For Profit and Headware
“…and in the last years of Angevin’s Crusade, the most holy Saint Drusus did come to the far edges of Imperial space. There, he found his way blocked by vast and terrible storms that raged throughout the Immaterium, and he could go no further. Then Drusus, unwilling to leave what lay beyond in the darkness of heathen unbelief, did order a Watch be set upon the worlds along the Rim. There, his servants would defend the Emperor’s worlds from the predications of the dread Halo Stars.”
— Excerpt from A History of the Calixis Sector
Battlefleet Calixis is a colossal fleet of Imperial Navy vessels charged with the the protection of the Calixis Sector, an Imperial sector located in the Segmentum Obscurus on the northern edge of the known galaxy, near the Halo Stars and the Eye of Terror. To the trailing edge of the galaxy, the Calixis Sector is bordered by the hazardous territories of the Fydae Great Cloud and to spinward by the Scarus Sector. Battlefleet Calixis origins can be traced back to 384.M39, when the Calyx Expanse was officially declared conquered and the Angevin Crusade at an end by General Drusus. The sector’s Imperial Navy headquarters is located at the orbital void-station known as Port Wrath within the Golgenna Reach Sub-sector. The ships of Battlefleet Calixis are widely dispersed across the sector; some maintain the trade routes and well-travelled courses of the great chartist vessels, while others patrol the danger zones of the Adrantis Nebula and the Hazeroth Abyss where dark forces lurk still. But their most unpredictable and dangerous task is to guard the border of the Halo Stars, beyond which horrors uncounted and unknown lurk beyond the reach of Imperial space.
From the first discovery of the Koronus Fragments amongst Segmentum Obscuras naval records in 101.M38, the Imperium knew there might be unknown threats beyond the raging warp storms at the edge of the Calyx Expanse. These purported records of an unknown Explorator fleet told of mineral-rich worlds, habitable biospheres, and alien empires in the Halo Stars rimward of the Calyx Expanse. As the Angevin Crusade forged those lawless regions into the Calixis Sector, the Imperial Navy probed the edges of the Drusus Marches, searching for passages through the vast storms. None could be found, and the Navy ceased searching in the years after the Crusade, as ships returned to their former battlefleets and the sadly depleted remnants formed the nucleus of the nascent Battlefleet Calixis.
Battlefleet Calixis officially came into being in 384.M39 when General Drusus declared the Calyx Expanse conquered and the Angevin Crusade at an end. The newly formed Calixis Sector was established with Scintilla as its capital world and Port Wrath selected to act as sector naval headquarters. A substantial portion of the Angevin Crusade fleet dispersed to the coreward sectors, some returning to berths that they had left some sixty standard years before while others journeyed to join Imperial Crusades further along the rim. Aided by several Escort squadrons, the remaining half-dozen ships of the line formed the nucleus of the new Battlefleet Calixis.
Patrolling the Koronus Passage, Battlefleet Koronus provides a bulwark for the Calixis Sector against the horrors that lurk within the depth of the Halo Stars. The battlefleet itself consists of a dozen Cruisers and several Battlecruisers, supported by a number of Light Cruisers and several squadrons of Frigates and Destroyers. Due to the nature of its duties and the vast area of space it must cover, the Battlefleet also includes several carrier vessels.
Battlefleet Koronus primarily battles against the Orks which dwell within the Halo Stars, but also fights against local pirates, roving Chaos warbands, Eldar Corsairs, the Dark Eldar, and other mysterious Xenos civilizations.
Battlefleet Calixis Rank Hierarchy
The Imperial Navy is an institution with millennia of dusty tradition behind it and regulations so lengthy that they fill moon-sized scriptoria and data-vaults to bursting. Attempts to modernise the fleet and update its protocols have always been doomed by the sheer size and inertia of an organisation spread across 100,000 light years of space and potentially centuries of time. On top of this, each Segmentae Majoris Battlefleet is so riven with its own traditions and precedents that it is hard to be definitive about even something so fundamental as rank below the very highest echelons.
In all cases, the constant risks attendant to fighting ships mean that the Imperial Navy’s chain of command has to be robust enough to survive shocking casualties in battle and still keep functioning. A great deal of ink has been spilled codifying responsibilities and duties such that each will know their place, although in practice these become guidelines at best, useless bureaucratic nonsense at worst. Incessant training still drums the same message into every shipman’s head — keep doing your duty even when the world turns to flame and death and the frozen void yawns just inches away.
What follows is a breakdown of commonly held ranks and responsibilities within Battlefleet Calixis. Even within this broad structure many variations occur at the sector level that are unique to the needs and necessities of that locale; commodores may command fleets, admirals may command squadrons and warrant officers may command warships according to necessity.
