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Imperial Navy

From Academic Kids

Imperial Navy may also refer to the German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine) between 1872 and 1918
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SW_Executor_01.jpg
Executor and several escorting star destroyers

In the fictional Star Wars galaxy, the Imperial Navy, or more properly, the Imperial Starfleet, was the military arm of the Galactic Empire charged with maintaining security in Imperial space. At its peak, it fielded millions of warships and fulfilled the Emperor's will throughout the galaxy. After defeat at the Battle of Endor, the Galactic Empire split up into warring factions and the Imperial Starfleet splintered along with it. While much of the remnants of the Imperial Navy were later reunited under impressive Imperial commanders, the military organization covered in this article ceased to exist shortly after the death of the Emperor.

Specific responsibilities of the Imperial Navy included defending Imperial citizens from space-based threats such as pirates, smugglers or other armed governments, enforcing Imperial Will, and overseeing commerce through customs and blockade operations. The Imperial Navy also performs orbital bombardments, transports major ground force deployments and supports them with space and aerial support.

The Imperial Navy conducted itself by the Imperial Naval Code, a set of martial laws and regulations created to guide the massive military organization. The vast majority of personnel in the Imperial Navy are human male, although a few exceptions have been seen in the service, such as Admiral Daala or Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Contents

Ships of the Fleet

The most recognizable symbol of the Imperial Starfleet was the Imperator-class Star Destroyer, although millions of starships of different designs and functions were fielded for various purposes and roles. It should be noted that considering the nomenclature of ship classification used by modern navies, many Star Wars starships appeared to be misnamed.

Most major capital ships during the height of the Empire were constructed by Kuat Drive Yards. The Corellian Engineering Corporation is also known to have supplied the Empire with large battleships and starfighter carriers. Other ship manufacturers supplied the Imperial Starfleet with support ships such as Carrack-class frigates, Lancer-class frigates, Strike-class frigates and escort carriers.

Education

Enlisted naval training is conducted at various fleet-camps dispersed around the sectors of the galaxy. This is followed by specialty training.

Naval officer recruits, after passing a qualifying test, first attend an Imperial Naval Academy to gain the basis of their higher education and military discipline. 98% of cadets go to a Sector Naval Academy, whose program lasts one year. The top 2%, with the endorsement of their sector Moff, and following a background investigation, head for the Imperial Naval Academy. The Imperial Naval Academy's location is supposed to be a secret even to the cadets, but it is at Carida. The training there lasts 30 months. They then continued their education at the Imperial Naval College, where Academy graduates receive specific training on naval operations, combat and command functions.

Finally, non-commissioned officers and recent graduates of the Imperial Naval College could have participated in a training program through the Imperial Navy Officers’ School to focus on military customs and courtesies, military history, leadership, officership, deck command exercises, discipline drills, and other pertinent areas of education of potential officers. Upon graduation, trainees were commissioned in the Imperial Navy as lieutenants.

Organization

Where the Rebel Alliance used a naval structure and strategy that reflected the post World War II paradigm shift towards carrier battle groups because of their impressive starfighters, the Imperial Navy used the pre World War II strategy of focusing on capital ship firepower. The Imperial Navy reflected this through the design of their starships, the formation of their naval units and the overall organization of the force. It should be noted that much of the following organization principles come from WEG's Imperial Sourcebook and are suited toward sector-level commands and military forces. However, there are regional-based, oversectorial-based, and strategic forces which have been depicted, but their organization is currently a mystery.

Command

An individual command, a single starship, was the building block of the Imperial Navy. Achieving command of a starship, no matter its size, was point of pride in an officer’s career. Officers commonly turned down impressive staff promotions in the hopes of receiving a ship command, although serving as a staff officer on a prominent starship, such as a squadron flagship, was often considered a fast track for promotion.

Line of Battle

The most basic unit in the Imperial Navy was a line of battle, or simply a line. The Imperial Navy shaped four to twenty starships into lines, depending on the type of line. Commanded by a captain of the line, the line was the most amorphous level of organization in the Navy. The Imperial Navy Order of Battle outlined five types of lines: attack, heavy attack, reconnaissance, pursuit, and skirmish. Attack and heavy attack lines aggressively engaged enemy starships in combat, reconnaissance lines gathered intelligence of the disposition of enemy forces, pursuit lines chased and trapped retreating enemies, and skirmish lines harassed capital starships and engaged enemy picket lines.

In addition to the five types of lines, the Imperial Navy considered an Imperator-class Star Destroyer a line in itself. While an Imperial-class Star Destroyer may be able to act as an attack line and its compliment of starfighters as a skirmish line, the decision to give commanders the option to field a heavy cruiser as a line unto itself as more political than tactical. After a naval staff study suggested a Star Destroyer was the field equivalent of the smallest of naval squadrons, the Admiralty decided that, as there were more lines than squadrons, designating the Star Destroyer as a line unit would get them more Star Destroyers. The Admiralty's thinking prevailed.

