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Imperial Navy
General information

Naval Command


Imperial Center, Bastion


Throughout the galaxy

Formed from

Republic Navy


19 BBY


4 ABY, 130 ABY


>19 ABY

Other information
"As officers of the Imperial Navy, your loyalty is expected… and demanded. Resignations are not permitted at this time. The galaxy remains unstable. You will do your duty or you will share the late Captain Dallin's fate."
Darth Vader, after the death of Captain Jace Dallin

The Imperial Navy, also known as the Imperial Starfleet, Imperial Fleet, Imperial Battlefleet, or Imperial Space Service, was the naval branch of the Imperial Military of the Galactic Empire. At its peak, it fielded millions of warships, logistics vessels and fighters, maintaining Imperial control throughout the galaxy.

The Imperial Navy was formed from the Republic Navy of the Old Republic in 19 BBY, as part of Palpatine's Imperialization campaign during the rise of the Empire.[1] A reorganized command structure, eventually consisting of twelve Grand Admirals,[2] oversaw the rapid expansion of the fleet that had begun during the Clone Wars. Growing discontent with the Empire eventually coalesced into the Alliance to Restore the Republic, which began a military campaign against Imperial forces, that became known as the Galactic Civil War.

After the Battle of Endor in 4 ABY, the Empire began to devolve into warlordism and infighting, splintering the Imperial Navy. It would not again become a cohesive unit until the establishment of the Imperial Remnant under Grand Admiral Gilad Pellaeon, becoming a veritable fighting force once again under his command during the Yuuzhan Vong War. The Imperial Navy would regain much of its former strength by the time of the Fel Empire, under which it fought the Galactic Alliance in the Sith-Imperial War, and later Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire in the subsequent civil war.[3]

The Imperial Navy was one of the most formidable militaries ever assembled, consisting of millions of warships, fighters and transports, manned by trillions of fleet crew[4]. The mainstays of its fleets - the Star Destroyer and Super Star Destroyer capital ships[5] and the TIE fighter series of starfighters - became some of the most visible symbols of Imperial rule to the galaxy's civilian populace.[6]



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

The Imperial Navy was formed from the Republic Navy, and as such was still under Naval Command. The Imperial Navy conducted itself by the Imperial Naval Code, a set of martial laws and regulations created to guide the massive military organization. Under the Non-huMan rule, the vast majority of personnel in the Imperial Starfleet were male Humans, although some Human females, such as Admiral Daala, and even other species were also in the service, such as the Chiss Grand Admiral Thrawn.



The New Order

The Imperial Navy was formed from the Republic Navy of the Old Republic. After Supreme Chancellor Palpatine declared himself Emperor in 19 BBY, establishing the first Galactic Empire, he began a campaign of Imperialization, under which the Republic Navy, now containing the individual member world's home fleets,[7] was renamed the Imperial Navy. Palpatine's first purge of the Imperial Navy occurred within two weeks into the Empire's rule. A rapid expansion of the number of Naval ships begun near the end of the Clone Wars was further increased.[1] The command structure was eventually reorganised around 2 BBY, with twelve Grand Admirals leading the Navy.[2]

Galactic Civil War

Growing discontent with the Empire eventually coalesced into the Alliance to Restore the Republic, which began a military campaign against Imperial forces. In many subsequent engagements, the Navy provided support to the Imperial Army as well as fighting the Alliance ship-to-ship. Although the Alliance Fleet was not as large or as powerful as the well-trained Imperial Navy, the two fleets would battle each other regularly throughout the Galactic Civil War. The Navy was present at both Death Stars and suffered massive losses as a result of the Alliance's destruction of the stations.[8][9]

Not too long after the defeat at the Battle of Endor, in 4 ABY the Galactic Empire split up into warring factions led by warlords, and the Imperial Navy splintered along with it. While much of the remnants of the Imperial Navy were later reunited under impressive Imperial commanders, the military organization ceased to be reunited as a whole after the death of Emperor Palpatine. It would not again become a cohesive unit until the establishment of the Imperial Remnant under Grand Admiral Gilad Pellaeon. By the end of the Galactic Civil War, a navy that numbered in the millions was reduced to mere thousands with just two-hundred Star Destroyers remaining. It would take more than a century before the Imperial Navy restored itself to its former glory.[3]


It would once again became a veritable fighting force participating under Pellaeon´s command in the Yuuzhan Vong War. The Imperial Navy would regain much of its former strength by the time of the Fel Empire, under which it fought the Galactic Alliance in the Sith-Imperial War, and later be split between followers of Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire and loyalists of the Empire-in-exile in the subsequent civil war.[3]

Key ships of the fleet

A COMPNOR member on a public relations trip observes a naval maneuver.

