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What happened to the Solly Merchant fleets?

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What happened to the Solly Merchant fleets?
Post by Eagleeye   » Tue Apr 01, 2014 6:42 am

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If I remember correctly, it was in one of the very early books (OBS maybe, but I'm not sure) where it is said that the RMMM was the #4 of all Merchant fleets, with the other 3 all belonging to member states of the Solarian League. I concede, this was 20 years plus before the recent ... mess, but even if the RMMM is now the biggest fish in the pond, I can't believe they are that by a great margin.

Working together (if need be, by force of the SLN), the other 3 merchant fleets should be able 1) to shoulder the additional transport load and 2) to soften the sting caused by the withdrawal of the RMMM ... shouldn't they?
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Re: What happened to the Solly Merchant fleets?
Post by Dafmeister   » Tue Apr 01, 2014 6:57 am

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There are a couple of possibilities that I can see.

The first is that this was simply an early detail that has changed to accommodate the story RFC wants to tell. A similar example would concern the Prime Minister of Manticore. In early books the PM had to command a majority in the Commons, but this was changed to the Lords. There's a note about it in one of the books, I can't remember which one.

On the other hand, for an in-universe explanation, what exactly constitutes the Manticoran or Solarian merchant fleet? Is it ships flagged in those star nations? Ships owned by shipping lines of those star nations? Ships operated by shipping lines of those star nations (not the same thing)? I can't remember which book it's in, but during one of the Mandarins' discussions of the effects of Lacoon 1 it's stated that a lot of the cargo moved by Solarian lines is actually carried in Manticoran-flagged vessels under charter to Solarian transtellars.
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Re: What happened to the Solly Merchant fleets?
Post by wholf359   » Tue Apr 01, 2014 7:42 am

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I think its that the Manty merchant fleet has been expanding while the Solarian League merchant fleet has been shrinking. The fee's for using the wormhole have gone up a lot since the first war and Manty ships get a hefty discount so it has been cheaper to use Manty ships to get goods for your needs then to use Solarian League merchant ships.
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Re: What happened to the Solly Merchant fleets?
Post by Theemile   » Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:05 am

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wholf359 wrote:I think its that the Manty merchant fleet has been expanding while the Solarian League merchant fleet has been shrinking. The fee's for using the wormhole have gone up a lot since the first war and Manty ships get a hefty discount so it has been cheaper to use Manty ships to get goods for your needs then to use Solarian League merchant ships.


There a statement in one of the later books about a centuries old trans-stellar which has been a shipping house for years - but doesn't own a single hull.

In our current world, planes and ships are chartered (or space in them leased) all the time. UPS's fleet of ~550 planes is less than 1/2 owned - the others are on lease or chartered from other firms. And if you talk to GE (a major plane leasing partner) it owns thousands of planes - all of which are also claimed by UPS, DHL, FED-EX, BAX, etc.

Then there is the nationality question, as ship are "flagged" by the nations - this is currently more of a tax practice or (like a Panamerican registration) a way to lower transit fees of a critical chokepoint.

So many ships may be flagged as MMM ships despite their origin and ownership to take advantage of lower junction fees. Other Manty owned hulls may be leased out to other transtellars like I mentioned above, in both counts allowing them to count doubly in the rankings. By Manticore pulling them, the other fleets shrink.

The MMMs critical importance was that ~90% of shipments touch a Manty bottom AT SOME POINT during their journey - Transtellars using a Manty hull for lowered fees from the Junction crossing no doubt accounted for a disproportionate usage of Manty hulls as part of trade routes.
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Re: What happened to the Solly Merchant fleets?
Post by namelessfly   » Tue Apr 01, 2014 9:31 am

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How many SL merchant ships got stranded hundreds of lightyears away from SL space when the RMN closed down the wormhole network. It will take merchant ships months to a year to get from places such as Silesiaback to the core worlds.
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Re: What happened to the Solly Merchant fleets?
Post by exiledtoIA   » Tue Apr 01, 2014 2:53 pm

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Not really.
It's covered in one of the books.
There are only so many ships. If you take away some of those ships ( Manticore pulling it's merchant fleet from the SL ) you are trying to move as much cargo with fewer hulls.
Then Manticore shuts down the wormholes, now the fewer ships have to travel farther to deliver the cargoes they have.
It can't be done. The SL is going to have to prioritize cargoes to get essential things where they need to be.
For nonpriority cargoes shipping is going to get very expensive.
Something else to think about - Ships HAVE to have maintainence. So the fewer ships the SL has available will get fewer as hulls have to be pulled out for equipment repairs.



Eagleeye wrote:If I remember correctly, it was in one of the very early books (OBS maybe, but I'm not sure) where it is said that the RMMM was the #4 of all Merchant fleets, with the other 3 all belonging to member states of the Solarian League. I concede, this was 20 years plus before the recent ... mess, but even if the RMMM is now the biggest fish in the pond, I can't believe they are that by a great margin.