Squadron

A squadron was the smallest independent operating unit in the Imperial Navy. Composed by several lines, a squadron was commanded by an admiral and ranged from 14 to 60 ships, depending upon the composition of the lines in the squadron. A squadron was the largest concentration of ships normally assigned to a single system. The Old Republic designated units of identical configuration as fleets. Those units were the total naval presence in a sector. Thus, the squadron was a useful measure of the growth of the Imperial military after the establishment of Palpatine’s New Order.

Similar to lines, the Imperial Navy Order of Battle designated four types of squadrons: light, heavy, battle and bombard. Light squadrons patrolled areas known to be safe with two attack lines, a skirmish line and a reconnaissance line. Heavy squadrons engaged planetary systems that possessed known enemy presences, with either two heavy attack lines, an attack line and a reconnaissance line for situations where the enemy’s position and composition was unknown, or with three heavy attack lines and a skirmish line for situations where the enemy was known to be defending a fixed asset. It was common to assign Victory-class Star Destroyers to the latter type of heavy squadron. Battle squadrons contained an Imperial-class Star Destroyer. In addition to the Star Destroyer, there were at least three lines, two attack lines and one pursuit line, for an average of 18 ships. Battle squadrons were a popular choice for ruling through fear. The mere arrival of a battle squadron, and more importantly, an Imperial-class Star Destroyer, was often enough to squelch a planetary revolt or scare off an armed space-threat. Bombard squadrons subjugated worlds in open rebellion that had developed planetary defenses including multilayered planetary shields and large planetary guns with four torpedo spheres, a skirmish line, and a pursuit line.

Systems Force

A systems force combined several squadrons under the command of an admiral, referred to as a commodore while leading a systems force. These combined forces were responsible for Imperial Navy actions across multiple star systems. Rather than outline specific formations of system forces, the Imperial Navy Order of Battle lent flexibility to commodores to pool the whole of their naval resources and shape them as necessary missions required.

Force superiority pooled at least three battle squadrons and a light squadron. With a minimum of three Imperial-class Star Destroyers and nearly 90 other starships, force superiority’s mission was to achieve space superiority, defined as, “the complete absence of hostile craft within the orbital space of controlled worlds, and no chronic enemy ship activity within the entire system.”

Force escort protected crucial commercial shipments, economically essential space installations or facilities, and hunted down harassing pirates. With at least two heavy squadrons and two light squadrons, force escort was the most flexible of the force pools. Commodores used force escort to run a variety of missions, knowing well that their large starship count and organizational flexibility would allow for their completion. Where force superiority was given the maxim "always send enough”, force escort bore the maxim "never send too much”.

Force system engaged threats that force superiority could not successfully destroy. By swapping out the light squadron for a fourth battle squadron, a commodore could enough force to ensure complete domination of a target area.

Fleet

Where all previous units were generally bound to specific system or set of systems, the Imperial Navy designated a fleet as a "sector resource," allowing it to operate on a sector-wide scale. A fleet was the smallest unit transferred between sectors. With such a large number of units, there are thousands of potential types of fleet alignments. Common fleet deployment types include superiority fleets, assault fleets, and bombard fleets. Other examples of alignments that a fleet might take include a deepdock fleet, support fleet, or ordnance fleet.

Superiority fleets maintained space superiority in sectors with “four or fewer world confirmed hostile to the New Order, and no more than 16 additional worlds with confirmed significant hostile elements”, a superiority fleet was deployed. With six Imperial-class Star Destroyers and almost 400 other starships, a superiority fleet was presumed to be a sufficient force for relatively calm sectors.

Assault fleets transport huge numbers of Imperial Army and Navy troops to coordinate ground operations, while maintaining space superiority around the targeted systems. With two transport forces and two force escorts, an assault fleet engaged in massive planetary and system-wide ground campaigns.

Bombard fleets contain an average of 416 ships, allocated between two system bombards and two force escorts. Bombard fleets were assigned to sectors where the Empire had determined the probability of repressing the Rebellion in the sector to be less than even. System bombards were used when the Empire would rather completely destroy a world rather than see it fall into Rebel hands.

Sector Group

A sector group was the sum total of Naval strength which the Empire expected to commit to a normal sector. A high admiral commanded a sector group, a title usually granted to the Moff who governed the sector. In sectors that were involved in constant and severe naval actions, the high admiral acted was an separate position from the Moff. A sector group could be expected to contain at least 2,400 ships, 24 of which were Star Destroyers, and another 1,600 combat starships.

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