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The DiGroat Packet Line

This article was originally posted to the pre-magazine website in 2007, and reprinted in the February/March 2015 and May/June 2019 issues.


Headquartered on the Imperial border system of Grote/Glisten, the DiGroat Packet Line operates tightly scheduled transports between that world and the Caladbolg, Glisten, and Strouden systems. The fact that those three systems are part of the Imperial X-boat network is no coincidence as the line’s vessels are meant to carry information first, with passengers and freight second. The line currently flies six vessels, each capable of jump-4. There are four 1,500 dTon packets, a single 1,000 dTon “swing” packet, and a single 400 dTon courier which is leased from the Marches Auxiliary Naval Service.

Current Operations

The DiGroat Packet Line is a wholly owned subsidiary of DiGroat Holdings, LIC. Grote’s Clan Addakumak is the majority shareholder of that parent company; however, several other clans, individuals, and companies hold positions in the firm, too. As with all DiGroat Holdings subsidiaries, Clan Addakkumak observes an extremely strict policy with regards to operation of the line. The Clan and its businesses receive no favors, price breaks, or other considerations when dealing with DPL. This policy has stood the Addakkumak well for centuries, first being applied to Grote’s Herreshoff Yards prior to the Third Frontier War, and is the centerpiece of the clan’s reputation as fair, if sharp, business dealers.

The hallmark of DPL’s operations is the tight scheduling of its transport’s flights. Every 400 hours, a DPL packet leaves Grote for Strouden or Glisten, and every 400 hours, a packet leaves those two worlds for Grote.

Also, every 400 hours, the DPL courier will leave either Grote or Caladbolg for the other system. A packet departs when it is due to depart. Only equipment breakdowns can affect the schedule, empty staterooms or empty cargo holds do not matter.

The line’s Strouden route passes through Havrosette. DPL owns part of an orbital refueling/resupply business in that system to support its operations there. The Glisten route passes through Weiss where a Class A starport and its orbital components are available. There is no intermediate stop on the Caladbolg route so no support on that route is required.

DPL’s four 1,500-dTon Viscount Rhyl-class transports fly the Strouden and Glisten routes exclusively. Laid down after the Fifth Frontier war, these vessels are each capable of jump-4 and 1G acceleration. The line’s sole 1,000 dTon packet, the nearly one hundred year old Gertrude K. Skib, has the same drive performance. Acting as the firm’s “swing ship”, Skib fills in on the Glisten and Strouden routes whenever the other packets require maintenance downtime. The same vessel also flies the Caladbolg route four times each standard year while Zaunkoenig, DPL’s 400-dTon courier, flies the Caladbolg route solely.

Every DPL ship carries a communications suite modeled on the IISS systems found aboard X-boats and tenders. These suites are backed up by extensive data storage modules. Those modules are theoretically capable of storing upwards of 500 hours of X-boat message traffic but they rarely do so in practice. Instead, a portion of this data storage is rented by various commercial concerns, concerns which range in size up to megacorporations. The security surrounding these data modules is quite high.

Passenger accommodations aboard DPL’s packets are officially limited to double occupancy middle passages. Passage is also officially sold on a first come basis. Naturally, there are occasional exceptions to this and DPL will try to accommodate passengers with certain status. Passages already sold will bought back at a premium to create however many single staterooms are required and the stewards will be instructed to cater to the occupants. None of the packets have dedicated low berth facilities. Low berths and their occupants are carried between systems as freight, however, so the number of low passages on any given trip will vary.

DPL almost never engages in any speculative trading, although they routinely carry speculative goods as freight for other parties. Nearly all the freight the line carries is of some priority, usually unique or irreplaceable high-tech goods and equipment, and thus is freighted at a premium. This is where DPL’s tight scheduling pays off; customers who absolutely require certain items by a certain time can depend on the line to deliver.

Nearly all of the passengers and freight the line handles are moved along the Glisten and Strouden routes. While the Caladbolg courier only carries small parcels and carefully vetted passengers, DPL’s larger “swing” packet does fly the Caladbolg route four times each year.


The end of the Third Frontier War found Grote newly admitted to the Imperium and economically devastated. The Sacnotian Occupation had lasted longer than the war and during that period many of the system’s mercantile clans had either fled or gone bankrupt while most of the population had either left already or was planning on leaving. The Addakkumak, returning to Grote to rebuild their economic empire, worried constantly that they would not be able to pull the system out of its downward spiral.

It was immediately apparent that Grote’s post-war economy would require strong links with the Imperial economy it had formerly kept at arm’s length. If this reconstruction and rebuilding were to succeed, businesses on Grote would need timely information about Imperial markets, policies, and politics. Accordingly, the Addakkumak launched a private data service by mid-990. The service initially flew jump-3 routes to Marastan and Caladbolg with the express purpose of connecting Grote with the Imperium’s X-boat network. The Addakkumak regularly sold data space and small cargo aboard the vessels while following their strict “No Preferences” policy because any economic growth in the system was by definition good.

The system’s economy had rebounded enough by the mid-990s for a jump-3 route between Grote and Forine to be added. At this point, the Addakkumak reorganized the data service into a fast packet service. The new company, DiGroat Packet Line, was a subsidiary of DiGroat Holdings LIC from the first and investments by clans and individuals on Grote were solicited. The additional capital, plus a growing economy, allowed the new company to begin a scheduled 1000-hour service between Grote and Glisten with jump-3 vessels.

DPL began its first jump-4 service between Grote and Glisten in 1000 with vessels that flew an 800-hour schedule. The line’s Marastan service was dropped the same year.

In 1022, DPL began 400-hour, jump-4 service between Grote and Glisten with three Hamtramck-class packets built for that purpose. Jump-4, 400-hour service between Grote and Strouden followed in 1025 with an additional three Hamtramcks.

Built with the help of the Marches Auxiliary Naval Service, nearly all six vessels of the Hamtramck class proved to be successful ships. The MANS subsidies meant that DPL’s packets could be imperialized at need. Hamtramck herself was lost to enemy action during the 5th Frontier War, while Clawson suffered a major action during the 4th Frontier War. Only one of the vessels is still in service with DPL, the “yard queen” Gertrude K. Skib. The other three have been sold to governments and businesses in Foreven and the Trojan Reaches.

DPL’s jump-3 Forine route was dropped in 1071 when the political climate on Forine meant service to that system was no longer profitable. The final jump-3 route, which serviced Caladbolg, was replaced with jump-4 service after the 4th Frontier War with the purchase of the courier Zaunkoenig.

After 1111, with the loss of Hamtramck, the purchase of the courier, the abandonment of Forine service, and Grote’s growing economy, the four vessels of the 1,500 dTon Viscount Rhyl-class were laid down, replacing the older packets as they became available. Like their predecessors, the new packets also received a MANS construction subsidy.

Editor’s Note: Specifications for the Hamtramck- and Viscount Rhyl-class Provincial Packets appeared in the Feb/Mar 2015 issue and may be found in the Shipyard’s Classic Traveller Designs section.