Commissioned officers are the highest ranks of Navy officers and usually can only be created by the Battlefleet’s Administratum. In the Calixis Sector, a certain number of officers are generated by the “commissions” issued to Planetary Governors and Schola Progenium worlds each year to fulfil. Each commission is for a single child of “good character” to attend Port Wrath, there to become a Midshipman in the Holy Imperial Navy. Once they arrive, they may serve aboard Port Wrath for years waiting for a ship, or leave mere days after they set foot on the station.
Commissions issued to Planetary Governors are commonly sold to noble families or bestowed in a politically expedient fashion to reward a trusted Imperial noble or remove a troublesome sibling. A career in the Imperial Navy is viewed as a glorious, honourable and very probably fatal enterprise by noble houses, a sacrifice that enhances the family’s prestige immeasurably. The Schola Progenium, on the other hand, sends their best charges to serve, especially those with a naval heritage. The rivalry between the arrogant offspring of nobility and the earnest young orphans of the Scholas is legendary.
A good portion of Midshipmen join the Imperial Navy through a more informal system of patronage. It is not uncommon for a Naval captain to take on a noble’s son or daughter as a Midshipman at their family’s request. This may be a favour to an old friend, or a means to repay an ancestral debt. However, even in this case, most noble children find the Navy a harsh and uncompromising environment, where most must excel on their merits, or likely perish.
- Lord High-Admiral – Also called the Battlefleet Commander, Lord High-Admiral is the highest rank of the Imperial Navy. Only five of these august individuals exist, one for each of the Segmentae Majoris. Each is responsible for the Imperial Navy’s fighting forces across the thousands of sectors in their allotted quadrant of the galaxy.
Lord-Admiral – A Lord-Admiral, or Sector Commander, is responsible for all naval operations in a given sector and has direct command of units of the Segmentum warfleet allocated to that sector. Nominally a Lord-Admiral is based at the Segmentum Fortress with other sector-level Administratum officials, but most choose to base themselves at the foremost naval facility of the sector under their charge. The Sector Commander for the Calixis Sector is based at the orbital voidstation of Port Wrath.
- Solar Admiral – In the regions of space in and around the Calixis Sector, an Admiral with an illustrious career and a spotless record may eventually be sent to present themselves before the Battlefleet commander at the Segmentum fortress at Cypra Mundi – a journey that may take years. Should the Lord High-Admiral approve of the individual when he finally gets around to seeing them (often after several more years) he may send them on to Holy Terra for consideration to become a Solar Admiral, a process that can take the rest of their life. Solar Admirals are often prospective Sector Commanders waiting for assignment to a sector. As such opportunities are rare it’s far more common for Solar Admirals to be dispatched to war zones in command of a reinforcing fleet or kept busy on “special duties” with their own independent flotilla.
- Admiral – An Admiral is allocated command of a portion of a sector’s Battlefleet and responsibility for the security of a handful of star systems and the vast tracts of Wilderness Space that lie in between.
- Vice-Admiral – By long tradition a Vice-Admiral commands the leading division of a given fleet, the part that would equate to the vanguard of a terrestrial force. In later times this has come to mean commanding a force of Light Cruisers and Destroyers charged with scouting for the enemy, charting navigational hazards and long-range patrolling.
- Rear-Admiral – In ancient times when an entire Battlefleet might be massed together, the thousands of warships present would be divided in to three commands, each under their own admiral. The Rear-Admiral was the youngest and least experienced and so would be given charge of the rearmost division as the one least likely to see combat. Over time this rank has evolved into a largely administrative post charged with co-ordinating repair facilities, refuelling warships, forming convoys and other rear echelon activities.
- Commodore – Also sometimes called a Group Commander, the rank of Commodore was originally only a temporary one given to a senior Captain placed in charge of a squadron of warships. Over time the rank of Commodore has found its way into permanent usage as what were once temporary squadrons stabilised into regular patrol routes and areas of responsibility.
- Lord-Captain – Sometimes also referred to as a Flag-Captain, Lord-Captain is an honourific rank normally applied to Captains in command of vessels on detached duty. When a Lord-Captain speaks he is backed by the full authority of the Battlefleet.
Captain – Imperial Navy Captains are aloof, uncompromising figures unbowed by the awesome responsibility entrusted to them. They may be a tyrant, martinet, swashbuckler, strategist or saint but a Captain will always be an exceptional individual to hold full command of an Imperial Navy warship.
