Arcanum 1780: A New World
The Royal Navy
Although the Admiralty in Philadelphia is the administrative and command headquarters of the Royal Navy of New Britain, it is not the main naval base for the Kingdom’s fleet. That lies some 650 miles to the South at Gosport Naval Base, by the town of Norfolk, Virginia. There lie the shipyards which produce the bulk of the Navy’s ships of the line, its main armories and its training establishment, as well as the main anchorage for the Fleet Of The Red, the Home Fleet. Home Fleet is responsible for the maritime security of the mainland coastline of New Britain and across the Atlantic to Africa and Southern Europe. The base also houses the Royal Naval Hospital where Fleet Surgeon Lord James Lind, Earl Brunswick, pioneered many magical healing techniques as well as the prevention of scurvy by use of lemon or other citrus juice and the training barracks for the Royal Marines and elite Royal Drop Marines who provide troops experienced in ship-borne tactics for the Fleets. The home base of the Fleet Of The White is at Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia where it is responsible for maritime operations across the North Atlantic to old Britain and the North European coast, as well as freshwater ships on the Great Lakes. The home base for the Fleet Of The Blue is at Kingston, Jamaica where it is responsible for the Caribbean shires, British Honduras, the South American coastline and forays into the Pacific and Indian oceans.
Each of the three Fleet anchorages can be expected to be home to a dozen ships of the line, with attendant smaller ships, at any time – and each is flagshipped by one of the 100-gun First Rates of the Naval order of battle. The Fleet bases are also where the kingdom’s small number of skyships-of-war will usually be found when not on a patrol or further ranging mission of some kind. Each Fleet then maintains smaller squadron anchorages within its area of operations, usually comprising one or two three-ship divisions of 3rd rate ships of the line flagshipped by a 2nd rate, and each with their attendant frigates and brigs as scouts and independent commands. Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston and New York are the bases for such squadrons in the Red Fleet area while Bermuda, Barbados are the busiest squadron bases in the Caribbean area.
The Navy took a major blow in the Gommorah Event, with many ships lost in the waters around Europe, but not as large a blow as the Royal Army had to bear. Still, the average fighting lifespan of even the best built wooden warship is no more than 30 or so years, so the Navy has replaced its entire ship roster since then, and built more besides. Currently there are some 240 total sailing ships in commission, in which 90 are ships of the line. Twenty of these are the massive First and Second Rate flagships, while seventy are the Third Rate, 74-gunned workhorses of the Fleet. Fourth Rate and below are no longer rated as capable of being part of the line of battle, but there are 40 Fourth and Fifth rate “cruisers” of 60 or 50 guns and another 40 of the Third Rate (Frigates) which operate mainly as the eyes of the Fleet. The remainder is made up of Brigs, sloops-of-war, cutters and other smaller vessels. The Navy has few Skyships-Of-War as yet, no more than twenty, with the largest being Third Rates. All told, the Fleet has about 80,000 personnel.
The Royal Marines were formed in 1758 by order of the Admiralty and currently have a strength of around 10,000 men organised administratively in fifty companies of 200 each comprising three Divisions. The force is then parcelled out by company and platoon to ships of the Navy and to various postings around the Kingdom, particularly as garrison for forts protecting major ports.
The Royal Drop Marines are a unit worthy of special attention. Recruiting from the normal Marines and from the Rangers, this unit never numbers more than a couple of hundred members because their main combat task requires a very particular mindset (in game terms, usually Daredevil or Luck). They use magi-tech Kinetic Web devices to board enemy vessels or to assault targets from the sky, free-falling until the very last second. Typical operation has a six-man squad dropping from a single vessel, using their Parachuting/TL5^ skill to stay in tight formation. When they near their drop zone, an Arcane Artificer officer will deploy a Kinetic Web at the landing point, and they will use their Parachuting/TL5^ skill to nullify the final velocity change. Because the Area of Effect only extends four meters above the surface of the drop zone, the Marines arrive in a tightly-packed flash, almost as if they teleported there – it can be extremely effective as a surprise attack, and even in non-surprise situations they are moving so fast that it is nearly impossible to shoot a Marine out of the sky when on the drop. Obviously, dropping at terminal velocity into the nest of tightly-stretched 3-inch cables that is a ship’s rigging is not conducive to survival, so Drop Marines practise freefall techniques for vectored approaches, and even wear magi-tech “flying-wing” rigs for some drops.