While I’ve done a lot of doodles and work on the smaller Zweireiner-class freighter, it’s not the only freighter that sees service in the deWulf Corporate Democracy. As larger hulls became not just possible but economical, new cargo ships entered service to take advantage of economies of scale.
One of the most common is the Provider-class FT5. Carrying just over three times the freight capacity that its smaller brother can manage, the Provider leverages the larger cargo container racks that the Zweireiner helped usher in. Instead of a smaller spine like the Zwei, the Provider’s spine is the same height and width of one of those container racks, which means it has more internal space to make use of.
Seen above is what part of that space is used for. The larger space allows for a ‘proper’ full size small craft bay at the forward part of the spine. Large enough to comfortably handle a pair of passenger launches, the bay onboard a Provider is the largest ever on a civilian ship, a fact put to good use on its passenger variant, the Longstop-class. Further down the spine past the small craft bay is a cargo bay, used for storing ship spares and other supplies, and farther aft still is a horizontal cargo rail that runs down the spine. On either side are access hatches that provide access to some of the cargo racks while in transit. This feature is not commonly used, but some freight requires in-transit inspection and monitoring, and this feature is one of the reasons the Provider is preferred over its smaller cousin.
Above the hangar bay are a pair of general purpose decks, used for crew cabins and recreational spaces. This is where the majority of the crew spaces and support systems are located. While deeply buried in regular service, this provides easy access for repairs and upgrades, as most systems are adjacent to the ships external hull. Mimicking the lower cargo rail, a crew shuttle runs down the spine to provide easier access to systems, as well as the engine rooms located at the aft of the vessel.
The Provider is a big cargo ship, and it is one of the first that starts looking like a “real cargo ship” compared to its smaller compatriot. But its external design means that it is rather lacking in space for all those other things that a cargo ship needs. Like crew spaces, or life support systems, or general engineering bays. Fortunately though, the design of the ship provides its own answer. Just not one that is readily seen when the ship is under full load.