Author Topic: Trans-Newtonian Campaign - Part 7  (Read 6482 times)

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Offline Steve Walmsley

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Trans-Newtonian Campaign - Part 7
« on: November 26, 2008, 07:14:16 AM »
By early April the population of Mars had grown to fifty-four million and the population of Washington II was almost twenty million. Earth's Commonwealth population had shrunk to 1060 million. All human-built colony ships and freighters, whether privately built or constructed in government shipyards, were now operating under the Commonwealth flag. The problem was that many of the ships were greater than 3800 tons, often due to the use of older armour types in their construction, and that was the maximum size that the jump ship Aragon could escort into the Washington system. Two American-designed Virginia class jump ships with 4000 ton capacity jump drives were under construction in the United States when the Federation launched its nuclear attack on Western industry. One ship was destroyed along with its slipway. The other survived but the intense level of radiation, plus the fact that there were no longer enough workers on Earth to man all the installations, had slowed construction to a crawl. The latest estimated completion date was November 2032. Even then, most of the Russian and foreign-built ships were 4050 tons so they still would not be able to transport colonists and installations into Washington. The shipyard on Mars was retooling to build the 6000 ton Vittorio Veneto class jump cruiser, as its intended shipyard on Earth had been destroyed but construction of the first Vittorio would not even start until October 2032. Another option was to upgrade the armour on the older ships to bring them within the 4000 ton limit of the Virginia but even if a shipyard on Earth could be retooled, the process of conversion would be extremely slow and it would take ships out of commission during the refits. For the moment, Mars was handing the colony ships that could not leave the Sol system but the factories on Mars were losing the race to build enough infrastructure to cope with the growing population. It would be bitterly ironic if the limited number of colony ships had nowhere they could unload the evacuees from Earth.

Even while Earth was being evacuated, the Commonwealth Navy continued to explore nearby systems. Los Angeles, located beyond the sixth jump point from the Sun, was surveyed in mid-April and two new jump points were found, one of which was within five hundred million kilometres of the entry point. Both led to systems without any promising sites for colonization, although with plenty of real estate that might contain valuable mineral deposits. The population on Mars exceeded the capacity of the available infrastructure in mid June. Colony ships continued to drop off colonists though because the small number of casualties caused by overcrowding on a hostile world was still preferable to almost certain death on Earth.

On August 26th, the governor of the small Japanese colony on Mercury contacted President Vorokov and  requested that the colony be allowed to join the Commonwealth. The Japanese government had provided no support to the colony since the war and the 230,000 colonists saw no future on the barren, airless rock on which they had been effectively stranded. Despite the protestations of the Japanese government on Earth, President Vorokov granted their request on the condition that the colonists would be transported to Mars, along with their supporting infrastructure. While he was not prepared to accept additional refugees from other Earth-based powers, the infrastructure that could support 230,000 people on Mercury would support over two million on Mars. What the Mercury colonists did not realise is that although they were suffering losses of two percent per year due to overcrowding, the same problem on Mars was causing almost a six percent loss rate. Seventy-three million people were crammed into accommodations designed to support sixty-four million. It was still far better than the estimated seventy-six percent of the population that would die on Earth every year. By this point the population in Washington was twenty-six million but growing only slowly due to the lack of colony ships small enough to make the transit. A number of the Japanese colonists from Mercury brought with them technical expertise on the small, slow-firing missile launchers used by the Japanese on their Nagato class. While this was of no immediate benefit, given the situation, it would be useful when the Commonwealth began worrying about security again instead of survival.

On September 10th, the BAE Systems shipyard on Earth was retooled to a new freighter design. Among the various civilian and government-built ships that the Commonwealth had acquired during the chaos following the war were four Japanese-built Taihos and fourteen Asian-built Yinchuans, both of which were 4050 tons. Even when the US-designed Virginia class jump ship was built, these freighters would still be slightly too large to make a transit. The Taiho II was based almost identical to the Taiho and Yinchuan classes but used the latest composite armour to reduce its size to 3950 tons. The BAE Systems shipyard would convert the older freighters to the new design, albeit slowly. With the shipyard still operating at only 23% of its normal rate, it would take almost four months per freighter and the yard could only work on two at once. Until new shipyards could be built on Washington II and Mars the Commonwealth had to make do with whatever resources were available.

Taiho II class Freighter    3950 tons     158 Crew     175.4 BP      TCS 79  TH 100  EM 0
1265 km/s     Armour 1-22     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 1     PPV 0
Annual Failure Rate: 124%    IFR: 1.7%    Maintenance Capacity 28 MSP    Max Repair 15 MSP
Cargo 25000    Cargo Handling Multiplier 5   

Nuclear Thermal Engine (4)    Power 25    Efficiency 1.00    Signature 25    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 50,000 Litres    Range 22.8 billion km   (208 days at full power)

The TCS Virginia was built on October 16th 2032. She left orbit to relieve Aragon on the Sol - Washington jump point and increase the maximum ship size that could enter Washington from 3800 tons to 4000 tons. Eight colony ships, not including the tiny Santa Marias, and thirteen freighters fell within the previous 3800 ton maximum. At 4000 tons the total increased to fourteen colony ships, including three fast Russian-built Kara IIs, and seventeen freighters. Six colony ships and fourteen freighters were still too large.

Two Tribal class destroyer escorts were built on October 26th. Although they were a low priority, they were close to completion after the war so construction continued slowly. No Dagger anti-missile missiles had been built so they would be completely unarmed until ordnance production could resume and that seemed unlikely in the near future. Several sections of industry had been completely shut down on all three Commonwealth worlds to free up much needed manpower.

One year after the Asian Federation attack on the other major powers, the Commonwealth population on Earth had fallen from 1462 million to just 640 million. Radiation and dust levels had barely changed. Every part of Earth-based industry had been shut down except for construction factories, which were building infrastructure, and shipyards, which were trying to complete shipyard tasks started before the war and carry out a limited number of refits to convert older freighters and colony ships to 4000 ton hulls. The single item of new construction was a Tarawa class Troop Transport that would not be ready until February 2035. The construction of infrastructure on Earth was very limited with only enough to support three million people in place by mid-November 2032. The total off-world population was one hundred and eleven million, eighty million of which was on an overcrowded Mars.

In late December, President Vorokov was contacted by the Japanese Prime Minister. Whatever the problems encountered by the Commonwealth since the war, they were nothing compared to those faced by Japan and her allies. Their population was down to less than two hundred million, compared to five hundred and fifty million before the war, and in the previous year the factories given to them by the Commonwealth had only built enough infrastructure to support 100,000 people. They were facing considerable unrest because of the desperate situation and without an army they could not suppress it. They still had their fleet but no way to maintain it. The Prime Minister if the Commonwealth could spare any maintenance facilities, so that Japan could at least retain the ability to defend itself, or the equipment for any army units so that order could be maintained. As the Commonwealth had more than it needed in both the areas, President Vorokov donated fifteen maintenance facilities, enough for Japan to provide support for its Kongo and Kongo II-B destroyers but not enough for the much larger Nagatos, plus the equipment for a dozen low-tech infantry divisions. While some advisors were concerned this might create a military threat, President Vorokov wanted to offer some recompense for the annexation of the Mercury colony and begin building relations with Japan so that in the future, when the crisis was over, it might become part of the Commonwealth.

