Art Diary #5 - Assembly of a Super Dreadnought

In the last Art Diary, we talked about some of the thinking that went in to the Dreadnought class battleship of the 25th century dystopian future of ORG. This time, we're going to go into that even more powerful class of battleship - the Super Dreadnought.

Although similar in form to the smaller Dreadnought class, the Super Dreadnought actually occupies a distinct role. Where the Dreadnought can operate as a mobile command center or light carrier, the Super Dreadnought is designed to do these things over a long period of time, even to the extent of providing diplomatic support and, if necessary, ground bombardment options. Around Mars, State's base of naval operations is not Phobos, but rather the Super Dreadnought battleship the Andrew Jackson, supported by its sister Super Dreadnoughts the Ronald Reagan and the James Monroe.

Three habitat rings allow the Super Dreadnought to maintain three different gravitational norms for the comfort of its crew, and four enormous nuclear reactors provide both a redundancy of power generation as well as the massive electrical energy necessary to support the Super Dreadnought's unparalleled Artificial Magnetosphere Generators, or AMGs. Half again as long and over five times as massive as the Dreadnought class, the Super Dreadnought class is a monster of both defensive and offensive weaponry, claiming not only the largest bank of HED Lances of any class of ship (though, it should be noted, not by mass ratio), but an unparalleled mobile capacity for tactical nuclear launchers, as well as hangar bays capable of handling drones or fighters, or some combination of both, depending on the particular outfitting of the ship in question.

So, to summarize:

  • The Frigate class represents the general purpose workhorse of the solar system. It's not a freighter, though it can be used as such. It's not a survey ship, though with the right modifications it can do that, too. It's not a dedicated warship, but armed with a bank of HED Lances, it can certainly fill that role. When fitted for combat, it is notable for being the smallest ship designed to make interplanetary trips. Frigates also have human crews, though they are not large enough to sport their own rotational elements. They're small, fast to build, easy to crew, expendable, and flexible. Though not common, even some of the larger polities such as the Oceanic League on Earth utilizes frigates for the bulk of their combat operations.
  • The Destroyer class has no human crew at all in favor of a set of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) units. Without human frailties to worry about, destroyers are ideally suited for extended duration picket duties, stealth missions, suicide missions, as well as frontline duty. Although Earth is fortunate to have an inexhaustible supply of human beings for crew, most of the worlds in the rest of the solar system suffer from continued labor challenges, and as such destroyers are for this reason as well as all of the above mentioned reasons very common and very popular.
  • The Dreadnought class is the smallest human crewed ship designed from the start as a military vessel, rather than simply being sometimes adapted for such duty as is the case of the frigate class. Dreadnoughts are intended to operate within the safety of a net of destroyers; four or five is typical, although necessity and opportunity may dictate more or less. The Dreadnought class is built to be able to operate as a mobile command center, a frontline combatant, and, sometimes, even a light carrier.

Super dreadnoughts are not only highly advanced but incredibly expensive vessels, both to build and to maintain, and only the shipyards orbiting Earth itself have the industrial capacity to construct the massive battleships. The orgs that contract out the construction of these are not, naturally, above contracting out and selling super dreadnoughts to other polities, and as a result a number of the navies of the solar system off Earth boast one or more super dreadnoughts.

Like the Dreadnought, the Super Dreadnought has a profile that is noticeably longer than it is wide, although less so than the Dreadnought. As general naval tactica dictates that super dreadnoughts should be kept back and used as an operational platform, maintaining a narrow front is less critical. Also like the Dreadnought, a large proportion of the Super Dreadnought is comprised of armor and shielding systems. On the Super Dreadnought in particular, these latter, known as AMGs, are powerful enough to diffuse incoming HED Lance fire and even provide some limited added protection from kinetic damage sources.

Aside from the obvious differences such as double the number of attitude thrusters and double the number of nuclear reactors, the major operational difference of the Super Dreadnought class is that it is capable of very extended remote service. Whereas a dreadnought must rely on regular resupply, a super dreadnought carries with it extensive hydroponic capabilities. Where dreadnoughts are focused on providing an offensive forward warship, a super dreadnought is designed from the ground up as a mobile command center, and also boasts considerable troop transport capacity in the form of over a thousand cryosleep tubes.

Although all super dreadnoughts are intended to operate as mobile command centers, individual ships can be fitted to some degree of specialization, from added troop transport, extended hangar capacity for true carrier functionality, and seemingly inexhaustive tactical nuclear missile deployment capability. In practice, however, most super dreadnoughts occupy a middle path between all of these roles rather than specializing.

The triple habitat ring setup is most often geared towards the owning polity's own gravitational requirements, but where such have mixed gravitational requirements by virtue of multiple planetary possessions this triplicate habitat ring offers logistical capabilities allowing accommodation. Some polities as well, especially those in the Outer Worlds, do not even fully crew their ships, instead choosing to use the extra habitat rings for additional hydroponics or even storage, or even refit the ship to remove any extraneous rings.