle and outer layers to the unknown frontier. It is sometimes catching the high-Cochrane factor "jet streams" to cover the considerable distances between these layers.


Like Wang Dayuan, Cook, Columbus, Magellan, Lewis & Clark, or Hudson expeditions.

Quote:
The problem is, and always will be TMP...


Not if you approach all trek as if it was a holo-entertainment program for the time. A dramatized telling of the real events which may not have gotten all the facts right, be it because the holo-vid makers didn't do their homework, for visual reasons, or to provide for better drama. ;)

Thus, the star fleet task force sent to intercept the V'ger probe becomes a single ship in the holo-vid. With no mention of the lost crew of the frigate zap whose shields were unable to withstand the initial onslaught by the plasma weapons, making Kirk out more like ahab than he really was, ect.

Example, Pearl Harbor or patton. Based on a real event/person, but dramatized and inaccurate.

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25 Mar 2009 16:25
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aridas wrote:
Ahkyahnan wrote:
So in this scenario, for system defense at least, the inner sphere might be local defense units, the middle sphere Starfleet units assigned to that sector and the picket further out.


<snip>...it is meant to reflect an earlier, more "federalized" arrangement of mixed governments at different levels handing responsibility back and forth or joining forces as the need arises. But the three layers aren't really a part of this -- they are all Starfleet. The inner sphere space might be dominated by the densely-packed member planets' own defensive forces, but the "glue" holding them together would be the inner sphere itself.


So just to clarify, are you saying the inner sphere would be a mix of indigenous and Starfleet vessels, under the command & control of Starfleet? If so that's kind of what I was alluding to when I added that the local units would be equipped with 'standard' systems allowing them to interoperate & coordinate activities with Fleet units.

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I think the spacecraft of this inner sphere would be wholly military and defensive and might look very different than the "saucer + two nacelles + secondary hull" standard. I think they'd be more a "secondary hull + two nacelles" standard, and that the saucer gets added for all the added space that is needed for mixed-use starships designed for deeper space.


I agree. I know you're probably referring mainly to the Starfleet ships, but interestingly I once designed a few member planet defense ships with a similar arrangement.

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How does all this comport with the scenarios seen in TOS where a single starship stands between a planet and some foe? Well, I see TOS as largely happening beyond the frontier. I see it as being the story of one ship from a special, twelve ship space program composed to stretch the boundaries of the Federation (largely in response to the inconclusive Four Years War). We are seeing the Enterprise darting back and forth from the support facilities in the middle and outer layers to the unknown frontier. It is sometimes catching the high-Cochrane factor "jet streams" to cover the considerable distances between these layers.


Again I generally agree. The thing I guess that just keeps giving me an "odd feeling" is that the 'foes' I mentioned earlier seemed to be encountered in those middle & outer layers, not the unknown frontier. Only because the planetary systems they threatened seemed to be in immediate danger as if relatively nearby, and the implication seemed to be that if Enterprise were unsuccessful all would be lost. I'm not very good at maintaining episode details in my head, so maybe some of these were referred to as deep-space colonies or non-member systems. But I usually got the impression they were located in familiar portions of the galaxy, and there didn't seem to be a sense that fleets of ships would be waiting to take up the fight should the foe get past Enterprise.

Of course a lot of this was done simply to increase the level of TV drama, not to suggest a more realistic scenario, but it's always in the back of my head. I should go back and review the details of those episodes to refresh my memory and double-check my thinking. Another example though is Memory Alpha, which at first blush one would assume to be within Federation space. Of course it could've been a deep space information repository for use by frontier ships, bases and colonies? Similar to how a large city library will have smaller branches out in the country for locals who don't get to town very often. Maybe that's how Enterprise was able to access what often seemed relatively 'esoteric' information so quickly.

At any rate I don't disagree with your base assumptions and they make sense to me as well, I just struggle sometimes to reconcile them to TOS the TV show itself. I'll keep struggling though. :)

Mark

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26 Mar 2009 16:25
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I think the way to reconcile some of the situations seen in TOS is the brilliant "fix" of the high chi jet stream, or warp highway. Or warp stream. ;) This idea has great potential for the folks like you and Masao (and me, of course) that like ruminating on battle and war scenarios. There should be vital spots, discovered and (for the most part) undiscovered, that are "on ramps" to these warp highways. A Klingon wolfpack that finds one can jump well into Federation space and commit multiple raids before being intercepted. This makes the outer defense sphere a headache to manage, and would put finding those "on ramps" and "off ramps" a real priority. Managing the outer sphere would be an exercise in probability studies, with targets and enemy threat potentials being constantly weighed and plotted. Ships with the ability to do what PAs can do given the willingness to commit suicide would be vital to finding and guarding the fast routes to rich targets.

So, when 1701 was out on the frontier, or even in the middle sphere, and intercepted an enemy at an "on ramp" or "off ramp", the potential for great harm was there should they fail to stop them.

