Difference between revisions of "Orca Guide"

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==Fitting service==
==Fitting service==
Besides being able to swap ships, the Orca has a fitting service – so you can swap modules while in space. This only applies to fleet members; the orca pilot can’t use the fitting service to change modules on the orca itself.  Right click on the Orca to choose to Use Fitting Service.  You can swap fittings that are in the cargohold of the ship you’re flying, or you can pull fittings out of the orca’s bays.
Besides being able to swap ships, the Orca has a fitting service – so you can swap modules while in space. Right click on the Orca to choose to Use Fitting Service.  You can swap fittings that are in the cargohold of the ship you’re flying, or you can pull fittings out of the Orca’s bays. If you're flying the Orca, you can use your own fitting service if you first jettison a can with the fittings you want to equip into a JetCan.
==Tractor Beam Bonuses==
==Tractor Beam Bonuses==

Revision as of 04:52, 11 May 2010

A few weeks ago there was some information flying around in the Uni Industry channel about Orcas. Some of it was accurate, some of it was misinformed. I’ve been flying one on my alt for a few months now, so I figured I would provide some clarification on what they can do, so that people can decide whether or not they really want to spend the time training for one. I rolled an alt specifically to become an Orca pilot, and it turned out to be a bit different from what I was expecting it to be. I’m still happy with the ship, but I wish I had this information ahead of time. It’s around a 400,000,000 isk investment for the hull alone, so it helps to be forewarned.

What is the Orca?

The Orca is billed as a mining support vessel. It does a decent job of this, but it also has many other uses. And depending on how many people the ship is supporting, you might actually be better off with another miner (covered later).

The Orca is also an Industrial Command Ship. It is NOT a Capital Industrial Ship. I’ve seen some people buy the wrong skillbook and waste over 400,000,000 isk. Unless you want to fly a Rorqual, save yourself the cash. I think the confusion stems from the Orca being listed under “Capital Industrial Ships” in the market window. The proper book costs 45,000,000 isk from NPC school stations.

Skill Requirements

  • Industrial Command Ships I
  • Spaceship Command V
  • Mining Barge V
  • Astrogeology III
  • Science IV
  • Mining IV
  • Industry V
  • Mining Director I
  • Leadership I
  • Mining Foreman V

What do you get when you buy an Orca?

Cargo Space

Possibly the biggest selling point of the Orca is the huge amount of cargo space that it supports for a ship that “only” costs around 400 million isk. The ship has 4 different “containers”. The first is the cargohold. This starts off holding 30,000 m3, and gets larger with Expanded Cargoholds (low slots), Large Cargohold Optimizations (rig slots), and an additional 5% bonus for each level of the Industrial Command Ship skill. Maxed out for hauling, you could fit over 90,000 m3 in the cargohold – not that I would recommend it (more on that later). This is the ONLY cargo hold on the ship that seems to receive bonuses from mods, rigs, and skills. The other storage areas on the ship stay the same regardless of fittings and skills at the time of this writing.

The second “cargo hold” that the ship contains is a 50,000 m3 hold that can contain only mined materials (I’ve tested it with Ore and Ice. I assume Gas works also, but I haven’t actually tried it). If you try to drag modules or anything else into the ore hold, you’ll get an error message. You can’t even place refined ore (i.e. minerals) in the ore hold!

The next cargo area on the ship is the corporate hangar, which holds another 40,000 m3. This can hold a mixture of items like the standard cargohold, but it is divided up into sections that match your corporate role distinctions, like any other corp hangar. The total corp space is 40,000 – you don’t get 40,000 for each tab. Like any other corp hangar, you need sufficient rights to access the individual tabs. So potentially, someone can put something in there, and the pilot might not have access to get it out. To fix this, CCP allows the orca pilot to access the corp hangar while the ship is in space, even if the pilot wouldn’t necessarily have the right permissions to do so while docked. Otherwise, someone could jam contraband into the hangar and you’d be stuck with it.

Ship Maintenance Bay

The final cargo hold is actually a Ship Maintenance Bay. This one holds 400,000 m3, which sounds like a great deal, but there’s a catch – the only items you can put into the bay are assembled ships. To give you an idea of what would fit in the bay, here are the sizes of some common vessels, when assembled:

  • Hulk/Covetor – 200,000 m3
  • Mackinaw/Retriever – 150,000 m3
  • Skiff/Procurer – 100,000 m3
  • Osprey – 107,000 m3
  • Scythe – 89,000 m3
  • Rifter – 27,289 m3
  • Raven – 486,000 m3

So if you’re using this to support Hulks, you’ll fit at most 2 in the bay.

