The Picket Fleet was part of the Corporate Sector's Security Division, and as such, its primary role was policing against non-military opponents. It was organized to take on smugglers and pirates, and to support the suppression of planetary unrest, and the ships it used reflected this mission.
The Corporate Sector devoted no significant resources to the construction of large warships, preferring instead to acquire them from abroad.
Before the Clone Wars, the Picket Fleet had equipped itself with new Dreadnaught Cruisers from Rendili StarDrive, but in the long term, their usual procurement policy was to acquire large, old ships that were being discarded by other navies. These were almost always slow and obsolescent, but the sheer quantity of firepower they could carry would overpower most of the Picket Fleet's paramilitary opponents. As Palpatine consolidated and modernized his military forces, whole fleets of older warships became available, ranging from ancient heavy cruisers that had served the Old Republic centuries earlier, through veteran Star Destroyers from the Clone Wars, to former Seperatist warships.
For many years, the core of the Picket Fleet was a force of 520 Victory I-class Star Destroyers purchased from the Imperial Navy. Other veteran warships from the Clone Wars were added as available, such as a force of six Recusant-class light destroyers. A number of Lucrehulk-class battleships and Core Ships were also acquired at this time by the Corporate Sector.
Perhaps the most distinctive warships in the Picket Fleet were a number of large, ancient Invincible-class Dreadnaught Heavy Cruisers, originally built for the Old Republic. These were already around three thousand years old at the time of their acquisition, but their large hulls could carry many weapons and troops, and their simple systems made them easy for Espo crews to operate. By the time of the Yuuzhan Vong War, however, only a few of these old ships remained.
After the end of the Galactic Civil War, many warships were once again surplus to the needs of other naval forces, and the Picket Fleet acquired a large number of these, notably including one Star Destroyer. In the years, after the Battle of Endor, the Picket Fleet also made use of an Escort Carrier design, which may have been the 500-meter Kuat Drive Yards design.
The smaller ships used by the Picket Fleet, built in the Corporate Sector's own yards, were typically no larger than corvettes, although they were often referred to as cruisers. Other designations for smaller Picket Fleet vessels are known, however, including sloop and gunboat.
The standard design for many years was the Marauder-class corvette. Originally developed by Republic Sienar Systems, the rights to the design were acquired by the Corporate Sector after it failed to make an impact in other markets. Alongside this, the Picket Fleet also used a militarized version of the Corporate Sector's locally-developed Etti-class light transport. Both these types were capable of carrying out the role for which they were built, but both were developed by the Corporate Sector without designing a warship class from the keel up.
Throughout the Galactic Civil War, surplus Picket Fleet corvettes were sold to other fleets, in a reversal of the Corporate Sector's acquisition policy for larger warships. Also, vessels were sometimes built for export. By the time of the Second Galactic Civil War, the Corporate Sector's shipyards were building a new type of corvette-sized "cruiser", Cutlass-class, which was used by the Imperial Remnant and probably also by the Picket Fleet itself.
Some smaller Picket Fleet ships were acquired from outside in the same way as the larger warships. After the end of the Galactic Civil War, for example, a small number of military-surplus EF76 Nebulon-B escort frigates were purchased from other navies.
The Picket Fleet also made use of starfighters. Like the corvettes, these were usually built locally, but sometimes using foreign designs. The standard Picket Fleet starfighter was the home-grown IRD, but other types were produced as well, such as the Mankvim-814 light interceptor, a Techno Union design acquired after the Clone Wars, and constructed in limited numbers.
Recruitment patterns for the Picket Fleet paralleled the origins of its ships: the bulk of enlisted personnel were Corporate Sector citizens, but many of the Picket Fleet's senior and mid-level officers were recruited from other military forces, and particularly from the Imperial Navy, such as Baruche Sloane, Jona Grumby and Milo Phineas.
Typically, Corporate Sector warships operated individually. Sometimes, however, the Picket Fleet could deploy a sizable task force to seize control of a star system from a foreign fleet. One example of larger-scale operations of this sort occurred after the Battle of Endor, when a powerful Picket Fleet task force, led by the Victory-class Star Destroyer Enforce, intervened at Kirima.