23 May 2021

FWS Topics: Will Nautical Navies Coexist with Space Fleets?

One of the most common elements of the genre of military science fiction is that of a space fleet or space navy. Most of the fictional space naval organizations are also based around Terran navies. Whether it be on the Galactica, or the Enterprise, or the Pillar of Autumn, there are elements of the old wet navy still hanging around, even lightyears from Earth and its oceans. However, will the conventional nautical navies disappear once humanity colonizes the stars? In this installment of FWS, we will exploring that very topic if wet navies will still exist after the emergence of a space fleet.

Framework for this Article
Given the unique nature of the title, I thought it would be best to discuss the framework of this article. The purposes of this article is to explore the question if nautical navies will coexist with space fleets that operate under an interstellar military organization that is charged with defending Terra and her colonies. This article is not considering futuristic navies and their ships if there is not a parallel outer space force. We will also be discussing some of the dual-use space/water craft seen in sci-fi as well. 

The Two Perspectives on the Future of Nautical Navy in a Post-Colonial Era

1. The Earthbound Nautical Navy in the Post-Colonization Era
There is a common backstory in most military science fiction tales: humanity colonizes the stars, but Terra remains an important world, if not the capital of the future interstellar government. Often, the Sol system is heavily guard (not if you are in Federation) by a space fleet and the space marines. What about the oceans of Earth? Would the united Earth still field a nautical naval force to patrol and defend the waters of Terra? In a way, yes, but it is different than you might be thinking. Instead of navy that is focused on projecting power on the high seas and protecting our shores or even providing support to land combat operations, the post-colonization nautical nay will be focused on law enforcement patrols, providing search-and-rescue, and various scientific duties. Of course, that depends on the nature of the fictional universe we are discussing, but in general, there will not be a need to have futuristic aircraft carriers patrolling the oceans if Earth is united and off-world colonization is undergoing. I think that this far-future wet navy will be very similar to the coast guard of present.

2. Off-World Nautical Navies in the Post-Colonization Era
In the above scenario, Terra is united and humanity is exploring and settling the stars. The type of world that are encountered, and possibly Terraformed, will determine if some sort of aquatic armed force is needed. This will also greatly depend on the geopolitical nature of the galaxy, relations between Terra and her colonies, and relations with alien species. Some colonized worlds could only need an off-world Coast Guard that performs law enforcement duties, search-and-rescue, and patrolling. Other colonized worlds could need a more beefier naval presence with armed seagoing warships. 
With any discussing of off-world naval organizations, there is the matter of starlifting the watercraft to the colony that is likely dozens of lightyears away and logistically supporting these off-world navies. Each colonized world could be responsible for raising, training, and supporting the sailors of these alien oceans, or they could be assigned via the Terran government. Some of the reality of an interstellar government fielding an off-world navy will be based on money and maybe some of the more "important" colonial worlds will get the protection of seaborne naval vessels, while the "less important" colonial worlds will not.    

The Tactical Importance of Off-World Oceans in Space Combat
Since the beginning of organized warfare between governments or tribes, water has been a factor, but will it be in future conflicts among the stars. Let us consider the strategic importance of water in space warfare. One of the important differences between the US and the Russian space programs was where they landed their returning spacecrafts when the US and Russia were both using space capsules and course currently as well. The United States used water as the type of terrain to land their spacecrafts while the Russians used land. This was mostly due to geography considerations. The US had large coastlines on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, while the Soviets did not. Russian did have vast tracts of lands that were well within their borders and the cosmonauts could be safety picked up. Due to their landing on Terra Firma, the Soviet Space Program used to issue the oddball TP-82 Survival Gun in the Soyuz capsules due to the likelihood of landing in a isolated and dangerous part of the Russian wilderness. 
As we currently use water has a platform for space travel, it will also be important for planetary defense and spacecraft operations as well. With the use of water for spacecraft landing operations, dropship's DZ, and even as a an aquatic runway as we have seen in Jerry Pournelle's CoDominion series and King David's spaceship along with use of the water for alien invasion on Earth in Battle Los Angeles and Macross/ROBOTECH. This could mean that if the enemy could use the open waters of a colonial world for spacedropping their invading shocktroops and mecha, than it might be a good idea to have an naval force-in-readiness to patrol and counter the threat while the invaders are at their weakest. 