The most recognizable symbol of the Imperial Starfleet was the Imperial-class Star Destroyer, which peaked at over twenty-five thousand vessels,[10] although millions of starships of different designs were fielded for various purposes.

Super Star Destroyers became infamous for their size and armament, but some also contributed to the fleets as logistics vessels[11] and starfighter carriers.

Most major capital ships, battlestations and logistics vessels were constructed by Kuat Drive Yards, Loronar Corporation, and Rendili StarDrive during the height of the Galactic Empire.[12] The shipyards at Corellia supplied the Empire with gunships, corvettes and larger cruisers.[8] Additionally, countless shipyards supplied the Imperial Starfleet with support ships such as Carrack-class light cruisers, Lancer-class frigates, Strike-class cruisers, and escort carriers. In 0 BBY, it was estimated that the combined firepower of the entire fleet could almost do as much damage as two Death Stars.[8]


An Imperial Ensign.
"Our credo is 'Service. Fealty. Fidelity.' This may be the first time you have heard it. By the time you graduate, it is one you will never forget."
―Fleet Admiral Holt during Imperial Naval Academy cadet indoctrination speech

Naval recruits first attended the Imperial Academy to gain the basis of their higher education and military discipline, and then continued their education at the Imperial Naval College, where Academy graduates received specific training on naval operations, combat, and command functions. Finally, non-commissioned officers and recent graduates of the Imperial Naval College could participate 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.


A parade on Anaxes.

The Imperial Navy used an overall strategy of focusing on capital ship firepower rather than starfighter superiority. This was reflected through the design of their starships, the formation of their naval units and the overall organization of the force.


An individual command, a single starship, was the building block of the Imperial Starfleet. 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 Starfleet 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 Starfleet. The Imperial Starfleet Order of Battle outlined seven types of lines: attack, heavy attack, reconnaissance, pursuit, skirmish, troop and bombard. 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. A troop line consisted of two Evakmar-Kuat Drive Yards Corps Transport vessels, two escort vessels, and frequently two Strike-class cruisers. Its function was the deployment of Army units. A bombard (or torpedo) line typically consisted of two Torpedo Spheres.

In addition to the seven types of lines, the Imperial Navy considered an Imperial-class Star Destroyer a line in itself. While an Imperial-class Star Destroyer may have been able to act as an attack line and its complement of starfighters as a skirmish line, the decision to give commanders the option to field a heavy cruiser as a line unto itself was 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.


Imperial-class Star Destroyers and TIE Fighters shortly before the Battle of Endor, 4 ABY.

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 Galactic 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 Emperor Palpatine's New Order.

Similar to lines, the Imperial Navy's 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. The mere arrival of a battle squadron, and more importantly, an Imperial-class Star Destroyer, was often enough to put down 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 typical Imperial hangar.

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 Starfleet actions across multiple star systems. Rather than outline specific formations of system forces, the Imperial Starfleet 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".

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


Part of the 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 were thousands of potential types of fleet alignments. Common fleet deployment types included superiority fleets, assault fleets, and bombard fleets. Other examples of alignments that a fleet might have taken included a deepdock fleet, support fleet, or ordinance 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 transported 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 contained 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 than see it fall into Rebel hands.

Sector group

"The Empire's standard Sector Group strength was only twenty-four Star Destroyers. They were able to exercise control over an entire system with a single Imperial-class ship. They were able to overwhelm anything up to a Class Four planetary defense with one-third of a Sector Group."
Etahn A'baht.

