Sketches – Shipyard Subassembly

A shipyard is not a single structure, but instead a whole collection of major industrial structures that converts raw materials and feedstocks into warships. Until some kind of massive rapid-prototyping system is developed (a system that sales representatives always seem to promise is “only a few years away”), ships have to be built one conduit and frame at a time.

Going in reverse order, the subassembly hall is the second to last place for components to go. Inside the subassembly hall structural components, power and data conduits and ship systems are assembled into chunks of whole ships. Once a subassembly is completed, the assembly hall is depressurized, and the subassembly is drifted out via a retractable roof. The subassembly is then attached to the work in progress in the actual assembly slip elsewhere in the shipyard. This process allows for multiple subassemblies to be built at once in a shirtsleeve environment.

One of the major components that goes into the subassembly hall is the Forging Mill. A critical part of any ship is what gives it form. The forging mill is responsible for a variety of components, from the more basic components like structural beams to hull frames and bulkheads to more complex materials and constructions like armor plate and internal baffles. The mill takes in raw billets before molding and rolling them into various specific components. Given the often varied demands that are placed on orbital yards, the ability to fabricate actual structural members on the fly is a critical ability to have on-site.


This sketch was originally part of my 3d render work for the Sintillan shipyard, one of several industrial components that filled out the bottom half of the octagonal structure that the shipyard was built out of. These two components took up a significant fraction of the lower half of the octagon, as they represented two of the most volume-intensive tasks that a yard could do.

One of the things I’m thinking about doing as an addon to Sketch Sunday is a bit of a review of ship construction, both in RL and how it might be done in the deWulf universe. Modern ship construction, especially for complex hulls like cruise liners and military vessels, is a process that leans heavily on modular, parallel construction that enables work to be spread out more efficiently. While the hull itself is assembled in a slipway (or more commonly a drydock for larger hulls), most of the components are actually assembled and built in various adjacent parts of the yards before being brought over to the assembly point to be added on.

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