The 8 Reasons Why a Nautical Navy should Exist Alongside a Space Fleet
Here is a list of the 8 reason that FWS has come up with to justify the existence of a seaborne navy along side an space fleet. 
  1. An Nautical Navy branch of an interstellar military organization could serve as a budget training
    arm for the new recruits into the space fleet. The wet navy could instill the proper military mindset, discipline, and naval tradition. In addition, new recruits could be learn about the living conditions onboard space fleet vessels via surface and submarine vessels of the nautical navy. Risky EVAs could be simulated in training tanks as NASA currently does in Houston. 
  2. Some missions are difficult to nearly impossible to achieve from orbit, like tracking and destroying submerged targets, naval boarding of suspected merchant ships, and eyes-on identification of underwater objects. 
  3. With any colonial world's ability for sea-based launching and/or landing in large bodies of water via floating launch platforms would require protection and/or attacking those targets. For example, those targets could be something like the Sea Dragon missile, the SpaceX ocean-based landing platform, space elevator, and water splash-down zones. This would apply to any commercial venture within the alien waters, like modern day oil rigs. Much like modern naval forces, the job of these off-world navies would be protect/destroy/control those aquatic assets. In addition, the off-world navy would be charged with protecting the local shipping lanes.  
  4. Much like launching and landing at oceans instead of dry land, it would be easier for your drop-shuttles and drop-modules to land in the water rather than using VTOL. It would also be easier to land in the oceans and avoid any planetary defensive batteries. Given this fact, some naval attack craft could locate and deal with the incoming threat while they are still unpacking.
  5.  There could be a planetary defensive role for our friend the ballistic submarine. Basically, subs are mobile deep-sea missile silos that could avoid orbital surveillance and attacks. If the enemy doesn't have planetside presence to track and hunt down these attack missile submarines those mobile missile silos could be design to be much effective compare to current submarines. Since these planetary defense submarines would not be hunted by other subs, you would not need to make these as quite or go as deep, saving money. If there are no advantages of sea-based platforms over land-based against enemy in orbit, then there is still the issue of the horizon. Every weapon platform, be it land or sea, have the planet as a huge blind spot underneath it that prevents the weapon system from detecting and tracking enemy in close orbits and in the case of line of sight weapons, like practically anything that isn't surface to orbit missiles, to attack and destroy the threat. Again to the "shore cannons" analogy, to defend an island against naval force you need to place cannons around all of the island perimeter, leave a spot unprotected and you got yourself an enemy beachhead in your front yard. By same logic, you need to place the platforms all around the planet with no gaps in your detecting and firing arcs. If most of this colonized planet is water (like Earth), there will be need to have sea-base weapons platforms.
  6. One of the most common reasons for a wet naval force in sci-fi, is planets with aquatic aliens,
    either native to planet or not. This could cause the need for occupying military to have naval forces. if the population, cities, industrial centers and armed forces of the enemy aren't in land (if planet even have land) the target of invading aggressor will be the seas and we need a navy to reach them and destroy them. This likely similar to some of the ideas for the sequel to Avatar
  7. Any off-world naval force of a united colonial world ( unified in peace, or by company loyalty, or under the boot of some oppressive politic entity) could be used as a "coast guard" in peacetime and be able to switch over a combat naval force when the enemy drop-pods show up.  
  8. Any native hostile exo-species exists within the alien oceans of a colonized world needs to be monitored, culled, and suppressed fueling the needs for a waterborne force. Waterbug hunt I guess?
Could Spaceship be used as Watercraft?
One common element that is often mentioned in this topic is spacecraft that blur the line between spacecraft and watercraft and can be used interchangeable between both extreme environments. This can be seen in the Terran battleship Yamato, the Xindi-Insectoid assault shuttle from Enterprise, the Monean vessels from ST:VOY, and the Kymellian SmartShips like Friday from Earth-616 from PowerPack. Given how common this is in sci-fi, could it be reasonable for a interstellar military organization just carry duel-use combat vessels to serve both on the waves and among the stars? 
The answer is basically no. The propulsion needs are quite different along with the structural tolerances need for both types of environments. There is the weight issue. Take the NASA STS Space Shuttles, which weight in at 165,000 pounds for a fully loaded orbiter...that does not include the booster rockets either. The entire Space Shuttle launch system weights in at 4.4 million tons. The declassified weight for the USN Virginia class nuclear-powered fast attack submarine is 7,900 submerged tons. Big difference there and that would impact starlift capability to go from sea-to-stars-to-sea. While science fiction makes it look easy and possible, within the harsh realities of the real-world, it would be not that easy. There have been many  a work and a public concept that starships and starship combat would be Das Boot in outer space (as seen the Wing Commander "movie"). Starships and submarines are different animals created for warfare in two very different environments. 

Off-World Watercraft in the Real-World: The NASA Titan Submarine Probe
One of the oddest moons in all of our solar system is the Saturn moon of Titan. This yellowish moon that is about the same size as Mercury has a dense atmosphere and liquid methane oceans on its surface with one large body of liquid hydrocarbons being the polar Kraken Mare. NASA has envisioned the design of an robotic warercraft or even submarine probe to explore these alien oceans. The Titan Sub is underdevelopment and testing to see if it could actually be a unmanned robotic mission. The earliest for the Titan Sub robot probe is sometime in the 2030's. There is also the Titan Mare Explorer that is cheaper, similar water-lander to float and study the exo-oceans. It is likely that the TME would be the more likely first step to the Titan Sub robot. 

