A small provincial merchant vessel, the 300 dTon Grote Clan Trader is a design that can trace its lineage back to the Rule of Man. Capable of jumping two parsecs, carrying over 100 dTons of cargo, and all while being crewed by 5 sophonts, the Clan Trader can operate well along both trading mains and outlier systems. Behind the Claw, the Clan Trader can be seen in areas without large, one-parsec mains, such as the Deneb Sector, and frontier areas, such as the Foreven Sector.
Although most of these vessels are owned and operated by clans native to Grote/Glisten/Spinward Marches, the robust nature and simple operational requirements of the design mean there are many other examples, plus several variants, to found Behind the Claw.
The design firm "Bogle et Fils" of Glisten (2036 Glisten/Spinward Marches) first laid out the basic Clan Trader plans in 702. Their work consisted mainly of documenting and standardizing a type of vessel already being used throughout the Marches. The manufacturing requirements for the vessel were deliberately held to TL 11. This allowed the Clan Trader to sport a two parsec jump drive and still take advantage of the repair facilities on most worlds.
Keeping in mind the level of infrastructure found in most frontier systems, the Clan Trader was also laid out as a tail lander. With its one gee rated maneuver drive and contragrav lifters, the vessel can take off and land from the simplest of hardstands, no runways or landing fields are necessary. Fuel scoops and an onboard purifier enhances the vessel’s suitability for frontier operations.
The basic Clan Trader sets aside tonnage for three turrets, but the types of turrets and weapons installed are normally left up to the owner. The robust and simple nature of the vessel means that an owner must keep a weapon’s energy requirements in mind when arming their vessel. The Clan Trader can provide up to six Imperial Standard Energy Units towards weapon requirements, albeit at the loss of some agility.
The Clan Trader boasts twelve low berths and ten passenger staterooms. Two of those staterooms are somewhat larger than the others and are normally used for the high passage trade. The passenger staterooms, low berths, and air/raft are all located on one deck. The five crew staterooms are located one deck above. Some owners have doubled up on crew accommodations and booked passengers into the staterooms on the crew deck. This does have its risks however.
The standard Imperial/JTAS Joint Universal Ship Profile for the Clan Trade is as follows:
AP – 3221221 – 000000 – 00000 – 0 MCr 149.934
Low Berths: 12
Craft: 1 x 4dT air/raft
Fuel Scoops and On Board Fuel Purifier
Architects Fee: MCr 1.499
Cost in Quantity: MCr 119.947
The Grote Clan Trader resembles a squat, rounded cone. This appearance reportedly led to the nickname "Weeble", although the reference is obscure. A tail lander, the vessel rises from a broad, shallow, rounded bottom up five decks to the Trader’s bridge and dorsal turret. Equipment and accommodations in the vessel are arranged as follows:
- Bridge Deck
- bridge, computer, dorsal turret
- Crew Deck
- 5 crew staterooms, jump drive, upper power plant
- Passenger Deck
- 10 passenger staterooms, 12 low berths, lower power plant, air/raft, 7 dTons of passenger and special cargo
- Cargo Deck
- 100 dTons of cargo space, two body turrets
- Drive Deck
- maneuver drive, fuel purification plant
The Clan Trader's fuel is held in tanks surrounding and sheathing the five decks. The cargo deck has two large cargo locks at opposite sides of that space from each other. There is also an airlock next to the air/raft garage and another on the bridge deck. A dedicated elevator from the cargo deck can reach the passenger deck. Another elevator services the crew side of the passenger deck and crew deck. Ladders from the crew and cargo decks reach the bridge and drive decks respectively. Although the passenger deck is split into a passenger and crew "side", movement between the two is necessarily restricted to a single security lock.
Two of the Trader's three turrets are located on the cargo deck ninety degrees around from the two cargo locks. The third turret is located on the Trader's "peak" or "nose", dorsally on the bridge deck.
Most clans make their living by operating free traders or the 300 dT Grote Clan trader. These clan vessels serve along carefully planned and investigated trade loops that service dozens of smaller worlds. A Grotian trader showing up twice a year may be the only "scheduled" trader some worlds see. Clan members may have been anywhere between the Far Frontiers, Vland, and the Trans-Rift jump 5 route. There are more than a thousand clan traders in operation in the sectors spinward, rimward and trailing the Marches. Several variants of the type exist and some are operated by non clan companies. The example above is the basic trader with no upgrades. Usual variants of the Trader include a no-passengers version, a one-parsec version, and a “2+1” version with an internal collapsible 30 dTon fuel tank. The Grote Clan Trader is naturally bouyant until loaded.
Widely known variants are operated by Clans Grampus and Menzies, plus a Low Liner design and a Q-ship design are known to exist.