- Commander – Individual Escort-class vessels normally come under the chargeof a Commander, with a Captain or Commodore holding overall command of an Escort squadron. However, a Commander might also be found as the leader for a squadron of intra-system vessels, Wing Commander of the Attack Craft onboard a carrier ship, or placed in charge of an orbital voidstation.
- Lieutenant – Many officers in the Navy rise no higher than the rank of Lieutenant. System-defence ships and Monitors occasionally fall under the direct command of a Lieutenant. It is more common for them to be found acting as second-in-command aboard Escort-class warships, as part of the vast bridge crew found on a capital vessel, or in an Attack Craft squadron acting as Flight Leader.
- Midshipman – Midshipmen are the lowest ranking “officers” in the Imperial Navy, and are actually better described as students with an officer’s rank. Technically afforded an officer’s respect, they are nevertheless in demanding training to become true officers, and many of their duties are “hands on” opportunities to learn.
Warrant Officers (also known in some quarters as “Petty Officers”) act as the equivalent of sergeants and corporals in a planet-bound army. It is their job to disseminate orders from higher authority, ensure that those orders are carried out and maintain discipline amongst the enlisted ratings with regular floggings. They are called Warrant Officers because they are created through the issue of a written warrant from either fleet administration or the captain of the ship. Warrant Officers occupy positions of trust on the ship and a captain with even the most mutinous of crews can keep the ship running as long as he can rely on his Warrant Officers.
- Ship’s Master – The Ship’s Master is generally the ship’s most senior Warrant Officer and most experienced voidsman.
- Gun Captain – A Gun Captain has command of a single gun crew on a warship. The Gun Captain must know how to do the jobs of all the men under his command and often achieves the post only after decades of working his way up through all the different enlisted ratings. Gun Captains are highly respected individuals and there is often a great deal of rivalry between them over who’s crew is the fastest and most accurate on the ship.
Honourific or Specialist Ranks
- Master of Ordnance – The Master of Ordnance co-ordinates the efforts of the deck crews to ensure everything is fuelled, armed and ready to launch at a moment’s notice. They are also responsible for maintaining discipline and training standards among the kind of hotshot pilots attracted to Attack Craft service is said to be an art form in itself.
- Master of Arms – The Master of Arms is charged with ensuring that all weaponry onboard is serviceable and ready for action, from the greatest Macrocannon to the meanest Stub Pistol. The Sergeants-at-Arms report directly to him, and by extension all armsmen aboard a warship are under his control, and so he also performs a role akin to chief of police aboard ship.
- Sergeant-at-Arms – A Sergeant-at-Arms has charge of a squad of armsmen anywhere between six and twenty strong with responsibility for close action in naval combat (such as hit and run attacks and boarding actions). A Sergeant-at-Arms’ greatest responsibility is the keys entrusted to them for the weapons lockers found on every deck of a warship.
Bosun (Boatswain) – The ship’s Bosuns are disciplinarians and taskmasters in a crew, assigned to oversee the common ratings and indentured workers, determine their duties, and ensure they are carried out.
- Ship’s Surgeon – Sometimes also called the Chief Chirurgeon or unofficially, “sawbones,” the Ship’s Surgeon has charge of the medicae facilities aboard the vessel.
Officer of the Watch – The Officer of the Watch draws up duty rosters, assigns watches and attends the ship’s chronometers. On most Imperial warships the title of Officer of the Watch is rotated through the ranking commissioned officers.
- Fleet Commissar – Just as the regiments of the Imperial Guard have Commissars appointed to them to ensure their unwavering loyalty to the Emperor, the warships of the Imperial Navy are host to Fleet Commissars.
- Ship’s Confessor – The Confessor works tirelessly to promote the Imperial Creed among the crew and weed out Heretics. In these duties the Confessor is usually assisted by lay-preachers chosen from the most faithful on the lower decks.
Ratings take care of the functions that need muscle instead of training — hauling shells and missiles, re-routing cables, clearing debris and conducting basic maintenance (i.e., scrubbing the decks). They are the basic voidsmen aboard a ship. Men in this class typically have a myriad of sub-classifications (ratings) that specify their role further, e.g. Gun-Layer Third Class, Fuse-Changer Second Class and so on. Ratings make up the bulk of the warship’s crew and will be the ones doing most of the fighting in boarding actions.
- Armsman – Armsmen are crewmembers trusted to carry weapons at all times onboard the ship and maintain the contents of the vessel’s weapons lockers. They keep discipline among the lower ranks and protect the crew as needed — usually by wading in with truncheons or shooting first and asking questions later.
