Convoy Operations and Tactics: An Interstellar Best Management Practices Guide
This is a document that I, along with the help of many others have decided to put together for the benefit of traders, merchants, privateers, freelancers and others in the Star Citizen Universe. I felt that there was a need for players of all skill levels to have a reference document to look to as to how to conduct Convoy Operations throughout known space. Moving materials from one place to another is a cornerstone of how the Star Citizen Universe will work. Planets and Planetary Systems that do not receive the necessary goods and services they require will begin to decay and will invite a criminal element (or more than what was already there).
There are going to be elements about this (and other) documents that will change or become obsolete over time as CIG continue to iterate and complete Star Citizen. As much as possible I will attempt to edit the document to keep pace with whatever changes as time allows. This document is RP-centric so keep that in mind when reading.
Some may say, “Why are you spending your time on this? The game isn’t even in Beta yet and everything is going to change”. Well for starters, this for me is fun. Thinking about tactical scenarios and how best to deal with them from an operational and/or tactical standpoint is something I enjoy thinking about. With that being said, let me be ABSOLUTELY CLEAR, I HAVE NO EXPERIENCE OF ANY KIND in commercial or military planning or in tactical operations. Most of the information I’m placing in this guide comes from some research into the subject (internet, books, documentaries, etc.) and what for me FEELS like common sense. With that being said, I am open to the fact that some of my recommendations may make no sense (some have been altered as they’re not applicable for the medium in which I am applying them [re: energy states for aircraft in atmosphere versus in vacuum]), and if someone feels that there is a better way of doing something, please PM @TheronShan within Star Citizen. If I think it fits, I’ll be happy to edit the document to reflect your ideas.
However, the SPIRIT of what I am attempting to accomplish is that convoys and escort operations have remained essentially unchanged for the last 5,000 Standard Earth Years, since the movement of wagons of gold, food and people across long distances through potentially hostile territory:
- Move the material from Point A to Point B.
- Protect the Convoy as well as can reasonably be expected given your available resources and be flexible in your tactics.
- The Convoy matters over all other concerns.
We in the BrownCoats as people know, like to keep our mottos a bit simpler:
- Find a crew, find a job, keep flying
NOTE: Also I tried as best as possible to use "his/her" or "he/she" when referring to pilots/captains or the gender neutral "their". However, there may be some instances where that wasn't done. It is in no way meant to imply preference over pilot gender.
The purpose of the Interstellar Best Management Practices (BMP) contained within this booklet is to educate starship crews on how-to-best avoid, evade, delay, deter and defend against piracy or other aggressor attacks in High Risk Areas (or any area of conflict) of space as identified by the UEE. Experience and data collected by UEE Naval/Military forces and the Advocacy, shows that the application of the recommendations contained within this document can and will make a significant difference in preventing the loss of life, vessels and cargo.
The potential consequences for not following BMP, as set out in this document are severe. There have been documented instances of pirates subjecting their victims to violence and other ill treatment. (Note: This document is in no way a guarantee against loss or death during the execution of convoy operations. Travel through interstellar space, even in Low Risk/High Security Areas is a dangerous occupation. The author(s) of this document assume no liability either written or implied for any loss incurred when following the BMP as laid forth in this document including but not limited to the total loss of cargo, vessel and or life.)
For the purposes of the BMP, the term “aggressor” will be used and includes all acts of violence or threat of violence against starships, her crew and/or cargo. This includes armed robbery, attempts to board and take control of the starship, attempts to hijack cargo or cargo carrying vessels, attempts to destroy cargo or cargo carrying vessels in an attempt to blockade, deny, interdict, sabotage or otherwise prevent a convoy from reaching its intended destination.
Not all Convoy Tactics and Protections Measures discussed in this BMP may be applicable to every starship type or scenario.
