A Superlifter was a type of Culture spacecraft. They were described as tugs[1][2], capable of high speed sprints as a result of having disproportionately large engines for their mass.[3] Superlifters were often used to facilitate rendezvous between ships of considerably different velocity capabilities: large ships such as Systems Vehicles were, by virtue of their correspondingly large engine masses, capable of speeds far in excess of those of smaller vessels like Contact Units; Superlifters would take the smaller ship in tow and accelerate it for rendezvous with the larger ship, or, for departure, decelerate the smaller vessel to a speed which its engines could handle.

Their Minds tended towards eccentricity; this was attributed to their boring and repetitive job, and their typical lack of crew.[2]

Superlifters were designed as emergency warships before the Idiran-Culture War[2], and were also the fastest Culture ships at the time[4]; they assumed this role early in the war and relatively few survived.[4][2]

Superlifters were used and carried by Orbitals[5] and Systems Vehicles.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Look to Windward, chapter 4
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 The Hydrogen Sonata, chapter 8
  3. Excession, chapter 7.2
  4. 4.0 4.1 Matter, chapter 23
  5. Look to Windward, chapter 15