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SLN Future

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Re: SLN Future
Post by Jonathan_S   » Thu May 21, 2020 2:37 pm

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tlb wrote:
ThinksMarkedly wrote:But the conclusion is the same: once real fighting starts, plenty of systems will hold back their ships so they aren't damaged or destroyed. And that's assuming they're in fighting trim in the first place: it's easy to imagine that many Shell systems are keeping DNs and even SDs for the prestige, but are actually worse than the SLN in training and doctrine. After all, who would they learn doctrine from anyway?

Please refresh my memory, what fighting is about to start? I can imagine systems holding back their SDF ships to defend their own planet; but not just so they do not get damaged. If the system governments are smart, then they are sending officers to the training classes of major powers and are engaged in war-gaming with friendly powers. The absolute worst thing that they could do is have a few big ships for prestige only and not have their people trained as best as can be done to use those ships. I cannot believe core worlds with SDF ships would not have them train with the SLN, at a minimum.

Take a look at the South American naval races sometimes. They were ordering small numbers of the heaviest ships, when they often couldn't afford to operate them and had no facilities for serious maintenance - having to sail them back to foreign yards (mostly British) where they'd been built for serious service. At one point in 1902 Argentina and Chile agreed to an arms limitation treaty that then had to be modified when they discovered they didn't have any cranes heavy enough to remove their battleship's main turrets as part of the disarmament called for by the treaty!

And that's well before the race entered it's final amusing post-dreadnought phase which ended up with Argintina pissing everybody off by updating their request for bids with proprietary design details from the competing yards in various countries, Chile's attempt to respond giving the Royal Navy HMS Canada during WWI, and the carrier HMS Eagle, and Brazil attempting to supplement their original pair of dreadnoughts (now badly outclassed by the slightly newer super-dreadnoughts); running out of money and selling it during construction to the Ottomans only for it to be seized by the British and serve as HMS Agincourt.

These were very much prestige units, that the countries has limited ability to maintain and operate; and which weren't acquired in sufficient numbers to form a line of battle. Kind of like a Shell, or very prosperous Verge, system with just enough to acquire a waller but not enough to keep it an effective unit.
Last edited by Jonathan_S on Thu May 21, 2020 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SLN Future
Post by Jonathan_S   » Thu May 21, 2020 2:37 pm

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kzt wrote:Notice how much of a problem Silesia was to the RMN, and that was like 60 systems in a dense cluster weeks travel away from the SKM, not thousands widely spread out and many months of travel away.

Though a significant part that was because Manticore, for reasons of both domestic policy and sometimes prickly diplomatic relations with the Andermandi weren't allowed to fight piracy efficiently.

Patrolling with a handful of warships hoping to stumble across a pirate in action (or fool him into mistakenly pouncing on you) is a poor way to eradicate them. Crushing their support network is more effective. They need yards to keep their ships going, supplies beyond what they can steal from prizes, fences to dispose of the captured loot and ships, suppliers of missiles (to replace warning shots; if nothing else), bases to operate out of, and funding to get this all set up and ongoing. Of those yards willing to look the other way and maintain or repair pirate ships are probably the easiest to find and ensure they won't continue doing that - one way or the other. But in Silesia the financiers had serious connections to the corrupt government, and usually provided protection to the fences and yards -- and the aforementioned restrictions meant Manticore and the RMN wouldn't touch them. Not unless the pirates they supported went way, way, over the line.

In the verge, while Manticore might not be maintaining a presence, I've little doubt they'd be willing to let it be know that they'd be happy to stop by and destroy any yard outfitting or supporting pirates. You don't have to follow through on that too many times before the remaining yards realize the profits they'd get from the pirates won't begin to cover the costs to replace their yard.