BE FLEXIBLE IN YOUR TACTICAL ASSESSMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION: Remember “NO PLAN SURVIVES CONTACT WITH THE ENEMY” - Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke (1800 - 1891 SEY) - German Field Marshall and the Chief of Staff of the Prussian Army
NOTE: This document, Convoy Operations and Tactics: An Interstellar Best Management Practices Guide is intended to work as Part 1 of a 2 Part compendium on Interstellar Best Management Practices. Please refer to Part 2 of the compendium: Convoy Escort Tactics: An Interstellar Best Management Practices Guide. Both documents should be read by Convoy and Escort Commanders alike to gain better insight as to how to operate as a cohesive unit during Convoy/Escort Operations.
Interstellar Pirate Activity - The Low Security/High Risk Areas
Almost all of space is sometimes referred to as “Low Security Space” or just “Low-Sec”. Interstellar transit requires single vector quantum travel often. In well populated and UEE/Planetary System secured space, generally only well-travelled “space lanes” between known Jump Points and other points of interest (POI) are patrolled by applicable Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs). In all other areas, the time to intervention after a distress signal or an incident report from a passing vessel is received includes the time to transmit the signal and response starships time to plot their course and transit to the incident coordinates. Depending on the location and availability of forces in the region, this can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes in even the most “lawfull” of star systems. In “Low-Sec” space, response times can be much longer and in most likelihood the only assistance available will be from either a chance response from a well-armed and well-meaning player /NPC civilian vessel, search and rescue organizations or the focus of this document, paid escort vessels. Interstellar aggressor attacks have taken place throughout known space, affecting all interstellar shipping and general transit alike. In the last 200 SEY, interstellar aggressors have acquired a rapidly increasing and technologically and operationally diverse number of large and powerful ships, space stations and hidden asteroids bases. These are often used as “Forward Operating Bases” or “Carriers” which enable them to operate at extreme (and formerly unheard of) ranges.
Moving men and materials from one planet to another or one star system to another is the basis for Interstellar Commerce in the universe. The gears of the wheels of interstellar civilization would grind to a halt without it. This means materials (ore, water, computer components, etc) and people (technicians, laborers, tourists, etc.) need to be brought from one location to another in a safe and timely fashion. This can be and is sometimes done in single ship transits. Usually done in High Security/Low Risk or “High Sec” space, this often takes the form of short interplanetary hops in well patrolled star systems. However much of the commerce that take place in the galaxy revolves around moving tens of thousands of Standard Cargo Units (SCUs) hundreds of light years through multiple Jump Points and numerous Star Systems. Inevitably ships will need to transit through less secure portions of space as not even the UEE Military/Advocacy with all their might, can be everywhere all the time. Therefore, all commercial pilots when feasible, should employ the safety of a convoy.
With the advent of the Hull series of ships as well as the other classes of cargo ships available in the universe including but not limited to the Freelancer, Constellation, Starfarer, Merchantman and other classes of cargo vessels there's going to be the need for strictly adhered to tactics for escorting cargo ships throughout different star systems
The BMP practices laid forth within this document will provide you with the tools to make the best selection and decisions when operating a convoy that will increase your chances of maximizing your profit and minimizing your risk to piracy.
Destination Distance/System Security
One of the first things that needs to be done is to analyze several factors that will help determine the size and type of convoy and escorts required to reach a destination. The first of these factors is distance followed by Star System security. How far do you need to travel from your point of origin to reach your destination? Will the route take you 5 AU through a single adjacent star system or will you be traveling for 100 AU through multiple star systems. This information is important because it will determine how many star systems will need to be traveled through to reach your destination. This information should take into account secondary or alternate convoy routes (to be discussed in a later section). Second, what is currently the known security rating of the systems your convoy will be travelling through? Convoys must keep a constant watch on the security rating of the systems on their convoy route. Referring to your Spectrum Reports on your Mobi-Glas, reviewing UEE/Advocacy notices as they become available, even listening to trusted non-official sources can be the difference between a boring uneventful convoy and finding yourself in the middle of a shooting war.
