Dee Six class Downport

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Dee Six class Downport
Type: WOD Downport
Category ACS
Size 1,770 Tons
Hull Configuration Close Structure Hull
Streamlining Cluster Hull
Tech Level TL–13
Computer Model/7
Jump J-0
Maneuver 0 G
Hardpoints 17
Staterooms 13
Crew 24
High/Mid Passengers
Cargo 0.4 Tons
Fuel tank Tons
Origin Third Imperium
Year Operational 642
Cost MCr671.0151
Quick Ship Profile WOD-SC00
Universal Ship Profile WOD-D1900C-DP
Blueprint Yes
Illustration No
Also see Downport, Modular Cutter Module
Canon Unpublished, fan design
Designer Adrian Tymes
Design System Mongoose Traveller
Era 1105
Designed with Mongoose Traveller High Guard rules, but portable to other versions.
Dee Six class Downport
Type Structure
Tech Level TL–13
Cost MCr671.1251
Size 1,770 displacement tons (deployed)/180 displacement tons (in modules)
Weight 1,770 tons
Designed with Mongoose Traveller High Guard rules, but portable to other versions.

The Dee Six class Downport is a mass manufactured downport. It is not a spaceship, despite having several of the same attributes.


The Dee Six is a prefabricated downport designed to fit into 6 modular cutter modules. It is most commonly encountered on young colonies, or on homeworlds of recently contacted minor races. While it is primarily intended to become a system's Class D starport, for systems that already have a starport it can also serve as a secondary Class G spaceport.

It has almost everything a new colony needs for a downport, and can make the rest. A Dee Six, once deployed, consists of two parts: a 1,500 ton docking facility, attached to a 270 ton 5-story building holding everything else. While it quickly starts fabricating and surrounding itself with additional facilities, this article is mainly concerned with the downport in its just-deployed state, much like how articles on ship classes do not spend most of their length on unique customizations of examples of the class. For instance, the deckplans show a Dee Six immediately after deployment, before these additional structures come into existence.

The Dee Six class was originally designed to provide a standard atmosphere when deployed on a dense atmosphere world, but the design has proven robust against even hostile and vacuum atmospheres. There is some question whether this was part of the original design, or upgrades introduced by the Ministry of Colonization; the truth is lost to history. Most modern users only care that the design has proven viable on Hell Worlds, so they can trust it with their ship traffic on any world of equal or lesser hostility.

A Dee Six comes with two vehicles: a Skorp Landshaper and a Heveka Cargo Loader. The Heveka places structural reinforced plascrete panels created by the Dee Six, and performs cargo handling duties until better facilities are available. The Skorp obtain rock or sand from which to make said panels, levels terrain on which to construct, and fuses the panels together via gravitational collapse similar to how superdense is made. These vehicles, being four-legged walkers, can negotiate potentially rough terrain and even low or zero gravity (via magnetic feet indoors, and retractable claws to grip asteroid surface outdoors). Until dedicated vehicle bays are constructed, these vehicles rest and recharge in the docking facility. These vehicles are run from small batteries, which limits their range - but they are not intended to roam far from the port. When they do (such as when going to a nearby settlement to obtain supplies), it is recommended to take the Skorp: it is more often idle than the Heveka, crew and cargo can ride atop the curved digger blade when it is held upright (there is no internal room for passengers or cargo in either vehicle), and the Heveka is able to carry the Skorp if necessary (such as if an incautious crew runs the Skorp's batteries dry). Even after a Dee Six has been built out enough that the port authority sees no further immediate need for construction, the Skorp and Heveka are often kept on as the core of the downport's initial crash rescue team

