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 Post subject: Re: Size of Bridge
PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 1:38 pm 
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(pulling out his submarine "dolphins")

On a submarine, which is a nuclear powered spaceship in the water. We had about 20,000 D-tons displacement (don't quote me on that it has been a couple of decades...)

Our powerplant (fission) and propulsion system (screw) took up about 20% of the volume of the sub. We had an engineering department of 12 on watch at all times while underway. The Engineering department consisted of about 40 people all together, 5 Officers (1 Commander, 1 Lieutenant, 1-2 Ltjg and 1-2 Ensigns), 3 CPOs and everyone else was at least an E4 (most were E5 or E6). Ranks were skewed by the Navy as insentive to get people into the program, so you can't use that directly.

Of the 12 people on watch, 5 were "roving watches" or supervisors who didn't have a specific area to monitor. Everyone else had a specific area or group of systems that they monitored. 3 of them sat in a small room monitoring things remotely. Other than the remote monitoring and control, there was actually very little automation. Almost every valve was manually operated, indication was almost always displayed locally (requiring someone to go there and read it) etc. This was on an Ohio-Class SSBN built in the Mid 1980s.

With the type of automation that is reasonable in today's society, we could probably have operated that reactor and propulsion system with half that crew. Whether the military would actually do that is a separate question from could it be done?

That is TL-7 technology. Modern jets and rockets are operated entirely remotely. The Space Shuttle only NEEDS 2 people to operate it (more likely 1.5 people) and that is definitely early TL-7 technology (if not late TL-6).

On starships, I have always envisioned that on a small ship with only 1-3 engineers, that the engineering station is actually on the bridge and everything is operated remotely. It is only when you get to the really big ships that engineers start being moved out of the bridge and into an Engineering Control room or perhaps actually into the engine room; and then probably only as roving watches.

Remember, the number of engineers required on a Traveller starship are enough to monitor the drives 24-hours a day. If there is only 1 engineer on the crew, that HAS to mean that the entire system is automated and doesn't REALLY need a person to function, until something goes wrong of course.

For Adventure Class starships, I would have a 4-person bridge: Pilot, Navigator/Sensors, Engineer, Command. Weapons would be added if installed (that 1-Dton of Fire Control).
During Jump time, only 1 person would be on the bridge at any time, just keeping an eye on things; perhaps not even that - just a Roving Watch that wanders around checking things (including the bridge) and reacting to alarms. In-system, more positions would be occupied, but that is typically only for a few hours as they move to or from the 100D limit (6 hours at 1G for an Earth sized world).

Combat and orbital maneuvering are just about the only times that the entire bridge will be occupied.

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 Post subject: Re: Size of Bridge
PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 2:10 pm 
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Good discussion gentlemen:

I really do have mixed feelings on the issue.

While 'advanced computers monitor the Drives without needing human supervision' is plausible, it is just as plausible that fussion power plants and 'uber' drives as large as a house should require dozens (or even hundreds) of operators, and the supercomputers of the future are what allows them to be monitored by just a few engineers.

Modern Fission reactors are not monitored from a station bolted to the reactor core. The environment is just too dangerous and harmful. Fusion power (if they ever get it to really work) looks like it will be even more dangerous. The engineers will probably work somewhere outside the well shielded engineering section. Whether the workstation is just outside of the engineering bulkhead, adjacent to the bridge, or at the other end of the ship is a personal design choice.

Why the Bridge is at one end of a ship and the drives at the opposite end is a mystery to me. There really is nothing to see from the bridge of a starship - you are navigating towards a speck that is probably invisible to the human eye and plotting a course by computer. Even modern container ships place the bridge over the engines rather than at the bow.

I prefer a little less 'space opera' and a touch more 'hard science' IMTU, so I lean towards engineering being like a nuclear power plant with a dangerous area that the engineers can access in an emergency and a separate 'Engineering Control Room' where the monitors and controls and people are. If a ship warrants two or three (or more) engineers, I would prefer to station a flight engineer on the bridge [for adventure reasons as much as any other] and the extra engineers in the Engineering Control Room. I also attempt to minimize the distance between the Bridge and Engineering Control Room and place the Engineering Control Room adjacent to an engineering bulkhead.

I wish that I had more submarine data and experience to draw from, but I just need to settle for civilian power plants and glimpses from ex-submariners.

Obviously this is mostly personal preference as the Traveller technology is almost 100% guess work.

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 Post subject: Re: Size of Bridge
PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 3:12 pm 
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Location: Sonthofen / Germany
atpollard wrote:
Why the Bridge is at one end of a ship and the drives at the opposite end is a mystery to me. There really is nothing to see from the bridge of a starship - you are navigating towards a speck that is probably invisible to the human eye and plotting a course by computer. Even modern container ships place the bridge over the engines rather than at the bow.

Yes, indeed. The science fiction I grew up with was that of the Perry Rhodan series,
with technology assumptions designed by an engineer. The ships of the series were
spheres, with the bridge at the center of the ship (the safest location), the engines
below that, and the actual (reaction) drives in a "swimming belt" around the equator
of the ship. This design seemed so logical and "natural" to me that I considered the
first Traveller starships I did see as outright ridiculous designs, for example the "glass
house bow" of the standard far trader.

http://www.spiegel.de/img/0,1020,933295,00.jpg


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 Post subject: Re: Size of Bridge
PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:23 pm 
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Location: Texas, USA
Bridge at the front, engines in the back comes from Airplanes.

Submarines and old sailing ships didn't have bridges in the front. Engines in the back is a hold-over from the Reaction Drives (if you have nasty stuff flying out of your ship at several times the speed of sound, you want it away from everything else and since that is what is pushing your ship, it needs to be at the back).

Bridges on starships should be in the middle of the ship (nice and safe) and not have windows. Windows go out starting at TL8.

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