The Ark Class ship formed part of the three-fold survival plan of the wealthy and powerful of the Petroleum Age. The other two legs of the plan were the arcologies, and space habitats.
The Trinity Program
The Trinity Program was founded during the middle to end of the Petroleum Era and involved the creation of multiple modes of survival in what was expected to become a post apocalyptic world. The Castle Brian Program was directly responsible for the creation of the first generation arcologies, and would be the most successful of the three legs. The Elysium Program concentrated on creating viable self sustaining space habitats, and ultimately was the least successful. A number of habitats were constructed, but none became completely self sufficient and as the second dark age spread, space travel ended. Finally the Ark Program focused on building massive sea-going city ships. The Ark program was the least ambitious, and aside from just being large, the ships broke no technological barriers.
The Ark ship in many ways is functionally an arcology that is long instead of tall, and are relatively massive. The prototype Ark Ship, the Mayflower, was built on the hull of a converted cargo ship. The ship had recycling systems, augmented solar and wind generators for power, but retained the standard oil fired engines for propulsion. After it's shakedown run, the ship was used for testing purposes for almost two years, remaining at sea the entire time. Crew and supplies were changed by ship to ship transfer, and the top of the ship was modified to function as a heliport. The Mayflower had it's own internal computer system, and internet node and was deemed a success before it was brought to port, and taken apart for salvage.
Phase II of the Ark Program saw the construction of 4 super-hulls, each 1500 meters long, and 110 meters tall. Each of the four ships was equipped with a state of the art plutonium fueled set of nuclear reactors. The fitting of each ship took three years, and cost $50 billion dollars. Once completed, the ships were nominally identified as research vessels for scientific and ecological sciences, but were actually floating retreats for government VIPs, thehttp://strolen.com/submitting/write_submission/8142 elite from a number of industries and special interests, and a large number of the wealthiest of the world's population.
Length: 1500 meters (block 1) 1700 meters (block 2)
Displacement: 350,000 tons (400,000)
Decks: 27 (30)
Speed: 12 knots
Capacity: 12,000 passengers, 75,000 tons supplies (15,000/80k tons)
Launch Bay: capable of accepting, servicing and launching destroyers and small craft up to 100m in length. The bay was used to maintain the Ark escort ships, and to facilitate resupply and crew changes.
Helipad: capable of handling 8 helicopters or 4 Osprey type tilt-rotor aircraft.
Communications Tower: extendable up to 900 meters, with seven radio dish systems.
Military Capabilities: Minimal, equipped with 8 CIWS anti-missile systems and 4 Anti-aircraft missile launchers. Largely dependent on military escort for protection.
Phase IIB saw the technological and manufacturing elements learned in Phase II construction put towards warship construction. These elements of hull and superstructure design, power plant and propulsion lay-out were applied to the last generation of petroleum era warships. A number of supercarriers and super battleships would be built with similar nuclear cores, internal lay-outs and structural components. While the design elements and construction techniques were revolutionary, the scale of construction and economy required for such engineering were short decades away from vanishing for several centuries. The feats of construction in arcologies, fusion cores and other precursors of arcanotech dwarfed things as minimal as hull welding techniques.
The first 4 hulls completed were launched and served the United States and it's European allies well. The success of the program at that point was such that a second block of arks were chartered, and through espionage, the designs and plans were disseminated to China. The four ships: Zeus, Odin, Lugh, and Jupiter, would serve as floating command centers and refuges during the Resource Wars. The safety and security of the arks was proven and for a time, they looked to be the most promising of the three programs. The Elysium Program struggled through major cost overruns and quickly became unpopular, as it was impossible to hide the implications of launching massive amounts of resources into orbit, away from the vast majority of the population. The Castle Brian Project was lagging behind badly, as construction setbacks and delays mounted, faith in the program weakened.
The second block of arks were completed before the end of the Resource wars, and as the Federal Superstates began to fail, the elite retreated to their prepared fortresses, floating, towered, and in space as their plans were laid out. The Castle Brian program would show it's success, as there were dozens of Gen I arcologies completed, compared to just 8 arks, or the one Space Habitat.
The Failure of the Arks
For a time, the arks were reliable and functional, but despite their semi-enclosed, highly efficient, and largely self sufficient nature, they were massive ships and could not run indefinitely without maintenance. There were no remaining docks large enough to service the ships, and the supplies required to repair the ships was simply not available. Two were lost to structural failure, another three ground themselves to avoid sinking, one was destroyed by a terrorist attack, dealing a massive blow to the remaining command structure. The radioactive remains of the Hyperion are a common underwater training location for Marine commandos.
Two arks remain in the Cosmic Era, the Odin and the Calypso. The Odin is grounded ashore near old Oslo, and it has largely been stripped of anything of value and is little more than a hulk. The Kingdom of Scandinavia has the salvage of the ship scheduled over the next century. The Calypso still floats near the Philipines and is something of a fortress of decadence, now controlled by mutineers and pirates. It is a haven for criminal elements and the ShadowLaw organization.
The Arks are relics of the end of the Petroleum Era when the mantra was bigger is better. The ships are recognized as a massive waste of resources for the benefit of the political and social elite. Much like a nation losing a war, the arks are classified as wonder weapons, or wonderous devices. It has been calculated that the materials and energy that went into building the eight arks, and 6 knock off arks made by the Chinese, three times that number of arcologies could have been built, and the recycling techniques pioneered could have postponed the Second Dark Age decades.
Ark ships are common in Petroleum Era datafeeds and holovids, but instead of being atomic powered and internet equipped, the nearly mile long ships are depicted with smoke stacks, and more closely resemble 19th century Atlantic steam ships than the cutting edge near-space ships they actually were.
The legacy of the Ark program can be found in the hulls and construction techniques used in the flying warships deployed by the new superstates.
AFS Charles Frost
The Frost is a scientific ship deployed by the Atlantic Federation, and is classified as a demi-ark. The ship is massive, just over 700 meters long, and 120,000 tons. It contains a full scientific facility, complete with AISC computer core and a Dimensional reactor power source. The main purpose of the Frost is oceanic surveying and biome recovery. The ship has massive inlets for drawing in water and filtering it, as well as extensive equipment for recovering samples or wreckage off the bottom of the ocean. The ship has a good deal of armor, but is almost completely unarmed. Should the ship require protection, it has to either call for assistance from the Federation Navy, or take aquatic mecha with it. This is almost never done unless the threat of piracy is high.
Sample missions have included recovering the rusting radioactive hulks of sunk warships, salvaging flying ships lost in action, harvesting and processing trash islands, and on rare ocassion clandestine work for the Federation Navy, spying on underwater activity in it's vicinity.
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? Responses (2)
With the law of mass displacement I'm not sure if something this big could do 12 knots? Other than that a great background piece to the Cosmic Era and a fun read.Dove tails nicely with the forum thread on the new feudalism. another Scras gem! 4.5/5
The new feudalism thread contains information that has all already gone into the Cosmic Era setting. The new feudalism is the mentality that leads the world into the Resource Wars at the end of the Petroleum Age, and it's the mentality that the Cosmic Era rejects and projects at the same time. Supercomputers, megacorps, and other think tanks run everything and most places don't make a pretense of pretending to democracy. Democracy and the vote are tarnished by the legacy of the Petroleum Era.