Deployment of a Dee Six is a bit of a spectacle, almost always witnessed by local colonists. First, the six modules are delivered to the site, usually winding up in a pile. The crew and starting supplies are either delivered separately (possibly riding on the same transport that delivered the modules), or (preferably, where possible) obtained from the local colony. Two of the crew use personal computers (as temporary substitutes for the control stations within the Dee Six) to wake up the vehicles. The Heveka opens its door and makes its way out first, in a manner that has been likened to a zombie or vampire emerging from a coffin, then helps the Skorp out. The Skorp levels ground for the main downport, digger blade held level in front despite the rest of the vehicle walking, and tail swishing back and forth to further smooth ground behind the Skorp. Then the Skorp levels ground for the docking facility while the Heveka carefully places the modules like menhirs in a mini-henge. If correctly positioned, the modules then expand and grow into each other, securing the volume of space they will occupy before unfolding and shuffling internal components into the final configuration. The docking facility emerging as a 15 ton stick then inflating to its full 1,500 tons rarely fails to catch the eyes of onlookers. Finally, the Heveka lifts the Skorp over and around the main downport so it can weld shut all seams on the walls and ceiling. (The floor is later welded by hand from within, but until then it is flat on just-leveled ground, not letting outside atmosphere in.) A Dee Six is usually packaged with slightly more than a quarter ton of extra hand tools to help finish assembly, which inevitably wind up scattered among the crew commons and need picking up.

Once deployment and shakedown testing are complete and the first crew moves in, the Dee Six begins to construct its expansion. The majority of this work is grinding rock or sand (using recipes adapted to whatever local material is available), adding water and carefully optimizing the mix to make plascrete (assisted by products of a bacteria colony that consumes most of the crew's organic waste, leading to no end of jokes about the real content of the plascrete, though the plascrete is utterly sterile when extruded), extruding the plascrete as panels (with any necessary wiring and ducting, depending on exactly where each panel will go), then using the vehicles to place and bond said panels. Depending on the thickness, it can take hours to make a single panel, such that creating and placing furniture and machinery accounts for less than half the work, and is usually done after the additional space is enclosed and protected against the outside (though sometimes before internal floors are placed, to allow the Heveka to move heavy items, particularly any items taller than a single deck). Like the Skorp, the factory has a tool to gravitationally collapse points and lines, and will sometimes do this in a grid across a panel (sparing the ducts and wiring) to create reinforced plascrete, especially for any panels intended for use as pressure walls.

For Dee Sixes that are the primary starport of a small colony (which is what most Dee Sixes are constructed for), the primary day-to-day crew duties are said to be "stargazing and construction". Being a small colony, the system gets little enough traffic that servicing a starship occupies a distinct minority of the crew's time, even if this is their official primary purpose. If any colonist has a spaceship imported, such as for belt mining, servicing becomes far more common, but still a minority if the ship is put to use (and very few such colonies can afford to buy a ship just to have it sit around). The rest of the time, those crewing the observatory spend their time gathering survey data on the rest of the system and nearby stars (as well as the world they are on, once observational satellites - usually built to look up and down at the same time - are put into orbit). Almost everyone else is involved in expanding the downport: driving the vehicles, monitoring the factory, reviewing expansion plans, and so on. Sometimes idle crew will make runs to the local colony to deliver refined fuel (until a pipeline can be constructed) and retrieve supplies.

Expansion usually starts with better living quarters, adding enough staterooms so everyone has single occupancy, then dismantling the original deck 1 staterooms to make more room for more crew commons, to serve visitors as well as the crew. Next comes a small dedicated warehouse and fuel tank, followed by office facilities, which are usually finished about six months after deployment. Some insist that a Dee Six (where it is the system's primary starport) only officially becomes a Class D starport once it has offices, but in almost all cases it is listed as a D in local databases as soon as it enters service (usually, advance notice will be sent to update it to a D on the date it is expected to enter service), primarily to avoid having to update again in less than a year. The Dee Six comes with a power plant more powerful than its initial needs, specifically to provide light and environmental controls to the first set of these expansions before additional power plants must be constructed. After this, the focus is on building enough docking facilities to replace the original, while simple satellites are constructed and deployed to form a planet-wide sensor net, which efforts are usually complete about four years after the Dee Six began operation.