Many pilots take the view that if the majority or entirety of the systems your route is traveling through are controlled by the UEE, then escort duty won't be as taxing or even required. However, this is an often expensive and sometimes fatal decision. In the last few years, the UEE and Advocacy crackdowns on pirate raids in various outlying star systems have resulted in forcing raiders out into otherwise safer systems in order to search for victims. However if you're traveling through five star systems two of which are low security the last three are no security the size of your escort and the skill level of that escort will need to be scaled up accordingly. Convoys should be prepared to pay at least 5-10% of the total value of their cargo for escort protection services. In game you can run afoul of NPC/PC player pirates/mercenaries in almost ANY system, not to mention Vanduul threats the closer you travel to the front so it's best not to get lulled into a false sense of security even in the most pedestrian of star systems.
Number and Types of Ships in the Convoy
It is not within the scope of this document to lay out the tactical capabilities of all the various makes and types of cargo capable ships that you could find yourself in a convoy with. However, whether you are requesting assistance in hauling cargo (i.e.: generating a job on the Trade and Development Division [TDD] site) or you are taking one of many cargo hauling slots in a TDD posted request, be sure that the ships you decide to form a convoy with are compatible with whatever ship your are captaining at the time. Convoys ideally should be constituted of ships with similar (in no particular order):
- Cargo Carrying Capacity
- Captain Experience (will need to look at reviews via the TDD if applicable)
- Condition (if you are able to see that information prior to agreeing to join a convoy)
Pairing up and flying in formation in a three-Freelancer convoy with your Hull E is not an efficient convoy configuration as the speed, maneuverability and armament of the Freelancers are largely nullified by having to stay in formation with the much larger and slower Hull E. This is not to say that this, or any other similarly mismatched convoy configuration will not work but you will need to understand the capabilities of the vessels you're flying with PRIOR to agreeing to join said convoy.
All things being equal (and they seldom are), the more ships you can have in your convoy the better. More ships equates to more weapon systems, more sensors scanning more areas of space for aggressors and frankly more targets to present to potential aggressors. Which has an actual advantage of spreading potential damage over a wider area leading to less overall damage per vessel in the convoy. Larger convoys also tend to deter most small to medium sized aggressor groups for the same reason. Entering the weapons range of a tight triple Vic-formation (discussed in a later section) of a 10-ship Banu Merchantman convoy is something only the most foolhardy and desperate of marauders will try and most will only try it ONCE.
Pilot/Captain experience isn’t so important as the reputation that individual has earned throughout their time in the universe. Pay special attention to any notes left by others that have run Convoy Operations with them previously. Special attention should be made to notes that indicate a pilot/Captain broke formation and retreated or “went off the reservation” and just did their own thing. While the decision of each captain as it pertains to the welfare of his or her own ship is absolute, while in a convoy, it is understood that some autonomy may be needed to be seceded to the Convoy Commander in order to maintain cohesion and stability. This guide would caution against entering into a convoy with pilots/Captains that show an inability to think of the group first and themselves second.
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to how large a convoy can be (besides the in-game/CryEngine rules set by CIG) however, remember after a certain number of vessels, command and control of the convoy formation will become unwieldy for a single Convoy Commander (discussed in a later section) and may necessitate the designation of one or more Assistant Convoy Commanders that can oversee sub-sections of the convoy and report back to the Convoy Commander for overall tactical guidance.
Operational Security (OPSEC)
This is an often overlooked portion of Convoy Operations. Remember that many marauders, pirates, corporate terrorists and all around psycho/sociopaths frequent TDD terminals looking for potential victims. While they probably will not be able to actively infiltrate your convoy as a pilot (although this possibility should not be discounted or overlooked so reference back to a pilot’s reputation dossier is recommended), they can infiltrate as hired crew members. This BMP recommends that crew members be hired based not only upon their available price (which is often the case) but also their reputation. Last minute hires (especially if you don't know them and they request to be part of your crew) should be met with suspicion.