From the Desk of Fox Mulder: The USO...Real-World Dual-Use Craft?
While the current understanding of physics and material sciences tells us that a dual-use space and water craft could not really exist. And then there are the hundreds of cases of sightings of UFOs near or in the water with the most public being the Gulf Breeze UFO sightings in 1987 through 1988. The underwater UFOs or USOs, are often seen launching themselves from the water into the air and possibly into space and the reverse has also been seen as well. One popular story that that has been liberally mined by the History Channel is the possible existence of alien underwater bases and these are the Earthbound destinations for the USOs seen over the last decades. 
One of the hallmarks of the USO is that these craft do not create a splash. This is likely due to some sort of energy barrier that the craft generates to prevent splashing and moving in and out of water. this field that the UFO/USO generates could be the way that these alien craft are able to be a dual-use vehicle and if they did it, we will at some point in our future history. However, these UFO/USO vehicles are not warships (hopefully!) and so that elements reminds to be seen. As this article was being written, there was a leaked US Navy captured 2019 video of a USO off of the coast of San Diego, California by the USS Omaha, a member of the new Independence class Littoral combat ship. If UFOs are able to traverse the realm of space and water seamlessly, they could be a real-world example of a dual-use space and water craft. 

Bottom line: Will Nautical Navies Coexist with Space Fleets?
Honestly, I think it greatly depends on a great deal of factors. We know that liquid water exists on exo-planets and if we can, those worlds will be prime interstellar real estate for colonization Off-world watercraft would be needed to explore these alien bodies of water. Depending on the realities of human politics, these alien oceans could be much like Earth's: patrolled by armed watercraft to protect commercial enterprise and travel of the different human colonial governments and territories. After all, these bodies of liquid water would be one of the most critical elements for long-term survival of the colony. This was seen in the the creation of the Sea-Squadron force on Glorie in Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross series. Any watercraft on these new alien worlds will be armed in one way or another for simple self-purposes and the bodies of water will be used for space travel and commerce...it depends on how the people in the colony get along depends on the need for a military force. This also depends on the realities of any hostiles with alien species that be native to the world or are spacefaring. In the end, I think that an off-world coast guard is the future of nautical navies among the stars.   

Sci-Fi and the Relationship between Space Fleets & Nautical Naval Forces
There are some bedrock concepts within the realm of science fiction and military science fiction that define it has the genre it is. One of is the space fleet and it has been a part of science fiction and military sci-fi since the one of the founding classics of both genres: 1898's  Edison's Conquest of Mars by Garrett P. Serviss. Through the decades, the works by E.E. "Doc" Smith, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Star Trek, and Forbidden Planet all served to indoctrinate the general public on this trope of space navies in science fiction. Many of the space fleets were created by those that had served in the armed forces, including the Navy and Air Force, like Robert Heinlein and Gene Roddenberry. Those early space fleets in sci-fi were based on naval traditions, but instead of the oceans, these ships navigated the sea of stars. 
This brings about an odd turn of events, the space navy replaces nearly all mention of an seaborne naval organization in science fiction. Few titles or works show or include nautical naval organizations coexisting along side the space fleet. Why? Well, if we are apply the "rule of cool" trope we can see one reason. Modern humans have been taking to the seas and oceans of Earth for about 64,000 years and our early human ancestors were embarking on sea voyages even earlier. This means that ocean-going craft are the common and the familiar...they have lost some of their cool and ability to be used by creators. It is just much cooler to have spaceborne warships of all shapes, sizes, and technological level. After all, the exploration and colonization of the cosmos is the point of the vast majority of sci-fi tales. Another reason for the simple lack of aquatic naval organizations is setting and worldbuilding.
Often, most creators turn to space marines and space fleets for the members of fictional interstellar military organizations. These organizations are charged with defending the homeworld, her colonies, and the borders out in the black. It could be that either the story framework does not or want a nautical navy or the creator simply overlooks the possible of including a off-world seaborne force. They might even concern these ocean-going navies as "old-fashioned". 
Another reason could be that while creators of their own sci-fi universes can imagine whatever they want, there is difficult bring that vision into the real world with the realities of special effects, money, pacing, story, and audience. This is why some of the examples listed here are merely mentions in lines of dialog or on a page in a book. While these factors would impact live-action productions, the world of comics, video games, manga, animation, anime, and RPGs have more embraced nautical navies coexisting with space fleets. However, it is still very rare and often that either the space fleet or the nautical navy are more limited than the other. It is very much more rare to see an off-world nautical navy operating on settled worlds. Often in sci-fi, the nautical navy operates on Earth. Some RPG systems like Traveller and Battletech have shown both existing for the purpose of better RPG worldbuilding and gaming scenarios.  


