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Space Navy
As we all know, Space Is an Ocean. So naturally, what does The Federation do when it needs someone to defend it in space? Why, it turns to its Space Navy. A Space Navy has a Standard Sci-Fi Fleet naturally enough, which probably includes at least one class of Cool Starship. Likely it will have an arm of space marines. But it has more. It has the same sort of atmosphere of a real navy. It has organization and obstructive bureaucrats. It has tradition and famous names. It might even have in-jokes, perhaps the same ones as when a given writer was in the navy (apparently these are very old jokes by now). Naturally the heroes will likely be part of a Command Roster, for this is what they have on a Space Navy.

See also Space Sailing.

Examples

Anime and Manga

Film
  • Star Wars: The Rebel Fleet and Imperial Navy in the Original Trilogy. Though the heroes were more outside the power-structure of just the Rebel Fleet, being able to function in different capacities. In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Ascended Extra Wedge Antilles has his adventures in a pure Navy-setting. Interestingly, while it would appear that fighter units use naval ranks (Luke is mentioned as a Commander), there are also several generals, implying a separate army.
  • Wing Commander: The film, basically being World War II In SPACE, centers around a carrier, the TCS Tiger Claw, one of the few surviving ships of a Kilrathi attack on their home base. They must delay the enemy long enough for Admiral Tolwyn to move his fleet into position to defend Earth.

Live-Action TV
  • Star Trek: Seemingly a 50-50 mix of the Age of Sail and World War II navies.
  • Firefly: The Alliance fleet. Usually a nuisance.
  • The Colonial Fleet, or what's left of it, in both Battlestar Galactica series.
    • In the reimagined series, the concept is actually deconstructed to a point. Pre-Cylon attack, the trope is played deadly straight, but once the series starts the "fleet" has been reduced to a single military Cool Ship (and the requisite fighters aboard). Scenes on the Battlestar are still played straight, but in general the series has a very different tone than most space navy shows.
  • The Daedalus-class battlecruisers operated by the United States in the Stargate Verse both averts it and plays it straight. On one hand, the ship is operated by the United States Air Force, and the rank structure is the same (so the equivalent of The Captain is in fact a colonel). On the other hand, the ships have the same "USS" prefix as commissioned Naval ships, although Fanon held for a while that the prefix was "USAFV" (United States Air Force Vessel, by analogy with USAV, United States Army Vessel; "USAFS", the actual designation for a USAF ship—not currently in use—was apparently not cool enough).
  • Babylon 5 most prominently featured EarthForce, which most (but not all) of the human characters were members of until mid-Season 3.
  • Space: Above and Beyond featured the US Navy in this role, along with the implied participation of several other nations' space navies in Earth's war against the Chigs. We see a few representatives of the other militaries, but the Americans take the center role in the show (given that the show centers around an American Marine Corps squadron, this is justified.)
  • The old Systems Commonwealth in Andromeda had the High Guard, although the titular massive warship often ends up behaving like a jet fighter with barrel rolls and other improbable maneuvers. Like Starfleet, the High Guard is a combined service, with the main two branches being the Argosy (starship officers) and the Lancer Corps (ground troops and Space Marines). Unusual for this setting, there is plenty of Interservice Rivalry between these two groups, although the only thing we see in the show are some nicknames being thrown around (even among starships, such as when Rommie, a warship, disses a Lancer transport).
  • Raumpatrouille is a notable aversion, here the ranks, organisation, standards of behaviour etc. are based more on those of the air force. The crew of the Orion for instance behave a lot like stereotypical fighter pilots.

