The Rorqual is a Capital-class mining support and deployment platform, conceived by CCP in 2007 to address the need for low-security and deep lawless-space (0.0) mining operations. Like other Capital-class vessels (apart from Freighters and Orcas), it cannot enter high-security systems.
With its ability to fit Capital Tractor Beams (which have a 200 kilometer range and 3000 m/s movement speed) and to compress ore and ice, it provides centralized mining support and transport. With the ability to carry several mining vessels and Jump Clones to a remote location via Jump Drive, its role as a mobile platform is unsurpassed. Providing gang bonuses is another branch of the Rorqual's usefulness, allowing a specialized pilot to provide the highest bonuses available to miners in the game.
Many corporations are reluctant to place such a valuable ship on the front line for a mining operation, unless defended by a sizable force. POS safe-spotting is a common practice where the Rorqual sits just outside a POS's shields, where it is available for bonuses and compression, but is not in immediate danger as it would be in the belts. Because of its ability to carry large amounts of ore in compressed form, it is often used as an intermediate transport when a Jump Freighter is not available.
Below are additional ships images. Click the image below for a larger version:
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