- "… You are part of the greatest navy ever assembled. The might of the Empire rests on the military — and the Imperial Navy embodies the most elite and trusted segment of that power. Only the best, the most disciplined, are admitted to our ranks. We who serve the Emperor in the Imperial Navy have made this Empire the irresistible, galaxy-spanning force it is today."
- ―Fleet Admiral Holt, cadet indoctrination speech excerpt
The Imperial Navy, also known as the Imperial Starfleet, Imperial Fleet, Imperial Battlefleet, Imperial Space Navy, or Imperial Space Service, and also informally referred to as "the Empire's long arm", was the space warfare branch of the Imperial Military of the Galactic Empire. At its peak, it fielded millions of warships, logistics vessels and fighters, becoming one of the largest navies in galactic history and maintaining Imperial control throughout the galaxy.
The Imperial Navy was formed from the Republic Navy of the Galactic Republic in 19 BBY, as part of Palpatine's Imperialization campaign during the rise of the Empire. A reorganized command structure, eventually consisting of twelve Grand Admirals, 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. Though the Navy would fight on under a succession of leaders, including Ysanne Isard, Warlord Zsinj, Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Reborn Emperor, and Admiral Daala, 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. The Navy would be split into those loyal to Roan Fel and those who served Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire in the subsequent civil war.
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. The mainstays of its fleets - the Star Destroyer and Super Star Destroyer capital ships and the TIE fighter series of starfighters - became some of the most visible symbols of Imperial rule to the galaxy's civilian populace.
- "The Empire, on the other hand, maintains massive fleets containing up to two dozen capital ships - few would dare to challenge such a formidable force. These vessels boast heavy armor plating, high-powered shielding, and an enormous amount of firepower, making them capable of reducing an entire planet to nothing more than charred remains. Truly these are the most awesome weapons of war ever constructed…"
- ―Commander Elpfel, commanding officer of the Mon Calamari cruiser Wavesong
The role of the Imperial Navy was the absolute dominance of known space in the name of the Empire, as well as enforcing the Emperor's will. Admiral Conan Antonio Motti identified four key functions of the Imperial Navy, including blockading spaceports to cripple a planet's ability to fight, bombarding planets to destroy enemy infrastructure, guarding shipping lanes against pirates and smugglers to safeguard commerce as well as frighten criminals into conducing honest trade, and transporting and supporting other branches of the Imperial Military from space and from the air, supplying them with space and aerial support upon disembarkation if necessary. In large part because of the requirement of traveling throughout the galaxy in the Navy, a tour of duty for naval officers often resulted in them encountering various unique peoples and visiting various exotic worlds.
In addition, the Imperial Navy was also charged with freeing the system space of member worlds from hazards to profitable commerce, assure the safety of member worlds from attack from outside forces, and bolster the planetary governments in times of crisis, which was one of the few instances where the Navy was unchanged in role from that of the Old Republic. However, a major difference was that, regarding the bolstering of planetary governments during crises, the Imperial Navy under the New Order could do so pre-emptively without waiting for a majority vote in the Senate, while the Republic Navy in turn needed to wait at least a week composed of seven days for conflicts to resolve before, upon getting a majority vote, interfering. In addition, ever since the Dissolution of the Imperial Senate, the Navy, largely due to no longer being required to wait for a vote from the Senate, often got civilian orders transmitted at the level of the Sector Group, with the orders coming from regional Moffs, Grand Moffs, or even the Emperor himself, and likewise smaller units only were to receive orders from officers in the proper chain of command. This was a change from the Republic Navy in the sense that originally, Senators or other politically powerful beings could directly commandeer naval vessels – or in some cases entire squadrons – without needing to have the order come down through the chain of command. In addition, the Imperial Navy was required to work alongside the Imperial Army in a support role during critical phases of various military operations and even to some extent supply some of its assets to permanent Army outposts. This was a contrast to the Republic Navy, which generally was the military branch pre-Clone Wars that was paid for by the Republic as a whole and was stretched too thin to play any role in the barely existent Republic Army during combat operations and at best ferried them between destinations, with the Republic Navy's expenditures remaining stable while the Republic Army's expenditures decreasing due to complaints by non-wealthy member worlds due to excessive costs at maintaining them.
The Imperial Navy's doctrine was heavily influenced by the experience of the Clone Wars, and emphasized maximizing capital ship firepower rather than achieving starfighter superiority, and it subordinated its starfighters to this role. The Navy's earliest Star Destroyer design, the Venator-class, had carried a substantial complement of 420 starfighters to counter the swarms of droid starfighters deployed by the Confederate Navy and had proved its worth as both a fighting ship and a carrier, but many Imperial strategists came to think that it would have been more effective if designed for a single role. Subsequent Star Destroyer designs like the hangarless Tector-class were larger and were built around more powerful reactors, allowing them to carry heavier defenses and weapons and so lessen the effectiveness of starfighter attacks. After a period of experimentation, the Navy settled on the Imperial-class Star Destroyer as the backbone of the Fleet. It was heavily optimized for fleet combat, carrying only a single wing of 72 starfighters.
The Clone Wars had demonstrated the effectiveness of hyperspace-capable snubfighters - heavily-armed starfighters capable of both dogfighting and dealing damage to capital ships - as battleship killers. However, seeing it as a distasteful legacy of the hordes of Vulture-class droid starfighters deployed by the Separatists, the Imperial Navy abandoned the development of snubfighters in favor of more the more traditional combination of dedicated space superiority fighters and bombers: the TIE Series, which exemplified traditional starfighter doctrine with the TIE/LN starfighter and the TIE/sa Bomber, was a series of barebones fighter designs built around a ball-shaped cockpit and the revolutionary twin ion engine design. Seen as complements to Star Destroyers, they served as escorts, scouts, hit-and-fade raiders, and bombers supporting ground troops. As such, they lacked hyperdrives, deflector shields, or even life support systems, reducing their mass and giving them great speed and maneuverability, but also limiting their survivability and their range.
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 Planetary Security Forces of individual member worlds, 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. In addition, Palpatine also let the Empire have a massive buildup despite the end of the Clone Wars. As such, citizens of many planets were very eager to join the then-newly formed Imperial Navy.
During the Reconquest of the Rim, starting in 19 BBY, the bulk of the Imperial fleet was still composed of Victory-class and Venator-class Star Destroyers, with their fighter squadrons being composed of V-wings and ARC-170s. However, as the pacification continued, the old Republic warships were gradually retired in favor of the Imperial-class Star Destroyers, and TIE fighters also flew with other fighters.
The Reconquest and the clearance of the last holdouts of the Confederacy of Independent Systems from the Outer Rim Territories was the first campaign of the new Imperial Navy, and would be fondly remembered by Imperial loyalists as a time when the young Empire restored stability and order to the galaxy in the aftermath of the Clone Wars. Through campaigns like the Ciutric Offensive, the Sy Myrthian Insurrection, the Five Veils Campaign, the Listehol Campaign, the Noolian Crisis, and the Western Reaches Operation, Naval officers like Terrinald Screed, Wilhuff Tarkin, Wullf Yularen, and Octavian Grant, as well as starfighter aces like Shea Hublin, became heroes to the Imperial populace. At the height of the Empire, in large part because of its reputation of upholding law and order in the known galaxy, Naval officers were often held with respect and admiration, as well as having millions of personnel in service.
The Empire's aggressive militarization continued throughout the Imperial Period. Of the entire Imperial Military, the Navy benefited the most, ultimately swelling to a strength of 25,000 Imperial-class Star Destroyers and millions more smaller warships and support vessels by the time of the Battle of Yavin. The numerical size of the Imperial Navy as well as its firepower capabilities were such that even Mon Mothma, one of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance, acknowledged that what ground the Alliance held mattered little if it could not win the clash of navies. However, it was later remarked by Alliance strategists like General Carlist Rieekan that the Imperial Navy grew far too fast, resulting in a force that was top-heavy with war machines that it could not effectively crew or repair.
The continued growth of the Imperial Navy despite the absence of a clear and present danger to the Empire was a factor in the Declaration of Rebellion in 2 BBY. Additionally, a philosophical divide emerged in the Imperial Navy between the "Generationals" - those officers whose families had done military service for centuries - and new up-and-coming officers who tended to be New Order partisans. The Generationals saw the Empire as an improvement on the ideals of the Republic and saw the Navy as a tool for establishing stability and order, and so peace. The true believers of the New Order, however, saw the Old Republic as decrepit and sought to rule by fear, best represented by the policy of state terror set out in the Tarkin Doctrine. The increasingly-brutal and arbitrary operations conducted against dissent by the Imperial Navy such as the Nembus Sector campaign and the Kwymar Suppressions led many Generational officers to become disillusioned with the Empire.
Galactic Civil War
- "Alert all commands. Deploy the fleet."
- ―Firmus Piett
Growing discontent with the Empire eventually coalesced into the Alliance to Restore the Republic, which began a military campaign against Imperial forces. Many of the Alliance's most senior commanders were in fact disillusioned Imperial Navy officers, among them Jan Dodonna and Adar Tallon, both Imperial heroes of the Sy Myrthian Insurrection during the Reconquest of the Rim.
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. An early humiliation was dealt to the Imperial Navy by the Alliance at the Battle of Turkana, and thereafter the Navy faced a serious challenge to its established doctrine: since it lacked large numbers of capital ships, the Rebel Alliance made heavy use of snubfighters as part of its stateless strategy. Powerful starfighters like the BTL-S3 Y-Wing and T-65 X-wing conducted hit-and-hype raids against prominent Imperial targets and supply convoys, using their superior shielding, armament, and hyperdrives to inflict disproportionate damage on Imperial targets. Meanwhile, the Alliance Fleet roamed the galaxy, challenging Imperial authority merely by existing, and waiting for the chance of a decisive battle with the Galactic Empire.
The Galactic Empire made belated moves to develop their own snubfighters like the TIE Advanced x1 and the TIE/D Defender after the Rebels inflicted humiliating defeats on them with X-wings, but the most numerous new development was the TIE/IN, a non-hyperspace capable traditional interceptor that though capable of outracing Rebel fighters, was not equipped with deflector shields. The Navy was present at both Death Stars and suffered massive losses as a result of the Alliance's destruction of the stations at the Battle of Yavin in 0 BBY, and the Battle of Endor in 4 ABY.
The command structure of the entire Navy was reorganized around 2 BBY with Emperor Palpatine's appointment of the twelve Grand Admirals, the most senior officers of the whole Starfleet. Widely seen as an attempt by the Emperor to increase his power over the Fleet, Imperial officers swapped numerous conspiracy theories as to the method behind his appointments. The truth of the appointments was that, though all the Grand Admirals were exceptionally gifted officers, they were not just front-line commanders; rather, they included several technical specialists and theoreticians, enabling them to serve as a leadership cadre for the whole Imperial Military — and indeed the whole Empire.
