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Oh, what the heck . . .

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Re: Oh, what the heck . . .
Post by Brigade XO   » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:17 am

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if Talbott can't build modern SD's any more, even if the yard was "repurposed", there was still a workforce that was trained in heavy shipbuilding. So what does it build in the time frame up to Oyster Bay if not SDs? Probably some type of ship or even industrial manufacturing stations for use either in the their own system of under contract for companies in other systems. This would be like a heavy ship yard on present day Earth building oil & gas drilling/production rigs to be towed to use sites. A potential client pool would be anyone who wanted to create or expand resource extraction capabilities in their own system. A reasonable alternative product would "orbital" manufacturing facilities for the same kind of customer systems to build their own stuff for home use or export.

A yard that used to build SDs and still had the staff available could also repair or even upgrade existing ships- probably smaller ships. A limiting factor would be the availability of the parts and equipment to do repairs or particularly the upgrades. If they have to presently get parts from Beowulf, that is another draw-down/bottleneck on new production elsewhere. If they can manufacture most or even many of the later tech parts (even if only under license from SEM) then you have both a repair yard and another source of repair/refit stuff outside the Manticore Home System.

A merchant ship is a merchant ship. It is built with a specific purpose but ususally has the ability to be configured- within reason and it's physical capabilities- to do other things. Other things being handle various other types of cargo. Most non-passenger merchant ships in the Honorverse are hauling freight in some sort of containerized configuration. A soap-bubble of framework and skin, life support, power plant, crew quarters etc with lots of EMPTY internal space which will have been fitted out to take shipping containers. Those doing bulk transport of specific product would be configured differently but its just materials handling and securing during transport and providing such enviornmental support and power to the cargo containers as may be needed if you can't expose your cargos to the cold and vaccume of space. What a merchant ship needs is paying cargo and places to take it, preferably on a regular basis and always both moving between ports and traveling full of profitable cargo.
The League is now very short of cargo ships. There is capacity to build more but it has to be engaged and then still takes time to build them and you have to put together crews. Not as intensive as crewing a military ship but still takes people and time. The MMM has lots of idle ships and crews but they won't be going to the League space till the war is settled though they do have new markets outside of the League space with the end of the Manticore-Haven wars.
A major challange for the League is that -even if the GA doesn't capture or destroy League shipping- that shipping has both lost it's ability to use the former major shipping routes because of the closing of the Manticore Junction routes AND the impact of Lacoon II. The League member and client/protectorate systems have lost the access to markets and their capasity to build "stuff" doesn't do very well if they can't sell or deliver it and make a profit. The GA and trading partners get to potentialy replace the League manufacturing sources as producers and have a vast amount of currently surplus carrying capacity. Things are going to shift drasticly in the economy of systems within the League as their production starves because of lack of sales.
In the short term, SLN commerce raiding, once initiated, will hurt but not as much as the economic blow already suffered by the SL and the GA plus treaty/trading partners are going to be capable of something they are already very good at- piracy supression and elimination, just this time against BF/FF ships. I have a hard time imagining that at least RMN hasn't already put things in motion to defend against SLN commerce raiding since that is exactly the type of asymmetrical warfare that could hurt the GA at this point and the only practical SLN can do in the short term other than get slaughtered in straight-up fights.
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Re: Oh, what the heck . . .
Post by Jonathan_S   » Sat Jul 15, 2017 5:42 am

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Brigade XO wrote:A merchant ship is a merchant ship. It is built with a specific purpose but ususally has the ability to be configured- within reason and it's physical capabilities- to do other things. Other things being handle various other types of cargo. Most non-passenger merchant ships in the Honorverse are hauling freight in some sort of containerized configuration. A soap-bubble of framework and skin, life support, power plant, crew quarters etc with lots of EMPTY internal space which will have been fitted out to take shipping containers. Those doing bulk transport of specific product would be configured differently but its just materials handling and securing during transport and providing such enviornmental support and power to the cargo containers as may be needed if you can't expose your cargos to the cold and vaccume of space. What a merchant ship needs is paying cargo and places to take it, preferably on a regular basis and always both moving between ports and traveling full of profitable cargo.
The League is now very short of cargo ships. There is capacity to build more but it has to be engaged and then still takes time to build them and you have to put together crews. Not as intensive as crewing a military ship but still takes people and time. The MMM has lots of idle ships and crews but they won't be going to the League space till the war is settled though they do have new markets outside of the League space with the end of the Manticore-Haven wars.
A major challange for the League is that -even if the GA doesn't capture or destroy League shipping- that shipping has both lost it's ability to use the former major shipping routes because of the closing of the Manticore Junction routes AND the impact of Lacoon II. The League member and client/protectorate systems have lost the access to markets and their capasity to build "stuff" doesn't do very well if they can't sell or deliver it and make a profit.
And the loss of wormhole access has all kinds of knock on effects. The obvious start is that if a trade route merely doubled in length w/o wormholes you'd need twice as many ships and crew to maintain annual tonnage - which means many of your costs are twice as high. You're paying twice the crews, twice the maintenance, twice the fuel, etc. oh and if these are new build ships the payments needed to cover their financing is probably higher than the average existing ship's note. All of that increased cost translates to some tradeoff of decreased profits or increased costs. And increased costs tend to reduce the volume of trade, while decreased profits would discourage people from investing in cargo ships. (And of course for many routes the wormholes cut the total time by far more than half)

