Jump Freighters

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Jump freighters are the Tech 2 industrial Freighter ships that use cynosural fields to move between systems, which allows ships to move around the universe in nullsec and lowsec without the use of stargates. Jump Freighters contribute notably to the availability of modules and items into the outreaches of the universe, and represent the way those items are primarily moved between empire space, nullsec, and player-staged systems. For a well-experienced pilot, they are also one of the most safe ways to transport goods into and through the harshest conditions. For most people however, it is best suited to contract the services of reputable player-operated hauling services, or lean on their corporation-provided jump freighter services should they offer them.

Before getting started with Jump Freighters, you should already have a comfortable familiarity with hauling concepts and the mechanics of operating Freighter-class ships. This article should be considered an advanced guide that is built on-top of a number of existing articles, and it’s recommended that you become familiar with general hauling concepts before focusing on the content in this guide:

  • Moving your items - If you’re interested in the ways you can move your items, as well as having someone do the work on your behalf.
  • Hauling - Describes the basics of hauling items around New Eden.
  • Creating an Alt Hauler - Most players use an alternate character as their hauler, in order to allow their main character to focus on other skills. This is particularly noteworthy for Jump Freighters considering the skill requirements are considerably higher than a normal hauler. In addition, Jump Freighters makes use of other alternate characters, as described below.
  • Jump drives form the foundation of how Jump Freighters operate, and is the key differentiator compared to its T1 freighter class.

The use of jump freighters requires a significant initial capital cost between the skills necessary to train operating the ships, the cost of the jump freighter itself, as well as appropriate selection of modules. As of 2021, this cost is approximately between 15 and 20 billion ISK depending on the jump freighter that you end up choosing. Sophisticated jump freighter operations also involve a dozen or so alternate characters, all of which require Omega clone status for their use. As such, the characters involved in the entire operation require notable investment, both initial and operationally.

Roles

In the context of Jump Freighters, there are at least three roles frequently discussed:

  • Jump Freighter Operator - This is the character that is skilled to fly the actual jump freighter. They are moving cargo and they are the ones most at risk of incurring substantial cost. Your operational plan is built around keeping this character and its ship safe.
  • Cyno(sural) Alt(ernate Character) - This is the character (or characters) that are lighting cynosural fields that your jump freighter character jumps to along its route. Ideally you should have more than one available, which are in accessible locations along your routes ahead of time. They are dispensable. They require Omega status to train and operate the Cynosural Field Generators.
  • Scout / Webbing Assist - Depending on your route and conditions, and like anything in EVE, it may be beneficial to have a scout along your route in Highsec. This scout can dual purpose as an alt that webs your jump freighter in order to enable faster alignment. A readily available cyno alt should not be sacrificed for a scout. Generally this role is filled by your cyno alt while your jump freighter is safely docked up in order to inspect location conditions.

To operate a jump freighter most efficiently, you should have more than two EVE accounts where one account you have a jump freighter trained, and on the others you have 1 or more cyno alts. Those that invest in multiple cyno alt EVE accounts generally optimized that investment by performing other activities on those characters, such as passive skill farming and using those cyno alts for activities like planetary industry and reactions.

Other players can take on the roles above, but it makes the logistics of conducting a jump plan more difficult.

Required Skills

The following are the minimally required skills. While it may be possible to pilot a jump freighter prior to achieving these levels, it is not recommended.

Jump Freighter

These are your core jump freighter skills that make the most impact on the availability of your routes and operational efficiency.

  • Jump Drive Operation - Each level reduces the capacitor need of initiating a jump by 5% per skill level. Training this to V is a dependency for the following skill.
  • Jump Drive Calibration - Each level provides a 20% increase in maximum jump range. This skill significantly expands your viable range. It’s recommended that you train this V at minimum.
  • Jump Fuel Conservation - Each level reduces the isotope (fuel) consumption by 10% per light year. This will notably decrease your fuel cost, and it’s recommended that you train this to IV at minimum.

Jump Freighter hulls have two bonus-associated skills:

  • Jump Freighters - One of two bonus-associated skills for Jump Freighters. Each level reduces jump fuel requirement by 10% as well as adding 10% hull hit points and shield or armor hit points depending on the race. This should be IV at minimum.
  • Racial Freighter - The second of the two bonus-associated ship skills. Each level adds 5% bonus to ship cargo capacity and 5% bonus to ship inertia modifier. This should be IV at minimum.