The Federation Naval Patrol from Star Trek Voyager
In a nearly thrown away line in 9th episode in the 5th season, Tom Paris mentions that he wanted to join something called “The Federation Naval Patrol” after high school and his father refused to allow him to join this organization instead of Starfleet. There is nothing else mentioned, in either the episode or in later episodes, of the Federation Naval Patrol ever again. However, I guess it is canon and we can assume that the FNP is a nautical organization that patrols and carries out scientific missions the oceans of various worlds in the Federation, like Pacifica, Arcadia, and Xelata. Within Beta Canon sources, some believe that 20th century transplant, Dr. Gillian Taylor, was a member of the Federation Naval Patrol given the mission of the oceanic exploration.

The SHADO Skydiver From U.F.O
One of the crazy 1970's sci-fi TV series is Gerry Anderson's UFO. Running just a single season in 1970 in the United Kingdom, the series and its human defense force against aliens has been a great influence on creators to this day. On the series, key Terran governments establish SHADO to defend Terra and her people against alien UFOs and prevent a full-scale alien invasion. To do this, SHADO has a base on Luna with Lunar interceptor craft, sea-based interceptor vessels, known as the Skydiver submarines. The Skydiver submarines in service launched endoatmospheric interceptor aircraft to down UFOs. 

The Royal Navy from Star Trek: Enterprise
During the run of Star Trek: TNG and Star Trek: Enterprise, a wee bit of a mystery was injected into the post-World War III history of Terra that considered the British Royal Navy and its continued operation during as humanity reached out to the stars. During two episodes of ST:ENT, Armory Officer Lt. Malcolm Reed tells the tale of the nuclear-power Royal Navy submarine, the HMS Clement, and his great-uncle that served on this doomed vessel. Accord to Reed’s father, the Reeds had been a longline of Navy men and Malcolm was the first to break that tradition. From that, we can assume that Reed’s father. Stuart, was also in the service of the Royal Navy. After the 3rd World War and likely after the flight of the Phoenix, the HMS Clement was assigned to a patrol the artic circle and ran into a leftover minefield. Reed’s Great-Uncle made sure the crew got to the escape pods at the cost of his own life. 
Why would there be a nuclear Royal Navy submarine operating after “world peace”? Why it is never explained fully, speculation by fans and FWS is that submarine could have been part of a mission to deactivate leftover mines, been part of orbital defense by using the missiles onboard for ASAT/ABM duties or even knocking out orbital threats. After all, a submerged submarine could be difficult to hit by orbital units. For the 2nd season of TNG episode “Up the Long Ladder”, the story explore the shotgun history of 22nd century colonization efforts before the foundation of the UESPA. There were two Royal Navy ships that were sent out during this period of time: The HMS New Zealand and the HMS Nelson. These are believed to be Liberty-Class General Dynamics/Boeing DY class that were designed to be a sort of “interplanetary modular spaceframe” that could be used for hauling cargo, be a sleeper-ship, or a limited combat vessel as seen in the  First Battle of Altair VI during the Romulan War.

The Gamilon Type 1 Submerged Attack Craft from Space Cruiser Yamato
In the 8th episode of the original Space Cruiser Yamato TV series, the Yamato is forced into the icy oceans of Pluto during an failed assault on the massive alien base there that is the source of the radiation bombs. Some 400 meters below the surface, the Yamato rests and plans an assault on the Gamilon base when the Yamato is assaulted by a number of Gamilon Type 1 submerged attack craft. There in the waters of Pluto, the Yamato and the alien fast attack subs engage in a torpedo battle. You gotta hand to the Gamilons here, they defend the Pluto installation above and below with custom designed defensive craft for the local exo-environments. Of course, there are a number of times that the Yamato finds herself in water by the desires of the production staff due to her origins as a World War II Imperial Japanese super battleship. 

Various naval craft from the Battletech Universe
As many of you know, I grew up playing Battletech during the 1980's and it left a huge mark on me. During the 1990's, I was buying the old FASA Technical Readout books and it surprised me that in the pages of Technical Readout 3026, that several watergoing craft are included in the armies of the Inner Sphere. This was my introduction to the concept of nautical navies coexisting with space fleets. Two interesting things are mention in the 3026 Techincal Readout. One is of the Neptune submarine that is used by House Davion, the rulers of the Federated Suns. With the prime target of planetary invasion being the C3 center, House Davion placed them underwater to avoid assault by mechs and aerocraft. 
The protection of these underwater C3 centers was the submarines. In another profile of a watercraft, the Monitor naval vessel, the Technical Readout of 3026 discusses a great deal the 31st century perspective on nautical navies. Some worlds convert river-going craft for planetary defense and guerrilla suppression activities, this was the Monitor class. In another profile of another watercraft, the books states that after the exodus from Earth, the wet navies of old disappeared due to these settled worlds did not need nautical navies to sink another navy's warships. However, after the fall of the Star League, all bets were off and planetary invasion was a real danger. Some worlds turned to modern combat watercraft to be used for planetary defense.  

