Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn was the last of Emperor Palpatine's original college of Grand Admirals, who took command of the scattered forces of the Galactic Empire five years after the deaths of Palpatine and Darth Vader by the Rebel Alliance at the Battle of Endor. After returning from the Unknown Regions, Thrawn took control of the remnants of the Empire as its new supreme commander, with the intention of waging war against the New Republic, the galactic government the Rebel Alliance had formed into.
Reorganizing the Imperial military war machine, Thrawn used the fleet as part of his campaign against the New Republic. Launching attacks into New Republic controlled space, he was able to reconquer as much as a third of the galaxy in a matter of months, before his death at Bilbringi, which saw his fleet lose a lot of its impetus and power in the galaxy. Such success would have been impossible without a fleet to command, which saw Thrawn's fleet as a vital part of his campaign against the New Republic.
Roughly five years after the Battle of Endor, the Battle where the Empire had been defeated by the Rebel Alliance and the Emperor killed, Thrawn returned from the Unknown Regions of the galaxy. On his return from the Unknown Regions, for the second time in his life, Grand Admiral Thrawn was a high ranking officer of the Imperial military, holding the position of Grand Admiral. Described by such historians as the young Devaronian history student Pollo Tipn as one of the most capable and cunning soldiers the Emperor commanded, Thrawn's tactical abilities saw him rise to the position of Grand Admiral despite being a Chiss, and despite the Emperor's xenophobia. Having had command of ships prior to the Battle of Endor, as a Grand Admiral, the defeat and scattering of the Empire saw Thrawn's access to a large fleet removed. Thrawn, however, still attempted to retain a number of ships, and to ensure he was able to take control of the Imperial Remnant, the Remnant of the Empire, as Grand Admiral and leader.
Despite the fact that a number of commanders and warlords considered themselves above him in terms of importance, tactical prowess and ability, Thrawn was able to gather a fleet small in comparison with that of the Empire prior to the Battle of Endor, however large enough so as to be regarded as the new leader of the Empire, accepted by the Moffs, the governor's of Imperial sectors, and the Ruling Council, the Council composed of numerous Imperial Advisors. The core of Thrawn's fleet, which he was beginning to build, was his personal armada, built around his flagship Chimaera and five other Imperial-class Star Destroyers.
Beginning the offensiveEdit
The first beginnings of the campaign involved a number of Imperial missions to the planet Bimmisaari, to capture the pregnant Leia Organa Solo, the sister of Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker and a member of the ruling body of the New Republic at the time, the Provisional Council. Thrawn, unknown in both name and position to the New Republic at the time, began mobilizing the Imperial Remnant, and his fleet. The first combat a member ship of Thrawn's fleet saw was on the planet Nkllon, where the Judicator attacked the mobile mining facility, Nomad City. This facility was owned by the human Lando Calrissian, friend to Organa Solo and a former General in the Rebel Alliance during the Battle of Endor. During the Raid on Nomad City, the outpost was raided and the Empire stole fifty-one mole miners, large mining devices.
Criminal boss Talon Karrde rescued Luke Skywalker from searching Imperial forces, before subduing him and imprisoning him in their base on the planet Myrkr. Han Solo, husband of Leia and former criminal, and Lando Calrissian attempted to find Karrde, and were tipped off by a member of his organization as to the location of the base on Myrkr. After Skywalker's escape from his imprisonment, the Chimaera came out of orbit above the planet at the same time that a member of Karrde's organization gave pursuit. Landing craft were dispatched by the Chimaera to Karrde's camp. Patrols were sent to capture Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade, member of Karrde's group. Planning from Karrde's group, Han and Lando allowed Skywalker and Jade to be rescued, the Empire and the Chimaera not taking them prisoner.
The next time the fleet saw action was in the first major battle of Thrawn's campaign, the raid on the planet Sluis Van, in an attempt to gain a number of ships for his cause. Using a cloaking device from the Empire's private storehouse on the planet Wayland, Thrawn cloaked his warships and the mole miners stolen from Nkllon and infiltrated the shipyard. Using the mole miners to burn into the command centers of the ships, Thrawn would have been able to steal the entire fleet from the New Republic, however Calrissian activated the mole miners thrusters, using a control code, to render the ships Thrawn was trying to steal inoperable. Of Thrawn's fleet, five of the six Imperial Star Destroyers of were present at the battle. The ship missing from the engagement was the Judicator, being refitted after the strike on Nkllon. These five ships were supported by a close support squadron of twelve Strike-class medium cruisers, and a picket line of twenty-two Carrack-class light cruisers, with thirty TIE squadrons deployed in the fighter screen.
