Alliance Ship Sundew was a privately-owned freighter operating in the late Fifth Age and early Sixth Age. It gained notoriety at the end of the Sixth Age for its impressive operational schedule, and was later sold to the Gudersnipe Foundation for study.
Sundew was laid down in the Aticus System, a largely industrialized region of Joint Space. The ship was about the size of a very large ocean liner (roughly fifteen hundred feet in length), and designed specifically to take off and land on planets as a small cargo freighter. The ship was designed in A.Y. 5802 and probably intended for short, inter-planetary runs. Very little is known about its initial service life.
In A.Y. 8850, the Sundew was purchased by Lance Sellerby, who planned to captain the ship himself. He'd saved his whole life for a ship of his own, and bought it along with a group of investors, to earn money in the then highly-lucrative tramp-trade. What is especially baffling to historians is that, at some point in the 48 years since the ship was launched, she had been upgraded with an FTL drive (not a part of the original design). Later studies of the ship determined that the FTL drive had been constructed in the 5740s and was designed for a ship one-tenth Sundew's size.
Most of Lance's investors died before seeing a return (at least one under suspicious circumstances), and Lance invested everything he made into buying the others' shares. The obsession continued with his son, Vince, and by 5900, the Sellerby family owned the ship out-right. It would remain in the family for sixteen generations.
Though not formally a "generational ship", A.S. Sundew saw many members of the Sellerby family be born, live, grow old, and die aboard her. Crew members came and went, while the ship meandered about known space as a free trader. Throughout the Sixth Age, almost her entire crew were relatives, in-laws, or relations of the Sellerby family, and the captain was always a direct descendant of Lance.
In A.Y. 6256, the Kamian Succession Wars were in full swing, and ships of every kind were being drafted into service. The Sundew, which had until then been carrying mostly civilian cargo, had just taken up a contract to carry supplies for the Crimson Blade, which was planning to establish a new major outpost. A fleet of roughly thirty thousand ships was being assembled, mostly freighters, and since they would be passing near the front lines, each ship was required to undergo inspection by Foundation personnel before joining one of the various convoy groups.
When the Sundew was inspected, the representative, Ada Brombard, first accused the captain of falsifying maintenance records. What Ada saw when he exmained the ship could not be possible.
Like most vessels, A.S. Sundew ran on Ion vacuum drive technology. Ion Vacuum drives are favored for the long service-lives and extremely high endurance. Typically, the engines are seldom powered-down fully as the stop and start cycles are quite lengthy. When not in use, the engine is put into a low-power mode that will not move the ship.
In the case of the Sundew, the engines had been running continously at varying power levels since A.Y. 6150.
Ada filed her report per-regulation, and did a cursory check of the logs, eventually deeming them accurate. The Sundew's engines had indeed been running continuously for some one hundred and six years. This is hypothetically possible; Ion-vacuum engines, while containing moving parts, are magnetically driven and friction-less. Initially she cleared the ship for convoy duty and considered the matter settled, but had been so entertained by the discovery that she shared it, informally, with many colegues and friends. As the story spread, the captain's commentary explained it all:
"Grand-Pappy said if he ever turned off the engine, he'd never get it started again... so he never did. If it worked then, it otta' work now.".