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Gatekeeper-class Armed Trader

This article originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of the magazine.

Many of the minor planetary navies and client states along the frontiers lack the industrial ability to build their own starships. However, they do have the ability to extensively modify and repurpose existing hulls. A classic example of this is the Gatekeeper-class Armed Trader, built by Sassanid Heavy Industry, mostly from their secondary shipyards.

Sassanid faced a growing demand from planetary navies and independent systems for a small, jump-capable ship that could be maintained using their local resources, and for conversions to “acquired” merchant ships. Sassanid designers settled on a series of designs that could be retrofitted to existing Far Trader hulls at any class C starport, or built as new construction at any class A or B starport. A Gatekeeper conversion kit, along with some advisors, allows those customers seeking to convert existing ships to do so in about 16 weeks, though some conversions have been completed in as few as 12 weeks.

The Gatekeeper-class Armed Trader is based on a heavily remodeled jump-2 Far Trader hull. The “Trader” element of the name is a holdover indicating the civilian origin of the hull; the ship actually has limited cargo room due to extensive repurposing. About 60% of the Gatekeeper’s parts are those of the original far trader, and merchant crewmen with experience with far traders find it easy to adapt to the Gatekeeper. The ship’s armor is doubled, and the maneuver drives and power plants are expanded, giving the ship a respectable 4G acceleration. A 15-man barracks block is fitted in front of the old cargo bay, with a breaching tube fitted for boarding and customs work (something many customers find very useful). Fuel storage is increased slightly, to extend the operational lifetime of the vessel, allowing for a patrol into a neighboring system without refueling (jump 1 in, one week in-system, jump 1 out, back to base with a week’s fuel in the tank).

The ship is armed with four pulse lasers, a missile launcher and a sandcaster, mounted in triple turrets. The pulse lasers are a modularized design requiring reduced maintenance hours and allowing easier repair; almost 90% of the weapons system can be removed without dismounting the turret. The modifications also increase the accuracy of the lasers.

The Gatekeeper has proven to be a moderately popular choice for cash-strapped systems seeking a cheap vessel for customs and anti-piracy work. At less than 100MCr new, the ship is less half the price of a Gazelle-class Close Escort, and has proven to be perfectly capable of policing merchant traders and driving off light pirate vessels. While most early Gatekeeper sales were for conversion kits, recent orders have seen a rise in new construction, as the series has proven to be a good and inexpensive way to get new light warships into service, while taking advantage of crew familiarity with far traders.

Class Gatekeeper-class Armed Trader      
      Tonnage Cost (MCr)
      199 94.56
Hull 200 hull 4   8
  streamlined structure 4 TL 12 hull 0.8
armour Crystaliron 8 pts 20 3.2
J-drive B jump 2   15 20
M-drive D 4 G accel   7 16
P-Plant D     13 32
bridge hardened   10 1.25
computer model 2 rating 10   0.16
electronics Advanced DM +1 3 0.4
hardpoint 1 triple turret 2 x Pulse Laser, 1 x Missile Rack 1 2.75
hardpoint 2 triple turret 2 x Pulse Laser, 1 x Sandcaster 1 2.25
NOTE   Lasers TL10, Accurate, Easy To Repair    
missile storage   24 standard missles 2  
sandcaster storage   10 pebbles/30 barrels 2  
fuel 1 x jump 2, 4 wks   56  
cargo     17  
crew 7 pilot, nav, 2 gunner, med, capt, engr    
5 statrooms     20 2.5
barracks (10 marines)     20 1
software jump control/ 2     0.2
  Manoeuvre 0      
  library/ 0      
extras fuel scoop      
  fuel processors     0.05
  repair drones   2 1
  breeching tube   10 3
Life support       20,000/month
monthly maintenance       9,656/month