Though the First Death Star was technically a Navy battlestation, many traditionalists and Generationals in the Navy were horrified by the idea of presenting an existential threat to terrorize planets into submission. In addition, the Death Star threatened to eliminate the Navy's prestige as the greatest expression of Imperial power. After the Death Star was destroyed at Yavin and Wilhuff Tarkin was killed, the Navy championed the Sarlacc Project and the creation of a new class of massive Star Dreadnoughts, which became the Empire's mightiest warships. Designed to be so powerful that the mere threat of their deployment would pacify multiple sectors, the first class was the 19,000-meter Executor-class Star Dreadnought, led by the flagship of Lord Darth Vader, the Executor. Death Squadron, a new Star Destroyer fleet led by Darth Vader, Kendal Ozzel and Firmus Piett aboard the Executor, dealt the Rebel Alliance a shattering defeat at the Battle of Hoth in 3 ABY. The Executor's example led to the development of the even more massive, superlaser-equipped Sovereign- and Eclipse-class dreadnoughts, which were intended to revolutionize space warfare and ensure Imperial dominance of space for a century.
A few months before the Battle of Endor, one of the Grand Admirals, Demetrius Zaarin, attempted a coup against Emperor Palpatine, which was put down by forces led by Lord Darth Vader and the mysterious Chiss Vice Admiral Mitth'raw'nuruodo, better known by his core name, Thrawn. After Zaarin's death, Thrawn was officially promoted to Grand Admiral as his replacement (although other evidence suggests that the Chiss had, in fact, been promoted in secret at an earlier stage). Thereafter Thrawn was sent to continue his exploration mission in the Unknown Regions, and he was not present at Endor.
Around the time of the Battle of Endor in 4 ABY, massive Navy invasion fleets were moving into position near the Rebel redoubts of Chandrila and the Calamari sector. Emperor Palpatine plotted to trap the Alliance Fleet between the Second Death Star and Death Squadron over the Forest Moon of Endor and destroy it, then wait for the Death Star to be completed before obliterating Chandrila and Dac to end the Rebellion for good. The plot was a disaster, however. With the assistance of the native Ewoks of Endor, General Han Solo destroyed the planetary shield generator protecting the Death Star and General Lando Calrissian and Admiral Gial Ackbar destroyed the Death Star and much of Death Squadron. Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine and Admiral Piett were killed in the battle, and many of the Empire's most promising young officers died in the destruction of the Executor, which would cripple the Navy's leadership in the years that followed. In the absence of clear leadership after the Emperor's death and the Executor's loss, Captain Gilad Pellaeon of the Star Destroyer Chimaera ordered the Imperial fleet to retreat from Endor.
Warlordism and decline
When no decisive leadership emerged after the defeat at Endor, the Galactic Empire split up into warring factions led by warlords, and the Imperial Navy splintered along with it. Warlord fiefdoms like Ardus Kaine's Pentastar Alignment, Treuten Teradoc's Greater Maldrood, Blitzer Harrsk's Zero Command, and the empire of Grand Moff Zsinj took cuts of the fleet, while only a Loyalist rump remained to protect the Imperial Ruling Council on Coruscant led by Sate Pestage. The Imperial Navy's ability to fight was further reduced by the Alliance of Free Planets' Defense Declarations, which proclaimed the Alliance's intent to devolve control of the Planetary Security Forces, nationalized into the Navy's Sector Groups by the Empire, back to the sectors. Loyal Imperial Sector Groups dismissed the measure as illegal, but for others the Declarations caused many sectors that had been on the edge to side with the New Republic. Other sectors divided over whether to accept the Declarations, fomenting further warlordism and infighting and significantly reducing the number of enemies the Alliance had to fight.
While capable Loyalist officers like Llon Banjeer, Uther Kermen, and Gilad Pellaeon resisted the New Republic's advance into the Core Worlds, engaging them in savage battles at Milagro, Mindor, and Denon, they were ultimately unable to prevent Admiral Ackbar from capturing Coruscant in 6 ABY. Thereafter, the personal ambition of warlords caused the Imperial Navy's strength to collapse further, particularly after the Loyalist Admiral Teren Rogriss de facto allied with the New Republic to destroy both Warlord Zsinj and Treuten Teradoc, who had been raiding both Imperial and New Republic targets. In the campaigns that followed, the Empire lost yet more of its military forces owing to New Republic attacks and infighting, its premier shipyard with the Republic capture of Kuat, and the prestigious Core World of Anaxes, the "Defender of the Core" and the site of the Navy War College.
By 9 ABY, Imperial Space had been pushed back to a bare quarter of its former territory in the Outer Rim and the loyalty of much of the Fleet was uncertain. However, the Imperial Navy was briefly reunified after Mitth'raw'nuruodo, "the thirteenth Grand Admiral", re-emerged from the Unknown Regions. With Gilad Pellaeon as his second-in-command, Grand Admiral Thrawn fought a brilliant military campaign that reconquered nearly half the known galaxy for the Empire until his sudden death at the Battle of Bilbringi.
Inspired by Thrawn's example, the warlords of the Outer Rim and the Deep Core unified and began their own campaign against the New Republic. Three enormous Imperial task forces advanced out of the Deep Core, anchored around four Executor-class dreadnoughts, five Mandator III-class dreadnoughts, and three Vengeance-class dreadnoughts, conquering Kaikielius and Alsakan while fleets out of the New Territories reconquered Coruscant. Much of the unified Navy's strength was lost in the subsequent Imperial Civil War, however, laying much of Coruscant to waste and spreading across much of the recaptured galaxy. The Star Dreadnoughts Whelm and Panthac destroyed each other over Alsakan; the Captain of the Vengeance-class dreadnought Javelin rammed his ship into a Torpedo Sphere defending Chasin, and squadrons of droid TIE Fighters destroyed the Mandator III-class dreadnought Aculeus at Drearia.
The madness of the Imperial Civil War was soon revealed to have been encouraged by Emperor Palpatine, who had used the power of the dark side of the Force to preserve his spirit after Endor and had been reborn in a clone body. After using the Civil War to solidify his rule, the Reborn Emperor launched Operation Shadow Hand, a savage series of battles against the New Republic, with superweapons such as the World Devastators, the Galaxy Gun, and the Eclipse-class dreadnought equipping the Imperial Navy. Despite violent engagements at Da Soocha V and Dac, however, Palpatine was ultimately defeated for good on Onderon by the Jedi Knight Empatojayos Brand, and his flagship was destroyed after the astromech droid R2-D2 forced it to fly into the Galaxy Gun orbiting Byss.
Imperial authority briefly continued in the Outer Rim after Palpatine's final death in the form of the Star Wars: Crimson Empire, led by the traitorous Imperial Royal Guard Carnor Jax. However, after Jax and his successor, Xandel Carivus, were killed by Kir Kanos, the last of the Royal Guards, utter collapse of Imperial authority followed, Imperial Space reduced to squabbling warlord factions, Moffs and governors, and fortress worlds. The Imperial Navy effectively ceased to exist.
The Imperial Navy was at last reunified in 12 ABY under Admiral Natasi Daala, once lover and protégé of Wilhuff Tarkin, who murdered the warlords of the Deep Core and consolidated their forces under her command. Daala took Grand Admiral Thrawn's former second-in-command, Vice Admiral Gilad Pellaeon, as her chief lieutenant. After she was defeated in an attack on the Jedi Praxeum at Yavin 4. Daala promoted Pellaeon to full Admiral and surrendered command of Imperial forces to him. Pellaeon stripped the Deep Core of all Imperial fleet assets and withdrew to the New Territories. There he formed alliances with the Moffs, building a powerful fleet around the Deep Core dreadnoughts Megador and Dominion, and Ardus Kaine's Executor-class Reaper. With this force, Pellaeon established an official Imperial Remnant in the Outer Rim.
With the unified Imperial Navy at his command, Pellaeon launched the Orinda campaign in 12 ABY, reconquering Orinda. After a month of fighting, the New Republic Defense Fleet was dealt a humbling defeat at the Battle of Orinda: Pellaeon used the Reaper to fix the New Republic dreadnought Lusankya in the system, while the fleet carrier Endurance was delayed in launching its E-wings. Endurance was destroyed with the majority of her fighter complement still on board when the Dominion, kept secretly in reserve by Pellaeon, arrived in-system behind six Interdictor cruisers.
The Orinda campaign secured the Remnant's southern border, but Pellaeon's gains were squandered over the next five years by the Remnant's Moffs. An ill-conceived offensive into the Borderland Regions resulted in the destruction of the Reaper at the Battle of Celanon in 13 ABY. An attempt to take advantage of the New Republic's apparent disarray after the Black Fleet Crisis in 17 ABY was an utter disaster for the Imperial Navy: Pellaeon managed to take Adumar and won surprise attacks on Taris and Champala on the Hydian Way, pushing all the way to the edge of the Core Worlds, but after Admiral Ackbar and General Garm Bel Iblis brought the full weight of the New Republic Defense Force to bear, the Second Battle of Champala became an Imperial rout. The Imperial Navy was chased back to Imperial Space, which was rapidly reduced after defeats at Ketaris and Tangrene, and the Battle of Anx Minor was a disaster, with the Megador and Dominion suffering severe damage. Pellaeon ordered an immediate retreat to Bastion. In mere weeks the Imperial Remnant had been reduced to a rump of eight Outer Rim sectors, and a navy that had numbered in the millions was reduced to mere thousands, with just two hundred Star Destroyers remaining. The eight remaining sectors were so heavily militarized that Pellaeon was able to make the New Republic agree to a conditional peace in 19 ABY, formally ending the Galactic Civil War, but it would take more than a century before the Imperial Navy was restored to its former glory.
The Imperial Navy would once again became a veritable fighting force participating under Pellaeon's command in the Yuuzhan Vong War. The Remnant's Navy was still considered an extremely powerful force for the territory it controlled by 40 ABY, and it continued weapons research with the development of the Turbulent-class "Pocket Star Destroyer". Both the Confederation and the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances courted the support of the Remnant's fleets during the Second Galactic Civil War. After the ascension of Jagged Fel to the position of Head of State, the Remnant's Navy came to include Chiss Star Destroyers and Nssis-class Clawcraft owing to Fel's links to the Chiss through Grand Admiral Thrawn's old Empire of the Hand.
The Imperial Navy would regain much of its former strength by the time of the Fel Empire, when Jagged Fel and his descendants claimed the title of Emperor. Under the Fels, it fought the Galactic Alliance in the Sith–Imperial War of 127-130 ABY. By this time nearly all of the Imperial Navy's arsenal had been replaced. Large battleships had been abandoned almost entirely, though the Navy still favored the Star Destroyer with the Pellaeon-class as its main capital warship. However, it did not build any larger warships beyond the prototype Imperious-class Star Destroyer. Smaller, lighter warships like the Ardent-class fast frigate were also more common in its fleets than in the Imperial Period. The Navy Starfighter Corps continued to prefer the ancient combination of interceptors and bombers, with the heavily-shielded, Chiss-inspired Predator-class fighter and the Neutralizer-class bomber filling its forces.
After the One Sith led by Darth Krayt and the Council of Moffs betrayed Emperor Roan Fel in 130 ABY and unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate him, the Imperial Navy would be split between followers of Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire and loyalists of the Empire-in-exile in the subsequent Second Imperial Civil War. The faction of the Navy loyal to the Fel dynasty sided with the Galactic Alliance Remnant led by Admiral Gar Stazi after the Battle of Dac, and in 138 ABY successfully defeated the Sith at Coruscant and restored the Fel dynasty with the proclamation of Roan Fel's daughter Marasiah as Empress.
