Merchant Vessel (Starship) Synopsis
A Merchant is an individual or ship engaged primarily in trade and commerce.
Merchant ships range in size from small 200 ton Far and Free Trader class ships to large liners and cargo vessels of up to 10,000 tons displacement. The crews of these ships are also referred to as Merchants.
 Merchant Vessel (Starship) Vessel Classifications
Merchant Ship Types include the following:
|Armored Merchant||Any starship used for interstellar trade, and commerce that has been set up with weapon systems for defense.|
|Far Trader||A Far Trader is a small starship commonly used for interstellar trade and commerce that is capable of jump 2. Hundreds of variants exist. The typical size equals 200 tons.|
|Free Trader||A Far Trader is a small starship commonly used for interstellar trade and commerce that is capable of jump 1. Hundreds of variants exist. The typical size equals 200 tons.|
|Frontier Trader||A heavily armed transport normally doing business with fringe systems.|
|Luxury Liner||A starship liner equipped for sumptuous living, primarily for transporting passengers|
|Merchant Cruiser|| A generic term applied to vessels specifically assigned to independent missions, the prime objective of which is market discovery and acquisition, either in isolation or in competion with other merchant operators. Design parameters for such vessels usually include a high level of weaponry and auxiliary boats in proportion to their cargo capacity and all possible back-up systems, along with high structural integrity.
Also called an Armed Merchantman, as merchant cruisers are unusally armed. A starship merchant primarily intended for independent cruising in undeveloped trade areas where high survivability is also a design factor.
|Merchant Liner||Merchant Liners are general-purpose design starships, intended to carry both passengers and freight. They are larger than the Far Traders intended for cargos over 200 tons and over a dozen passengers|
|Subsidized Liner||A starship primarily for transporting passengers and mail subsidized by local government.|
|Subsidized Merchant|| In subsidized commerce, a local government (or a group of several worlds) agree to subsidize the construction of commercial starships in return for their servicing established routes. Ideally, the route will be profitable, and the subsidy can soon be ended. But, even without profits, the route provides a channel for interstellar trade, helping to provide markets for resources and finished goods as well as, enabling people from different world to share their cultures.
Typically, governments expect subsidized merchants to try to establish routes to make at least marginal profits to diminish the government expense burden. Although individual ports of call may not always provide sales at high margins, at least initially, the ultimate goal is to make the ship self-sufficient. Unfortunately all subsidized merchants are not all profitable and these ships may be recipients of government subsidies for years. Governments have to factor in the benefits derived from the established routes against the costs of maintaining the subsidy. This often becomes the deciding factor with somewhat isolated worlds with limited markets.
|Bulk Cargo Carrier||Bulk cargo haulers are like many other merchant vessels but their focus is on transporting freight. They often operate over well known, long establish routes. They are often contracted directly to companies with most or all their capacity used for moving that company's products.|
|Tanker||Tankers may be merchants, but are more likely to be like a bulk cargo hauler, being contracted directly to a company. Where they differ is the product they move is either a liquid or gas. These ships vary drastically in tonnage, and may be found in virtually any system. Many of smaller tankers can be found servicing in-system needs, and some of the larger tankers may find themselves contracted to the navy, especially when the local fleet lacks sufficient organic lift capability of its own.|