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 was a separate position from the Moff. A sector group could be expected to contain at least 2,400 ships, 24 of which were Star Destroyers (Imperial-class Star Destroyers were the norm, but some groups contained older model Star Destroyers), and another 1,600 combat starships.

Regional, oversector and strategic command

Regional, oversectorial and strategic military commands existed as well, and came in a variety of mixed[13] and homogenous[14] forces.

A fleet consisting of Executor-class Dreadnoughts, Imperial-class Destroyers and Nebulon-B frigates conduct an orbital bombardment

Black Sword Command was a regional command that defended the Core regions from threats eminating from the galactic rim. It had three Super Star Destroyers as part of its fleet assets.[15] Azure Hammer Command, based out of Anaxes, defended Sector Zero and consisted of 57 capital ships, led by the Super Star Destroyer Whelm.[16] Additionally, a full ten percent of the entire Imperial Navy was kept in reserve in the Core Worlds, so as to be able to quickly respond to threats throughout the galaxy.[17] In the Outer Rim Territories, a fleet with at least 19 Imperial-class Star Destroyers and three Immobilizer 418 cruisers, the latter supplied by Imperial Drydock IV, was also kept.[18]

Roving fleets aimed at specific tasks were fielded at several points in Imperial history. Notable units included Death Squadron[6][19] and Scourge Squadron,[20] which hunted for Rebel bases in the Outer Rim. There was also the Vengeance Battle Group, used by the Dark Jedi Jerec to search for the Valley of the Jedi,[21] and the secret armada assembled by Admiral Mils Giel, for the purpose of transporting a vital biological device from the Outer Rim to Imperial Center.[13]

At least one Star Destroyer task force was used to punish Imperial sectors that threatened to undermine Imperial rule, as when the Moff of the Trans-Nebular sector established himself as a de factor warlord and was engaged by a fleet of Star Destroyers. This force was large enough to leave behind vessels that would form the core of a new sector fleet, before moving on to other trouble spots.[14]

Infantry units

Divisions and Departments

Capital ship classes

The Death Star II, one of the deadliest weapons developed by the Empire.

Space stations and superweapons

A X7 Factory.
Jovan Station.
A Golan SpaceGun.
An Imperial armada led by a massive flagship.



Destroyers and cruisers

An Imperial I-class Star Destroyer, signature vessel of the Imperial Navy.
A Super Star Destroyer orbiting Byss with Star Destroyer escort.
A Dreadnaught-class heavy cruiser, representative of a durable class that spanned centuries and governments.

Carriers and assault ships


Corvettes and gunships

A Broadside-class cruiser kdb-1, an Imperial missile corvette.



A TIE shuttle, Missile Boat and TIE Scout

Scout vessels





Support ships

Logistics vessels

Arc Hammer factory ship.

Dropships and landing craft


Behind the scenes

Starship classifications

It should be noted that considering the nomenclature of ship classification used by real life navies, some Star Wars starships appeared to be misnamed. However, it is to be expected that different cultures and societies go by internally rationalized classification-systems.

The Empire used different scales to classify their vessels. One of which culminated with Star Destroyers and Super Star Destroyers lumped into a sub-category of cruisers, and another which treated Star Destroyers as destroyers and further divided Super Star Destroyers into Star Cruisers, Star Battlecruisers and Star Dreadnoughts. The former system was more often referenced, as many of the threats against the Empire were on a level that required little more than one Star Destroyer or a flotilla of them.

Imperial identification procedures

It has not been established that starships of the Imperial Navy carry a nationality prefix, as most modern world navies do, though it should be noted that starships serving in the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) during the Clone Wars carried the prefix "RSS," presumably indicating "Republic Star Ship." During the New Order, a vessel hailing another craft or station establishes communications by identifying itself with the term "Imperial", followed by the ship's class designation and finally the actual name.

For example, Garrett would therefore call itself "Imperial Star Destroyer Garrett", as you can hear it in a transmission when playing the computer game Star Wars: TIE Fighter. Also, as a lot of smaller ships in the vast armada of the Empire do not even bear a real names but only registration numbers, it would sound kind of ridiculous when a vessel would identify itself with a tag (like "this is ISS 019"). Instead, in the tutorial of the computer game Star Wars: Empire at War, you can see an Acclamator identifying itself as "Imperial Acclamator Oh-One-Niner". Some novels, like Republic Commando: Hard Contact, make it seem likely that this procedure has already been common in the navy of the Galactic Republic, except with the term "Republic" being used in place of "Imperial".