Note: Please refer to DYAD’s Best Management Practices Against Interstellar Piracy: Volume 3 - Anti Piracy Guidance for assistance in identifying and defending against ship infiltration as it relates to choosing crew members. DYAD BMP: Anti-Piracy
In addition to potential infiltration of your ship and its crew, pirates will often scan TDD terminals looking for lucrative convoys. They will then send messages ahead to their gangs to stake out the most likely route to the destination in the hopes of ambushing an unsuspecting convoy. One way to defend against this is two-fold. First, don’t indicate to any ship captains or pilots or crew the planned route of the convoy prior to getting underway. Second, always have alternate routes planned to reach the desired destination. (Note: Convoy Commanders may need to disseminate this information with Escort Commanders so they can plan accordingly as to any potential support vessels they may need (Fuel, repair, restock of ammunition if applicable).
Non-RP: Don't go and tell 100 people in open chat you are taking a huge shipment of diamonds to location X and you're taking route A without escorts because no one is going to tell you how to play the game
An example of an alternate route plan would be a convoy from the Goss System to the Corel System. There are at least two routes of nearly equal length and risk: Route 1: Goss, Magnus, Nexus, Corel. Route 2: Goss, Terra, Kilian, Min, Unknown (a Sub UEE system) #12, Corel. Taking Route 1: Completely bypasses the Min system, which while much isn’t known about it at current time , the system according to available star charts (See: Star Citizen Star Chart) is connected via Jump Points to the Pyro and Cathcart systems. Both of which are nearly “Nul-Sec”(No UEE/Advocacy Patrolled) systems. Therefore, Route 2 would be the most dangerous of the two routes as it would open a convoy up to pirate attack on two sides with potential reinforcements only a single system jump distant.
Always have backup routes planned in the event of UEE/Advocacy updates indicating an increase in pirate/marauder/Vanduul activity in a particular sector. Also don’t forget, the Banu take a decidedly “hands off approach” to pirates entering and leaving their space so don’t expect to get a lot of help from them if accosted on the border of Banu/UEE space.
Ship and Cargo Insurance
This should be a no-brainer and shouldn’t require more than a sentence to emphasize. All ships in a convoy should have the requisite hull and cargo insurance. If by chance a pilot or Captain doesn’t want to run with hull insurance, that’s his/her livelihood hanging in the balance, however all cargo should be insured for whatever the industry standard for cargo insurance will be once the PU goes live. Hull and Cargo Insurance is easily obtained through your Mobi-Glas interface so there should be little reason to not have it.
Convoy Commander/Assistant Convoy Commander Designation
The Convoy Commander and by extension the Assistant Convoy Commander (CC/ACC) are the two most important positions in the convoy. Many would argue that that distinction would fall to the Escort Commander, but in actuality the CC ultimately is responsible for the safety and well being of the convoy and the cargo it’s carrying. As such, extra effort should be made in choosing a CC that can effectively lead the convoy. Below are a list of the responsibilities of the Convoy (Assistant) Convoy Commander:
- Determine a Route for Transportation of Cargo from the Point of Origin to Point of Destination;
- Scanning or providing for the scanning of all ships in the convoy for illegal contraband (at the CC/ACC’s discretion);
- Determine and maintaining formation cohesion;
- Assigning sensor sectors and rules of engagement for convoy vessels;
- Set Rally Point Coordinates (RPC) upon arrival with a star system and transmission of RPC to all vessels in the convoy and
- Determination of Convoy Tactics (Evade, Defend, Flee, Repair, Abandon, etc)
The determination of who will fill the role of Convoy Commander is ultimately up to those within the convoy, however the role may be predetermined by an Organization that organizes the convoy or by the largest group. Again it will be up to the individual vessels to determine the CC.
