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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, possibly with a Fantastic Ship Prefix. Likely it will have an arm of space marines. But it has more. It has the same sort of atmosphere as 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. The heroes will likely be part of a Command Roster.

See also Space Sailing.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Space Battleship Yamato AKAStar Blazers: The UNCF Cosmo Navy (UNCF stands for United Nations Cosmo Force) battles the Gamilon Empire's fleets.
  • Crest of the Stars, though it become more prominent in the sequels.
  • Irresponsible Captain Tylor, which is in many ways a straight-up parody of the Yamato.
  • Gundam:
    • One of the Earth Federation Force's branches is the Earth Federation Space Force, coexisting with the Ground Forces.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes has two sides going to war with eachother: The Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance. Each side has over 200,000 warships and can easily hit the other from 4 million miles away. An average full fleet consists of about 12,000 ships. A commodore controls more ships than real life fleet admirals do.
  • Macross: Earth's space force is known as UN Spacy (called Robotech Defense Force in Robotech, despite having UN Spacy still written on the side of the Valkyries), Spacy follows from Army and Navy. By the time of Macross Frontier, there is the New UN Spacy which is commonly abbreviated as NUNS.
  • Lyrical Nanoha has the Dimensional Navy, one of the three main branches of the TSAB. Ironically, while it is the first branch introduced (and the only one seen for the first two seasons), it is the only one that the main character never officially works for.
  • Valvrave the Liberator: Most of the military, but especially the Dorssian Space Navy.

    Comic Books 
  • Albedo: Erma Felna EDF features three of them for the each of the sides of the conflict: The Extraplanetary Defense Force, the Independent Lepine Republic and Enchawah Corp.

    Fan Works 
  • Adventures of the ASV Hornet: The Alliance Space Fleet from Space Adventure, which is treated as a Pastiche of Star Trek.
  • A Crown of Stars: The Avalon Empire Army has a Space Navy complete with space-ships and traditional ranks. One of the secondary characters, Lieutenant Ching Leibshott, is a Space Navy officer and interacts with Shinji and especially Asuka constantly.
  • Rocketship Voyager. The Tri-World Federation has Spacefleet (not Starfleet because no-one's been outside the Solar System yet) and as the fanfic is ostensibly a 1950's sci-fi magazine story, Voyager has similarities to a US Navy destroyer, as if the author consulted Robert A. Heinlein for a sense of verisimilitude. Captain Janeway however isn't happy about this trope.
    Janeway: I never understood why Spacefleet has to follow naval traditions. The pioneer aviators who were the first to leave the surface of the Earth: Amelia Earhart, Chuck Yeager, the Wright brothers—those are the ones we should look to for inspiration.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Starfleet is seemingly a 50-50 mix of the Age of Sail and World War II navies.
    • Although it was partially modelled on the Air Force, which is why it seems like the crew is entirely made up of officers (in the Air Force, officers are the ones who go into combat while the enlisted stay back and act as support). Remember, Gene Roddenberry served in the United States Army Air Forces as a Captain in WW2.
      • Enlisted personnel would often see combat as defensive gunners, radio operators, flight engineers, and other technician specialtiesnote , but generally only on bombers. Single- or two-seat fighters won't have those crew positions. Meanwhile, the ground crews will be made up almost entirely of enlisted airmen.
  • 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). This also applies to the Russian-operated Korolev, commanded by Colonel Chekov of the Russian Air Force. It's not stated which branch of the Chinese military operates the Sun Tzu, but it's also likely to be the People's Liberation Army Air Force.
    • For the USAF, it's likely their primary role came about partly by coincidence (the Stargate was stored in an Air Force base when the Stargate program began, and the space fleet is an offshoot of that program) and partly because the Air Force was already in charge of the US military's space operations (as in real life).
  • 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.

  • 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 Wars 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 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. Unusually for Russian sci-fi writers, the 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 patrolling 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 the USF is increased. Eventually, after a series of wars with other races, the USF becomes the most powerful military force in the known space. After the formation of the Earth Federation, it's renamed to the Earth Federation Space Forces.
  • Elizabeth Moon Writes about Space Navy's a lot.
    • Most of Familias Regnant is about members of the Regular Space Service.
    • A key point of the later books of Vatta's 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.
    • Planet Pirates
  • 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. In a later book there's also a "line crossing ceremony" based directly on the Real Life tradition for crossing the equator for the first time.
    • Averted by polities outside of the Alliance. the Syndicate Worlds, use ranks based on corporate executive posts, with the most senior being CEOs; spin-off The Lost Stars has a former Syndic breakaway state getting rid of this system and reverting to an older rank structure for their warship crews that seems to be based on that of the German Navy. And then there's the Covenant of the First Stars; the first example we're given of their ranks is "His Excellency Captain Commodore First Rank Stellar Guard of the Fist of the People", which belongs to the commander of a small taskforce that the Alliance Navy would probably entrust to a Captain.
    • 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.
  • Ender's 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. In the Second Formic War trilogy of prequels, the IF is shown in its infancy, and it's a mess. After being hastily put together from, pretty much, every military force on the planet, the IF brass tries its damned best to make servicemen and women from wildly different cultures and traditions fit into the new structure. Corruption and careerism are the norm rather than the exception. Competent officers and soldiers are sidelined by their more politically-minded colleagues, who try to get the best deal they can for themselves... knowing that a vast Formic fleet is on the way and is expected to arrive in a few short years. Anyone with actual brains can only shake their head at this incredible short-sightedness. In an afterword, Card's co-author Aaron Johnston cites several retired servicemen, who have seen this sort of mess on a smaller scale in NATO and when working closely with other nations' militaries.
  • The Nameless War plays this extremely straight, with a navy style command structure while ship classifications take their cue from the World War One / Two time period.
  • Space Academy: Space Fleet is the galaxy’s largest collection of peacekeepers, explorers, and scientists. It is made up of member ships from each race and there are crew members from multiple species serving on other species ships.

