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What is your expected crew size on PC ships?

I've been working on and off developing a "player" sized starship that is configurable for a variety of roles (mostly using TNE's FF&S) and ran into something that was making me scratch my head.

When I calculated the engineering crew size (for a ~300 dT ship) for a "blockade runner" configuration my jaw dropped.

TNE aparrently needs *significantly* more engineering crew than HG: I was just wondering if this happened in MT, or if this is "new" for TNE (and T4, which uses the same calculations) I realize that TNE ships "should" have more crew than CT ships because of reduced automation (eek virus...) but T4 doesn't HAVE virus, so why keep the inflated crew levels?

TNE / T4 assigns engineering crew by powerplant output, not by engine size, so M-drive and J-Drive don't need engineering crew (of course they *do* need maintenance crew, which comes out to about 1/2 the "engineering" crew required for HG anyway, and then you get to add "maintenance" crew but I digress)

To illustrate, Let's assume that we have 35 dT of powerplant. Here's a neat little table of the power plant output, number of engineers etc. (if TNE and T4 reconcile with HG, then an EP is 84 MW) </font><blockquote>code:</font><hr /><pre style="font-size:x-small; font-family: monospace;"> Engineers
TL Output (MW) HG TNE
9 980 1 16
11 980 1 13
13 1470 1 14
15 2940 1 19</pre>[/QUOTE]Add to this the 2-3 additional "Command" crew needed and the extra couple of "maintenance" folks and this seems to really be over the top. I didn't actually notice this in earlier FF&S designs, since I largely designed fairly low-thrust military ships, and expected them to have lots of crew. It became a bit of a sore thumb when changing roles changed the crew size by a factor of 5, with a reconfiguration of less than 10% of the ship (and no weapons added!) For concrete numbers, this changed a "merchant" hull requiring 4 crew into a "FedEx" hull requiring more than 20. The same "FedEx" hull with a huge J-Drive and tiny M-Drive took a whopping 5 crew...

It also kills one of the main points of large commercial ships, which is reduced crew requirements: if 1 large ship takes almost exactly the same crew as a 10 small ships 1/10th the size, why would you ever build the large ship?

So in a roundabout way, my question is this: What would you *expect* the crew of a small starship to be and how much larger should the "military" ship crew be compared to a "civilian" design?

My cut at this would be that a small ship (packet freighter, no significant passenger capability) should carry the following crew:
-Electronics (Sensors / Commo)
-Purser (Optional)
The Captain would probably hold down one of the non-engineer slots, and cross-training would have the "watch" held by the first three crew in rotation, with no formal watch held for 5 days after jump initiation. The Purser would be in charge of the cargo, and would double as a gunner if the ship was armed.

A military ship of the same size (200-400 dTons) would add a few gunners, an additional sensors/electronics rating, backup for the pilot or nav (probably one of the gunners) and an additional engineer. If troops are needed, I could see 8 troopers doubling as gunners.

This has my expectations of a small ship crew running in the 4-16 range, which is conveniently a nice size for a player character group. Am I missing something, or does this jive with the expectations of the rest of you folks out there?

On a somewhat related tangent: if you expect crew sizes of 4-16 on a 200-400dT ship, please let the folks in the T5 forums know that they should be looking at alternatives to FF&S for crew levels.

Scott Martin
Well, haven't really got many data points, but throwing out what PC ships in GT I have experience with.

1. Exact Change Only, 200 dton, 6-8 crew, J-2
2. Katherine, 2,000 dton, 40-ish crew, J-4

Looks like crew scales sublinearly with ship, as the ECO has 3.5 crewdogs per 100 dton while the Katherine has 2 crewdogs per 100 dton. Haven't really got enough data to further hypothesise.
In T4, MD & JD need crew too. Also note that in T4 higher levels of automation can drastically reduce the numbers.

For a 300dt, 6g ship, only considering the MD & PP, the Eng crew is:

</font><blockquote>code:</font><hr /><pre style="font-size:x-small; font-family: monospace;">
TL HG MT T4 (low/std/high auto)
11 2 4 19/5/3
13 1 2 14/4/2
15 1 1 9/2/1</pre>[/QUOTE]...which looks okay to me.
Thanks Andrew

I'll have to find the "automation" section in FF&S-2: the base crew requirements were identical to FF&S (TNE version) and FF&S-2 was... sub-optimal as far as layout and actually finding information.

Scott Martin
Crew size crew up in TNE. This was described as the effect of de-coupling the ship's system past virus. IIRC somewhere on the BARD pages was an article to change that back to MT levels.
MT Crew bases off cost... the highest of scott's data points was under 2 WITHOUT computer
So I found the "automation" section (Thanks Andrew) Aparrently Automation has no cost and brings the crew down to ~5 with "average" automation and ~3 with "High" automation.

This is still significantly higher than LBB2 engineering crew (1 per 35 dT) and an order of magnitude larger than HG engineering crew (1 per 100 dT IIRC) even at the "high" automation levels.