And of course much of the verge seems too poor to sustain pirates for long. They've got costs just like any other ship owner, even if the goods they sell were free. And if they can't generate enough on average to turn a profit after expenses they're not going to be able to sustain themselves. They need to find a sweet spot of funding, support, and sufficiently valuable prey to be able to operate for long.
Yes, a well funded and large pirate fleet could sweep in and make off with a planet's orbital infrastructure. But that takes a lot of lift to move and they've still got to have someone they can sell it to for sufficient to more than cover the time, supplies, and running costs it took to go grab it and haul it back to a buyer/fence.

So, to my mind, the most efficient way to prevent / deter piracy is to prevent or eliminate a support network that would fund and supply them. The next most efficient way is LACs or light combatants patrolling a system's own hyper limit to drive off or engage pirates before they can engage any traffic. Beyond that efficiency goes way down.



Now peacekeeping / prevention of wars between system is a different problem; but it's not clear how much the FF cared about that either - except when:
a) it was an excuse to "liberate" both aggressor and victim for some transtellar or another to take over.
b) someone was stupid enough to target a 'protectorate' the FF/transtellars had already taken over.
c) one side or the other violated the Edict.
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Re: SLN Future
Post by kzt   » Thu May 21, 2020 3:44 pm

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A big merchantman is worth billions without a cargo. With, say 4 million tons of aircars, it’s worth a whole lot more. Assume each aircar is 5 tons and worth $50,000. That’s 40 billion. Even at 10% that’s a lot of money to split among a hundred pirates.
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Re: SLN Future
Post by Brigade XO   » Thu May 21, 2020 5:28 pm

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Piracy requires not only a ship which can be used to intercept another (usualy merchant) ship, but:
1) one or more bases of operations where you can repair or upgrade your ship.
2) one of more ways to fence your take, being cargo, ships or ransom crews. The ransom part is difficult because you have to get the people -without them being able to idenfiy you- to some place that will secure them and assist in the transfer and collection of ransom.
3) Suppliers of parts, consumables, and intelligence -that intelegence is on potential targets, people actively (or just patrolling) looking for you, and who will pay the best for what you can sell.

I imagine that you can sell captured ships by washing them though brokers or dealing with less than reputable System Governments who will generate paperwork and may or may not be able to do enough adjusting to the ships so they won't be immediatly recongizable by the emmissions signatures. Selling the to people or places that won't be taking them where they are going to get scrutinized helps.

Successful pirates are almost always going to have influential friends or partners that will handle the fencing. The primary thing that makes them a worthwile operation is they pay nothing (except operating expenses etc) and can sell the plunder at below-market value. Depends on what you get.
Even taking a 100yr old Dromadary Freighter and running it though the Honorvers version of a chop-shop is going to be worth a LOT of credits. Think used parts and bulk hull-metal sales. Impeller nodes, parts of the reactor systems, electronics, the list goes on and on.
Couple of millions tons of some cerel grain? Machnine tools, agricultural equipment. If you get enough, cheaply enough and have an outlet for it you make money.

People on the other hand, are dangerous. Letting them all get off in the lifeboats/pods etc at least keeps murder off the lists but if they are picked up right away near a system - one that has something that can go out and investigate a disturbance or apparent piracy- means that the word of the piracy will get out that much sooner. So, do you just kill them after you subue them? Do you hold them at a base somewhere as forced labor (or worse) or do you "sell them" to a system tha needs more people to work as contract labor untill they can get word to wherever and then release them for a "reward".

You could always partner with somebody that wants to build it's own merchant fleet- just NOT where you are operating- and put them into service doing what they were doing just not on the same cargo runs.

Of course, if you are the system government, you could have a really interestingly good anti-pirate force and take a lot of prizes in the way of retaking captured ships and -theoreticaly- destroyong the pirate ships in the process and "exicuting" the pirate personel taken onboard the prizes. I do think that more than one of those over a couple of years and the insurance companies would begin to get really interesting in your good fortune. :)
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Re: SLN Future
Post by kzt   » Thu May 21, 2020 5:40 pm

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The best bet is just tell the crew to abandon ship before you get there. With modern stealth systems they won't know anything useful about you that everyone else in the system probably also knows. You then take the ship in tow and head back out. You should be over the wall in 2-3 hours and GONE.
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Re: SLN Future
Post by Jonathan_S   » Fri May 22, 2020 9:12 am

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kzt wrote:A big merchantman is worth billions without a cargo. With, say 4 million tons of aircars, it’s worth a whole lot more. Assume each aircar is 5 tons and worth $50,000. That’s 40 billion. Even at 10% that’s a lot of money to split among a hundred pirates.

