TORCH OF FREEDOM — Snippet 06:

Stephens frowned, and the lieutenant commander laughed.

“Nobody back home seems to have noticed the . . . tonnage inflation that’s been creeping into classes out here, Brent,” he pointed out. “By this time, Manty and Havenite ‘heavy cruisers’ are damned near the size of small battlecruisers, and some of their light cruisers are closing in on the tonnage ranges for Solarian heavy cruisers. The same thing’s been happening to their destroyers, too, for that matter. Well, obviously we have to be building ships that could face up to those outsized Manty and Havenite designs, don’t we? Of course we do! Still, if no one back on Old Earth has noticed that sizes are creeping up amongst the local neobarb navies, I don’t see any special reason why we have to tell them that ours are, do you?”

His smile looked remarkably like Rozsak’s, Stephens thought.

“Edie and I are already working up the reports and correspondence,” Rozsak said. “Officially, we’re going to be describing our new units as ‘modified Rampart-class destroyers,’ for example. We just aren’t going to get too specific about what the modifications consist of . . . or the fact that we’re talking about destroyers fifty or sixty percent bigger than the original Rampart. I’m pretty sure the geniuses back at OpNav are going to assume that any modifications will result in decreased capabilities, given their view of Manty and Havenite technical capabilities. A view which Jiri’s and my modest efforts have probably done just a bit to help shape. And since all of the official correspondence — governmental, as well as from the private builders and inspectors — from the Erewhon side is going to be understating tonnages by about, oh, forty or fifty percent, there’s not going to be anything to tell Old Chicago differently. And the beauty of it is that we’re not going to be falsifying any paperwork; we’re going to be sending them file copies of the actual, official correspondence from Erewhon.”

Stephens pursed his lips silently as he considered that. Rozsak was right about how it would help cover their own actions, but the industrialist wondered just exactly how the admiral had convinced Erewhon to run that kind of risk. Eventually, someone back on Old Earth was going to realize they’d been systematically deceived by the Erewhonese (and the League’s own official intelligence apparatus here in the Sector, of course), and the consequences of that could be severe — for Erewhon, not just Maya.

On the other hand, if that sort of situation arose, it would mean all the rest of their plans had failed disastrously, so there probably wasn’t a lot of point worrying about it. Although getting the Erewhonese to look at it that way must’ve taken some doing . . . .

“You said there were three things to consider,” he said to Watanapongse after a moment, and the commander nodded.

“The third thing, maybe the most important one of all,” he said, his expression much more somber, “is that four or five-T-year window between now and the delivery of our first wallers. Even after the SDs start coming out of the yards, it’s going to take a while for any sort of volume production to build up. We’ll hide as many of ‘our’ wallers as we can in the flow going to Erewhon, of course, but the odds are good that we’re going to have to start shooting at somebody before we have a real wall of battle of our own.”

Stephens felt a distinct stir of alarm, but Rozsak flashed him the lazy, white-toothed smile of a confident tiger.

“Even with a four or five-year delay to our own first waller, we’re going to be ahead of the curve compared to the rest of the League, Brent. A long way ahead of the curve. Trust me, the ‘not invented here’ syndrome is going to kick in back home even after they begin to figure out just how screwed any SLN ship is going to be going up against its Havenite—or, even worse, Manty — equivalent. So, what we’re really going to need to tide us over is something that can kick the shit out of anything Frontier Fleet’s likely to be sending out towards us with unfriendly intentions. Right?”

“With the proviso that I think we need to do a little worrying about the Battle Fleet units that might be sent along behind that first wave,” Stephens agreed a bit caustically.

“Well, of course.” Rozsak chuckled. “And it just happens we’ve come up with something that should let us do that, at least as long as nobody back on Old Earth is paying any attention to all of those ridiculous rumors about how Manticore and Haven have been sticking multiple drives into their missiles. Nonsense, of course! I’m sure those reports are just as exaggerated as Commander Watanapongse’s diligent staff has consistently reported they are! Still, it’s occurred to us that if someone were building multidrive missiles, and if they happened to have themselves a couple of dozen freighters — freighters that might happen to have military-grade drives, and maybe even sidewalls — that could carry, oh, I don’t know, three or four hundred missile pods at a time, then they could probably do a lot of damage to a fleet equipped only with single-drive missiles, don’t you think?”

Stephens’s eyes narrowed, and Rozsak chuckled again, more harshly.

“That’s one of the things Edie and I have been kicking around when we started thinking about doctrine and ship designs. And it’s the real reason we’re going to be building that extra tonnage into our light combatants. Most of it’s going into fire control, not extra weapons.”

“And the beauty of it,” Watanapongse said, “is that Carlucci already has a commercial design — they picked it up from some outfit in Silesia — for a freighter designed around plug-in cargo modules. It’s one of those ideas that sounds really good on paper, but it hasn’t worked out that well for the Sillies as a commercial proposition. It’s actually less flexible, it turns out, than what you can do reconfiguring a standard cargo hold’s interior. But that’s not something that’s going to be instantly evident looking at it from the outside, and the basic construction just happens to be something that’s going to lend itself well to a ‘merchantship’ pod-carrier design. The Sector government is going to be buying quite a few of them — several dozen, at least — as part of our move to broaden our investment base in Erewhon. We’ve got a lot of short domestic cargo routes of our own, just like the Sillies, so if it works for them, it ought to work for us, right? And even if it turns out they aren’t the most cost-efficient possible way to haul freight around, so what? It was still worth it just to get our toes further into the Erewhonese door.”

“And,” Rozsak said quietly, “if it just happens that our new ships’ plug-in cargo modules just happen to have exactly the same dimensions as the missile pods the Erewhonese Navy is going to be building for its own new ships-of-the-wall, well” — this time his smile could have liquefied helium — “it’s a big galaxy, and coincidences happen all the time.”

