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The ship in question is a biological lab that is out at sea for isolation and for easy disposal if something goes wrong. The main focus on this ship is a new cell bonding agent that has allowed them to create monsters for military purposes though they are still working on having complete control over the results. The ship has an AI installed that records and monitors the ship.

At the time of the story, the ship houses:

  • Four creatures that range 15-40 feet long and 20-40 feet high
  • A section for designing and making tools such as large shock collars
  • Space for animals to be used as live targets for the monsters
  • Space for food which can include fish from the ocean and water

Each creature's cell has a drain hole so waste can be washed down. I would like it if would only need to be resupplied once every 1 or 2 years. How large would this ship have to be?

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    $\begingroup$ Looks like it has to be a large, nuclear powered ship. "Believable" is a relative term. Many things are believable in comic book universe, but not in more serious political thrillers or sci-fi. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Mar 14, 2022 at 18:51
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    $\begingroup$ I suspect you would need resupply every month or so. I assume the creatures and staff need to eat. To supply them with food produced on ship... would take a lot more ship and crew. I assume oil rig, type scenario. Actually, taking over an old oil rig might be better then a ship $\endgroup$ Mar 15, 2022 at 1:09
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    $\begingroup$ (a) You've asked one question in your title and another in the body of your post. Asking more than one is a reason to close a question (VTC:NMF). Which question do you want answered? (b) The reality-check tag requires you to explain the rules of your world the lab will be judged against. It cannot be the Real World. This seconds @Alexander's comments about the frame of reference we're to use to judge "believable." (Note that if ship size is up to the respondent, then the answer to the body question is always "yes." Just make the ship bigger, store dehydrated food, and have desalination.) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 15, 2022 at 2:22

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Maybe believable for 1 year

Let's go through some of the requirements, working from the lower limit of 1 year of endurance:

  • holding/living area for four monsters, each monster up to 12m high and 12m long, which have to survive for at least one year in this environment
  • holding/living area for enough other animals to allow 1 year of testing - assume 1 test per week per monster and big animals (no need to test kaiju vs rabbit or kaiju vs guinea pig, even kaiju vs polar bear is a foregone conclusion) and allowing for some unplanned deaths, around 250 elephants or equivalent
  • food storage area for 250 elephant equivalents (assuming the monsters live on the meat of the animals they are tested against)
  • testing area large enough to pit kaiju vs elephant
  • human accommodations, workshops, functional areas and food supply
  • propulsion systems, fuel and water desalination/water recycling plant.

Assume that the ship is some combination of nuclear powered / sail powered / spends most time station-keeping / solar powered for daily electricity. Regarding the human requirements, assume a small crew that can fit in around the animal husbandry with a few containers of long-life food, similar to an Antarctic expedition or what is available for purchase by preppers. Essentially, the area below the waterline contains all the propulsion, fuel and food storage for the humans and the human accommodation requires a negligible amount of space above the waterline. As long as the ship can recycle / purify salt water, 1 ton of food per person for a year is easily managed on a ship this large.

Let's work from the dimensions of the largest container ships that exist, treating these as some of the largest ships it is practical to build given the size of existing docks. In round numbers, a length of 400 m and a beam of 60 m and assume maximum deck height of 60 m above the waterline. This is a big ship, but not that large compared to the size of the monsters specified in the question which can be up to 12 m long and 12 m high and need some headroom. Looking at the biggest single area first, let's say that one entire 15 m high level of the ship is dedicated to the testing arena. Then let's say that each monster is put in a 60 m x 90 m x 15 m high living area. These two elements have taken up half of the total volume of the ship above the waterline, yet it's actually quite cramped accommodation - it's the scale equivalent of keeping a German Shepherd in a 4 m x 6 m pen for a year and once each week letting it out into a 4 m x 25 m pen to chase and kill a single rabbit. Not how I would treat my dog!

However, we now need to fit in 250 elephants or equivalent plus their food for a year into the same volume. The numbers will vary with different animals, let's look at African elephants. Assume 150 kg of food per day x 250 elephants x 365 day x 0.5 attrition average requires (rounding up) 7000 tons of food. Create 6 decks, each 5 m high for the elephants and divided in two for a total of 12 areas. Each area is 60 x 180 m and has one extended family of around 21 elephants in it, with the associated food stored in containers within the area. Possibly not acceptable to prevention of cruelty authorities, but probably enough room to keep the elephants alive until they get eaten by the monsters.

Note re fishing: While the crew may want to fish for recreation, adding in the equipment and machinery for large scale fishing and the crew to operate it is a losing proposition here. Similarly, while some insignificant amount of deck area could be used for greenhouses to provide some dietary variety, there definitely is insufficient room to grow enough plants to feed all the test subject animals.

In short - yes, it may be feasible for a year depending on the habits and metabolism of the monsters and the test animals. However, any plausible ship is going to be cramped quarters for monsters this large and keeping both monsters and enough other test animals alive for more than a year without shore leave is probably infeasible. Not to mention that the crew is likely to mutiny after a year stuck on the ship without a break.

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