On March 6th 2033, the Jeremy Parrella Cybernetic Team restored a second shipyard on Mars, this time with two slipways of 9000 ton capacity. With Earth's shipyards crippled and the other Martian shipyard tied up for over a year building the first Vittorio Veneto jump cruiser, it was excellent timing. As there were six colony ships too large to make the transit to Washington, the Kuma II class colony ship was created. As with the Taiho II class freighter, this was a design based on old thermal engine technology and almost identical to the Japanese-designed Kuma and Asian-designed Hegu class colony ships except for composite armour to reduce the size to 3950 tons. As Mars was unaffected by the conditions plaguing Earth, the refit of each old colony ship could be accomplished within four weeks rather than four months. Three weeks later the first shipyard was built on Washington II, although this had single slipway with a capacity of 1000 tons so it would not make a huge difference in the short term

Kuma II class Colony Ship    3950 tons     183 Crew     625.4 BP      TCS 79  TH 100  EM 0
1265 km/s     Armour 1-22     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 1     PPV 0
Annual Failure Rate: 124%    IFR: 1.7%    Maintenance Capacity 99 MSP    Max Repair 100 MSP
Colonists 50000    Cargo Handling Multiplier 5   

Nuclear Thermal Drive (4)    Power 25    Efficiency 1.00    Signature 25    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 50,000 Litres    Range 22.8 billion km   (208 days at full power)

The first two Flight IV Arleigh Burkes were launched in June 2033. Laid down before the war, the latest version of the Arleigh Burke was identical to the Flight III except that it used Composite Armour instead of the Duranium Armour used on the first three models of the destroyer. Due to wrangling over appropriations and a desire for backward compatibility, none of the previous models had included the intermediate High Density Duranium Armour so the upgrade reduced the size of the Flight IV from 4250 tons to 4000 tons, increasing speed to 2500 km/s and allowing it to operate with the Virginia class jump cruiser.

Arleigh Burke IV class Missile Destroyer    4000 tons     396 Crew     482.2 BP      TCS 80  TH 200  EM 0
2500 km/s     Armour 3-22     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 3     PPV 16
Annual Failure Rate: 42%    IFR: 0.6%    Maintenance Capacity 226 MSP    Max Repair 50 MSP
Magazine 266   

Nuclear Pulse Engine (5)    Power 40    Efficiency 1.00    Signature 40    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 100,000 Litres    Range 45.0 billion km   (208 days at full power)

Standard II Missile Launcher  (8)    Missile Size 2    Rate of Fire 30
MFC-3 Missile Fire Control  (1)     Range 27.0m km    Resolution 45
Trident (133)  Speed: 12000 km/s   End: 31.2 minutes    Range: 22.5m km   Warhead: 4    MR: 10    Size: 2

AGS-3 Active Search Sensor  (1)     GPS 2250     Range 22.5m km    Resolution 45

As the same time as the Arleigh Burkes were launched, the recently restored shipyard on Mars completed the upgrade of the older colony ships to the Kuma II design. With that task completed, the shipyard began retooling to build the more modern Alaska II class colony ship.

Alaska II class Colony Ship    4000 tons     186 Crew     667.4 BP      TCS 80  TH 160  EM 0
2000 km/s     Armour 1-22     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 1     PPV 0
Annual Failure Rate: 128%    IFR: 1.8%    Maintenance Capacity 104 MSP    Max Repair 100 MSP
Colonists 50000    Cargo Handling Multiplier 5   

Nuclear Pulse Engine (4)    Power 40    Efficiency 1.00    Signature 40    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 100,000 Litres    Range 45.0 billion km   (260 days at full power)

Washington II reached a population of fifty million in late June 2033. With all colony ships now travelling between Earth and Washington II, the population of Mars stabilized at eighty-five million. As infrastructure was built and occasionally sections of the alien city on Mars restored, the population that could be supported rose and the casualty rate due to overcrowding fell to less than two percent. With no new immigration, it would not be long before sufficient infrastructure would be available to end the overcrowding entirely. At this point, the surviving Commonwealth population on Earth had fallen to three hundred and eighty million. That situation lasted for two months, until the civilian space centre on Earth built a Mayflower class colony ship; the first civilian built ship since the end of the war. With no jump engine it could only operate within the Sol system so it began transporting colonists between Earth and Mars. A single ship would not transport enough colonists to halt the narrowing gap between population and infrastructure but if more civilian ships were built, the situation could worsen again.

Exploration continued in the systems around Sol. By late August the number of known systems had reached thirty-one, twelve of which had been surveyed for jump points. The latest of these was San Francisco, a system within a sparse nebula that lay beyond Sol's outermost jump point. The European-built gravitational survey ships Dunkerque and Strasbourg located five new jump points and the US-built Nautilus moved to investigate. One of the new systems, Stevenage, was connected to San Francisco by another alien jump gate, identical to that in London except in this case there were jump gates on both sides of the jump point. Stevenage II was a humid jungle world with a dense oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere and a surface temperature of 52C. The oxygen content of the atmosphere and the temperature were both slightly above human tolerance but those could be brought within acceptable limits by terraforming, that is if Commonwealth scientists could deliver on their promise of mobile terraforming technology based on the alien terraforming installations on Mars. Due to the lack of manpower all research facilities had been shut down since the war so that the available population could be dedicated to construction factories and shipyards, which meant mobile terraforming was a long way into the future. Stevenage and two other systems lay within the same nebula as San Francisco. Unlike the Vienna Nebula, which reduced maximum spacecraft speeds to just 500 km/s, the dust within the San Francisco Nebula was of relatively low density and spacecraft could travel safely at up to 2500 km/s, which in many cases was greater than their maximum speed. One of the other nebula systems connected to San Francisco was Cardiff, home to an O9-V protostar with a mass twenty times that of the Sun. This was by far the most massive star in any of the known systems and would make a gravitational survey of Cardiff a very time-consuming task. Only one planet orbited the star, a small hot and airless world at six billion kilometres, although there were several comets further out.

On the far side of known space, Rickover was investigating a new jump point in the Berlin system. Berlin itself was a planetless system with twenty comets located two jumps from Washington, via the brown dwarf system of Boston. Rickover emerged in Hannover, a binary with a bright F2-V primary and a yellow G5-V companion star, not dissimilar to Sol, orbiting at the same distance as Uranus. The primary had only a single  high-gravity Venusian world. The planetary system of the companion was more interesting. The innermost orbital shell contained another Venusian world while the next three planets were all terrestrial-size worlds with nitrogen-oxygen or nitrogen-carbon dioxide atmospheres and temperatures ranging from 40C down to -17C. While none were immediately habitable without infrastructure, the relatively benign temperatures and atmospheres made them all future terraforming candidates. Within a few decades, Hannover had the potential to be a system with three ideal habitable worlds.

A second shipyard complex was built on Washington II in October 2033. The existing shipyard was half way through an upgrade to a second slipway so the new shipyard began increasing the capacity of its single slipway instead. No ships would be constructed until the shipyards increased their capacity considerably but it boded well for the future that Washington II was developing a shipbuilding industry.

