Operations: Power Allocation

Operations, is responsible for resource allocation within the ship. Resources include power, sensors, computer time, transport, replicator bulk, and holodeck time.

This section will dwell primarily on power allocation. The amount of space given power is not due to the importance of power over other resources, or a lack of power. It is due to the multiple power sources available, linkages between power generation systems and power using systems, and certain patterns in how power ought to be distributed. While other resources might be just as critical, the distribution mechanisms are simpler, yet the nature of the problems that arise are less predictable.

There are four sources of power on the Defiant: warp core, impulse, strategic, and battery. Each is linked in some way to power using systems. Each can be used to power other systems, but there are limits and rules covering cross connects of power.

Group         Source         Linked Systems
Warp         Anti-Matter    Warp Drive, Shields, 
                            Phasers, Cloak

Swap         (none)         Tractor Beam, Torpedoes, 
                            Structural Integrity Field, 
                            Inertial Compensators,
                            Artificial Gravity, Transporters

Untouchable                 Passive Sensors, Computer Core, 
                            Life Support, Communications

Impulse      Fusion         Impulse drive

Strategic    TH-PNS*        Proton Beam

Expendable   (none)         Replicators, Holodecks

Reserve      Battery        Life pods,  Emergency Beacons,
                            Life Support

* Thermodynamic Heat-Pile Neutron Superchargers

It should be noted that many of the above linkages are unique to the Escort class or to the Defiant. The Escorts use new shield, phaser and cloak technologies linked directly to the warp core, not found on other classes. The Defiant is also the prototype ship for the strategic weapons system, which currently has not been installed on other vessels.

The warp drive, shields, phaser arrays, and cloak are built directly into the warp nacelles, and derive power directly from plasma generated in the matter-antimatter driven warp core. By tapping power directly from warp plasma, the shields, phasers and cloak systems are made considerably more efficient. This design contributes greatly to the Escort Class's great increase in war fighting capability in spite of the class's small size.

The disadvantage is that these systems are greatly decreased in efficiency should the warp core be lost. While power from impulse or the Neutron Superchargers can be redirected into shields or phasers, the energy transfer is not as efficient as warp plasma.

A secondary disadvantage is in high speed use of shields, cloak, or phaser. When driving the warp engines to maximum possible speed, there is insufficient energy to fully drive the other systems. This is not a significant problem for cloak or phaser operation. Phasers are a speed of light weapon. For one ship travelling at 1000 plus times the speed of light to hit another travelling as fast with a weapon that travels at the speed of light is highly problematic. Torpedoes are the weapon of choice at high warp speeds. Also, travel at high warp speed results in a distinctive ion trail / warp signature. Cloaking while travelling above warp nine is futile if the opposition is alert and has good sensor capability.

Thus, it is only operating shields at high speed that is a problem. The usual solution is to drive shields from the fusion reactors.

The 'swap' group is so named because the elements can be run equally well of impulse, warp, or Neutron Supercharger energy sources. As impulse and warp drives are not used at the same time, the swap group is normally connected to whichever power source is not being used for propulsion.

The 'Untouchable' group consists of relatively low powered systems which should almost never be deactivated to conserve power. While there may be exceptions to this rule, these systems should in general be kept active at all times.

The fusion reactors for the impulse drive do not produce as much power as the warp core or TH-PNS systems, but are still a major source of power. Fusion should be used to drive the swap group when under high speed warp drive, to reduce the load on the warp system. Balancing of load between fusion and warp systems is particularly important in battle. If the battle is taking place in normal space, the warp core can provide more than sufficient power for all systems. Under high warp speeds with shields and torpedoes fully engaged, a power deficit can develop even with warp and fusion systems at full capacity. Use of the TH-PNS strategic power source can resolve this lack, even if there is no intent to use the strategic weapons system.

The 'Strategic' or Thermodynamic Heat-Pile Neutron Superchargers and the associated beam weapon are normally kept inactive. The system is under very tight security lock, and can be activated only with authorization from the command staff. The Neutron Superchargers are as potent in power generation as the warp drive, but the energy is in a form that can be used primarily by the beam weapon. The ship cannot be driven in impulse or warp by the Neutron Superchargers. However, a significant fraction of the Supercharger's energy can be directed to other ship's functions. Thus, the strategic system can be a useful supplement if the warp or impulse systems are damaged, or if a battle situation overloads the other power systems.

The 'expendable' systems - holodecks and replicators - are often not required in battle. Currently, both systems are shut down automatically on entering Red Alert state, though this can be overridden at the Ops console. There are other systems that might also be deactivated to conserve power, but these two give the biggest return.

The 'reserve' battery is to be tapped only if the primary power systems are disabled. They are to be used only for emergency systems. By regulation, life support, life pods, communications, disaster beacons, and abandon ship transport should be the only use of the battery system. While I have seen in classroom simulation situations emergency power used to transport antimatter into a 'victorious' enemy, such actions are not encouraged by Starfleet regulation, and such victories are in general costly.

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Alert Modes
Ops Manual, Table of Contents
Ops Department Office
Transporter Room