Scanning of ships within the convoy for contraband is not a necessity however, the last thing a CC should want to deal with is the Advocacy or the UEE Military discovering that one (or more) of the ships in your convoy is carrying (Stims, Color, SLAM, Stolen Art or worse, Slaves). This BMP cannot make any assurances that the UEE/Advocacy will not categorize all ships within the convoy as smugglers and criminals and fire upon and/or seize all ships and crew members. Obviously any ships found to be carrying unwanted contraband should be asked to leave the convoy. Involving the authorities is at the discretion of the CC.
The CC should determine the formation of the convoy throughout the duration of the mission. Adherence to formation discipline can make the difference between success and disaster. The distance maintained between each vessel will be determined by the convoy commander and will be a factor that includes size of ships, maneuverability, defensive capability and available escorts. Formation discipline will be among the most important factors determining the success of a convoy route. Ships that "freelance" or routinely break formation not only jeopardize themselves but the convoy as a whole due to the fact that a ship out of formation takes its scanning ability, it's share of defensive capabilities as well as unnecessarily ties up escort craft to protecting it while leaving sectors of the convoy unprotected.
There are numerous types of formations a convoy can assume, but for the purposes of this document only the three most commonly used will be discussed, those being:
- The Vic
- The Echelon
- The Line Astern
The Vic is the basic formation that can be made into almost any other formation in convoy operations. In addition, it's the easiest of formations for novice convoy pilots to master. It has the advantage of keeping all vessels within easy sight of each other and the distance can be easily opened or closed to provide for greater maneuverability (wide spacing), greater defence (medium spacing) or easier escort coverage (closed spacing). The differences between the various spacing will vary based upon the types of vessels in the formation and the range of their weapon systems however a good rule of thumb would be WIDE: 750 meters between vessels; MEDIUM: 500 meters between vessels and CLOSED: 250 meters between vessels.
The formation also allows the pilots to see each other and allows them to stay together in areas of poor visibility like nebulas. Later, if/when bomber and reconnaissance flights come under attack from fighter aircraft, the Vic has proved to have good defensive characteristics; pilots, looking inwards to maintain formation could overlook each other for attackers, while their observer/rear gunners could use interlocking fire to protect each other.
In Echelon formations, its units are arranged diagonally. Each unit is stationed behind and to the right (a "right echelon"), or behind and to the left ("left echelon"), of the unit ahead. The name of the formation comes from the French word échelon, meaning the rungs of ladder, which describes the shape that this formation has when viewed from above or below.
Use of the formation dates back to ancient infantry and cavalry warfare when attempting to flank an enemy or to break one wing with overwhelming numbers. One of the earliest uses was at the Battle of Leuctra when the Thebans attacked the Spartan right with a column 48 men deep while their weaker center and right were refused. Tactically, echelon formations are used because of the excellent range of vision offered to each participant in the formation. In particular, it is commonly employed by convoy formations because of the large, overlapping fields of fire that it gives to each defensive gunner in the formation.
The Line Astern formation is tied for the easiest formation for pilots to fly. The only wrinkle is that vessels in the line astern formation are typically arranged in a vertically descending line astern with the lead vessel in the high position and the tail vessel in the low position. This configuration gives the leading vessels poor to no visibility of the trailing vessels within the same formation. The benefit of the Line Astern formation is concentrated fields of fire to both port and starboard. The other disadvantage to this formation is the potential for weakened volume of fire to fore and aft of the formation depending on the distance spread of the formation.
Sensor Management, Shield Management, Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) and Electronic Warfare (ECCM)
The crew managing this section of convoy duties could easily make the case to the CC that theirs (not the CC’s) is the hardest job within the convoy. The ability of the convoy to complete its primary mission, the successful delivery of cargo depends on knowing what is in your vessel’s vicinity and what threat they pose to your craft and managing your ship's ability to repel those threats.