Has anyone had any thoughts about alternate crew levels? Perhaps something like

1 + control multiplier x log(power plant output/100)

so that large power plants require fewer staff (per MW) than small power plants, making it large starships more economically sensible than small ones (lower crew costs)

Of course if this is linear, then the packet ships will be more able to compete with the large lines, making tramp traders more ubiquitous, which could be a useful result in and of itself...

Scott Martin
One or two extra engineers doesn't seem excessive to me - it means the same guy doesn't have to stay up 24/7 for a start...

And don't forget, this is TL11, which is pretty low.
TNE and T4 *both* give insanely high engineering crew requirements: I don't think that nuclear vessels have significantly higher crew requirements than non-nuclear vessels (based on crews for CVA vs CVN vessels) Remember that engineering crew is there to fix minor problems and perform regular maintenance, NOT to rebuild the engines. I would expect larger crews on military vessels, but the crew values in both these products do not differentiate between Military and non-military crews, so I am taking them as *minimum* values. Even with "High" automation in T4 these crew sizes strike me as large, especially in comparison to CT crewing levels.

Now let's look at the Real World (tm)

For representative freighters, the Edmund Fitzgerald (A great lakes bulk hauler) carried 10 engineering crew (of a total crew of 29) with no computer automation (built in 1958)

Size approx 220m x 22m x 20m (12m draught) AKA 7,000 dT

Some more info on a different (modern) freighter (The Katrin S Judd, more info here: http://www.juddspittler.com/freighterbum/index.htm) at a WAG I put this around 70,000 cubic meters, aka 5,000 dTons assuming that total height is about 3x draught (container ships are *tall!). Note that there is only one "watch" engineer on off-hours.
Seven of the 18 officers and crew aboard the Katrin S. were members of the engineering department. While at sea, this is typically an 8-to-5 job. Most of the work they perform is maintenance and cleaning of the large amount of equipment present in the engine room. The engineering officers review spreadsheet data that summarizes long-term trends in various parameters of the highly instrumented engine as a function of time. This can be used to provide clues to impending problems. Engine room operation is highly automated, so the actual running of the engines does not require hands-on supervision. One member of the engineering department is always “on-call” during off hours, however, to respond to various automatic monitoring system “alarms” that occur from time to time.

Displacement: 19,919 (long) tons
Deadweight: 14,454 (long) tons
Container Capacity: 535 forty-foot containers
Length: 149.6m (491 ft)
Beam: 23.1m (75.8 ft)
Draught: 7.4m (24.3 ft)
Service Speed: 18.5 knots
Cruising Range: 15,000 nautical miles
Main Engine Power: 13,614 HP
Launched: 1995, Volkswerft Stralsund GmbH, Stralsund, Germany.
Scott Martin
Yes, the low-auto crews are very high, but what's wrong with the others? For the 300dt, 6g, TL11 ship, HG says 2 engineers, MT says 4, and T4 says 5 at std-auto or 3 at high-auto. They're all in the same ball-park IMHO.
Sorry Andrew, I should have mentioned that I am re-examining crewing from "first principles" not just noting a massive discrepancy between rules sets.

I'm actually starting to think that they are *all* high, which was the reason for the comparison with RW shipping, although perhaps the issue is that we're looking at a 6-G ship ;)

What I would expect (for the sake of economics) is that small tramp freighters should really need something like 0.2 of an engineer, but are forced to carry a full-time engineer. This will make the small freighters that much less efficient than a large bulk hauler, which is why shipping on Terra (in terms of volume / value) is dominated by large transports.

Of course some of that is the cube / square law at work: scale up a ship by a factor of 2 in all dimensions, and drag increases by a factor of 4 (4x cross-sectional area) while volume increases by a factor of 8, so overall power (and by extension fuel) efficiency increases the larger you can build the hull. In space, with no drag, this is not true.

Scott Martin
Scott, my players routinely ran "undercrewed" mostly because they wanted every friggin npc detailed and I never wanted to detail 15 engineering crew. Brilliant lances has a formulae for determining Damage Control Parties, which, from memory, is either one half, or one third of the engineering staff plus the maintenance staff. Thus I would let them run at the remaining engineering staff levels minus the damage control party level. This will reduce crew size by one third or one half of engineering.
That is assuming, like my players, they are willing to not have Damage Control Parties.
Don't forget, starships are totally alone for at least a week (and sometimes two or three). If your only engineer falls down a hatch and breaks his neck you're buggered.
Originally posted by Andrew Boulton:
Don't forget, starships are totally alone for at least a week (and sometimes two or three). If your only engineer falls down a hatch and breaks his neck you're buggered.
Strangely similar to the age of steam, which the "Imperial" universe has a lot of parallels with. In that age it was not uncommon for freighters to be isolated for weeks at a time, especially on trans-Atlantic runs (although still better than the age of sail where this could be months at a time)

I'll post back after doing a bit more research, I'm not sure what I can unearth as far as crew sizes in the 1800's, which may be a better "fit" for Traveller crewing than modern freighter crews.

Scott Martin