Prior to the Battle of Endor and the de facto collapse of Imperial authority, the highest organizational body of the Imperial Military was the Imperial High Command. Below this was Naval Command and the Admiralty, the organizing body that directed all operations of the Imperial Navy. Naval Command took orders directly from Emperor Palpatine. The Commander Fleet Operations had a high enough rank to both oversee various navy operations as well as affix SpecPlates to various Imperial vessels that qualified. In rare occasions, Naval Command also had direct involvement in military operations.
The highest body of officers within the Navy was the "Circle of Twelve", the cadre of Grand Admirals appointed by Emperor Palpatine in 2 BBY. The promotions were generally seen as an attempt by Palpatine to solidify his control over the Navy. Comprising respected naval strategists, researchers, and New Order partisans, they were assembled to be a leadership cadre for the entire Imperial Military.
Within Naval Command, the Navy was administrated by four organizational branches: the Line Branch, the Flight Branch, the Fleet Support Branch, and the Support Service Branch. In addition, each of these organizational branches were divided into divisions that focus on specific areas in the Imperial Navy.
The Line Branch was responsible for the Empire's warships, capital ships, and support ships, as well as their commanders and crew. It was also tasked with handling strategy, tactics, and administration within the Naval forces. It housed various divisions, the three largest being the Deck Division, the Logistics Division, and the Administration Division. Line officers commanded bridge crews, captained ships, and commanded fleets.
The Flight Branch was tasked with overseeing the operations of combat starships. It had various smaller divisions as well as one large division known as the Flight Division, which also held direct command over the Starfighter Corps of the Empire, including the Empire's starfighters, pilots, and support crew. In addition, the Flight Branch held purview over the Navy Order of Battle.
The Fleet Support Branch consisted of officers responsible for maintenance and engineering duties. Within this branch were two divisions: Engineering Division and Technical Services Division. The former focused on maintaining various Navy ships' sublight and hyperspace engines, as well as the integrity of the ships' hulls. The latter was responsible for looking after power distribution, life-support, and other specialties outside the Engineering Division's jurisdiction.
The Support Service Branch provided services to allow Navy personnel to carry out their duties. It had at least five branches: Ordnance, Gunnery, Communications, Biological, and Astrogation. Ordnance dealt with the installation and maintenance of various naval ships' weapons systems. Gunnery supplied personnel to man the weapons systems. Communications controlled traffic and handled information systems. Biological handled research and providing medical services, and Astrogation calculated hyperspace routes alongside other navigation-related matters.
In addition to these four main branches, there were also several divisions within the Imperial Navy. One was the Imperial Navy Intelligence, which dealt with intelligence-gathering activities. Another was the Navy's secret elite force, known as the Special Navy Force. The Imperial Navy Research, Development and Engineering Center was responsible for developing new Imperial warships at least since prior to the Battle of Endor. The special forces carried out special operations for the Navy on foot. Imperial Supply may have been a division in the Imperial Navy, due to the Academy system's Rhinnal academy supplying training for both Merchant Services (the civilian auxiliary to the Imperial Navy) and the Imperial Supply Fleet. As a result, even though it was technically civilian in nature, the Merchant Services had indirect ties to the Imperial Navy. Although technically being support branches of the Imperial Military overall, the Imperial Exploration Corps as well as the Imperial Survey Corps also were attached to the Imperial Navy, with the Navy also utilizing both groups' studies to determine which worlds to conquer and exploit, although they generally did this without the knowledge of the actual members of both corps. The Emperor's special reserve guard was an elite force of starfighter pilots that were presumably tasked with aiding the Emperor.
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 Naval Code encouraged unquestioning obedience to orders and stressed a willingness to die for the Empire.
- "You don't have an organization, admiral! What you have is nothing like the Army!"
"Yes, general, the Army has its organization. We in the Navy must content ourselves with the control of all known space."
- ―An Imperial Army general and a Navy admiral
The Imperial Navy's tactical organization was defined by the Navy Order of Battle, designed to provide flexible resources for a commander's force requirements.
The Imperial Navy's largest formal organizational unit was the Sector Group, nominally composed of 2,600 starships, of which 24 were Imperial-class Star Destroyers and another 1,600 were smaller warships, under the control of a High Admiral, usually the sector Moff. The Sector Groups were split into multiple fleets of around 400 ships each led by Fleet Admirals, with the Group's combat elements being split between "Superiority" and "Escort". A superiority fleet was a space-combat force spearheaded by six Star Destroyers, each nominally accompanied by a battle squadron of eighteen smaller ships. While superiority fleets were officially assigned to fleet combat, in practice they were normally used as mobile reserves, projecting Imperial power in response to local threats. Escort fleets, meanwhile, were composed of force escorts and were designated for combat against pirates and raiders, which in practice meant that they were the Empire's first line of defense, protecting civilian freighters, attacking corsairs' hideouts, and guarding remote outposts. Additional fleet commands were established for the Sector Group's logistics and support forces, including troop transport, bombardment, deepdock and support fleets. Han Solo when witnessing The Graveyard for the first time also implied that an Imperial fleet composed of an additional thousand starships with a significant amount of firepower would have been sufficient in doing at least significant damage to a planet.
Below the level of fleet was the systems force, led by an admiral appointed as its Commodore. Systems forces totaled around ninety ships in several squadrons, and included force superiority designed to maintain control of space in calm areas; force escort to protect commercial shipments and convoys; systems bombard to carry out planetary bombardments with Torpedo Spheres; and transport forces, force technical services, and force support to supply combat formations. In practice, however, despite their nominal strength, most systems forces contained only a single combat squadron.
Squadrons of 14 to 60 ships were the smallest independent operational units of the Navy, and were designated as light, heavy, battle, or bombard squadrons. Battle squadrons built around an Imperial-class Star Destroyer were the core components of superiority fleets, and were nominally supported by three lines of eighteen smaller ships. In practice, Star Destroyers were normally accompanied by just two or three escorts, if any: the Imperial-class was designed to operate without support, and its hyperdrive was too fast for any escorts except for the speediest light cruisers. The battle squadron was used for offensive operations against a known enemy, and the mere arrival of an Imperial-class Star Destroyer was often enough to put down a planetary revolt or scare off an armed space-threat.
The most basic combat formation in the Imperial Navy was the line of battle, or simply a line, and the smallest organizational unit used for space combat. The Imperial Starfleet shaped four to twenty starships into lines, depending on type. 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 torpedo. 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 ship equivalent to 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.
|Line||Captain of the line||N/A||2--20||Attack (Heavy attack); Pursuit; Recon; Skirmish; Torpedo; Troop;|
|Squadron||Admiral||4 lines||14--60||Battle; Bombard; Heavy; Light; Troop;|
|Systems force||Systems admiral||4 squadrons||90||Astrogation; Biological; Escort; Ordnance; Superiority; Support; Technical services; System; Transport;|
|Fleet||Fleet Admiral||3--6 forces||280--350||Assault; Bombard; Deepdock; Superiority; Support; Replenishment;|
|Sector Group||High Admiral or local Moff||4 fleets||2,600||N/A|
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. 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 permanently in the Outer Rim Territories.
Roving fleets aimed at specific tasks were also fielded at several points in Imperial history. Notable units included Death Squadron and Scourge Squadron, 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, 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. 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 the de facto 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. There was also a fleet stationed near Byss, that was formed since the start of the Galactic Empire. The Emperor himself also possessed a personal fleet that he has command over, utilizing it in situations important enough to require him to participate in person.
Although the main ships of the Imperial Navy were important, the manpower was also vitally important within the navy. Like most militaries, the Imperial Navy divided its personnel into officers and enlisted.
Officers held command appointments over ships, fleets or bridge crews. Owing to the Empire's Core-centric political rule, positions of high command were almost invariably given to Core Worlders, and lack of powerful connections within the military hierarchy could be a bar to high rank. A notable exception to this was the career of Firmus Piett of Axxila, who rose from humble beginnings in the Ciutric Hegemony to become the Admiral of Darth Vader's Death Squadron. Officers tended to be highly Humanocentric and fully supportive of the New Order's anti-alien policies.
The enlisted ranks comprised the Navy's specialists, security personnel, and technicians. Imperial Navy crewmen manned ship stations and maintained systems, monitoring the various instruments on various vessels. Crewmen often worked in sunken pits on the bridge, ostensibly to keep them focused on their work, but also as an intimidation measure. The Naval Troopers of the Imperial Fleet Regiments maintained security aboard ship and repelled boarding actions. Responsible for manning the Navy's weapon emplacements, the Imperial gunners were a specialized corps of Flight Branch composed of men who had failed piloting exams but nonetheless possessed keen eyes, superior reflexes, and a rapport with specialized equipment.
Imperial pilots came under the aegis of Flight Branch and the Starfighter Corps. The TIE pilots were the elite of Flight Branch, and formed their own unique social group within the Navy. The Empire at its height produced millions of TIE pilots, and generally considered them expendable assets. Other pilots included the Cruisemissile troopers, who acted as pilots of the Cruisemissile assault craft.
The Navy maintained its own special forces: Imperial Navy commandos and SpecNav Force troopers were elite forces within the Imperial Navy. Occasionally, the Emperor's Royal Guard would participate in Imperial Navy formations.
The Stormtrooper Corps was not part of the Navy, but stormtroopers were deployed aboard warships to ensure loyalty. The Imperial Marines were a specialized division of the Corps, identified by orange pauldrons on their right shoulders, optimized for boarding actions and shipboard combat.
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.
- "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 Bannidge Holt during Imperial Naval Academy cadet indoctrination speech
Naval cadets, also known as midshipmen and crewman-cadets, began their applications at the system level, attending regional military prep schools. The best students of these schools were invited to attend Sector Naval Academies, where they completed basic training, learned military history and courtesies, and took examinations to determine what naval career would suit them best. The Sector Naval Academies are named such to differentiate them from the primary Naval Academy, and often groomed the best of a stationed world's inhabitants for local and Imperial military careers. Upon arriving at the Sector Naval Academies, their first step in training was attending one of several fleet camps spread across the galaxy. Screening Officers at the local Imperial Recruitment Center would then review the cadet's application and decide the type and duration of the cadet's training program. Very few managed to pass basic training due to the stringent physical and mental requirements. Courses for those who met basic entry included training for piloting both small and large spacecraft, engineering, computer usage, navigation, and medicine, among others. Desired qualities for admission included toughness, bravery, loyalty, and intelligence. In addition, those with the appropriate personality profile are eagerly accepted into the ranks. In addition, those recruits who were both highly-rated and already had pilot's certification are considered special interest candidates for Starfighter training.