Then there are networking effect. The wormholes not only shortened voyages but naturally concentrated shipping while doing so. So they were natural warehousing and transhipping points. You didn't need to find a freighter going directly from your system to the destination, just one going through a wormhole shared by ships going you cargo's destination. And of course they were also natural places for servicing and chandlery services to grow (and compete) and have volume efficiencies. With freighters now criss crossing space on direct routes you wouldn't have these natural crossroads to link shipping routes into shipping networks.

So pretty much guaranteed that no matter how many freighters the League builds there will still be a sharp contraction of interstellar trade (and especially very long distance interstellar trade) until the wormhole network is reopened to them. (At which point there will likely be a massive glut of freighters - causing new economic disasters to shipping lines, shipyards, financiers of these new ships,,etc. )
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Re: Oh, what the heck . . .
Post by lyonheart   » Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:01 am

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Hi guys,

All excellent points!

I suspect all the MA fence-sitters from the second war (with shipyards from the first) are not just having second thoughts but are now rather willing to contribute whatever they can, since the SEM and RoH have allied, NTM that Beowulf, with its massive moral reputation, wealth, large merchant marine, very high tech, NTM industrial capacity, has also joined the GA; to helping rebuild the SEM's industrial infrastructure, so like all the recalled construction workers from Alizon, Zanzibar and the MA naval bases etc, they have probably sent what they can to the SEM, which probably includes industrial modules and general shipyard construction workers.

I think the average SL freighter route averages at least 4 times as far in distance and/or time without the hyper bridge network, reducing the effective volume of the remaining capacity to a quarter if not possibly a sixth or even an eighth, while the time factor could mean that by the time of the first direct round trips [8 monthes for 720-800 LY round trip], the SL might have fallen or effectively collapsed.
8-)

Given the far longer reaction time, the SL, SLN and mandarins will be reacting to increasingly out of date information, since all the db's can't overcome the time and distance tar baby, becoming more and more irrelevant, reinforcing the sense that the SL is too big and too insensitive to survive, just an old dinosaur that should be put out of it's misery.

Granted there is probably quite a bit of trade to and from places not well served by hyper bridges [none within ~100-200 LY], which may be not as affected, though the numbers of freighters involved may be reduced considerably to make up the lack on more critical routes.

OTOH, we don't know how much SL local trade, within 30-50 LY, that the MMM wouldn't likely have much impact on, especially if the locals considered it to be 'local only' like much coastal trade today.

Even a few ships for each system means 8-9000; granted far less than the MMM and the GA's combined freighter fleets, yet hunting them down could take too much time searching in hyper, thus ambushing them inside the hyper limit, where the planetside owners might order them to surrender, rather than lose them outright, might be the preferred option, NTM more politically or diplomatically popular.

Interesting times indeed.

