Building a Navy – deWulf Navy (6)

Finishing off this series of Building a Navy, once one has an idea of the force size to be managed the question is how to manage it. Ships need crews. Ships needs maintenance and spare parts. Inevitably, those ships will also need to be replaced.

The Chart

deWulf Force Management

Once the fleet has its ships and its crew, both need to be supported and managed. And no fleet is ever static; new designs and equipment will inevitably need to be produced.

Personnel Policies

As primarily a volunteer force, the vast majority of personnel were, and are career Navy crew. Actual onboarding runs on two/ten staging. Initial volunteers sign for a minimum two year service commitment. This allows for inductees to be given the skills that they need in order to function as part of a combat unit. It also gives the opportunity for new volunteers to ‘try out’ the service; not everyone turns out to be able to handle the Navy life. Rather than lock volunteers into a career that they are not embracing, the Navy instead offers a “relaxed out” path for the second half of the volunteer’s two year commitment. This enables volunteers to develop valuable skills that will benefit them outside of Navy service, while also providing many of the critical back end services that the Navy relies on.

Should a volunteer make it through the two year initial commitment (and they are interested), then they are offered a ten year long-term service contract. This is the make-or-break point where many of the more complex, challenging (and high-security clearance) positions now become available. Compensation naturally increases as a result of a longer term commitment, though the demands of the Navy do tend to increase as well. Less well known (and definitely not advertised) is the option of additional two-year commitments. This is usually taken by those who find the “Navy-light” lifestyle appealing, but are not willing to make the full commitment. Fortunately, there are many positions that such a commitment can fill.

Deployment away from home and den is inevitably hard on relationships, and efforts are made to ensure that it’s not always the same units that are out of port on patrol. But this is not entirely possible, and the stress applied to family and friends are a regrettable but unavoidable part of a Navy career. The Navy does what it can to make the distance more bearable by providing free least-time communications channels for messaging, and a low-cost parallel service for high volume data transmission and physical packaging.

The Navy also works to have zocalo services whenever possible for extended deployments. Whenever a long-term deployment takes place, nodal supply points are established, and the Navy works to set up collocated R&R facilities at the same place (colloquially called a zocalo). When possible the Navy also provides transport to some close family members to these zocalos when ships are coming in for repair and resupply, even during wartime. While the risk of having civilians near warzones is concerning, it is usually counterbalanced by the attendant increase in morale (and mitigated by legal waivers and legal exclusions).

Logistics Concept

Much like its fleet deployment strategy, the deWulf Navy maintains a nodal logistical supply system, with primary logistic nodes co-located at the same location where a fleet’s primary home port is located. Often times these core logistics nodes are supplied by local production and assembly industries that work to meet the demands of the Bureau of Logistics or Administration. Spare parts, reactor fuel and environmental support requirements are provided to the logistical hubs from in-system sources.

That at least is the plan. In practice (and especially in peacetime), supplies of rarer, Navy-specific hardware is often sourced from the industrial fabrication plants of Falke, or Navy production lines in Fenris orbit. Unlike private industry, the Navy tolerates this so long as there are no attempts to run a “just in time” supply system, as Naval High Command’s opinion is that “just in time” is better described as “too late”. The one major exception to this rule is munitions manufacture. In order to keep potential issues to a minimum, plasma torpedo manufacture is restricted to Navy facilities alone, and the current primary (and only) production plant is located as part of the Mittelspannung yards in Fenris orbit. This has been cited repeatedly as a strategic weak point, but at present the Navy is not willing to extend production to other locations, nevermind facilities outside its control.

When away from home port, logistics are hauled to deployed units via transports either owned and operated by the Navy directly, or other ships operating under a Navy contract. The latter is more common in peacetime and in safer areas during combat, but there have been times where civilian units have gone virtually to the front lines in order to deliver needed supplies. The most common operational method is that supplies are delivered to a pre-selected secure location. Ships are then pulled from the combat line to the resupply point as needed for resupply, remunitioning, and repairs (if needed).

Level of Afloat and Ashore Readiness

As a rule, the Navy does not practice any level of “relaxed” readiness when it comes to afloat or onshore operations. That is to say, it does not draw down the crews of “active” units, nor does it deliberately lower stockpile levels at logistical nodes or shift units to a slower tempo just because it is in peacetime. This is an admittedly expensive prospect that more than one operational audit has repeatedly underlined, but any attempt to reduce expenditures in this manner has been rebuffed as “an undesirable reduction of state security”. By and large, the Navy has been able to make this position stick.

It is both the official and unofficial position that if the Navy is funding or maintaining something, then it needs to be able to Do Its Job at a minimum of notice and additional effort. Squadrons ordered to deploy are expected to be able to undock and follow orders within days at most, unless they are explicitly in yard hands or are subject to pre-authorized extenuating circumstances. This means that supplies are delivered, magazines are kept topped up, and training is done to bring all operational units to a respectable standard.

Acquisition Strategy

The approval and production of new ships for the deWulf Corporate Navy is at challenging topic, one that realistically needs its own full article. Funding is often the most challenging part of it, with the Navy having to allocate funds not just for the obvious construction, but for the research and development needed to turn a concept into usable blueprints.

In a nutshell, the basic process is as follows:

  • deWulf Operations Department determines a specific requirement. This analysis looks at available technologies and hull forms, estimated threats, and approximate financial resources.
  • Based on economic considerations (dictating how many ships could be built), would this new ship design be capable of meeting requirements? Would it be cheaper to do a refit/rebuild of existing designs?
  • If a new design is judged to be needed, the broad parameters are then sent along to private design bureaus as well as the Navy’s own internal design teams.
  • Completed design concepts are then submitted to a review panel composed of representatives from Strategic Planning, Ship Design, and Research Co-Ordination. From here a specific design is selected to carry forward, though sometimes a composite design is suggested (which then goes to the Navy’s internal team for integration).
  • The selected design goes back for detailed design work to flesh it out into a full design. Additional adjustments are done as more feedback is provided from design contractors and Research Co-Ordination.
  • The detailed design is then submitted for a second review against the initial design parameters. Can it still accomplish its task? Is it cost effective and can be built in enough numbers to accomplish its mission?
  • If so, the design is formally approved and handed off to the contractors for detail work and conversion into production blueprints.
  • Ship construction commences.
  • The ship is delivered to the Navy for testing and evaluation. If it performs as expected, it is accepted and funding for additional hulls is released for production. If significant shortcomings are identified, the design process will start again to evaluate if the design concept is salvageable or not.

That’s how it’s meant to happen, but any process with that much contact with the various corporate powers that be is vulnerable to… adjustment. While the Navy is usually fairly effective at channeling this kind of interference, it’s also a case of picking battles, and sometimes suboptimal decisions have to be made in order to get things done.

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