Sector Fleet

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The term Sector Fleet was a naval term that enjoyed near-universal currency as a generic term for naval forces at the sector level.



Before the Clone Wars, naval task forces known as "fleets" were found in many, if not most, of the thousand or so sectors that comprised the Old Republic. During the years of turmoil that saw the fall of the Republic and the instigation of the New Order, the rapid military buildup was coupled with the (at least temporary) creation of far larger territorial sectors.

During the Clone Wars, the Grand Army of the Republic was divided into twenty Sector Armies, each with a theater of operations far larger than one traditional sector: the 4th Sector Army, for instance, was the primary GAR command for the entire Outer Rim. Shortly after the Declaration of a New Order, the first Moffs were assigned to govern sectors which were likewise, in at least some instances, significantly larger than those of the Old Republic.

What is less clear, however, is exactly how this reorganization impacted on the naval organization of what might be called "Sector Fleets".

Imperial Order of BattleEdit

Despite being an established term, "Sector Fleet" was notably absent from the standard Order of Battle of the Galactic Empire's Imperial Navy, which used the term Sector Group to denote the entire naval deployment in a sector. The term Fleet was used to indicate important naval formations that were typically deployed within and throughout a sector, but which were not equated with the Sector Group.

In the Empire's early years, the size of the Imperial Navy continued to expand rapidly, and the number of Moffs increased dramatically. Eventually, each Moff controlled a sector comparable in size to - and often simply identical with - one of the historic sectors of the Old Republic, within which the total Imperial Navy deployment was known as a Sector Group.

The Sector Group level of organization came about somewhat by accident: the Moffs of the Empire's sectors, installed under the Sector Governance Decree in the final days of the Republic, complained that the Imperial Navy's force requirements in quelling Separatist holdouts routinely robbed their sectors of resources without sufficient consideration for local security needs. Under the Sector Governance Decree, the Moffs held the power of the old Governor-Generals to raise forces and began raising their own local militias. Alarmed by the prospect of local military forces not loyal to Imperial Center, the Admiralty stepped in and created Sector Groups, local forces directly controlled by the Moffs but carefully scrutinised by Coruscant.[1]

These Sector Groups were drawn largely from the old Planetary Security Forces, nationalized in the final days of the Republic. A standard Sector Group was composed of 2,400 ships, of which 24 were Imperial-class star destroyers and an additional 1,600 were smaller warships. These Sector Groups were much larger than the fleets assigned to sectors under the Old Republic, though many officers continued to use the term "fleet" for any formation of squadron-size or upwards.[2] When the first Oversectors were created under the Tarkin Doctrine, it was specifically said that multiple Sector Groups were to be assigned to each of them.

The Imperial Order of Battle, meanwhile, restricted the term Fleet to a class of large formations with responsibilities spread across an entire sector, but subordinate to the Sector Group command hierarchy. Reflecting this subordination, these Fleets were commanded by Fleet Admirals, answerable to the High Admiral in command of the Sector Group - who was often the Moff himself. There was no hard and fast system of organization for the types and numbers of Fleets under a Sector Group's command. However, the Group's combat elements were split between "Superiority" and "Escort": a superiority fleet was a space-combat force spearheaded by six Star Destroyers and nominally accompanied by a battle squadron of eighteen smaller ships; 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. The ships dominant in escort fleets included old Trade Federation frigates and CR90 corvettes, which in time were replaced by EF76 Nebulon-B escort frigates and escort carriers.[3]

Additional fleets outside the combat element included the assault fleet, capable of deploying four entire surface Armies; the support fleet, used to fulfil the immense logistical requirements of the Sector Group, the deepdock fleet, which provided repair capability; and the bombard fleet, a rare formation nominally composed of eighteen Torpedo Spheres, used to break down planetary shields in offensive operations (despite its nominal composition, such fleets were never actually at full strength during the Galactic Civil War as the Empire never constructed more than six Torpedo Spheres).

One thing that is unclear is whether any fleets existed that were not part of the Sector Group hierarchy. It is known that a number of the Empire's most powerful battle fleets were assigned to specific sectors: for instance, Azure Hammer Command, the primary fleet guarding the Core, was the Sector Fleet for "Sector One", the Imperial Center Oversector, while Admiral Zsinj's fleet in Quelii sector, tasked with pursuing the war against the Drackmarians, was said to be the most powerful single fleet in the Empire.

It is hard to find any categorical examples of Imperial forces that operated outside the Sector hierarchy. It is known that ten percent of the Navy's ships were said to be kept in reserve in the Core ready to deploy against threats anywhere in the Galaxy; but such deployments could easily be accomplished by assigning them from one Sector Group to another.

Later DevelopmentsEdit

After the Battle of Endor, the collapse of Imperial authority and the New Republic's disinclination to maintain a federally-controlled military presence in most sectors saw many sectors acquire autonomous "Sector Fleets" answerable to local leaders; at the same time, the term Sector Fleet began to be used with more regularity in the Empire, largely eclipsing old terms like Sector Group and Superiority Fleet. In Cracken's Threat Dossier, it was stated that each of the New Republic Defense Force's five fleets were the size of an augmented Sector Group.

By around 19 ABY, it is known that Imperial officers regularly used the term "Sector Fleet" to describe forces built around the Star Destroyers operating in a sector - of which there were now typically around a dozen under each Moff; although answerable directly to the Moff of the relevant sector, the Supreme Commander could call on these ships to reinforce the Imperial Starfleet proper, as was done during the Yuuzhan Vong War.

On present evidence, however, many aspects of the this new Imperial usage of the term "Sector Fleet" remain unclear. It is not known what precise relationship a "Sector Fleet" bore to the old Superiority Fleets and Sector Groups, nor is it clear whether the background to the emergence of the term was an organized process of reorganization and redesignation throughout the remaining sectors of Imperial space, or an ad hoc response to the chaos into which Imperial forces had been thrown over the decades since Endor. Also, it should be noted that there seem to have been a further hundred or so Star Destroyers available to the Supreme Commander additional to the ships of the eight Sector Fleets, but no evidence is available to indicate how these ships were organized.



Notes and referencesEdit

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