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The Fleet Ship designs, strategies, and tactics.

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Old November 6th, 2015, 04:12 PM
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Default Unit sizes and org of Imperial Fleet and Squ units.

I was very very much into High Guard/TCS in the mid-80s, only to get so caught up in Grad school in 91/92 period and due to the lack of a community of people in my peer group in Grad School interested in RPGs or Traveller lost interest. I might have for a period of weeks in the late 90s very briefly returned to HighGuard/TCS things once or twice but again others things and job concerns pushed playing aside. But I caught the bug again, especially after the release of T5 and digital access I caught up with things over the past few months. And again I am returning to my interesting in TCS ops.

This personal point is an intro to the discussion of Naval ops. I have seen lots of discussion about unit sizes and when I look at the key official materials such as Rebellion Sourcebook, Fighting Ships of the Shattered Imperium and the Mongoose Sector Fleet (as its currently called vs its earlier published version). And I must admit the MegaTraveller items often leave me more confused with the unit sizes simply making no sense what so ever. And there is real contradictions between the info in the Fighting Ships of the Shattered Imperium and the descriptions of the unit activity and sizes of forces implied in the Rebellion Sourcebook and TNS newsflashes dealing with things.

The Squadron sizes presented in the Fighting Ships of the Shattered Imperium simply under rate the need of the escort force in such sized units even if they operate within a larger fleet. Given the reality of J-space coordinating that all squ units hit the target at the same moments suggest having separate EscortRons for a Fleet engagement is rather risky that your battle units enter in but w/o escorts. And the escort numbers in the charts of the different Squadrons in Fighting Ship of the Shattered Imperium just made no sense at all (esp the size and number of Auxiliaries as well).

In a unit size discussion that I saw in another CoI posting is the trigger of these comments. There the discussion suggested a view that the norm being an 8 [-10] ship squadrons. Again I think people get this number because of inconsistancies in the MegaTraveller mentioned above. I hold that this number [of 8-10] points to the main type of ship that organizes the Squadron and is not counting the Fleet Escort (Destroyers, Frigates), Scouts and Auxiliaries necessary for the effective screening of a unit.

But I would suggest that full force (pre-Rebellion) Active/NonReserve Imperial Fleet squadron battle orders would, in my opinion look somewhat like this:

Yes BatRon composed of the Battle Rider form will have 8 battle riders and the tender/tenders (2-3 depending on size of tenders being used) necessary to transport (Rider units have their Aux units as non-Jump support ships that are). Also BattleRider units will have J-capable escorts with them often for the role of protecting the tenders rather than the Monitors/Riders... who often fight without Escorts supporting them.

Whereas the J-capable Battleship BatRon will most likely have 2 Heavy Dreadnoughts and 2-4 Battleships, with the appropriate number of Fleet

Escorts (2-3 per Battleship/Dreadnought and 4 to escort/protect the Auxiliaries), 2-3 Scouts and the Auxiliaries (apox 3 tankers and 4 support
ships). So at the low end a BatRon would run between 25 ships to 38 ships max.

The CruRon should typically have 8 Cruisers in it (2 Heavy, 2 BattleCru, 4 LtCru) and Escort (Destroyers, Frigates, etc typically 20-16 to support the Cruisers and 4 to support the Auxiliaries), 2-3 Scouts and Auxiliaries (aprox 4 tankers and 3 support ships).

But Strike/Raider CruRons, typically with J-5 or higher unit ranges, will be much smaller units often not having any Auxiliaries operating with them (rather they will go meet up with TankRons that might be position in certain locations to support a mission). Such units will often have 4

-6 Cruisers (often 1-2 strike/frontier Cruisers and 3-4 Lt Cruisers). Their escort force will be much smaller than normal CruRons in that they would have to have the same Jump distance the Cruisers have and the same is true with the Scouts but such units because of some of their missions are advance recon into the enemy rear they will often have much more scouts units attached to them than the typical CruRon. So here there would be typically 4-5 Escorts and 4-6 Scouts--so the overall totals would be 12 ships to 17 ships.

AssultRons are another kettle of fish. Although they will typically consist of 1-2 Heavy Carriers and 2 Lt Carriers along with 4 Lt Cruisers and 20 Escorts, with 3-4 Scouts. They will also have the invasion force and the necessary units (troop transports, assault ships, orbital bombardment ships, tankers and Ordnance and Support Ships) to support such a task. So these units will be rather large between 45+/- to 100+ ships.

CarrierRon [often supporting a BattleFleet of 2 BatRon, 2 CruRons and 1 TankRon] should consist of consist of 1-2 Heavy Carriers and 2 Lt Carriers along with 4 Lt Cruisers and 16 Escorts, and 4-5 Auxiliaries and Tankers, along with about 2-3 Scouts. So this unit will range from 29-32 ships.