Well it costs billions. It's only worth billions to the pirate if there are buyers willing to pay that for a stolen ship.

Which is, in part, controlled by how risky it is to be caught operating a stolen ship (how likely are you to be caught, and what are the penalties if you are)
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Re: SLN Future
Post by Brigade XO   » Fri May 22, 2020 5:07 pm

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Jonathan_S wrote:
kzt wrote:A big merchantman is worth billions without a cargo. With, say 4 million tons of aircars, it’s worth a whole lot more. Assume each aircar is 5 tons and worth $50,000. That’s 40 billion. Even at 10% that’s a lot of money to split among a hundred pirates.
Well it costs billions. It's only worth billions to the pirate if there are buyers willing to pay that for a stolen ship.

Which is, in part, controlled by how risky it is to be caught operating a stolen ship (how likely are you to be caught, and what are the penalties if you are)


If you are not caught by the time you get into hyper there is a really good chance that you got away clean. Of course that means that you are going to have to put a crew about the captured ship (including security in case there is anyone still aboard) and get it operating such that you can take it into hyper. At that point it might be a good idea to not really go that far and then meet with your pirate ship to start doing things like inventory and checking for stray crew or passengers and any hidden surprises left behind.
Also to look at it's coms and ships documents to see if there is anything you might need to know about: meetings or sightings of commerce protection ships or random warships. Who's the owner, what the manifests say is on-board, Open anything needing opening.

Presuming that your last heading was more or less the direction the ship was heading other than into inside the system's hyper limit, you would take the time to now head for your base or some other transfer location. Then the fun begins. What can you take from the ship that you can use or need for your own ship and high value/low mass items.

How likely is it that you are going to have the ability on-board to change the registration numbers for things like aircars? Same thing for loads of agricultiral equipment or machine tools? What you might have is the ability to gin up creative invoices and transfer paperwork for such items and leave the serial numbers the same, just cloud the trail. It's not the fence or you backers/suppliers that are going to be the problem, it's the next steps in the ownership chains and how close to what the prices "should be" on an open market for new manufactured goods that your fence or partners are going to be flogging.

What is the likelihood that someone from a major Star Nation is going to drop in on XYZ Fittings, Parts and Custom Fabrication on planet Stinky Outhouse to see if it last purchase or two of "CNC multi stage tools" has anything off of various lists of stolen goods? Same goes for just about anything elce. Unless someone has a reason to go looking in a given system for something, it's going to be dam hard to find goods taken by pirates. Other than the ships, eventualy and if they are not scrapped.
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Re: SLN Future
Post by kzt   » Fri May 22, 2020 5:37 pm

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That's why you use a tug, with an oversized hyper generator.
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Re: SLN Future
Post by Jonathan_S   » Fri May 22, 2020 6:46 pm

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Brigade XO wrote:If you are not caught by the time you get into hyper there is a really good chance that you got away clean. Of course that means that you are going to have to put a crew about the captured ship (including security in case there is anyone still aboard) and get it operating such that you can take it into hyper. At that point it might be a good idea to not really go that far and then meet with your pirate ship to start doing things like inventory and checking for stray crew or passengers and any hidden surprises left behind.
Also to look at it's coms and ships documents to see if there is anything you might need to know about: meetings or sightings of commerce protection ships or random warships. Who's the owner, what the manifests say is on-board, Open anything needing opening.

Presuming that your last heading was more or less the direction the ship was heading other than into inside the system's hyper limit, you would take the time to now head for your base or some other transfer location. Then the fun begins. What can you take from the ship that you can use or need for your own ship and high value/low mass items.

