Idris Revamped and Reclassified to Frigate
(Citizen Star News) - 2014-03-29 - Hand in hand with the release of Jump Point #16 release that focuses on the Work In Progress revamped Idris, Chris Roberts released a surprise COMM-LINK declaring that the frequently controversial capital ship had been reclassified a size larger to Frigate. Many had argued that the increased size disclosed recently changed the ships classification. Apparently CIG agreed, but held off saying so until they were prepared to make the reclassification official. As Rob Irving said when asked, it is a Corvette until Chris Robert's says otherwise. CIG plans to design and deliver an actual Corvette at some point.
"Everyone who owned an Idris corvette yesterday owns an Idris frigate today." ~ Chris Roberts
Jump Point #15 titled "Corvette Winter" had detailed some of the ships design covering a growth from 80 meters to 180. Jump Point #16 "Birth of a Frigate", picks up where Foundry 42 takes over the ship as it is discovered that the Idris was designed for a prototype Hornet that was smaller than it ended being in the Hangar. This kicked off a round of redesigns. After adding facilities needed for the Squadron 42 plotline and several critiques from Chris Roberts, the design ended up as an impressive 240 meters as previously reported.
Oddly enough, in spite lengthening -- the overall effect of the art shows a proportionally wider ship. It definitely beefed up.
It should be noted that the distinction between Frigate and Corvette is actually rather small in modern terms, some navies don't have both. A select passage from the Frigate's wikepedia page attempts to disambiguate:
Modern frigates are related to earlier frigates only by name. The term "frigate" was readopted during the Second World War by the Royal Navy to describe an anti-submarine escort vessel that was larger than a corvette, smaller than a destroyer, and were about equal in size and capability with the American destroyer escort. Anti-submarine escorts had previously been classified as sloops by the Royal Navy, and the Black Swan-class sloops of 1939–1945 were as large as the new types of frigate, and more heavily armed. Twenty-two of these were reclassified as Frigates after the war, as were the remaining 24 smaller Castle class corvettes.
The frigate was introduced to remedy some of the shortcomings inherent in the corvette design: limited armament, a hull form not suited to open-ocean work, a single shaft which limited speed and maneuverability, and a lack of range. The frigate was designed and built to the same mercantile construction standards (scantlings) as the corvette, allowing manufacture by yards unused to warship construction. The first frigates of the River class (1941) were essentially two sets of corvette machinery in one larger hull.
There is not a lot we can draw from this as far as a role change is concerned. Anti-submarine warfare is presumably not going to be the Idris' main role. It's interesting that the range of the Corvette was one of the "selling" features but the frigate is supposed to be longer ranged. Frigates seem to be more escort focused than Corvettes.
So far, no additional changes accompany the reclassification (other than previously announced). The stats clearly have to change, but they aren't finished yet so are holding off. The ship has been passed off from Foundry 42 back to CGBot for in (graphics) engine detailing and finishing. The focus now is on the Dog Fighting Module and once that is at least closer to shipping, they may give us an update. Also note that the Jump Point Idris features are said to be spread over three issues. It would make sense if the next Idris feature wraps the ship up with a bow and new stats.
This month's Jump Point feature details the struggle to scale the ship up and get it to retain it's iconic look. There's not too much in the way of operational details, but we do see the ship now has dual hallways running down it's length rather than the original central hallway. Also there are crawlspaces running throughout the ship. Plenty of places to hide, it seems. Could be quite interesting during boarding actions. Be sure to avoid letting a xenomorph loose in your ship, as clearing one out would definitely be a chore.
The frigate retains landing gear, and there has been no announced changes to it's ability to land or be able to safely log off.
As far as we can tell, the ship still has the same 2 active Hornets (or roughly equivalent ships) and 1 spare, but the hangar deck was not shown in detail so they may be holding something back there. There is a new "utility ship" with modules to support Retrieval of of EVA and Ejected pilots, Outer hull repair, Cargo Hauling and Personnel transport. The utility ship is launched from it's own hangar tucked into the belly of the ship.
Rooms detailed in the Jump Point article include Mission Ops/Briefing Room, Captain's Quarters, Crew Quarters, Brig, Storeroom, Armory, Infirmary, Reactor/Power Cell Room, Escape Pods, Missile Loading Bay, Hangar Deck, STS (Ship-To-Ship) Turret, and Utility Ship Hangar (below the hangar deck). Varying levels of detail, but some look utterly stunning. Executive Officer (aka First Officer or XO) is mentioned as having similar quarters to the captain's but a bit smaller.
What We Don't Know: Crew Compliment
No new statements on required or optimal crew have been made in the Jump Point features nor the COMM-LINK. There are, however, hints in the "Birth of a Frigate" Jump Point feature. The briefing room is listed as having 3 rows of 5 seats (concept art looks more like 3x7 though when I look closely), later on the same page it seems to have been cut down to 9 seats. Far more than what's needed for the small fighter wing, but is intended to accomodate a good chunk of the crew of the Idris, according to the notes given. Crew Quarters are designed with bunks for up to twenty-four crewman, and there are Captain and XO quarters in addition. So 26 including the two Hornet pilots. It's unclear how many of these crew have to be able to be at their stations for the ship to function, or whether these are "watches", with a smaller number meaning to be at posts at appointed times of the day. Increased size certainly would indicate a larger "max crew" rating in the specs (currently at 10 for the 140 meter Corvette) and brings into question whether or not the ships would be able to be flown with a single player and his NPC crew. CIG had earlier said this would be possible with the Idris. But in the 10th Episode of his show 10 for the Chairman, Chris Roberts stated he wasn't sure if that would remain the case and he was leaning toward a change. It should be noted the question referred to "solo-ing" the Idris, Chris responds by commenting on how capable the ship would be, and that he's leaning toward needing friends to operate "properly". There is a lot of grey area between "needing other players to fly" and being optimally crewed with one PC and a crew of NPC hirelings.
Jump Point features are often made available as COMM-LINKs after a month or more.
 Clearest statement of Idris fully NPC crewed, from Official Forums: Ask Our Lead Designer: Rob Irving.
Q: I'm planning on buying and owning some form of capital ship in game, but I don't have large amounts of friends that will play the game too often, so will I be able to hire an NPC crew, and will they be able to man the ship with me as the only human player on board. For example, if I were to own an Idris. Would I be able to captain it and have the other 9 crew slots filled by NPC characters, who would then operate turrets and other stations?
Rob (Dev): Yes, NPC crew members have been confirmed already.
It should be noted that this was shortly prior the last Idris sale. The question was asked by someone to help to determine whether or not to pledge for the ship. Many have cited this comment as part of their reason to commit to owning an Idris.