The most promising Naval recruits would be invited to attend officer training at the Imperial Naval Academy on Prefsbelt IV. Such recruits encompass rated within the top two percent of their qualifying tests, with an endorsement from the local Moff and a more thorough background investigation compared to other officer candidates being required. The Academy's location was officially classified, in order to ensure the Academy and any classified secrets were unable to be accessed by anyone who was Rebel-aligned, other insurgents, and/or were politically questionable. It taught Midshipmen tactical simulations and leadership before assigning them to active service rotations as ensigns. Most cadets entered Naval service after a three-year course at Prefsbelt, but some did shorter courses before shifting to flight school or continuing their studies at one of the three advanced academies. For the latter, while the top third of the class can qualify for flight due to the tough entrance requirements and extensive training offered at the Imperial Naval Academy, only those who graduated among the top 5 percent of their class would qualify for actual flight training, while the remaining top third of the class qualified for flight-based specialties such as astrogation, weapons systems, and various other support skills. In addition, the academic standards are stringent, with its training methods being the most advanced of their kind, as the Academy system was designed to instill loyalty, build discipline, and develop team interdependence. It was also reputed that the greatest of the various naval commanders and Starfighter pilots came from the Academy, with graduation being considered an essential step for being promoted to the very highest echelons of naval command. Those who showed particular promise by staying for at least five years at the Imperial Naval Academy and demonstrating the desired leadership qualities were eligible for entering Officer's Candidacy Training, which would result in their potentially commanding a strategic outpost, a TIE squadron, or even a Star Destroyer. It was also said that the only limits to an officer advancing the ranks were the officer's inherent ambition, skill, and loyalty. Many of the potential officers came from regional or sector military schools. Courses for officers, which last for one standard year, include military indoctrination, education in technical specialties, and training cruises, with crew-man graduates upon graduating being commissioned as a lieutenant and continues to advanced technical training. Overall, it required 30 months of rigorous physical and academic training, with those graduating afterwards receiving a commission for the rank of lieutenant, and if selected for flight school being expected to complete the more rigorous training with the same degree of excellence.
The three specialized military schools were the Corulag Academy, the Academy of Carida, and the War College on Anaxes. Corulag provided additional training to Navy Midshipmen, Army Cadets, flight school pilots, and specialists from all Imperial services, with an emphasis on active training. The War College, based at Anaxes Citadel, had been considered the embodiment of naval tradition for centuries, and offered active training and combat simulations. It also served as a think tank for promising cadets and active-duty Imperial officers, and tested new warships and equipment for the Navy in training cruises. Finally, the Academy of Carida was a major stormtrooper training facility, and numerous Army, Navy and flight school cadets also spent semesters there. Carida also housed the Officer's Candidate School.
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. Graduation ceremonies were occasions of great solemnity, pomp and circumstance: The Imperial March, the Navy's martial theme, would be played as new graduates were inducted into the Navy.
Aside from the main military forces of the Imperial Navy, the academy system also contained the Imperial Merchant Galactic Academy, based on Rhinnal, which trained prospective members of the Merchant Services, an auxiliary branch of the Imperial Navy manned by civilians for transporting supplies and goods, as well as training academies for both the Imperial Survey Corps and the Imperial Exploration Corps (the former at the Imperial Exploration Academy in the Vanik system). However, both academies were not considered as prestigious as the Prefsbelt IV academy or the Raithal academy for the Imperial Army.
Rank within the Imperial Navy was designated by rank insignia plaques, breast badges that displayed different combinations of colored squares depending on rank. Rank was further denoted by the number of code cylinders displayed in pockets near the shoulders of the uniform. The Navy's original rank insignia system used a complex arrangement of red, blue and yellow squares on rank plaques. This was re-organized shortly before the Battle of Yavin in 0 BBY in favor of a simpler combination of two rows of blue and red squares only on the plaque, the number of squares increasing with higher rank. However, a number of officers, in particular the Grand Admirals, continued to wear the older rank insignia.
The Navy divided rank into Position, Line rank, and Specialist rank. Position referred to an officer's current assignment on a ship as opposed to permanent rank, and included the honorary titles of High Admiral and Warlord of the Empire, usually granted to Grand Moffs and Grand Admirals. Officers in the position of Lieutenant and ship's Captain wore a single code cylinder with their uniforms, while flag officers wore up to four, the additional cylinders relating to their fleet responsibilities. A significant change in the Imperial Navy's command structure after being formed was the inclusion of intermediate levels of command, which originally did not exist in the Republic Navy. This resulted in a large number of junior officers being promoted to these intermediate levels. Senior officers generally kept their ranks, but their scope of command had enlarged. For example, an admiral of the Imperial Navy commanded over ten times the force size as a Republic Navy admiral had.
Line ranks were permanent ranks held by those who commanded the bridge crew, captained ships, and flew their flags over fleets. There were very few officers with permanent line ranks above that of Navy Senior Captain. Although in theory, the rank plaque was associated with line rank, officers in the position of Fleet Admiral and ship's captain always wore the insignia of a full admiral and a Senior Captain, respectively. Officers aboard ship who were not in command were addressed as Lieutenants (or in the case of Ensigns, Midshipmen), regardless of their actual rank.
Specialist rank was held by personnel of the Flight, Support, and Engineering branches and broadly mirrored the line ranks of the Imperial Army. Specialist officers that were promoted beyond general were promoted into the line ranks at the rank of Vice Admiral, although they usually retained the honorific branch titles of Air Marshal, War Commissar, and Master Engineer, according to branch. The junior ranks of specialist officers, Captain and below, had their ranks prefixed by Flight, Support, or Engineering depending on the branch they served under. In the case of Flight Branch pilots, they also had their own positional titles: Squadron Leader, Wing Commander, and Group Captain. TIE Squadron Leaders, normally Flight Captains, used the insignia of a ship's captain, as a fighter unit was considered the equivalent of a small-ship command. The code cylinders worn by specialist officers served purely as insignia.
In addition to plaques, the Imperials also utilized code cylinders to signify their position in addition to their pragmatic use of regulating computer use aboard Imperial Navy ships, with the number used being dependent on the rank. Captains and Lieutenants generally had only one code cylinder, while Admirals, Commodores or Commanders had two, a Fleet Admiral had three and a High Admiral had four. Specialist ranking officers also utilized code cylinders, although their use was purely for decorative purposes as insignia.
After the creation of the New Order, and especially after the massive build-up orders issued after the Battle of Yavin, the Navy was issued top-of-the-line equipment throughout the upper ranks of the Imperial fleet. In addition, the equipment was also standardized, which was largely a response to the Old Republic, which had developed so many equipment designs that it was considered remote to find a cadet training on equipment and serving with units which possessed any passing resemblance to said equipment. The closest one can find said old equipment in large quantities is in lower, system-level units.
Personnel of the Imperial Navy wore a diverse assortment of uniforms according to their particular branch of service. Officers usually wore a gray-green uniform with a double-breasted tunic, trousers, and a matching cap displaying an officer's disc, although officers who were veteran TIE pilots of the Starfighter Corps and/or security officers wore a black version of the uniform resembling the official uniform for officers of the Stormtrooper Corps instead. The Imperial Navy troopers wore all-black jumpsuits, utility belts, and swept-back black helmets for security duties and direct combat situations. Non-commissioned officers, including technicians and specialists, wore black or gray jumpsuits with a black cap, a forearm computer, and the Imperial crest worn on the shoulder.
Imperial gunners wore distinctive clamshell helmets and all-black duty uniforms with partial body armor. The TIE pilots wore environmentally-sealed flight suits with a chestplate that mounted a life-support unit. Hoses from the life-support unit piped oxygen into the pilots' sealed helmets. Both gunners and TIE pilots have the Imperial Navy crest adorned on the front of their helmets (the gunners having a single crest at the center, while the pilots having two crests, one adorning each side of the front). Although the TIE/sa bomber pilots technically have a slightly different uniform that exposes part of their face due to the TIE/sa bomber possessing life-support capabilities, they in practice wore the same uniforms as other TIE pilots as a precaution in case of emergencies.
Those with the rank of Commander Fleet Operations wore a specialized uniform during naval operations. It was composed of a black jumpsuit and gloves, as well as an all-encompassing helmet that had two ridges at the top, as well as five pink lights on the front. Similar to the Imperial gunners, their helmet was adorned with the Imperial Navy crest at the front.
A number of corporations produced droids for the near-exclusive use by the Imperial Navy. One of the most common was the MSE-6 "Mouse" Droid produced by Rebaxan Columni. After an attempt by the company to produce a droid pet proved to be a marketing disaster, the Imperial Navy, desperately short of droids in its early years, bought the entire production line. The Navy used them as couriers for high-priority, high-security messages that could not be trusted to radio, as well as for simple maintenance like floor polishing and spot-welding.
Arakyd Industries' RA-7 protocol droid was issued as an officer's adjutant, schedule-keeper, and translator, the latter duty being necessary in the event that foreign emissaries were welcomed upon an officer's vessel. However, their real purpose was to secretly monitor officers for the Imperial Security Bureau to ensure loyalty. Owing to the large number of high-ranking officers aboard the First Death Star, many RA-7s could be found there, to the point that they became known as the "Death Star Droid". The Death Star's destruction at the Battle of Yavin atomized most of the production line.
Arakyd's Viper probe droids were used by the Navy for long-range reconnaissance. Deployed in hyperspace pods, they operated autonomously when they reached their destination, relaying its findings back through secure Imperial wavelengths. They were also equipped with a self-destruction sequence in the event that they were discovered, being activated when they are tagged by a blaster bolt. Death Squadron deployed thousands of Viper probe droids into the Western Reaches in 3 ABY in search of the Rebellion's primary base of operations. One such probe droid eventually uncovered Echo Base of Hoth.
The Navy used Industrial Automaton's R-series astromech droids for advanced maintenance. Painted in Naval black and gray, they operated in hangar bays to repair and maintain fighters and shuttles, or in engine rooms to calculate hyperspace coordinates and provide updated navigational data.
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. The most recognizable symbol of the Imperial Starfleet was the Imperial-class Star Destroyer, which peaked at over twenty-five thousand vessels, 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 and starfighter carriers. The Super Star Destroyer's intended role by Palpatine was to act as a command ship for Imperial forces in a specific sector, with their being one SSD per sector.
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. The shipyards at Corellia supplied the Empire with gunships, corvettes and larger cruisers. Additionally, countless shipyards supplied the Imperial Starfleet with support ships such as Carrack-class light cruisers, Lancer-class frigates, Strike-class cruisers, and Ton-Falk-class escort carriers. Interdictor cruisers, and to some extent Interdictor-equipped Star Destroyers, also served a vital role in the Imperial fleet by blocking the enemy from exiting hyperspace. These acted as a mans to patrol trade routes and enforce custom checkpoints, often doing random traffic inspections to ensure smuggling is discouraged. Although the interdictors were made more important due to the Rebel's hit and hype tactics, Leia Organa noted that their relative rarity compared to the more traditional warships was probably the only reason why the Rebel Alliance even managed to survive the Empire, let alone defeat it.
The Empire also had several classified vessels that possessed functional cloaking devices, with their power sources being stygian crystals that were mined from the Dreighton Nebula. However, because the supply of crystals has nearly run dry by the time of the Galactic Civil War, as well as the consequential increase in expenses, these ships use of cloaking devices have diminished. In large part because of the diminished supply, research was being conducted into alternate power materials for cloaking devices, with the Dreighton Nebula itself remaining under martial quarantine, and the Imperials also have to confiscate any civilian vessels capable of cloaking (specifically vessels classified as large freighters or container ships due to the amount of power needed to run an invisibility screen). These civilian vessels as a result are also among the few vessels that the Imperial forces are mandated to make every effort to recover intact, although the crew itself could be disposed as necessary. In addition, largely because of the cloaking device being a sensitive piece of technology, only specialized Imperial technicians were certified to repair ships with cloaking technology.
