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Salvage, Prizes and Repairs

This article originally appeared in Cepheus Journal #002 and is reprinted here and in the July/August 2021 issue with permission.

Salvage Money for Recovery or Assistance in Peril:

In order to claim salvage, the following points must be met:

If a ship is rescued (or diverted) under these circumstances, the rescuer may claim salvage. Salvage is awarded at a Salvage Court, with representatives of the System Authorities, the Ship Owners, those seeking Salvage, and in some cases the System Authorities from where the ship is registered. Salvage Courts are normally located at the Sector Capital, or larger systems in a Sector or SubSector may have their own Courts.

Normally the salvage value is based on a baseline of 25% of the replacement value of the ship and cargo, less the costs of repairs (if carried out by the owner), or plus the cost of repairs (if carried out by the rescuer). But this is subject to the degree of peril (so sending an engineer to help repair a simple drive failure, when the orbit is only decaying slowly, would attract negative DMs, whereas fighting off pirates with loss of life or damage to the rescuer would attract positive DMs). The normally accepted maximum is one-third of the value of the ship and cargo. In the case of avoiding a disaster from a wreck, additional DMs can apply due to the scale of disaster avoided. The maximum is 50% of the value of the ship and cargo when it was fully functional.

Insurance and Legal Process

Salvage Courts can take a long time to reach a verdict (2D6 months). If the ship is insured, the insurance company may pay more quickly, but to a lesser degree (usually no more than 20%).

Salvage Value Index
2D Salvage Index 2D Salvage Index 2D Salvage Index
2 0.10 6 0.24 10 0.28
3 0.20 7 0.25 11 0.30
4 0.22 8 0.26 12 0.50
5 0.23 9 0.27  

Salvage Example

A small Yacht suffers a drive failure off a gas giant during refuelling. They roll to repair the drive but fail, needing a vital spare part that they don’t have. The orbit is decaying rapidly, and the antigrav vehicle on board will not be able to carry the crew to safety. As a result, the Captain broadcasts a Mayday message for help. A Trader comes to their assistance and is able to repair the drive, with spares from their ship.

The Trader crew claims salvage. Both sides trade certified copies of their sensor data and logs and report in due course to the Salvage Court. The Yacht’s mortgage company offers 20% of the value as an insurance payment, plus Cr 10,000 for the spares and repair. The Trader crew turns them down, being prepared to wait.

After the Court hearing, some 8 months later, the eventual award was 22% (the Court decided that there was very little hazard to the Trader, so a DM of -3 was applied). The value of the Yacht and cargo (MCr 30 and 8 tons of luxury textiles cargo at Cr 12,000 per ton) is Cr 30,096,000. Add to that the value of the repairs carried out by the Trader at Cr 10,000. The total is Cr 30,106,000. The Salvage Money is therefore Cr 6,623,320.

Prize Money for Pirate Ships

In order to claim Prize Money, the ship claimed must have committed a hostile act. Failure to stop when legally ordered to, does not constitute a hostile act, unless in breach of a formally constituted blockade. Small craft and lifeboats fleeing their parent craft are considered part of the parent craft, for prize purposes.

If a ship is captured under these circumstances, the captor may claim Prize money. Prize money is awarded by a Prize Court. Representatives of the Authority offering Prize money, those seeking the Prize money and possibly a representative from the System Authorities may be present. Prize Courts are normally located in the system offering Prize Money.

Normally, the Prize value is based on a baseline of 50% of the auction value of the ship and cargo, less the costs of repairs. This is subject to any rules or incentives offered by the Polity offering any Prize money. There is no accepted maximum value for Prizes. It would be extremely rare for it to be more than the value of the ship and cargo.

If the ship claimed is outside the jurisdiction of an Authority offering Prize money, the ship can be auctioned locally, if the authorities agree. Locally-auctioned ships attract a -4 penalty on the Prize Money Index.

Insurance and Legal Process

It is important to note the difference between Pirate Ships (operating in a hostile manner) and ships confiscated illegally by Pirates. In essence stolen ships where clear non-pirate ownership can be established. The differentiator is if these stolen ships are operated as pirate ships or are merely contraband.

