Ferdinand-class Exploration Cruiser
Using a 400 ton hull, the Ferdinand-class Exploration Cruiser is a lightly armed survey and escort ship. It mounts jump drive E, maneuver drive J, and power plant J, giving a performance of jump-2 and 4-G acceleration. Fuel tankage for 200 tons supports the power plant and 2 jump-2. Adjacent to the bridge is a computer Model/5. There are 12 staterooms. The ship has 4 hardpoints and 4 tons allocated to fire control. There is one ship's vehicle: a Ship's Boat. Cargo capacity is 18 tons. The hull is streamlined. The ship requires a crew of 10: Pilot, Navigator, Medic, 3 Engineers, 4 Gunners. The ship can carry 2 mission specialists. The first ship of the class cost MCr 274.114 (including fees) and took 36 months to build.
Exploration is dangerous. Entering unknown systems for the first time particularly so.
Early in the expansion of the Third Imperium, the IISS came to the conclusion that they needed small but capable warships to escort their scouting missions, and to spearhead their entry into unknown systems. The original ships of this type were variants of vessels in service with the Imperial Navy, typically Destroyers, and smaller escorts of the "Patrol Cruiser" type. These vessels served the Scout Service well, but were not perfectly matched to their needs.
Compared to Naval vessels, Scout ships tended to avoid trouble, rather than look for it. This meant that stealth and mobility, rather than firepower and armour, were key factors in Scout ship design. Over the following centuries, the Scouts introduced a series of lightly armed vessels with extended jump performance. In particular, they tended to favour vessels capable of multiple jumps, prefering not to enter an unknown system without possessing the capacity for a quick withdrawal.
The Ferdinand is the end result of this line of development. Essentially, it is a variation of the familiar Patrol Cruiser theme, trading off combat capacity, and even some jump potential, for the capacity to perform 2 Jump-2s in succession.
Typically, Ferdinands operate in pairs, often as part of a larger task force. This increases the chance that if one vessel is lost, the other will escape to report on its fate. This is essential, as Ferdinands will often be the very first vessels to enter a system, scouting ahead of full survey teams, or will be assigned to patrol significant systems.
Each Ferdinand possesses a generous surplus of life support capacity, allowing it to carry a double sized crew of mission specialists, if required, or even to carry the crew of a crippled sister ship to safety.
Ferdinands can be found anywhere IISS ships can be found. In particular, this includes the places where you wouldn't usually expect IISS ships to be found, but where they are anyway.
Some examples of the ships can be found in other hands. Some planetary navies, and Imperial client states have adopted the type, while a small number have passed into civilian hands, serving in a commerce protection, and sometimes commerce raiding, role.
Naval personnel tend to sneer at this design, pointing out the unimpressive capabilities of its drives, its lack of armour, and its light armament. They are correct, in that this is not an impressive fighting ship.
Scouts, on the other hand, have a different perspective. First of all, this vessel is reliable, and if you are "spinward of the Zhodani, coreward of the Vargr, trailing of the K'kree, or rimward of the Solomani", reliability is a good thing. Furthermore, these ships rarely get into fights, nor are they really intended to do so. These vessels are usually intended to run away and tell someone what they ran into - the real function of the Scout service.
This is a lightly armed almost-warship. It is weak enough to hopefully not unbalance a campaign, but spiffy enough to serve as a reward. Obviously, it is particularly suitable for exploration games, but it can also be used by mercs, ECMs, or even merchants engaged in exploratory trade. (Use this ship to make contact, send in the cargo buckets when it's safe...)