    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 a 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. Some of the other space militaries are run by navies, however (the Royal Navy got responsibility for UK space operations, and China's space military is the People's Liberation Army Navy Space Force), and the US Navy is still not over having lost the war in the Pentagon over space supremacy.
  • 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. However, due to the ease at which space navy forces can wipe out (and consequently overshadow) Battlemechs, during the Word of Blake Jihad it was decided by the then-current line developer to have most of the warships and the shipyards capable of producing them destroyed, leaving most factions with very limited space naval capability.
  • Justified in Rocket Age, since it is the 1930s and the only way the Earthling powers know to manage a fleet of ships is as a navy.

    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, which boasts Lieutentant Commander Shepard among its ranks; as the games progress, they become more of a leader to humanity in general, spearheading the battle against the Reapers. Other races have their own space naval forces as well; due to their Migrant Fleet, the quarians are essentially a societal space navy, working towards reacquiring their homeworld.
  • 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. The UNSC military is essentially organized as the US military In Space, with the Army as the primary ground combat arm, the Air Force operating atmospheric aircraft and ground-based space fighters, the Marine Corps as the expeditionary force-in-readiness, and the Navy to operate the big spaceshipsnote  and to give the Marines a ride.
  • 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-MegaCorp war, which the former loses, Cromwell is hired by a MegaCorp 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.
  • Every particular race in the X-Universe has their own Space Navy, including the normally peaceful Boron and mercantile Teladi, but the Terran United Space Command and the AGI Task Force take the cake. The former is a huge naval arm that serves as the primary force for the Terran State while the latter is a special forces branch dedicated to searching and eliminating any rogue AGI-controlled ship that dare to enter Terran territory, hence their name. The space-based MegaCorps, such as OTAS and Strong Arms, also have their own private navies to protect their assets from pirates, the Xenon, the Kha'ak, other rival governments, and each other themselves for rivalry-based Corporate Warfare.

    Web Comics 
  • 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.
  • "Red vs. Blue" is a Web series that has two Space Armies fighting against each other, though most of the fighting involves no action whatsoever, and the two squads the series is focused on seem to get along fine.
  • Mahu: In his "Second Chance" series, the Galactic Commonwealth has one, if not the strongest fleet in the galaxy. It is known as "Task Force Manticore"

    Western Animation 
  • Il Était Une Fois...Space: in addition to each race having a navy the Omega Confederation -that englobates them- has one for itself, that acts as a police force even if it ends up building some of the most powerful warships in existence there. Ranks are based on real-world naval ones (commander, admiral, etc) and ships classes are the typical ones of a Standard Sci-Fi Fleet, even if heavy cruisers are the (named) top of the line and fighters include from small one-man ships to others much larger.

    Real Life 
  • So far averted in practice. What few space based military operations exist currently (mostly spy satellites) are under the jurisdiction of their countries' respective Air Forces. However, on paper, several of the world's militaries have plans in place for weaponizing space.
    • The most notable of these on-paper ideas — and the closest we ever got to a real-life space navy — were the USAF proposals to weaponize Project Orion, the Trope Namer for the Orion Drive. Kennedy himself is said to have been terrified by these proposals, and for good reason. One of them was the 4000 ton Orion Battleship. It would come packed with three 5 inch naval guns together with six 20mm CIWS turrets — but that's only the secondary armament. The primary armament would consist of 500 twenty megaton conventional nukes, and an unspecified ammount of Casaba Howitzers: nukes that focus their explosion into a narrow, destructive beam. The other proposal was even more terrifying: an unmanned version of the Orion Battleship with its crew and weapons compartment replaced with a massive 3 gigaton hydrogen bomb. For reference, detonating such a warhead would be like detonating every nuke in the world's current arsenal.note  It was the largest nuclear warhead ever proposed by a nation's military. Thankfully, none of this ever got close to being built due to not only international treaties banning nuclear detonations in space, but also mutual fears of escalating the Cold War to the point of space combat. However, the designs were realistic — they could have been built.
    • On a less alarming note, there's also the US Naval Space Command, later Naval Network and Space Operations Command.
    • As of 2015, Russia has merged its Air Force and Aerospace Defense Forces into Aerospace Forces.
    • On December 20 2019, the United States Space Force (USSF) was officially established as an independent branch of the United States military. However, it is still funded under the Department of the Air Force, much as the Marine Corps is funded under the Department of the Navy, and its current members are mostly former Air Force personnel.