For the last four weeks, Sted had been working almost two full shifts per day. The demo part had been easy for the shipyard. The reconstruction was another matter. Once the new interior plans were complete, engineering went to work designing specifications for all of the new parts to be fit into the relatively small interior space.
Sted was just emerging from the hatch of the Mantis after his second shift of the day and was looking forward to some quiet time with Jessica when Rear Admiral Cunningham approached him.
“Hello, Captain. I would like you to give me a quick tour of the Mantis to see how close we are to squeezing everything in that we need. I’m getting some pressure from the Admiralty to get a final set of plans down to Luna so that AMC can begin working with us on the design of the Epsilon escort class.”
“Yes Ma’am,” Sted replied as he dropped back into the Mantis, signaling for her to follow him inside.
Once they were situated on the bridge, Sted began his tour. Since he had been involved in every phase of the new installation, he didn’t need any time to organize his thoughts. “As you can see, we have almost completed the bridge refit. I know you wanted to fly this fighter with a crew of two, but your decision to allow a third crew member has made the bridge design much easier. We were able to retain the main laser console in its original form. We had some trouble adapting the newly-designed missile console into the same operational area, so we had to take it apart and then rebuild it on the spot. I’m sure Lenny has taken his onsite corrections back to engineering to have the plans corrected to match what he had to do to make it fit properly into the space.
“Also, our double hull design has given the crew a few headaches, because they are not used to the restrictions imposed by having to maintain as much independence between the two hulls as possible. Every time the crew wants to run a wiring conduit or bolt down a new piece of equipment, they have to be reminded not to just forge ahead and drill holes wherever they need. We have to make absolutely sure that a breach of the outer hull does not find a weak point on the inner hull. Appropriate reinforcing has to be considered for even the most minor changes.”
Rear Admiral Cunningham nodded. “We have to make thorough notes for the refit of the other four Deltas so that we can get it right the first time and cut down on the total refit time. However, I don’t see how this will impact the Epsilon design. What are your thoughts?”
“I was thinking very seriously of a different approach for the Epsilons,” Sted admitted. “I think the new plans should take a radically different approach to the double hull design. I think the interior hull should be designed just like a normal exterior hull to allow for standard construction processes. Then the exterior hull could be manufactured and installed after the fact and configured by the Navy depending on the mission of the ship.
“One exterior hull could be manufactured with stealth capabilities. A second exterior hull could be manufactured with multiple offensive and defensive laser clusters for combat. This would also accommodate any future needs by just reconfiguring the outer hull. Once the mission has been decided, we can slap on the correct outer hull configuration prior to launch and then pump the shock-absorbing gel between the hulls. If we design the hull attachments properly, this should allow a hull reconfiguration in about the same time it takes to restock the ship.”
“I really like that approach, Captain,” Cunningham said. “I want to apologize for my earlier skepticism regarding your design capabilities. You obviously spent a great deal of time with the original design back at the AMC factory. Let me get our design team to work on the details. I’ll have them contact you with any questions. How much longer do you estimate it will take to get Mantis ready for its first trial run?”
“Three, maybe four days until we are ready to pump in the gel and test inner hull integrity. I would say we need a week after that to get everything in the interior cleaned up and ready for the crew.”
“Okay, Captain, I’ll let you go get some rest while I stay here and do a personal inspection of the ship over the next several hours. I will have a list of questions for you to review tomorrow. Thanks for staying a little longer to accommodate me. I must have a report ready to send in-system by the end of the week.”
“No problem, ma’am,” Sted replied as he headed for the hatch.
Book 1 of The Nu Trilogy is available free with Kindle Unlimited or for $2.99 on Amazon.