Note that this is but a hypothesis, as this topic has never been discussed by any official sources. Yet, a large number of novels and computer games are using the system described above, so there seems to be some kind of continuity, or at least an established habit of the different authors.


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  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
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  • Star Wars Missions 19: Bounty on Bonadan
  • Star Wars Missions 20: Total Destruction
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  •  "Permission Granted" - Shadows of the Empire Sourcebook (Mentioned only)
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Non-canon appearances

  • Star Wars: Visions of the Blade


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Who's Who: Imperial Grand Admirals" - Star Wars Insider 66
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Star Wars Legacy 0½
  4. 4.0 4.1 Rebellion Era Campaign Guide
  5. Dark Empire Sourcebook
  6. 6.0 6.1 Imperial Sourcebook
  7. The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
  9. 9.0 9.1 Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
  10. Spectre of the Past
  11. Starships of the Galaxy (Saga Edition)
  12. The Illustrated Star Wars Universe
  13. 13.0 13.1 Star Wars 60: Shira's Story
  14. 14.0 14.1 Goroth: Slave of the Empire
  15. Black Fleet Crisis
  16. Coruscant and the Core Worlds
  17. Star Wars Sourcebook
  18. Star Wars: X-wing
  19. Rebel Alliance Sourcebook
  20. The Pentastar Alignment
  21. Dark Forces: Jedi Knight

See also

This article uses material from the "Imperial Navy" article on the Starwars wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Star Wars Fanon

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The Imperial Navy was a branch of the Imperial military in the Galactic Empire.

This article uses material from the "Imperial Navy" article on the Star Wars Fanon wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


Up to date as of February 05, 2010

From Traveller Wiki - Science-Fiction Adventure in the Far future

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 Pacification Campaigns

Beginning in the year 76, four separate pacification campaigns were fought to bring these resistant worlds into the fold. While for the most part these campaigns were economic or political, there were few holdouts that an Imperial battle fleet couldn’t manage to ‘persuade’. Each of these campaigns concentrated on specific regions of space and each was overseen by an Archduke of the Imperium. The Vilani Pacification Campaign targeted portions of the Dagudashaag and Gushemege sectors. The Ilelish Pacification Campaign was aimed at the Darmine region. The Antarean Pacification Campaign hit much of the Lishun sector while the Sylean Pacification Campaign centerd on the Delphi and Fornast sectors.

By 120 the pacification campaigns had drawn to a close and imperial expansion drew to a halt. The Imperial Navy used this period to look at its structure and deployment patterns. The relative peace of the following fifty odd years allowed the navy to completely revamp its operations to create a more streamlined creature that was professionally capable rather than something that had just grown together over the last hundred or so years. Unfortunately, as in any extended period of peace, those years also saw the experienced officers in the service rise through the ranks and eventually retire out of the navy. By the end of this period very few officers and ratings had ever seen combat.

The First Defeat

Emperor Martin I, who ascended to the throne in 166, was more ambitious than his actual powers allowed. He decided to try to add the sectors of Meshan, Mendan and Amdukan to the Imperium in an attempt to significantly expand its borders.

After several years of negotiation with the various states in these sectors got nowhere he decided to take them by force. In 175 the Imperial Navy staged an invasion of the sectors.

Progress was, initially, relatively swift as the local governments did not have the power to resist the Imperial fleets, and many worlds fell to the Imperium. However in 178 a bureaucrat by the name of Julian came to power in one of the confederations in the Amdukan sector. Julian managed to persuade all the disparate governments to rally to his call to drive out the Imperial aggressors from their homes. Surprisingly enough it worked.

The Julian Protectorate, as the new alliance was to be called, spent time uniting its fleets and fighting several major actions against the Imperial Navy. It was not until the Protectorate decided to carry the battle to the Imperium that the war started to take a serious turn.

