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Repair Tugs

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue.

The Repair Tug is a specialized spaceship type, found most commonly in systems which have extensive spaceship construction and repair facilities, routinely move heavy cargoes throughout the system, or have a large ship salvage industry (often due to a previous naval battle). Systems which see heavy traffic may also use these tugs as “rescue ships” to assist or tow ships in operational distress.

If you are playing in a Corporate Repo campaign (Freelance Traveller, May/June 2017, page 32), this class of ship is perfect for the repo team. It combines lots of tools, parts, and space in order to repair (or otherwise free) disabled ships, plus it can physically move them if needed. The ships’ high acceleration when not acting as a tug is a bonus.

Obviously, if the PCs’ ship issues a mayday/GK call in a populated system, a ship of this type might be dispatched to help, especially if the distress call mentioned problems with the ship itself.

An interesting campaign could be built around the crew of one of these ships, out on the fringe of space. A low population world might even modify one of these ships to add weapons, and operate it as a combination emergency response, Traveller’s aid, border patrol, and defense service.

In more standard Traveller campaigns, these ships will be seen assisting ships along high traffic stellar shipping lines.

Most repair tugs are spaceships (not starships), thus not jump capable. However, some variants do include jump drives and are thus true starships.

Note that all of these designs are non-standard for Classic Traveller in that they have larger maneuver drives and power plants than are usually allowed. They are covered by a house rule that says over-powered ships such as these can only produce 6G of acceleration (and use the appropriate amount of fuel) unless pushing/towing another ship, in which case they use more fuel and are limited to the acceleration of the combined ship mass. Attempting more than 6Gs of acceleration will destroy the drives, the power plant, or the ship.

The Cepheus Engine does not have this limitation, so these ships are standard under those rules. Note, however, that the Cepheus Engine tables do not show performances greater than Jump 6, 6G acceleration, or Power Plant performance 6, and thus even under Cepheus Engine rules, the fuel usage and maximum acceleration is assumed to be 6G/Power Plant 6.

All the ships described below are commonly built with a “jump drive on rails”, in addition to the jump capable versions described here. These “on rails” versions will typically have 1 ton less workspace/cargo area and 15 tons of something in the engineering area. That is usually fuel, but could be a monster computer, a larger workshop, a designated vehicle storage area, and/or more storage for specialty tools and replacement parts.

As these are specialized ships, very few are built in any given year, and those only to specific order (no yard constructs these “on spec”), and the average age in service, for all of these types, is well over 70 years, with some hulls exceeding a century.

Longhorn-Class Repair Tug

Classic Traveller

Using a custom 400-ton hull, the Longhorn-class Repair Tug is designed for local system operations involving towing or performing minor repairs on operationally-distressed ships. It mounts Jump Drive B, Maneuver Drive V, and Power Plant V, giving performance of Jump-1 and 6G acceleration. There is fuel tankage of 200 tons, supporting up to three Jump-1s and five weeks of operations, or one Jump-1 and up to ten weeks of operations, or thirteen weeks of operation without jumping. Adjacent to the bridge is a computer Model/4. There are 8 staterooms and no low berths, plus 29 tons of workshop and cargo space. There are no hardpoints and no allocation for firecontrol nor are any turrets or weapons mounted.

The ship requires a crew of 6: Pilot, Navigator, and 4 Engineers. The ship costs MCr336 (plus fees and the cost of the workshop) and takes 64 weeks to build.
 

Longhorn-class Repair Tug (Classic Traveller)
Component Description Tons Cost (MCr)
Hull Custom 400 Tons 400 40
Jump Drive B (Jump 1, 40 t. fuel/Jump) 15 20
Maneuver Drive V (6G acceleration) 39 80
Power Plant V (60 t. fuel/4 wks, inc. Maneuver) 61 160
Fuel   200  
Bridge   20 2
Computer Model/4 4 30
Staterooms 8 standard 32 4
Cargo   29  
Extras Workshop, cost unspecified, volume included in cargo    
Total   400 336

Cepheus Engine

Using a 400-ton hull (8 Hull, 8 Structure), the Longhorn-class Repair Tug is designed for local system operations involving towing or performing minor repairs on operationally-distressed ships. It mounts Jump Drive B, Maneuver Drive V, and Power Plant V, giving performance of Jump-1 and 6G acceleration. Fuel tankage of 200 tons supports operations for 4 weeks and up to 3 jump-1s, or 1 jump-1 and up to 8 weeks of operations, or up to 10 weeks of operations without jumping. Adjacent to the bridge is a computer Model/4. The ship is equipped with Basic Civilian sensors (DM –2). There are 8 staterooms and no low berths. The ship has no hardpoints or fire control, and no weapons or screens installed. There are no provisions for small craft. Cargo capacity is 27 tons. The hull is standard, and unarmored. Special features include a workshop, included in the cargo space. The ship requires a crew of 6: Pilot, Navigator, and 4 Engineers. The ship can carry up to 8 additional passengers at double occupancy, and no low passengers. The ship costs MCr287.1 (plus fees and cost of workshop) and takes 60 weeks to build.
 

