On April 2291, the invention of the Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine gave humanity the chance of expanding beyond the Sol system. On the next decades, the Colonial Administration Authority proceeded to prepare and organize the exodus into new habitable systems, which led the creation of several new colony ships, including the Phoenix-class colony ship.
The time of the Insurrection saw a number of class additions and developments to the UNSC's fleet. In 2493, the Valiant-class super-heavy cruiser entered service. Though serious cost problems over five years cast doubt in the class' future. At some point in the Insurrection, a new carrier, the Orion-class assault carrier, was built to help with ground operations. One of the last known class additions during the Insurrection was the Halcyon-class light cruiser. In 2510, the class first entered service.
CAA and CMA Absorption
In 2525, the UNSC would strip away the CMA's naval resources and give them to NAVCOM. As well, the UNSC would begin to take over the Colonial Administration Authority in the midst of the Human-Covenant war. With these additions, the UNSC received several different types of ships. This included the CAA's Springhill-class mining ship and the Diligence-class from the CMA. Both of which would be brought back to service or continued service such as with the UNSC Kronstadt and the CAA Heavy Burden.
Impressive fleet actions characterized the early war. 40 ships of Battle Group X-Ray fought a single Covenant vessel over Harvest, over 100 ships saw action in the Battle of Alpha Aurigae and another 70 clashed with the Covenant at the XI Boötis A system.
Final year of the war
By the final year of the war, a majority of the UNSC's ground forces had been consolidated at Reach and at Earth. For many colonies, it was only the ships of the navy that were reminders of the UNSC and gave aid to those cut-off. Though in many instances, the Navy couldn't afford the loss of ships and personnel, often leaving these colonies to their own devices including destruction by the Covenant. No appreciable differences could be seen in expeditionary and defensive fleets as the UNSC lost the ability to conduct offensive naval operations. Navy AIs by this point were still assigning ships to squadrons, though at that point they were administrative groupings that had lost meaning over the course of the war. As well, numerous fleets only existed on paper, having been destroyed in lost sectors years prior.
With 152 ships present at the of Battle of Reach, a large number of these ships were destroyed. This included many capital ships such as the UNSC Trafalgar, the flagship of the Epsilon Eridani Fleet and pride of the Navy.
Starting September 5, 2552 all remaining UNSC starships and their fleets were consolidated under a single command grouping under the UNSC Home Fleet. Numerous ships arrived at Earth on October 20, 2552. The ships above Earth would then go onto engage Covenant forces when they arrived the same day. By the end of the war, the plethora of UNSC starships had been reduced to only a few hundred.
Following the Human-Covenant war, the surviving UNSC starships were brought back to Sol to be repaired, refitted and counted.
A variety of starship classes and several ship improvements that were created during the war finally became commonplace. The Autumn-class heavy cruiser, the Strident-class heavy frigate and the Infinity-class supercarrier were all added to the fleet. All three have shielding, an unprecedented addition to UNSC ships.
Conflict with the Created and beyond
During the Created's Reclamation, many UNSC starships were disabled by Guardian Custodes. Some ships, were ripped out of Slipstream Space with the activation of the Guardians, like the UNSC Nereid. Shipboard AIs from numerous starships also defected to the Created.
In the UNSC, ships can also be operated by different departments and branches. Warships like the UNSC In Amber Clad were often operated by the UNSC Navy. UNSC Navy ships were deployed by UNSC Fleet Command. In the case of the UNSC Swift Justice, it was operated by the Incident Response and Investigation division of the UNSC. The UNSC Department of Commercial Shipping also operated a number of Freighters.
UNSC ships were organized into fleets; specifically numbered expeditionary fleets and named defensive fleets. Further down, ships were arranged into battle groups. As well, squadrons were a type of tactical grouping for support ships early in the Covenant War, but by the end of the war were relegated to a type of administrative grouping.
Often, naval groupings had a flagship from which commanding officers lead their groupings from.
There were a few known ways of identifying UNSC ships. There was the Hull classification symbol, which gives each ship a letter classification and a number. There was also the ship emblem, which was a unique image that crew wore on their uniforms.
Personnel and operations
It is expected of all navy ship personnel to participate in working parties. The working parties help with routine maintenance and replenishment.
The leader of a UNSC starship, like other human starships, is referred to as a Captain regardless of actual rank. The actual military rank of the leader is dependent on the size of the ship. Those of the rank Lieutenant often are in charge of small support vessels, Commanders are in charge of small warships, and Captains are in charge of line warships.
