- "That's a Mantaris Amphibious Transport. The Gungans are using one of those to colonize the water moon of Naboo."
- ―Padmé Amidala
The Mantaris-class amphibious medium transport was a starship designed and constructed jointly by Theed Palace Space Vessel Engineering Corps and Otoh Gunga Bongowerks in 32 BBY. Because of its unique design based on a manta ray, that transport was also referred to as the Ray Ship, or simply Ray. It was developed in the months that followed the Invasion of Naboo, as part of a cooperative effort between the Gungans and the Naboo to colonize the empty aquatic moon of Ohma-D'un. Due to its conception, the Mantaris-class was remarkably adaptable to different environments, which included atmospheric flight, realspace, and underwater. Ultimately, the commissioning of the Mantaris-class transport helped the Gungans join the galactic community at large. Queen Amidala's Master of Sciences Graf Zapalo, who had supervised the conception of the Mantaris-class, also adopted it as his personal means of transport.
- "Go now, get on the big bongo!"
- ―Boss Nass
The Mantaris-class amphibious medium transport—also known as "the Ray Ship" or simply "the Ray"—was a 98-meter starship designed for travel both in interstellar and in aquatic environments. Being a joint venture between the Naboo and the Gungans, its design reflected the artistic qualities of both races. The class was named after the manta ray, a fish species it resembled very much, with its flat wings swept backwards and its two saber-like tails. Those tails were in fact heat sink finials that measured 30 meters, a little less than a third of the ship's total length. When activated, phosphorescent knobs located at the tips of the wings shone red. It also featured horn-shaped, finlike appendages located the bow, which were twin concussion missile launchers. The overall frame of the Mantaris transport was based on the Gungan cargo submersible, better known as bongo, which is why it was often referred to in Gungan Basic as "big bongo ship." That well-tested hull design, which was only adapated to water, was then enhanced by Naboo engineers to make it spaceworthy, and capable of withstanding important pressure changes. It was also equipped with electromotive stabilizers for softer landings.
The normal cargo capacity of the Mantaris-class was of 250 metric tons, an improvement compared with earlier bongos. In its default configuration, the vessel could carry twenty passengers, consumables for three months, and a crew of four—one pilot, one navigator/shield operator, one communications/security officer, one engineer/gunner, and one astromech droid. In addition to that, the transport could be outfitted with bubble-shaped modules that could either add thirty individuals to the passenger capacity, increase the cargo capacity by 100 tons, or carry wildlife specimens contained in liqui-stasis tank. Every Mantaris-class transport could carry up to four modules at a time. In turn, a single module pod could contain sixty small creatures, thirty medium ones, fifteen large ones, seven huge ones, three gargantuan ones, or a single colossal creature. It could also carry ER-1 probe droids. In its cockpit, the vessel also boasted a large holoviewer that projected holographic images constructed from the probe droids' sensors array. The main dashboard was equipped with various tools that allowed the operator to perform several tasks on ground while staying aboard, through control of the probe droid. Those tools included the species indicator, which could select a given organism and monitor it from the cockpit. The capture tool would prompt the droid to return a given organism back to the ship's tanks, while the release tool did the opposite. Finally, the stun tool caused the droid to temporarily immobilize the selected creature with a stun beam.
- "Wanna yousa bring da plants and animals in the big bongo ship?"
- ―Boss Nass, to Amidala and Kenobi
The Manta-class transport was intended for transporting various organisms, whether they be plants or animals, from one celestial body to another. It eventually became a more common type of transport for passengers, and some individuals used it as a private vessel.
- "All the lifeforms wesa collected no fit on the big bongo ship. Choose mighty careful, they must be balanced."
- ―Boss Nass
The design of the Mantaris-class amphibious medium transport came to fruition in the months that followed the Invasion of Naboo in 32 BBY. The schematics of an early version of it, titled "Mantaris Amphibious Transport," were already present in the computer files of the Naboo royal starship very shortly after the end of the invasion. It was specifically designed when the Naboo and Gungan peoples put a cooperative effort to colonize Ohma-D'un, the primary moon of Naboo. The project, which was spearheaded by the Gungan leader Rugor Nass and endorsed by Queen Padmé Amidala, required the creation of a number of new technologies, since the Gungans had not yet entered space age by then. To create those new tools, engineers from Theed Palace Space Vessel Engineering Corps and from Otoh Gunga Bongowerks worked under the guidance of Graf Zapalo, Master of Sciences to Queen Amidala. The success of the Mantaris-class program ultimately marked the introduction of the Gungans into the larger galactic community. Following the success of the colonization mission, the amphibious transport became the Gungans' principle means of transport between worlds, and Graf Zapalo himself adopted one as his personal vehicle.
Behind the scenes
The Mantaris-class transport was created for Star Wars Episode I: The Gungan Frontier, an educational ecological simulation developed by Lucas Learning for simultaneous release with Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, the first installment of the prequel trilogy.
In the August 1999, the Mantaris-class transport appeared in Star Wars: Yoda's Challenge Activity Center another Lucas Learning video game. The tangram mini-game of Yoda's Challenge included several data sheets of characters and vehicles as rewards. One of those sheets was devoted to the Mantaris-class transport, giving it the nickname "Ray Ship" and providing technical stats with a brief history. However, on February 17, 2001, those early stats were disregarded when Steve Miller wrote The Mantaris, an online supplement to the Wizards of the Coast paperback Secrets of Naboo. The data sheet from Yoda's Challenge and Miller's stats differ on a great number of points, from the ship's length to its manufacturer or hyperdrive capability.
- Star Wars: Yoda's Challenge Activity Center (As "Mantaris Amphibious Transport")
- Star Wars Episode I: The Gungan Frontier (As "big bongo ship")
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 104 (German Edition - ZAP1-2, Graf Zapalo)
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia (as Mantaris-class transport)