Ryan Iceships

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Ryan Iceships
Corporation Profile
Founding Year2177[1]
Previous Name(s)Ryan Cartel
LeadershipDivision Head
Product(s)Water technology
Parent CorporationCurtiss Hydroponics

The Ryan Cartel (or Ryan Ice Cartel) was formed to transport huge asteroidal icebergs through hyperspace with a new, revolutionary jump technique to supply colonies with cheap water. Nearly bankrupt after the development of advanced water purification technology during the Star League era, the assets of the Ryan Ice Cartel were purchased by the Free Worlds League-based Curtiss Hydroponics in 2688 and continue to survive through to the Word of Blake Jihad as their Ryan Iceships Group/Division.


Entrepreneur Rudolph Ryan started the Ryan Cartel on 10 January 2177. The company patented and implemented a new iceship technology, allowing crews to cut massive blocks of ice from the asteroid belts of uninhabited systems and transport them to inhabited systems using a formation of jump capable ships, which exponentially increased the amount of ice that could be transported compared to carrying it on individual JumpShips.[1] (Ryan Cartel tanker DropShips were also mentioned.[2]) The rate of extra-terrestrial colonization was greatly accelerated by the increased availability and quality of water provided by the Ryan Cartel.

Within a few short years, the Ryan Cartel became enormously profitable.[3] The iceships of the cartel stimulated the colonization of many worlds previously believed only marginally habitable. The number of inhabited colonies increased from over 200 in 2195 to over 600 by the time of the Fourth Alliance Grand Survey conducted in 2235.[3][4]

Though Project Lowell filled much of Mars' low lying northern hemisphere with cometary water delivered simply by steering and slamming comets into Mars. However, the bulk delivery of water by cometary impact could not be repeated after Project Lowell was declared a success in 2205 and humans began settling the world. (That settlement was driven by mining companies, because by 2200 any Terran seeking a planet to colonize would not willingly select muddy, frigid, ugly Mars when much more attractive worlds were available outside the Terran system). The inability to simply smash cubic kilometers of water onto Mars became a real problem by the latter half of the twenty-third century: the dry, fractured crust soaked water like a sponge, threatening to dry up rivers, lakes, and even the deep Hellas Basin Sea. The Ryan Ice Cartel, which had conquered a similar challenge to deliver cubic kilometers of water ice to its customers at a time when DropShips might bear a couple thousand tons of payload, offered the solution: a "skyhook" dangling from Mars' inner moon Phobos would drop the water ice to the planet with only city-shattering force (rather than continent-shattering).[citation needed]

The Phobos Skyhook targeted (mostly successfully) its falling icebergs at the already flooded Valles Marineris, right where the super canyon crossed the equator and emptied into the manmade Northern Ocean at Chryse Planitia. However, the southern Hellas Basin Sea was isolated from that new water by the high southern continental plateau and the equatorial orbit of Phobos.[5]

Despite the improvements in infrastructure possible through the Ryan Cartel, Rudolph Ryan and his successor David Ryan openly backed the Alliance Liberal Party and covertly supported blockade runners in their attempts to "illegally" colonize worlds much further away from Terra, beyond the reach of Terran Alliance authorities. The efforts of the Ryan Cartel led directly to the colonization of hundreds of worlds, the Outer Reaches Rebellion, the eventual collapse of the Terran Alliance, and the formation of the modern Inner Sphere. Rudolph Ryan was killed by an anarchist assassin in 2185. David Ryan maintained smuggling on the side, and aided the Outer Reaches Rebels through supplies of arms and military intelligence.[6]

In its heydays, the Ryan Cartel was described as a massive conglomerate with several subsidiaries involved in various aspects of water transportation.[7] Their subsidiaries include Johnson Platform Airframes (creators of the Eckener tanker airship),[7] and the oceanographic research branch Ryan Systemics.[2]

Star League era[edit]

The Ryan Ice Cartel would continue to operate as the primary supplier vital water through to the formation of the Star League. But all changed during the Good Years in the wake of the Reunification War, when League engineers at the Caph Institute of Technology developed the Jamerson-Ulikov Water Purification Procedure in 2622. It was half the size and a third the cost of any previous water-purification system and significantly cheaper to operate over importing water via iceships, making economically feasible to settle Inner Sphere worlds previously ignored during the Exodus as well as providing many already settled worlds with an unexpected economic boom.[8][9][10][11]

As fewer and fewer worlds relied on its service, the Ryan Cartel was nearly driven bankrupt. By 2668, the remaining assets of the Cartel's Iceship Division were bought up by Curtiss Hydroponics, the League-based manufacturer of the TriFil water purification system. Conducted more out of pride than sound business practice, the Ryan Cartel would continue to lose millions of Star League Dollars a year before better management and cost-cutting measures stabilized its finances.[12][13]

Succession Wars era[edit]

As the Star League teetered on the brink of collapse in the wake of the Amaris Coup, Curtiss began production of five new vessels for the Ryan Iceships Division, the first of their kind built in almost two centuries. The fortuitous acquisition of the Ryan Cartel helped the company to weather the maelstrom of the Succession Wars as the slide into LosTech again made construction of iceships both increasingly vital and highly profitable. Curtiss would continue to operate the Ryan Iceship Division until at least 3067, with at least fifty-one of the fragile vessels still in operation.[12][13]

Known Ships[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 House Kurita (The Draconis Combine), p. 13: "Ryan Announces Innovative Water Transport"
  2. 2.0 2.1 Technical Readout: Vehicle Annex, p. 170 = Technical Readout: Vehicle Annex, Revised, p. 170: "Johah JN-002 Submarine"
  3. 3.0 3.1 House Kurita (The Draconis Combine), p. 14: "Expansion and Autonomy"
  4. The Periphery, pp. 12–13: "First Exodus"
  5. BattleCorps: INN Newscast (Solaris Broadcasting Co. section), news item published [15/01/3072]: "Touring the Grand Canal of Mars"
  6. The Periphery, pp. 12, 14: "First Exodus - Outer Reaches Rebellion"
  7. 7.0 7.1 Technical Readout: Vehicle Annex, p. 102 = Technical Readout: Vehicle Annex, Revised, p. 106: "Eckener EC-1 Tanker Airship"
  8. The Star League, pp. 54–55: "Economic and Scientific Advancements - Other Major Technological Breakthroughs"
  9. MechWarrior 1st Edition, p. 6: "A History of Human Space, 2001–3025 - The Good Years (2601–2750)"
  10. MechWarrior 2nd Edition, pp. 109–111: "Historical Overview - The Good Years (2601–2750)"
  11. Historical: Reunification Wars, pp. 165–166
  12. 12.0 12.1 House Marik (The Free Worlds League), pp. 128–129: "Corporate Profiles - [Curtiss Hydrosystems]"
  13. 13.0 13.1 Handbook: House Marik, p. 137: "Curtiss Hydroponics (CHydro)"