L


Jonathan_S wrote:
Brigade XO wrote:A merchant ship is a merchant ship. It is built with a specific purpose but ususally has the ability to be configured- within reason and it's physical capabilities- to do other things. Other things being handle various other types of cargo. Most non-passenger merchant ships in the Honorverse are hauling freight in some sort of containerized configuration. A soap-bubble of framework and skin, life support, power plant, crew quarters etc with lots of EMPTY internal space which will have been fitted out to take shipping containers. Those doing bulk transport of specific product would be configured differently but its just materials handling and securing during transport and providing such enviornmental support and power to the cargo containers as may be needed if you can't expose your cargos to the cold and vaccume of space. What a merchant ship needs is paying cargo and places to take it, preferably on a regular basis and always both moving between ports and traveling full of profitable cargo.
The League is now very short of cargo ships. There is capacity to build more but it has to be engaged and then still takes time to build them and you have to put together crews. Not as intensive as crewing a military ship but still takes people and time. The MMM has lots of idle ships and crews but they won't be going to the League space till the war is settled though they do have new markets outside of the League space with the end of the Manticore-Haven wars.
A major challange for the League is that -even if the GA doesn't capture or destroy League shipping- that shipping has both lost it's ability to use the former major shipping routes because of the closing of the Manticore Junction routes AND the impact of Lacoon II. The League member and client/protectorate systems have lost the access to markets and their capasity to build "stuff" doesn't do very well if they can't sell or deliver it and make a profit.
And the loss of wormhole access has all kinds of knock on effects. The obvious start is that if a trade route merely doubled in length w/o wormholes you'd need twice as many ships and crew to maintain annual tonnage - which means many of your costs are twice as high. You're paying twice the crews, twice the maintenance, twice the fuel, etc. oh and if these are new build ships the payments needed to cover their financing is probably higher than the average existing ship's note. All of that increased cost translates to some tradeoff of decreased profits or increased costs. And increased costs tend to reduce the volume of trade, while decreased profits would discourage people from investing in cargo ships. (And of course for many routes the wormholes cut the total time by far more than half)

Then there are networking effect. The wormholes not only shortened voyages but naturally concentrated shipping while doing so. So they were natural warehousing and transhipping points. You didn't need to find a freighter going directly from your system to the destination, just one going through a wormhole shared by ships going you cargo's destination. And of course they were also natural places for servicing and chandlery services to grow (and compete) and have volume efficiencies. With freighters now criss crossing space on direct routes you wouldn't have these natural crossroads to link shipping routes into shipping networks.

So pretty much guaranteed that no matter how many freighters the League builds there will still be a sharp contraction of interstellar trade (and especially very long distance interstellar trade) until the wormhole network is reopened to them. (At which point there will likely be a massive glut of freighters - causing new economic disasters to shipping lines, shipyards, financiers of these new ships,,etc. )
Any snippet or post from RFC is good if not great!
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Re: Oh, what the heck . . .
Post by Jonathan_S   » Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:48 am

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Oh, and I forgot to mention a few other effects of loosing access to the wormholes.

Perishable cargo simply won't be available everywhere it used to be. We know there were a fairly small percentage of high speed freighters specializing in moving somewhat perishable cargo. That cargo likely can't handle even a 50% increase in transit time, so it's astrographic distribution are will shrink drastically - likely leading to a glut and price collapse within that area that can still be served (as at least initially you'll have the same volume of production selling to a vastly reduced market).

And then there's the short term disruption anywhere an industry on one world relied on offworld deliveries to operate (worst case is probably offworld components as it's harder to switch to new suppliers for those than to find more local sources for complete merchandise). They'll likely have warehousing sufficient to handle some delay in shipments - as trying to run a just-in-time inventory system when communications is generally no faster than physical shipping strikes me as an act of insanity. But even assuming the delivery is completed as agree, having the freighter with your good show up 2 months late means your factory or whatever was probably idle for 4-6 weeks!
That's got a nasty economic domino effect.


Trade routes and industries have optimized around the status quo of the wormhole network and it seems hard to overstate the impact of abruptly losing that.
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Re: Oh, what the heck . . .
Post by robert132   » Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:08 pm

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Jonathan_S wrote:
Trade routes and industries have optimized around the status quo of the wormhole network and it seems hard to overstate the impact of abruptly losing that.


Indeed. To emphasize Jonathan's point one only needs to go back in history a short time to the '67 Arab / Israeli war when the Suez Canal trade route was cut with no warning. For a lot of the shipping the trip from the Mediterranean to the markets on the Red Sea and in the Indian Ocean was lengthened by the time it would take that merchant to go the long way around Africa or West crossing the Atlantic to Panama and thence to its destination in the Pacific basin. Weeks if not months added depending upon distance to be covered and speed of the ship.

Of course there were other side-effects no one counted on when Egypt closed the Canal due to "economy of scale." Oil tankers pre-closing rarely tipped more than 50 - 75,000 tons. Those quickly began growing well beyond anything the Canal could handle with a gross tonnage of 100k tons reaching monsters approaching 1,000,000 tons moving at speeds equaling that of the early tankers using far less fuel per ton/mile and in many cases fewer crew per ship. Economy of scale makes it financially worthwhile to continue to use these bottoms even though most of them still can't use Suez despite the ongoing effort to widen and deepen that waterway though more and more can now.

