Covenant ship classification system
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The Covenant ship classification system is an organizational method that is used by the Covenant to categorize their warships. The Covenant's spacecraft classifications do not follow the standards typically used by humanity.
Analogous to the UNSC Navy's formalised starship classifications, the Covenant fleet is divided into several major groupings, each which fulfil a particular niche required by their navy. These terms may be occasionally referred to as a "class" name - for example, a Varric-pattern heavy cruiser may sometimes be referred to as an examiner-class cruiser to distinguish it from the empire's other heavy cruiser classes.
Advocates served as the core of most Covenant fleets, and consist of frontline warships with crews eager for honour and victory. They carried out the orders of their superiors without question or delay.
While no presently-confirmed vessels yet fall into the advocate role, the Ket-pattern and Elefen-pattern battlecruisers and their predecessor, the Maugen-pattern armored cruiser, match the given description almost perfectly.
Attack ships were the most common warships available to the Covenant, but were considered beneath the notice of most Fleetmasters except for use as diversions to distract enemies from more valuable targets, generally being pawned off to Kig-Yar or Jiralhanae and other profit-focused crews. They were usually assigned to patrol Covenant space, inspecting and escorting shipping that carried the tithes of Covenant worlds or pilgrims to High Charity. Sangheili crews that found themselves assigned to such vessels tended to regard them as inglorious assignments, eager to prove themselves worthy of transfer to more prestigious assignments in battle, such as examiner type ships, but were unenthusiastic about protecting executioner ships when assigned as escorts.
Coadjutators served as special-purpose vessels originally built for the Covenant ecclesiarchy, and as such their initial role was obscured in record. Many of them wound up serving exclusively as escorts and occupational security roles.
Conservators are conventional warships in the Covenant, elevated with a greater purpose and degree of prestige. They were usually found operating as squires for pilgrim ships, missionaries and emissaries from High Charity.
Examiners were valuable and rare ships usually crewed by experienced crews, with personnel considered judicious and bold. They frequently employed Forerunner technology in their construction, and Ministries that wished to crew and deploy one needed direct approval from a Hierarch. However, they were easily reassigned. Examiners were generally commissioned during times of great need, and allocated to only those who had proven themselves.
Exarchs were the largest and most powerful warships within their respective domains, and even the Covenant as a whole. Their crews saw the opportunity to serve on these vessels as an unimpeachable honour.
The size and role of the Sh'wada-pattern supercarrier may suggest it to be of exarch status.
Executioners were unusual in Covenant ship standards, as they represented some of the only warships built with no other goal in mind except for warfare. Due to this, they were typically regarded as a distasteful reminder by the Prophets that the Great Journey depended on the use of violence, and were assigned far from High Charity during times of peace, across the Covenant's expansive border. This made them difficult to bring to bear when the Covenant mobilized for war with humanity, delaying their assignment to the frontlines by years. Their sheer destructive potential meant their construction was rationed.
- Ester-pattern armored frigate
- Kewu-pattern battleship
- Rasus-pattern interdictor
- Rothen-pattern fireship
- Sinaris-pattern heavy destroyer
- Wik-pattern light destroyer
Procurators were far more common, but were independent of military chains of command or system governors, though usually complied to requests, and needed Hierarch approval to attach to fleets in order to curb the power of the Sangheili. They were also commanded by San'Shyuum Shipmasters, rather than Sangheili, further forcing Sangheili fleets and colonies to depend on the Prophets for their supply lines. When High Charity fell to the Flood and the Prophet of Truth was killed, many of these ships departed Covenant space with their Prophet commanders and loyal escorts, joining the rest of the San'Shyuum fleeing Sangheili retribution, making them a rare sight in the post-war era. Procurators often housed Assembly Forges, food reserves and the Huragok personnel needed to maintain Forerunner equipment.