During the course of a convoy, ships should be assigned a scanning quadrant by the convoy commander. This assignment should be done to ensure the "most sky is covered by the most eyes". Ships will be assigned based upon their location in the convoy where ships at the front will be tasked with scanning ahead of the convoy at maximum range. The ships in the middle/on the flanks will be tasked with scanning to port/above and starboard/below while the rear-most vessels will be responsible for scanning to the rear of the convoy. The assignments will be dictated by the number and capabilities of the ships in the convoy. The purpose of the scanning is two fold. One is to give the convoy time in which to make tactical decisions as to fight or flee. Second is to support any available escort wings by providing additional scanning capability and target designation.
Shield Management is your vessel’s last line of defense between it and those that are looking to separate you from your cargo and your air from your lungs. During the course of convoy operations you should be in constant contact with either your ship’s pilot/Captain and/or your ship’s engineer to relay the status of your shields in relation to the ship's power output and in relation to any threats that may be imminent. Managing your vessel's’ shields depends largely on what upgrades and shield systems you have installed and your ship's power plant. No two ships in a single convoy will be the same. As a Convoy Commander, you’ll need to trust that each vessel has competent crew manning its shield stations. If you, as the reader should find yourself in the Shield Management seat. Be sure to keep a constant eye on both the shield generator status (heat, capacity, etc) as well as Power and CPU usage levels. It's a carefully balanced dance in which the Shield Management officer may need to communicate with the pilot to roll the ship along its long axis to rotate an overloaded shield out of the line of fire and a fresh shield band into view to intercept incoming fire while giving the depleted shield generator time to recover. All while having the pilot maintain their position within the convoy formation. Not a position for the easily flustered. It’s best to place officers you expect to promote to pilot/co-pilot in short order or an experienced ship captain that may be riding shotgun with you.
NON-RP: Some players may make the case that the pilot and or gunners are the most important positions on a multi-crew ship. In my opinion the two most important positions are SHIELDS and SENSORS. Try and consider putting your most trusted org-mates or friends or other players or the best NPCs in those positions.
Regardless of the end result of CIG’s efforts which no doubt will leave us all in awe, the end result is to deny any aggressor the opportunity to scan the convoy and transmit that information to waiting raider parties. Convoy Commanders and Escort Commanders should not allow unknown vessels to enter within cargo scanning range.
While convoy formation and overall course and speed determinations will fall to the responsibility of the convoy commander, during combat operations assignment of targets and engagement tactics will be left solely under the discretion of individual ship captains as long as those tactics do not undermine the integrity of the convoy as a whole.
Rally Point Selection/Authorization
Convoy commanders should plot out rally points either ahead of time if possible or as soon as the convoy enters a new star system. It may be necessary (depending on how waypoints are designated within the game) to task a flight (or two if available) of fast scout ships to Cruise/Quantum Drive to a remote location to establish a Rally Point and transmit that data back to the convoy. Regardless of when/how Rally Points (RPs) are designated, it is the recommendation of this BMP that system RPs be given out only as the convoy enters that system in accordance with good OPSEC standards. What are Rally Points? Rally points are points in space separate from the convoy route to be used as a fall back and regrouping point in the event of an ambush by overwhelming numbers or superior tactics of an opposing force. Ships will be instructed that the call to fall back to a rally point can ONLY be given by the Convoy Commander or the Assistant Convoy Commander should the Convoy Commander be incapacitated. Unauthorized QD to Rally Points should not be authorized or tolerated.
Upon arrival at a rally point all ships will assume a tight Vic/Double Vic/Triple Vic formation in which all ships are facing the same direction (preferably towards the next waypoint) and all passive scanners and weapons are at full power. Any ships that are damaged will use this opportunity to affect all necessary repairs. Damaged ships should be placed in the center of the formation to afford maximum protection during repair efforts. Escort craft will be responsible for ensuring a clear flight plan for ships jumping to a Rally point and will join the convoy at the first availability in groups of flights. This will be one of the points at which a determination of whether a ship in the convoy can continue on or has sustained too much damage and should be escorted back to a Jump Point leading back to a friendly star system (more in the next section)
NON-RP: It wouldn't be a bad idea to have a fast ship (someone you trust) to leave a few minutes ahead of the convoy to not only Scout the road ahead but to use the Nav Beacon system to drop a beacon somewhere random (but close to the path you're traveling) as somewhere hidden for everyone to jump to if things start getting out of control. Rather than ships haphazardly jumping into QT in every direction.