While the "wormhole" transit routes could easily be compared to the major navigation canals in some respects, Honorverse merchantmen are already huge by any measure. I frankly don't know or if it would be worthwhile to build bigger until there is a breakthrough in drive / compensator technology that makes those larger and more massive bottoms financially feasible.
****

Just my opinion of course and probably not worth the paper it's not written on.
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Re: Oh, what the heck . . .
Post by lyonheart   » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:37 pm

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Hi Robert132,

IIRC, the largest supertanker was around 623,000 tons and had more than her share of problems dealing with her size so she didn't last that long.

Building bigger to make up the lack of hulls would compete with the numbers they need just as desperately.

Given the scale and tech of the core worlds, I suspect many will see their trade as a luxury for the top 5-10% of the population, that they might temporarily forego to concentrate on more important things like warships, while their neighbors build the freighters.

Of course this may make their neighbors antsy, as RFC noted so long ago in the pearls, and reduce their freighter construction to build more warships themselves in simple prudence, yet still reducing the number of freighters actually built.

Given all the references to internal instability within the SL, the GA will try to avoid being dragged into local squabbles.

Interesting times.

L


robert132 wrote:
Jonathan_S wrote:
Trade routes and industries have optimized around the status quo of the wormhole network and it seems hard to overstate the impact of abruptly losing that.


Indeed. To emphasize Jonathan's point one only needs to go back in history a short time to the '67 Arab / Israeli war when the Suez Canal trade route was cut with no warning. For a lot of the shipping the trip from the Mediterranean to the markets on the Red Sea and in the Indian Ocean was lengthened by the time it would take that merchant to go the long way around Africa or West crossing the Atlantic to Panama and thence to its destination in the Pacific basin. Weeks if not months added depending upon distance to be covered and speed of the ship.

Of course there were other side-effects no one counted on when Egypt closed the Canal due to "economy of scale." Oil tankers pre-closing rarely tipped more than 50 - 75,000 tons. Those quickly began growing well beyond anything the Canal could handle with a gross tonnage of 100k tons reaching monsters approaching 1,000,000 tons moving at speeds equaling that of the early tankers using far less fuel per ton/mile and in many cases fewer crew per ship. Economy of scale makes it financially worthwhile to continue to use these bottoms even though most of them still can't use Suez despite the ongoing effort to widen and deepen that waterway though more and more can now.

While the "wormhole" transit routes could easily be compared to the major navigation canals in some respects, Honorverse merchantmen are already huge by any measure. I frankly don't know or if it would be worthwhile to build bigger until there is a breakthrough in drive / compensator technology that makes those larger and more massive bottoms financially feasible.
Any snippet or post from RFC is good if not great!
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Re: Oh, what the heck . . .
Post by robert132   » Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:43 pm

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lyonheart wrote:Hi Robert132,

IIRC, the largest supertanker was around 623,000 tons and had more than her share of problems dealing with her size so she didn't last that long.

Building bigger to make up the lack of hulls would compete with the numbers they need just as desperately.

Given the scale and tech of the core worlds, I suspect many will see their trade as a luxury for the top 5-10% of the population, that they might temporarily forego to concentrate on more important things like warships, while their neighbors build the freighters.

Of course this may make their neighbors antsy, as RFC noted so long ago in the pearls, and reduce their freighter construction to build more warships themselves in simple prudence, yet still reducing the number of freighters actually built.

Given all the references to internal instability within the SL, the GA will try to avoid being dragged into local squabbles.

Interesting times.

L




I think you're correct about the gross tonnage (loaded) of the largest tankers placed into service. On the other hand both Hyundai of S.Korea and a Japanese shipbuilder have DESIGNED ULCCs of up to around 1,000,000 tons. These designs never saw cutting of the first steel however for the reasons you cite, the bigger the boat - the bigger the problems.

As it is most NEVER enter a harbor except for serious maintenance, they moor to offshore buoys or piers to load and unload because loaded there are very few harbors deep enough to take them. Containerships are now having similar issues with the added problem that loading or unloading these off shore would be uneconomical. Oil can be transported via pipeline to and from the offshore pier while containers ... either you transfer them to a smaller vessel or find some other way to move them ashore.

We're kinda getting off topic here. I plead professional interest ... I'm a retired sailor and am still interested in all things nautical.

Back to the topic, I don't see Honorverse merchies getting much larger or more massive without a marked improvement in drive / compensator systems, as I understand the explanations there's a limit to how physically LARGE a volume can be covered by a compensator field before it becomes technically infeasible or unworkable / undependable.