- Voidsman – Voidsmen (also referred to by the more archaic term “shipmen” on some Imperial Navy vessels) are those ship’s crew with some training and skill, the enlisted ratings most likely to be entrusted with tasks such as conduit-maintenance, bulwark repairs, cog polishing, or other jobs that might require some skill and autonomy.
As benefits any major sector of the Imperium, the Calixis Sector boasts a wide range of naval and commercial facilities to support travel amongst its star systems. The Calixis Sector’s Imperial Navy headquarters is located at the orbital void-station known as Port Wrath within the Golgenna Reach Sub-sector. This Imperial Navy installation is a huge combination dockyard and naval base serving as headquarters for Battlefleet Calixis. It half protrudes from a metallic planetoid orbiting Mundus, a white dwarf star in the Golgenna Reach, and bristles with Lance batteries matching the firepower of most fleets. Commanded for over fifty standard years by Rear-Admiral Zoila Kusch, this is the mainstay Imperial Navy installation in the sector.
“We are the first line of defence, mankind’s protection against the endless tides of heretics, traitors, criminals, and aliens. While we exist, while we remain vigilant, the Imperium remains safe. The lives of uncounted trillions rest in our hands…”
— Rear Admiral Zoila Kusch, Commander of Port Wrath, addressing the 812.M41 class of cadets
Patrols make up the majority of Imperial Navy operations within any given sector. Most vessels will spend most of their time patrolling, moving through the Wilderness Space between inhabited star systems. Passing along commonly-travelled routes, quarantined zones and areas of suspected hostile activity with varying frequency, most voidfaring criminal activity is encountered by Navy patrols first. Many patrols are fairly light, consisting of a squadron or two of Destroyers or Frigates, performing cursory sweeps of dust clouds and asteroid fields.
Only in areas of known hostile activity are patrols heavier, referred to as “fighting patrols,” consisting of as much as a Cruiser and several squadrons of Escorts, often supported by Attack Craft for more detailed investigations. Where patrols cannot frequently reach, long-range Augur stations and sentinel satellites provide a measure of security against enemy forces, giving system ships a degree of early warning about invading fleets, marauding pirates and other void-borne menaces. Most patrols are only given a simple numeric designation, but over the years, well-established patrols have gained identities of their own, named for their bases or granted honorifics for notable actions. The Stygian Vanguard, for example, patrol the centre of the Hazeroth Abyss Sub-sector from the Stygian System, while the Golgenna Third Extinctum, have a long legacy dating back to the Angevin Crusade.
Notable Patrol Groups
- Patrol Group 686, “Retaliator” – Officially known as Patrol Group 686, “Retaliator” Group is commanded by Commodore Teodor Evard Naremmus, a decorated officer hailing from a family on Sepheris Secundus with a distinguished history of naval service. The patrol group consists of seven vessels: a Light Cruiser and two squadrons each of three Frigates. The patrol is technically classified as a minor battlegroup, due to the presence of two War Worlds on its route and its proximity to the Koronus Expanse, a region known to harbour criminals and alien threats in abundance. Given the variety of potential enemies that could appear in the region, the crews of Retaliator Group are all battle-hardened veterans where such crewmen are available. Retaliator Group has been responsible for innumerable defensive actions against pirate vessels, and have crushed several smugglers over the centuries.
Notable Ships of Battlefleet Calixis
The following are some of the famed vessels in Battlefleet Calixis. Some have served in the Battlefleet since the founding of the sector, while others are more recent additions:
- Fist of Adamant (Retribution-class Battleship) – Flagship of the current Lord-Admiral of the Calixis Sector. The Fist of Adamant is an ancient and potent Retribution-class Battleship with systems dating back as far as the 32nd Millennium. The Fist is believed to have been salvaged from a Space Hulk and rebuilt somewhere in the Scarus Sector in the 37th Millennium. In the midst of a long and illustrious career, the Fist of Adamant won great renown with Battlefleet Calixis as the saviour of Port Wander. Under the command of the then Lord-Admiral Androvast Strophes, the Fist led the charge that finally broke the Ork blockade around the station. She was heavily damaged in an epic duel with the Ork flagship Da Wurldbreaka during the encounter and afterwards had to limp back to Port Wrath for extensive repairs. It was over a century and a half before the Fist of Adamant was again able to return to full active service.
Angevin’s Destiny (Unknown Class) – This ancient Imperial Battleship is the flagship of Battlefleet Calixis and regarded as the saviour at the Battle of Markayn.
