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Ship Crew are the personnel required to operate and maintain a Ship. They are important both for construction of new ships and for reinforcement of existing ships. The crew complement needed to operate each vessel is based on the total crew requirement for all of its systems. Crew are assigned from an empire's Academy graduates pool, and are supplemented by conscripts if there are no academy trained personnel available. The supply of conscripts is unlimited.
Crew performance can be affected by the commanding officer, morale, and experience. The value of training and experience has always been great on the battlefield. In aurora there are two different experience values for each ship: the Crew Grade, which affects things like hit chances, repair time etc., and Fleet Training (or Taskforce Training), which decreases the time before the ship reacts to new orders. The crew grade is determined by the the initial crew makeup, and is increased by assigning a captain with a crew training rating; The Fleet training is gained through experience or during fleet exercises effaced by the crew training skill of the Task Force Commander plus the operations bonus of the Operations Staff Officer.
Each ship has a number of Grade Points, which indicate the proficiency of the crew. The Crew Grade provide affect actions such as firing weapons or checking for system failures.
The starting crew grade for new ships is based on the racial training level. Each level of racial training level provides 100 grade points to crewmen graduating from Naval Academies. You can have your crew trained to higher grades (1-5), which improves the bonus, but it will reduce the amount of yearly graduates. This means that if a new crew consists entirely of academy crewmen, the ship will have a number of grade points equal to the racial training level x 100. Conscripts begin with no grade points at all. Therefore if a new crew is entirely conscripts, the ship will have zero grade points. Ships with a mixture of academy crewmen and conscripts will have a number of grade points based on the proportion of academy crew.
- For example, assume a ship needs 500 crew, the racial training level is 2 and only 300 academy crewmen are available. Racial training level 2 is equal to 200 grade points. Only 300/500 = 60% of the crew will be academy crew and the remaining 200 will be conscripts. Therefore the ship will start with 60% of the racial training level, or 120 grade points.
Ships can increase Grade Points over time through experience or training. Many Command Level Officers have a training bonus. While they are in command of a ship, that bonus is used to gradually increase the grade points of their ship. A ship will gain grade points equal to its commander's training bonus every year. Experience is gained through combat situations (see bellow).
A ship has a Grade Bonus equal to (square root of Grade Points)-10. This Grade Bonus acts as a modifier to actions such as firing weapons or checking for system failures. A low number of grade points may result in a negative Grade Bonus which will then act as a penalty to such actions. A ship with 100 grade points is considered an 'average' crew as they have no bonus or penalty.
The Grade Bonus is applied in the following situations:
- Accuracy of beam weapon fire. For example, if a ship has a 60% chance to hit and the crew has 400 grade points (and therefore a 10% bonus), the chance to hit is increased to 66%. If the crew has 900 grade points the chance to hit would be 72%. If a crew has no grade points (and therefore a -10% penalty), the chance to hit would be 54%.
- Rate of Missile Fire. When a missile is fired, the reload time before the next missile can be fired is reduced by the grade bonus. For example, if a missile launcher has a 40 second rate pf fire and the crew has 600 grade points (and a 14% bonus), the rate of fire will be reduced to 40 x 0.86 = 34.4 seconds. As Aurora moves in a minimum of 5 second increments, this bonus is ineffective if it reduces the firing rate by less than 5 seconds.
- System failures (related to overhauls). The chance of failure is reduced by the bonus (or increased for a crew grade penalty).
Effects of Repair, Scrapping and Refit
When a ship takes damage, it usually causes crew casualties. When a ship is repaired, those casualties are replaced (by academy crew if available). The grade points of the ship are adjusted to account for the grade of the replacement crew, weighted by the number of replacement compared to the total size of the full crew.
For example, assume a ship with 400 crewmen and grade points of 250 is involved in a battle and 80 of the crew are killed. When the ship is repaired, 80 crew replacements are added to the ship. If there are 80 academy crewmen available with 100 grade points, the grade of the crew changes to (320x250) + 80x100) / 400 or (80,000+800)/400 = 220. Therefore the grade of the crew drops to 220. If no academy crew were available, the grade would drop to 200.
When a ship is scrapped the crew is removed. If the crew have grade points higher than that of the academy crewmen, they are added to the academy crewmen pool. To simulate the experience of a veteran crew assisting the academy crewmen, the number of crewmen added is equal to the Crew x Grade Points / Grade Points of Academy Crew.
For example, a crew of 600 with 350 grade points is removed from a scrapped ship and added to the Academy Crewmen Pool. This race has a racial training level of 1 so academy crew have 100 grade points. Therefore the number of crewmen added to the pool = (600*350)/100 = 2100.
When a ship is refitted, its new crew complement may be higher than before. If so, the additional crew is added in the same way as crew being added to a repaired ship.
The ability of combat vessels to work within a particular task force and respond quickly to orders, may mean the difference between winning or losing the battle if you're playing with the "Inexperienced Fleets" option.
Each ship has a Task Force Training rating which is shown on the far right column of the ship information on the F12 window. It ranges from zero to 100%. Training exercises gives your inexperienced crews experience at operating a fleet together and decreases delays in responding to orders. Inexperienced units will slowly gain fleet training points even if they are not involved in training exercises, but they will take much longer to reach the same level of proficiency. The overall Task Force Training Rating is equal to the average of all its ships.