The main offensiveEdit
After the Battle of Sluis Van, Han Solo discovered former Rebel General Garm Bel Iblis and his private militia. Part of the ships in Bel Iblis' militia were made up of those from the Katana fleet, a fleet of ships supposedly lost for some time. The Empire, however, wished to expand their ships, as Thrawn had procured the technology to be able to grow clones. Needing ships to be crewed by the clones, Thrawn jumped at the chance to gain such ships. Reaching the man who knew the location of the ships, Hoffner, first, the Empire were able to make their way to the location of the Katana fleet. The New Republic, however, eventually learnt of the location, and so were able to reach the location too. Finding the Empire already there, the Battle for the Katana fleet ensued, with the Judicator participating as part of Thrawn's personal Armada, in addition to the Imperial-class Star Destroyer Peremptory. With the Empire's benefit of having reached their first, they managed to move most of the ships before the New Republic had arrived. The New Republic's tactical victory saw the Judicator, in terms of Thrawn's personal armada, driven off, and the Peremptory destroyed.
This saw Thrawn's fleet expanded, allowing the incoming clones to have a great deal of ships they were able to crew. With these new ships, Thrawn stepped up his campaign a gear, launching a three pronged attack on the planets Crondre, Ando, Filve and Ord Pardron. A great majority of the ships in Thrawn's fleet participated, the Imperial-class Star Destroyer Bellicose attacking Ando, Filve being attacked by the Judicator and Crondre the Nemesis, an Imperial-class Star Destroyer from Thrawn's personal Armada. Thrawn's flagship, the Chimaera, attacked the planet Ukio, in addition to the attack. With the main aim of the three pronged attack being to exhaust the New Republic base on Ord Pardron, so it could be easily taken, the attacks were a success. Insane clone of a long dead Jedi Master, Joruus C'baoth, had been calling for Thrawn to capture Leia Organa Solo and her unborn twins for him so he could "train" them. After a strike team sent to the New Republic capital of Coruscant failed, Thrawn agreed to take the fleet there in person. Launching an attack on Ord Mantell to ensure the Republic failed to anticipate the attack on Coruscant, Thrawn took the Chimaera and another Imperial-class Star Destroyer in his personal Armada to Coruscant. In addition to the other ships, this made a strong attack force on the New Republic capital.
Laying siege to Coruscant, using asteroids orbiting the planet to stop ships daring to enter or leave, Thrawn and his fleet were able to cut off Coruscant from the rest of the galaxy. Having launched a successful second attack on Calrissian's Nomad City, attack on Generis and on Xa Fel, the next major battle was the Battle of Bilbringi. All of Thrawn's personal Armada participated in this battle, in addition to the two Immobilizer 418 cruisers Sentinel and Constrainer. Despite, at first, the battle seemingly going well for the Empire, it soon turned around. The assassination of Thrawn at the hands of his Noghri bodyguard Rukh saw the Empire leaderless, and Thrawn's second in command, Captain Gilad Pellaeon, gave the order to retreat. This saw the end of the Thrawn campaign, with the Chimaera, the former flagship, now being under the control of Pellaeon.
Key ships of the fleetEdit
Thrawn's personal armadaEdit
Thrawn's personal armada consisted of six Imperial-class Star Destroyers. The first, Chimaera, was the flagship and prime ship of Thrawn's personal armada and, indeed, Thrawn's fleet in general. Commanded by Thrawn himself, with Pellaeon as his deputy, the Chimaera saw action in numerous battles of the campaign. Death's Head, under the command of Imperial Captain Harbid, saw action at such battles as the assault on the New Republic base of Ord Pardron, the Siege of Coruscant and the Battle of Bilbringi, where it made it's last appearance. The third ship in Thrawn's personal armada, Inexorable, saw action at the battles of Bpfassh, Sluis Van and Bilbringi. The Captain of the Inexorable wasn't known.
The fourth ship in the fleet, Judicator, was under the command of Captain Brandei, and saw action in three battles of the campaign. Having been one of the only ships in Thrawn's personal armada to have seen action at the Battle of Endor, Judicator first saw action under Thrawn with the attack on Nomad City. Judicator was also present at the Battle for the Katana fleet, where Captain Brandei became incensed at the New Republic for the destruction of the Peremptory. The final battle Judicator saw in the campaign was, like many of the fleet, the Battle of Bilbringi. The penultimate ship in Thrawn's personal armada, the Nemesis, saw action only at Sluis Van and Bilbringi. The final ship in Thrawn's personal armada, the Stormhawk, saw action in exactly the same battles as the Nemesis.
Other Imperial-class Star DestroyersEdit
Three other Imperial-class Star Destroyers were part of the main fleet yet not of Thrawn's personal armada. The first, the Bellicose, was Captained by Imperial captain Aban. The three pronged attack on Ukio saw the Bellicose strike at the world of Filve.