Various naval craft from the DUNE Universe
In one of the 3 novels of the Prelude to DUNE novels by the son of the late great Frank Herbert, there is some mention made of the "seapower" of Caladan ruling House Atredis. During tensions with House Harkonen, the Atredis placed fake guns of some type on the fishing boat fleets that operated in the coeans of Caladan. When House Harkonen attack Caladan, this creation of a "Potemkin Navy" was to scare out the invading force. 

The UNSC Maritime Operations from the HALO Universe
Within the armed forces of the UNSC, there is two naval organizations and they are very different. One being the celebrated UNSC Navy that defender the colonies and Terra against the alien horde during the Human-Covenant War...and the other is the UNSC Maritime Navy. The "wet navy" as it is called is devoted to maritime operation both on Terra and on UNSC worlds with large bodies of liquid water. The mission of the UNSC wet navy was to provide nautical security, patrol, and coastal support of near-water operations with other UNSC service branches. During times of armed conflict, the UNSC Maritime Operations was maintain "sea-control" and aid in any other operations as needed. During peacetime, the Maritime Operations forces conducted law-enforcement type duties, enforced maritime laws, and provide security. To aid in their mission, this branch of the UNSC was given a range of nautical warships, patrol vessels, aircraft, carriers, and even submarines. While this sounds solid, in practice, the UNSC Maritime Operations forces were a joke among other UNSC branches, civilians, and even themselves. Often disrespected as little more than water police force by civilians and the UNSC Navy, the men and women that served in the UNSCMO were seen as less than by both military and civilian worlds. This is partly due to the fact that UNSC Navy and Marines dumped their problem cases into the ranks of the MO. During the bloody and costly war with the vast forces of the Covenant, the UNSC Maritime Operations suffered the less combat losses of any branch and most of their losses came during planetary glassing operations. Sometimes, the aliens would not even engage the combat vessels of the MO. With the reconstruction of the colonies, the UNSC military, and society at large, the future of the UNSCMO remains to be seen and unlikely to survive.    

The Armies of the Southern Cross Sea Squadron from the ROBOTECH Universe
With the 2nd portion of the ROBOTECH TV show culled from another Studio Nue series, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, there was odd bleed over from the original story of the human colonial world of Glorie and a post-holocaust Earth as seen in ROBOTECH. One of the elements that was odd was the Armies of the Southern Cross Sea Squadron. This division of the AOTSC was profiled in the RPG and the Robotech Art 1 book. In those sources, the Sea Squad was the naval branch of the AOTSC and it was used for patrol of the Earth's oceans and larger bodies of war. Much of the big hardware for the AOTSC Sea Squad came from items leftover from the 1st Robotech War, like the 
The navy branch of the military is the Sea the SLV Beachmaster Class Vessels and CVS Submersible Aircraft Carriers. The men and women of the Sea Squad were trained in underwater combat as well as scientific exploration. The duties of the Sea Squad ranged from underwater reconnaissance, SAR operations, direct combat, demolitions and recovery. Due to the reconstruct of Terran society, one massive project directly involves the Sea Squad, the underwater city near the NW coast of Australia. Much of this branch of the AOTSC is absorbed by the underwater city project. Given their unqiue mission and operational area, the Sea Squad used little in the way of traditional mecha save for the Logan class fighter that is stationed on carriers and bases. 

The Minbari Navy from the Babylon 5 Universe
In the pages of the Mongoose Babylon 5 RPG Fact Book about the Minbari Federation, there is a section devoted for the Minbari Navy on pages 83-84: "The meager aquatic resources of Minbar prevented the race from developing much in the way of naval tactics or technology for much of their history. Because the Minbari hardly tire, are light on their feet, and created overland vehicles early on, the importance of ships was never a serious issue, prompting them to perfect methods of terrestrial combat over nautical techniques. The Minbari had sailing and cargo vessels, but no period in the homeworld's history ever had piracy or naval conquest as a major theme. When the race took to the stars and created colony worlds, the establishment of a navy was a tertiary concern at best.
This changed when the water world of Solta Gan was settled. The starborn Minbari moved on the explore other worlds, leaving behind settlers of the warrior and religious castes to explore and cart the new world. For decades, peace was maintained in the interests of making the planet habitable and finding resources for use by their respective clans, but this came to an end when the richest deposits on Solta Gan were found under the waves themselves. Being a land oriented race, territorial lines had been drawn concerning the island land masses but not the oceans themselves. Only able to avoid each other for so long, the situation on the planet came to a head eventually when both castes attempted to mine a mineral and metals laden trench between their respective colonies.
It became quickly apparent that their vessels were ill-suited to the rigors of combat. After several lost survey ships and harvesters, the castes pulled back and, along with worker Belshir bound to the task, built up their naval forces to the point where they could take the resources they desired. 
Years of conflict drove their ingenuity and their technical advancements until the naval fleets were as effective as those of other races with centuries of experience beyond their own. The Minbari Navy, which now operates on many planets in the Federation and Protective is unusual compared to the other two branches in that it is the only one not headquartered on Minbar. When Valen reformed the castes, the warring sides on Solta Gan united their fleets and created a single military force dedicated to the defense of Minbari oceans wherever they existed in the galaxy. Creating massive carriers capable of water landings, submergence, and space travel, the Minbari naval division is extremely versatile and can deploy to virtually any planet in the time it takes for these gigantic carriers to make the journey.