In November, the Nautilus was holding position on the San Francisco - Sol jump point when she encountered a South American Rosales class jump ship. As they were both a long way from home, Commander Cameron of the Nautilus engaged his counterpart, Captain de Navio Celeste Arredondo Corona, in conversation. While the USAN government still distrusted the Commonwealth, the war had brought all humans closer together and Captain de Navio Corona was eager to exchange any news that wasn't of a secure nature. Like Nautilus, he was waiting for a survey ship to finish its task, in this case a Sao Paulo geosurvey ship in the Stevenage system, although the USAN called the system Palmas. It became apparent that the USAN had beaten the Commonwealth Navy to San Francisco (Santa Maria for the USAN) and explored its jump points before the Nautilus arrived. Both captains discussed the situation at home and Corona revealed the population of South America was down to around one hundred and thirty million, about a fifth of the pre-war total, and he had heard the Japanese Alliance was in even worse shape. The USAN had managed to build a small amount of infrastructure but its construction factories were currently replacing maintenance facilities lost to the Asian attack so that its Valdivia class cruisers could be maintained. Captain de Navio Corona was plainly unhappy with his government's choice of priorities as he remarked that if the Valdivias were left to rot instead, the effort required for the two new maintenance facilities could instead be used to build enough infrastructure for 600,000 people. The warships were apparently important to President Constantino, as they represented the independence of South America. Corona commented that independence seemed a lot less important when you were likely to die of radiation poisoning or freeze to death in the next few months. Commander Cameron let Corona know that the Commonwealth was still suffering massive casualties on Earth, the population by then had fallen to two hundred and eighty million, but the colonies on Mars and in Washington meant that humanity had a future. He hoped that Commonwealth - USAN relations would improve so that it would be a shared future.

On November 19th, Commonwealth scientists finally calculated how the alien jump gate in London had been constructed. The Commonwealth warships in London had been studying the jump gate for four years and had regularly jumped into Sol to forward their latest findings. That data had eventually built up to the point where the breakthrough was possible. As suspected, the giant alien constructs that had been found in the alien city on Mars were jump gate components and with their secrets revealed they could be built by Commonwealth construction factories, although with two hundred of them on Mars it was unlikely any new ones would be needed in the foreseeable future. Assembling the jump gate components would be far more difficult. A ship mounting a huge construction module would be required, which would not have been a problem before the war but shipbuilding capacity was now very limited. However, building jump gates to the systems close to Sol and Washington would open up new frontiers for easy colonization without having to rely on the small number of jump ships and without placing restriction on the size of new designs. President Vorokov gave the go ahead for the Syria Planum shipyard on Mars, which was building the Vittorio Veneto, to be retooled for a new construction ship design. This would restrict the Vittorio Veneto class to a single ship but the benefits of jump gates were obvious, the shipyards on Earth were too slow and would eventually lack the manpower to operate them and it would be years before there were large enough shipyards on Washington II.

Brunel class Construction Ship    7000 tons     709 Crew     777.8 BP      TCS 140  TH 160  EM 0
1142 km/s     Armour 1-32     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 8     PPV 0
Annual Failure Rate: 49%    IFR: 0.7%    Maintenance Capacity 556 MSP    Max Repair 500 MSP
Jump Gate Construction Ship: 180 days

E90 Nuclear Pulse Engine (4)    Power 40    Efficiency 0.90    Signature 40    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 150,000 Litres    Range 42.8 billion km   (434 days at full power)

On February 2nd 2034, the first colony ship to be completed post-war was launched from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on Earth. The US-designed Alaska class ship was laid down before the war and survived the Asian attack. Twenty-seven months after the end of the war it was finally launched and began ferrying colonists from Earth to Washington II. A pre-war Russian Kara class colony ship was also under construction at the Nikolayev Shipyard and was expected to be completed by July 2034. No post-war colony ships had been completed, although two had been laid down at the Utopia Planitia shipyard on Mars and were scheduled for completion in November 2034.

A geological survey of Hannover-B II, located three jumps from Washington, revealed substantial deposits of all eleven Trans-Newtonian minerals. Of particular interest were Neutronium and Sorium as no other major accessible deposits of either mineral had been found. The fact that Hanover contained deposits of every other mineral, including thirteen million tons of accessibility 0.6 Duranium was a huge bonus. The Commonwealth had not set up any mining colonies by early 2034 because evacuation of the Earth and establishing the Mars and Washington colonies was the highest priority. With that task now well underway, President Vorokov was starting to look at the long term future and when he saw the reports on Hanover-B II he gave authorisation for eight freighters, escorted by the jump ship Aragon, to begin transporting automated mines.

Hannover-B II Survey Report
Duranium 13,592,900  Acc: 0.6
Neutronium 1,742,400  Acc: 0.6
Corbomite 184,041  Acc: 0.3
Tritanium 213,444  Acc: 0.1
Boronide 1,334,025  Acc: 0.4
Mercassium 53,361  Acc: 0.1
Vendarite 1,258,884  Acc: 0.9
Sorium 3,538,161  Acc: 0.9
Uridium 527,076  Acc: 0.1
Corundium 6,969,600  Acc: 0.7
Gallicite 8,242,641  Acc: 0.3

The Vittorio Veneto was launched from the Syria Planum Shipyard on Mars on March 2nd 2034. The 6000 ton jump cruiser was large enough to escort all Commonwealth vessels through a jump point, except for the two Asian-built asteroid mining ships. She left orbit and took up position on the Sol - Washington jump point, relieving the Virginia. With the Vittorio Veneto in place, the primary Commonwealth fleet base could be moved from Mars to Washington II as the Scharnhorsts and Arleigh Burkes could pass between the two systems. Maintenance facilities and sufficient stocks of minerals were already in place. Fuel was more of a problem so a design for a small tanker intended to ferry fuel from the stocks in the Sol system was created and the first two units were laid down in one of the new Washington shipyards

Rappahannock class Tanker    1000 tons     73 Crew     163.8 BP      TCS 20  TH 40  EM 0
2000 km/s     Armour 1-8     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 1     PPV 0
Annual Failure Rate: 8%    IFR: 0.1%    Maintenance Capacity 102 MSP    Max Repair 20 MSP

E90 Nuclear Pulse Engine (1)    Power 40    Efficiency 0.90    Signature 40    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 550,000 Litres    Range 1100.0 billion km   (6365 days at full power)

A commercial freight facility was completed on Washington in June 2034. This was an expensive project given the crisis conditions that still existed within the Commonwealth but President Vorokov was keen to establish Washington II as a completely self-sufficient world. Even with the dire conditions on Earth, all of the freighters and colony ships carrying out the evacuation, or other tasks such as the setting up of the mining colony in Hannover, still had to use the commercial freight facility on Earth.

On June 26th the geological survey ship Kinkaid found alien ruins on Stevenage II, two jumps from Sol via San Francisco. The ruins were the smallest discovered to date but as the ruins in New York and Lisbon had all been thoroughly explored without finding any technological information, there were two archaeological teams available. As soon as the news reached Washington, the jump ship Copenhagen loaded the two teams and departed for Stevenage. Dunkerque and Strasbourg had recently completed a gravitational survey of the same system. Nautilus carried out the investigation of four new jump points. Three connected to protostar systems within the San Francisco nebula while the innermost led to Rome, an existing system two jumps from Sol via London

The population of Washington surpassed that of Mars in late July 2034. With ninety-two million inhabitants compared to ninety million-one on Mars and no limitations on future expansion, Washington had become the foremost Commonwealth colony. There were still one hundred and forty-three million Commonwealth citizens on Earth but the total population of the colonies now exceeded that of the human home world. In his desire to set an example, President Vorokov was still based on Earth but with the growth in importance of Washington he asked his staff to look at options for moving the seat of government. The first shipyard complex to be built on Mars was completed on August 7th. Although two shipyards were already in operation on the red planet they were restored alien shipyards rather than human-built.

