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STAT THAT SHIP! PART 12- Volga class freighter

bryan gibson

Absent Friend
Now obselete, the Volga was a mainstay of the Novaya Rhodina main lines and was produced in good numbers until it was thankfully replaced by the newer Avrora.

Unlamanted in its loss from regular passenger travel, the Volga was akin to a cruiose on a prison ship - it had none of the amenities other vessels sported ,suffered cramped quarters, no passenger lounge beyond a tiny combined galley, lacking even privacy shields in the lavatories. The standing joke for years was it was the passenger liner people actually paid
higher fares to avoid shipping on.


However, they were incredibly rugged and while it could be said they never seemed to work well, they always worked. They were also very cheap operators ( perhaps explaining their longetivity) but as they were supplented Volgas came onto the used and surplus market in fair numbers and many are now seen traveling the starlanes in the hands of snmall owner /crews operations.

This well traveled example, The Red Dog, is in the hands of a private crew operating it by share and from its hull and graffitti has made landfall at one of the NRs more shady starports on Levrenyi.

TL 10, 200 dtons +/- 10 percent

Image copyright Images Studio 2006
200 Dtons (2,800.000 cubic meters) Flattened Sphere Configuration

Pilot, Engineer, Steward, Medic

Jump-1, 1G Manuever, Power plant-1, 2 EP, Agility 1

Bridge, Model/1 Computer

2 Hardpoints (Empty)

22.000 Tons Fuel (1 parsecs jump and 28 days endurance)
On Board Fuel Scoops, On Board Fuel Purification Plant

6.0 Staterooms, 10 Low Berths, 4 High Passengers, 100 Tons Cargo
Ruggedized J-Drive and M-Drive (4 tons, no additional cost)

COST (Official)
MCr 63.736 (64.373 incl. Architects fees of MCr 0.637), MCr 50.989 in Quantity

Actual Cost (by cutting every corner known to procurement): 41.4 MCr in Quantity

Long the butt of jokes both in and outside of ship crews, the old saw that you could tell which transport company spent the least on security by the number of unservicable transports the day after a Volga lifted bears out the fact that humor is more often based on truth than fiction.

In addition to its (well deserved) reputation of being almost uninhabitable, the Volga has a large number of engineering oddities that have never been adequately explained: The incredibly inefficient engineering spaces, the overall incompatibility of Volga equipment with common starship components, and even the bizzarre placement of the incredibly non-standard "Imperial 3/8 inch" bolts to secure the Drive coil frame into the engineering spaces.

It appears as if the various conspiracy theories have been trumped by reality: In documents dumped to several news networks after his recent death, lead designer Vladamir Nevsky admitted that the primary driver of the Volga project was to build a commercially viable craft from the scores of damaged and decomissioned Cossack-class scouts remnant after the Novaya Rhodina / Red States war. While the Cossack class scout was most lovingly described as "An absolute Piece of S***" by its crews, More than a hundred units were built during the hostilities as the least expensive hull to contain an FTL drive, a sensor array and a crew to hold it together. This alone explains two aparrently unrelated oddities: why the salvage value of such an incredibly poor piece of hardware was so consistently high, and why Cozaar manufacturing (the FTL drive supplier for the Cossack) only shut down a decade ago, more than 20 years after the last Cossack was finally decomissioned: apparently the demand for Volgas was sufficient that new parts needed to be manufactured to be "salvaged" for use in Volga construction.

The main drive elements of the Cossack were remanufactured and upgraded to drive the larger hull of the Volga, and as many components of the Cossack were incorporated into the Volga as possible. In many cases this resulted in electronics and bus connectors simply being left empty, with "null" terminators legendary for becoming unplugged and shorting at the least convenient moments. This explains such disparate issues as why the main sensor bus from the computer had more than twice as many pins as the sensor bus installed in the Volga, and why all of the plumbing for staterooms on two passenger decks were placed on a single deck, next to the main engineering section. To their credit, the engineering team did include a significant amount of ruggedization, which resulted in the loss of a significant amount of space to the engineering section, but since many of the ruggedized components needed to be "off the shelf" to meet budgetary requirements, a significant number of these heavy duty components were originally cannabalized from heavy transport lifters and remachined to mate with the Cossack engineering modules.

Most Volgas still in service vary considerably from their "official" specification.

