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The Fleet Ship designs, strategies, and tactics.

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Old July 10th, 2017, 04:10 PM
Chaos Chaos is offline
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Default Container Transports

In the real world, most cargo (that isnīt either a liquid or bulk cargo) is transported by ship in container - standardized containers, to be precise, which can be carried on ships, rail cars and trucks without having to transfer the contents of the container. As you can probably guess, this *hugely* simplifies loading and unloading of cargo in ports, since the most time-consuming part - putting the cargo into the containers and removing it at the destination - does not have to take place while the cargo ship is in port, thus minimizing the time it spends taking up valuable space in a port (and incurring costs to the operator while tied up to a pier)
FWIW the closest thing to a standard container is the TEU, "Twenty foot Equivalent Unit", most commonly 20x8x8.5 feet, or roughly equivalent to 3 dTons.

Then thereīs the LASH concept - meaning Light Aboard SHip. A LASH ship that cannot (or for some reason *does not*) enter port can use lighters, i.e. small craft aboard which move cargo between ship and shore, to load or unload its own cargo. At minimum, this supplements lighter capacity provided by the port; it also enables the ship to load and unload cargo in ports that are too small for the ship and enter and at the same time too undeveloped to operate a useful number of lighters, or even any lighters at all.

I think the concept of containers is too useful for it not to be picked up for interstellar cargo transports. To begin with, most cargo will come in containers of various sizes, probably sized in dTon increment, the 1 dTon container being the smallest. For ease of use, containers would most likely be designed to be easily assembled and disassembled, so that empty containers could be transported flat-packed rather than fully assembled, saving a *lot* of space (and cargo fees).

The nearest thing Traveller already has to a LASH concept is the Modular Cutter and its cargo module; a 30 dTon container is a bit large, but I can easily see smaller containers being constructed in such a way that they fit together to produce something the size and shape of a 30 dTon container out of, for example, thirty 1 dTon containers, which could then be carried by a Modular Cutter. Call this the CASH concept if your want - Cutter Aboard SHip.

While tramp freighters handling low volumes of cargo, such as those operated by player characters, would mostly still land on worlds and have small containers loaded into their cargo bays the old-fashioned way, high volume cargo transport, such as between high population core worlds, would take a different shape with the CASH concept. Loaded 30 dTon cargo modules, or smaller containers assembled into a 30 dTon unit, would be picked up at the starport by cutters and taken to the ships, and delivered from the ship to the starport at their destination.
The ships themselves could very well be dispersed structures - a bridge and crew quarters on one end, engine room and drives at the other, with cutter bays on either or both ends, and the main portion of the ship is little more than a spine connecting the two parts, with LOTS of attachment points for cargo modules.

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