The Imperial Maritime Division from Star Wars
Appearing in RPG and video game materials is the existence of an aquatic combat division of the Galactic Empire. In the strategy guide of the Star Wars: Galactic Battleground, the use of  Imperial navy forces is mentioned. However, it was not until the  Star Wars: Imperial Handbook: A Commander's Guide that the Maritime Division is first mentioned by name. Given the role of the Empire was establish order and instill the values of COMPNOR across the various worlds of the galaxy, the New Order needed a way to project power onto worlds where water was key to power and control, like Mon Cala. During the Clone Wars, Galactic Civil War, and the First Order Conflict, there have aquatic forces designed and fielded in combat zones. The Empire had a smaller element of the Imperial Army designed around operating in and under alien oceans with all manner of repulsor craft, submarines, surface craft, and even underwater armor for the Stormtroopers. Two interesting piece of equipment for the IMD was the TIE Fighter Boat and the Destroyer. The TIE Fighter boat looked like its spaceborne cousins, but this TIE fighter could operate under and above the surface of the water and looked more like the TIE bomber. There is the Destroyer, a repulse clamshell combat vehicle with a massive laser seige-cannon that was designed to take out shore defenses and other naval craft. During the Galactic Civil War, the Rebellion and the Empire battled across all environments, including above and below oceans. 
While the Imperial Maritime Division was used as much as other Imperial Army element or the Imperial Navy, there was plan to use the IMD for a massive assault on one of the key supporters of the Rebel Alliance: Mon Cala. The Mon Calamari were one of the few worlds openly supporting the Rebellion and was the chief constructor of the ships of the Rebel Fleet. It was the plan of Lord Vader to invade and crush the Mon Calamari machine and the tool of the genocide would have been the IMD. During the spin-up phase of the invasion, the Emperor cancelled the invasion of the waterworld due to funds being needed for the Deathstar Project. It was also believed that one of the first targets for the fully operational battlestation would have been Mon Cala...thus, reducing the need for an massive IMD force to invade the waterworld. 

The Imperial Army's Nautical Force Command from the Traveller Universe
In the vast RPG universe that is Traveller, the Imperial Army maintains an aquatic force-in-readiness with the Nautical Force Command (NFC) or "the wet navy". The surface navy was the smallest part of the massive Imperial Army and the NFC fell under the Planetary Defense Forces. While much of the glory went to other parts of the military, the NFC was used in the defense of imperial worlds under invasion. The source of the NFC came from the Traveller Supplement 4: Citizens of the Imperium 