President Constantino of the Union of South American Nations contacted President Vorokov in August to discuss a potential technology exchange. While the USAN President was not a great admirer of Vorokov, particularly since the Commonwealth President's blunt threats to attack any USAN shipping entering the five jump points closest to Sol, the USAN was in serious trouble and the proud Constantino was finally prepared to admit they needed help. The USAN had no colony ships or freighters and was still trying to rebuild its shipyards after they were crippled by the Asian attack. They had rebuilt their maintenance facilities and were operating the two Valdivia class missile cruisers, two Rosales class jump-capable survey ships and two Sao Paulo class geological survey ships. In fact, despite its difficulties, the USAN Navy was conducting an exploration and survey program in the systems around Prague and San Francisco. That operation was at the order of President Constantino who wanted to show that South America still had aspirations beyond mere survival. However, survival was becoming increasingly uncertain. The surface temperature of the Earth was still minus forty-six Celsius almost three years after the war and radiation levels had barely fallen at all. The population of the USAN was seventy-four million, only eleven percent of its pre-war total, and continuing to fall rapidly. Enough infrastructure had been built to support two million people but that would only protect them from the cold, not the radiation.

USAN research facilities had recently completed a project started before the war that improved the operation of shipyards, in particular how quickly they could be expanded or retooled. President Constantino believed that technology would aid the Commonwealth as well so he wished trade it for Commonwealth technology. President Vorokov had no particular dislike of the USAN, as long as it did not interfere with the activities of the Commonwealth, so he asked if they was any particular technical information the USAN needed. As the USAN had never developed cryogenic transport technology, that was their highest priority. Once their shipyards were functional again, they intended to build colony ships. They also needed improved armour so that smaller ships could be built. President Vorokov authorised the exchange of Cryogenic technology and High Density Duranium Armour for the USAN shipyard operations improvements.

Later the same month, Copenhagen arrived at Stevenage II and dropped off the two archaeological teams. They found three South American teams already in place: one archaeological and two cybernetic. There were a small number of alien installations that had the potential to be restored but not enough to make a serious Commonwealth effort worthwhile. The teams soon established a friendly rivalry and given the relatively minor nature of the ruins the Commonwealth was content to avoid any escalation; especially as none of the Commonwealth survey ships and jump ships were armed and the USAN Sao Paulo geological survey ships operating in the same area were believed to have gauss cannon.

On November 17th, two Alaska II colony ships were completed by the Utopia Planitia Shipyard on Mars. These were the first colony ships laid down post-war and were therefore an important milestone in the post-war era, demonstrating the Commonwealth was regaining the status of an shipbuilding power. To try and reduce the hodgepodge of different colony ship designs, the Utopia Planitia yard began a series of refits for existing colony ships, bringing them up to the standard of the Alaska II.

Returning from a geological survey of Hannover, the survey ship Montcalm, escorted by the jump ship Rickover, entered the Boston brown dwarf binary system en route to Washington. The only real estate in the system was a pair of asteroids orbiting the B component. As it was only a few hundred million kilometres off course, Montcalm diverted to survey the asteroids. While the smaller one was devoid of minerals, the larger contained over a million tons of Duranium, two hundred thousand tons of Neutronium and a million tons of Uridium, all of which were at 0.9 accessibility. While this asteroid did not have the wide variety of minerals present at the Hannover-B II mining colony, it was adjacent to Washington and contained three valuable minerals; one of which was always in demand and the other two were in short supply. The decision was made to create a mining colony on the asteroid to ensure supplies of Duranium and Neutronium in particular. The sixteen automated mines already in place on Hannover-B II would remain there but no new mines would be added to that site in the near future.

On December 18th, the troop transport Tarawa was launched from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Earth, giving the Commonwealth the ability to transport ground forces off-world for the first time. She picked up the 27th Assault Division and the 12th and 29th Garrison Divisions from Earth and headed for the Asian Federation's comet mining facility, escorted by the missile cruisers Scharnhorst and Admiral Graf Spee. On December 29th, the ground forces landed on the huge, one hundred and thirty kilometre diameter comet and quickly took control of one hundred and four automated mines. The 12th Garrison Divisions remained on the comet to guard the mines while the other two divisions embarked on Tarawa for the trip to the small Asian colony on Titan.

President Vorokov broadcast live to the entire Commonwealth on January 1st 2035. Directly to the ninety-two million citizens on Earth and the ninety-six million on Mars and via a relay provided by Vittorio Veneto to the one hundred and eight million on Washington. He announced that as Earth had the smallest population of the three Commonwealth worlds, the seat of government would be moving to the newly built Presidential Mansion on Washington II. Furthermore, the Commonwealth's primary world would no longer be known simply by the system in which it was located. Three months earlier President Vorokov had created a naming committee to decide upon a new name for Washington II and for any future Commonwealth colonies. To avoid the appearance of giving preference to one of the founding nations of the Commonwealth, the committee decided to use the names of ancient cities. Athens was considered and eventually dismissed, mainly because the modern city still stood, albeit virtually deserted, as was Alexandria for the same reason. Eventually, Sparta emerged as the unanimous choice. President Vorokov approved of the imagery. The Western nations and Russia had almost fallen due to their inability to defend themselves against attack and an unwillingness to strike first against a potential threat. The Commonwealth would not makes the same mistakes. Renaming the new capital world Sparta would give notice that the Commonwealth intended to be a strong state, ready and able to defend itself, and would provide its military and populace with an ancient tradition to uphold. Sparta was the capital in fact as well as name. It was the main base of the Commonwealth fleet and now the two Rappahannock class tankers were making regular runs from Sol, it had all the fuel and maintenance supplies it would need for the foreseeable future. The majority of the Commonwealth's construction factories were on Sparta and they were hard at work. The commercial freight facility provided a port for freighters and colony ships and a third shipyard complex was already under construction.

Notably absent from President Vorokov's broadcast was any mention of elections. Although he had promised to hold elections once the crisis was past, as far as he was concerned the crisis would continue until as many people as possible had been evacuated from Earth, a solid foundation had been established for future expansion and he had dealt with any external threats. Once he was happy the Commonwealth was strong and secure, elections would be arranged. There were some minor ongoing protests at the lack of democracy at executive level but President Vorokov was highly regarded by the population so the vast majority, especially on Mars and Sparta, were content with the status quo.

Tarawa arrived at Titan on January 18th and the Asian population of 520,000 quickly surrendered to the troopers of the 27th Assault Division. The 29th Garrison Division remained behind to guard the colony while Tarawa carried the 27th Assault back to Earth, collected two heavy assault divisions and delivered all three divisions to Sparta. There was nothing on Titan except the population and supporting infrastructure. Once the freighters and colony ships could be spared, President Vorokov planned to evacuate the population and transfer the infrastructure to Mars. The Titan colony had been more of a political statement by the Asian Federation rather than a serious attempt to colonise the moon and it had no long term benefit. President Zhau protested both of the recent Commonwealth annexations but no one was taking any notice. The once proud Federation was reduced to an agrarian nation of two hundred and fifty million, living a medieval existence and trying to stave off the radiation and arctic temperatures for as long as possible.

