Brennan Industries, LIC, a mercantile holding company on the fringes of the Imperium, decided to expand their services into areas beyond the Imperium. Initially targeting District 268, a packet service, with regular cargo and passenger service to worlds not nomally served by the larger merchant lines, was sold as a subscription package to several worlds in the District. In return for a partial subsidization of the route and an agreement to give Brennan Industries a mail contract, the corporation would provide timely packet service.
Intending to build the route from the ground up, Brennan turned to its wholly owned design subsidiary, Pssthpok (of Pak) Engineering (motto: Brute Force solutions to your Engineering needs) PPE came up with the unique Esprit class of merchant pickets.
When the specifications were released in late 1067, skeptics scoffed at the plan. How could a ship without internal jump tankage possibly be useful in a frontier environment? Sir Elroy Truesdale, a spokesman for the firm, tried to answer these questions: "First, its a myth that there is no internal tankage. Two collapsible 15-ton fuel bladders are stowed in the cargo bay, making it possible for the ship to jump even without drop tanks. But by not carrying the jump fuel in normal operations, we have been able to increase armor and armament beyond that typical for a ship of this size. A Brennan Packet means guaranteed delivery!"
The truth is that the ship works very well while on the packet routes. Brennan Industries agents collect used drop tanks and refill them at most points on the route. Additionally, 1500-ton tenders follow the packet routes, providing refit and refueling for packet ships.
For a ship of its size, the Esprit class is remarkable in that it can pay for itself, provided it travels near capacity and has a mail contract. Brennan aggressively pursues cargos and passengers along the packet routes, often doing a steady business in contracting for the government. Agents of the company can be found at any starport, even Class E, along the packet routes. (These routes travel to worlds without Class A starports. Frequently a Class B starport is selected as the "hub" of the route.)
Brennan Industries was founded by a consortium of former high-ranking military officers, and these origins are clearly visible in the corporate structure and hiring policies. A high percentage of the crews of Esprit class pickets have military experience. Pilots are generally recruited from the Imperial Navy; when Naval pilots are unavailable, Scouts are preferred because of their high initiative. Stewards are often ex-Marines; it is fairly well-known that Brennan will even train prospective Marines in Steward and Gunnery upon hire. The Steward is considered the ship's security officer.
Medics were traditionally recruited from the Army and Marines. Recently, however, medics from the Merchant service have been sought after. These medics serve as de facto pursers for their ships.
The first series of five packets were released in 1069, all named after battles from Terran history; the best known were the Issus, Cannae and Actium. Their tender was the Ptolomey, tragically destroyed by pirates in 1072. Problems with the drop tanks often limited these ships to Jump-1; the ones still in service were extensively overhauled in 1080 to correct these problems.
Series B was far more successful; several ships, including the Austerlitz, Jena and Chancellorsville remain in service, as does the redoubtable tender Marechal Ney, now the "Permanent Floating Headquarters" of Brennan Industries in District 268. This series was released in 1082 and many ships saw combat during the Fourth Frontier War.
The militaristic names of the ships are an indication of the class' other well-known function: mercenary transports. By doubling up and using the low berths, almost a full rifle platoon may be carried onboard, as well as vehicles and equipment. The ship's armor and moderate G-rating make it able to survive surface combat. An example of this occured during the Tanoose Insurgency in 1105. Two Esprit-class packets purchased by Zahir Tananga, Yo canto de las armas y del hombre and Canta, Musa, de la ira de Aquilles, were able to deliver two light tank platoons, including eight tanks, in a hot combat drop before immediately taking off. Rendezvousing with Allison, flora de mi corazon, Tananga's subsidized merchant in orbit, they picked up their drop tanks and jumped out.
Indeed, indications are that Pssthpok Engineering simply adapted their original drop ship/light SDB design to merchant service...