How likely is it that you are going to have the ability on-board to change the registration numbers for things like aircars? Same thing for loads of agricultiral equipment or machine tools? What you might have is the ability to gin up creative invoices and transfer paperwork for such items and leave the serial numbers the same, just cloud the trail. It's not the fence or you backers/suppliers that are going to be the problem, it's the next steps in the ownership chains and how close to what the prices "should be" on an open market for new manufactured goods that your fence or partners are going to be flogging.

What is the likelihood that someone from a major Star Nation is going to drop in on XYZ Fittings, Parts and Custom Fabrication on planet Stinky Outhouse to see if it last purchase or two of "CNC multi stage tools" has anything off of various lists of stolen goods? Same goes for just about anything elce. Unless someone has a reason to go looking in a given system for something, it's going to be dam hard to find goods taken by pirates. Other than the ships, eventualy and if they are not scrapped.

I was thinking more after a potential buyer purchased the stolen ship from you. After all they presumably want a merchantman so they can do some legitimate shipping work, get paid to haul things around. A bit hard to do that if its too easy for honest systems, customs inspectors, or naval units to identify stolen ships by emissions or what-have you. That could drastically reduce were you could operate your stolen ship.

And if it need a major overhaul in a yard willing to act as a chop shop to disguise it -- well that cuts further into the resale value. Also that yard is a vulnerable target that anti-piracy efforts could go after to kill the value of stolen ships. (It being a significantly longer, and more capital intensive process to stand up a shipyard than to stand up an auto mechanic shop. That should make the owners of such that much more reluctant to engage in activity that might result in the loss of their very immobile investment. If nothing else, you'd expect them to charge quite a lot for the work to offset that risk).

Still, I'm sure there are some yards willing to do the work, and some market for stolen ships. But the profits of try to sell on a stolen ship might be a tiny fraction of its theoretical value.



As far as I'm aware pirates in the age of sail rarely tried to take ships for sale. Steal their goods and supplies, absolutely. Sometimes take one to refit as another, or as a replacement, pirate ship - sure. But pretty rarely take with intent to sell; even back then when ships were hard to trace it was hard to find a good market for stolen ones. Privateers were different, since they could sell their prized to the country they were fighting for under various prize rules.
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Re: SLN Future
Post by tlb   » Fri May 22, 2020 8:12 pm

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Jonathan_S wrote:I was thinking more after a potential buyer purchased the stolen ship from you. After all they presumably want a merchantman so they can do some legitimate shipping work, get paid to haul things around. A bit hard to do that if its too easy for honest systems, customs inspectors, or naval units to identify stolen ships by emissions or what-have you. That could drastically reduce were you could operate your stolen ship.

And if it need a major overhaul in a yard willing to act as a chop shop to disguise it -- well that cuts further into the resale value. Also that yard is a vulnerable target that anti-piracy efforts could go after to kill the value of stolen ships. (It being a significantly longer, and more capital intensive process to stand up a shipyard than to stand up an auto mechanic shop. That should make the owners of such that much more reluctant to engage in activity that might result in the loss of their very immobile investment. If nothing else, you'd expect them to charge quite a lot for the work to offset that risk).

Still, I'm sure there are some yards willing to do the work, and some market for stolen ships. But the profits of try to sell on a stolen ship might be a tiny fraction of its theoretical value.

The Marianne was identified by emissions in Shadow of Saganami, but that was not a standard cargo ship:
Whoever that was over there, he doubted very much that the ship's real name was Golden Butterfly. And he was quite certain the other vessel's commander had no idea Hexapuma had gotten a complete emissions map off of her before she left Split. If he'd even suspected that, he would never have been stupid enough to try using a false transponder code.


It is true the SD's in Flag in Exile were only partially identified as having been built in Haven by the presence of a specific radar installation, because of the work that had been done. However I do not think that there is a general registry of emissions that would act like fingerprints to identify specific cargo ships.
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