Common Variants:

1) The most common variant of the Volga entirely eliminate passneger staterooms in favor of additional cargo capacity, obviating the need for a steward. With this retrofit, the better heeled crews strip out all of the staterooms as well as the water and air refreshers, and incorporate updated (read "livable") passenger accomidations. This generally increases cargo capacity by 8-10 dTons, since some space is generally "wasted" on frivolous details like a galley and lounge. Many Volgas also dispense with their compliment of low berths, choosing to concentrate exclusively on hauling cargo, and most that retain their low berths use them for transporting livestock. You have to be desperate to ship as a passenger on a Volga, you have to be truly desperate to ship as a low passenger on a Volga.

2) In the case where the fuel purification plant has malfunctioned (these suffered a roughly 40% failure rate in the first year) they are generally replaced with staterooms. While many have wondered why a fuel purification plant would be placed between the bridge and main engineering, realizing that the engineering section is simply a rebuild of the Cossack class provides a useful clue: the main fuel intake valve is located on the forward bunker of main engineering, and moving that valve would have been more expensive than rerouting the main access corridor. If the purification plant is removed, these staterooms are generally occupied by the captain, engineer and medic (with the engineer and medic double-bunking) since their proximity to main engineering means that they are close enough to the water recycling system to have seperate freshers, a vast improvement over the remaining staterooms. While normally this would leave the steward trapped in one of the abysmally bad staterooms included on the original design, as noted above the cabins for "high passengers" are generally only occupied by the truly desperate, and their elimination obviates the "steward" position. For those wondering why the purification equipment has not been removed from all Volga class ships, the answer is fairly simple: this appears to be a component that is either indestructable or irreperable, so the remaining units (some in excess of 40 years old) are incredibly reliable and maintenance free.

3) Since the Volga uses many of the cpomponents of the Cossack class scout, several have been retrofitted with enhanced electronics and sensor suites for scientific survey in remote areas. These vessels are invariably armed, and often carry an auxilary powerplant to handle the increased load of the weapons systems, sensor packages and scientific equipment. While these survey craft have an outward resembelance to the Volga class, the normal "conversion" process strips them to the frame members and rebuilds most of the decks to a configuration that is more livable for long-term surveys. These configurations typically carry 10 or more staterooms, lab space, a small craft (generally a cutter) minimal cargo and enough fuel for three consecutive FTL transits. In addition they will often carry an "auxilary" FTL drive considerably more capable than the "main" unit. Note that the main unit is always retained as an emergency backup, since these have been know to operate for over a year without any engineering maintenance.

4) Unsubstantiated rumors persist that one or more of the "survey" cossacks have been completely gutted and rebuilt as covert operations vessels, complete with reenforced hulls, advanced fire control and a fighter bay. Obviously these reports are complete conjecture, as any reconfiguration of this type would be obvious to the casual observer.

Scott Martin
I just coulodn't resist this one: If Han Solo had been a NR citizen, his ship (the Maltese Falcon?) would have been a Volga...

...at least originally

I would expect that "Used" Volgas would be in the ballpark of ~20 Mcr. It might be fun to try and find one in decent condition, since the "new" ones would be likely to break due to shoddy manufacture, and any really old ones would be just about ready to fall apart.

"Looking for a Volga with working fuel purification plant: must be between 16 and 24 years old, with original staterooms and environmental system replaced..."

Scott Martin
Nice writeup scott, I'd feel embarrassed trying to match it, so I'll stick with just the stats.

Hull: 200 dTon Wedge (Streamlined)
Armor: AR2
Tech Level: 10
Computer: Model 1 (with Fibre Optic Backup)

Jump Drive Rating: 1
Maneveur Drive Rating: 2
Power Plant: 4EP
Agility: 0
Fuel Tanks: 24 dTon (1x Jump-1 + 4 weeks operation)

1x Triple Missile Turret USP 2
1x Triple Sandcaster Turret USP 5
Sand Cannister Storage (12)
Missile Magazine (18 missiles)

Cargo: 80 dTon
Maximum Life Support: 32 persons

8x Staterooms
1x Fresher

1x Pilot
1x Astrogator
1x Engineer
2x Crewman

Resilience Features
--- Lightly Armored
--- Backup computer system
No Subcraft
No Fuel scoops or purification
No Engineering facilities
No Medical facilities
No differentiation between crew/passenger quarters
However, they were incredibly rugged and while it could be said they never seemed to work well, they always worked.
How very....Russian!

That's my kind of ship. Tough, cheap and simple. I really like the lines on it too - practical, like a brick. It makes the Avrora (STT 11) look quite poncey!