To train the above skills you need at least:

  • Navigation V
  • Warp Drive Operation V
  • Science V
  • Spaceship Command V
  • Advanced Spaceship Command V

While not specifically required, these are also recommended, and make up a subset of the Magic 14 skills:

  • Evasive Maneuvering V
  • Mechanics V
  • Shield Management V
  • Hull Upgrades V
  • CPU Management V
  • Shield Operation V

Other modules used during fits may also require skill investment.

Cynosural Alts

The alternate characters that will serve as your jump destinations have far fewer requirements:

  • Racial Industrial I
  • CPU Management V
  • Cynosural Field Theory I (or IV if using a Venture)

Jump clone skills will be helpful considering you will want to place clones in strategic locations for all your cynosural alts, and gives you more versatility while reducing the necessity to invest into multiple cyno alt EVE accounts:

Ships

The table below outlines the four current Jump Freighters, as well as the associated commonly cited statistics when the relevant skills are fully trained.

Race Ship Description Align Time Cargo Fuel per Lightyear Fuel type Base EHP
Amarr Empire Ark.jpg The Ark is the most well-rounded jump freighter. It is the second most efficient for cargo hold capacity per fuel per lightyear. 26.1s 168,800m3 8,800 Helium Isotopes 530,000 EHP
Caldari State Rhea.jpg The Rhea has the largest cargo hold, but the slowest align time and consumes the most fuel. However, it’s the least efficient for cargo hold capacity per fuel per lightyear. 27.8s 180,000m3 10,000 Nitrogen Isotopes 468,000 EHP
Gallente Federation Anshar.jpg The Anshar has the highest effective hit points, with the second highest available cargo space, and second highest fuel consumption. 27.3s 171,000m3 9,400 Oxygen Isotopes 548,000 EHP
Minmatar Republic Nomad.jpg The Nomad has the fastest align time, but the lowest hit points. It also has the cheapest fuel costs and is the most efficient for cargo hold capacity per fuel per lightyear. 23.7s 165,000m3 8,200 Hydrogen Isotopes 440,000 EHP

The only skill requirement differences between any of the four ships are the racial freighter skill, as well as its racial industrial dependency. The racial freighter skill alongside the jump freighter skill are the two that affect the bonuses attributed to the ship. Some ships have different model sizes, which can make a difference when placing the cyno and its associated bookmarks, although properly defined tacticals should work for all ship sizes and types.

Fits

Jump Freighter

There are three low slots in every jump freighter. Each slot is generally fit with the same module depending on the use case and objectives:

  • Inertial Stabilizers II - Increases the freighter agility, which will help getting off the gate and getting into warp more quickly.
  • Reinforced Bulkhead II - If you’re interested in increasing your EHP during trips through highsec, fit reinforced bulkheads.
  • Cargohold Expanders II - Increases the jump freighter cargo hold. Generally do not gate in highsec with these fit as they reduce the EHP of the JP, making it more susceptible to ganks. Largely useful jumping out of highsec.
  • Prototype Jump Drive Economizer - Decreases fuel costs. Generally recommended to use these while jumping. Each drive does take up a decent amount of cargo space.

Generally you want to carry a set of three for all four modules with you at all times.

Cyno

The most frequently used ship for an industrial cynos are Ventures. These are small industrial ships that are agile, but only hold enough fuel to light a single instance before having to go refuel. Otherwise, any other T1 industrial works, or more specifically, any other ship that is able to fit the Industrial Cynosural Field Generator. When choosing a ship as well as fitting for a cyno, you should also bear in mind that you should expect to lose cynos frequently, so it’s recommended to use cheap ships and cheap fits.

The key components that are necessary when fitting a cyno are:

  • Industrial Cynosural Field Generator - This is the key component to lighting the cyno.
  • Microwarp Drive - Allows you to burn to tacticals once undocking from the station, although consider bouncing between bookmarks depending on the station configuration.
  • Expanded Cargoholds - Necessary in smaller ships like the Venture, in order to have enough fuel for a single light of the cyno.
  • Appropriate Rigs, such as cargo optimizers for a Venture fit.
  • Tank - Any buffer that enables your ship to survive longer while under attack. You should always anticipate losing the cyno (unless someone nearby can engage the target), but employing a tank can be a defense-in-depth strategy under stressful conditions.

You might consider insuring the cyno ships as well, or at least the ones in your lowsec exit.

