=Introduction to ships, boats & platforms
Marines will encounter a wide range of ship and boat types while on active service, as well as orbital platforms and other void-based facilities. The term ‘ship’ is widely use in a generic sense in this document but a stricter nomenclature differentiates between ships as vessels that have interstellar range, boats as vessels designed for maneuver but are not capable of interstellar travel, and platforms to mean space stations and other essentially static facilities.
Ship design has changed little since the development of the bacterium bomb about thirty thousand years ago. The ease with which this bomb — small enough to be carried by a Marine — could penetrate outer hulls made capital ships more vulnerable. This led to an emphasis on smaller vessels and on much greater numbers of Marines skirmishing in an attempt to disable enemy ships and to shield friendly vessels from the enemy’s Marines. Indeed it is probable that the very existence of the Human Marine Corps, and consequently the Human Legion, owes its existence to the bacterium bomb.
Battles between warships typically occur when an invading fleet contests a defending force for control of a star system. Ships will tow warboats to strike range in the outer system, and then leave the warboats to take the fight to the enemy who will defend with a mix of boats, orbital defense platforms and many hidden defenses (such as self-replicating nanos left to build up over centuries into huge swarms that infiltrate enemy communication and AI systems). Some ships have high maneuver and offensive capabilities and may accompany the warboats in an attack.
Although to a Marine the distinction between ship and boat may seem arbitrary and of little interest, this is not true of navy personnel. It is vital that you learn and employ the correct terminology for any vessel to which you have been assigned. Entire marine complements have been executed for insulting their warboat captain by suggesting she or he commanded a ship. To warboat crew, ships are flown by plodders and cowards who wait in safety while the boats do the real fighting. To ship crew, boats are minor craft, mere passengers whose crew spend most their lives in cryogenic sleep while the ship navigates the deep void between the stars.
By whatever name they are known, the vessels to which human Marines are assigned tend to be less powerful models and toward the end of their active life, many craft already having seen millennia of service.
The ship type a Marine will be assigned to depends to some degree on the regimental specialism, although Marines train for all potential roles.
Assault Marine regiments are trained for assault against a defended planet. Assault regiments can be assigned to almost any ship type. In fact, the ship or boat is unimportant, being merely to tow self-contained marine pods, which contain habitation, cryogenic, supplies, and dropboats for an approximately company-sized unit of marines to deploy in orbit and launch an assault. The Marine pods have limited maneuver and defensive capability and will detach from the parent vessel before attack.
Void Marine regiments are specialists in vacuum and zero-gee warfare. A ship’s Marine complement will form a defensive screen and add offensive options against enemy ships.
Tactical Marine regiments are also trained in void combat, but are allied to a small tactical warboat to make a single combined operations unit. The most common warboat type is called a Tactical Unit (often shorted to ‘TU’), a roughly spherical craft that is agile and well armed. A TU will typically have a marine complement of two squads and be ferried into combat by a sleeve ship. The sleeve consists of a command and propulsion sections attached to a hollow tube. The TU boats — and other modules such as engineering and supply pods — are stacked within the tube during interstellar travel.
Another distinction between void and tactical Marines is that the former will egress their ship through an airlock, or through a hanger opening inside a small boat. A tactical Marine will typically egress through an EVA chute which uses amniotic gel to shield the marine from physical trauma while the TU jinks at high gees to avoid enemy fire.
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