Interviews

How to create an indestructible ship: Q&A with Death Star manufacturer and Spock relative

8 min read

22 December 2015

Away from earthly proceedings Jonathan Cooper-Bagnall, EVP and commercial director at Proxima, took an extra-terrestrial turning into neutral universe to speak to Fango Jett, one of the surviving members of the Death Star (mark II) construction team and under an alias so as to protect him from the latest Sith Lord Kylo Ren, and Skek, a relative of USS Enterprise first officer Spock.

The Galactic Empire Construction (GEC) team have been facing a lot of criticism lately for their inability to build a Death Star that is truly indestructible. The Vulcans on the other hand have cleaned up during the annual “Starwards” season, taking home all the Grand Prix Construction awards. Jonathan wanted to know more about their different approaches.

Fango Jett, to start with, can you tell me a bit about the Death Star (mark I)?

We built the Death Star with interplanetary conquest in mind. The construction of the ship considered many conventional space-construction methodologies and our Supreme Commander of the Imperial Fleet, Darth Vader, hired many space contractors for the project. 

Moonlighting as an accountant, Darth Vader understood the need to control costs and as such created a central procurement operation to ensure that costs didn’t spiral out of control.

As Supreme Commander, Lord Vader laid down the procurement law and turned up his nose at a collaborative approach: he certainly wasn’t willing to accept that procurement or suppliers could offer anything more than savings or cost reductions. Anyone challenging Lord Vader’s conventional view of procurement was metaphorically, and actually, strangled. I would say that the Death Star (mark I) was built just like every other ship in the galaxy.

Great! And did it fulfil its purpose?

Not really, no! Problems first arose when the Death Star was attacked by one of the Imperial Force’s hottest talent prospects that Lord Vader was actively trying to recruit – Luke Skywalker. Skywalker worked with some industry whistleblowers who were fed up with the poor working conditions imposed by our Lord. He was able to attain full schematics to the Death Star and given the conventional approach to the ship’s design, was able to find a weak spot and destroy it with relative ease. That was a bit of a shocker.

And so the next step was to build a bigger and better version of the Death Star?

We were all reeling from the destruction of the Death Star (mark I). I mean, it was supposed to be indestructible, right? But luckily, Lord Vader didn’t spare any expense and set out to build an even bigger, more powerful ship – the Death Star (mark II). He ordered the best parts from around the galaxy and assembled the best construction team. Unfortunately, none of the original engineers were involved in this second project as those who didn’t die in the attack were strangled during their performance review. Using the same conventional design, it took us ten years to build Death Star (mark II) but we were all amazed at the achievement.

Skek, what was your reaction when you visited Death Star (mark II)?

I couldn’t believe my eyes, and not in a good way. Not only did Lord Vader fail to learn from his previous mistakes, he didn’t seize the opportunity to take a new approach to Procurement.

Why is that important?

My relative Spock saw the demise of too many “indestructible” ships during his time on the USS Enterprise. One night Spock and Captain Kirk enjoyed a tumbler of Vulcan brandy or two and spoke about their desire for a ship that was agile, strong, and sustainable and that would stand the test of time. They started looking for a new approach and came across a new method.

We’d never seen anything like it. It enabled them to view the construction project from a multitude of different angles. The entire process was supercharged as if it was travelling at Warp eight speed and brought all of our suppliers to the heart of the operation right at the start of the construction planning and design phase.

An unknown supplier from three moons away brought a critical idea to the table. They had just come up with a wonderful time/space-folding contraption that, in the event of imminent destruction, would allow the ship to go back in time and change the course of action towards safety. I can’t tell you how many times that one device has got us out of trouble.

It sounds like Lord Vader should have used that contraption with his Death Star.

Exactly my point! We just didn’t understand why someone would spend his entire budget on the reconstruction and stay completely oblivious to the existence of this new time travel device. Then again, I suppose the supplier would have met a fate worse than death if he had gone against Lord Vader’s conventions.

Fango Jett: Our Supreme Leader was a brilliant accountant, but he put the cost of business in the short-term ahead of business value in the long-term. When you have been at the losing end of key battles, these things start to matter. It’s no surprise really that Death Star (mark II) ended up destroyed just like its predecessor.

Could the destruction of Death Star (mark II) have been prevented in your opinion, Fango Jett?

Yes, I suppose so. We may have overlooked the potential of mutiny within the leadership ranks. We all thought Lord Vader was a “lifer”, you see. Perhaps we didn’t do enough due diligence in terms of whether building a military battle station was really what everyone in the Empire wanted.

When Lord Vader betrayed us and overthrew Emperor Palpatine, this allowed the rebel forces to overthrow the Death Star. We were just kicking ourselves! All that effort gone to waste. If we’d had access to this time travel device, we would have been able to take a different course of action and achieve our mission of interplanetary conquest.

So what’s next for you?

There is a rumour going around that we might have to start all over again now Kylo Ren is in charge. I’ve heard that the threat of strangulation no longer exists for construction workers, but we’ll see. Personally I am hoping that Kylo Ren will take a best-practice approach as Skek and his people have demonstrated. Hopefully, we won’t be as vulnerable to the Force as the last two times.