To access the ship maintenance bay, you either have to be in the same corp as the pilot, or the pilot has to right click the ship while in space, choose configure ship maintenance bay, and check off the “Allow fleet members” option for the ship, which allows all fleet members to access the bay. Note that this setting resets itself every time you zone. If a fleet member wants to switch ships in space, they can open the ship maintenance bay, right click the ship they want to use, and choose either “Board Ship from Bay” or “Launch ship from bay.” The Board option is safer – it stores your current ship in the bay, and puts you into the new one in space. It’s only available if there is enough room in the bay to store the new ship minus the old ship. Otherwise, you have to choose the Launch option, which leaves your current ship abandoned in space, and puts you in the new one. As with any abandoned ship, this could potentially allow someone to steal your ship, so use the option cautiously.

Fitting service

Besides being able to swap ships, the Orca has a fitting service – so you can swap modules while in space. Right click on the Orca to choose to Use Fitting Service. You can swap fittings that are in the cargohold of the ship you’re flying, or you can pull fittings out of the Orca’s bays. If you're flying the Orca, you can use your own fitting service if you first jettison a can with the fittings you want to equip into a JetCan.

Tractor Beam Bonuses

The Orca gets 2 big bonuses to tractor beams. The first is a 250% range increase, and the second is a 100% beam velocity increase. While the velocity increase is nice to have, since you’ll usually only fit one beam at most, the range increase is really nice – if you’re supporting a mining op with multiple players, the ability to pull all the cans without moving is huge. Whether you pull them and loot them or pull them just so your industrials can have a single warp-in point, it’s a big timesaver. It’s also great for pulling in wrecks to a single location to be looted/salvaged.

Survey Scanner Bonus

Survey scanners on an orca get a 500% range increase. So you can hit one button and see how much ore is in every rock in over a 100km radius. Now, some people think survey scanners are useless, but personally, I don’t like wasting a strip miner cycle just to find out there was 2 ore left in a rock. That said, the main purpose of putting the scanner on the orca rather than on the mining ships is so you can mark the juiciest targets – it requires way too much micromanagement to see that mining pilot number 4 is hitting a rock that’s about to pop imho.

Gang Links

You can equip and use 3 gang links on the orca at the same time. Of course, you would have to skip on using the tractor beam to use all 3 (the ship only has 3 high slots), so it’s up to you to weigh the benefit of 3 links vs. 2 links plus a beam. This is also going to depend on what you’re using the ship for – a mining support ship is going to have different high slots than an exploration platform (more on that later). Additionally, you get a bonus to mining foreman gang links with each level of industrial command ship skill, on top of the bonuses you would get from the Mining Director skill, Warfare Link Specialist, and the Mining Foreman Mindlink implant. Since the ship only gets bonuses to mining gang links, we’ll focus on those for now. The three mining gang links are:

  • Harvester Capacitor Efficiency: cuts down on cap use for your mining lasers/harvesters
  • Laser Optimization: cuts down on your cycle time for mining lasers/harvesters
  • Mining Laser Field Enhancement: increases the range of your lasers/harvesters

The cap link might be of use if you need to stabilize the tank on an exhumer, but if you’re going to skip one to fit something else in a high slot, it’s probably the one to skip. The cycle time decrease is a great bonus, especially if you’re mining ice, where it’s all about cycle time. And given the slow acceleration and poor agility on most mining vessels, the range increase is nice also, so you don’t have to move quite as often.


The Orca has a really nice tank. Out of the box, it has 10,750 shields, 6,900 armor, and 46,000 hull. Add your skills on top of that, like mechanic level 5, and this thing can actually be hull tanked. In fact, doing nothing but adding a Damage Control II to the ship will give you a huge buffer to ward off attacks. The setup I usually use gives me about 175,000 EHP with my alt’s skills, even with one Expanded Cargohold II and Large Cargo Rigs (shield mods in the mids). If you really want to go crazy, you can get the thing over 270,000 EHP with good skills. You can cut into your tank significantly by going with 2 cargo expanders in the lows (over 90k m3 in your cargohold with rigs though), so I just stick with the DC.