Longhorn-class Repair Tug (Cepheus Engine)
Component Description Tons Cost (MCr)
Hull 400 Tons (8 Hull, 8 Struct) 400 16
Jump Drive B (Jump 1, 40 t. fuel/Jump) 15 20
Maneuver Drive V (6G acceleration) 39 80
Power Plant V (20 t. fuel/wk, inc. Maneuver) 61 160
Fuel   200  
Bridge   20 2
Computer Model/4 4 5
Electronics Basic Civilian Sensors (DM –2) 1 0.05
Staterooms 8 standard 32 4
Cargo (inc. workshop [cost unspecified]) 27  
Extras Fuel Purification 1 0.05
Total   400 287.1

The Cepheus Engine version of this design allocates 2 tons less to the workshop/cargo space, to allow the installation of Basic Civilian electronics and fuel purification equipment. Alternative designs may substitute a Model/3 (recovering 1 ton and saving MCr3) or even a Model/2 (recovering 2 tons and saving MCr4.84) computer and not lose the workshop/cargo space.

Description

The Longhorn is a standard repair tug to handle small and medium-small ships. It represents a conservative choice found along all major trade routes. The Power Plant V/Maneuver Drive V combination allows it push/tow anything up to 3600 tons, with maneuver performance reduced per the combined hull tonnage of the towed ship and the tug; under maximum load, this is 1G. An unburdened Longhorn can achieve an acceleration of 6G, and Jump-1. It does not carry passengers commercially; additional personnel for rescue operations, such as repair engineers and medical personnel, are often carried.

If jumped into a system, it will not arrive in system with enough fuel to take full advantage of its maneuver drive and power plant; it will need to refuel for that. Though not listed in the specs, operators often use a Launch, G-Carrier, air/raft, or Gig to act as a spotter when moving large ships or debris. When carried, this is stored in the workshop space, and must be removed before the workshop is used.

Note that this is non-standard in terms of installing size V maneuver drive and power plants in a 400-ton hull.

The class and its variants are normally named after large multi-role domesticated animals, generally from their port of registry.

There are a number of common variations on the Longhorn design, to extend its capabilities in different ways. These variations generally result in a higher displacement for the “workings” of the ship; generally, this is compensated for by reducing the size of the workshop or cargo space, by eliminating staterooms, by using a smaller computer, or by some combination of these. Duration recomputations may use less fuel than total allocation; the overage will not be sufficient for a full week of operation, and in no case will less than 4 weeks of operation (in addition to jump fuel usage) be accepted.

Double Wide:
Maneuver Drive W (+2 tons), Power Plant W (+3 tons), and extra fuel (+10 tons); eliminates 3 staterooms and 3 tons cargo; can push 4600 tons at 1G, extends duration to 3J1+6wks(CT/CE), 1J1+11wks(CT)/1J1+8wks(CE), or 0J1+14 wks(CT)/0J1+10wks(CE). Cost +MCr11(CT/CE).
Bigger in Texas:
Maneuver Drive X (+4 tons), Power Plant X (+6 tons), and extra fuel (+20 tons); eliminates 3 staterooms, 16 tons cargo, and reduces the computer to Model/2; can push over 5000 tons at 1G, extends duration to 4J1+4wks(CT)/3J1+4wks(CE), 1J1+12wks(CT)/1J1+8wks(CE), or 0J1+14wks(CT)/0J1+10wks(CE). Cost +MCr11.5(CT)/+MCr17.66(CE)
Far Repair Tug:
Jump Drive D (+10 tons); eliminates 2 staterooms and 2 tons cargo; can now jump-2. Extends duration to 1J2+8wks(CT)/1J2+6wks(CE), or 0J2+13wks(CT)/0J2+10wks(CT). Cost +MCr19(CT/CE).
Armed Repair Tug:
Two concealed turrets (+2 tons) and a sick bay with 2 emergency low berths. Crew requirement +2 Gunners. Converts 2 staterooms to sickbay/emergency low berths (no tonnage change). Eliminates 2 tons cargo. These are sometimes euphemistically referred to as “Rugged Repair Tugs”. Cost +MCr0.8-MCr2.4, depending on type of turrets, plus cost of weapons installed in turrets(CT)/+MCr2.6-MCr6.2, depending on type of turrets, plus cost of weapons(CE). No change in operational duration.
More Workshop:
Convert 2 staterooms to workshop/cargo, so end up with 37 tons (no total tonnage change). Cost –MCr1(CT/CE).
Human Problems:
Converts 2 staterooms to sickbay with 2 emergency low berths (no tonnage change). Crew requirements +1 medic. No change in duration; no change in cost.
Stretch Repair Tug:
Jump Drive F (+20 tons) and extra fuel (+20 tons); can now jump-3. Eliminates 4 staterooms, 23 tons of workshop and cargo, and reduces computer to Model/3. Crew requirements +1 Engineer. Extends duration to 1J3+6wks(CT)/1J3+5wks(CE), or 0J3+14wks(CT)/0J3+10wks(CE). Cost +35MCr(CT/CE). Crew must double bunk. This configuration should not be called a Repair Tug; just a Tug.