In 185 the fleets of the Julian Protectorate moved across the Lesser Rift and through the Empty Quarter sector. They raided deep into Imperial territory and actually managed to raid and destroy the Imperial Naval Depots in the Antares and Ley sectors.

The Imperial Navy didn’t know what had hit them. With their two closest Depots totally destroyed the supply lines were devastated and all the fleets involved in the invasion were recalled to Imperial territory to protect their own lines of communication. What had started as a war of expansion was now turning into a defensive conflict.

Protectorate forces had by now taken many Imperial worlds and, despite a counterattack in 190, the worlds remained in Julian hands.

Eventually Martin I admitted that the worlds of the Protectorate could not be incorporated into the Imperium so he called for a truce. Part of the settlement included granting autonomy to a group of 12 worlds on the border of Imperial and Protectorate space.

After colonization of the more spinward reaches of the Imperium was initiated around 220, clashes with the already established Vargr states in and around the Vland, Corridor and Deneb sectors became increasingly common. For the next 128 years, small-scale conflicts with the semi-organized Vargr occurred with depressing regularity.

The Ilelish Rebelion

In 418 the sector capital world of Ilelish and several other worlds in the Ilelish sector declared their independence from the Imperium and urged many other worlds in the Ilelish and Verge sectors to join them. By 420 six whole subsectors had declared their autonomy.

The response of Emperor Martin III was a patient and well thought out plan. A circle of warships surrounded the rebellious worlds to prevent any trade in or out of the region. Slowly, over the course of the next 15 years, the noose was tightened, mobilizing more and more ships as it reached Ilelish, the center of the revolt. As it fell, each world was reincorporated into the Third Imperium and the patience of the Emperor paid off in minimizing the losses incurred on both sides.

Ilelish was the last planet to fall. Its surrender, once the Imperial fleets reached the Ilelish system, was unconditional and quick.

In order to exact a punishment against the people of Ilelish the sector capital was moved to Dlan, a world completely loyal to the Imperium. Emperor Martin ordered the evacuation of the entire equatorial region of the planet. This entire region of Ilelish was then sterilized by the Imperial Navy. What once was an area full of lush forests was reduced to a barren desert that still exists today, over 500 years later.

The First Frontier War

The First Frontier War, as it was to later become known, began in 589 and spanned 15 years and exacted a massive toll on the Navy as the Outworld Coalition, formed between the Zhodani and Vargr, invaded Imperial space. Communication times between the Spinward Marches and Capital, added to an almost complete lack of support from Empress Jaqueline I, resulted in the war lasting longer than it should have. Even though the Imperium eventually defeated the Outworld Coalition forces the conflict was to have a long lasting affect on the Third Imperium.

The Barracks Emperors

In 606, after victory had been achieved in the Marches, Grand Admiral Olav hault-Plankwell took the bulk of his fleet all the way to Capital. Once there he petitioned for an audience with Empress Jaqueline I and, during the course of the audience, murdered her.

Olav at once proclaimed himself emperor by right of fleet control and started a civil war that would rage throughout the Imperium for the next 18 years. The Imperial rule broke down as many groups vied for power, though the bureaucracy kept the government running. During this time 18 Emperors sat on the Iridium Throne, all of them naval officers, and all the while the Imperial Navy was torn apart by its commanding officers choosing to ally themselves with the various factions. Historians would later know these rulers as the Emperors of the Flag.

While the forces of the Imperium were distracted, in 615 the Outworld Coalition once again reformed and attacked the Spinward Marches. This second frontier war was just as bloody as the first but eventually the Grand Admiral of the Marches, Arbellatra, succeeded in pushing back the invading forces.

After the conclusion Arbellatra, like Olav before her, returned to Capital with her forces and succeeded in removing the putative emperor before taking possession of power. However, Arabellatra took a different course to her predecessor. She did not claim the throne but instead proclaimed herself Regent until such time as a suitable Emperor could be agreed upon by the Imperial Moot.

Arbellatra’s regency was accepted by most and rammed down the throats of a few. She served as Regent and protector to the Iridium Throne for 7 years before the Moot proclaimed her Empress in 629, beginning the line of Alkhalikoi.

