by Paul Walker


Typically there are three methods of construction in shipyards within the Imperium: Frame Construction, Hull Construction, and Modular Construction. While each of these types of construction affords certain benefits for different construction facilities, perhaps the most popular is the Modular Construction


Frame Construction: A shipyard using the Frame Construction method generally will begin construction with the creation of the internal structure and framing of a starship. After the basic frame structure is created, the various components are added in place, and where necessary floor, wall, and ceiling plates are installed. When all, or the majority, of the components are added, they are all connected and the remaining floor, wall, and ceiling plates are installed. Finally, the hull is added to the outside of the structure, and any external components are added. This method of construction is particularly useful in the construction of open frame hulls, small hulls, and hulls with few exterior components.

Hull Construction: The Hull Construction method is typically used with military and other government hulls (1), odd hull configurations, and hulls with specialized internal designs. The basic process in this type of construction is to start with the basic structure of the hull, and add the internal structure and components as necessary. With the aid of anti-gravity technology, the actual hull is held in place until the appropriate internal structure and armour plating can be added. Once the internal structure and additional armour are added, the internal plating (floor, wall, and ceiling) and the components are added. Finally the components are connected and initialized.

  1. Typically only military and government hulls that will require the installation of components that have been developed secretly for the government.

Modular Construction: Modular Construction is used profitably for any type of hull, but markedly reduces the cost of standardized hulls. In Modular Construction, the base of the hull is laid out, and modules are added as the hull is built up. For example, in a simple design, the bottom of the hull would be manufactured, and the engineering modules would be added to the bottom deck, then as the fore and aft hull was being added on, the second level floor would be added, and on top of it, the quarters modules. Finally, the hull would be sealed, the components would be connected, and the hull delivered. While it is typical for the hull to be created from the bottom to the top, it is not necessary that it begin with the bottom. In fact, some shipyards will only begin a modular construction from the aft.


Welders: The welder is the worker who adds the final securing to the hull and internal structure. After a fitter (see below) has placed the building materials where they belong, the welder comes in and attaches these materials with a permanent weld.

Fitters: Fitters are responsible to place the plate, angle, channel, and other structural and hull material in the proper place. Typically the fitter will secure these pieces with a few plasma welds until the welding crew comes to finish the welding and secure the piece in place.

Electricians: Electricians are responsible for running the electrical cables throughout the ship. These cables provide both power and data transfer to and from the systems of the ship. In addition, the electricians are responsible for installing the electrical components onboard the ship.

Gravtics: The gravtic crew is responsible for installing the gravity systems (both contra gravity lifters and ship gravity) on board the ship and, in some cases, the manoeuvre drive. This crew is also responsible for connecting these systems to the power and data cables provided by the electricians.

Engineers: The engineering crew is responsible for installing and connecting the remaining systems. This includes jump drive, power plant, life support, quarters, hanger, and, on civilian ships, weapons.

Weapons specialists: On military ships, this crew is responsible for installing and connecting the weapon system.

Painters: This crew is responsible for coating the hull (interior and exterior) with the appropriate colour scheme as well as the proper protective paints.

Material Handlers: This is the crew that actually gets the material from its location in storage to the place when the installation crew needs it.

Foremen: These are the supervisors. There are two groups in this heading, the job foremen and the yard foremen. The job foremen are assigned to each hull and responsible for co-ordinating the construction from start to finish. The yard are usually assigned to multiple hulls at once and are responsible for overseeing the various crews in the yard (i.e., welding foreman, fitting foreman).

Labourers: This crew is assigned as needed to assist the other crews. Their responsibility varies from getting welding material to unloading material to mixing paint. Typically this crew is responsible for the final clean up on board a vessel before trials begin.

Architects: This is the crew that actually designs the ship based on the customers specifications. They are responsible for determining the best system to fit the customers requirements as well as designing the location of equipment within the customers guidelines. This crew provides the yard with the blueprints with which they construct the hull. This group also include the specialists who help the customer determine what will work and what will not work.

Office Employees: This group includes the purchasing, accounting, personnel, and management departments. Also included in this group is the sales and marketing staff as well as company lawyers and project management.


Price: The price listed for starships in most packages is the actual final price for the vessel. Typically shipyards will offer a ten percent (10%) discount for customers willing to use standardized products rather than specialized equipment. Many shipyards have also implemented a standard practice of allowing a twenty-five percent (25%) discount for ships built using "off-the-shelf" components, that is components that are either in the shipyard inventory or standard items available within weeks from a vendor.

Cost: The cost of a starship typically runs between 80% to 95% (Avg: 85%) of the actual sale price with 25% to 35% (Avg: 30%) for labour and overhead, and 75% to 65% (Avg: 70%) for materials. The 30% average for labour is typically divided evenly between actual yard workers, designer/architect, yard office, and corporate overhead (each getting 7.5%). Here is a simple breakdown of the starship cost:

Cost Breakdown:


In a typical shipyard, working 48 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, operating only one shift, the construction time for a starship can be calculated using the following formula:

Tc = (0.208 * P)/(D^0.5)

Where: Tc = Construction Time in Years D = Displacement Tons P = Price in MCr

Next, compute the time required for trials before delivery. The trial time begins with the shipyard assigning crewmen to test the various facilities that can be tested before the actual trials begin. This test will ensure all staterooms are functioning, the life support and back-up systems work, the bridge systems work, etc. This initial phase, dry-dock testing takes up most of the testing time, it is followed by a flight test where the systems are tested as they actually perform during a test flight. The total trial time can be computed as follows:


Where: Tt = Trial time in years P = Price in MCr D = Displacement Tons"

These formula assume a single shift 48 hour work week and an average pay of 13Cr per hour in the yard. It also assumes a 52 week per year schedule. If additional shifts are added (up to three shifts), simply divide the Tc (Construction time) number by the number of shifts used. Trials and Design are not effected by additional shifts.

If any of the other factors are changed (i.e., hours/work week, weeks/year, or average hourly rate), the formula will not work. As these are the averages, this will be the typical time throughout the Imperium; however, if any of these norms change, the following extended method can be used to determine the construction time:

1. Multiply 90% (or cost percent) by 7.5% (or labour cost percentage) to determine Job direct labour cost factor. This gives the Labour Cost Factor

3. Divide Labour cost factor by 1,000,000 then again divide by 13 (or average yard hourly rate) to determine man-hour factor. This gives the Man-hour Factor

4. Divide man-hour factor by 48 (or number of hours worked per week) to determine man-week factor. This gives the Man-week Factor

5. Divide man-week factor by 52 (or number of weeks worked per year) to determine man-year factor. This gives the Man-year Factor

This number is: the number of years it would take one man, OR the number of men it would take one year to build the ship, and must be adjusted based on the number of workers able to work on the ship at one time.

6. Determine the square root of the displacement tons. This gives the Crew Factor

7. Multiply crew factor by 10 to determine the maximum crew able to work on the ship at one time. This gives the Max Crew

The initial formula for Construction Time is the Price of the ship times the man-year factor divided by the max crew. Again this is for one shift, for more shifts divide the construction time by the number of shifts.

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Copyright Paul Walker © 1996-2001 reproduced with kind permission by Andrea Vallance, Last updated 16th February 2001

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