At this point, the long term fate of the downport is typically apparent:

  • The downport may be abandoned, such as if the local colony can not or will not provide food. This breaks down into "the locals are, or the local food is, too alien" in which case the downport will attempt to import a food production facility, "the locals object to a downport" in which case diplomats with marine backing will be sent to deal with the issue, or "the colony is failing" in which case the downport may become the colony - perhaps just a refueling outpost - and likewise attempt to import a food production facility. In each of these cases, if no long term alternative can be arranged (such as if the downport processes too little traffic to afford a food production module), the downport crew may board a resupply ship and abandon the downport. Being this inhospitable almost always earns the system an amber or red zone advisory.
  • The downport may muddle on, obtaining local resupply but not attracting the significant investment needed to substantially upgrade. If it is the primary starport, with 25-50 further years of work (depending on how much factory output is diverted to other uses), the downport may upgrade itself to a Class C starport, but getting beyond that requires assistance. If it is not the primary starport, this fate is more likely, as the primary starport attracts further investment that might otherwise have gone to this port. A slow expansion like this sees the downport's remaining staterooms, power plant, and factory moved to their own buildings as the control center expands alongside the docking facilities, to handle larger ships and more peak traffic.
  • The downport may attract substantial trade or other interest (such as a naval or scout base), enough that some party invests resources - in particular, factories not part of the original Dee Six - into upgrades. This typically results in a Class A starport, Class B starport, or (for non-primary-starports) Class F spaceport, though usually at the four year mark it is merely apparent that this upgrade will happen over the next several years.

In any of these cases, the downport has long since ceased to be an active, as-new Dee Six, and instead has become just the local downport, as much its own thing as any other downport.

Image Repository[edit]

Not available at this time.

General Description & Deck Plans[edit]

  1. Deck Plans for this downport.
    Dee six downport deckplans.png

Basic Ship Characteristics[edit]

Following the Imperial Navy and IISS Universal Ship Profile and data, additional information is presented in the format shown here. [1]

Basic Ship Characteristics [2]
No. Category Remarks
1. Tonnage / Hull Tonnage: 1,770 tons (standard). 23,895 cubic meters. Cluster Close Structure Hull.
  • Dimensions: Docking facility - variable, but usually a box 54 m long by 37.5 m wide by 10 m tall. Main downport facility - not quite cubical, 18 m long by 16.5 m wide by 15 m tall.
2. Crew Crew: 15 Technicians for the hangar, 6 Sensor Operators, 1 Medic, 1 Administrator, 1 Port Warden (sometimes called "Port Commander"). The hangar crew is only needed when there are visiting spacecraft, and then only 3 per 100 tons, so these positions are often not entirely filled.
3. Performance No maneuver drive is installed.
4. Electronics Model/7.
5. Hardpoints 17 hardpoints, unused.
6. Armament None.
7. Defenses None.
8. Craft None. Vacc suits required for EVA (extra-vehicle activity) if the downport is deployed on a world without a breathable atmosphere. Rescue Balls for crew escape are not normally carried: most scenarios in which emergency escape from a Dee Six is necessary also require escaping the immediate vicinity; a vacc suit is compatible with this need but a rescue ball would make further escape difficult.
9. Fuel Treatment It is equipped with a fuel purification plant. Instead of fuel scoops, it is equipped with hoses and hoppers to collect local water or ice, respectively.
10. Cost MCr671.0151 standard. MCr603.91359 in quantity (though it is almost never produced in quantity). Architect's fees for the Dee Six wound up in legal limbo until they were formally waived by the Ministry of Colonization.
11. Construction Time 72 weeks standard, 54 in quantity. Almost never produced in quantity.
12. Remarks A prefabricated basic downport, packed in six modular cutter modules, able to serve a starting colony.

History & Background[edit]

The first Dee Six was encountered by an Imperial Navy patrol in Dagudashaag Sector in 642. History does not record the specific system, but there are reports of a lieutenant at a highport talking up a Revolver pilot and inquiring about the ship's unusual cargo. The pilot volunteered that this was a new type of modular downport that a friend of his had commissioned to help recolonize Lemuria, and handed over the blueprints. There is no record of the ship reaching Lemuria; it is assumed that it misjumped somewhere along the way. The architect is confirmed to have been part of the doomed recolonization effort; she and all her heirs died on Lemuria.