Home Improvement-Class Repair Tug

Classic Traveller

Using a custom 400-ton hull, the Home Improvement-class Repair Tug is designed for local system operations involving towing or performing minor repairs on operationally-distressed ships. It mounts Jump Drive B, Maneuver Drive Z, and Power Plant Z, giving performance of Jump-1 and 6G acceleration. There is fuel tankage of 100 tons, supporting one Jump-1 and 4 weeks of operations, or 7 weeks of operation without jumping. Adjacent to the bridge is a computer Model/4. There are 8 staterooms and no low berths, a sickbay with 2 emergency low berths, a 15-ton small-craft hangar, plus 71 tons of workshop and cargo space. There are no hardpoints and no allocation for firecontrol nor are any turrets or weapons mounted. The ship mounts collapsible fuel tanks, taking 15 tons when collapsed, but adding another 150 tons of fuel when in use, allowing for an additional 10 weeks of operations.

The ship requires a crew of 6: Pilot, Navigator, and 4 Engineers. The ship costs MCr386.7 (plus fees and the cost of the workshop) and takes 64 weeks to build.
 

Home Improvement-class Repair Tug (Classic Traveller)
Component Description Tons Cost (MCr)
Hull Custom 400 Tons 400 40
Jump Drive B (Jump 1, 40 t. fuel/Jump) 15 20
Maneuver Drive Z (6G acceleration) 47 96
Power Plant Z 60 t. fuel/4 wks, inc. Maneuver) 73 192
Fuel   100  
Bridge   20 2
Computer Model/4 4 30
Staterooms 8 standard 32 4
Cargo (Inc. workshop, cost unspecified) 71  
Extras Collapsible Fuel Tanks (150 tons)
Sickbay (incl volume of ELB)
Emergency Low Berth 2
Small Craft Hangar
15
8

15
1.5
1
0.2
 
Total   400 386.7

Cepheus Engine

Using a 400-ton hull (8 Hull, 8 Structure), the Home Improvement-class Repair Tug is designed for local system operations involving towing or performing minor repairs on operationally-distressed ships. It mounts Jump Drive B, Maneuver Drive Z, and Power Plant Z, giving performance of Jump-1 and 6G acceleration. Fuel tankage of 100 tons supports 1 jump-1 and up to 2 weeks of operations, or up to 4 weeks of operations without jumping. Adjacent to the bridge is a computer Model/4. The ship is equipped with Basic Civilian sensors (DM –2). There are 8 staterooms and no low berths. The ship has no hardpoints or fire control, and no weapons or screens installed. There is a 15-ton small-craft bay; no small-craft is included with the ship. Cargo capacity is 69 tons. The hull is standard, and unarmored. Special features include a workshop (included in the cargo space), a sickbay with two emergency low berths, fuel purification facilities, and collapsible fuel tanks for 150 tons of fuel, allowing an additional 6 weeks of operation. The ship requires a crew of 6: Pilot, Navigator, and 4 Engineers. The ship can carry up to 8 additional passengers at double occupancy, and no low passengers. The ship costs MCr340.8 (plus fees and cost of workshop) and takes 60 weeks to build.
 