Quarters on an Esprit class are extremely cramped and can barely be considered High Passage quality. Physically, the ships are vaguely ovid, like a fat ellipse balanced on edge. The lower deck contains the cargo bay, including a large cargo door at the bow of the vessel for rapid disembarkment. The next level houses fuel and passenger staterooms. Narrowing as it rises, a large open gap between two "towers" holds the drop tanks; the aft tower holds the drives, and the forward tower contains the bridge and three small staterooms for the crew. Spanning the gap is the "handle", a crawlway connecting the towers.
The USP for the tender is also given here. The cargo space is given over to drop tanks and spare parts; the ship generally carries an extra engineer or three for field repairs.
Specifications: Esprit-class Packet
Esprit MP-16222R2-230000-10001-0 MCr 80.472 150 Tons Bat Bear 1 1 1 Crew: 12 Bat 1 1 1 TL: 12
Cargo: 49.000 Fuel: 3.000 EP: 3.000 Agility: 1 Pulse Lasers
Fuel Treatment: Fuel Scoops and On Board Fuel Purification
Architects Fee: MCr 0.805; Cost in Quantity: MCr 64.378
- 150.000 tons standard, 2,100.000 cubic meters, Flattened Sphere Configuration
- Pilot/Engineer, Medic, Gunner/Steward
- Jump-2, 2G Manuever, Power plant-2, 3.000 EP, Agility 1
- Bridge, Model/1bis Computer
- 1 Hardpoint
- 1 Triple Mixed Turret with: 1 Pulse Laser (Factor-1), 1 Missile Rack (Factor-1).
- 1 Single Sandcaster Turret organised into 1 Battery (Factor-3), Armoured Hull (Factor-2)
- 3.000 Tons Fuel (0 parsecs jump and 28 days endurance)
On Board Fuel Scoops, On Board Fuel Purification Plant, 30.000 ton drop tanks
- 7.5 Staterooms, 20 Low Berths, 49.000 Tons Cargo
- USER DEFINED COMPONENTS
- MCr 81.277 Singly (incl. Architects fees of MCr 0.805), MCr 64.378 in Quantity
- CONSTRUCTION TIME
- 49 Weeks Singly, 39 Weeks in Quantity
Specifications: Marechal Ney-class Tender
Marechal Ney MT-A722222-040000-20002-0 MCr 618.010 1.5 KTons Bat Bear 1 2 2 Crew: 39 Bat 1 2 2 TL: 12
Cargo: 108.000 Emergency Low: 5 Fuel: 530.000 EP: 30.000 Agility: 1
Shipboard Security Detail: 2 Marines: 5 Pulse Lasers
Craft: 5 x 95T Shuttle, 3 x 10T Fighter
Architects Fee: MCr 6.180; Cost in Quantity: MCr 494.408
- 1,500.000 tons standard, 21,000.000 cubic meters, Dispersed Structure Configuration
- 11 Officers, 23 Ratings, 5 Marines
- Jump-2, 2G Manuever, Power plant-2, 30.000 EP, Agility 1
- Bridge, Model/2 Computer
- 10 Hardpoints
- 3 Dual Missile Turrets organised into 2 Batteries (Factor-2), 5 Dual Pulse Laser Turrets organised into 2 Batteries (Factor-2)
- 2 Dual Sandcaster Turrets organised into 1 Battery (Factor-4)
- 5 95.000 ton Shuttles (Crew of 0, Cost of MCr 0.000), 3 10.000 ton Fighters (Crew of 0, Cost of MCr 0.000)
- 530.000 Tons Fuel (2 parsecs jump and 28 days endurance, plus 200.000
tons of additional fuel)
No Fuel Scoops, No Fuel Purification Plant
- 25.0 Staterooms, 5 Emergency Low Berths, 108.000 Tons Cargo
- USER DEFINED COMPONENTS
- MCr 624.190 Singly (incl. Architects fees of MCr 6.180), MCr 494.408 in Quantity
- CONSTRUCTION TIME
- 127 Weeks Singly, 102 Weeks in Quantity