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Fuel Barge.jpg
A variation of a modular inter system fuel barge in common use.
Caption
ARMAMENT:
None
*Some Owners May retrofit Point Defense systems and light cannons.

COMPLIMENT:
5-15 Depending on model and variant, typically civilian crewed often with high turn over rates. The Crew compartments are usually bunks and billets, very reminiscent of the cramped quarters on merchant fishing and tramp cargo vessels of the 20th century. All crew share lavatory facilities, and shower facilities. Each crewman is allotted enough space for one foot locker of personnel effects and clothing. A single galley serves the vessel, and often doubles as the recreation room when not serving meals. The vessels rarely maintain launches or Shuttles, and are reliant on Hard Dock or Manual EVA for loading and unloading of personnel, supplies, or cargo. A few Construction and Utility A.P.U.s are maintained for in-flight maintenance purposes and some cargo transfer. Facilities and accommodations are limited on these vessels as the intended deployment was for a few days at a time - however it is become almost commonplace for owners and operators to push these barges and the crews relentlessly for weeks at a time, often with only a 24 to 48 hour turnaround for refueling and resupplying between runs. While there are old spacers that may have been with a ship or a captain for years, these long rotations and close living conditions can often be hard on the uninitiated. As a result, cargo barges often have to replace several crew with each port. Fortunately there is no shortage of potential crew who may not otherwise be able to afford the expense of space travel and are willing to trade labor for passage.


HISTORY:
There is no shortage of demand for small cargo transport vessels to ferry supplies of all shapes and sizes between orbitals, planets, or ships in system. Such small cargo vessels come in a large variety of shapes and c;asses, some specialized for specific uses and cargos.The Hercules Shipyards Modular Transports have managed to steadily gain increasing favor among crews, captains, and cargo lines in the market - so much so that they have spawned numerous knock offs and imitators from rival manufacturers. The Hercules Modular Cargo Barges are durable, inexpensive, and easily retrofitted for multiple uses.
The Hercules Drive Yards Modular Fuel Barge Variant, rarely referred to as the "F" variant, is a dedicated Liquid Goods Hauler. While it is not exclusively a Fuel transport, it is almost always carrying fuel reserves for transport to larger ships and orbitals. The Fuel Barge is fitted with two hard-docked Tanker containers that can be used for pressurized gases or liquids, and four external mounted HAZMAT certified storage tanks almost always used for volatile liquids and fuel, as well as Two Soft Docked pressurize capable mixed use storage tanks ventrally. Additionally the Fuel Barge features a bulk, pressurized, liquids storage system mounted Dorsally with two high pressure storage tanks and eight standard storage cells, often used for fuel or O2 transport. As with other Hercules Modular Barges with these dorsal liquid storage systems some owners have made additional custom modifications to allow for the pressurized system to be directly tapped by the freighter so as to use it as an extended duration fuel and O2 supply, providing greater range and operational time. Many Fuel Barge owners have added Langstrom drives for inter stellar operations and to allow these vessels to be used as fleet tenders on convoys. The FTL modification is more dangerous on the Fuel Barge than any other variation of the modular transport as it was never intended for deep space or interstellar use, and there have been more than a few catastrophic failures of the secondary HAZMAT tanks either entering or leaving FTL. The External tanks have been redesigned and re-engineered many times to try to make them more durable and capable of surviving FTL "anomalies", but even so, those who sign on to crew Fuel Barges with interstellar range are well aware their life may see a very abrupt end.
Variations of the fuel barge are also commonly used for moving water between colonies and orbitals, as well as by mining consortiums to transport pressurized gasses from the orbital mining stations around Gas Giants. It is rumored the initial design of these ships may even date back to Old Earth, in the decades following the Orbital Wars and prior to the discovery of the Langstrom Effect that enabled FTL.
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