Fleet do the flying, MI do the dying!
Federal Fleet refers to the air force and space armada of the United Citizen Federation. The members of Fleet fly and maintain all vehicular ships in the Federation's armada. As a division of the Federal Armed Services, the Federation's Codex of Military Juristic Articles applies. Crewmembers of the Federal Fleet are capable of receiving awards and ribbons depending on their prowess and experience.
Fleet is based across Federal Space, orbiting planets and manning defense rings. Many Fleet ships are assigned to a certain battlestation, such as Fleet Battlestations Ticonderoga or Sanctuary, and patrol nearby planets.
Military Service in Fleet
When most civilians think of the Fleet, they usually envision corvette transports like the UCFCT Robert E. Lee or the UCFCT George Patton. While these ships are a vital part of the Fleet, they hardly comprise its whole complement or even a majority of its vessels. The Fleet also maintains shuttles, warships, bases, cargo vessels and many other air and space vehicles, all of them ships are part of a well-organised force, answerable directly to the Sky Marshals in exactly the same way as the Mobile Infantry. In fact, the Fleet works hand in hand with the Mobile Infantry, as the former is responsible of transporting and supporting the latter wherever conflict takes them.
While the working relationship between the Fleet and the Mobile Infantry is good, it serves to screen a constantly simmering and mutual resentment. Mobile Infantry troopers generally despise Fleet personnel because of the perceived ‘easy’ life the Fleet appear to lead. Fleet personnel technically outrank Mobile Infantry troopers of equal station, making the problem that much worse. While both sides are generally too disciplined to allow this resentment to come to anything more than the occasional galley scufﬂe, it can become a morale issue and commanding officers on both sides work to ensure that it never becomes a serious issue.
During its long history, the role of the Fleet has changed to match the needs of the Federation it serves. Originally intended as a police force to ensure the smooth operation of Earth’s extraterrestrial colonies, its duties have expanded to include system patrol, interdiction and escort for ranking personnel and vital supply convoys. While the Fleet has now completely replaced the defunct Federal Stellar Authority, a minor division of the Fleet, the Federal Transport Authority (FTA), still performs civilian aerospace services under the direct command of the United Citizens’ Federation.
The role of the Federal Transport Authority has caused some unrest among civilians, primarily because civilian employees of the FTA are not considered Fleet personnel and thus not eligible for military experience, pay or citizen benefits. While the Federation recognises that civilian FTA employees, such as merchant marines, transport pilots and commercial starship crews take the same risks and require much the same training as Fleet members, it has maintained its policy of considering them civilians unless they officially enlist into SICON. Ironically, this enlistment typically involves them having to give up their jobs to undergo basic training and then being reassigned to a completely different line of work, thus defeating the reason FTA employees chose to volunteer in the first place.
Despite this, the Fleet is well received by the general populace of the Federation, as most are just glad to have such effective protection in space. With the number of alien encounters on the increase over the past few decades, the UCF has increased their funding to SICON for the construction of additional ships and the training of their crews. While the commissioning and building of a Fleet vessel can be an expensive undertaking, its crew is usually a far more costly investment after training, equipment and maintenance are factored in.
This is an especially vexing concern for larger ships like transports and dreadnoughts. Even a relatively small frigates can require upwards of two hundred personnel. To get a new group of cadets to crew such a ship, the Fleet has to find the best and brightest volunteers and begin their training immediately after they graduate from the Fleet Academy, the Fleet’s own version of Mobile Infantry boot camps. The SICON policy of bringing everyone through the same level of basic training can make finding effective cadets difficult, even more so because so many potentially excellent pilots and crewmen ‘wash out’ due to stress before they can be taken into the Fleet.
The Fleet Academy is located on Earth's moon at Tereshkova Base. Flight training lasts, on average, as long as Mobile Infantry boot camp - three to four months, depending on the training base. Several smaller fleet academies exist in the outer area of Federal Space, though most cadets choose to go to Tereshkova Base due to its excellent record of pilot graduation rates. The Fleet has an unofﬁcial answer to the ‘Wash-Out’ problem – a Form 15-A. This is an administrative form that authorises the commanding officer issuing it to pull a recruit from basic training without invalidating a Mobile Infantry recruit status. By identifying potential cadets in basic training and ‘ﬁfteening’ them out, SICON recruits can be redirected into the Fleet Academy.
While Fleet Academy is no less stressful than an Mobile Infantry boot camp, they are tailored to the needs and policies of the Fleet. Once a cadet graduates Fleet Academy, he is a fully qualiﬁed ensign ready to fulﬁl that role aboard any starship in current service.
Flight time is difficult to get for any Fleet officer not already ear-marked by SICON to be a pilot, but it can be done through careful scheduling of one’s time. Every ship larger than a shuttle and every installation has at least one simulator for flight training purposes. Amassing the 200 hours needed to apply for a position with a bridge or command crew begins with these simulators and the captain’s approval. There is no perseverance clause involved with this approval, meaning that while an officer can technically keep requesting a promotion, there is an unstated limit to how high he can rise in his given assignment.
Simulators teach piloting skills and indoctrinate a Fleet officer to the rigours and requirements of aerospace vehicle operations. The standard Fleet simulator is a comprehensive machine capable of emulating every vehicle class in the Fleet and certain subcategories within those broad classification. For an officer to even qualify for a pilot test and earn his flight wings, he must complete 20 witnessed hours of transport, 20 hours of fighter, 20 hours of warship, and 20 hours of his choice with these simulators.
