Continuing the series on Building a Navy, once the Fleet Design process has been completed, the next part is establishing Force Size. Having a fleet is all well and good, but fleet operations require crewing and supporting infrastructure.
deWulf Fleet Design
A fleet is useless without crew, and it is doubly useless without support functions, either as a part of the fleet or ashore. While not always given attention, these are critical components of any operational navy.
The Corporate Navy is primarily organized as a volunteer manned force; the nature of a high-technology force with specialized technologies means that alternative manning strategies such as conscription and drafting will fail to generate or retain crew with even minimum operational standards. Fortunately, the Corporate Navy has both a large population base (multiple large 2 billion+ population planets) as well as a robust interstellar economy, which means that the potential pool of candidates is sufficiently large and technologically familiar to reduce crewing challenges.
Alternative staffing methods (aforementioned conscription and drafting) have been studied in case of serious Threats to the State, but there is significant concern as they would have to pull from the same pool of personnel that are also required to maintain critical parts of the State’s economy, and any substantial shifts would have to be planned and executed only as part of a longer term strategy. Fortunately, a fairly substantial semi-official “reserve” exists, as the Corporate Navy is rarely a full career choice for many. Former crew who leave after a four or five year spell (at most) retain long-term contacts with the Navy bureaucracy (if only because former Navy crew get a small monthly stipend, and maintaining contact is a requirement for ensuring that continues to be disbursed). The vast majority of former crew stay in the same career that they had before or during their service, which means that fundamental skills remain at least somewhat familiar. Its not uncommon for some crew to start in the Navy, leave to do some years in the private economy, then return to the Navy for another stint before turning to the private economy again.
In addition to the standard officer corps, the Navy also maintains specialized NCOs as part of the force. The vast majority of returnees to the Navy find themselves as part of this NCO corps, leveraging external experience to support Navy operations. Some of them eventually find themselves going Alpha, or jumping to the commissioned officer track (though rarely on the combat command path).
Organic Support Functions
The deWulf Navy maintains some organic support, but primarily for military-specific needs. Each fleet has several Tannsfells-Class Munition transports to provide for munitions consumption during combat operations. The primary weapon on deWulf Navy ships is the plasma torpedo, and while warships do maintain a reasonable magazine depth, it is quite possible for ships to shoot themselves dry. In such circumstances, attached Tannsfells allow for warships to be returned to combat operations promptly.
Outside of munitions, the majority of in-space logistics work is supported by private contracted services. Several corporations have long-term contracts to provide regular supply runs to fleet units. These private services are the backbone of most organic logistical operations, and transport resources from production centers and bases to fleet operational areas. Generally, these supply runs are sent to a supply point selected by the deWulf Navy. These points have picked up the informal name of “zocalo” or “zocs”, in reference to famous market square on Fenris. At these points cargo is transshipped either to warships directly, or to one of a handful of Navy-operated freighters that transport cargo the rest of the way. Often times the only difference between a Navy freighter and a civilian one is the transponder and paint; the deWulf Navy is more than happy to make use of commonly used commercial classes.
Operational Organic Support on the other hand, is not significantly embraced in the deWulf Navy. At present only found on the Kommandant-Class Heavy Cruisers, the Koenic-Class Dreadnoughts, and the Sergei Preminin-Class Light Carrier. While these ships do have flag command and control as well as associated operational planning spaces, they are primarily used for adjustments to already existing operational plans. It is expected that in the future this will shift as the Navy deploys farther from its immediate operational areas.
Shore infrastructure is substantial for two reasons: its cheaper, and its one of the better ways for various corporations to “get some money back” from their support of the navy. Shore infrastructure is also understood to include fixed orbital assets, like shipyards and defensive stations.
What this effectively boils down to is that the most well funded part of the Corporate Navy is the shore infrastructure, partially because so much of it is directly funded by various corporations as subsidiaries. Navy research is a particular case; the Navy does not do any R&D work itself. Instead they merely support and manage it via the small “Research Co-ordination Bureau” that has almost fallen into total regulator capture.
Outside of R&D, the lines are more thickly drawn, even though funding happily sloshes back and forth. Outside of the Mittelspannung Yards in Fenris, the Navy maintains two other yards to support research and manufacturing. Training is functionally split, depending on what is being trained. Training for small craft is administered by the Navy, but managed and operated by Trans-Solar Armaments as a partnership. Basic training, and follow-on specialist training is managed by the Navy directly. The training establishment itself is built around several older ships that were retired from service or purpose-built ship simulators. Final training is usually done at the crew’s first assignment.