The second ship in such a category was the Peremptory. It was destroyed by Han Solo in the battle for the Katana fleet. The final ship, the Relentless, was Captained by Imperial captain Dorja. This ship too, along with the Judicator, saw action at the Battle of Endor. The Relentless was first part of the battle over New Cov tangling with three of Bel Iblis's dreadnaught cruisers. Later, it would assist in the diversionary attacks necessary to take Ukio. The ship's final appearance was at the Battle of Bilbringi, where the Thrawn campaign came to an end.
Victory-class Star DestroyersEdit
Two Victory-class Star Destroyers were a part of Thrawn's fleet, neither seeing much action under Thrawn. The Adamant, the first of the two, was dispatched to the planet Abregado-rae to intercept Mara Jade. It saw very little combat under Thrawn, however remained as a part of the fleet.
Interdictor-class Star DestroyersEdit
Three Interdictor-class Star Destroyers were a part of Thrawn's fleet, none of them being a part of Thrawn's personal Armada. Commanded by Imperial Lieutenant Dezon, the Constrainer was first used in Thrawn's first attempt to capture Luke Skywalker, who he felt was a vital part of the New Republic. This attack was unsuccessful, however the Constrainer saw action again in the attempt to capture Talon Karrde on Myrkr, however was unsuccessful in that venture too. The final battle the Constrainer participated in was the Battle of Bilbringi, and the defeat of Thrawn's fleet.
The armada was mainly used by the Grand Admiral as a personal flying column for planetary conquests and long-range strikes, as at the planets Sluis Van or Ukio, which could also combine with other forces in campaign warfare, and serve as the centrepiece of larger fleet formations for major set-piece battles.
All in all, Thrawn's armada can perhaps be compared for its size and significance to Darth Vader's Death Squadron—albeit without a Super Star Destroyer command ship. His amassed fleet was noted as being only a small portion of the Empire's once unimaginably vast war fleet, which made its great success against the New Republic all the more astounding.
Nevertheless, many details still remain unclear. Even the armada's operational designation is unknown, and while Chimaera had apparently been serving for the previous five years as command ship for the remnants of the fleet deployed at Endor, it is uncertain what relationship this armada bore to that once-larger formation; Captain Brandei of the Judicator was likewise a veteran of Endor, but during the intervening years, at least one of the Star Destroyers in the squadron, Inexorable, had apparently been serving with the Grand Admiral in the Unknown Regions.
Needless to say, Thrawn's front-line fleet was not limited to a half-dozen Star Destroyers. Other Imperial-class and Victory-class Star Destroyers are known to have operated in direct support of the armada, and as tactics required, the ships of the armada could be intermingled with additional forces. For example, in a series of synchronized strikes against planets near Sluis Van, in the preliminaries to the assault on the shipyard described above, the ships of the armada were grouped with other Star Destroyers and then temporarily reorganized into three battlegroups of four, with each Star Destroyer being escorted by a dedicated task force of approximately five smaller ships.
As the campaign progressed, additional resources were deployed to reinforce the fleet, such as the first wing of Scimitar assault bombers and the 179 recovered Katana fleet Dreadnaught-class heavy cruisers. One image, probably representing a point late in the campaign, shows a mustered force of at least two dozen Imperial-class Star Destroyers, supported by Dreadnaught heavy cruisers.
Away from the battle plane, of course, further elements of the Imperial military remained deployed in defensive roles. For instance, the Chazwa system, a transport hub, had the Interdictor cruiser Rampart as its guardship, while the Ubiqtorate base at Tangrene warranted a minimum squadron of two Imperial-class Star Destroyers and ten smaller warships, sometimes upgraded to more than fifty capital ships.
The ground forces of Thrawn's fleet were that of Stormtroopers, AT-STs, and AT-ATs . The 501st Legion was under the control of Thrawn during his campaign. Despite having the Stormtrooper corp under his commend, there was a shortage of personnel for Thrawn's fleet. To solve this Thrawn used Spaarti cloning cylinders from Wayland, and was able to clone legions of stormtroopers, TIE pilots and Imperial officers as crews for his starfighters and capital ships, as well as for action in his ground assaults.
Following Thrawn's death at Bilbringi, Gilad Pellaeon took command of the fleet and withdrew it to the edge of the Unknown Regions; they were approached by the Ciutric Hegemony, and appear to have subsequently participated in Operation Shadow Hand (specifically the capture of Duro).
- Grand Admiral Thrawn
- Captain Gilad Pellaeon
- General Freja Covell
- Captain Aban
- Captain Brandei
- Captain Harbid
- Captain Dorja
- Stormtrooper Colonel TC-1289
- Lieutenant Dezon
- Lieutenant Tschel
- Ensign Rejlii Mithel
Behind the scenesEdit
- Heir to the Empire Sourcebook
- Dark Force Rising Sourcebook
- Dark Empire Sourcebook
- The Thrawn Trilogy Sourcebook
- The New Essential Chronology
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 5 (THR1–4, Grand Admiral Thrawn)
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia (Indirect mention only)