A further 20 hours of flight time must be taken in an actual atmospheric vehicle or starship. Captains with faith in a pilot trainee’s abilities can make their own ship or a shuttle attached to an installation available for this purpose, but otherwise the trainee has to secure flight time for himself. This can be a difficult task and many would-be pilots find their aspirations stalled for lack of a vehicle in which to complete his needed hours.
Once the last 20 requisite hours are earned, an officer can take his pilot test. This is a rigorous mental, physical and practical examination that takes a full week to complete and is conducted at a SICON Fleet base equipped to process the results. At the present time, the only bases capable of holding pilot tests are Sanctuary, the Fleet Academy on Luna and the orbital installation over Hod in the Alpha Centauri system. When a pilot trainee successfully completes these tests to the satisfaction of an administering official, he is awarded his flight wings, the status of a temporary pilot and returned to his original assignment to await further commission.
Pilot commissions are difficult to come by even for fully trained, fully tested officers. Unless a replacement shuttle or fighter pilot is needed, a candidate may have to wait years before a flight crew position opens up on an existing ship. While an officer-in-waiting continues to serve out his current assignment, his commanding officers generally start moving his critical duties onto others in preparation for his eventual departure. This is not always the case; an officer can agree to wait for his pilot commission until an opening occurs on his current ship or installation instead and in situations where an officer has a close relationship with his fellow crew and commanders, this is a common occurrence. This often increases an officer’s wait time, but the bonds of experience developed during his assignment are best served by keeping him in that assignment if at all possible.
The First Assignment
Once an ensign receives his first commission, his next port of call is whatever ship or installation he has been assigned to as crew. Unlike militaries of the past, there is no secondary training centre; any ship-specific skills an ensign requires are taught to him during his tenure at this first posting. This form of direct education allows each ensign to fit perfectly within his new role within a week or two of assignment; this also keeps the Fleet’s personnel up to date on all advances in technology and new ship types. When a new design comes out of the shipyards ready for service, a veteran crew from the ship’s nearest base is usually moved in its entirety to staff it.
This is done because ship crews are usually considered block assets by the Fleet. The relationship between a captain and his crew is often even more cohesive than that of a platoon in the Mobile Infantry. This results in a marked loss of efficiency if a ship’s roster is changed too greatly or assigned a new captain. This tendency has given rise to the Fleet tradition of keeping crews together for as long as possible, even during ship changes. While it does cause a ‘down’ week or two while an entire crew familiarises themselves with the intricacies of the new vessel, doing this is greatly preferable to the month or more of inefficiency that occurs from radical personnel changes.
During a first assignment, ensigns are taught all the things they did not learn at the Academy. They are shown how to cut corners during emergencies, told all of their commanding officer’s expectation and idiosyncrasies and made aware of the technological differences between ships on paper and a real vessel. It takes a while, but learning these things makes each crewmember of a Fleet vessel a more effective part of a starship or installation’s greater whole.
Careers in the Fleet
A Fleet officer can remain a cargo handler during his entire tour of duty or rise to command his own vessel. The key to excelling in the Fleet is acquiring ﬂight time and experience. The only limitations placed on a Fleet officer’s career are entirely self-imposed. Unlike Mobile Infantry promotions, a Fleet officer can rise into higher ranks after only a year or so of mandatory training and time in service.
There are some limitations to this system. The first is the time in service required for each rank elevation. This three month period has to be completed before an officer can apply for a higher ranking position. These applications can be turned down up to three times by the commanding officer for any reason, but a perseverance clause ensures that the fourth application must be accepted. This means that any officer in the ﬂ eet can attempt promotion once a year at the very least.
In practise, this rarely occurs so quickly because of the testing requirement to achieve promotion. Even ambitious officers generally wait for promotion until they master the duties and responsibilities of their current rank. Because a failed promotion exam automatically locks an officer out of trying again for six months, trying for and failing such a test can severely impinge an officer’s career advancement if it occurs too often. It is far more efficient to wait and study than schedule a test he cannot pass. These tests are very difficult and their comprehensive nature ensures that even the brightest minds in the Fleet can be caught unprepared if they do not study.
This leads to the other difficulty in rising from one’s current rank. Fleet officers have duties that increase with seniority and position. These responsibilities must be attended to before an officer can find time to study for a promotion exam. Dereliction of duty is a very quick way to ensure a commanding officer will refuse a petition for promotion, so competent and timely performance is a must for any officer with ambitions of higher station or command.
Like members of the Mobile Infantry, Fleet officers of any rank have a lot to look forward to when they retire and reenter the Federation as citizens. Their experience usually allows them to simply step into a high-powered role with the FTA, allowing them to continue serving the Federation in a manner similar to their previous duties. They are also highly valued by corporations and other businesses looking for dependable, disciplined individuals with a knowledge of aerospace and technical skills.
Fleet training is a definite boon when joining the work force as a citizen. While Mobile Infantry troopers are generally given to serving as law enforcement, emergency services and other professions where physical ability and soldiering methods are of benefit, Fleet officers can fill almost any position with the comprehensive skills they have gained in their time with SICON. Ex-Fleet officers also have an advantage during initial interviews and vocational placement as they are usually seen as more approachable because of their relaxed service aboard a starship or military installation. These traits serve them very well during civilian life.
Like retiring troopers of the Mobile Infantry, Fleet officers that retire from SICON are given a sizable pension and excellent accommodations.
Pages in category ‘Fleet’
The following 19 pages are in this category, out of 19 total.