With no legal owner, the plans were passed from hand to hand, soon reaching the Ministry of Colonization, which was all too happy to provide the plans to colonization efforts that could use them. There have not been many such efforts, but have been enough over time to establish a notional "class" of downport. The Ministry of Colonization came up with the name "Dee Six", and supplied much of the information for this article. Although the Dee Six costs several hundred megacredits, this is regarded as within the price range of a typical new colony - possibly on the high end, but the usual range of subsidies and loans are available if there is a reasonable (based on local economic patterns and survey data of the world's resources) plan to pay them back from trade from the new colony. The Dee Six's robustness against Exotic Atmospheres and its ease of transport - modular cutter modules being readily shipped by a number of means - meant it easily slotted in on the checklist of things a new colony could be advised to have. Providing and updating that checklist had become one of the Ministry of Colonization's main functions, so formalizing and promoting the Dee Six helped sustain the bureaucracy.

It is believed that, as of 1105, every major polity has acquired copies of the Dee Six plans. Even the Two Thousand Worlds has been observed to use them, albeit only for servant races (which can tolerate ordinary staterooms) to set up refueling outposts.

A Dee Six can be a major investment in infrastructure, with a price tag slightly higher than most destroyer escorts. When a Dee Six will be used on an untainted atmosphere world, the prefabricated docking facility is sometimes omitted, replaced with 15 tons of additional tools instead. This slashes the price to just over a third, specifically MCr247.3676 (not accounting for the additional tools).

Class Naming Practice/s & Peculiarities[edit]

Interior Details:The docking facility is rated to handle up to 500 tons of visiting ships. The hangar is variable shape, able to flex and bulge to handle odd shapes and dimensions, but usually a rectangular prism 10 meters tall by 37.5 meters wide by 60 meters long. It can be partitioned off to avoid exposing the entire hangar to the outside when one ship arrives or leaves (always via the ceiling; the facility can not handle aircraft needing a runway), and usually is at first until a replacement docking facility can be constructed, with 100 tons docking capacity reserved for cargo and the construction vehicles (reducing effective capacity to 400 tons). The facility is mated to an airlock on the downport's ground floor (also known as "deck 1"), containing the only publicly accessible parts of the downport: the commons and medical bay. The docking facility airlock features a small deep penetration scanner to check for weapons and contraband, oriented to be optimally sensitive in the airlock or docking facility but which can scan any point within a kilometer.

Aside from the docking facility, the most economically important subsystem is the basic factory complex, including a refinery and smelter, optimized to turn local rock or sand into reinforced plascrete panels with which to construct more downport. The factory contains an extruder for basic substances, such as steel foam and plascrete, in sheets 0.001-1 meter thick and up to 7.5 meters wide. Its primary use is to create the structural panels (usually 7.5 by 7.5 meters) that are assembled and fused to make additional buildings (or a road, at two lanes per panel wide, if there is somewhere nearby worth building a road to). A common joke is that the Dee Six is so cheesy that it can extrude its own pasta, but this in fact possible for basic pasta (most commonly wide pasta such as lasagna noodles), though either a temporary tunnel must be set up between the extruder and the factory airlock, or the pasta must be taken around outside and then decontaminated (to a degree depending on the world's atmosphere). Also, the flour must be supplied (likewise distilled water, but this can usually be diverted from the fuel refinery's input), making this use of the factory more of a cooking implement than a source of food. Similar pragmatic uses of various temporarily idle parts of the factory are common.

A section on safely extruding pasta is included in the Dee Six's manual to highlight a limit of the factory: it can not make everything, in particular not more of itself. It is focused on simple structures and the occasional spare part. It can refine metal should a source of ore be nearby, though it is more common for resupply ships to bring raw (and cheap) ore (as an ancillary to their food cargo) to create wiring and machinery for which silicates will not suffice, or to bring down raw unrefined asteroids. Starting from raw rock, the complex can produce 1.2 tons of structure or basic goods per day. While higher technological level factories have been proposed for the Dee Six, the wide range of TL-13 recipes has made such upgrades unnecessary. Some Vilani artisans see echoes of the First Imperium's efforts to freeze development in this; for instance, pointing out that the same silicates that can form panels sturdy enough to withstand exotic atmospheres can also be woven into soft beds providing sleep so comfortable (and healthy, designed to trap and flush particulates such as dust and viruses) that some crew refuse to sleep on anything else.