Literature
  • The Galactic Patrol in E. E. “Doc” Smith's Lensman novels, when they were fighting the space fleet of Boskone.
  • The Warchild Series has a Space Navy that was pretty much called just that.
  • An Exchange of Hostages and its sequels deal with a medic/torturer assigned to the resident Space Navy.
  • The entire Honor Harrington series is about life in one of these, lovingly detailed. As the series goes on, the reader is shown other space navies and how they operate differently, for better or for worse, than the Royal Manticoran Navy.
  • The Seafort Saga is set within the United Nations Naval Service. An actual Space Navy.
  • In Larry Niven's story "The Return Of William Proxmire", one of the changes to the present caused by Time Travel and Robert A. Heinlein not being discharged from the Navy due to tuberculous is that space exploration is now part of the Navy's brief, led by Admiral Heinlein.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space also has the UN Space Navy, particularly involved in the Man-Kzin war series.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers uses naval terminology whenever military spacecraft are involved. The characters even refer to seagoing military ships as a "wet navy" to distinguish them from the space navy they're more familiar with.
  • The Kris Longknife series revolves around a Badass Princess who joins the space navy.
  • Vorkosigan Saga has a few references to the Barrayaran navy. It seems more like that of Tsarist Russia or Imperial Germany. naturally.
  • The History of the Galaxy series has the Confederate fleet, which started as the ragtag Colonial fleet during the First Galactic War, borrowing much from its Earth Alliance counterpart fleet after winning the war. It was disbanded when the original Confederacy was dissolved but re-formed several decades later along with the Confederacy when it became clear that colonies couldn't defend themselves against an external threat. For most of its existence, it's a Standard Sci-Fi Fleet, although later novels have the "standard" fleet reassigned to protect Core worlds only and a new, mobile, carrier-based fleet (focused around new modular fighters) will take its place in the Periphery, which has grown too large for the standard fleet to protect. Strangely enough, it's not uncommon for Space Fighter pilots to also serve as Space Marines and Real Robot pilots, likely an example of The Main Characters Do Everything.
  • Arrivals from the Dark books by Mikhail Akhmanov have the United Space Forces, originally started as Near-Earth Space Forces, before humans had FTL (although that name was Ret Conned in later novels to always have been United Space Forces). Unusually for Russian sci-fi writers, USF in this setting have the British and American ranking system. In the first novel, the entire USF consists of about 70 ships and several hundred fighters based on them (split up into 3 fleets, each commanded by an admiral from a different Earth power bloc), and its tasks include patroling the Solar System and countering terrorism threats on Earth. After the failed Alien Invasion, which granted humans plenty of Imported Alien Phlebotinum, the number of fleets in USF is increased. Eventually, after a series of wars with other races, the USF becomes the most powerful military force in the known space.
  • A key point of the later books of Vattas War is Ky Vatta trying to start one due to the face that Space Pirates have united to form a fleet to take control of the universe. Before as each system was it's own government, they used a planetary militia and Privateers to protect their own worlds.
  • Because John G. Hemry is a former US Navy officer, the Alliance Fleet from his The Lost Fleet series is heavily based on current navies. Ship personnel are referred to as sailors and nautical terms are used in navigation. The use of grapeshot, a tactic that went out of date with the age of sail, as an offensive weapon even makes a return.
    • Averted by the Syndics, whose hierarchy comes from a militarized corporate structure. Their ranks are various grades of executives, with the most senior being CEOs.
    • The ships in the series maneuver partly like modern warships and partly like combat aircraft with fleets passing one another, turning around, then making more passes. The actual exchange of fire takes place in a split-second when the two fleets, moving at a combined speed of 10% of the speed of light move past with the computers directing the exchange. Usually, commanders have to play back the events in slow-mo just to figure out what happened.
  • The Osmerian Conflict has the United Terran Space Forces that have a hierarchy similar to that Royal Navy.
  • Enders Game has the International Fleet, formed after the First Formic Invasion, which has various branches responsible for crewing ships, piloting Space Fighters, and ground combat. This is because the same international treaty that formed the IF also forced all Earth nations to disband its regular military forces, incorporating them into the IF structure. Naturally, as soon as the war is over, the IF is disbanded, and the nations once again remember old grudges, restoring their usual military structures. Whatever is left of the IF becomes responsible for building colony ships to settle former Formic planets. In the Ender sequels, the Starways Congress fleet is responsible for peacekeeping in the Hundred Worlds despite the lack of FTL travel.

