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An interstellar vehicle: A spacecraft which has a jump drive and can cross interstellar space. Contrast with spaceship and Small craft. [1]

Starships are designed to carry people from one star system to another, for the purposes of exploration, survey, trade, patrol, raiding, tracking, information gathering, conquest... in a word, adventure. Typically, starships have a large percentage of their volume dedicated to fuel, because the jump drive requires a huge investment in energy to transition to jumpspace. This limits the available space for other uses, severely in the case of ships able to jump long distances, or rejump repeatedly (which is a lifesaver if you can afford the space). Some ships greatly enhance capacity without sacrificing safety by mounting external tanks to the ship known as droptanks.

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Size Classes[edit]

Starship sizes are based on the displacement ton (one ton is 13.5 cubic meters). There are three general size classes of starship: ACS, BCS, and FCS. [2]

ACS: "Adventure"-Class Ships are a smaller class of starships, typically with a crew size ranging from 1 to perhaps two dozen. They range from 100 to 2400 tons.

BCS: "Battle"-Class Ships are larger. Despite the "battle" moniker, some are built for commercial purposes. BCS range from 2500 tons to about 100,000 tons.

FCS: "Fleet"-Class Ships are usually ships of the line, for example dreadnoughts, but the largest commercial ships are also in this range. They displace hundreds of thousands of tons (with a practical maximum of about a million tons; when more tonnage is needed, it is usually more practical to make another ship, thus the "Fleet" designation).

A fourth class exists but is rarely encountered.

WCS: "World"-Class Ships are massive constructs that usually serve as a mobile base for a population (thus the need to make a single ship instead of multiple Fleet Class Ships), such as generation ships. They displace millions of tons or more.

Typical Small Starships[edit]

Most ships are constructed from time-tested design plans and features. The standard small starship designs are:

  1. 100-ton Scout/Courier
  2. 100-ton Prospector
  3. 200-ton Free Trader
  4. 200-ton Far Trader
  5. 200-ton Yacht
  6. 200-ton Safari Ship
  7. 300-ton Touring Ship
  8. 300-ton Armed Packet
  9. 400-ton Corsair
  10. 400-ton Subsidized Merchant
  11. 400-ton Survey Scout
  12. 400-ton Lab Ship
  13. 400-ton Close Escort
  14. 500-ton Patrol Escort
  15. 600-ton Subsidized Liner
  16. 800-ton Mercenary Cruiser
  17. 1000-ton Freighter
  18. 1000-ton Long Liner

Other standard plans may be available at various localities.[1]

Ship Construction[edit]

Primary Attributes[edit]

There are five primary attributes to a ship design. With these attributes, you can infer a lot about a ship -- usually correctly.


Every starship design has a purpose; in Naval parlance, this is the ship's mission. Missions serve as a category index of ships, as well: Scouts, Traders, Cruisers.


The class name of a starship is its second primary attribute. A good ship design deserves a good class name. This name defines all ships of a specific design. Whereas mission defines its purpose, class is shorthand for its look and design. For example, a Beowulf is the specific hull shape of a 200 ton Free Trader.


The third attribute is the ship's size, in tons. The smallest starship possible is 100 tons, while the largest construct which could be considered a starship is hotly debated.


The fourth primary attribute of a ship is its configuration: whether the ship is made out of a planetoid, a loose cluster of components, an unstreamlined hull, streamlined, an airframe, or a lifting body.


The fifth primary attribute has to do with its engineering. In other words, its acceleration, in Gs, followed by its interstellar range, in parsecs.


Most ships are constructed from standard design plans which use time-tested designs and combinations of features. Shipyards work from these plans which cover every detail of construction and assembly. Construction times are measured in months, with larger ships generally taking longer to complete. [1]

Construction and Purchase[edit]

Space ships are constructed and sold at shipyards throughout the galaxy. Any Class A Starport has a shipyard which can build any kind of ship, including a starship with jump drives; any Class B Starport can build a small craft or ships which do not have jump drives. The military procures vessels through these yards, corporations buy their commercial vessels from these shipyards, and private individuals can purchase ships that they have designed through them as well. The major restriction on the purchase of ships is money. [1]

Starship Finance[edit]

Starships are typically financed using various forms of shares and debt:-

  1. The ship is purchased outright by the owner(s) who also operates the ship.
    • The ship is purchased new or
    • The ship is purchased on the second hand market. Typically a ship will depreciate in value by an average of 3.5% per decade.
  2. The ship is leased from the owner: The lease makes the ship's operator responsible for all operating costs (including insurance) for a fixed cost for a fixed term
  3. The ship is chartered from the owner: The owner is responsible for all operating costs for the term of the hire but receives a fixed payment for the period
  4. The ship is held on a hire-purchase basis under an Imperial Ship Mortgage: The bank holds a lien on the vessel until the loan is repaid. If the ship is returned to the bank, the debt is closed. If the payments are not kept up, the ship may be repossessed by the bank.
  5. The ship is loaned to the operator by the owner. The owner is responsible for maintenance and may reimburse some operating costs - The operator is required to perform some service for the owner and is required to return the vessel on request. The IISS operate many of their Detached Duty Scout Ships using this method; some Aslan clans run similar schemes.
  6. The ship is held on a Subsidised Merchant basis. The operator puts up 20% of the purchase cost; the subsidising government pays the rest. But the operator must run the ship between named worlds on a fixed route for 40 years and make over 50% of the gross receipts by the ship for that period. At the end of the period, the ship is taken over by the operator.

Starship Papers[edit]

A starship will typically have the following papers:-

  1. Ownership Papers showing who owns, and has owned the vessel since:
    1. The vessel was commissioned or
    2. The vessel was condemned as a prize (or as salvage) by the Admiralty Court.
  2. Registration Papers showing where the vessel is registered.
  3. Operating License showing permission to operate the vessel has been granted by the owner,
    • This will include details of any lien or operating route restrictions.
  4. Crew Manifest identifying the legally authorised crew of the vessel including name and nationality.
  5. Passenger Manifest identifying the other Sophonts aboard including name and nationality.
  6. Cargo Manifest identifying details of all cargo aboard including the cargo's owner, port of origin and port of delivery.

The identity of the ship on the papers should exactly match the identity shown on the Ship's Transponder.

The Manifests should exactly match what is on the vessel when inspected.

Improper papers can see the ship arrested and the crew detained until the cause of the impropriety is resolved.

Should the Owner, Port of Registry or Manifests reveal that the ship is an enemy of the inspecting polity, or aiding the enemy of the inspecting polity, the ship may be detained and taken to a prize court where it will (eventually) be examined and may be condemned as a prize.

Legal status of a ship[edit]

A starship is a Legal Person and may incur debts and responsibilities as such. The Officers of the ship listed on the crew manifest act for the ship.

Non-Canonical Data[edit]

There is currently no content for non-canonical data.

References & Contributors (Sources)[edit]

This list of sources was used by the Traveller Wiki Editorial Team and individual contributors to compose this article. Copyrighted material is used under license from Far Future Enterprises or by permission of the author. The page history lists all of the contributions.