The long strange trip
The Imperial Navy began its life as the Sylean Federation Naval Service during the expansion of the federation, and in its life as the SFNS fought many wars and battles against other empires around and within the final borders of the Sylean Federation. Theirs was not a peaceful life in the later years of the Federation, but the experience and loyalty engendered in the service was to stand it in good stead in the future.
The Third Imperium
Once the Warrant of Restoration officially formed the Third Imperium, Emperor Cleon set about renaming and rebranding all the previous Federation’s services under his command. At this point SFNS was engaged in hostilities with the Chanestin Kingdom, a minor empire rimward of Sylea. The war had been raging, on and off, for over 100 years and it would have been a monumental task to reorganize and reform the navy during such a conflict. As a result the service was at the time only renamed the Imperial Navy and it was not until two years later, after the fall of the Chanestin capital at Keshi, that the task of reorganization could begin anew.
Once started the reorganizations completely reshaped the navy and laid the foundations of what it has become today. Most of what was implemented in those early days still holds true today although the sector and subsector fleet structures came later. The rank structures were basically left the same as those used by the SFNS, which were themselves holdovers from the Rule of Man.
In the opening years of expansion of the newly established Imperium the navy had a busy time. Besides the usual flag waving missions to newly absorbed worlds, there was the constant threat of piracy and minor disputes between member worlds. However, their major task was the pacification of the pocket empires that had grown up during the Long Night.
The Imperial Navy classifies its fleets by the type of activity they are expected to undertake: assault, battle, interdiction, penetration, strike, reserve, and depot.
The main combat units of the navy. They are assigned battleships and are expected to meet and destroy any enemy ships they encounter. By definition, battleships in battle fleets are the strongest forces the Imperial Navy can bring to bear.
Assault fleets are assigned world attack missions. They are sent into a star system to carry surface forces to the mainworld in order to assault and conquer world surface territory. In easy cases, an assault fleet carries forces to a small, low population world which is easily reduced. The true challenge to an assault fleet is the high population world: The fleet will carry tens of thousands of troops for world-invasion operations, then resupply the beachhead that they establish, while helping repel the local force’s efforts to eliminate the invasion forces.
The siege-oriented mission fleets. They are sent into a star system to surround its mainworld and stop all traffic to and from the world. They are also expected to conduct bombardments and containment operations which will force the mainworld to surrender.
The long-range raid mission fleet. They are expected to drive deep into enemy territory and attack important objectives (like enemy bases, industry, starports, or shipyards). After they have destroyed their objectives, they must return to friendly territory. Penetration fleets are expected to be self-sufficient for long periods of time.
The strategic supplements to the battle fleets. They support the flanks of the battlefleets with maneuverability and firepower. Often a strike fleet will be assigned to clear a system that a battle fleet will need to pass through. Strike fleets are used for diversions while the battle fleet proceeds to its primary objective, and strike fleets protect the flanks of battle fleets in major battles.
Reserve fleets are primarily holding formations which provide the details of bureaucratic support until their ships are assigned to fleets with specific missions. The primary activity a reserve fleet undertakes is training.
These inactive ship pools — ships which are not in service but may be reactivated as needed — are assigned to the depot fleets.
The Imperial Navy maintains five major squadron types: BatRons, CruRons, AssaultRons, TankRons, and ScoutRons. Any squadron type may be in any fleet type, depending on the specific mission being performed.
Battle squadrons are created from battleships and are intended to meet the best of the enemy fleet, engage it, and destroy it. Their purpose is battle. Battle squadrons are usually reinforced with large numbers of auxiliary ships, including refueling shuttles, escorts, and support cruisers. In addition, they are accompanied by a number of fleet couriers which carry communications between squadrons.
Cruiser squadrons are organized with cruisers and are intended to support BatRons in space combat. Although a cruiser cannot defeat a battleship in one-on-one combat, a number of cruisers can overwhelm a lone battleship, and this occasionally happens. The function of the CruRon is to hold or delay a BatRon early in a battle.
CruRons are strong units. When no BatRon is around, they are easily the strongest type of squadron available. In addition to supporting BatRons, they are given the mission of supporting planetary surface operations once the space battle has been won.
Cruisers are the ships that bombard the planetary surface, conduct siege warfare, and cover the invading AssaultRons. CruRons are accompanied by a variety of auxiliaries, including shuttles, transports, and fleet couriers. Every CruRon is assigned a bulk ordnance carrier which resupplies it with bombs and missiles.
The assault squadron is composed of troop transportsand supporting ships. Capable of carrying hundreds of battalions of invading troops, the AssaultRon’s mission is to transport troops, their equipment, and their supplies from star system to star system, and to deliver troops from orbit to a disputed planetary surface.
AssaultRons tend to be homogeneous units, each equipped with only one type of ship. Thus, the 10897th Imperial Assault Transport Squadron would be equipped for troop transport, while the 9705th Assault Invasion Squadron would be equipped to deliver the troops to an invasion beachhead on a world surface.
Tanker squadrons are special-purpose units dictated by the need for Imperial Navy vessels to travel farther than their fuel tankage will allow. TankRons carry large quantities of fuel and are positioned to refuel other squadrons as they cross territory which would not otherwise provide fuel resources for them.
Scout squadrons are composed of ships assigned to the Imperial Interstellar Scout Service. They rarely serve as ScoutRons; instead, the ships are assigned to other squadrons based on need. For example, many fleet couriers are considered scout-type ships. When a fleet courier assigned to BatRon 10 is sent with dispatches to BatRon 11, it is automatically reassigned to BatRon 11 when it arrives. Ships awaiting assignment to serving squadrons are assigned to a ScoutRon, as are ships being resupplied or undergoing repairs.
Squadrons are classified by their position within the hierarchy of the Imperium. Regular squadrons are front-line units equipped with the best possible ships and personnel. Colonial squadrons are equipped with obsolescent (but still serviceable, rather than obsolete) ships and with personnel with somewhat less training and experience. System squadrons are not jumpcapable, but are rather equipped with SDBs and monitors, and staffed with local personnel.
Regular squadrons are assigned to the numbered fleets of the Imperium and stationed at naval bases within the Imperium. Regular squadrons carry the term lmperial in their name. For example, Imperial BatRon 11 is a regular squadron.
Colonial squadrons are assigned to the numbered reserve fleets of the subsectors. They are based at worlds which can provide personnel and technology to support them: worlds with tech code Early Stellar+ (TL9+) and High Population (Pop 9+). Colonial squadrons carry the term colonial in their name. For example ,Colonial TankRon 4051 is a colonial squadron.
System squadrons are not assigned to any fleet. They are based in a home system with tech code Early Stellar+ (TL9+) and Moderate Population (Pop&). System squadrons carry either the term defense or the name of their system or both in their name. For example, Defense CruRon Regina is the system squadron for the Regina system. When several system squadrons are in a system, they are numbered as well.