As for EscortRon or PatrolRon units... these ought to be at the low end from 18-30 units. The EscortRon will be attached to AssultFleets or added on to a BattleFleet as Escort Reserve and will guard the rear of the battle formation and the support units. PatrolRon units more typically assigned to Sub-Sector commander theater of operations and often rarely operate as a unified units. Often they are assigned to a flotilla (6-8 ships) assigned to either a single world or patrol together a defined high traffic route. Such Patrol Flotillas often provide picket/sentry duty functions for a Fleet op but not directly under the command of the fleet commander.

I would like to hear back from people and there thoughts on this. I also have expand this musing on ranks of unit commanders--as again Sector Fleet suggestions are not as good as they seem. And the official Rank structure of the Imperial Navy jumps from a Commodore (who is never higher than a Flotilla commander or Squ Cdr of smaller sized combat units and Aux and Tankers units) and Fleet Admirals. In the TAS news accounts during the 5thFW spoke of RearAdms and ViceAdms which the official High Guard does not use. But that discussion for another posting.
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Old November 7th, 2015, 08:27 AM
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The 8 ships per squadron originates from CT canon.

Personally my views tend towards the approach you are taking, strongly influenced by Grand Fleet (now Mongoose something). I rationalise the two by considering the squadron as described in CT as an administrative unit that organises crew rotations, specialist training and maintenance. This administrative unit is assigned to Sector fleets, but not typically expected to engage in combat as an isolated or even intact unit. Instead administrative units detach craft to task forces. Task Forces being as you describe them, a variety of craft intended to work together in order to achieve a combat or peacetime mission.

In CT, Fighting Ships describes a BatRon of eight Tigress Dreadnoughts (p.38) that are "ideally" deployed together in war. Of course ideally your opponent will also wait, allow the Batron to gather and then commit to a single great battle that they are unlikely to win.

The only BatRon of Tigresses in the Marches is described as spread across the Marches on peacetime missions. Fighting Ships also describes a class of Destroyer in squadrons up to twenty strong (p.16), I would expect these to also be split to suit local needs.

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Old November 7th, 2015, 11:18 AM
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The classic eight ship squadron is based on how fleets organized their battle line during the Great War.
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Old November 7th, 2015, 11:53 AM
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Historically, squadrons evolved as a way to get ships into battle with some degree of control and coordination. Ships tended to be grouped into squadrons based on their homeports. As navies got used to this idea, any group of ships assigned together for a particular mission became a "squadron", the classic example of this is Nelson's force assigned to the Mediterranean for the Nile campaign. Everyone thinks of the battleships Nelson had, but he was also assigned several "escorts," the frigates, sloops, and brigs that were to be his scouts and couriers. Even though Nelson never saw most of the "escorts" assigned to his squadron for one reason or another, they were part of his force and either took his orders or wandered around the Mediterranean doing what they thought Nelson would want them to do while they tried to find him for orders.
During the long peace of the Victorian era, ships were grouped into squadrons by type and by where the ships were based. So battleships in one port would be one squadron, while the cruisers (and later the destroyers) would be grouped into two or more squadron, depending on how many there were. These were administrative groupings, so that similar ships with similar needs could be kept together and get similar help.
Yet at the same time this is when our idea of the squadron of similar ships acting as a tactical grouping took hold. The Victorian navies had too many ships for the admiral to give orders to every one of them, and our modern idea of grouping ships by their tactical function (battle line, screening line, scouting line) had not yet come about. The only grouping that existed was the squadron, so admirals gave tactical orders to squadrons.
As the size of navies has declined in recent years, ships have remained grouped by squadrons for administrative purposes but tactical groupings have been by function; a modern task group might be organized into....
  • the carrier and a single close escort/plane guard
  • the anti-air warfare screen
  • the anti-submarine screen
  • the anti-submarine picket
  • the submarine escort
In TRAVELLER we seem to have a blend of the Victorian method and the modern approach. We group ships by type (battleship, cruiser, destroyer, escort) into squadrons (or flotillas) but we also assign small boys (escorts) to work with battleships and cruisers as tactical units, with the big boys fighting the other big boys while the small boys 'protect' the big boys.
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Old November 7th, 2015, 06:41 PM
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In the Great patriotic War, you see more flexibility again, as the navies had been limited in the number and type of warships they were allowed to maintain, so would be unlikely to recreate the battle lines of Jutland, besides the introduction of the atomic bomb, the plane and the aircraft carrier, which substantially changed tactically the dynamics of concentrating your forces, plus improved communications which allowed admirals to command at greater distances.
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Old November 7th, 2015, 09:24 PM
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I think you're right that organization is a matter of numbers, basing, and communications, so let's look at that from a TRAVELLER point of view.

First off, TRAVELLER navies are huge, with hundreds of capital ships and thousands of escorts. Even in just one sector, the big navies (Imperial, Zhodani, Solomani, for example) will have dozens of big ships and hundreds of little ones. These almost have to organized into squadrons of the same type (battleship, cruiser, escort) just to keep things straight administratively.

