Good Ship Naming, and Non-Lanchesterian Realities.

I just looked into the lengthy history and background of the Rocinante (The Expanse): that’s a lot of work for a starship spaceship’s name. I wouldn’t put in that kind of effort unless it was the key PC ship for an entire campaign (which it is, so far as the book series is concerned…)

Anyways, bravo for that demonstration of love and hard-core research!

While looking for more info on the Rocinante, I took at peek at Project Rho’s Space Warship Design page. Two bits of info are definitely worth recording on this blog:

In the current “wet” Navy, a “Fleet” is more of an organizational fiction rather than an actual entity. A group of ships belong to a fleet. But what is generally encountered at sea is a “Task Force.” A few ships from a fleet are “detached” to form a task force charged with performing a specific mission. When the mission is completed, the ships of the task force are dissolved back into the fleet.

US Navy Units
Unit Commanding
Task Element Commander to Captain One large vessel (plus escorts)
Task Unit Rear admiral to Commodore 3 to 4 task elements.
If no capital ships = Flotilla
If any capital ships = Squadron
Task Group Rear admiral 2 or more task units
Task Force or
Battle Fleet
Vice admiral 2 or more task groups
Fleet Admiral all vessels in a general region
Navy or
Fleet admiral Nation’s entire naval forces.
Suggested Terminology

Going off of a very rough historical comparison to WW1 and earlier naval organizations try:

Squadron = More than 3 ships of same type/class/mission.

Flotilla = more than 1 Squadron operating independently under one commander.

Division = same as a Flotilla except operating as part of a Fleet.

Fleet = Multiple Divisions.

The logistical support ships, cargo, colliers, oilers, etc. usually operated to support the battle Fleet (Flotilla etc) and could be called a Division, Squadron, or Fleet Train. Some support vessels were never organized into units at all.

The US Navy still uses Squadrons, but formed units are generally called Battle Groups or Task Forces when operating alone, though they are still part of the Fleet.

Pineconez’ second law:

Assuming a techlevel more advanced than nearfuture (i.e. interstellar -or- extremely cheap interplanetary travel exists), there will exist no true warship which will not ALSO be capable of single-handedly exterminating an entire continent, be it via nukes, kinetics or handwavium bombs.


If you are able to intercept and kill another warship across a star system, you are also capable of reducing to radioactive rubble an entire planetary civilization with little effort.

Really, Pineconez’s second law shouldn’t need to be explicitly mentioned, but Referees and Scenario Builders sometimes forget what kind of toys they are playing with.

And one more thing…


Military strategy theory that basically says whichever side has more combat units in the battle automatically wins. Science fiction authors and game designers find this to result in scenarios that are drearily boring, so they often go out of their way to try to figure out extenuating circumstances to ensure military combat in their novels is non-Lanchesterian.

Well, not really, at least not for me. Big men tend to win their fights against small men, and wealthy nations tend to win their fights against poor nations: that’s just part of the fabric of reality.

What’s really interesting when you have a man with a sword, fighting a swarm of bees…

I know: what instantly comes to mind is the various Western (and Soviet!) adventures in the Middle East.

But there’s more than one way to shatter the chessboard: I still remember the shock I had in the early 90s when I realized that all the Soviet secret police, all the Border Guards, all the propaganda and media control, all of it could not save the Soviet State.

My young and vigorous faith in the power of men and guns and media control never really recovered from that blow.

Still: “The battle is not always to the strong… but that’s still the smart way to bet.”

About Alvin Plummer

I'm working to build a better world, a world that blesses Christ and is blessed by Him. I hope that you're doing the same!
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