Implants

There are a number of implant sets that can help improve the efficiency of your Jump Freighter operations. Primarily these will either be the High-grade Ascendancy set, which increases your ship’s warp speed, or Mid-grade Nomad set, which increases your ship’s agility and thus its align time. Other implants that complement these sets:

  • Eifyr and Co. ‘Rogue’ Warp Drive Speed WS - Increase ship warp speed. (Slot 6) (Conflicts with the Omega implant from each set)
  • Eifyr and Co. ‘Rogue’ Evasive Maneuvering EM - Increase ship agility. (Slot 7)
  • Inherent Implants ‘Noble’ Mechanic MC - Increases hull HP. (Slot 8)
  • Inherent Implants ‘Noble’ Hull Upgrades HG - Increases armor HP. (Slot 10)

If you’re prioritizing efficiency, what saves you the most time is the acceleration, deceleration, and time spent in warp. However, getting off-grid more quickly will keep your ship safer.

Planning a Route

An unoptimized Jump Freighter route between Jita and an arbitrary system in nullsec using DOTLAN's Jump Planner tool for demonstration purposes. Even though it is optimized for the shortest route in terms of travel distance, the midpoints lack NPC stations. It may also be preferrable to select midpoints with highsec entrances even though the Jump Freighter would be moving outbound. Lastly, there could be adjacent midpoints that are more suitable based on their activity levels.

Jump freighters cannot use their jump drives and cynos to jump into highsec space, but they can jump out of highsec space. Thus, whenever you want to bring a jump freighter into high security space, you need to jump the freighter into a system adjacent to another highsec system and pilot your way to your destination as you would in a normal freighter. The travel beginning from your highest exit to your destination in highsec is the riskiest part of the journey.

Types of Systems

When developing a route, especially between highsec and lowsec / nullsec, system choice is important. In the context of the route, these systems have special names:

  • Origin - This is your origin system in nullsec or lowsec (or in highsec if your journey is the reverse).
  • Midpoint - The name applied to any systems in between your origin and your highsec exit.
  • Highsec Exit - These will be systems immediately adjacent to highsec space, and should be lowsec systems. They should be reasonably close to your destination to minimize gate travel, however, those also tend to be the gates that attract the most attention. You will be manually piloting your way from the highsec exit system to your destination. The route between your highsec exit and your destination in highsec can be the most dangerous.
  • Destination - This is your destination system in highsec.

Midpoint Selection

You have much more freedom when selecting systems between your origin and your highsec exit, but there are still a handful of considerations when choosing any station along your possible route.

If you’re reading this guide, each system along the way through any security space that you choose should contain an NPC station. This enables station reliability as well as the means to log off should something occur outside of EVE. As you become more experienced, you can be more considerate of your route while acknowledging additional risks that it brings (e.g., relying on systems with player-owned structures, etc). When viewing a station in game in the Solar System Information window, and when you view the “Structures” tab, if you see a station listed on that tab you are able to dock there. If you jump to a player-owned citadel, make sure you trust the operators so they don’t lock you out after you light the cyno.

Likewise, there are certain station designs that make them unsuitable or risky for use as midpoints. In particular there may be station models that make it more difficult to plant a reliable cyno tactical, but more importantly are stations that are known to be kick-out stations. These are stations that give you little to no time to redock after undocking since it “kicks” you out of the docking ring very quickly.

You might also want to consider having one or more midpoints also having a highsec exit, in case you want to refuel or enable your cyno alts to have easier access to highsec, such as when they are popped or if you want to be bringing in additional cynos.

In summary, your midpoint selection should be a function of system activity, station availability and design, and consideration of fuel costs.

Highsec Exit Selection

One of the most important parts of your planning is selecting a highsec exit. DOTLAN Jump Planner is a nice tool for routing purposes, but it will not choose a decent highsec exit system. This will have to be done through your own investigation, for which you can subsequently add as a waypoint into the jump planner. However, other functions on DOTLAN are beneficial for the purposes of selecting a highsec exit.

Before you begin to make a selection of systems, you should also become familiar with the general topography between your origin and destination, particularly around the highsec / lowsec boundaries while optimizing for distance. A mix between the DOTLAN map and the in-game map may be most useful for getting a sense of system orientation for this specific purpose.

The range tool on DOTLAN is helpful to finding highsec exits near a specific highsec system, but they may not be in the direction of your travel. Once you select a set of candidate highsec exits, there are some characteristics you should evaluate for each candidate:

  • How many gates are between the highsec exit and your destination in highsec? The longer your freighter is in space, the longer it is at risk.
  • What is the distribution of security statuses between your exit and destination in highsec? Ganks are more difficult to pull off in higher status highsec space, causing the natural attention to generally fall towards lower security highsec space. A well-organized group can execute successful ganks in any security space.
  • What has the activity been in the candidate highsec exit? Get a feeling for activity, participants, and locals in those systems. Look at the killboard to understand if there are regular gate campers in supers, or other groups that may cause frustration. This should be a continuous process you do regularly, even if you become comfortable in a given route due to the absence of activity.
  • How many lightyears are between your highsec exit and every hop along to your destination? You always want to make sure you have the ability to jump out of high security space should your travels prove troublesome. When you’re making your way into highsec, your cyno alt will likely be most readily available in that highsec exit, and as such, it should be continuously accessible via jumping along each system to your destination. Depending on the route taken through highsec, it could be possible, although unlikely, that one of your intermediate systems is outside the range!
  • What stations are available in your candidate system? See previous section on “Midpoint Selection”