Home Improvement-class Repair Tug (Cepheus Engine)
Component Description Tons Cost (MCr)
Hull 400 Tons (8 Hull, 8 Struct) 400 16
Jump Drive B (Jump 1, 40 t. fuel/Jump) 15 20
Maneuver Drive Z (6G acceleration) 47 96
Power Plant Z (24 t. fuel/wk, inc. Maneuver) 73 192
Fuel   100  
Bridge   20 2
Computer Model/4 4 5
Electronics Basic Civilian Sensors (DM –2) 1 0.05
Staterooms 8 standard 32 4
Cargo (inc. workshop [cost unspecified]) 69  
Extras Fuel Purification
Collapsible Fuel Tanks
Sickbay (incl. volume of ELB)
Emergency Low Berth 2
Small Craft Hangar
1
15
8

15
0.05
1.5
1
0.2
3
Total   400 340.8

Description

For corporations, shipyards, and high star ports that want to live on the edge, there is the Home Improvement-class repair tug. These tugs provide more power, from the largest-in-class Power-Z/Maneuver-Z combination available, plus they have enough workshop space to fix most ship problems, and enough sick bay space to fix most crew problems. A winning combination to fix just about anything, and tow the rest back to a repair yard.

The Cepheus Engine version has two less tons of workshop and cargo space, for civilian basic electronics and fuel purification equipment. Alternatively, it may be a Model-3 or even a Model-2 computer and not lose the workshop/cargo space.

Jump 1 and 6G acceleration; can push a 5000+ ton ship at 1G. Required crew is a pilot, navigator, and 4 engineers. Often carries repair engineers, small craft pilots, and sometimes a medic. The hangar can support two air/rafts as spotters, repair aides, or medevac.

This ship will not arrive in system with enough fuel to take full advantage of its Z maneuver and power plant; it will need to refuel for that.

Note that this is non-standard in terms of installing Z size maneuver and power plants in a 400 ton hull. The max size of a ship that can be pushed by this tug is also unknown in the Classic Traveller rules. This is left to the individual referee, maybe even to leave to a real time skill roll, but the author’s best guess is 7000 tons.

This ship shares the same basic hull as the Longhorn-class, and the two types are hard to distinguish from the outside, unless the Home Improvement’s collapsible fuel tank is deployed.

There are a number of common variations on the Home Improvement design, to extend its capabilities in different ways. These variations generally result in a higher displacement for the “workings” of the ship; generally, this is compensated for by reducing the size of the workshop or cargo space, by eliminating staterooms, by using a smaller computer, or by some combination of these. Duration recomputations may use less fuel than total allocation; the overage will not be sufficient for a full week of operation, and in no case will less than 2 weeks of operation (in addition to jump fuel usage) be accepted.

Far Repair Tug:
Jump Drive D (+10 tons(CT/CE)); can now jump-2. Eliminates 10(CT)/28(CE) tons of cargo (reallocated to fuel) to support minimum 2 weeks operation, or 40 tons of cargo (CT) to support 4 weeks operation. Cost +MCr20(CT/CE)
Stretch Repair Tug:
Jump Drive F (+20 tons (CT/CE)), larger fuel tank (+50 tons(CT)/+68 tons(CE)), and extra engineer; can now jump-3. Reduces computer to Model/3, eliminates 5 tons of hangar (supports only 1 Air/Raft), 1 stateroom, and 40 tons (CT)/58 tons(CE) of workshop/cargo space. Cost +MCr27.5(CT)/+MCr35.5(CE)
Armed Repair Tug:
Two concealed turrets with gunners. Eliminates 2 tons(CT)/4 tons(CE) of workshop/cargo space These are sometimes euphemistically referred to as “Rugged Repair Tugs”. Cost +MCr0.6-2.2(CT)/+MCr2.4-4(CE) depending on type of turret; plus cost of weapons.
This class was named after a pre-spaceflight Terran vid show called “Home Improvement”. The lead character solved many problems with “More power!”, and would have completely approved of shoehorning a Z class maneuver drive in a 400 ton hull. There never was a ship called Home Improvement but early examples had simple first names from the show: Tim, Jill, Brad, Randy, Mark, Wilson, Binford, Detroit, Tool Time, Lisa, Heidi, and Al are known. (The Tool Time has a particularly storied history.)

Yard Goat-Class Repair Tug

Classic Traveller

Using a custom 200-ton hull, the Yard Goat-class Repair Tug is designed for local system operations involving towing or performing minor repairs on operationally-distressed ships. It mounts Jump Drive B, Maneuver Drive L, and Power Plant L, giving performance of Jump-1 and 6G acceleration. There is fuel tankage of 50 tons, supporting one Jump-1 and 2 weeks of operations, or 3 weeks of operation without jumping. Adjacent to the bridge is a computer Model/3. There are 6 staterooms and no low berths, plus 26 tons of workshop and cargo space. There are no hardpoints and no allocation for firecontrol nor are any turrets or weapons mounted. The ship mounts collapsible fuel tanks, taking 7 tons when collapsed, but adding another 70 tons of fuel when in use, allowing for an additional 4 weeks of operations.