That existence was made even harder when the Union of South American Nations launched an invasion of the Asian Federation on March 17th 2035. With no ground forces of its own and no remaining planetary defence centres or ships, the Federation had no way to resist the USAN assault. The Federation had been open to such an attack since the war but there seemed little gain in taking a land with no assets. Now one starving nation of fifty million had succeeded in conquering another starving nation of two hundred and fifty million. President Constantino wasn't interested in the population of the Asian Federation though. What he wanted was their mineral and fuel stockpiles and the technical information they possessed. In that regard he was very successful. The USAN looted twelve million litres of fuel and two hundred thousand tons of refined minerals then ransacked technical information on a dozen different technologies from devastated Asian cities. With their international smash and grab raid completed, the USAN forces withdrew to their own territory.

By July 2035, the Commonwealth population on Earth had fallen to forty-seven million, mainly because of the environment-related losses but partly because of the twenty-four colony ships on their constant trek between Earth and Sparta. All industry on Earth except for the shipyards had either been shut down or transported to the other Commonwealth worlds. Because of the rapidly diminishing population, President Vorokov was becoming increasingly concerned that the Earth-based shipyards would not be able to complete those vessels still under construction, which included a sister ship for Tarawa, two Tribal class escorts, two Alaska II class colony ships and two Manxman class colliers. The estimated completion dates varied from mid-2036 to early 2038. There were an additional fifty million living in what was once the occupied Islamic territories but since the Commonwealth ground forces had pulled out it had become a totally lawless land, with armed bands of raiders preying on scattered settlements and each other. Vorokov dismissed them as a source of either shipyard workers or potential colonists. President Constantino was as independent-minded as ever so the Union of South American States was unlikely to co-operate. Which left either the two hundred million still surviving in the Federation territory or the Japanese Alliance, which had a population of less than thirty million.

President Vorokov contacted the Japanese Prime Minister and asked if the Japanese Alliance would consider joining the Commonwealth. The Alliance population would have to abide by Commonwealth law, all Alliance assets would be added to that of the Commonwealth and Alliance citizens would share the task of operating the Commonwealth shipyards. However, they would be given an equal share of the berths on the Commonwealth colony ships evacuating the Earth. The Prime Minister accepted the offer like a drowning man grabbing at a rope. Ninety-five percent of his pre-war population was dead and he firmly believed the survivors would not escape a lingering death. The Commonwealth could take his people to safety, or at least those that survived long enough to board colony ships, and for that he would be forever grateful.

The Alliance population brought with it the twenty-five mines, twenty-five construction factories and fifteen maintenance facilities that had originally been given to them by the Commonwealth, along with eight million litres of fuel and sixty-five thousand tons of minerals. The Alliance naval forces had remained static since the war and comprised a single Hosho class geological survey ship, four Nagato class destroyers, six Kongo II-B class destroyers and four Kongo class destroyers. All were well maintained except the Nagatos, which were too large for the limited Japanese maintenance facilities and had not been overhauled since the war. Another bonus from the Japanese was their remaining wealth. The post-war population was so small compared to the pre-war population of those countries making up the Commonwealth that tax revenues had fallen drastically. The Commonwealth bureaucracy, under the instructions of President Vorokov, had been paying for the emergency construction programs with the wealth that had been built up in the 2020's. That reserve was falling fast. The Japanese had retained their reserves of wealth because with no significant industrial capacity they had simply had nothing on which to spend it. The construction factories on Sparta were engaged in a program to build up wealth by creating financial centres and by building a spaceport. Several alien spaceports had been restored on Mars over the previous decade so President Vorokov hoped that by stimulating trade between the two Commonwealth world, he could generate additional tax revenues. Such trade would only be possible once jump gates had been built at the Sol-Washington jump point but with the first Brunel class construction ship only a few weeks from launch, that time would not be far away.

The Alliance officer corps was integrated into that of the Commonwealth with the famous, or infamous, Sho-sa Nazario becoming Rear Admiral Nazario, and the Japanese warships became part of the Commonwealth Navy. That navy was particularly interested in the four Nagato class destroyers with their array of slow-firing but very compact launchers. With Japanese industry in ruins there were very limited numbers of missiles available so each had been reloaded with only fifty Rapiers, half their normal load-out. Those Rapiers were replaced with the more modern Sabre anti-ship missile and the Nagatos were dispatched to Sparta for well overdue overhauls.

The missile situation in general was becoming complex for the Commonwealth Navy. Due to a shortage of manpower, no ordnance factories were in operation so the Navy had to make do with whatever was available after the war. As the warships within the Commonwealth Navy had been built by four different powers, there were three sizes of anti-ship missiles in use in 2035. The United States Navy had used the smallest missiles and, in increasing order of effectiveness, had built the Poseidon, Poseidon II and Trident. Only three hundred and seventeen Tridents remained, two hundred and sixty-six of which had been loaded on to the two Flight IV Arleigh Burkes. The remaining Tridents plus six hundred and thirty-eight Poseidon IIs and two hundred and forty Poseidons provided loadouts for seven Flight III Arleigh Burkes. Which meant that three Flight III Arleigh Burkes, the two Flight I Arleigh Burkes and all four Lexington class destroyers were without any missiles at all. In the event of a conflict, even the nine US-built warships with missiles would be unable to reload. The largest missiles, SS-N-32 Starbursts, were twice the size of the American missiles and used by the Russian-built Moskva class destroyers. Fortunately, all four Moskvas had their full loadout of twenty-nine missiles each with a further one hundred and fifty-two Starbursts in reserve.

Which left the mid-sized missiles used by the European Union and the Japanese Alliance. The most modern was the European-built Sabre anti-ship missiles, seventeen hundred of which were available. Enough to equip the six Scharnhorst class missiles cruisers, four Invincible class destroyers, the Japanese-built Kongo II class destroyer Amagiri which was captured after the Mars Incident, a single Guardian class PDC on Mars and the four Japanese-built Nagatos, leaving one hundred and nine missiles to spare. The six Kongo II-Bs and four Kongos were loaded with a mixture of Rapiers and Rapier-Es, a similar but slightly longer ranged version, leaving seventy Rapiers in reserve. In addition to the Sabres and Rapiers there were two hundred Japanese Kaga-3 anti-ship missiles, eighty Kaga-2 bombardment missiles and four hundred ancient TNM-2 anti-ship missiles. While it appeared there were plenty of mid-sized missiles, in reality all of the modern missiles could be consumed after a single battle and even the stocks of outdated missiles would not re-arm all the warships. The Commonwealth had a lot of warships but without missiles they were just a waste of resources. Restarting missile production would be essential to the future combat power of the Commonwealth.

Technology had remained static within the Commonwealth for over three years due to the lack of operational research facilities. In August, seventeen research facilities on Mars were reactivated, although the colony had to shut down its construction factories to supply the manpower. Vice Admiral Stephanie Boner, an expert in construction and production technologies, was appointed governor of the colony with orders to improve the efficiency of the Commonwealth's industrial output. On August 7th, the Construction Ship Brunel was launched from the Syria Planum Shipyard on Mars. Her first task was to construct a jump gate at the Sol - Washington jump point using five jump gate components transported by freighters from Mars. As soon as the gate was in place, she would use it to enter the jump point and build a matching gate on the Washington side.