Capital ship classes
Space stations and superweapons
The Imperial Navy has its fair share of space stations and superweapons, as did the rest of the Empire. The various space stations it had filled a variety of purposes, and extended from completely artificial to being built on natural terrestrial space debris such as Asteroid bases. For instance, the Achtnak Turbine Station was created specifically as a means to secretly deploy various TIE-series fighters to enemy locations from within a Gas Giant. Similarly, Gravity Well Stations were frequently utilized to prevent enemy fleets from jumping into hyperspace. The Baas-class space station, Gateway Space Station, Resupply bases, and Cargo Facilities 1 and 2 were likewise acted as deep-space supply depots for the Imperial Navy and for other elements of the Galactic Empire. In some cases, Super Star Destroyers, specifically those of the Star Dreadnought line, can even be classified as space stations should they be massive enough in size.
Some space stations also acted as prison camps, with several even being considered heavily classified. The Bakura and Maw Imperial Prisons at the planet Bakura and the Maw Cluster, respectively, are notable examples of this, as were Crseih Station.
Various other Space Stations also were developed specifically for military operations, such as the Bavos-I heavy-duty military space platform and Bavos-II heavy-duty military space platform were some examples, alongside the Cardan-class space stations, of which five known classes, the Cardan I, Cardan II, the Cardan III, the Cardan IV, and Cardan V, which acted as defense stations for the various Imperial-related bases, including Kuat Drive Yards. The Golan-series space defense platforms, which included the Golan Space Defense SpaceGun, the Golan II Space Defense SpaceGun, and the Golan III Space Defense NovaGun, were orbital gun varieties. Kuat Drive Yards also had several weapons platforms to defend the shipyards. Some space stations/satellites were also developed specifically as defensive measures, such as the Imperial Shield Stations stationed at Fondor or the Satellite force field shield projectors at the Maw Cluster.
Some space stations also specialized in communication efforts, such as the Comm Center and the Communications satellite. The Communications satellites, however, had varying shapes, although all of them did possess black folds similar to TIEs. At least one was attempted to be used during the Battle of Yavin. The IOS 24, known as a Main Sensor Array, also acted as a radar system.
Dedicated Siege Platforms, although technically under the operation of Battle Station Command, were used specifically to commit sieges against various places. Examples of such space platforms included some types of Torpedo Spheres, including one model produced by the Loronar Corporation. The latter model also had at least 6 created and utilized by the Navy/Empire.
Several were also utilized for creating or maintaining various ships of the Imperial Navy, such as the Naval Station Validusia in the Validusia system, the Deepdock R/M Facility Number Four, the TIE Fighter Construction Facility, Orbital Space Dock II, Orbital Space Dock III, and Orbital Space Dock IV-A, the Repair Yard, the TIE staging areas across the galaxy, the galaxy-shaped Jovan Station, the Deep Space Manufacturing Facilities (also known as X7 Factories), Drydocks such as Imperial Drydock IV, facilities and the Imperial Transfer Port at Kuat, the Type II Orbital Repair Yard, Telgorn shipyards, and the XQ Platform series of construction stations, which included models XQ1, XQ2, XQ3, XQ4, XQ5, and XQ6. These facilities, however, can also focus on developing parts for other Space Stations and especially superweapons, such as Desolation Station.
Some space stations were also meant to train various Imperial forces, such as Miramar. Others also focused on medical related matters, such as the Hale Return. In addition, some space stations acted as checkpoints for hyperspace paths, such as the Imperial Claw Station, or otherwise did research materials such as the Imperial research center. Some acted as shadowports for classified research, such as the Itani Nebula Base.
Although technically belonging to the Imperial Army, the IM-S-653 Orbital Garrison, aka, the Hexostar had a command post for an Admiral of the Imperial Navy as well as one commanded by a Major General in the Imperial Army as a compromise, due to the controversy of a space command post being utilized by the Army as all things related to space were considered to be under the Navy's jurisdiction, space stations included.
Some stations, however, had no apparent military-related reason other than civilian usage, such as the Golan-series space colonies, which included Space Colonies 1, 2, and 3, as well as the Habitation spheres, although it was rumored that the latter had some military related purpose. Another one was Junkyard Control, a space station that regulated the recycling of scrap. In addition, the Orbital Solar Energy Transfer Satellites, which had been inherited to the Galactic Empire after it had been changed from the Galactic Republic, was used to shine the sun on Coruscant. Some stations were even originally benign yet were modified for military-related purposes, such as the Ionic Ring Ship.
The superweapons utilized by the Imperial Navy included the Sun Crusher, named such because its payload is more than capable of causing a supernova, as well as the Galaxy Gun, which could fire hyperspace-capable warheads capable of shattering an entire planet. The most infamous of these superweapons, however, were the Death Stars, battlestations that were capable of destroying a planet with a single blast from its superlaser. The Death Star prototype acted as a test bed for its superlaser capabilities, with it being improved by the time of the Galactic Civil War to have a fully working model, the DS-1 Orbital Battle Station. Two more were created, the Death Star II and Death Star III near Endor, where their weapons systems were further improved, although unlike DS-1, they had never been fully completed prior to their destruction. The Habitation spheres of the Empire were also rumored to actually be Death Stars in development. Although technically not a Death Star, the Tarkin, based on a prototype Eclipse-class dreadnought hull system, had initially been nicknamed as such by the Rebel Alliance due to its similar properties. The Battlemoon was a type of superweapon that was built into a natural moon. During the time of the Star Wars: Dark Empire, World Devastators were also utilized by the Emperor to turn entire worlds into raw materials for creating new ships.
Probably the most insidious of these stations, however, were Worldcrafts, which were completely artificial worlds that on the surface seem completely natural. These were given to the Emperor's closest allies, and were hyperdrive capable.
Even after the Imperial Navy's influence dwindled upon it becoming the Imperial Remnant, it still had some degree of control over space stations, having a customs station at the Remnant world of Bastion.
Battleships and dreadnoughts
During the height of the Galactic Empire, the Imperial Navy had several battleships and dreadnoughts under its disposal, which in addition to possessing a tremendous amount of firepower, also acted as agents of psychological warfare under the Tarkin Doctrine. Although Star Dreadnoughts entered the full fray and became immensely popular during the Galactic Civil War, they had their roots in the early days of the Empire with a prototype vessel that was being constructed near Byss as part of the Sarlacc Project, although it had been destroyed before ever being completed.
The most famous of these was the Executor-class Star Dreadnought, which was among the largest vessels the galaxy has ever seen, even being the largest in terms of length. At least one variant existed that possessed cloaking capability. The most famous vessel among this class was the lead ship of Death Squadron and first vessel within the class, the Executor. Others included the Mandator-series Star Dreadnaught, which had three vessels developed, the Mandator-class Star Dreadnaught, the Mandator II-class Star Dreadnaught, and the Mandator III-class dreadnought. Although the Mandator and Mandator II-class dreadnaughts overall had very similar characteristics, the Mandator III-class was a significant change in the program, where it heavily focused on the weapons and raw firepower aspect of the design, even surpassing the length of the prior two Mandator models by 4,000 meters. The developmental cousin of the Mandator-series, the Bellator-class dreadnought, had a similar alteration in its design, being primarily focused on speed instead of power, being 800 meters shorter than the Mandator and Mandator II-classes. Another Star Dreadnought was the Assertor-class Star Dreadnought, of which its most famous member was the Wrath, which had participated in a Base Delta Zero operation.
During the Galactic Civil War, to disguise the size of the then-in-development Executor-class, several design and budget reports were falsified to pass red tape and budgetary hearing committees, even adopting the name Super-class Star Destroyer, which acted as the partial namesake for the colloquialism Super Star Destroyer for any vessel larger than a Star Destroyer, including those belonging to the Star Dreadnought classification. They required a manpower of over 280,000, which was massive enough that Mon Mothma even noted that capturing even one intact would be a dilemma, as the Rebel Alliance wouldn't have enough personnel to crew it. Their ultimate purpose via the Emperor's vision was to have one SSD per sector to act as a command ship for Imperial forces.
Another dreadnought variant was the Vengeance-class dreadnought, which had the same length as the Executor-class Star Dreadnoughts, but is significantly slimmer. A famous example of these ships was the Vengeance, the flagship of the rogue Imperial Inquisitor Jerec and his faction.
The Aurora was involved in a raid on Kuat Drive Yards by the New Republic, where it was infected with a virus and rendered inoperable. However, it was then destroyed by Imperial Agents by sending it into a sun via Hyperspace.
The Emperor also intended to create next-generation dreadnoughts, which included the Sovereign-class Super Star Destroyer line and the Eclipse-class dreadnought. Although all four Sovereign-class Super Star Destroyers ended up destroyed by the time the Emperor had been revived, the Eclipse-class, which included the Eclipse and the Eclipse II, saw use by the revived Emperor under his Dark Empire.
Besides the Star Dreadnoughts, there were also some that were incorporated from prior to the Galactic Empire by other factions, such as the Lucrehulk-class battleships. In addition, the Eye of Palpatine was classified as a dreadnought, and intended to deliver several stormtrooper units to subjugate a planet.
Even after the restructuring of the Imperial Navy after the formation of the Imperial Remnant, dreadnoughts and battleships still played some roles in their organization. In addition, another Star Dreadnought under the Imperial Remnant was the Megador, which possessed 16 thrusters.
Although the Imperial Navy had several battlecruisers within its various fleets, they were comparatively rarer compared to Star Destroyers or even Star Dreadnoughts, because they were both extremely expensive and they didn't even had the psychological warfare effect that Star Dreadnoughts have. Because of their being larger than Star Destroyers, and in part because of the falsified Super-class Star Destroyer line, battlecruisers were likewise sometimes called Super Star Destroyers.
Star Cruisers were on the lower end of the battlecruiser classification. The most well-known example of a Star Cruiser within the Imperial Navy was the Allegiance-class battlecruiser, which were also sometimes referred to as Imperial-class destroyers and Super Star Destroyers due to their visual resemblance to the Imperial-class Star Destroyers as well as their being larger than most Star Destroyers, respectively. The most famous ship in this class was the Allegiance.
The Praetor-series were also a well-known battlecruiser type within the Imperial Navy, with its classes including the Praetor-class battlecruiser, which was inherited from the Galactic Republic, and the Praetor II-class battlecruiser, which was well known for the flagship of the Secret armada, the Helmsman.
During a raid on Kuat Drive Yards, the Event Horizon, the Luminous, and the Stellar Halo had been rendered ineffective due to a virus uploaded by the New Republic during the battle. However, the Stellar Halo was then sent into hyperdrive into a sun as a final means of defiance by Imperial agents.
The Pride of Tarlandia was a Battlecruiser that was part of Death Squadron, as well as the Executor's second-in-command vessel. It acted as the main communications ship, and possessed communication jamming abilities to further disorganize the enemy. This ship would eventually fall during the Battle of Endor. Another Battlecruiser, the Ilthmar's Fist, survived the battle.
