During the chaos of the Human-Covenant War, supplies often became scare on the dozens of warzones raging throughout Human space at any moment. Before the war, the majority of cargo hauling was performed by the UNSC's commercial fleet, a mixture of small manned and unmanned freight haulers to transport civilian goods across the colonies. When the war with the Covenant began and UNSC forces became bogged down in prolonged ground engagements, the commercial fleet proved inadequate to provide support. A majority of these ships were either intercepted by pirates or destroyed outright by the Covenant, the rest decided to stay far away from the frontlines. This forces the UNSC to utilize warships such as the Charon or Phoenix-class ships as supply vessels, removing them from combat or ground support operations, which proved costly in the long run. The UNSC rapidly needed a solution and commissioned several design teams to come up with one. Several designs were submitted in late 2534, and the winner was a large, well armed, modular space frame ED-MC-1 (Experimental Design-Merchant Cruiser-Design 1), officially designated as the Endeavour-class merchant cruiser.
Due to the modular nature of the Endeavour-class, numerous shipwrights were able to rapidly design and manufacture innumerable variants of the ship, ranging from mining vessels, escort carriers, command ships, and even passenger liners, with different companies producing their own competing designs.
Among the more specialised variants, Diadel Systems' Dead Sea-class freighter was an armed civilian vessel intended for use in asteroid fields and planetary mining sites. Marketed to appeal to interstellar mining corporations, many of which had their larger vessels retooled for the war effort, Diadel's model was designed with the mentality of making a quick buck. As a result, it was unveiled only months after the Endeavour became available for purchase, and briefly became a common sight across human space.
Despite rumours of the ship being underdeveloped, the Dead Sea was well-suited to the needs of the mining industry. While most mining vessels have thick plating to resist asteroid impacts and survive atmospheric re-entry, it left them slow to manoeuvre. Instead, the Dead Sea adopted an 'all or nothing' approach to armour, with important areas being protected by the maximum plating thickness while the rest of its superstructure featured none at all. At many points on the superstructure, the raw framework was left exposed to space, which allowed it to shed almost half of the mass as the Endeavour-class without any sacrifice in durability. This reduction in weight was further enhanced with two extremely-powerful fusion drives supplemented by smaller pairs mounted all over its hull, which ensured it to could fly gracefully between asteroids and planetary fragments. With minimal modifications, these were also suitable for atmospheric use. The frame was rated for the installation of heavy-duty cabling and electromagnets, so that anything too big to be carried within its three modestly-sized cargo-bays can be towed alongside it. Such loads vary from survey buoys to crippled ships to large asteroids and had the equipment to supply some energy from their own reactors to partially power the towed ship. While too small to satisfy the demands of most mining sites, all Dead Sea freighters have a small refinement plant installed for limited purification of valuable materials.
While everything stated so far was typical among mining craft, there were a number of base systems which sparked concerns that the Dead Sea could be easily retrofitted into a pirate raider - a side-effect from its conversion from a warship. Four large antennae were installed at the front, able to decode multiple frequencies simultaneously, good for maintaining communications with the forward base and listening in on merchant communications. Highly sensitive spectrometers, seismic scanners, and infrared sensors with electronic telescopes were mounted on turreted platforms to determine the composition of asteroids and locate ideal planetcracking locations, and were thought to be easily retooled to determine what cargo a given ship was carrying. However, that paled in comparison to its armament. A typical Dead Sea freighter had a minimum of nine railguns or coilguns that fired explosive shells on a delayed timer, which impact a prospective site before ripping up the ground from beneath. Due to criticism from the public, Diadel had to install a rotation lock onto their turret bases to prevent them from tracking fast-moving targets such as when the freighter itself was moving at high speeds. Unfortunately, the initial plans for installing a Magnetic Acceleration Cannon also garnered disapproval from the public, and as a result, only a handful of licensed corporations and individuals were able to secretly request this particular feature. Both of these systems made it a credible threat to large, lumbering superfreighters and cruiseliners. The only other weapon systems these ships could have installed natively were the M37 Suppressor naval coilguns or Mark 2488 Onagers, as their turret bases were compatible with those used by the railguns and scanner mounts.
While nominally a mining craft, the Dead Sea has also been adopted by fetchers as an improvised salvaging craft, who found that it could adequately suited to their needs. Even despite being outclassed by the base Endeavour-class, they saw occasional use as ad hoc escort solutions by some corporations in desperate need of protection. In emergency situations, the UNSC Navy placed some of these ships under their command and had them retrofitted for picket duties, with limited success.