By September 2035 it was becoming clear that even with the addition of the small Japanese population to the Commonwealth, the shipyards on Earth could not be manned for long. Therefore President Vorokov was forced to reconsider the inhabitants of the former Islamic Alliance. Commonwealth ground forces set up checkpoints around the borders of the anarchic territory to sift out any potential workers or colonists. Roving patrols were sent out into the territory to invite settlements to apply for Commonwealth citizenship. Raiders were automatically excluded from application, or more often killed on sight.

On November 9th, a third ancient shipyard complex was restored on Mars. Much smaller than the two previous discoveries, it had three slipways with a capacity of 3000 tons each. It was one of the last alien installations to be recovered. By the end of 2035, less than a abandoned dozen mines remained on Mars. The cybernetic teams would soon be departing, probably for Lisbon V where a large number of abandoned installations were found among the ruins on that world, although not as many as on Mars.

Because of its origins, the Commonwealth Navy found itself with a wide variety of survey ships. The four gravitational survey ships were relatively homogenous as the United States and the European Union had collaborated on their design but the geological survey ships were an entirely different matter. These included:

3x Xian: Asian, 2500 tons, 2000 km/s, 3 Geological Survey Sensors
4x Spruance: American, 1550 tons, 1612 km/s, 2 Geological Survey Sensors
1x Hosho: Japanese, 1000 tons, 1250 km/s, 2 Geological Survey Sensors
2x Udaloy: Russian, 900 tons, 1388 km/s, 1 Geological Survey Sensor
2x Montcalm: European, 850 tons, 1470 km/s, 1 Geological Survey Sensor

None of the Commonwealth survey ships were jump-capable. In fact the only jump-capable survey ships in existence were the South American Rosales class. The lack of a jump engine meant the survey ships had to be escorted everywhere and coordinating the available jump ships with scattered survey ships was a logistical challenge. The Commonwealth shipbuilding capability was beginning to recover, with three small yards on Sparta and four on Mars, including three restored alien shipyards, so in January 2036 President Vorokov authorised a new program of larger, jump-capable survey ships, starting with the Galileo class Gravitational Survey Ship. Using the US-designed Lockheed JD4000 Jump Drive and European-design E90 Nuclear Pulse Engines, mounting three survey sensors and carrying extensive stocks of fuel and maintenance supplies, the Galileo would be capable of sustained independent operations. The first Galileo would be built in the Olympia Shipyard on Sparta, which had a single slipway of 4000 ton capacity. As more shipyards reached the required size, a geological survey version of the Galileo would also be designed.

Galileo class Gravsurvey Ship    4000 tons     388 Crew     672.4 BP      TCS 80  TH 240  EM 0
3000 km/s    JR 3-50     Armour 1-22     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/3/0     Damage Control Rating 3     PPV 0
Annual Failure Rate: 42%    IFR: 0.6%    Maintenance Capacity 315 MSP    Max Repair 100 MSP

Lockheed JD4000 Jump Drive     Max Ship Size 4000 tons    Distance 50k km     Squadron Size 3
E90 Nuclear Pulse Engine (6)    Power 40    Efficiency 0.90    Signature 40    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 300,000 Litres    Range 150.0 billion km   (578 days at full power)
Gravitational Survey Sensors (3)   3 Survey Points

It the meantime, as the older and smaller survey ships finished their latest missions they would be scrapped to recover some of the materials used in their construction. Retaining them in reserve would require ongoing cost and maintenance so with the limited capacity of Commonwealth industry, particularly in terms of wealth and manpower, scrapping was a far better option. As shipyard space permitted, some of the older warships would be scrapped as well, including the three European Bayerns, the US Lexingtons and the Japanese Kongos. With the missile shortage and the limited capabilities of the older ships, keeping them in service was an expensive luxury.

On April 24th, the Chantiers de l'Atlantique Shipyard on Earth completed a second pair of Tribal class destroyer escorts. Although there were still no Dagger AMMs with which to arm them, it was still considered necessary by the Navy to build the ships before Earth's shipyards shut down for good, or at least for a very long time. A few ordnance factories were finally in operation on Sparta, building Trident missiles for the Arleigh Burkes, so once that task was completed they would begin manufacturing Daggers.

Three days later the Washington - Sol jump gate was completed, establishing a permanent link between Sol and Washington. The Vittorio Veneto, which had held station on the jump point for over two years, headed to Sparta for an overhaul. Creating the link also opened up trade between the spaceports on Mars and Sparta, increasing the wealth of both planets. The construction ship Brunel re-entered Sol and set course for the London jump point. The innermost planet of the London system had a breathable atmosphere and a temperature of -11C, giving it a colony cost of 0.49 and making it one of the best prospects for colonization in the nearby systems. More importantly, the alien jump gate in London meant that only a single jump gate was required to connect London to Sol.

A second Brunel class construction ship was launched on September 29th 2036 and headed for the New York jump point to rendezvous with freighters carrying the necessary jump gate components. New York had three planets with potential for terraforming and it lay behind the second closest jump point to the Sun. Scientists on Mars had completed research into a mobile terraforming module so that potential was far more likely to be realised. Two of these modules were incorporated into the design of the Genesis class Terraformer, which would be built at the Utopia Planitia Shipyard on Mars once retooling was completed. The Genesis class would be the most expensive design ever built by the Commonwealth or any of its founding states, although the two Hainan class asteroid miners built by the Asian Federation were both larger and more costly.

Genesis class Terraformer    7000 tons     616 Crew     1077.8 BP      TCS 140  TH 160  EM 0
1142 km/s     Armour 1-32     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 9     PPV 0
Annual Failure Rate: 43%    IFR: 0.6%    Maintenance Capacity 866 MSP    Max Repair 400 MSP
Terraformer: 2 module(s) producing 0.0024 atm per annum

E90 Nuclear Pulse Engine (4)    Power 40    Efficiency 0.90    Signature 40    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 100,000 Litres    Range 28.6 billion km   (289 days at full power)

On October 14th, the Troop Transport Iwo Jima was launched from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Earth. It was likely to be the last ship built by a Commonwealth Shipyard on Earth for a long time. The population was less than twenty million, even including immigrants from the former Islamic territory, and the four ships still under construction, two colony ships and two Manxman class colliers, would take another year even if the population remained constant. The shipyards could not be fully manned and within the Commonwealth government there was talk of destroying to deny them to anyone attempting to land on Earth. Even the once busy civilian space centre had been abandoned. Enough infrastructure had been constructed on Earth to protect eight million people against the freezing temperatures but even that could not save them from the radiation. It might reduce the rate of decline from around fifty percent per annum to twenty percent but it was only delaying the inevitable. President Vorokov was forced to concede that maintaining a permanent presence on Earth was simply not possible. He gave the go-ahead for a complete evacuation.

On February 28th 2037, Copenhagen transited a newly discovered jump point in the Denver system, two jumps from Washington via Chicago. She found a yellow G5-V primary and five planets, one of which was the second ideal habitable world discovered outside the Sol system. Following standard procedures instituted after the encounter with the Tulan, she headed for the second planet to check if it was inhabited. As the jump point was at five point seven billion kilometres, it was a seven-week round trip. The new system was named St Petersburg.