The Naval Ships of the RDF from the ROBOTECH Universe
Throughout the history of the 3 Robotech Wars, there was several naval ships and forces involved during the wars. When the SDF-1 was sent by Zor to Earth to escape the grips of the Robotech Masters and the Invid, it altered the course of Earth and galactic history, saving the Earth from nuclear war. In 1999, the Earth was in middle of brutal and bloody series of wars collective called the “Global Civil War” that was on the edge of going nuclear after some limited exchanges in the Middle East. Given the war, the governments and organizations involved fielded vast naval forces, including the Western States Alliance aircraft carrier Kenosha that was under command Gloval and with Roy Fokker as ace pilot. 
When the SDF-1 crash-landed into Macross Island, the Global Civil War basically ended. During the nearly 10 years between the crash and the renovation of the alien battlefortress into the United Earth RDF SDF-1, the entire nature of the Earth military alternated. With the introduction of Robotechnology, the shattered and scattered elements of the Global Civil War-era military were incorporated under the UEG banner and the new technology was used to enhance Earth’s military. With the nearly formed RDF was mostly developed to Earth’s defense effort against the looming alien threat from the battlefortress original owners, the UEG military was designed to still protect the surface of the Earth because UEG was still provisional in nature until the Zentraedi taskforce folded into the Sol System. 
By the time of the launch of the SDF-1 on July 1st, 2009, the RDF had a successful Luna base “Apollo” and a failed Mars base called “Sara” along with a few Terran build space combat ships in the ARMD class and the Oberth class. Along with the extraterrestrial elements, the UEG had a terrestrial military force that had a nautical navy. The best examples of the newly minted UEG Navy was the Prometheus class nuclear aircraft carrier and the Daedalus class subersible landing ship. Both were the vanguards of the new look and technology of the UEG Navy. Both were folded to Pluto during the Spacefold Incident at Macross Island during the Zentraedi recapture mission. 
Given the cold hard reality of the Zentraedi threat, the UEG cancelled the Navy redevelopment program and folded the money and resources into more mecha and the top-secret Grand Cannon project at Alaska Base.The end of the 1st Robotech War came with the Zentraedi Holocaust destroying 70% of the Earth and killing most of the population, including much of the naval force of the UEG. Between the 1st and 2nd Robotech Wars, the Army of the Southern Cross formed their “Sea Squad”, but more on that above. Around the time of the 3rd Robotech War, Scott Bernard and his group of resistance fighters came across an abandon naval patrol base on a costal region that likely was from around the time of the 1st Robotech War. The patrol vessels of the Kennedy and Barracuda classes that remained in the boathouses ran on fossil fuels and not protoculture and this allowed Scott & Company to use the naval vessels to across the sea to North America. One of the elements that made the story of the naval vehicles in the ROBOTECH series complicated was the origin of the 3 Japanese animation series that were altered and fused together to make ROBOTECH. Each of the 3 anime series had logical reasons for the inclusion of the naval forces that start to breakdown when rammed together. One interesting note is that the TV series and the Comico comico adaptation of the episode where the navy base and patrol ships appear, "Metamorphosis" can different dialog about when these abandon naval ships are from. The TV shows says the 2nd Robotech War while the comic says before the 1st Robotech War. As someone who read the Comico comics during their initial run and was watching ROBOTECH during its initial TV run, it was interesting to see the changes in dialog...sometimes the comic was better. 

Next Time on FWS...
There are few American actors and directors with the starpower and history as Clint Eastwood. He is a legend and a name that will go down in the history of film. While Mr. Eastwood is known more for his Spaghetti Westerns, Dirty Harry films, and his directorial efforts, one film stands separate from the rest: 1982's Firefox. In the next installment of Forgotten Classics, FWS will be talking about one of our favorite Cold War thrillers. So, brush up on thinking in Russian and see ya in the next one!     


  1. Hey all,

    Just to preface this, I am not an expert at any of these topics, and what I do know is from fiction books and video games. That being said I do have a few thoughts:

    My argument will be against a naval force or a large naval force And the planet in question would be similar to earth, with large bodies of water and a land based population. This argument could quickly change if one of these two points is adjusted.

    So invading a planet with a population that lives on land would mean that you do not need a large navy for a few reasons that I can think of:

    1. Distance. (Invading side)
    If you are attempting to land an invading force made of soldiers of any size you must first cross the distance from the landing point to the closest point of land. Just as Neapolitan and German armies died trying to cross land to get to Russia, the invading force would also have to have vessels that can cross the high (or possibly very low!) sea's. As the invaders you do not know what is out there, if there are aggressive fish that could take on your boats, currents, and land masses too small to detect by orbital weather satellites. To counter this you would need vessels that can survive a large amount of variables and still hold an effective invading force. This would be costly to the invaders in monetary terms, the infrastructure to build such boats on another planet, ship them to space (or build them in space) and then deploy them to the surface is an extreme solution to just an VTOL landing craft.

    1a. Distance (Defending side)
    The defenders face the exact same issues, but are more likely to know the nature of the oceans that are attempting to be used against. But even then the defenders might only know their own shores well enough to be useful.

    The best defence I can see to a naval invasion is a mixture of placing mines, patrols, and an air force capable of stalling an invading naval party. (And by this point in space time I expect the air force would have largely replaced the naval forces.)

    2. What are you invading anyway? (Invaders side)
    So you landed in the middle of nowhere, great! The enemy isn't here which is nice, but there isn't exactly any value here right? I mean even if the invaders only wanted the liquid that this sea is made of, unless it's made of raw engeron the infrastructure it would take to mine/refine the liquid to a state that is reasonably transportable to your invading armies planets factories would be too large and difficult to defend reasonably. And for a land based population you are not nearly close to home enough to scare the population into submission. (public media pending ofc)

    2a. What are you defending anyway? (Defending side)
    A bunch of water? Splish splash go take a bath! Short of you being the planet with the most lenient population in the galaxy, no-one would allow the government budget to build a network of mines to cover the entiere’s planet with mines.(just think of the turtles!) And remember, all the enemy has to do here is land where there is less or no defences.

    3a. Where are they? (Defenders side)
    So you convinced the governing body to build an impressive set of fleets. Great! Good job and score one for the budget wing, government is alive and well. Now, where do you patrol? This is the impossible question that in my mind ends the argument that a naval force is useful in an orbital invasion.
    All the invading force has to do is land where you are not. That's it. Be it a naval force or VTOLS to land, it hardly matters. The defending naval force would be spending all its time relocating to the last seen position of the enemy force, and not a shot is being made. Sooner or later the fleets would have to turn back and rearm/refuel. Doesn't matter if you own an antimatter engine or not. The belly can only endure so many reconstituted veggie-burgers.