Tabletop RPG
  • Spelljammer Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting has Imperial Elven Navy infested by obstructive bureaucrats vs. hodgepodge Scro fleet as major forces; Shou and some other groundling empires has their own fleets too.
  • There are several examples of a Space Navy in Traveller. Amusingly, in the Traveller universe the Navy is always the space navy. Ocean combat forces are part of the Army.
  • The Warhammer 40,000 spin-off Battlefleet Gothic is all about this, and despite being set in the 41st Millennium has a very Age of Sail feel to things - tactics concern broadsides, line formations, and crossing the enemy's T, and the hordes of crewmen manually loading the plasma cannons were probably press-ganged from the last planet the ship visited.
    • The Imperium of Man made the Imperial Navy separate from the Imperial armies, as to means to prevent would be overlords forming their own space spanning empires that would threaten the Imperiums rule.
  • Space 1889: averted as far as actual space is concerned. Combat in space is impractical. Combat takes place in the air or air-to-ground, not in space. Played straight in that sky ships are handled by the regular navy, space navy is not a separate branch of the armed forces, terminology and technology is very similar to those of the regular navy.
  • Partly averted in Transhuman Space, where the USA's military space presence is the ambit of the Air Force, and thus many traditional "ships in space" tropes are averted.
  • Battletech: The Successor States and the Clans have their own space navy, but they are not as highlighted as mechwarriors. Since the fall of the Star League, the manufacturing of warships and jumpships have been crippled, with the production of the formers destroyed. Recently newer warships are now being produced, and dropships have been redesigned into pocket-warships.

Video Games
  • Wing Commander has not only a Space Navy, but an Air Force analog (Terran Confederation Space Force), as well. There's no real rhyme or reason as to when a carrier is host to a Navy wing or a Space Force one, and there's apparently some switching of personnel between the services (Commodore [a navy rank] Blair in Prophecy was, prior to 2681, in Space Force, which uses a modified Army rank structure). The ships themselves, however, are pure navy, and manned by navy crews.
    • There's an element of Truth in Television to this, as some countries here on Earth have been known to go back and forth on whether their naval aviation assets should be operated by the Navy proper, seconded from the Air Force or a separate entity altogether. Britain in particular has a tradition of this sort of thing stretching back nearly as long as there have been British military aeroplanes; see The UK Armed Forces for details.
  • The Systems Alliance navy from Mass Effect.
  • SolForce in Sword of the Stars. It's also the de facto government of humanity, and the director of SolForce is the closest thing to a secular leader humanity has.
  • Metroid has the Galactic Federation
  • Halo features the United Nations Space Command Navy. John-117 got his nickname "the Master Chief" because he's actually a Master Chief Petty Officer in the Navy.
  • FreeSpace has the Galactic Terran Alliance and the Parliamentary Vasudan Navy. In the second game, they merge into the Galactic Terran-Vasudan Alliance.
  • Nexus: The Jupiter Incident has the Noah colony fleet. Mostly averted in the case of ISA, which only controls space travel up to the Lunar orbit, with the rest of the Solar System being fought over by the various Mega Corps. Your character, Marcus Cromwell, is originally an ISA pilot. After the ISA-Mega Corp. war, which the former loses, Cromwell is hired by a Mega Corp. called SpaceTech to captain one of their corvettes. Later on, he ends up being sent across the galaxy to Noah and becomes part of the Noah fleet command structure.
  • Conquest Frontier Wars has the Terran Navy.
  • Sins of a Solar Empire has the Trade Emergency Coalition, which is, basically, the old Trade Order retooled for warfare in the face of the Vasari and Advent invasions. Given their technological inferiority, the TEC relies mainly on its ability to outproduce the enemy. Most of the warships definitely have a "converted cargo hauler" look to them, a stark contrast to the Shiny-Looking Spaceships of the Advent and the more alien-looking (but still curvy) Vasari ships.
  • Infinite Space has a space navy for every nation you encounter: Elgava, Nova Nacio, Regeinland, Lugovalos, and more.
  • Word Of God is the United Earth of Escape Velocity Override began as a space navy — when the Voinians invaded, Admiral McPherson managed to get the various space-forces of the Earth superpowers to enter into coalition (picking up the name 'United Earth' somewhere along the way) against the Voinians before the Earth superpowers actually managed to agree on their alliance.

Web Comic
  • Taken to rather literal extremes in Pockett, with crew members dressed in modern looking navy uniforms.
  • Angels 2200 has the aptly named Terran Navy.

Web Original
  • Star Army is a universe full of space navies. Almost every nation has one and they're one of the most detailed parts of the military sci-fi setting.

Real Life
  • So far averted, what few space based military operations exist currently (mostly spy satellites) are under the jurisdiction of their countries' respective Air Forces.
    • Not as averted as you would think. US Naval Space Command, later Naval Network and Space Operations Command.


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Space MinesTropes in SpaceSpace Nomads
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