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I occasionally have to move some small amounts of cargo through low-sec space. Mostly this is loot from previous fights I stashed in the next station, to avoid losing valuables I just obtained in the next fight.

What is a safe way of transporting such small amounts of cargo through low-sec? I'm guessing that a covert ops ship would be the hardest to catch. But I'm also wondering about what modules to equip:

  • Just warp core stabilizers in the low slots, or are nanofibers and stabs more useful?
  • ECM modules to break locks, or doesn't that make sense as I'm dead too quickly anyway when I'm locked?
  • ECM Burst to break locks?
  • Shield extenders would mean a bit more tank, but increase signature radius. Still a good idea?

Are covert ops ships the best idea for that, or are there better suited ship classes? And are there significant differences between the covert ops ships of the four different races?

I won't fly trough null-sec, so escaping bubbles is of no concern. But I'm in faction warfare, so there are plenty of pilots in low-sec that would really like to shoot me.

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I used to live in wormhole space and this was a common question for us as we would often have to move wormhole loot through low sec or high sec while we were at war. We're talking small size but high value loot. We decided that cov ops were generally the best ships to use to transport our loot due to their small sig radius, high agility, and ability to cloak. The method we used was jump through a gate, hit the warp button and hit the cloak immediately after. That leaves about a second window during which you can be locked, but with such a small sig radius nothing but the best skilled (both in game skills and good reactions from the pilot) sensor boosted interceptors will be able to lock a cov ops. Additionally, the fast align time decreases the possibility of an inty trying to manually pilot into you to decloak and/or bump you so they can get a lock.

What I found was that the align time of the Cheetah and the Helios were pretty similar, but the Cheetah had a slightly smaller sig radius, so I went with the Cheetah. The optimal setup seemed to be 1 x Inertia stabs in the low, 2 x Nanofiber in the low, 1 x covert ops cloak in the high, 1 x Small Low Friction Nozzle Joints in the rigs, and 1 x Small Polycarbon Engine Housing in the rigs. With my skills, that meant a 3.0s align time and a 51.1 sig radius. I didn't worry about tank or ECM burst since if I got locked, I was probably dead.

In practice, I took what I found and applied it to my probing Cheetah fit. This meant that I used Gravity Capacitor Rigs instead of the agility rigs with a trade off of .2s to my align time. I also fit a 1mn AB, 2 x webs, and 1 x Warp Disruptor in the mids, but that's not relevant to this specific question. What I can say, though, is that I never got caught by a gate camp when piloting that ship through gate camps. It may not be the perfect setup, but it always worked for me.

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I would recommend a Blockade Runner with serious Inertial Stabilizers.
The CovOps cloak is key, and your only vulnerable time is when you aren't warping. Instead of going the "resist tackle with warp core stabs" route, focus on lowering your align time with the Inertial Stabs. That way you spend less time not warping.
The only advantage of the Transport over the CovOps is that it can haul more, so you'll have a "one ship to haul it all" going on until you need more than 10,000m3 hauled.
I've blown through heavy gate camps without the slightest problem with that kind of setup.

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If it is a small amount of cargo ( ~200m3 or less ) then a Covert Ops ship is fine ( either stealth bomber or covops ). If you have something more than that in one place ( significantly, 1,500m3 or more ) I would go more for a cloaky transport ship ( Blockade Runner - crane, prowler, prorator, viator ).

The important part of not getting whacked in nullsec/lowsec is cloaking. No one can target your ship if you are cloaked. If you get good at hitting the cloak quick after starting to move after a jump, you take away the chance to lock you at all ( because it has a minimum of 1s to lock, iirc ). The transition from jump-cloak to local-cloak is key.

Also remember that only the covops cloak allows warping while cloaked, and only a few ships are allowed to fit the covops cloak ( covops, Stealth Bomber, blockade runner, properly fit T3 cruiser, recons, and blops ), all of which are non-T1 hulls. It may take some skilling.

As for fitting, it doesn't really matter. fit some expanders if you need the extra room, and keep the fit as cheap as possible. the hull, the cloak, and expanders if needed. Everything else will just distract you from hitting that cloak button.

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I'd like to add one thing here: I prefer to fit just as much warp stabs on my ship once I got enough cargo space, and preferably an AB or possibly an MWD. Since this helps you with warp bubbles in null sec where they have a couple of people orbiting the gate. (And hence it allows you more survivability) –  Ruddie Aug 15 '12 at 14:22
    
@Ruddie - the problem there is that you can't activate the prop mod while the cloak is on. If you're really good, you can hit the prop mod out of the stargate, then hit the cloak ASAP after, but it increases the chance of getting locked - and therefor the chance of not activating the cloak. Cloak is far more important than speed in LS ( where OP is talking about ) because there are no bubbles. –  Phill.Zitt Aug 15 '12 at 16:23
    
It is not only for when you are cloaked, in the case you get decloaked, you can use it to get out of a bubble faster and hence have an higher chance of surviving. –  Ruddie Aug 15 '12 at 16:47
    
@Ruddie - the OP has stated that bubbles are not a concern - he is only travelling in lowsec, and not nullsec. –  Phill.Zitt Aug 15 '12 at 18:09
    
Ah I'm sorry, kinda sleepy =P –  Ruddie Aug 22 '12 at 10:55
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