- Loci Veritas Lux (Exorcist-class Grand Cruiser) – One of two Exorcist-class Grand Cruisers in the Battlefleet Calixis, the Loci Veritas Lux is a variant of the old Vengeance-class, a handsome keel-built ship designed at a time when broadside firepower dominated naval tacticians’ thinking above all else. While the Vengenace sacrificed prow armour and weaponry for improved broadsides and turrets, the Exorcist-class fitted launch bays in place of the broadside Lances and increased stores so the ships could operate self-sufficiently for long periods. This created a more versatile vessel, but Exorcists remain a rare sight except along the Rim, although that versatility makes them popular with Rogue Traders. Loci Veritas Lux and its sister-ship Loci Veritas Lumen have been successfully employed for several centuries in the Calixis Sector leading patrols and supporting convoys. The Attack Craft squadrons make the Exorcists a terror to pirates and raiders, while their increased endurance allows them to stay on patrol long after smaller craft have to turn for home. It is rumoured that both Exorcists have been ordered to join Navy forces in the Koronus Expanse where their great endurance can be put to good use. How well these old warhorses will stand up to the trip through the Maw is a matter of sharp concern for Rear-Admiral Skalingden.
- Loci Veritas Lumen (Exorcist-class Grand Cruiser) – One of two Exorcist-class Grand Cruisers in the Battlefleet Calixis, the Loci Veritas Lumen is a variant of the old Vengeance-class Grand Cruiser. Loci Veritas Lumen and its sister-ship Loci Veritas Lux have been successfully employed for several centuries in the Calixis Sector leading patrols and supporting convoys. The Attack Craft squadrons make the Exorcists a terror to pirates and raiders, while their increased endurance allows them to stay on patrol long after smaller craft have to turn for home. Commodore Wake used the Loci Veritas Lux as his flagship in the Golgenna Reaches for three decades, transferring his flag to the newly arrived Mars-class Battlecruiser Promethean Thunder only recently. It is rumoured that both Exorcists have been ordered join Navy forces in the Koronus Expanse where their great endurance can be put to good use.
- Triumph of Saint Drusus (Chalice-class Battlecruiser) – The Chalice-class Battlecruiser is a design thought unique to the Calixis Sector, along with all other vessels produced by the Lathe Forge Worlds. Famed ship-wright Hosiana Joz is said to have been gifted a vision of the Chalice-class sent by the Omnissiah. He was inspired to set about crafting a warship that could survive the turbulent tides in the Immaterium so often found close to the rim. Some whisper that the resultant ships possess some of the interior structures and conduit relays of an old Hades-class Heavy Cruiser. Despite such mutterings the handful of Chalice-class warships built are acknowledged as fine vessels, even if it is said they possess a bit of a glass jaw. The Triumph of Saint Drusus won fame routing the Emperor’s foes in many engagements, often operating independently to take full advantage of its superior grace and speed. However, an ill star does seem to hang over the history of the class. A disproportionate number have been lost over the centuries in enemy action (or unknown circumstances), while others have fallen and gone over to the Ruinous Powers. Currently, Lord-Captain Laomyr and the Triumph are on detached duty, investigating “disturbances at Sheol VII.”
- Vengeful Martyr (Dauntless-class Light Cruiser) – The lead vessel of Patrol Group 686 (“Retaliator” Group), the Vengeful Martyr is an ancient and revered vessel, one of the warships that served in the Angevin Crusade and survived to form the core of Battlefleet Calixis. Broadly speaking, the Vengeful Martyr is somewhat more capable than the average Dauntless-class Cruiser, being slightly more resilient and significantly more manoeuvrable than most, and fitted with a rare but potent plasma drive to power its forward Lance battery. The Vengeful Martyr has gained something of a reputation in its long history for being an eager warship, unwilling to hide or retreat but always reliable and potent on the attack. A long line of commanding officers have found it challenging to rein in the animal ferocity of the ship, but those who have succeeded have done great things with it.
- Nameless Saint (Firestorm-class Frigate) – Fairly new additions to Retaliator Group, the Nameless Saint, Just Persecution and Reaver’s Dismay were constructed and commissioned to replenish Vanguard Squadron, a trio of Sword-class Frigates that had formed part of the patrol group since its creation. Having served in the Angevin Crusade, the original Vanguard Squadron was destroyed by Ork ram ships during the Battle for Port Wander. Its replacements consisted of Firestorm-class Frigates, a comparatively recent development, made in the centuries before the Gothic War, and which did not exist during the founding of the Calixis Sector. The Firestorms of the replenished Vanguard Squadron were the first warships of their kind to be introduced to Battlefleet Calixis, and their successful use heralded the widespread introduction of this class to the sector fleet. Their effectiveness against raiders and Frigates makes them ideal for patrols and raids.