Starfield: How to get a shielded cargo hold for smuggling contraband

Starfield Direct spaceship landing image
(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Piracy can be extremely lucrative in Starfield, as contraband items often sell for high prices and can net you lots of credits very quickly. However, the downside of smuggling is that hauling around contraband to sell is illegal, and if factions like the UC Vanguard or Freestar Collective detect any aboard your ship, they'll attempt to confiscate it and detain you. To get out of that situation, you'll either need to pay a hefty fine, serve jail time, or try to fight against overwhelming odds. None of these are ideal, and two of them result in the loss of the items you were trying to sell.

However, with shielded cargo holds, you can often sneak your contraband items past ship scans and get away scot-free. Sadly, Starfield never explains where you can get these and add them to your ship, but don't worry — we're here to help with a full guide on everything you need to know about them. Below, we've explained where you can get shielded cargo holds, as well as how they work and how you can improve their effectiveness.

Starfield: How to get a shielded cargo hold

Here's where you'll find the Porrima system. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Since shielded cargo bays make it significantly harder for authorities like the UC Vanguard and the Freestar Collective to detect illegal contraband on your ship, you won't find any Ship Service Technicians selling them on any of the worlds they control. Instead, you'll need to purchase one at a location neither faction controls: the Red Mile.

To get to the Red Mile, you'll first need to travel to the Porrima system, which is to the northeast of the Volii system. Once there, make your way over to Porrima III, and choose to land at the Red Mile area on your Planet Map screen.

The Red Mile is directly next to the landing pad. You can't miss it. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Once you touch down, head into the Red Mile's front airlock and go into the room directly to your right. There, you'll find a character named Lon Anderssen. He's the Red Mile's Ship Service Technician, and when you talk to him, you'll find an option to modify your ship. Select it, enter the Ship Builder, and then select the prompt to "Add."

Lon Anderssen has a small variety of shielded cargo holds for sale. (Image credit: Windows Central)

In the top right, you'll find several tabs of ship modules he sells that you can add to your vessel. Scroll over to the Cargo tab, and look for the Ballast or V101 Shielded Cargo Hold modules. You can purchase these for a few thousand credits, with the more expensive ones giving you more shielded storage space. Once bought, you can attach them to your ship using mounts.

Note that ships flown by pirate factions like the Crimson Fleet also sometimes have shielded cargo holds, so if you'd prefer to steal a ship with one, that's a viable alternative to buying your own. Also, it's worth noting that a few of the ships that Lon Anderssen sells have shielded cargo holds as well.

Starfield: How shielded cargo works

Look for the "Shielded Capacity" stat in a vessel's Ship Overview to see how much of its cargo space is shielded. (Image credit: Windows Central)

When you add a shielded cargo hold to your ship, the portion it adds to your vessel's total cargo capacity is automatically where any contraband — items with a yellow symbol next to them in your inventory — is stored when you put it in your cargo hold. Keep in mind that any contraband you don't put in your hold won't get the benefit of this shielding, and will thus be detected when your ship is scanned.

Note that while cargo shielding makes it harder for your contraband to be detected, it doesn't guarantee you'll be able to get past scanners. To minimize the chances that you'll get caught, you'll want to keep loads of contraband relatively small. Additionally, you should also try to level up the Deception skill on the second row of the Social skill tree, as when it's fully upgraded to Rank 4 contraband scans are 50% less effective.

Another way to make your contraband harder to detect is to purchase and attach Scan Jammers to your ship, which reduce scan effectiveness by 10% (Single-Frequency) or 30% (Dual-Frequency). Like shielded cargo holds, these can be bought from Lon Anderssen at the Red Mile.

Of course, don't forget that even if you get through security scans, you'll still need to find a fence that will actually buy your illegal items. For details on that, check out our guide on where to sell contraband in Starfield.

Starfield is finally here, and it's undoubtedly one of the best Xbox games and best PC games for lovers of space exploration, deep RPG gameplay, and the sci-fi genre as a whole. 

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Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.