When it comes to basing (grouping ships by where they are homeported) what I think would matter are the relative value of the planets in an area (subsector), the astrography of the local stars (how dispersed, availability of fuel, etc), and the speed of interstellar communications. Fleets need to be based in systems that can support them with fuel, repairs, shore leave, etc. Luckily those kind of worlds (Industrial, Rich) also tend to be the ones you want to defend. Such a grouping (a 'numbered' fleet) might be responsible for operations within one jump of its home port, and might keep scouting forces one jump further out (any more and communications lag might eat your lunch). These fleets would be composed of a few capital ship squadrons and many escort squadrons, plus specialists (carriers, assault ships, tankers, repair ships, etc).

When operating tactically (within a single system) a force of ships would be organized functionally. A force looking for battle might be organized as follows:
  • Battle Line-the big boys, kept together to concentrate firepower
  • Screening Line-a few cruisers and many escorts, whose job is to deny the enemy information about your battle line
  • Scouting Line-a widespread force of escorts looking for the enemy battle line
  • Fleet Train-tankers, assault ships, and the other ships that can't fight but you can't fight without them
If a fleet is looking for a fight the Battle Line might have five squadrons of battleships, all in tight formation, with a couple squadrons of cruisers along to help. The Screening Line might have one squadron of cruisers, but they might be split up to bring a little heavy firepower to bear where needed. The majority of the Screening Line would be squadrons of escorts, kept together to maximize firepower against other escorts. The Scouting Line is where I'd put individual or pairs of escorts and squadrons of fighters, each little element widely scattered so there's a good chance one element can leak through and find the enemy Battle Line.

If a pair of cruisers is trying a quick raid on an enemy system, the Scouting Line might be just a couple of escorts, while the rest of the single squadron of escorts makes up the Screening Line, and the Battle Line consists of the two cruisers.

The point here is that the ships are grouped by, and commanded by, their function, not their squadron. Tactical communications allow the Admiral to order, "Battle Line to course 215 mark -45" or "Scouting Line close to sensor range of the mainworld", he doesn't have to give individual orders to every squadron or ship in that tactical grouping.
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Old November 7th, 2015, 09:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Condottiere View Post
The classic eight ship squadron is based on how fleets organized their battle line during the Great War.
8-12 is common even now - with 16 on the outside edge...

Why?
Two tier "band of the hand"...
Any of 2x4, 3x3, 2x5, 3x4, 3x5 or 4x4.

Command/control is easiest when you have 3-5 subunits. The Squadron commander maneuvers 2-4 lines, each line commander 3-5 ships.
8 is about as big as a single commander can reliably control - and that's usually by maneuver in pairs.
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Old November 8th, 2015, 12:54 AM
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Span of control depends depends on a number of factors, including the commander, his staff, his subcommanders, communications, weapon systems and doctrine.

Since Traveller hasn't allowed the development of a weapon system that a smaller ship like a fighter could take out a battleship, it simplifies control.

If we use Jutland as the template, both sides had enough battleships that they could have administrative and field formations of two divisions of four ships each. Cruisers were divided into squadrons of fourish.

Battlecruisers, not being that many and supposedly not really meant for the battle line, seemed to be divided into groups of two and three. The Germans seemed to have massed theirs, but that may be due to more their tendency to use them as a raiding force and to locate and lure elements of the Grand Fleet into an ambush.
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Old November 8th, 2015, 12:56 AM
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Quote:
would like to hear back from people and there thoughts on this.
(I presume this includes non-canon ....)

imtu, a division is commanded by a commodore and includes an allosaurus-class (meson), a kurashk-class (paws), and a pair of cherry-class destroyers. all are riders and the division includes the transports. three divisions and a command ship are a battle group. three battle groups and command ship are a line fleet (support ships are organized at this level), three line fleets and a command ship are a sector fleet (tied to a specific strategic area) or a grand fleet (goes where needed).
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Old November 8th, 2015, 07:58 PM
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To Matt,

The problem with the Cannon is it is full of contradictions. And as the game evolved the contradictions grew more in number. This is evident in the Fighting Ships of the Shattered Imperium (FSSI) as I really wished they did not include those charts and only gave general guidelines.

I was very much disappointed by what I found in FSSI. Not only in operational structure, but the ships it presented. The problem with the org outline in FSSI was there was not enough attention paid to earlier ship designed used in CT (as well as the stuff published in High Passage and The Traveller Digest which became included into Cannon at the start of MegaTraveller) and to be honest most of the ships presented in FSSI was simply sloppy in design and in function. The book was very bad at the level of Escorts and support ships. The tankers where really really upsetting. There were no way near enough tankers that could keep up with a J-4 unit and remember the Imperial Navy standard at TL 15 is J-4 for active fleet units.

My wife wants me to stop typing as its after midnight, so I will stop this here.
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