Star Destroyers, named for their purported capacity of destroying entire star systems, were the most recognizable ship class within the Imperial Navy. Several of them, such as the Venator-class Star Destroyer, the Secutor-class Star Destroyers, the Victory-class Star Destroyers, the Tector-class Star Destroyers, and even the Imperial-class Star Destroyers had been holdovers from the Clone Wars. The Victory and Imperial-class Star Destroyers also had at least two variants. In the Victory-class's case, they were the Victory I-class Star Destroyer and the Victory II-class Star Destroyer. In the Imperial-class's case, they were the Imperial I-class Star Destroyers and the Imperial II-class Star Destroyers. Each variant had some improvements to their predecessors, such as the Imperial II-class carrying ion-cannons. The Imperial-class before the Galactic Empire had been known as the Imperator-class. At least one Imperial-class, the Shockwave, was extensively modified.
The Secutor-class Star Destroyer, under the size requirements of the Anaxes War College System, would technically qualify as a battlecruiser. However, the ship was lacking in the amount of weaponry required for such a class, and its carrier role had it act as a Star Destroyer. Similarly, Victory-class would qualify as a heavy cruiser but due to it being notably more heavily armed than is standard for a warship of its class, it was classified as a Star Destroyer. There were also some Corellian-engineered Star Destroyers in use by the Imperial Navy, which were purported to be very fast, even the fastest among the Imperial forces.
Some Star Destroyers also featured some aspects that were a combination between two different ship types. For example, the Interdictor-class Star Destroyer combined elements of the Imperial-class Star Destroyer and the Interdictor cruisers, most notably the gravity well generators seen on the latter. Superlaser Star Destroyers, were Imperial-class modified with a superlaser generator. One such ship, the Conqueror, for example, had a large portion of its hull cut out to make room for a superlaser dish.
Although most Star Destroyers followed the wedge-shape design utilized by Kuat Drive Yards, not all of them did. A notable exemption was the Gladiator-class Star Destroyer, which possessed an opening within the ship's bow that allowed for the ship to release several fighters. One of the most famous examples of the Gladiator-class was the Demolisher, the flagship of Admiral Screed.
Not all Star Destroyers acted as carriers, however: The Tector-class Star Destroyer, a heavily armored Star Destroyer class, notably lacked any docking bays.
During the early days of the Galactic Empire, one Star Destroyer was outfitted with a superlaser, and was used during Operation: Twilight to destroy a Jedi Enclave on an asteroid. This destroyer bore a large resemblance to the Harrower-class dreadnoughts, which had been cited by Palpatine to have been the direct inspiration of many of his warships, including the Star Destroyers.
The Procursator-class Star Destroyer overall had similarities to the Imperial-class, but was significantly smaller.
In large part due to the power behind the Star Destroyer, one of the Rebel leaders, Mon Mothma, had ominously warned in the wake of the Battle of Endor that any Imperial commander with access to a Star Destroyer will become a warlord in the event of the Empire's fragmentation.
Even after the Imperial Navy, as a result of the formation of the Imperial Remnant, was reorganized, it still retained the use of Star Destroyers, even developing new ones such as the Turbulent-class Star Destroyer.
Star Destroyers continued to see their way in the Navies of the Galactic Empire's successors, the Fel Empire and Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire. Both factions made use of the Pellaeon-class Star Destroyers, but the latter group utilized the Imperious-class Star Destroyers.
Destroyers and cruisers
The Imperial Navy also had at its disposal various non-Star Destroyer-type destroyers and cruisers. The Vindicator-class heavy cruisers were usually used to guard locations where Star Destroyers were unavailable and needed required firepower to hold off enemies.
One of the earliest cruisers in use by the Imperial Navy was the Bayonet-class light cruiser, as well as the Carrack-class light cruiser, the latter acting an important role due to its relatively heavily armed status as well as it being able to combat X-wing starfighters. The Detainer CC-2200 interdictor cruisers were likewise involved with the Imperial Navy as early as its formation in 19 BBY. One of the more ancient vessels, the Dreadnaught-class heavy cruiser, was also involved in the Imperial Navy. The Invincible-class Dreadnaught Heavy Cruiser, likewise, saw usage even though it was ancient. The Tartan-class patrol cruiser was also one of the earliest cruisers developed by the Galactic Empire for the Imperial Navy.
Other vessels are also used, although not nearly to the same extent due to various reasons, and thus were placed in areas that required minimal priorities. One example was the Munifex-class light cruiser, which had originally been utilized in the Trade Defense Forces, with its low-power hyperdrive making it difficult to maintain in constant combat.
One of the more valuable type of cruiser was the Immobilizer 418 cruiser, which possessed gravity well generators to prevent enemy ships from escaping into hyperspace. The Enforcer-class picket cruiser was likewise capable of generating even more power to the gravity well generators than the 418 thanks to modifications when undergoing development.
Some cruisers and destroyers were not meant to be involved in direct military operations. Such vessels included the ISS Empirical, which was a research vessel owned by Darth Vader, as well as the Imperial Research Ship, which had been involved in the experimental TIE program.
Although most of the destroyers and cruisers weren't developed in accordance to the Tarkin Doctrine, the Dragon-class heavy cruiser, which was deliberately developed to resemble a mythical dragon to inspire fear to various planetary populations. Only one ship of this class was known to have existed, the Galaxy Dragon, a ship owned by Moff Derluin.
The Imperial Navy also made use of light cruisers, such as the Bayonet-class, the Carrack-class, and the Pursuit-class; medium cruisers including the Strike-class medium cruisers, also known as the Imperial Strike Cruiser, which included the Moffship and the Eidolon; and bulk cruisers, including the Neutron Star-class bulk cruiser.
Assault cruisers also saw use during the New Republic era, including the Vibre-class assault cruiser.
During the Black Fleet Crisis, the Adz-class patrol destroyer was a recent development within the Imperial Fleet, and was likewise used by the Black Sword Command.
When the Imperial Navy was reorganized after the Empire turned into the Imperial Remnant, destroyers still saw some use, resulting in the development of a new vessel, the Republic-class cruiser for use against the Yuuzhan Vong.
Carriers and assault ships
The Imperial Navy also had access to various carriers and assault ships. The Acclamator-series assault ship and the Acclamator II-class, had earlier been utilized during the Clone Wars, and were involved fairly early in the Imperial Navy's formation. The Liftwing carrier was also present among the Imperial Navy since possibly even long before the Clone Wars.
Various Star Destroyers, such as the Gladiator-class, the Venator-class and the Secutor-class, also had carrier roles.
There were also instances of them being used for boarding purposes, such as the Spiral-class Assault Ship, although they usually only had one use.
One capital ship also had features of both the Gladiator-class Star Destroyer (in particular the bow's forward docking bay) and the Praetor II-class battlecruiser. This ship also ended up being used by Admiral Giel for his secret armada.
Escort Carriers were also prevalent among the Navy, of which two known models were utilized: one model, the Ton-Falk-class escort carrier, for the regular Imperial Navy, and one for the exclusive use of the Imperial Storm Commandos. However, even the standard Escort Carriers weren't frequently utilized by the Imperial Navy.
Carrier and assault ship types still saw some usage among the Imperial Navy, even after it was reorganized into the Imperial Remnant. One example was the Doomgiver, although the ship class the Doomgiver belonged to might have been utilized during the height of the Galactic Empire.
The Imperial Navy also utilized several frigates. The Corellian-designed DP20 frigate was a well known asset to the Imperial Navy. They also had access to the EF76 Nebulon-B escort frigate and Nebulon-B2 frigate, although many of the former class of frigates eventually ended up in the Rebel Alliance's hands, which led to some grief from one of the Navy's admirals, Hurkk. A variant of this class, the Imperial Patrol Frigate, was eventually created after Palpatine's death at Endor. Similarly, the less-shielded Interceptor-class frigate was often hijacked from the Navy for use by pirate organizations.
The frigates were versatile and could be used for a number of actions. The Lancer-class frigate was primarily utilized by the Navy for anti-starfighter operations, while the Clone Wars-era MedStar-class frigate was for medical purposes. The Pelta-class frigate likewise acted as both a cargo and a medical frigate. The Star Galleon-class frigate also acted as armed escorts for other vessels of lesser firepower.
Some frigates are capable of carrying fighters to battle, such as the Imperial starcutter. In addition, some frigates could also hold the same name as some Star Destroyers, such as the Imperial II-class and Victory II-class frigates. Zebulon-B frigates were also utilized by the Navy, and were less powerful than the Lancer-class.
The Galactic Empire's successors, and by extension, the successors of the Imperial Navy, the Fel Empire and Darth Krayt's Sith Empire, later used the Ardent-class fast frigate.
Corvettes and gunships
The Imperial Navy also utilized various gunships and corvettes. Many of them, including the Assassin-class, DP20, CR70, and CR90 corvettes, were of Corellian design. Others, such as the Marauder-class corvette, had its origins in the Clone Wars. The Vigil-class corvette also was utilized by the Imperial Navy, including near space stations such as Naval Station Validusia.
Although primarily for military work, such as the Sienar-developed Lianna-class corvette and the Broadside-class cruiser kdb-1, some corvettes, such as the Guardian-class light cruiser, Pursuit-class light cruiser, and the Light corvette, were assigned to security detail. The Warden-class light cruiser, likewise, was developed as a followup to the Guardian-class. The Ye-4 gunship acted as the Imperial Navy's primary gunship. Gozanti-class cruisers were also in service to the fleet.
Corvettes still saw use even after the Imperial Navy was reorganized into the Imperial Remnant, with two new classes of corvettes, the Crusader-class and the Cutlass-class, being developed during that time.
The Imperial Navy also, albeit to a far lesser extent than the other vessels, utilized patrol ships. One known vessel of this classification was the fast-attack patrol ships. Although not used by the Imperial Navy directly, they were affiliated with them as the Noghri Death Commandos were allied to the Imperial Navy and under their command. Another was the Corvette-class patrol boats.
The Imperial Navy also had some unused designs for their fleet, for various reasons. The Imperial Navy planned on developing a new type of Star Destroyer, even creating a prototype but the plans ended up stolen by the space pirate Tyber Zann and his crime syndicate, the Zann Consortium in the confusion caused by the destruction of the Death Star over Yavin, with his stealing the prototype vessel shortly thereafter, forcing the Imperial Navy to discontinue the project. This destroyer would later come to be known as the Aggressor-class Star Destroyer, a mainstay of the Zann Consortium. Earlier, there were also plans to create an Imperial ship that incorporated Calamarian technology, but it was labeled a failure and the project ended up cancelled because it was incompatible with human technology. Wilhuff Tarkin, a fan of Mon Calamari style architecture, had spearheaded the project.
Just like any navy in various points in Galactic History, the Imperial Navy had access to various starfighter craft to either attack enemies or to defend the fleet, with starfighter development flourishing. The most famous example was the TIE series, which had general similarities such as the solar panel wings, eyeball cockpit, and screaming engines, but other than that was constantly a test bed for revolutionary experimentation. Most of the TIEs lacked shields or hyperdrives for a variety of reasons, including costs which would hamper the Empire's ability to deploy TIEs in overwhelming numbers, and philosophy of combat, viewing the use of shields as cowardice as well as wishing to instill on the pilots that they serve the Empire above the self.
Various fighters were utilized for multiple purposes during the time of the Imperial Navy's formation, some either being created during the Empire or otherwise were holdovers from the Clone Wars.