Working together (if need be, by force of the SLN), the other 3 merchant fleets should be able 1) to shoulder the additional transport load and 2) to soften the sting caused by the withdrawal of the RMMM ... shouldn't they?
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Re: What happened to the Solly Merchant fleets?
Post by Brigade XO   » Tue Apr 01, 2014 4:22 pm

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Firstly I believe that Manticore is quite touchy and exacting about what shipping can be flagged for Manticore.
At minimum I would expect that they would want the owning company to be a Manticore company and probably at least a simple majority Manticore citizens. They would have to comply with ALL the Manticore spacing and merchant vessle regulations.

That a Manticore company would lease ships to a third party is easy. The question then becomes does that ship (if in compliance with Manticore regulations) retain the benefits or discounts on fees when using the Manticore Wormholes?

You also have to ask about the crews. Are the officers and Sr. non-officers Manticorian and they can have either a full Manticorian or mixed nationality crew? Does the line that leases the ship put their own crew abord or do they have to take Manticore personel and have a company agent on board?

Lots of questions.

If the ship is owned by a Manticorian Company, I would expect that it would be subject to recall under Lacoon I though it might have to wait till a crew from the owner company (or hired at the point where the company leasing it took its crew and goods off) could take it back to Manticorian space.

We haven't yet seen anybody outright seize a ship (other than Saltash for "medical" quarantine) as an asset of an opponent in time of war. That will probably change but that was ONE of the reasons for Lacoon I--- get you people and hyper-capable merchant shipping out of harms way before the shooting starts.
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Re: What happened to the Solly Merchant fleets?
Post by Amaroq   » Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:02 pm

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Here are some relevant snippets from ART:

But when Lacoön Two activates and we start closing down as much as we can of the entire network, it’s going to get even worse. They don’t begin to have the hulls to take up the slack even if all the termini stayed open; with the termini closed, with every ton of cargo having to spend four or five times as long in transit, to boot…


This is from Commander Pang's thoughts which are obviously subjective. But the next snippet is textev and thus might be more indicative of the actual state of affairs.

Even if Solarian shipyards got themselves fully mobilized and built enough ships to replace every single Manticoran hull pulled out of the League’s trade, it still wouldn’t be enough to maintain the shipping routes without the termini.
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Re: What happened to the Solly Merchant fleets?
Post by Amaroq   » Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:03 pm

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Eagleeye wrote:If I remember correctly, it was in one of the very early books (OBS maybe, but I'm not sure) where it is said that the RMMM was the #4 of all Merchant fleets, with the other 3 all belonging to member states of the Solarian League. I concede, this was 20 years plus before the recent ... mess, but even if the RMMM is now the biggest fish in the pond, I can't believe they are that by a great margin.

Working together (if need be, by force of the SLN), the other 3 merchant fleets should be able 1) to shoulder the additional transport load and 2) to soften the sting caused by the withdrawal of the RMMM ... shouldn't they?


You are correct, sir. From HAE:

The Manticoran merchant marine was the fourth largest in the galaxy. It was far larger than that of the People's Republic—indeed, the only people with bigger merchant fleets were all members of the Solarian League.
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Re: What happened to the Solly Merchant fleets?
Post by Hutch   » Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:33 pm

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Eagleeye wrote:If I remember correctly, it was in one of the very early books (OBS maybe, but I'm not sure) where it is said that the RMMM was the #4 of all Merchant fleets, with the other 3 all belonging to member states of the Solarian League. I concede, this was 20 years plus before the recent ... mess, but even if the RMMM is now the biggest fish in the pond, I can't believe they are that by a great margin.

Working together (if need be, by force of the SLN), the other 3 merchant fleets should be able 1) to shoulder the additional transport load and 2) to soften the sting caused by the withdrawal of the RMMM ... shouldn't they?


Possibly (albeit I think by ART the size and importance of the MMM had increased via the author's possession of a quantity of the element handwavium ...) ;).

A recurring discussion on the board (there are several old threads in the archive) is how many merchant ships there are in total--and you can find lots of opinions on that. My current one (calculated yesterday during a moderately boring presentation) is about 300,000 ships with a total of 3,000,000 port calls/year (Average of 10 port calls per ship per year-I can show my math if anyone is interested).

If we assume that the Mantie Merchant Marine, along with those of 'associated' powers, represents 1/3 of that total, then the SL has about 200,000 freighters at it's disposal--but without the wormholes, it's ability to keep up with trade is going to be stretched.

I imagine that the SL MM will compress and try to serve just the Core and Shell systems, abandoning the outer Protectorates and Verge systems (albeit the Government and OFS won't like that, and the transtellars will do their best to keep their influence, but if you can't reach them, you can't reach them). And they probably have enough ships to keep up service for the 2,000 or so SL members.

However....

The 'cheap' material from the Verge and more and more of the Protectorates will be going away, the lack of wormhole transist will also increase costs and time (always important to business), and part of Honor's original plan included commerce raiding (Tourville with an eyepatch and a parrot comes to mind....) and bolder pirates, being chased out of Silesia, may start probing at the not-so-invicible SL....

Heard of Insurance rates? Insurance companies may be more ruthless at this time than the MAlign....

So we shall see. Eventually.

Interesting topic, thanks for posting it.
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