Bookmarks, Tacticals, and Cyno Placement on Stations

Once you’ve planned a route you need to now work on ensuring you have the appropriate bookmarks for each station in the systems you have along your route for all characters involved, both cynos and the jump freighter. For example, both the jump freighter and cyno alts require insta-docks for every station. These are bookmarks immediately on the undock that guarantees your ship will be able to dock to the station. Using the “dock” command that involves your ship warping may cause you to be put outside the docking ring. These bookmarks will place you within a 2.5km radius of where the bookmark is placed, so make sure they are also placed where you will not bump off the station. These are used most frequently as the landing point of your jump freighter when navigating it, and reducing the time between landing on-grid docking.

The most important set of bookmarks you need are those for each station on your cyno alts that represent the *specific* location that you will light your cyno. These need to be clear of obstacles (the station) while remaining in the docking ring of the station. More specifically, the center of the bookmark plus a spherical 5km radius, or 10km diameter, must be fully within the docking ring and the radius of the sphere must not intersect with any component of the station. Your jump freighter will be landing on any point within that sphere when you jump to your cyno. Every station in EVE is a different model, and collision model. Stations of the same model can have the same tactical location in their respective locations. Be aware of towers and other components of the stations that can intersect with the sphere. As described above during the station selection, some stations have notably small docking rings, while some of those stations with small docking rings may also be kick-out stations, and some docking “rings” are not actually fully spherical.

Important Note: This is not a complete summary; It only serves to introduce the importance of cyno placement. If you’ve reached this point it’s required to detour and read a very useful guide on Reddit about cyno placement for jump freighters.

Threats

There are a common set of threats you should be mindful of when piloting your jump freighter. Outside threats generally occur, or initially triggered, after you have jumped into a nullsec or lowsec system (as your cyno makes your presence to the rest of the system known), or during gate transitions within Highsec space or on your Lowsec exit. Threats of your own are generally due to being ill-prepared for your journey.

  • Suicide Ganking - By and large your biggest outside threat will be suicide ganks on gates during your trips through Highsec and its exit, or on stations when you are leaving. You will generally always be a target, no matter whether you are carrying any cargo considering you’re in a shiny, expensive ship. These ganks are going to take many players to conduct successfully, but they are a frequent occurrence. If you establish a pattern of habits, it can be trivial for a well-determined group to anticipate your movements and routes, especially if you have encountered them in the past.
    • On-gate - These are your classic gate camps, where you jump through a stargate into a system and see any configuration of ships that are commonly used in ganking gate camps. If you notice one of these, immediately decloak and jump to your prepared cyno. If you don’t have a cyno ready, they will either immediately attempt their luck, constantly bump you until they are prepared, or suicide scram until their fleet can form.
    • On-station - These typically occur on stations you just cyno jumped into, and will often involve attempting to bump you out of the docking ring with a Force Auxiliary (FAX) ship when you undock. Once that occurs, either a fleet will be dropped in, or a supercarrier will drop in an attempt to alpha you. These are trickier considering it’s also the same system that your most recently used cyno is located in. If you find yourself undocking and a FAX undocks immediately after, redock. Otherwise, if you have an alternative cyno already available, consider jumping out.
  • Bouncing off station - By and large your biggest inside threat (of your own fault) is bouncing off station when you jump to your cyno. If you do notice a bounce, immediately attempt to dock while your ship is still in the ring, but don’t spam it if you get the message that docking is imminent. If you find your ship suddenly outside the docking ring, don’t try to turn around and redock at the station if another station or planet is within your rough direction that you bounced so you can warp off. If this occurred during your jump from highsec to your exit, you could warp to the highsec gate, jump through, wait out your jump timer and jump back to your cyno.
  • Timers, Capacitor, and Context - For all other situations where you would normally think about escaping by jumping, there are a few caveats that temporarily limit your options over the course of your journey:
    • First, you need to have over 75% of your capacitor available in order to jump. In addition to the jump reactivation timer, this effectively prevents you from jumping again immediately after having conducted a jump.
    • Secondly, you can only jump to a cyno that is in a different system than you. Thus you have to be cognizant of where your other cynos are and where your jump freighter is before you encounter dangerous circumstances.
    • Lastly, if your jump freighter is moving too fast, it will not be able to jump. This can occur if you've been bumped by another ship, or bumped off the station.