The ship requires a crew of 4: Pilot, Navigator, and 2 Engineers. The ship costs MCr194.7 (plus fees and the cost of the workshop) and takes 48 weeks to build.
 

Yard Goat-class Repair Tug (Classic Traveller)
Component Description Tons Cost (MCr)
Hull Custom 400 Tons 200 20
Jump Drive B (Jump 1, 20 t. fuel/Jump) 15 20
Maneuver Drive L (6G acceleration) 21 44
Power Plant L 60 t. fuel/4 wks, inc. Maneuver) 34 88
Fuel   50  
Bridge   20 1
Computer Model/3 3 18
Staterooms 6 standard 24 3
Cargo (inc. workshop, cost unspecified) 26  
Extras Collapsible Fuel Tanks (70 tons) 7 0.7
Total   200 194.7

Cepheus Engine

Using a 200-ton hull (4 Hull, 4 Structure,), the Yard Goat-class Repair Tug is designed for local system operations involving towing or performing minor repairs on operationally-distressed ships. It mounts Jump Drive B, Maneuver Drive L, and Power Plant L, giving performance of Jump-1 and 6G acceleration. Fuel tankage of 50 tons supports 1 jump-1 and up to 2 weeks of operations, or up to 4 weeks of operations without jumping. Adjacent to the bridge is a computer Model/3. The ship is equipped with Basic Civilian sensors (DM –2). There are 6 staterooms and no low berths. The ship has no hardpoints or fire control, and no weapons or screens installed. Cargo capacity is 26 tons. The hull is standard, and unarmored. Special features include a workshop (included in the cargo space), and collapsible fuel tanks for 70 tons of fuel, allowing an additional 6 weeks of operation. The ship requires a crew of 4: Pilot, Navigator, and 2 Engineers. The ship can carry up to 6 additional passengers at double occupancy, and no low passengers. The ship costs MCr166.75 (plus fees and cost of workshop) and takes 44 weeks to build.
 

Yard Goat-class Repair Tug (Cepheus Engine)
Component Description Tons Cost (MCr)
Hull 200 Tons (4 Hull, 4 Struct) 200 8
Jump Drive B (Jump 1, 40 t. fuel/Jump) 15 20
Maneuver Drive L (6G acceleration) 21 44
Power Plant L (11 t. fuel/wk, inc. Maneuver) 34 88
Fuel   50  
Bridge   10 1
Computer Model/3 3 2
Electronics Basic Civilian Sensors (DM –2) 1 0.05
Staterooms 6 standard 24 3
Cargo (inc. workshop [cost unspecified]) 30  
Extras Collapsible Fuel Tanks (70 tons) 7 0.7
Total   200 166.75

Description

The Repair Tug for the rest of us. The smaller Yard Goat-class repair tug’s 200 ton size means it is nimble enough to get in where larger tugs can’t. But its beefy Power-L/Maneuver-L combination means it can push (or pull!) starships 10 times its size. These are found on frontier starports and shipyards all over the Imperium.

Jump-2. Can push a 2000 ton ship at 1G, but if alone can do 6G. Required crew is a pilot, navigator, and 2 engineers. Often carries repair engineers and sometimes a medic.

The Cepheus Engine version has slightly more workshop and cargo space, even including a ton for basic civilian electronics, due to a smaller bridge.

This ship will arrive in system with enough fuel to do 1G only. Before attempting higher G maneuvers or any tug actions, it must deploy its collapsible fuel tank. This tank can be transported in 7 tons of space but expands into a 70 ton tank. The ship can not jump with the tank deployed. Once full of fuel, the tug can use its main engines to push large ships or move at 6G. It often has an air/raft to act as a spotter when moving large ships or debris. When carried, this is stored in the workshop space, and often must be removed before the workshop is used.

Note that this is non-standard in terms of installing L size maneuver and power plants in a 200 ton hull, and in the assumption that an L maneuver drive can move a total of 2200 tons.

Some variants of this design give up workshop/cargo space for a sick bay, turrets, low berths, etc.

These ships take their names from a variety of sources; generally, names representing small, powerful animals or vehicles used to assist in moving large, heavy vehicles are chosen. Spacers often refer to them as “Lead Pipes” since they are often thought to resemble short, heavy pipes.

The author thanks Darrel Strom and John Redden for reviewing a draft of this article. All mistakes are my own.