Several procedures affected the operations of UNSC ships as well. Prior to crash landings, active cryo pods were to be ejected into space. The Cole Protocol also affected the possible destinations of ships.
Traditions and culture
Navy personnel UNSC ships often follow old naval tradition. Boarding a UNSC warship is considered a ceremony, not a formality. When boarding a ship, the boarder requests permission from the officer on deck. The officer on deck will reply with a curt "Very well".
"Dead fleets" or "paper fleets" are maintained as tradition and to honor those who died while serving. Inadvertently, some starships will be attached to these fleets by bureaucratic error. Many crewmen regarded this as a bad omen.
Construction, decommissioning and repairs
The UNSC generally had construction facilities in orbit of planets. Tribute, and Mars had ship building yards. Reach also had its own ship breaking yards that decommissioned ships were sent to. Earth as well had orbital facilities for repairs and float outs. The UNSC Cradle on the other hand was a mobile Refit station that could travel to ships.
UNSC ships have an internal deck naming structure. On most ships, the Hangar deck is considered Zero Deck. Decks below that are "belowdeck" and are numbered in descending order starting at First Deck. Everything above the hangar deck is a "level", starting at Level One and going in an ascending order.
Cryo chambers were an important feature that allowed the crews to travel large distances without aging as much. Cryo facilities were often large and individual chambers displayed crew member names.
Crew quarters on UNSC navy ships vary by ship type. Halberd-class destroyers crew quarters were cramped with members being allocated a single sleeping pod that would sometimes need to be shared when the ship has additional crew.
UNSC ships were equipped with fusion drive engines to help them move and maneuver in real-space. Shaw-Fujikawa drives help ships reach supraluminal speeds.
A number of UNSC vessels, particularly those under the control of the UNSC Navy are equipped with weaponry.
MACs are massive coil guns that are used to accelerate multi-ton projectiles at extremely high velocities. These projectiles were a super-dense ferric (iron) tungsten shell.
As an example, frigate based MACs are capable of firing their slugs at roughly 30,000 meters per second. UNSC Infinity has miniature MAC guns along its hull, to compliment its built in, larger MAC guns.
UNSC ships generally carry an array of missile batteries. Most UNSC ships carry Archer Missiles in one of many pods. These include the M58 Archer Missile Delivery System and the M42 Archer Missile Delivery System. These were complemented with Fusion rockets.
Point defense batteries
UNSC ships had docking capabilities, though the exact details are dependent on what the ship is docking with. Stalwart-class light frigates were capable of docking with Moncton-class orbital weapon platforms. Class-L flash-docks routinely held frigates and corvettes, though the UNSC Pillar of Autumn was able to use one.
Attached to various UNSC vessels are a number of small craft. Some were operated by other branches of the UNSC. The F-41 Exoatmospheric Multirole Strike Fighter, for example, was most often operated by the UNSC Air Force. The ubiquitous Pelican was operated by several branches including the UNSC Marine Corps.
The UNSC also operated a colony ship class, the Phoenix-class colony ship.
Several types of support ships that were used include the stealthy Prowler and its subtypes. Other stealth ship classes existed including the Chiroptera-class stealth vessel. There was also the incredibly small sloop. Another type of ship that was used by the UNSC was the Calypso-class exfiltration craft. Following the UNSC's take over of the CAA, the Springhill-class mining ship helped build materiel for UNSC forces.
UNSC carriers were among the largest, most heavily armed ships the UNSC possesed. Two carrier classes were so large that frigates could dock with them; the Punic-class supercarrier and the Infinity-class supercarrier.
ONI's Reverse Engineering and Prototyping–Xenotechnology department have recovered, refit and begun testing on multiple Covenant starships.
List of UNSC starships
The following is a list of the starships that belong to and are used by the United Nations Space Command.
Cargo and Transportation Ships
A few UNSC craft have appeared in officially created, but non-canon materials. The UNSC Andraste was a ship that appeared in a piece of concept art for Halo 3. The UNSC Frontend, an M-class carrier was the center piece of a cancelled idea for Halo Wars 3.
In the introductory level Prepare To Drop in Halo 3: ODST, the UNSC In Amber Clad was represented with a model of a Charon-class light frigate. In all other media, including Halo 2: Anniversary, the In Amber Clad is a Stalwart-class light frigate.
In Halo 4, the Charon-class UNSC Forward Unto Dawn is depicted as a modified Strident-class. This depiction is non-canon. The Strident-class itself is also depicted differently between the campaign mission Midnight and Spartan Ops/Daybreak.