Among the first Imperial-developed fighters were the A-7 Hunter Interceptors, a model of the A-Series interceptor line of superiority fighters which had been in use decades before the Clone Wars, and would continue to see service until the Second Galactic Civil War. They were initially well-received, with several Imperial officers even ordering them by the dozens for their vessels. However, they ended up replaced by the time the TIE series came in. In addition, they also possessed several fighters from the Clone Wars, such as the Aggressive ReConnaissance-170 starfighters, Eta-2 Actis-class interceptors, V-19 Torrent starfighters, Z-95 Headhunters, and Alpha-3 Nimbus-class V-wing starfighters utilized by the Galactic Republic, and the Belbullab-22 starfighters utilized by the Confederacy of Independent Systems, specifically by General Grievous. Some of these fighters, however, were often only used by elite members of the Imperial Navy. Because of the Emperor's homeworld being that of Naboo, N-1 starfighters were also utilized during the early days of the Empire. The Toscan 8-Q starfighter was also utilized during the early days of the Imperial Navy, although they were virtually obsolete by the time of the Galactic Civil War. The Cruisemissile assault craft, alongside their pilots, the cruisemissile troopers, essentially acted as the spearhead of the Imperial Navy, and as such were only piloted by the most elite of TIE pilots. The V38 assault fighter was also utilized, and acted as the basis of the TIE/ph Phantom stealth fighter. The Missile Boat was created as a response to the Zaarin insurrection, and more specifically his TIE/D Defenders. Although it was largely a success, it ultimately ended up discontinued after Zaarin destroyed many of its manufacturing centers (amounting to civilian casualties) and also because of an unrelated Rebel theft of the prototype, the Sealion.
During the Galactic Civil War, various other starfighters were utilized, including the Alpha-class Xg-1 Star Wing, the I-7 Howlrunner, and the INT-4 Interceptor. In addition, the A-9 Vigilance interceptor also was utilized against the New Republic.
The most famous of the Imperial Navy's starfighters, however, were the TIE Series, which had been derived from the T.I.E. starfighter predating the Clone Wars (which was itself derived from the Advanced Project ships made half a year after the Naboo crisis). They included the TIE/LN starfighter, the most common TIE fighter used during the Galactic Civil War (with variants including the TIE Subfighter and the Super TIE/LN starfighter); the TIE/IN interceptor, an interceptor-based model meant to improve on the TIE series when the TIE fighters were shown to have performed horribly against the Lightspeed Panthers; The TIE/AG Aggressor starfighter; a combination between a fighter and a bomber that was rare to be found beyond the experimental phase; the TIE Advanced x1, a prototype next-generation starfighter with hyperdrive developed by Darth Vader that, ironically, was cancelled in part because the Navy feared it would end up replaced; the TIE/ad starfighter, also known as the TIE Avenger, which was one of the few "Advance X" models to be accepted into the Navy; the TIE/D Defender, a new-generation attack craft designed to hold its own in combat, including effective shielding and a hyperdrive; the TIE/HU Hunter multi-role starfighter, a TIE fighter operated exclusively by Storm Commandos that was designed to counter the Rebel's X-wing starfighter; the TIE/AG Aggressor starfighter, a multi-role superiority starfighter-strike fighter that acted as a hybrid between a superiority starfighter and bomber; the TIE/rpt starfighter, also known as the TIE Raptor, developed by Zsinj for exclusive use for his faction of the Empire, the Super TIE/LN starfighter, an improvement upon the original TIE/LN; the TIE starfighter, the first mass-produced product of the TIE series created by the Galactic Empire; the TIE infiltrator, an infiltration-based TIE model derived from the T.I.E. Starfighter, and a TIE variant that shot boarding torpedoes. Although generally colored gray, the hulls can sometimes be colored red. These versions, particularly the TIE/IN interceptor line, are notably used by Emperor's Royal Guards, and are likewise referred to as the Emperor's Royal Guard TIE/In starfighter. Even rarer than the standard Advanced x1s were modified versions of the craft that were rumored to have been implemented by Vader himself. The TIE Light Duty rarely gets into mandatory missions and are usually used as training vehicles. There was also at least one variant that housed multiple passengers. Although technically not belonging to the Imperial Navy itself, the Nssis-class Clawcraft used by the Empire of the Hand was derived from TIE technology.
Even after its reorganization into the Imperial Remnant, the Imperial Navy still utilized several starfighters, including the Preybird-class starfighter and the Starhunter, the latter of which was an evolution in the TIE/IN concept. In addition, both of the Empire's successors, the Fel Empire and Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire, utilized the Predator-class fighter and the Fury-class starfighter.
The Imperial Navy also had several scout vessels for intelligence gathering and reconnaissance. Battlefield Subjugation Floaties are a type of reconnaissance manned drone that could be used to investigate and even grasp objects of interest for the Empire. In addition, the Far*Reach IV PQR was also frequently used by the Imperial Navy via the Survey Corps to scout out reconnaissance. In cases such as the "Out System" Scout Vessel, it was also used to scout out new worlds. Imperial sentry ships were also utilized to scan for any immediate threats during transport, such as any threats to Giel's secret armada. The Imperial Navy also utilized IR-3F patrol craft and later IPV-1 System Patrol Crafts to monitor areas rife with piracy and smuggling. IPV/4 patrol ships were also utilized by the Imperial Navy.
In addition, ISP-6 Imperial Shuttle Pods were often deployed from much larger shuttle craft. Something similar existed with the SkyBlind reconnaissance ship for planetary exploration and reconnaissance. They could also deploy droids to scan areas for enemy activity via specialized pods, such as the Predator Is used to drop Viper probe droids to scan for Rebel activity in the Elrood system.
The Imperial Navy also owned the LightStealth-18 Reconnaissance Ship which was capable of silent running. They also had long-range scout shuttles such as the Mu-class shuttle. The Empire's scout of choice, however, was the MRX-BR Pacifier. They were also known to have tens of thousands of PB-950 patrol boats, even when the line itself was discontinued after the Clone Wars. In addition, one of the roles of the VT-49 Decimator was reconnaissance, and could also picket ships among Imperial fleets, with its versatility making it one of the most feared vessels in the Imperial Navy.
The TIE series also had some fighters designed specifically for scout work. The TIE/fc starfighter, for example, while overall resembling a TIE/LN, was actually intended to scan for enemy bases to transmit back to the Imperial Navy. The TIE/rc starfighter had a similar design and purpose as the TIE/fc, although it instead targeted fleets and starfighter wings for reconnaissance. The TIE Vanguard was an upgraded version of the latter TIE fighter. Lastly, the TIE/sr starfighter, or TIE Scout, was a limited production TIE-series fighter that was intended to scout out enemies via advanced reconnaissance equipment, and was one of the few fighters of the TIE series to be equipped with a hyperdrive.
The TIE infiltrator was a TIE Starfighter variant that, given its name, specialized in infiltration-based missions.
Some scout ships utilized by the Imperial Navy were civilian in nature, such as the Lone Scout-A.
During the events of the Dark Empire, the Imperial Navy also utilized long range intercept starships called Imperial hunters.
The only known attempt for stealth fighters were the TIE/ph phantom, which was developed with a built-in cloaking device. Although they saw usage, their development ended up terminated after the Rebel Alliance destroyed a significant portion of the TIE Phantom production facility, and the sole remaining prototype self-destructed before they could retrieve any data on it. However, several surviving TIE Phantoms still remained in Imperial custody, albeit heavily restricted to only the most skilled of their pilots.
Aside from the TIE/ph, there was also the TIE stealth, which was a TIE/LN starfighter line that was modified to carry cloaking devices. Two were used during the Second Imperium Crisis by the Second Imperium splinter faction of the reorganized Imperial Remnant, with one eventually being hijacked by Jaina Solo Fel.
Although not as plentiful as manned starfighters or regular fighters, the Imperial Navy does make use of various unmanned starfighters, or droid models.
Missile droids were tripod unmanned fighters that could unleash a barrage of missiles at its enemies. They were most famously stationed at Dubrillion, where they guarded a superlaser testbed during the Battle of Dubrillion.
During Grand Admiral Thrawn's reign of the Empire, the Imperial Navy utilized several TIE/D automated starfighters which were run by a droid brain. They were fierce in battle.
During the Dark Empire, Palpatine utilized degrees of Sith alchemy to create biomechanical constructs called Shadow Droids that could be used to participate in starfighter battles. They were manned with organic brain-like cores.
Bombers were also utilized by the Imperial Navy to flush out enemies or otherwise total enemy bases/ships.
One of the more famous bombers within the Imperial Navy was the TIE/sa bomber, which carried a secondary hull that could be used to launch two general purpose warheads, although people using it as a secondary transport was another unplanned factor. It was the successor of the TIE/gt starfighter, which served a dual starfighter-bomber role. In addition, the TIE/sa bomber also had further improvements by adding more launcher hulls: Adding in an additional launcher hull created the TIE Heavy Bomber, while adding an additional pair to the left of the TIE's cockpit module created the TIE/IT Interdictor starfighter, with the latter having the role of a heavy space/planetary bomber. Besides the TIE/sa bomber and its various relatives, the Imperial Navy also had the Scimitar assault bomber and the TIE Oppressor, the latter of which was meant to be a light bomber, but had poor performance due to it using an earlier TIE engine that was incompatible with its needs. The Scimitar assault bomber was successful enough that it eventually got an upgraded version, called the Scimitar Mark II.
Bombers also were utilized by the successors to the Galactic Empire, and thus to the Imperial Navy. The Sith–Imperial attack ship was utilized exclusively by Darth Krayt's Sith Empire, while the Neutralizer-class bomber was utilized both Krayt's empire and the Fel Empire.
Although technically of the capital ship class due to being gunboats, blastboats were utilized to some capacity as Starfighters due to their comparatively small size and heavy armament having them act as an in-between stage for capital ships and Starfighters, with their also being called heavy starfighters. The most famous example of blastboats in the Empire was the GAT Blastboat series, which included the GAT-12 Skipray Blastboat as well as several variants thereof. These variants included the GAT-12g (possessed a tractor beam instead of the missile launcher used for its successor models), the GAT-12h (the most popular model), the GAT-12i (had some improvements over the "h" model, but saw limited release), the GAT-12j (possessing larger ammunition bays as well as more evenly distributed gunnery duties), the GAT-12m (with faster realspace and hyperdrive engines), and the GAT-12p (featuring an improved sensor array).
Some TIEs were also developed under the TIE Experimental Project. They were listed by M and a number between 1 and 5.
The TIE Experimental M1, codenamed the TIE Bizzaro, was a TIE variant with two pods, one at the starboard and one at the port, connected by a single TIE wing. The starboard pod was where the main controls were, and the port pod contained a cannon. Despite its odd design, it was slightly faster than the TIE/LN, and could also utilize a hyperdrive, although it was slaved and required a control ship to gain permission.
The TIE Experimental M2, codenamed the TIE BigGun, was similar overall to the TIE/LN, but had its chin-mounted cannons removed, and its wings equipped with turbolaser turrets.
The TIE Experimental M3, codenamed the TIE Warhead, was similar overall to the TIE/IN, but had its standard cannons removed, with its wings being equipped with warhead launchers.
The TIE Experimental M4, codenamed the TIE Bomb, was not actually a fighter or manned. Instead, it was a cruise missile modelled after the TIE series, and was packed with enough explosives to have five times the kamikaze destructive power of the TIE/LN.