Ships recovered from Pirate crews attempting theft of said ship are treated as salvage and are returned to their operators. Ships that have committed a hostile act beyond any act occurring in the course of their theft are treaded as Prizes. Prize Courts tend to reach a verdict much faster than Salvage Courts (as an incentive) (2D6 weeks).

Prize Money Index
2D Prize Index 2D Prize Index 2D Prize Index
2 0.10 6 0.45 10 0.65
3 0.10 7 0.50 11 0.70
4 0.35 8 0.55 12 0.80
5 0.40 9 0.60  

Damage and Repairs

There are basically three levels of damage to a ship:

First Line:
Capable of being fixed by a trained crew member within a short period (2D6 minutes). Examples would include resetting circuit breakers, replacing smaller modular components, or extemporized repairs such as plugging air leaks with a patch. These parts are expected to be regularly available on board.
Second Line:
Capable of being fixed by several crewmen working together in a more extended period (2D6 hours). Examples would include disassembling a major ship system to reach the faulty module or part or welding a panel over a hole. If work is required outside the ship's hull, in vacuum, this will take longer (3D6 hours).
Having carried out half the work and identified what needs replacing roll 2d6 to determine the status of any needed repair items. These may be held on board as a spare and can be fitted as normal (9+ on 2D6). It may be that the item is not held on board, but can be fabricated by machining, 3D printing, or by cannibalizing less critical systems or components (6+ on 2D6) but taking an additional 1D6 hours for repair.
Finally, it is possible that the item required cannot be fabricated on board or is not held as a spare (5- on 2D6); in which case the system cannot be repaired by the crew.
Third Line:
Only capable of being fixed at a repair installation and taking longer (2D6 days for the repair itself. It is highly likely that there will be delays and competing priorities before the work actually starts). This involves replacement or overhaul of one or more major ship's systems, structural repairs, or turret replacement. It is assumed that the necessary parts are readily available for common systems. Nonstandard items and larger weapon systems may have to be ordered in from stockpiles elsewhere, adding to the delay.

First Line repairs cost Cr 1,000 and are for near misses, violent manoeuvres, and other roleplay opportunities. Second Line Repairs costs Cr 10,000.

Different weapon systems will cause different numbers of hits. In the example I use below, there are 1D6 hits caused by proximity warheads, 9 hits from impact warheads, 3 hits from Beam lasers and 1 hit from Pulse lasers.

Every 4th hit causes 1 point of Structural Damage (modified by armour plating and hull structure). Structural damage requires Third Line repair, and costs Cr 500,000 per point.

Prize Money Example

A Trader is refuelling at a gas giant in system when it is attacked by a modified mining ship. The mining ship has a double beam turret, with a jury-rigged missile pod containing 2 missiles. The mining ship calls on the Trader to surrender, which is refused. The mining ship fires its lasers, causing only minor hits to the cargo compartment. The Trader returns fire, causing a fuel leak and a system failure to life support for the mining ship. The crew of the mining ship, now hampered by vacc suits, fire the missiles; one of which is hit by a lucky shot from the Traders Gunner, the other of which strikes the Trader, causing the computer to be damaged and cut out, and the Pilot to be injured. The Trader returns fire, relying on their Gunners’ abilities as the computer is offline, but scoring two hits, disabling the mining ship’s drive and cutting out the power to the turret. The crew and passengers from the Trader elect to board the mining ship, killing the mining ship’s crew with the loss of only one crewmember.

The Trader crew repairs the mining ship, and seeks Prize money to compensate for the damage to their ship. Unfortunately, this far out on the Rim, the system does not have a Prize Court, so the ship must be sold at auction. The mining ship’s value is MCr 23 and it has no cargo. It has suffered 4 hits equating to 4 hits and 1 point of structural damage, with a total repair cost of Cr 540,000. Sadly, there is little demand for a damaged mining ship at auction, fetching only 10% of the Cr 22,460,000 value: Cr 2,246,000.

The Trader suffered 11 hits, equating to 11 hits and 3 points of structural damage, with a total repair cost of Cr 1,610,000. They are able to cover the cost of the repairs to the ship with Cr 636,000 left over. The Crewman who died had basic insurance, but the crew elect to give an additional Cr 300,000 to his widow and child. Leaving Cr 363,000 to be split among the crew and passengers who helped in the boarding action.