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The Orca was developed as a joint venture between Outer Ring Excavations and Deep Core Mining Inc as a vessel to help meet the demands of New Eden's industry and provide a flexible platform from which mining operations can be more easily managed.
While designed as a powerful fleet booster for mining operations, the Orca also gets much use as a general freighter. It has a ship bay that can carry small and medium sized ships without needing to be repackaged (which would lose rigs and insurance) and a good amount of general cargo space.
More about the Orca and its various roles is listed in the Orca Guide.
Flying the ORCA, and developing the best skill set to do so, is perhaps the biggest improvement in a High-Sec mining fleet. While the ORCA has a large cargo bay, and a separate ORE bay, one of it’s best uses is giving mining fleet members a longer mining laser range, and a faster mining laser cycle time. This leads to more ISK per hour of mining for all fleet members.
Mining Foreman, Mining Director and Warfare Link Specialist provide an effective skill set for ORCA operations. These skills assist fleet members in mining yield improvements. Mining Foreman links in the high slots complete the mastery of the ORCA, providing mining laser range improvements and faster mining cycle times as an integral improvement to a mining fleet.
Miners in the fleet can have access only to the Corporate hanger bays directly, and since corporation default permissions are used, only to the same hangers that they would have access to while docked in a station can be accessed. The ORCA pilot must move ORE from the Corporate Hanger Bay to the ORE bay or the Cargo bay when the Corporate bay gets too full. Typically, it’s good practice to place mining crystals, both T1 and T2s in the Corporate Hanger bay, so the fleet can have access to new ones when theirs burn out. This takes up just a little of the Corporate bay.
The mining fleet can use the ORCAs Ship Maintenance Bay to reconfigure their mining ship, swapping out fittings for different purposes. To enable this, the ORCA pilot must configure the ORCA to allow this access. This is done by the ORCA pilot right clicking on the ORCA, clicking on the Configure Ship menu item, and clicking the “Allow Fleet Member Usage” box
The use of the ORCA is not limited to having large cargo and ORE bays. A mining tactic to use when in a can flipping area is to have frigates or cruisers stored in the Corporate Maintenance Bay and have your fleet swap your mining ships for one of these. A can flipper will look twice if, after he flips your can, several cruisers, a logi, and a tackler suddenly appear. To do this, the mining ship must be within 2500m of the ORCA. This coupled with a decent drone bay, will protect a mining fleet from random pirates, while allowing a decent time to get “The Cavalry” to protect your mining fleet. A note on ship swapping, Combat ships can have nothing in their cargo bays except ammunition. Miners can have nothing in their cargo bays except mining crystals. Prior to docking, miner should jettison all ore and other articles, and the ORCAs tractor beam can haul the cans to the ORCA and put the jettisoned cargo away.
Ships in the SMB will never drop. Modules fitted to those ships will never drop, and cannot be scanned. A tactic sometimes used to move expensive modules, such as those for an Incursion battleship, is to fit them to a ship (cheap frigates are the usual choice), and put that ship in the SMB, removing them from the consideration of anyone ganking for profit.
- ^ In older material you may see references to the Orca's secondary cargo areas as being "unscannable". Prior to the Retribution expansion, the corporate hangar (now called the "Fleet Hangar") in the Orca could not be scanned by players and did not drop its contents on destruction, making it a secure way of transporting high value items around high sec. As of Retribution all the cargo bays of the Orca can be scanned and drop contents just like the normal cargo bay, so this advantage is gone.