Executing a Route

At this point, you should already have your route planned, with your cynos, their equipment, and jump clones staged. Some of these take the form of establishing habits, and are important to continue doing especially when you feel comfortable.

Before you execute a route on Tranquility for the first time, make sure you have practiced much of what is discussed in this guide on the test server.

Preflight Checklist

Before you leave your initial station, you should:

  • Stage extra fuel for your jump freighter and cynos in your respective jump systems. A jump freighter deep in nullsec without fuel is a very stranded jump freighter.
  • Likewise, make sure the stations where your cyno alts are located have spare ships and fuel. It could be the case that when you’re moving from lowsec / nullsec to highsec, your cyno alt is popped after you’ve begun your journey into highsec. You should be rapidly prepared to redeploy a cyno should you need to return.
  • Ensure you have the items inside your jump freighter you want to transfer. This includes any ships from the ship hanger.
  • Make sure you have the appropriate amount of fuel in your fuel bay for not only all jumps along your route, but also one extra jump between your exit system and your destination system in case of emergencies. Ideally just keep your fuel bay fully stocked.
  • When refueling, make sure it is stacked in your fuel bay. Previously, and potentially currently, your ship would not jump if it didn’t have enough fuel in any given stack.
  • Ensure you have all the appropriate low slot modules in your cargo bay for refitting at the appropriate points along your route.
  • Reset or set the cyno alt home stations to appropriate places, and ensure they are physically where you need them to be, or are prepared to move them as you move your jump freighter.
  • Pause skill training on cyno alts in case you need to immediately jump clone any of them.

Traveling

Here are other useful recommendations during your journey, and tactics to employ:

  • Generally don’t jump by right clicking on your capacitor and choosing your cyno. During times of high stress you might accidentally choose a beacon in the system. It’s recommended that you add all cynos you will be using to the fleet’s watch list and right-click on their name and select “Jump to Member” instead. Use this tactic for all jumps along your route.
  • When you’re in your highsec exit system and before you undock, especially if it is a new route, set the destination as your destination system in game on your jump freighter and open your in-game map. When you do this, you should see a grey sphere that shows you the maximum jumping distance. Ensure that all systems along this route through highsec are within that sphere, and thus will tell you whether you’ll be able to safely escape at any point along the way.
  • When transitioning to highsec, ensure you refit your ship with the appropriate low slots. As you refit for highsec travel, keep an eye on the cyno alt and understand what others are doing in the system.
  • Before progressing from lowsec into highsec, make sure you do not have a red timer active on your jump freighter. This will prevent you from escaping once you leave the system should you encounter suspicious circumstances.
  • When traveling between your highsec exit and your destination in highsec, you should always have a cyno alt in position either with a cyno already lit or ready to be lit. It generally should not be docked up in a station “in reserve” considering that the alt needs to be in a specific spot within the docking ring of stations that may be stressful to reach in a situation or when you need it.
  • Likewise, before traveling into highsec, make sure you understand the current state of your cyno. If it’s still lit, is it going to have enough fuel to immediately relight or is it going to have to refuel at the station? Try and time the need to refuel the cyno with your gate cloak timers. One trick is to set destination of the station on your cyno after you decycle the cyno, and it will automatically slow boat and dock whenever the cyno is done cycling.
  • When undocking if you see another cyno that isn’t an industrial cyno, like a normal cyno or covert cyno, or perhaps cloaky ships or force recon, redock / don’t undock.
  • When undocking your cyno, if in a venture with a MWD, you can pilot to your cyno bookmark. Alternatively, or if you’re in an industrial as a cyno, you can bounce between an object and the bookmark.
  • Whenever you undock, don’t hit “warp to” as you will have to stop your warp in order to dock. Select “align to” first and then warp once you obtain the transition speed. Do this for everything. If you’re trying to warp you have to stop before docking.
  • When you jump through into a system and you see a ganking fleet that you believe is a risk, decloak and immediately jump to your lit cyno. Depending on the system you are in, you may be subjected to a suicide scram attack, where different members of the fleet will point you while they bring in a fleet. The only way an enemy fleet can keep you on the field is with a scram. Once no one has you pointed, you are able to jump to your cyno. Competent gank fleets are able to pull that off.
  • After you have entered warp to your instadock on a station, set your destination to the station and enable autopilot. This will cause your jump freighter to instantly dock when it lands on-grid.