In the aftermath of the First Contact War, the Sintillan Merchant Marine ceased to exist (that it existed beforehand is a discussion best left to academics). It was only after the Treaty of Lvov that Sintillan starships were allowed to be constructed. Initial suggestions by the deWulf to simply use their own freighter design for maximum compatibility were instantly shot down. Partially due to racial pride (as the ubiquitous Zweireiner was almost synonymous with the deWulf invasion) and partially due to the desire to resurrect local shipbuilding capacity, the decision was made to design and build their own freighter.
Officially inaugurated as Project 902, it quickly became informally known as “Chernihiv”, after the city where the design team had found themselves set up. Unfortunately, substantial amounts of skill and knowledge had been lost since the invasion, which meant that a completely new design was impossible. So the designers started with what they had, a partial blueprint set for the old Storvin combat frigate. The single biggest failure of the Storvin was one of the first things the designers jettisoned: it’s powerful (and incredibly temperamental) bomb-pumped laser mount and attached magazine. The designers found that additional systems could also be dropped. Armor plate, most of the shielding systems, and the complicated “Lodya VL-10” Sprint Drive.
With so many systems removed, the two side hulls that made the Storvin so distinctive were almost empty, so much of their structure was simply removed, with enough space for a single deWulf-designed commercial drive unit split across the two hulls. While Kolmar RaumWerke (a wholly-owned subsidiary of deWulf Heavy Industries) said this was dangerous and would result in almost instant drive de-synchronization, Design Team Chernihiv showed that this was in fact not true. With the main hull redesigned, the bridge structure that connected them was rebuilt to house the crew and working spaces, and widened to accommodate a “ladder” container racking system that was slotted between the two side hulls.
Delivered on-time and under-budget, the Chernihiv class proved to have a few design flaws. The long container rack meant that it needed extra maneuvering space compared to its deWulf competitors, and the lack of onboard cargo handling equipment meant it had trouble servicing ungeared ports (a common situation at smaller colony sites and industrial facilities). The solution to both of these problems was simple: by running light (at 50% capacity or less), the Chernihiv could actually hover over a cargo dock and literally “drop” the container down onto the destination pad. While the maneuver could take considerable time for crews unfamiliar with the process, a skilled crew could complete the evolution in half the time that a Zwei needed to unload a container on its own. Loading could be done by simply landing atop a container, and at similar speeds.
Chernihivs soon became a common sight at the smaller and more out of the way ports, and more than a few new port officers would be shocked when they observed a “Chernihiv Turn”. The freighter would drop hard from low orbit, detach the delivery container on its assigned pad, then hop over to collect the outbound container before a deWulf-built freighter could even get its approach vector.
Aftermarket modifications to the Chernihiv proved to be almost as big a seller as the ship itself, with several ships extending their side hulls to have passenger capacity, high security transport capacity, or breakbulk cargo bays. One was even seen sporting salvaged Storvin-class side hulls, complete with VL-10 sprint drives.
This is one of those odder ships where on one level I’m quite happy with it, on other levels I think it needs more work. The physical design is solid and straightforward. It has the distinctive “Sintillan” dual pontoon hull design form, but modified to be a cargo hauler instead of a warship. I’m not sure where I did the actual doodling, or when. It’s early enough in my notebook that it’s definitely a few years old, but it’s separate from several of my other freighter designs, so I’m guessing the idea was kicking around in my head but it took a little while before it was crunched down into a proper hull layout.
The part that I’m not entirely sold on (yet) is the fluff text. The worst part about it is that I like it. I’m just not 100% sure if it’ll entirely fit in nicely. I might end up rewriting part of it sometime in the future and giving it a bit of a retcon, probably the origin of the design as I don’t really have one that predates the First Contact War, and they needed to have one in order to stage their invasion of Yutani. I might do up another design for them from back then, but instead make it a very obvious repurposing of the standard Sintillan frigate (the Chernihiv is “16 hull spaces” in size, while frigates are usually 22). We’ll see how it goes…