The Reconstruction

This was a bleak period in the navy’s history. The majority of the core fleets had been crippled and it would take many years of construction to bring the fleets back up to strength again. Safeguards were put in place along the chain of command to prevent such events from happening again in the future. However, personnel quotas became difficult to maintain as the honor of the Imperial Navy had been stained. It was over a generation before the crew crisis would abate.

The uneasiness that followed such a turbulent period, two frontier wars and a Civil War in a short period of time actually encouraged a sense of calm throughout the Imperium for the next 350 years. The occasional border dispute and some saber-rattling by the Outworld Coalition caused only ripples and the Imperial Navy was generally at peace for much of that time.

Some say this led to overconfidence on the part of the senior naval officers and when the Zhodani opened hostilities once again, in the Spinward Marches in 979, the fleets were slow to react. After the initial Zhodani gains the war became a stalemate for much of its 6 years with each side using hit and run tactics. The armistice in 986 gave a little to each side but both sides came out of the war with nothing to show for it.

The Solomani Rim War

The Imperial Navy would return to war yet again only 4 years later, but this time the battle would not be over the worlds of the Spinward Marches but along the Solomani Rim. In 990, after a period of escalating tension, the Imperium declared war on the Solomani Confederation.

The initial phase of the war went very well for the Solomani. For three years the Imperial Navy was forced back by Solomani forces until finally, in 993, a large invasion force was stopped cold in the Old Expanses Sector. The period from 993 to 998 was one of stalemate. By 998, the Imperial Navy had achieved strategic dominance, as the greater industrial base of the Imperium made its power felt. The last phase of the war, 998 to 1002, consisted of a near-continual advance by Imperial forces into the heart of the Solomani Sphere. Finally, in 1002, Imperial forces retook Terra and a temporary armistice was negotiated with the Solomani military commanders, who were glad to gain a respite to regroup their remaining forces. The war ended on this basis as both governments informally agreed to extend the armistice indefinitely.

The New Strategy

Once again the Imperial Navy was at peace, with little more to occupy it other than anti-piracy patrols. Until, in 1082, the Zhodani invaded the Jewell Subsector, kicking off the Fourth Frontier War. This was brought to a close by the Battle of Two Suns in 1084.

Following what is often called the False War, the Admiralty began a fundamental reexamination of their strategy. Prior to that, naval policy had favored a "crust" strategy, with major fleet elements well forward in potential trouble spots such as the Spinward Marches. For decades this strategy had been effective due to the tremendous technological and material lead enjoyed by the Imperium over its neighbors. The Fourth Frontier War demonstrated, however, that the Imperium's lead had narrowed to the point that a clear superiority could no longer be achieved at all points along the frontier.

The new strategy came to be known as the "elastic defense" posture. Priority in the new strategy has been placed on a minimum of fleet assets initially in the actual border areas, but with much larger reserves available for commitment to any one region in the event of war. Within the frontier itself, colonial forces have been strengthened and centered around selected "islands of resistance," high population, high technology worlds capable of withstanding protracted sieges. These forward elements are intended to delay any hostile advances and disrupt sieges of key worlds, until major reserves can intervene and restablish the status quo.

This new strategy proved effective when the Zhodani Consulate and Outworld Coalition forces started the Fifth Frontier War in 1107. The Metal Worlds in the Sword Worlds Subsector were captured and an armistice was signed, ending the war in 1110.

Fleet Types

The Imperial Navy classifies its fleets by the type of activity they are expected to undertake: assault, battle, interdiction, penetration, strike, reserve, and depot.

Battle fleets

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

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.

Interdiction fleets

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.

Penetration fleets

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.

Strike fleets

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

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.

Depot fleets

These inactive ship pools — ships which are not in service but may be reactivated as needed — are assigned to the depot fleets.

Squadron Types

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.

Squadron Classification

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.

This article was copied or excerpted from the following copyrighted sources and used under license from Far Future Enterprises and by permission of the author.
Fighting Ships of the Shattered Imperium

This article uses material from the "Imperial Navy" article on the Traveller wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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