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26 Mar 2009 20:21
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An interesting concept I always likes aridas, and one that I always felt was a bit of forgotten trek tech.

Very reminiscent of old school sail days connections with trade winds, ocean currents, ect.

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26 Mar 2009 23:32
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I look at all the ways people have put together nacelles, saucers and other parts and try to figure out what rhyme or reason there is to any of it other than how cool a particular design looks. I'd like to try a different way of looking at these parts and how putting them together in different ways might affect how they perform and thus, what roles they are assigned.

There are three basic arrangements for the saucer and nacelles: nacelles below saucer, nacelles above saucer, and nacelles even with saucer. Both the nacelles and saucer play major havoc with natural gravity as a function of the simple mass of the vessel. The nacelles stretch and bloat space around the ship as a means to move it from one point to another, and the saucer creates artificial gravity and momentum buffers, screens and shields to make life inside possible. If there is a secondary hull or other supplemental module, the saucer's support is extended there as well.

What each of these parts do is essential to life support and to the performance of the ship. And yet it is unavoidable that having antigravitational screens and shields that repel matter and energy from the ship will influence how the nacelles can warp space, or that the nacelles will influence how much power it takes to generate the essential artificial gravity and momentum buffers within the ship.

Since life support is a given, the rest is negotiable and whatever design magnifies one characteristic and diminishes another will determine the general function of these ships. In the world that the FRS drew on, we have a great many designs that carry their nacelles below the saucer, in a position that might make generating internal artificial gravity easier. If that's the case, less power would be needed for that essential task.

In the reverse position, the artificial gravity in the saucer might magnify the effect the nacelles are creating. This will require less power go to the nacelles. We could say that the effect is the same either way, but that would leave us with little reason to vary these parts. However, if we say that having the nacelles below not only makes AG generation easier, but significantly boosts screens and shields, and that having the nacelles above boosts their performance far more than having them below boosts AG, momentum buffers, shields and screens, then we can begin to see why ships might be designed one way or the other. Ships designs that emphasize speed over shields will have their nacelles in the superior (upper) position. Ships designs that do the opposite will have their nacelles in the inferior (lower) position.

Ships with their nacelles and saucer at the same level might be the sensible solution. In order to wreck this neat answer however, we can say that yes, it is a compromise that maximizes the performance of shields and speed, but at the cost of handling. Ships designed this way will skip like a stone through space, will drop out of warp unpredictably, handle sluggishly or in an exaggerated way without apparent reason, and worse.

We can quickly see that varying these arrangements will not only affect starship design, but also strategy and tactics. A ship designed for speed will power down its nacelles when in combat to maximize shield efficiency. A ship designed for shields will run with minimal shielding to avoid interference with nacelle performance. Balanced designs will have elaborate switching systems and "gravity reflectors" to bounce gravity around in an effort to stabilize the ride.

I'm thinking that looking at starship design in this way, you might break down designs as cruiser types, destroyer types, and monitor types. I'm throwing "monitor" in as the third type because all their parts were roughly level, hugging the surface of the water, and they were notoriously tough to handle. They also were designed to do what balanced designs like PAs are designed to do-- monitor.

This breakdown would not appear until the emergence of artificial gravity and the re-orientation of decks from being perpendicular to the ship's heading to being parallel. But it might nevertheless reflect an earlier differentiation along size and functional lines-- a differentiation that was maintained because of tradition.

Another thing-- what of a ship design with nacelles both above AND below the "gravity line" of the saucer? Ships like Picard's quad-nacelled Stargazer or Harry's bi-nacelled Anhui? On the face of it this might really be the optimal solution, but the paucity of such designs would indicate that no, this isn't the answer. Imagine a first rate ship of the line like the monster ships the British and French set to sail in Napoleon's era. Huge numbers of cannon and ballast necessitating miles of rigging hoisting untold yards of canvas. With four nacelles the ship drags AND is hard to handle. With two it's just hard to handle, creating an even more slippery version of a design with nacelles on the gravity line. There would be reasons such designs would be built, but their natural limitations would determine add-ons and other remedial moves as well as what deployments might point toward such troublesome designs.

So, what about the dreadnought? A design with nacelles near the gravity line supplemented by one high above? This would seem to be a very, very fast design indeed. And it would be. But the handling problems created by having nacelles near the gravity line would be magnified. IMO those ships would use their third nacelle to power shields and weapons, to act as a saucer nacelle for survival and tactical versatility. And when absolutely needed, to supplement the main nacelles-- with predictable consequences.

The only variation on these less-common combinations that might show promise would be ships like my interpretation of Grissom-- the Komarov class. A small ship with nacelles on the gravity line for speed with a massive, stabilizing third nacelle in the inferior, defensive position. The big, honking nacelle would act as a giant warp stabilizer and allow two relatively small nacelles to perform at near optimal levels ON the gravity line. A real hot rod.

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24 Sep 2011 19:24
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