Title Posted
How the Safehold series won't end (Thu Apr 18, 2013) Dec 2013
Safehold Map Jul 2009
Hyper generator modes of operation Jun 2009
Counter-missile fire control issues Jun 2009
Capital missiles, multi-stage missiles, and missile pods Jun 2009
Prolong effects Jun 2009
Hyper Limits by stellar spectral class Jun 2009
Effective speed by hyper band Jun 2009
Acceleration by ship mass Jun 2009
Do you plan ahead for which characters die? Jun 2009


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Pearls of Weber

A collection of posts by David Weber containing background information for his stories, collected and generously made available Joe Buckley.

Wayfarer's cargo doors

  • Series: Honorverse
  • Date: October 22, 2002

On 11/6/2002 11:44:00 PM, Monty Wild wrote:
In Honor among Enemies, Honor's ship, (HMS Wayfarer I think) takes hits to the rear cargo bay doors, preventing them from opening or closing, therefore preventing the launch of missile pods.
It has always puzzled me as to why in the heat of battle, the damage control crew were trying to get the door motors to work again, when it seems to me it would have been much faster to simply cut or blast off the doors, and either jettison them, or attach them to a physical tether or tractor beam trailing the ship so they could be retained for later re-fitting while still trailing the ship.

The main reason was that of the various options available to them, the one adopted looked like being the fastest one. There were several reasons for that (not all of them equally valid), although I never fully developed them for the story. Remember that this was happening essentially off-camera rather than being one of the vignettes I was following in detail.

The biggest problem was that getting sufficient cutting equipment and/or explosives into position to blow (or torch away) the doors without doing significant additional damage to the launcher rails would have been quite difficult (and hence time consuming). Partly this was because they had pods on the rails which had already been designated for launch before the doors refused to deploy, and damage to the rails (which also had to be repaired) had "frozen" them in the launch cycle. (I did not discuss this aspect of the problem in the novel, but it was a factor in my own thinking. At the same time, it wasn't really essential to the DC people's thinking for the reasons in the paragraph below this one.) In order to clear the rails and gain clear access to the doors, they had to either repair the rails (so the pods could be cycled back forward) or jettison the pods… but they couldn't jettison until they got the door open. And until they got the pods out of the way, they couldn't get at the doors (with the necessary equipment) to work on them with the precision required to blow/torch them without doing still more damage to the launch rails. They were working simultaneously on repairing and clearing the rails, which they knew was a doable job. But while they were working on that, they were simultaneously working on running new cable to the doors.

The other problem/point to note is that they were working on the cable runs to only one side of the doors -- the port, I think, though I don't recall for certain. They knew the motors were completely burned out on one side, but they believed it was only the control runs on the other (which was, in fact, the case). That being so, by far the fastest way to get them functioning again was to rerun the control cables and use the undamaged motors to open the doors the way they were designed to. The difficulty in getting the heavy cutting equipment or explosives into the area only compounded that consideration; it did not create it.

Finally, remember that these are very big "doors," and that the amount of cutting/blasting which would have been required to get them out of the way would have been extensive (and time consuming). One of the major flaws of the Wayfarer's design which was addressed in the SD(P)s was that she basically had only two doors: port and starboard. Each door was subdivided into two panels, but each panel, if closed, was sufficient to block three of the six launch rails. (It didn't completely cover three rails, but it blocked a sufficient percentage of the area through which pods would have to travel to totally block one and obscure portions of the two to either side.) In the later designs, the after hatches are divided into six panels, each of which will obscure/clear only a single rail if it's frozen. Thus losing one door will cost only a single pod from each launch. It also means that the door panels themselves are smaller and that less cutting/torching would be required in a similar situation aboard an SD(P). Offsetting this, however, is the fact that, unlike Wayfarer's doors, an SD(P)'s launch bay doors are very heavily armored, making them much more resistant to damage… including that deliberately inflicted by the ship's own repair parties.