This is the ability of combat vessels (PPV > 0) to work within a particular task force and respond quickly to orders. It only comes into play when there are hostile contacts in the same system. A task group has a Task Force Training Rating that is equal to the average of all its ships. A low TF Training Rating means that task groups may take up to a minute or so to respond to movement commands. A low individual rating for a ship means it may take a while to open fire while told to do so and make have further delays when ordered to change targets. It will also be bad at formation keeping if you have a formation set up. This TF training rating represents the likely confusion when a group of ships that are not used to operate together are given orders to do something together in a stressful situation.
You can raise the TF training rating by sending your ships on Fleet Training Exercises, much like modern day navies do before deploying a fleet. This can be set on the second tab of the F12 window, near the bottom left. This will only work if the task group is in the same system as the Task Force to which it is assigned. During fleet training exercises the annual rate of points gained is the Crew Training Skill of the Task Force Commander plus the operations bonus of the Operations Staff Officer. So if the task force commander has crew training of 200 and the operations officer has an ops bonus of 30%, annual crew training points would be 260. This is further increased by the grade bonus of the ship being trained. A ship has to gain 500 training points to have 100% fleet training skill.
Low level training
All combat vessels will slowly gain fleet training points even if they are not involved in training exercises. Such "low level" training assumed to be gained through general experience and perhaps simulators, the annual training rate is 30. This is also modified by crew grade. The low level training is to counter the issue of long-serving ships responding just as slowly as newly constructed ships if neither has had any fleet training. In reality, the long-serving crew should have some advantage in that situation even without formal training. Of course, fleet training still be far more effective in terms of creating crews that quickly respond to orders in combat situations.
How To Train a Fleet
You need to assign the ships or task groups to a Task Force (see Naval Organization), and the Task Force Commander needs Crew Training Skill, plus the Operations Staff Officer an operations bonus. Check the Leaders page for how to assign one.
- Assigning staff officer - Open the commanders window F4. In the Assignment Type filter, choose Staff Officers. There should be a vacancy for Commander - Fleet Headquarters (if there is nothing there try selecting any commander to trigger the appearance). Appoint an officer with high rank and high crew training (you can use the Ability Search on the right to find someone suitable).
- Initiate training - On the Task Group window, special orders tab, click "Start task force training". Note that staff officer add bonuses if the task force is in the same system as the task groups assigned to it (by default in sol). You can move task forces (essentially the admiral and his staff) around by assigning them to a flag bridge.
Note: assigning a tanker to the training task group will allow them to train longer without running out of fuel. Also consider putting a really slow ship in your task group when doing TF training. That way the whole TG moves slower and consumes less fuel, but training speed is the same.
Morale affects the performance of a ship's crew. Ships deployed on long missions without suitable accommodation to keep the crew happy will suffer from low crew morale, and crews forced to work in overcrowded conditions will be equally unhappy. As morale drops, so does their performance. Low morale affects both crew training and fleet training ratings. Whenever a check is required that involves either rating, it is first multiplied by the morale percentage. This means that a ship with low morale will be slow to respond to orders and will not function well in combat.
To improve morale, a ship needs to spend time on orbit of a planet with at a population of at least 10,000. This should be enough to provide bars, nightclubs, brothels, art galleries, etc. Note that maintenance facilities are not required, only people. While in orbit, the Last Shore Leave date will increase at the rate of 10x actual time. Once the Last Shore Leave date moves closer to the present day than the Deployment Time of the crew's ship, their morale will be back to 100%. Of course, resetting the counter entirely will allow for longer subsequent missions. Otherwise, it is more of a break during the existing mission. It's worth noting that small colonies set up to support the naval forces on the front lines may one day grow into something much larger as civilian traffic moves into the area.
Long Deployment Times
During every 5-day increment, every ship is checked for any problems with crew morale (a catch-all for unhappiness, tiredness, etc.). The length of the deployment since the "Last Shore Leave" date is checked. If the number of months since the Last Shore Leave is greater than the designed Deployment Time of the ship, then morale will be less than 100%. Crew Morale is set to Ship Deployment Time / Months since Last Shore Leave. For example, if a ship has been out for 15 months and the deployment time of the class is 12 months, morale will fall to 12/15 = 80%.
Each 5-day cycle, the total number of crew on the ship, the crew of any parasite craft, any survivors the ship has picked up and any survivors on the parasites are compared to the number of available berths. If there are more personnel than berths, morale will fall. Crew Morale is multiplied by (Berths / TotalPersonnel).
As well as the morale effects of overcrowding, it is possible the ship's life support systems may be overloaded. Even though some ships will have extensive crew accommodations, most of that will be recreational facilities. The life support element of those systems is based on the expected crew numbers plus a 20% safety margin. If overcrowding exceeds 20%, there is a chance that life support systems may start to fail. During each 5-day cycle in which Total Personnel/Berths is greater than 1.2 (i.e. more than 20% overcrowded), each crew quarters system is checked for failure. If failures occur they will be automatically fixed by the ship's onboard maintenance supplies until those run out.
Ships may carry small cryogenic facilities to allow them to pick up survivors without causing overcrowding or compromising their life support systems. Emergency Cryogenic might be a standard fitting on a cruiser and a larger component might be used by "hospital ships". When a ship is transporting survivors, the number of available cryogenic berths is deducted from the number of survivors before considering total personnel numbers in the overcrowding calculation. Any survivors on parasites with available cryogenic facilities will also be excluded from total personnel.
If a ship's crew falls below half its normal complement, either due to battle or life support failure casualties, morale will be affected. The formula is Morale = Current Morale x ((Current Crew * 2) / Normal Crew)