  2. To quote Futurama:
    "How much pressure can this ship take?"
    "Well it's a space ship, so, none."

  3. Your Halo example is a fan fiction article by the way. So, not canon to the universe, just from the mind of an eager fan.

    1. Hey, this is Distant Tide. I'm from the Halo Fanon community and an on-and-off viewer of your blog. Really good stuff and gives me a lot to think over when writing stories.

      Unfortunately, my jumpy friend above is right. The Maritime Operations is from one of my Halo Fanon articles, but was inspired by very loose references to a "wet fleet" in Halo lore - particularly the Halo 3 multiplayer map Longshore that featured a UNSC maritime aircraft carrier, and Halo Reach's radio transmissions that had Marines mistake a space frigate as a 'maritime' one.

      My article referred back to Halopedia which I consider the go-to source on cataloged Halo lore since they used to feature a "seaborne" force subsection under the article but it seems its been moved since I last worked on Maritime Operations. I can't exactly point you in a good direction to amend the references to the Maritime Ops/Wet Fleet so that your blog post is more canonically accurate, but I can point to you to some articles that at least point out where my Halo Fanon article came from.

      Your summarizing of my fanfic additions like the problem-sailors, the organization name, and referencing coastal patrol duties had me through the roof. I'm glad my interpretation of Halo was reasonable enough that it could make it to your blog. Sorry for the inconvenience.

      Here's a few links I could muster from Halopedia:


    2. Thanks for the clarity on this. I will edit the example from HALO. However, it is damn fine work on forging the maritime force of the unsc. Damn fine work.

    3. Thanks, and to you as well. Your writings and investigations on military sci-fi are an inspiration for me. Keep it up, I look forward to your future posts!

  4. Once again your reseach, analyses and critical thinking are first-rate. Many thanks.

  5. An interesting article, especially since it questions the plausibility of Surface Naval and Coast Guard elements in an era where a Star Fleet/Space Force/Astronautica/Cosmo Fleet/Spacy are present. Your entry does present some interesting solutions, especially that of Anti-Satellite/Counter-Orbital defenses in the form of submarines that can easily hide in said deep blues.

    Then again, this also makes the assumption that said Earth and similar oceanic-featured worlds are united under a single banner, a logical conclusion for many a sci-fi and space opera settings. But what of a divided/balkanized world? It was briefly mentioned in terms of hostile aquatic natives, but is it really realistic to expect that whatever spacefaring nation that performs first landing and first settlement upon a planet to have dominion over an entire planet, especially during the early days of interplanetary and eventually interstellar colonization?

    It wouldn't be too surprising if land wars are the spark for many an exo-solar war due to terrestrial boarders of colonies and settlements on a singular planet, which would also justify oceanic trade that needs to be defended. Granted, such a setup could only work the best if one's orbital assets make it difficult for a nation to claim an entire planet effectively and that would be something that could change overtime, but that is still a plausibility.

    As for the fortress island analogy, well I recall a saying that goes around "If you protect everything, you protect nothing" or something along those lines. Defending an island's most important assets is critical, but if one can force any invading force to approach at a certain direction, a certain beachhead, then one can even plan a strategic trap to ensure that a good chunk of the invasion force is incapacitated and that any survivors would make any further attempts at invasion difficult at best, and that's not even getting into the logistical side of it. Double if one is able to put said "beachhead trap" or even "drop zone trap" in a largely inhospitable region where the local defenders have a deeper understanding of the environment in terms of surviving and fighting, compared to an invasion force has simulated training at best.

    Also, I'm surprised that you didn't mention the Battleship movie and the Jumpships of the Regents. Then again, considering the film in question, I cannot blame you for the omission.

  6. You should do a blog on hand grenades.

  7. Another possibility is a laser submarine. Since submarines already have to deal with hundreds of megawatts of waste heat from their reactors, managing hundreds of megawatts of waste heat from a laser becomes trivial. A submarine based laser could be more powerful than one mounted on a spacecraft simply because managing the waste heat is far less complicated.

    A potential downside to a laser submarine would be the need to have its turret above the surface (unless it is firing at a blue wavelength and has super-adaptive optics), but if it is protected by escort submarines, this becomes less of a downside.

    On the plus side, a laser submarine can be used for multiple purposes: it can boost spacecraft (or missiles) into orbit, shoot down incoming missiles and aircraft, blind satellites, or be used in a low power mode for discrete (tight beam) communication with a friendly ship in orbit.

    The curvature of a planet need not be a downside either; the laser could fire at a series of mirrors in geosynchronous orbit which can re-direct the beam above and below or even around the planet to strike targets out of the laser's line of sight.