Twenty-four hours later, on March 1st 2037, colony ships lifted the last of the Commonwealth population from Earth. All that remained were two hundred manned mining complexes awaiting collection, several abandoned shipyards and the Commonwealth Naval Academy, which was operating at far less capacity than normal due to the effects of the radiation. The Union of South American Nations was now the only organised power on Earth and their population had shrunk to fifteen million. Sixty million more remained in the anarchy that was once the Asian Federation. The captain of the last colony ship to pull away from Earth watched video footage of the devastated, irradiated, frozen wastes, devoid of habitation and was reminded of a poem he had learned as a boy.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away

In St Petersburg, Copenhagen was thirty-one million kilometres from the habitable world when she detected a dozen small thermal contacts at 15,000 kilometres. Two seconds later, before anyone could even react, a salvo of twelve missiles attacked the small jump ship. Only seven hit but that was enough to blow her to pieces. Sixty-five of her crew of two hundred and eleven made it to the life-pods. Unfortunately for the Commonwealth, the only ships that knew Copenhagen had even found the habitable world, let alone had begun an investigation, were the four pre-war gravitational survey ships in Denver and they had no way to know she had been attacked. Even if they had, without jump engines they could not return home. They were trapped in Denver until someone came looking for them.

to be continued...
« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 01:35:13 AM by Steve Walmsley »
 

Offline Cassaralla

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Re: Trans-Newtonian Campaign - Part 7
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2008, 10:51:37 AM »
Again, a very good read.
 

Offline Kurt

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Re: Trans-Newtonian Campaign - Part 7
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2008, 11:44:44 AM »
Steve -

While reading this I began to think about something that has been lurking at the edges of my mind while working on my campaign, and it suddenly came into focus.  I refer to the shipyards in my campaign as "orbital yards", mostly because of my preconceptions, but they really aren't, are they?  They can be destroyed by ground combat, not space combat (except orbital ground bombardment), and as far as I know they have no orbital components at all.  You might say that they use orbital assembly of ground constructed components, but that doesn't really reflect the reality of what Aurora represents, which is a ground based facility with no orbital components at all.  

Now this is fine, I have absolutely no problem with this at all, I just like to write "orbital yards"  8) .  This realization got me thinking, though.  If construction and assembly takes place on the ground, then obviously ships have the capability to land on the surface of planets.  This ability fits in well with trans-newtonian technology, and also makes sense of the loading and unloading capabilities of freighters and colony ships, which otherwise would need shuttles or some form of "transporters".  Taking this one step further would mean that when a ship or a fleet is AT a planet, it isn't really orbiting the planet, it has landed ON the planet.  This would fit in well with the new ability to orbit that you have implemented in 3.2, and would make the theories behind everything from maintenance, cargo and colonist loading, and ship construction consistent.  After all, you need to be AT or ON the planet for those to work, not in orbit.  

There is one contradiction still existing, though (or I think there is, anyway).  Ships not orbiting, but ON a planet, should have the same restrictions to their weapons as PDC's on the planet, because they would be affected by the atmosphere as well.  I'm not sure how easy this would be to implement, but it would make sense.

Kurt
 

Offline Charlie Beeler

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Re: Trans-Newtonian Campaign - Part 7
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2008, 03:22:22 PM »
Quote from: "Kurt"
Steve -

While reading this I began to think about something that has been lurking at the edges of my mind while working on my campaign, and it suddenly came into focus.  I refer to the shipyards in my campaign as "orbital yards", mostly because of my preconceptions, but they really aren't, are they?  They can be destroyed by ground combat, not space combat (except orbital ground bombardment), and as far as I know they have no orbital components at all.  You might say that they use orbital assembly of ground constructed components, but that doesn't really reflect the reality of what Aurora represents, which is a ground based facility with no orbital components at all.  

Now this is fine, I have absolutely no problem with this at all, I just like to write "orbital yards"  8) .  This realization got me thinking, though.  If construction and assembly takes place on the ground, then obviously ships have the capability to land on the surface of planets.  This ability fits in well with trans-newtonian technology, and also makes sense of the loading and unloading capabilities of freighters and colony ships, which otherwise would need shuttles or some form of "transporters".  Taking this one step further would mean that when a ship or a fleet is AT a planet, it isn't really orbiting the planet, it has landed ON the planet.  This would fit in well with the new ability to orbit that you have implemented in 3.2, and would make the theories behind everything from maintenance, cargo and colonist loading, and ship construction consistent.  After all, you need to be AT or ON the planet for those to work, not in orbit.  

There is one contradiction still existing, though (or I think there is, anyway).  Ships not orbiting, but ON a planet, should have the same restrictions to their weapons as PDC's on the planet, because they would be affected by the atmosphere as well.  I'm not sure how easy this would be to implement, but it would make sense.

Kurt

From that POV ground troops should be able to engage grounded ships.  If that becomes the case, then I'd argue that all shipboard weapons could be used to defend against ground attack.

To take it a step further it would almost make sense to be able to build and deploy airbreathing only fighters.  etc etc etc.  

On the flipside,  if shipyards are spaceborn,  I'd want to add the ability to tow "modules" with a sufficiantly large ship.  They should be vulnerable to targeted attack as well.
Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics - paraphrase attributed to Gen Omar Bradley
 

Offline TrueZuluwiz

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Re: Trans-Newtonian Campaign - Part 7
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2008, 05:59:03 PM »
So how much of a penalty do ships pay in fuel and wear-and-tear for that ability to launch and land on planets? And would it be worth the  effort to research and develop orbital shipyards? I could see putting orbiting works in certain situations, such as using an orbital fuel miner over a jovian that couldn't be landed on. Would a ship that did not have the capability to launch-and-land (l+l) be less strongly built than one that did? A lighter built ship would be cheaper to build. Using orbiting stations for cargo handling and personnel transfer and such makes sense for some types of ships more than others. In particular I wouldn't want to land a fully loaded fuel tanker if I didnt have to, as the penalty in fuel consumed would be large and also the wear and tear on the ship. Why not build an orbiting base to refuel ships (at least)? And in many systems there is no planet worth landing on. Why not build a small orbiting yard to service the mineral extraction ships in that system? It could be part of the space station you've already built to handle the minerals. It doesnt require a jump-capable ship to haul minerals around an otherwise dead system, so why not build the ships you need where you need them?
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Offline cjblack

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Re: Trans-Newtonian Campaign - Part 7
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2008, 06:12:47 PM »
I assume that terraforming installations/systems have no effect on environmental damage?
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Trans-Newtonian Campaign - Part 7
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2008, 09:50:48 AM »
Quote from: "cjblack"
I assume that terraforming installations/systems have no effect on environmental damage?
Not at the moment. If they can transform an atmosphere, it would probably be reasonable that they could clear dust and possibly even clear radiation. The main reason I haven't added such an ability is that I want there to be significant penalties for bombarding planets, at least if you are planning on using them afterwards.

Steve
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Trans-Newtonian Campaign - Part 7
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2008, 10:25:28 AM »
Quote from: "Kurt"
Steve -

While reading this I began to think about something that has been lurking at the edges of my mind while working on my campaign, and it suddenly came into focus.  I refer to the shipyards in my campaign as "orbital yards", mostly because of my preconceptions, but they really aren't, are they?  They can be destroyed by ground combat, not space combat (except orbital ground bombardment), and as far as I know they have no orbital components at all.  You might say that they use orbital assembly of ground constructed components, but that doesn't really reflect the reality of what Aurora represents, which is a ground based facility with no orbital components at all.  

