Different regions of these storage bays have been seen in various episodes throughout the run of the television series. The shuttle hangar bays were also connected to the cargo bays, including those for a number of transport vehicles such as Starbugs and Blue Midgets.
Whilst Dave Lister and Arnold Rimmer were once on Z Shift in the cargo bays, Lister's safety harness snapped, and the fall caused Lister to break his back in three places. All Rimmer could do was laugh. Three million years later, Rimmer would instance as an example of how the two were "friends", who had "shared many laughs". ("Balance of Power")
It seems likely that the three-million-year-old yet unspoiled goods were kept fresh by some form of stasis. Holly explained that Frankenstein survived the initial radiation leak by being in the hold, which was saved from the brunt of the radiation. ("The End")
Most of the cargo bays were beyond the Supervision Field of Holly. Supply Pipe 28 ran deep into the hold, and was apparently where most of the Felis sapiens evolved over three million years. It was hear that the Cat Priest's Chamber was,The chamber was located in a small and deepest part of the Vast cargo hold and was the last reminisce of the Cat (Felis sapiens) community on board Red Dwarf. (Waiting for God) The evolving Felis sapiens had likely supplemented their diet through space weevils, although the greatest discovery of the cats had been a tin opener, which allowed them to open the mountains of canned goods before they starved. Their evolution was sped up considerably by trace amounts of radiation that had leaked into the cargo bays. (Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers)
Holly once stated that the cargo bays still contained enough unspoiled food to last 30,000 years, but with only got one After Eight mint left, and everyone was too polite to take it. ("Me²") The vending machines of Red Dwarf were connected to the cargo bays by a vast network of pneumatic tubes, and Lister got his curry and beer from here, as did the Cat get his favorite meal. Some vending machines had developed computer senility, and could not tell the difference between a breakfast and a steel bucket, instead bringing up the latter from the cargo bays when Lister ordered breakfast. ("Future Echoes")
Most of the cargo bays had not been affected by the radiation leak, but some of the cargo had been, and so Rimmer forced Lister to do some rather long and boring inventory checks of goods that had been irradiated. These included "4,691 irradiated haggis". ("Balance of Power")
A Polymorph once escaped from a passing Genetic Waste Pod, chewing it's way into the hull of Red Dwarf and into the cargo bays. The Cat was forced to dodge some accidentally-fired, heat-seeking bazookoid fire, which chased Cat around the cargo bays, but Cat was able to trap the bazookoid bolts inside an airlock. The Polymorph caused much mischief aboard Red Dwarf, including altering the personalities of the crew when it drained them of their primary emotions. The Boys from the Dwarf hunted the Polymorph back down to the cargo bays for a final confrontation, where the Polymorph was destroyed when the still-active bazookoid blasts were accidentally released from the airlock. ("Polymorph")
After messing around with the timeline through the use of timeslides, Rimmer found that he was no longer a hologram, but was in fact alive again. It didn't last long, since Rimmer thumped some cargo crates in triumph, only to be blown up by the explosives inside the crates. The others didn't even notice. ("Timeslides")
Upon returning from Lanstrom's planet in Starbug, Rimmer refused to let the others enter, sealing the cargo bay doors, since they could have been carrying the holo-virus. In a petty and vindictive use of Space Corps Directives, Rimmer instead forced the others into a tiny room in the quarantine deck for a long period of time. ("Quarantine")
When Red Dwarf was left without Holly or the main engines, it left the crew adrift on emergency battery back-up power. As Lister and the Cat tried keep warm in the Science Room and the sleeping quarters, Rimmer and Kryten foraged into the cargo bays for supplies. There they encountered the time-distorting effects of a white hole. ("White Hole")
Starbug gained its own cargo deck, when the shuttle was enlarged 212% by temporal anomalies. ("Tikka to Ride") It was filled with junk, most of which was thrown out by the Cat when it started to remind Lister of Rimmer. ("Blue")
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- The cargo bays contained all manner of goods, from foodstuffs to miscellaneous items to mining equipment such as Bazookoids, Holo-saws and explosives.
- The Felis sapiens had used Cargo Bay 12 as a giant litter tray, which was later used as home by the Fecal Beast, as revealed in the "Scoop of the Century" web-comic.