Procurator ships include the following;
Vestiges were old warships that served during the War of Beginnings, when the Sangheili were united against the overwhelming power of the San'Shyuum's Keyship. Fleets of Vestiges were sent off to drift in space or buried in caverns beneath airless worlds, with any records of their history or battle-honors deleted from all data archives by clans that wished to overturn the Writ of Union. Forgotten by all but a few dedicated lineages, these vessels were reclaimed by Sangheili Covenant remnants after the Great Schism to be pitted against other Sangheili forces and burn what they were built to protect.
Vestige ship classes are generally named after sailing ships from the Age of Sail.
Vestige warships include the following;
- Hekar Taa-pattern blockade runner
- Lursu-pattern brigantine
- R'sikosh-pattern man o' war
- Rwaru-pattern carrack
The Useumru-pattern voidpiercer, constructed in the first two years of the Covenant's existence, may also count as a Vestige warship.
Three-letter classification codes
During the war, the United Nations Space Command and Office of Naval Intelligence attempted to classify Covenant ships based on observation and limited intelligence about the Covenant's own ship codes. This allowed UNSC analysts to create a schema for identifying Covenant vessel types roughly synonymous with human naval hull codes - though these classifications do not map perfectly to human standards. These codes take the form of three letters forming the Covenant ship's "class" name (ie CCS-class), with each of the three letter codes derived from the Covenant's internal mission codes. Following the end of the war with the Covenant, cooperation with the Swords of Sanghelios revealed the true complex extent of Covenant naval organisation to human analysts, and a shift away from the three-letter codes.
The three-letter codes are transliterations of a given ship's primary, secondary and tertiary classification codes used in the Covenant fleet, with the letters' ordering determining the importance of that feature, role or ability in the ship's mission. For example, the ORS-class heavy cruiser would be broken down as follows;
- O - Ordained: This is not a mission type but instead denotes that the ship is enhanced with Forerunner technology such as a relic core.
- R - Reverence: Reverence mission codes mean that a ship is capable of conducting reconnaissance missions and excavating Forerunner artefacts.
- S - Salvation: Salvation mission codes refer to a dedicated warship capable of cleansing their enemies with "holy fire".
As such, the ORS' primary characteristic is that it is a Forerunner-enhanced ship, primarily intended for reconnaissance and excavation missions - with pure combat only a tertiary focus. As such, Covenant ships (such as in the case of Incorruptible) may sometimes be referred to off-hand as "Reverence"-class ships, though in reality any ship bearing the R in its letter code (such as the ORS and CRS-class cruisers, CAR-class frigate, etc) could be described as a Reverence-class.
The known letters used in the classification system include A, C, D, O, P, R, S, and V. Of these known letters, only the O, R, and S designations are known (listed above), though it should be noted that the letter classification codes do not have any correspondence with the class designations used by the Covenant (detailed at the top of this article). Equally, it is unknown what significance repetition of the letters in a class name (such as the CCS-class) signifies. Due to the limited understanding of Covenant ship organisation and manufacture, some human-ascribed three-letter codes correspond to multiple individually-recognised design pattern variations, similarly to the errors present in their type classification system for ground equipment. For example, both the Kerel-pattern and Syfon-patterns of assault carrier maintain the CAS hull code.
List of three-letter classifications
- Corvettes and light warships
- Support ships
- Halo Waypoint Forums, Catalog Interaction: "[Covenant] naval classifications do not follow Human standards." - Catalog (Retrieved on Jul 30, 2021) [local archive] [external archive]
- Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition), page 265
- Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition), page 260
- Halo: Warfleet, page 72-73
- Halo: Warfleet, page 64-65
- Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition), page 269
- Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition), page 262
- Halo: Warfleet, page 60-61
- Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition), page 266-267
- Halo: Warfleet, page 68-69
- Halo: Warfleet, page 78-79
- Halo Waypoint, Canon Fodder - Have S'moa (Retrieved on Oct 30, 2021) [archive]