Warship design in the Alliance has been a subject of great import, and engineers have spent the last millennia and a half in pursuit of ever-more efficient designs. The current method of design and construction for Alliance warships is one heavily based on modularity and part commonality, as well as the efficient distribution and absorption of energy and stresses on the hull, to provide service longevity as well as durability in combat.
The external appearance of Alliance line warships follows a common trend, featuring a forward face dominated by weaponry, followed by a long but narrow hull terminating in a single large engine. Forward dimensions are determined by the minimum dimensions required to hold the forward cannon armament, and all other equipment, habitation spaces, and engineering systems are stacked behind this. Newer super-capital ship designs have strayed from this trend, but still tend to dominate their forward faces with weaponry.
Standard ships are also identified by their blocky, utilitarian design, eschewing curves and other geometrically complex shapes in favor of flat sides and geometric angles. Further accenting their military purpose is the Defense Force's standard hull color, drab green, although the use of EMAS coating allows it to be changed on the fly, and it is often switched to a black absorptive mode in combat.
While otherwise hull features are generally kept to a bare minimum in order to improve hull and armor integrity, command ships are further distinguished by their external antenna and broadcast equipment, although the number of antenna has been reduced since the days of the old Alliance, and the use of internally-mounted communications techniques means that these antenna are no longer the sole practical means of broadcast.
Standard line warships are normally composed of three primary modules, the forward weapons module, the center command and habitation module, and the aft engine and power module. Each is in turn composed of an assembly of modular parts suspended within the ship's structural framework, and anchored together by the ship's keel block and external shell.
Alliance warships are constructed using a bonded semi-monocoque design, in which the frame and interior components are assembled from the interior out and molecularly bonded together to become a single unit. At the base of each ship is its nanodiamond keel, which runs 2/3 of the ship's total length from bow to stern and is responsible for the transmission of force throughout the ship.
While for obvious reasons the keel size and length varies from ship to ship, most other parts aside from reactors and bridge modules are produced to a standard design in a separate production facility, and integrated together in the primary shipyard, which usually produces the keel, frame spars, and hull plates locally. Large shipyards, such as the Taurus Reach Automated Construction & Storage Facility and the Dusty Attenborough Naval Shipyards produce all parts on-site, while smaller ones such as the Astarte and Tsukuyomi shipyards use parts produced at the larger yards.
The laying of the keel forms the basis of the central module, which is built around it, while the forward and aft modules are built in separate yards with connections to the keel block and power distribution systems. The frame is composed of nanodiamond spars, arranged in an inter-braced cubic lattice to which internal components are attached and bonded. While not normally designed to be load-bearing parts of the frame, the bonding process ensures that stresses are spread equally throughout the frame, and anchored by the keel.
Each element of the lattice is sealing using carbon-fiber-reinforced-polymer, both to further increase strength as well as provide internal compartmentalization against damage and other mishaps. These carbon fiber panels, as well as the lattice spars themselves, carry the central heat distribution system to each compartment and component, while also insulating each compartment from the neighboring compartment's heat generation. For maintenance and repair, the spars and panels may be de-bonded using nanites, and reattached after.
Atop the frame is the hull, composed of two layers of nanodiamond sandwiching a carbon fiber backing plate. The innermost layer of nanodiamond forms the outermost layer of the structural hull, bearing and transmitting the weight of the armor to and from the rest of the ship. The layer of carbon fiber forms a more flexible backing plate for the external armor, and prevents cracks and shattering impacts from affecting the lower structural layer.
The outermost layer serves as armor, as well as a heat dissipation system for the ship. It is laced with nanowires to distribute heat, allowing it to act as an external radiator. Due to the use of molecular bonding between the layers, the outermost armor layer bears some of the ship's stresses while in flight, but the lower hull is designed to withstand these stresses unaided in the event of an armor breach.
The final layer, while not a true part of the hull, is the EMAS coating, which provides the ship its color, as well as providing several other functions. Its optical metamaterial nature allows it to deflect and control laser weaponry, while its photovoltaic nature allows it to absorb energy from laser weapons and ambient light as a supplementary source of power. It is also responsible for reducing the ship's sensor returns, and for altering the ship's external appearance.