The Dee Six also contains a fuel refinery. The Dee Six's design assumes that it will be placed somewhere with ready access to liquid water or ice, as well as to rock or sand, such as near the shore of a lake or ocean. While the fuel refinery itself is typical, it is notable that the Dee Six only comes with small fuel tanks, enough for its own power plant. Standard practice before a larger fuel tank can be built is to directly refuel visiting ships from the fuel refinery. Given the small size of ships that are typically serviced, this rarely takes more than a few hours, though if any ship needing much more than 100 tons of fuel visits (most likely landing outside, or staying in orbit and sending a fuel shuttle), it will take more than a day to fill up.

Occupying both top decks of a Dee Six is a substantial observatory and sensor complex, that can rotate like a giant turret. Its primary "weapon" is a large telescope, with sensor clusters along and extending from the remaining circumference. This array of poles and dishes makes a distinctive silhouette, especially when it moves as the telescope tracks something or moves from target to target. While the rest of the Dee Six is designed to be crewed as necessary, the observatory is designed for round-the-clock traffic control and survey, with three shifts of two sensor operators assigned. The motors to rotate all this flank the deck 3 portion of the control center. Deck 4 is as high as the internal transit lifts go, with a ring platform at the bottom of the observatory to let crew rise or climb up no matter which way the observatory is pointing.

At the core of the Dee Six is its control center - what would be the "bridge" of a spaceship. It is designed for expansion, with room and wiring to install more consoles as more bridge crew are needed. As deployed, it only has four consoles: two on deck 3 to run the observatory and sensors, and two on deck 2 to remotely operate the construction vehicles, usually done by hangar crew when not busy tending to visiting ships. Between the deck 2 stations is 0.4 tons of downport locker, typically used for morale items and hard currency, and only unlockable by the port warden. There are also two small armories on deck 3, stocked with pistols and body armor in case of emergencies (the armory is divided in two to expedite access). There is a dedicated lift-and-ladder set to provide access between the two decks of the control center (without having to go out through the secured access to the main lift complex serving most of the staterooms), which also opens to the observatory above.

13 staterooms are provided, which is technically enough for a full crew complement if everyone but the port warden and administrator accept double occupancy. It is far more common for a Dee Six to start with less than the full number of hangar technicians, which allows more crew to have single occupancy. Some Dee Sixes only start with three technicians, limiting them to servicing a single 100 ton starship at a time. Most of the staterooms exit out into the crew commons or a secured central lift and corridor complex (which is also the only internal means of accessing the factory), but two open directly onto the control center. These two are traditionally reserved for two to four of the sensor operators, usually on the same shift (if double occupancy, thus four sensor operators across two staterooms, each stateroom holds one shift).

The docking facility, control center (at first), and observatory are largely empty space once deployed. This is key to how 1,770 tons of facility are crammed into 180 tons of modular cutter modules. While the docking facility is naturally a large open area, and the bridge has room for expansion which tends to get filled up over time, the observatory - particularly the main telescope - bears marks of how it was originally telescoped down that are visible to anyone within for the life of the observatory.

Class Naming Practice/s: Like most downports, a Dee Six - once deployed - is named either for the system (if it is to be the primary starport) or some local geological or political feature (most often, the name of the nearest major settlement). By tradition, a Dee Six does not have this name until it is deployed; it may have a serial number or other such designation until then, but often it does not even have that. In other words, it is common to refer to a Dee Six as "the future City Downport" until the moment of deployment, at which time it becomes "the City Downport".

Selected Variant Types & Classes[edit]

Space Station:

  1. Type WO class Space Station
    1. Dee Six class Downport

References & Contributors (Sources)[edit]

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