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21 Responses to TORCH OF FREEDOM — Snippet 06

  1. Lando says:

    So, let’s see. Destroyers… check. Light cruisers… check. And now “freighters”… check. All that’s missing is “pocket battleships”…lol.

  2. evilauthor says:

    Technically, the “freighters” are “pocket superdreadnoughts” or “pocket podnaughts”.

  3. David says:

    Those freighters are certainly not pocket anythings. They are more like WWI Monitors. A big battleship sized gun on a raft.

  4. Willy says:

    I wonder if Rozsak has heard anything about Honor’s adventure in Silesia and her ship’s design?

  5. mm says:

    More like a Jackie Fisher battlecruiser…

    A ship that can shoot like a dreadnaught(battleship), but is armoured like a light cruiser(protected cruiser)

    Still… If they “uparmor” the freighter designs, they’ll have the “new doctrine battleship” for the Honorverse (like how RN battlecruisers received armour upgrades after losing so many after the Battle of Jutland, when they had to go toe to toe with real battleships of the SMS)

    A modern comparison would be the USN “arsenal ship” proposal

    SN “old Rampart” destroyer becomes a frigate now… I guess Maya will have some frigates to throw around.

    I wonder if a LAC will fit into the cargo pod slots…

  6. whiddon says:

    I wondered when LACs would come up.If you can reconfigure for one why not the other?

  7. dac says:

    More like merchant raiders – Hit and Run – or mine layers – And it’s the real reason we’re going to be building that extra tonnage into our light combatants. Most of it’s going into fire control, not extra weapons.”

    They are going to shoot and scoot – turn over the controls to the newer destroyers with the increased fire control, then run like a bat out of hell.

  8. JN says:

    I would think that scale is against you with LACs. Missiles are large, compared to a man, but not compared to a multi man vessel. In addition, a LAC has greater requirements for space on board the ship, since it requires continuous human access. Still, one launch bay per module is a possibility.


  9. @1

    Light Cruisers — Check
    Heavy Cruisers — Check
    Podnaughts — check
    SDs — bye and bye.

    But how will they build multistage missiles? Do they have that much design capacity? Is Erewhon that cooperative?

  10. New SLN Ship Classes

    DD -> VSST Very small slow target
    CL -> SST Small slow target
    CA -> MST Medium Slow Target
    BB -> LST Large Slow Target
    DN -> VLST Very Large Slow Target
    SD -> HST Huge Slow Target

  11. Karsten says:

    @George Phillies (#10): YOU ARE BAD! Really, really, bad!! But … I LIKE IT! :D)))

  12. Daryl says:

    A point to ponder is, when does the individual resulting from the joining of the Harrington and Winton dynastic lines take up by popular acclaim the title of Empress of the Meritocracy Of Man?

  13. RobertHuntingdon says:

    A million books in the future.

  14. Woff'65 says:

    This is potentially nasty for the Mesan Alignment. Their plan seems to be to use the RMN to hammer the SLN into scrap whilst siultaneously directly attacking the RMN’s ability to build new warships when the RMN is in a 2 front war with the RHN. This would leave the Alignment with both an intact construction base and a fleet of modern, technically advanced warships which would have an edge on the SLN and the System defence forces.

    What they haven’t planned for is another party within the League with a Navy and warships which, whilst not up to RMN, Grayson, RHN and Andermani levels of technology, would have a definite edge over both the SLN and various SDF’s. They haven’t even twigged that such a force is being constructed nor could they facture into their plans the implications of such a force.

  15. robert says:

    @12 I may be mistaken, but the progeny of the possible merging of Harrington line and the Winton line cannot rule the Empire. The heir to the throne must marry a commoner and they ain’t…anymore.

  16. robert says:

    @12 Of course, you said popular acclaim. So you mean there’ll be a referendum to change the constitution. As RH said, we will all be dust by then and some unknown heir to the Weber empire (sorry) will have to write that book.

  17. RobertHuntingdon says:

    @15, Yeah that was pretty much my point robert. :)

    Hopefully the unknown heir has quite a few years to wait tho… but given the recent health concerns of EF and DW I very much hope they haven’t forgotten to at least consider possible plans for that unpalatable eventuality.

  18. George Phillies @9:

            Creating multi-drive missiles isn’t hard.  Pay the size penalty, and you can do it very quickly.

            It’s just that, until pod-layers came along, nobody saw the point in launching a few very-large missiles at a range where fire-control was likely to be poor anyway.

            Now that missile pods exist, everything has changed. Only the SLN hasn’t realized that yet.

  19. robert says:

    Hey! How come Chapter 11 is on the Buckley site? Why is that and are you holding out on us, Drak?

  20. robert says:

    And I can guess what Chapter 10 is…dead slavers.

  21. John T Mainer says:

    The problem has always been in the control of the larger missile salvos. How many times have “old style SD’s” been used to control Podnout salvo’s? Shannon Foraker got around that problem with her smaller sized platforms that were nothing more than control runs for system defense pods. How much better would those have been on Light Cruiser platforms that are fast, manoeverable, heavy point defenses networked into squadron level formations? Who cares if the podlayers aren’t armoured, they will be firing from out of anyones range. Firing from behind the wall of battle of the “destroyers” the best defense of the podnoughts would be ECM. It is the active sensors of the destroyers that will be visable, and the layered anti-missile defense of these platforms that must be smashed before a missile can get to the podlayers.

    Can you imagine what kind of layered missile defense a light cruiser could mount if it sacrificed shipkillers and energy broadsides for nothing but control runs and anti-missile systems? You’d have a light cruiser or destroyer you needed more missiles to hit than you would need to blow a Sollie SD right out of space.

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