Department of Flight Studies:
Freighters and Transport Studies
Welcome to the third course in the Starship Studies Series. Capital starships and Starfighters have been the topics of discussion in the previous courses. This course will discuss the freighters and transports that are the backbone of the galactic economy. Freighters and transports are vital to both civilian and military interests, and many are versatile enough to fulfill a variety of roles. As with its sister courses, this course will offer selected examples of each type of ship discussed, but there is a wide variety of other examples beyond those in this course.
II-Classification and Purpose
First and foremost, it must be made clear that the terms ‘freighter’ and ‘transport’ are almost completely interchangeable with one another, and very often people will use them in this manner. As a general rule of thumb, all freighters are transports, but not all transports are freighters. Freighters carry (haul, or transport) freight: large quantities of items to be sold. When referring to a transport, it is often implied that living beings are being transported.
The line between the two, however, is blurry and so a clear definition may never be made, and vessels may even change designations from time to time. For example, when Han Solo was hauling spice for Jabba the Hutt, he was carrying freight. When he was providing passenger service to Obi-wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker, he was transporting passengers; same ship, two different roles. Throughout this course, and on the exam, the terms can and will be used interchangeably.
The classification of a transport is based off two factors: interior design and overall size. For example, shuttles are not freighters because they are designed to carry passengers and they are generally not very large. On the other hand, BFF-1 bulk freighters aren’t designed to carry passengers; instead, they transport large quantities of goods and are fairly large. Very often, large cargo carrying vessels are referred to as freighters, while smaller cargo vessels are referred to as transports. In the next section, the various types of freighters and transports will be discussed in greater detail. However, it should be noted that one cannot determine the class of a cargo vessel simply by looking at the length and cargo capacity (cargo capacity is always expressed in metric tons, and/or the number of passengers).
Whether serving as a civilian vessel or a military vessel, all freighters and transports have a sole primary purpose: to haul goods and/or people from on location to the next. This may seem to be simplistic, but it is the truth. However, as we will see, these vessels can sometimes also be quite effective in other roles.
One final note about classifications: those transports and freighters that meet or exceed the 100 meter minimum length of capital starships should not be referred to as such. Even if they are serving a military purpose, the transports are not warships.
III-Production, Sale, and Lifespan
Transports and freighters are produced by a variety of companies throughout the galaxy. Even companies such as Sienar Fleet Systems and Kuat Drive Yards, which focus almost exclusively on military ships, have produced transports for civilian use. However, they have never had any major success with the ships.
Corellian Engineering Corporation, one of the big three starship manufacturers (the others being Sienar and Kuat), is probably the most prolific transport and freighter producer in the galaxy. Their designs can be found throughout the galaxy and in use by legal and illegal factions alike.
Another prominent manufacturer of transports is Ubrikkian Transports, a branch of Ubrikkian Industries. Ubrikkian Transports sold both atmospheric only and space capable vessels, and had a large share of the luxury yacht market. The Ubrikkian company also did business with the Empire, as well as being rather popular with the Hutts.
Sales of transports and freighters are conducted almost every day at every level. From the independent seller to large, multi-ship contracts, the transport and freighter business remains lucrative. Almost all of these ships are sold in stock condition, meaning they have no modifications and come only with what the manufacturer provides. Very often, governments will restrict the amount and type of weapons, as well as the hyperdrive speed, available on stock freighters. The Galactic Empire was notorious for this.
One way around this was the produce easily modified ships, something which Corellian ships were known for. This led to a profitable parts business, and companies such as Koensayr (which also provided parts during manufacture) could make a fortune on this market.
One final note: the lifespan of a shuttle or transport could easily be decades or longer. For example, the Theta class shuttles, eventually replaced by the Lambda class shuttles after the Clone Wars, were in service for centuries. Corellian CR90 corvettes have been around since well before the Clone Wars, and remain in service to this day. This is not to say that an individual ship will last this long, but rather that the design lasts this long.
There are hundreds of freighter/transport designs in the galaxy, but all of them will fit into one of the following categories: passenger vessels, light transports, medium transports, and heavy transports.
A. Passenger Vessels
Passenger transports are those vessels that have a primary, or sole, purpose to transport people, often with limited cargo space sufficient only for the passengers’ goods. This category includes shuttles, yachts, and passenger liners.
Shuttles: Shuttles are by far the most common passenger transports as they are fairly cheap and used by civilian and military elements alike. Shuttles vary in size from the small TIE shuttle (which resembles a TIE bomber) to the massive Corellian Star Shuttle. Perhaps the most common shuttle is the Lambda-class T-4a shuttle. Shuttles often have little or no weapons since they are not intended as combat vessels. One notable exception to this rule is the Delta-class JV-7 escort shuttle, which boasted heavy shields, missile launchers, and a rear mounted turbolaser.
Yachts: Yachts are luxury vessels owned primarily by those wealthy enough to afford them. Because of their speed, a few smugglers are known to use them, but they lack the cargo space of similarly sized freighters and transports, so their use by criminal elements is rare, save for crime lords such as Jabba the Hutt who preferred to move about in luxury. SoroSuub was a major builder of yachts, building such famous models as the Luxury Yacht 3000 and the Horizon-class.
Non-SoroSuub yachts included the Baudo-class star yacht, popular amongst young rich kids, and the Starwind-class pleasure yacht.