Art Diary #4 - Anatomy of a Dreadnought

In the course of designing the ships of the 25th century of ORG, it was important to us that the ships made sense, both from a functional design perspective and for the role that they were intended to fulfill.

While the frigate class is often militarized and used for interception duties and commerce raiding, their core design is not that of a dedicated military machine. As such, they come in all sizes and shapes, some better adapted than others. Destroyers, on the other hand, are the workhorse - uncrewed and piloted by advanced Artificial Intelligence programs, destroyers are both expendable and capable of very aggressive maneuvering.

As useful as these two ship classes are, extended duty in complicated tactical theaters of operation requires - at least politically - a human mind to make the overall tactical decisions in the field. More intended as mobile command stations than as frontline battleships, this class of battleship is intended to provide a flexible, mobile, resilient element of force projection.

This is the Dreadnought class.

Unlike destroyers with their absence of a human crew, the central design consideration for the dreadnought is that it has a human crew. Dreadnoughts thus have several elements that are absent or played down in destroyers.

As with destroyers, the dreadnought's profile is long and narrow, though by necessity it is bulkier than a destroyer since it must be robust enough to take significant damage and still be operational. The front part of the ship does have power conduits, weapons, and hangar bays, but by mass is nearly 80% armor and shielding systems, the latter of which is capable of maintained cosmic radiation and energy deflection similar in function to a ship-sized version of a planet's magnetosphere.

Hangar Bays can be configured for either automated drones or crewed fighters for long-range operations - often both, as crewed fighters frequently operate in functionality similar to the dreadnought itself but at a more local level, meaning a crewed fighter will operate more as a drone command ship with attendant automated drones extending the effective reach and reaction speed of the crewed fighter.

HED Lances are common short to medium range naval engagement weapons consisting of high-energy particle weaponry. Even their short range, however, is quite long, generally measured still in tens of kilometers. HED Lances are also common armaments for the smaller, A.I.-operated destroyer class; larger super-dreadnought class battleships are intended to operate at even more distant range, and as such tend to favor tactical launched warheads, although both Dreadnought class ships and Super Dreadnought class ships usually have both types of armaments, although their respective ratios differ significantly.

A pair of Habitat Rings are situated towards the rear of the dreadnought. Paired for redundancy and, and at the cost of energy efficiency the habitat rings are much more compact so their profile is minimized and also so they can take greater advantage of the dreadnought's shielding systems. Able to rotate so as to provide faux gravity, there are also secondary command stations in the center of the dreadnought beneath the rings for use during major active combat operations. In addition to not generally being used during combat maneuvering, the habitat rings are also not used during primary thrust at the beginning and end of a flight plan. (In fact, as with nearly all such ships, the deceleration period involves the ship flipping around so that as it approaches a target world or station it will advance rear-first until it gets fairly close.)

Behind the habitat rings lies fuel, cryo-storage for hibernating personnel such as ground troops or auxiliary crew, and standard storage as well. Behind that sits another set of heavy shielding and secondary shielding systems to protect the crew from the powerful Nuclear Engines at the rear of the ship that provide the bulk of the vessel's thrust.

Finally, sandwiched between the ship's powerful nuclear reactors and the storage section sits another rotating ring, this one not for the habitat rings but for a trio of Attitude Thrusters used for rapid maneuvering. The three thruster pods rotate on a common ring such that if one or even two takes damage, the dreadnought can still be maneuvered even with just a single remaining thruster pod. The thruster pod itself has dual redundancy, and can angle 180 degree along the primary axis of the ship. Fuel supply for the attitude thrusters is resupplied from the ship's main nuclear reactors, but stored separately, meaning that in the event of a problem with both nuclear reactors, some degree of maneuvering and thrust is still available.