The TIE Experimental M5, codenamed the TIE Booster, was a fighter that overall resembled the TIE/LN, but had a massive booster engine attached to the aft of the vessel, ensuring it had a lot of speed output.
Although they saw some usage, they were discontinued after the Rebel Alliance destroyed the main research platform for the TIE Experimental Project, the space platform Obsidian.
The Imperial Navy also had some designs for starfighters that were either cancelled before implementation, served as a test bed only, was deliberately destroyed to prevent the enemy from using it, or otherwise were left unknown regarding their developmental status.
During the early days of the Galactic Empire, due to Palpatine's warmongering ways, the Imperial Navy had developed some prototypes for new starfighters. However, several of them, according to then-graduate Laurita Tohm, had bugs in the system regarding the ejection seat and controls resulting in it being unpredictable: Sometimes, it will eject without problems, but other times the fighter will end up self destructing accidentally when commanded to eject, incinerating the pilot in the process, or otherwise smash the occupant through the roof due to the ejection door failing to open.
Various Advanced models besides the Advanced x1 were also developed to act as testbeds, including the TIE/x2 starfighter, the TIE/x3 starfighter, and the TIE/Ad x7. The x2 and x3's fates are unclear, although the x7 eventually acted as the basis for the TIE/D Defender.
The Rebel Alliance's T-65 X-wing starfighters had originally been developed for Imperial use. However, the engineering team responsible for developing the fighters ended up defecting to the Rebels, and also took the plans and prototype with them, preventing the Empire from seeing a use for them. The VGK-3 Shooting Star shared a similar story, where it was a high-performance prototype meant for Imperial use, but ended up stolen by Rebel agents (who would themselves ironically see it stolen from them before it could see mass-production by both Bryce Agoris and Myrgaanti Shi-Iki).
The TIE Phantom prototype, after most of the TIE Phantoms were destroyed by the Rebel Alliance, had been stolen by the Alliance. However, a self-destruct protocol was armed in case someone stole it and tried to access its data, ensuring that the Rebels could not gain any secrets.
The Sealion was a Missile Boat prototype. After the line was created, the Sealion had been stolen by Zaarin when the latter staged a coup against the Emperor, which in turn ended up stolen when one of his officers, Namuura Din, defected to the Rebels. The Sealion was ultimately recovered by the Imperials before the Rebels got a chance to analyze the ship, although it nonetheless resulted in the Missile Boat line being locked down until further notice under the Emperor's order both due to the theft as well as Zaarin destroying the production facilities.
An upgrade to the TIE/sa bomber, called the TIE Bomber Mark 2, was proposed by Captain Tomax Bren, although it never got off the ground. Despite this, elements of the proposed design found its way into the Scimitar assault bomber.
Like any Naval organization throughout the history of the galaxy, the Imperial Navy also had several support ships at its disposal. The support vessels are often required because Star Destroyers are generally too large to make planetary landings, requiring the Imperial Navy to employ many types of shuttles and transports to move personnel and equipment from a Destroyer to a planet's surface, as well as make transfers between ships in a fleet.
The Imperial Navy had various logistics vessels for transporting supplies and necessary goods. The Altor-class replenishment ships were refueling stations often accompanying a fleet, and were capable of refueling both an Allegiance-class battlecruiser and an Assertor-class Star Dreadnought at the same time. The Combat utility vehicle likewise could reload and refuel starfighters or gunships. Carillion-class starships were also utilized as logistics sometimes.
The Class-7 Repair Vessel was also used for repairing and supplying logistics to mining companies. In addition, the logistics covered a wide area of fields, such as communications, handled by the Imperial communications ship and Tech 4 Plexus Droid Vessels; customs and courier-related duties such as the Harbinger courier ship, the Star Courier and the Imperial Customs Frigate; Medical-related duties such as the Medstar-class frigate; factory and repair work such as Factory ships, which included the Arc Hammer, and the mobile repair base; and prisoner transports such as the Imperial Leviathan and the modular taskforce cruisers. In addition, logistics vessels also supply air support at times, such as the Star Cruiser. The ISB is sometimes involved in logistics for the Imperial Navy and other Imperial Military factions, even supplying Operations Vessels for the occasion. Trenchant-class cruisers also played some role in logistics.
They could also transport various people, even dignitaries, via logistics vessels, such as the C-3 passenger liner.
In 0 BBY, the Death star also had several complement craft that were stationed near the battlestation, namely to refill the station's supplies.
The Modular Taskforce Cruisers were also utilized most frequently under the Dark Empire. Worldcraft also sometimes acted as logistic vessels.
Freighters and transports
The Imperial Navy also had access to several freighters and transport craft. Many of them did not possess weaponry, but some did, such as the Imperial Patrol Ship, a militarized version of the Action IV transport. They also made use of the Action VI transports, and utilized various bulk freighters such as the BFF-1 and the Class VI. It also utilized several Container transports. The Imperial transports/freighters served a multitude of purposes, such as fuel transports via the Imperial tankers, cargo transports via the Imperial cargo ships, heavily armored transports via the Imperial Armored Transports, and regular transports via the Imperial transports and the Imperial troop transports.
Besides transporting things within the vessels, various freighters and transports in the Imperial Navy also utilized several external means of transportation, such as the CT-11 space tug, the Hauler-2 cargo tug, the Utility Tugs and the Heavy Lifter.
The Imperial Navy also made use of prison transport ships, such as the Imperial prison barge as well as the Purgatory-class prison ship, the Concealer-class Prison Ship and the various dungeon ships like the Kiltirin-class and Lictor-class dungeon ships.
Some freighters and transports, however, had a far more insidious purpose, such as the Imperial extermination ships, as well as several massive Imperial freighters that drained the planet of Gholondreine-β of its entire water supply as both punishment and an example of the Empire's power.
The Imperial Navy also had transports and freighters constantly stationed at their various battle stations, such as the various complementary craft around the Death Star, and the various cargo vessels and support transports near the Tarkin.
Although the Imperial Navy was not known to use the YT-1300 light freighter, it did once create a near-exact replica of the Millennium Falcon, the ship of Rebel mercenary and later General Han Solo as part of a trap.
The Field Secured Container Vessel was a multi-part vessel that could transport multiple spherical items across the Galaxy for the Empire to use.
The GR-75 medium transports were also utilized by the Imperial Navy, as were various other transports such as the YT-2400 light freighter, the Xiytiar-class transport, the Omega-class freighters, the Star Galleon-class frigates, the Guardian-class patrol ships, Evakmar-KDY transports, and the MB-C1 medium transports. StarTrains were also utilized for transportation.
Dropships and landing craft
The Imperial Navy also possessed several landing craft, dropships and boarding craft for various direct military operations. The Acclamator-class transport drop ships, modeled after the Clone Wars Acclamator-class assault ships, delivered troops directly to the field of combat. Several Clone Wars-era vessels were also utilized, such as the CR25 troop carrier and the Low Altitude Assault Transport/infantry.
During the early stages of the Galactic Civil War, boarding torpedoes were utilized, where they were shot out of a TIE variant to send various personnel into a craft. Similar boarding vessels, called Imperial Boarding Pods and Imperial Drill Pod Boarding Craft, were frequently shot out of Star Destroyers with several stormtrooper attachments, most notably being used during the Battle of Kamino during the Galactic Civil War. They can also send some via hyperspace, such as the Dark Trooper hyperspace capsule.
Dropships were also utilized during various operations, notable examples being the Armored Interface Craft-4, the Imperial dropship, the Imperial Dropship Transport, Imperial Troop Drop Pods, the F7 "Landing Brick" Drop-Ships used by Grand Admiral Thrawn, the MT/191 drop-ships, the Warlord Dropships, Y-85 Titan dropships, the CR25 troop carriers, and the Imperial launches. The IF-120 landing craft were also utilized, as well.
Some transports also had a degree of weaponry onboard, making them attack or assault transports, such as the M-class Imperial Attack Transports, the LAAT/i and its variants, and the Multi-Altitude Assault Transports.
Some vessels also deliver military hardware instead of soldiers, such as the Theta-class AT-AT barge, which delivers All Terrain Armored Transports. The TIE series also has a transport variant known as the TIE lander.
Even after the restructuring of the Imperial Navy under the Galactic Empire's change to the Imperial Remnant, landing craft and dropships still saw some use, such as the All Terrain Rapid Deployment Pod.
Utility and troop shuttles
The Imperial Navy utilized several Utility and troop shuttles in their operations, which were designed specifically for troops and small arms utility.
The Assault transports were often deployed to send troops to occupy a planet. The Gamma-class assault shuttles, Multi-Altitude Assault Transports, and Gamma-class ATR-6 assault transports had similar purposes.
The Delta-class DX-9 stormtrooper transports transported stormtroopers to the field.
They also made use of shuttles. Some were used to transport high-ranking officers, such as the Imperial state ships, the Clone Wars-era Theta-class T-2c shuttles, and the Lambda-class T-4a shuttles. Others, such as the Delta-class shuttles, the Curich-class shuttles, the Grek-class troop shuttles, and the Mu-series shuttles, including the Mu-class Model 1 shuttles, the Mu-class Model 2 shuttles, and the Mu-class Model 3 shuttles, the Peth-class shuttles, Sigma-class shuttles, and the Tribune-class shuttles transported regular troops. Gamma-class Light Personnel Carriers were also utilized as well.
The TIE series came up with two boarding shuttles, the TIE/br boarding shuttle and the TIE/sh VIP shuttle. The former was generally utilized as a means for boarding enemy vessels, retrieving life boats, and/or doing quick extractions of captured personnel, while the latter was a short-range quick response transport for various Imperial VIPs, although it was unpopular compared to the Lambda-class T-4a shuttle.
There were also Imperial-class shuttles, such as the Svelte-class.
Long range shuttles were also in use, such as the Zeta-class long-range shuttle
Immediately prior to the Galactic Civil War, the secret apprentice to Vader as well as the de-facto founder of the Rebel Alliance, Starkiller, real name Galen Marek, utilized the stealth transport known as the Rogue Shadow.
The successors of the Galactic Empire, and by extension, the Imperial Navy, also utilized shuttlecraft, with the Sigma-class long-range shuttles being utilized exclusively by the Fel Empire and the Nune-class Imperial shuttle being utilized by both the Fel Empire and Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire.
There were other ships that were involved to some extent with the Imperial Navy, but either had an unconfirmed classification or otherwise was not directly part of the Imperial Navy.
The Speizoc-g2000-equipped Carillion-class starships were involved to some extent with the Imperial Navy. Similarly the Thran-class vessels were assigned to the Imperial Navy shortly after the Battle of Yavin.
The ISB Operations Ship, belonging to the Imperial Security Bureau, was not actually part of the Imperial Navy, as it was a separate organization. However, it has sometimes been assigned to the Naval Forces.
The Aramadia of the Black Sword Command Sector Army, or Black Fleet, was labeled as a Super Star Destroyer, although it was not specified whether it was of the Star Dreadnought class or the battlecruiser class. Similarly, another Super Star Destroyer was also among the Black Sword Command Sector Army, although it was never specified whether it was of the Star Dreadnought class or the battlecruiser class.
The TIE/HU Hunters were technically part of the Storm Commandos of the Stormtrooper Corps, although they have sometimes been assigned to the Imperial Navy.
Behind the scenes
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, 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.
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