Now this is fine, I have absolutely no problem with this at all, I just like to write "orbital yards"  8) .  This realization got me thinking, though.  If construction and assembly takes place on the ground, then obviously ships have the capability to land on the surface of planets.  This ability fits in well with trans-newtonian technology, and also makes sense of the loading and unloading capabilities of freighters and colony ships, which otherwise would need shuttles or some form of "transporters".  Taking this one step further would mean that when a ship or a fleet is AT a planet, it isn't really orbiting the planet, it has landed ON the planet.  This would fit in well with the new ability to orbit that you have implemented in 3.2, and would make the theories behind everything from maintenance, cargo and colonist loading, and ship construction consistent.  After all, you need to be AT or ON the planet for those to work, not in orbit.  

There is one contradiction still existing, though (or I think there is, anyway).  Ships not orbiting, but ON a planet, should have the same restrictions to their weapons as PDC's on the planet, because they would be affected by the atmosphere as well.  I'm not sure how easy this would be to implement, but it would make sense.
Hmm! Very interesting points. If ships did land then, as you say, it would tie several things together nicely. The issues will be around treating ships as PDCs, which is probably not that big a deal because I could find some way to flag up landed ships where I currently distinguish between ships and PDCs. Or probably easier, just treat PDCs as permanently landed ships. The main concern I have is handling combat between ships on the same planet. PDCs tend to be armed with missiles or mesons, neither of which has a problem with targeting other PDCs on the same planet, but two beam armed ships shouldn't be able to fire at each other. This issue is sidestepped by having them "in orbit".

Restrictions on firing for certain weapon types at targets on the same planet is actually tricker than it sounds because ships at the same point in space can shoot at one another and fleets have no concept of system bodies except for moving to them. As far as the code is concerned, the fleet just happens to be in the same location as the planet. There is no direct link. When a planet moves in orbit, I check for any fleets with the same coordinates and move those too. Although (rambling out loud now), as I added the ability to track which planet a fleet is orbiting I could extend that to track the planet on which a fleet has landed. Of course, its possible a fleet might want to move to a planet and not land so that would in effect be an orbit at range zero, which may complicate things a little.

The alternative to the above is to move to orbital shipyards and keep ships off the ground. Tackling the loading/unloading first, I have always assumed that freighters and colony ships have small shuttles built into the hull space required for cargo and several shuttles included in cargo handling system. Or perhaps shuttles could be added to the game and the number of shuttles carried by a ship determines the load/unload speed. No shuttles = no unloading. Or handled another way, perhaps a planet need some type of facility for handling loading/unloading, although that would make establishing a colony harder. With regard to orbital shipyards, the easiest way to make the existing shipyards orbital is to set them as a separate contact type. You would detect them as "shipyards" and fire on them like ships. All the shipyards of one race on one planet would be lumped as one contact and I would have to figure out some way of determining damage. In that case, they would no longer be affected by ground combat or planetary bombardment. In fact, that option probably a lot easier than having ships land.

Steve
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Trans-Newtonian Campaign - Part 7
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2008, 10:29:06 AM »
Quote from: "Charlie Beeler"
From that POV ground troops should be able to engage grounded ships.  If that becomes the case, then I'd argue that all shipboard weapons could be used to defend against ground attack. To take it a step further it would almost make sense to be able to build and deploy airbreathing only fighters.  etc etc etc.  
Yuck - that is complicated :). Having read the above, I think I would prefer to make shipyards orbital than have ships land.

Quote
On the flipside,  if shipyards are spaceborn,  I'd want to add the ability to tow "modules" with a sufficiantly large ship.  They should be vulnerable to targeted attack as well.
Making them targetable is easy enough. Towing them is a different matter but if they are in orbit anyway I guess there should be some way to do it. Jump points will present a problem though

Steve
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Trans-Newtonian Campaign - Part 7
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2008, 10:35:29 AM »
Quote from: "TrueZuluwiz"
So how much of a penalty do ships pay in fuel and wear-and-tear for that ability to launch and land on planets? And would it be worth the  effort to research and develop orbital shipyards? I could see putting orbiting works in certain situations, such as using an orbital fuel miner over a jovian that couldn't be landed on. Would a ship that did not have the capability to launch-and-land (l+l) be less strongly built than one that did? A lighter built ship would be cheaper to build. Using orbiting stations for cargo handling and personnel transfer and such makes sense for some types of ships more than others. In particular I wouldn't want to land a fully loaded fuel tanker if I didnt have to, as the penalty in fuel consumed would be large and also the wear and tear on the ship. Why not build an orbiting base to refuel ships (at least)? And in many systems there is no planet worth landing on. Why not build a small orbiting yard to service the mineral extraction ships in that system? It could be part of the space station you've already built to handle the minerals. It doesnt require a jump-capable ship to haul minerals around an otherwise dead system, so why not build the ships you need where you need them?
After reading the posts in this thread I am leaning towards making shipyards orbital. I have a few ideas about how to detach shipyards from planets and tow them around while retaining the existing shipyard rules, which I think work well. They wouldn't be able to build anything without a supporting population though.

Steve
 

Offline Charlie Beeler

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Re: Trans-Newtonian Campaign - Part 7
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2008, 12:11:21 PM »
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Yuck - that is complicated :). Having read the above, I think I would prefer to make shipyards orbital than have ships land.

I was hoping that would be your response.
Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics - paraphrase attributed to Gen Omar Bradley
 

Offline James Patten

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Re: Trans-Newtonian Campaign - Part 7
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2008, 01:48:46 PM »
I have no problem with orbital shipyards - I assumed all along that they were orbital.

In fact all of my assumptions was that starships stayed in orbit, and that shuttles of some sort took goods and people to and from the ships to the surface.  I figure that's what the cargo handling system really is.
 

Offline Father Tim

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Re: Trans-Newtonian Campaign - Part 7
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2008, 03:35:54 AM »
I prefer the 'ships actually land' paradigm myself, which is fine as I can simply ignore the shipyard contacts and towing.  If you want to rename 'Cargo Handling Equipment' to 'Shuttles' and extend them troop transports, asteroid miners, terraformers and the like, that's fine with me too.  One thing I would like is an option switch so that shipyards can still be destroyed by ground combat and orbital bombardment.
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Trans-Newtonian Campaign - Part 7
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2008, 02:19:00 PM »
Shipyards now show up as a separate contact type for active sensors and can be targeted and fired upon (although I haven't written any code yet for damage :)). All the shipyards for one race in one location show up as a single contact. The size of the contact is based on the total capacity of all the shipyards with the assumption that a single slipway is twice the size of the largest ship it can build. So a single slipway of 4000 ton capacity would have the same sensor signature as an 8000 ton ship. Two shipyards at the same population, one of which had two slipways of 10,000 tons and the second with four slipways of 6000 tons (total capacity 44,000 tons) would appear as a single contact of 88,000 tons.

Steve
 

Offline James Patten

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Re: Trans-Newtonian Campaign - Part 7
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2008, 07:08:10 PM »
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
...would appear as a single contact of 88,000 tons.

"Captain...sensors indicate an 88,000 ton ship!"
"Run away!!!!"
 
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