Uses for the Orca

Mining Ops

The obvious use for the ship is to support mining ops, but how?

Some people feel the Orca is a waste of a ship in a mining op. There are two main reasons for this. First, if someone has skills to fly an orca, they have most of the skills they would need to fly a Hulk. An orca with full bonuses (Industrial Command Ship 5, Mining Director 5, Warfare Link Specialist 5, Mindlink Implant) would have a 25.875% bonus to each activated mining link. So there has to be at least 5 people in the fleet, including the Orca pilot (running the laser optimization link), to justify having the pilot in the Orca rather than an additional Hulk, according to the theory.

The second reason people complain about the Orca supporting a mining op, is that the cargo space isn’t enough to support 4 or more hulks mining a belt. Even if you fit it for max storage, it holds about 180,000 m3 of ore (remember, the ship bay only holds ships) between the cargohold, orehold, and corp hangar. That’s about 6 and a half full cans worth of ore. Not bad, but a large mining op will fill up 6 cans quickly. And if the Orca has to warp back to a station to keep dumping ore, that negates the link bonuses, as they deactivate in warp. Not to mention that the inertia and warp speed modifiers, while faster than a freighter, will still make your hulk feel like a frigate in comparison, so constantly moving the ship isn’t a real option.

Both of these arguments are valid, but there are counterarguments as well. First off, many fits will have at least a second link. The range link is invaluable, as it cuts down on how often you have to move your mining ships to new targets, considering the speed of most mining vessels. Someone out of range is mining 0 ore.

Second, the range of the tractor beam on the Orca makes it great for pulling in cans to a central location, rather than having haulers slowboating around belts to scoop them up with pitiful range tractor beams. Or even worse, requiring mining ships to haul their own ore back to station. Also, the orca can tractor the rat wrecks to a central point as well. Many mining ops have more than one hauler. If one of them is in an orca, not only do miners get the bonuses, but the haulers can be reduced in number since they have a single warp-in point to keep offloading ore. One hauler on top of the Orca can keep dumping the ore, and if he equips a salvaging unit, can provide additional income to the op, without having to chase down wrecks. Another advantage of the huge range on the beam is that the orca can pull in cans when a can flipper is in the system.

Additional functions that you can provide are repairs through drones if needed, a place to store lots of mining crystals, and as a combat ship hangar, should the op be working in a lower sec area with tougher rats. If you have a survey scanner equipped, you can mark the biggest asteroids in the belt, so that people can focus on the most profitable rocks first.

Wormhole Support

Flying your expensive ship into a wormhole, assuming you’ve got one that can support the mass of the ship, requires serious nerve, but it can provide you with a mobile platform for refitting, swapping ships, storing loot, and repairing. Many corps set up POSes for this sort of thing, but the orca doesn’t require all the logistics that keeping a POS fueled and online would. Plus, in the Uni, the chances of you having the proper permissions to set up a POS are slim to none.

Fit reppers/repper drones, and a cloak. Stay cloaked in a safespot until needed. Uncloaking should only be done when there are no ships in the system outside of your fleet.


Running two accounts in missions, one of which is flying an orca, can be helpful. In combat missions, you can provide non-mining link bonuses to your other character, and tractor the wrecks to a central point while the other character fights. Clear the room, and then head back to the orca to get your salvage ship, or refit your combat ship right in space. Since all the wrecks are already together, you can fit 8 salvagers instead of the usual 4 salvagers + 4 tractor beam configuration, and quickly salvage everything. For mining missions, the benefits are obvious. You can semi-afk your way through the mission and never be in danger of your can expiring. Occasionally you may get a courier mission that requires a huge amount of storage for hauling, particularly some of the storyline courier missions. Instead of needing a freighter, the orca can fit the bill.

Less Reputable Uses

Many pirates use Orcas as mobile bases. They can hold all the loot that they’ve gotten through suicide ganking or other means, and they can provide a nearby platform for switching and refitting ships when needed. Not to mention that an outlaw can stay in a pod and just pull a ship out of the bay when needed. We won’t go into detail on using the Orca to further a career in crime, but if you’re a hauler and you see an orca with a bunch of non-mining ships, be on your toes.


I hope this clears up some things regarding Orcas. They can be a large investment in both time and money, but they can be a very useful addition to your hangar.