|Based in||Various City-states, kingdoms, and empires|
The navy or Senior Service is one of the two major armed forces, the other being the army. It specializes in naval warfare and defense, consisting of fleets of ships, mostly rams. Each state of the Empire is allowed to have as large a navy as it can afford, a stark difference from the strict army regulations set by the Accord of Menschen.
Serving in standing navies, also known as fleets-in-being, is the single most common occupation in Half-Continent, with only the merchant marine and Imperial bureaucracies coming even close. The navy calls itself the Senior Service, a navy posting being considered superior to service as a lamplighter, in an Imperial post, or in the army. This popularity stems from the constant demand for new recruits. Navies promise great rewards via posters; fête famous or valorous captains to bolster their popularity; press vagrants, foundlings, and merchant vinegars into service; offer convicts berths to substitute prison sentences; kidnap or entice crews of other vessels; and basically anything it takes to fully man the fleets.
Naval life itself is tough: vinegaroons often die young after suffering the long years in the caustic sprays of the vinegar seas. Naval life is still a popular occupation, though, from the higher pay relative to lubbers and the real chance of prize money. Sources of naval recruits and a pension options for retired vinegaroons are marine societies, institutions founded to teach children the basics of naval life. In navies (and naval colleges, school, and societies), watches are kept by bells of the watch.
There are many ranks aboard a ram, including:
Navies consist primarily of ironclad rams of all different sizes and roles, employed for various tasks. Some of these include:
- Landguarde: Patrolling of coasts and guarding of maritime boundaries
- Ward-merchant: Protection of cargoes and other similar ships, usually in convoy
- Courser: Hunting down and sinking or capturing pirates
- Marquelin: Privateering and executing letters of marque
- Line-of-fleet: Operating in battle fleets and squadrons
- Register-ship: Carrying currency, bullion, and other valuable state or Imperial goods
- Kraultrekker: Prowling for kraulshwimmen and other nadderers, to keep them from ports and cargo lanes
- Main-surveyor: Exploring, charting, and reconnaissance, all fronts for spying
Vinegaroons do not wear uniforms, but the rams they serve on possess bunting, distinct collections of flags, that are used for identification, decoration, and communication. Typically, a navy is made up of twenty or thirty capital rams, including three to five main-sovereigns and sixty or so cruisers, as well as many schooners, advice boats, and other sailers for observation and message running.
The upkeep of a navy is a monumental task. A city-state will usually have more rams than it could possibly keep in its harbors, keeping about two-thirds of any navy at sea at a time. Maintaining a respectable navy requires immense sums, to the point that some states might not have the available money. To make up for this, naval agents bustle about the Half-Continent, running private enterprises, investing in companies, and seeking investors from those who would benefit most.