The Wayfarer-class light freighter was built as a multi-mission freighter hull for the Imperial Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Designed in the Second Imperium period, built at the start of the Time of the Five Emperors, the Wayfarer was built to be a part of the Imperial Taken Up From Trade (TUFT) program. Lightly armed for self-defense, the Wayfarer class would remain in operation during both the Imperium and Hegemony eras, steadily upgraded as technology improved.
The Wayfarer-class was built when the Second Imperium discovered that the consolidation of cargo hulls meant that massive, 10,000+ TEU starships were pushing out anything smaller on major transport routes. In addition, when the Imperial Navy had to take up hulls for additional logistics support, the relative slow accelerations and low slipspace speeds meant that supplies were often sent in massive “chunks” that were vulnerable to Alpha raiders and similar threats.
An additional concern of the Imperial Moot was that such massive hulls were highly efficient in large-scale civilian logistics, but smaller colony worlds would have one of these large ships in orbit twice a year-at best-and this was incredibly risky. While smaller freighters did exist and the Imperial Courier Service maintained fast mail packets to ensure a minimum of twice-a-month contact between Tier I to III colony worlds, the expense of any large-scale shipping increased the difficulty of colonies to establish themselves.
The Wayfarer-class would be built to handle these issues, based around several engineering factors such as an easily adaptable hull, minimum 160G acceleration and 3LY/day slipspace speeds, point-defense and light missiles for defense against raiders and pirates, and the ability to rapidly unload 2,000 TEU cargo loads on rough landing areas. The hull would be licensed to a number of shipyards and the Imperial Navy and Courier Service would establish a Taken Up From Trade program where easy-to-acquire loans and grants would be provided to small shipowners that were willing to work semi-regular routes and demonstrate that they could ensure that the ships were kept up to minimum standards.
At 30,000 tons, the Wayfarer-class would be built to carry 2,000 TEUs in two large primary cargo bays, wrapped around the core hull of the ship. The class has 180Gs of acceleration fully loaded, with a 3LY/day slipspace speed. Defensive weapons consisted of six 350mm missile tubes, basic electronic warfare systems and detection systems, and point-defense rated for handling Alpha Rani-class raider destroyers with eight 20mm xaser mounts and six 40mm xaser mounts. The ship’s armor is mostly against debris, consisting of mil-spec titanium with fibersteel overlays for “high value” components (Hegemony-era hulls would be built entirely of fibersteel), with shields to match. Later versions of the hull-starting with retrofits of the class in the Flight V and beyond-would be capable of 200Gs of acceleration and 4LY/day in slipspace.
The design was built so that in less than eight hours (barring orbital mechanics), the ship could unload the full supply of containers with the six attached heavy cargo shuttles and leave for reloading at a full-fledged port. Field reloading of the ship would take longer (within 24 hours in theory, usually 48-72 hours), with the ship having internal tractor-presser arrays in the cargo bays for loading and unloading. To provide support in unloading and loading, two Workbees are also provided and carried semi-externally on the ventral and dorsal sections of the ship’s hull.
The Wayfarer-class would see service for over five hundred years, being built in nine separate flights. The simplicity of the design meant that a large number of modifications in the base hull configuration were made. This included-
- Large-scale liquid transport
- Colonization logistics
- Imperial Scout Service tender
- Q-ship configurations
- Fast fleet tender
- Bulk cargo transport
- Bombardment ship (for Mk 25 and Mk 30 missiles)
- Orbital mining processing and transport hub
- Personnel transport
-and a number of additional configurations based upon customer and mission needs.
It is estimated that there are over 100,000 Wayfarer-class hulls currently in service and the hulls are still being built to this day. However, the Imperial Navy and Imperial Courier Service have begun to phase out the TUFT contracts for older Wayfarers, replacing them with the newer Wanderer-class TUFT Light Freighter.
Dimensions: 215 m x 20 m x 20 m
Mass: 30,000 tons (fully loaded, Flight I-IV un-retrofitted), 31,100 tons (Flight V-IX, Flight I-IV retrofitted)
2x Yoyodine Type 33 Gravity Fusion Reactors (Mid Imperial Era)
2x Yoyodine Type 33-A Gravity Fusion Reactors (Late Imperial Era)
2x Yoyodine Type 34-A Gravity Fusion Reactors (Hegemony Era)
8x Q-Coils (180 G acceleration Mid/Late Imperial Era, 200 G acceleration Hegemony era, all flights)
6x Slipspace rings (3 LY/day Mid/Late Imperial Era, 4LY/day Hegemony era, all flights)
180 days on stored supplies, hydrogen scoops (All Eras)
One Class III AI, 10 Officers, 64 Able Spacers, backup bioshells and cybershells (Mid/Late Imperial Era)
One Class III AI, three Class II AIs, mixture of uploads and biological crew equaling 70 crew members, backup bioshells and cybershells (Hegemony Era)
6x350mm missile tubes with gravity launchers, two arrays of three port and starboard.
ECM: AN/SL(Q)-52 Electronic Warfare Array, with “spike” and “strobe” jammer options (Mid/Late Imperial Era)
AL/SN(Q)-58 Electronic Warfare Array, with “spike” and “strobe” jammer options (Hegemony Era)
8x Rodeo-class missile decoys (dispensers ventral and dorsal).
Point Defense: 6 40mm xaser cannons with double-bounce gravity mirrors in independent casemate mounts.
8 20mm xaser cannons with double-bounce gravity mirrors in independent casemate mounts.
Shields: Standard Mid/Late Imperial/Hegemony Navigational Shields
Combat Shield Generators-50% capacity bow, port and starboard, 25% capacity ventral, dorsal and stern (Mid/Late Imperial Era).
50% capacity bow, port, starboard, ventral and dorsal, 25% capacity stern (Hegemony Era)
Armor: Milspec Titanium with Fibersteel Inserts, 2cm maximum (Mid/Late Imperial Era)
Fibersteel, 2 cm maximum (Hegemony Era)
2xWorkbee, 2xCutter, 6xHeavy Lift Shuttles (Mid/Late Imperial Era)
2xWorkbee, 2xCutter, 6xHeavy Lift Shuttles, 4xHarvesting Drones (Hegemony Era)