Each of the three primary modules are assembled separately, including their hull and armor fittings, and integrated together in the fitting-out yard. Each of the components used, with the exception of a few, are modular and designed to be joined together during construction as needed, allowing habitation spaces to be assembled from modular lengths of corridor and freestanding rooms, and computer and power networks to be assembled from conduits and modular processing systems.
Once a section is ready, it is assigned to a particular fitting-out yard and integrated with the other two modules. The forward weapons and aft engine modules are attached to the keel, slotting on to the ends which extend beyond the central module. They are then bonded into a single piece for rigidity and strength, creating the final ship. At this point, the ship is completed and undergoes brief trials before being delivered to her assigned unit, and donning her assigned unit insignia and the Star Fleet's standard drab green appearance.
Because all of the necessary components are in constant parallel production, estimating a true construction time is difficult. Assembly time for each module is no more than a few hours, depending on the size and complexity of the ship in question, and final integration approximately half this time.
Due to the vast scale in which ships are produced, with several thousand ships per hour being produced throughout the Alliance, efficiency of energy and mass consumption is particularly important. Raw matter is extracted from readily available sources, usually asteroid fields and low-gravity planetoids, and put through a molecular disassembly array, which breaks down and sorts the input aggregate into different elemental storage compartments. Useful elements are immediately processed into the necessary fittings, usually via conventional construction methods, with nanites used for quality control. Replicators, and the fusion or fission of less-useful elements into more useful ones is done only as a supplementary measure, due to its lower energy efficiency.
The armament of most Alliance ships is broken into three general classifications: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Each has a different tactical role, with primary and secondary weapons being designed for anti-ship combat, and tertiary weapons being designed for defensive uses. In addition, many ships equipped with external module slots can supplement their firepower with additional weaponry, forming a 'special' battery. The most common module types are those using weaponry purchased from the United Pokemon Types.
Primary weapons are designed for ship-to-ship combat against a single target or small group of targets, trading firing arcs for firepower. In combat, these weapons are designed to be used against the ship's main target, and it is expected that the ship will maneuver in order to keep these weapons on target, making arcs of less concern. These provide the primary striking power of the ship against other warships, although they are of less use in close combat.
The primary element of most warships' firepower is the neutron cannon, a gravitic linear accelerator firing a relativistic stream of neutrons at the target. For ships of battleship size and smaller, these weapons define the hull's forward shape, being arranged into batteries that commonly take up the entire forward face of the warship, and much of the forward weapons module. For larger super-capital ships and heavy battleships, these tend to be integrated into the forward hull slope, and an additional heavy weapon such as a siege gun is placed along the ship's main axis. The standard neutron cannon is capable of firing up to 30 degrees off-bore, but this still restricts fire to a forward cone.
Supplementing this is the refractive laser battery, which uses the optical metamaterial of the hull coating combined with hull-mounted laser diodes to fire a curved laser shot in an oblique direction. This allows the battery to cover any face of the vessel without the need to slew turrets in the proper direction. The output per-shot is lower than that of the forward cannon battery, but the system provides useful flexibility in engagement options and allows a target to be engaged at any angle until the main cannons can be brought to bear.
Rounding out the standard primary armament is a battery of railguns, designed to accelerate a large slug to relativistic velocities. The standard shot is a copper-coated tungsten round which sheds its copper jacket during firing due to the tremendous heat created via friction. Standard railguns are side-mounted, hidden beneath recessed panels that retract the entire turret when not in use. Due to this, their most common firing arc is on a vertical disc to either side, although some super-capital ships have different arrangements due to their unusual hull geometries.
Some ships, primarily heavy battleships and fire support cruisers, are also equipped with a spinally-mounted gun, usually a much larger hadron accelerator or other such weapon. Super-capital ships are almost always armed with such a weapon, which is the primary reason for their size. While much more powerful than a standard neutron cannon, these weapons usually have an even more restricted firing arc, making them useful against slower-moving targets and at closer range.