Stay cool!
****

Just my opinion of course and probably not worth the paper it's not written on.
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Re: Oh, what the heck . . .
Post by PeterZ   » Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:07 pm

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As I recall the Dromedary class Sollie freighter is neigh the standard merchie swanning the spaceways of the League. That's less than 6MT, when compensators could support closer to 7.8MT. One suspects that the larger class has to make too many stops to make use of its capacity. That increases the amount of time it must travel and decrease the number of cargos it can carry in a year. That shouldn't matter if the average cargo size is large enough. Since the size of the average freighter has remained that size for neigh a century, average cargo sizes are NOT large enough to support the big merchies.

Regardless of the technological constraints, the economics don't support freighters that are too large. 6MT seems the optimal size for the League using the available WHJs.

Does this remain true for the SEM and their trade routes? I suspect that pre Lacoon, the average RMMM ship was close to that optimal size. They traveled from Core Worlds to primary distribution centers and delivered their cargo. The Core World distributed to their Verge client states using their own ships that made more frequent stops than their RMMM counter part.

Under the post Lacoon conditions, the RMMM will be making more frequent stops as they make the final drops to Verge systems. The economics may well suggest smaller ship sizes are optimal. At best current mega freighters are workable. What is unlikely is that there is a need to increase the size of the average RMMM freighter.
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Re: Oh, what the heck . . .
Post by Theemile   » Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:52 pm

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PeterZ wrote:As I recall the Dromedary class Sollie freighter is neigh the standard merchie swanning the spaceways of the League. That's less than 6MT, when compensators could support closer to 7.8MT. One suspects that the larger class has to make too many stops to make use of its capacity. That increases the amount of time it must travel and decrease the number of cargos it can carry in a year. That shouldn't matter if the average cargo size is large enough. Since the size of the average freighter has remained that size for neigh a century, average cargo sizes are NOT large enough to support the big merchies.

Regardless of the technological constraints, the economics don't support freighters that are too large. 6MT seems the optimal size for the League using the available WHJs.

Does this remain true for the SEM and their trade routes? I suspect that pre Lacoon, the average RMMM ship was close to that optimal size. They traveled from Core Worlds to primary distribution centers and delivered their cargo. The Core World distributed to their Verge client states using their own ships that made more frequent stops than their RMMM counter part.

Under the post Lacoon conditions, the RMMM will be making more frequent stops as they make the final drops to Verge systems. The economics may well suggest smaller ship sizes are optimal. At best current mega freighters are workable. What is unlikely is that there is a need to increase the size of the average RMMM freighter.


Larger ships may be used on specific, high volume routes and between hub routes. Like how UPS, Fed Ex, or other delivery services do today - they fly 747s between hubs, then smaller planes to regional delivery points, semi trailers to local delivery warehouses, and Brown\White cargo vans to your front door. Occasionally though, they will fly a 747 between point A and point B because there is enough demand to fill the plane with auto parts or fresh pork bellies required on a timely manner to justify the craft. There is no "one size fits all" solution.

Also, Merchie ships in the Honorverse are used for a VERY long time - centuries if possible. The Dromedary may be a 200+ year old design, and technology creep has allowed newer Merchant Marines, like Manticore, to build larger ships as time progressed, while established fleets are still using their perfectly good, paid off, ships which just happen to be 3/4ths the size, but work just as well.
******
RFC said "refitting a Beowulfan SD to Manticoran standards would be just about as difficult as refitting a standard SLN SD to those standards. In other words, it would be cheaper and faster to build new ships."
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Re: Oh, what the heck . . .
Post by PeterZ   » Wed Jul 19, 2017 4:11 pm

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Theemile wrote:Larger ships may be used on specific, high volume routes and between hub routes. Like how UPS, Fed Ex, or other delivery services do today - they fly 747s between hubs, then smaller planes to regional delivery points, semi trailers to local delivery warehouses, and Brown\White cargo vans to your front door. Occasionally though, they will fly a 747 between point A and point B because there is enough demand to fill the plane with auto parts or fresh pork bellies required on a timely manner to justify the craft. There is no "one size fits all" solution.

Also, Merchie ships in the Honorverse are used for a VERY long time - centuries if possible. The Dromedary may be a 200+ year old design, and technology creep has allowed newer Merchant Marines, like Manticore, to build larger ships as time progressed, while established fleets are still using their perfectly good, paid off, ships which just happen to be 3/4ths the size, but work just as well.


That's my point. Not only is the design still serviceable, but the sips and the mission are also still serviceable. The routes haven't changed enough to make using an upsized ship preferable enough to upgrade a fleet.

Had the demands on the routes changed enough, buying appropriately sized ships would have been the economical thing to do.
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