Damaged/Incapacitated Convoy Vessels
This is an unfortunate eventuality. No matter how much you plan, no matter how well your crew and convoy elements perform, at some point as a convoy commander you will have a ship that is too damaged to keep up with the rest of the convoy. The determination of whether or not the convoy slows to keep pace with the damaged ship, continues on without the vessel, leaving an escort to guard it or continues on without it and not providing an escort will be a decision to be made by the Escort Commander. In terms of combat tactics, the EC's decision is final however, it is the utmost responsibility of an escort commander to protect the ships under his/her charge. That responsibility includes potentially sacrificing your life for the life of the freighter crew. This does not mean that the life of combat pilots should be sacrificed in a futile effort but every attempt should be made to protect an escorted ship, harass, injure, destroy or otherwise dissuade attacking vessels from continuing to press their attack. If that should fail, call for additional resources if available, call for Search and Rescue if necessary and if possible remain at a distance to prevent the capture or death of any crew members forced to go "EVA".
NON-RP: If a ship is too damaged to keep up the group will need to decide whether or not the group is going to stay together or leave than unit behind
As Convoy Commander slowing the convoy to allow ships to affect repairs MAY BE appropriate under the following conditions:
- You have superior numbers in either defensive convoy suppression or escort craft or both;
- Conversations with ship's captains have indicated that repairs needed are minor and can be completed within acceptable time allowances;
- The tactical threat has been eliminated or forced to flee or
- Allowing the vessel, for whatever reason (monetary value, VIP passengers, etc) to fall out of formation is not an available option
Deciding to leave a vessel behind your convoy formation is never an easy decision. However sometimes in battle, triage needs to be considered and in order to save the whole, a part may regrettably need to be sacrificed. Obviously this should be a last resort. If word gets out that you as a Convoy Commander or an Escort Commander are routinely allowing ships in your charge to fall behind and be left to the "wolves" it will not be long before your chances of making money will be reduced to the most unsavory of propositions. That being said there are two options: 1: Leave a damaged ship behind with an escort (number of escorts to be determined by available assets) or 2: Leave a damaged ship behind without an escort.
Leaving a damaged ship behind with an escort: This option may be taken for a myriad of reasons. Most of all you've determined that; the convoy cannot/should not reduce speed or stop to allow a damaged ship to keep up/make repairs, the escort vessels to be detached to safeguard the damaged ship(s) have the available range (fuel), armament and condition to make such an effort viable AND you have enough defensive assets available in the form of total escort strength to allow for providing an escort for the damaged vessel WITHOUT adversely affecting your ability to provide comprehensive protection to the remainder of the convoy. At this point you now effectively have TWO convoys. As such, however many escorts you decide to leave with the damaged ship should have a designated wing leader (someone who can make good tactical decisions) and be free to act autonomously in the protection of both the damaged vessel and the associated escort craft.
Attempts should be made by the damaged vessel if possible to reduce its IR/EM signature to be as low as possible. This should only be done while tactically sound and preparations should be made to bring the vessel back up to full available combat power at a moment's notice. Tactical decisions should be shared by the wing leader and the ship captain with ultimate decision falling to the wing leader. Repairs should be handled on a triage basis with priority given to the following systems in the following orders of importance:
- Life Support
- EWAR/Sensors (if applicable)
Ghost Riding(tm), where a ship reduces its EM/IR output to near zero while maintaining its forward momentum (preferably at or above convoy speed) by shutting down all non-essential systems and cruising on a ballistic trajectory out of the combat zone is a viable (if non-combat tested) way of evading detection and pursuit. Care will need to be made to not have the damaged vessel's position compromised by available escorts running "hot" under full power while in close proximity to the damaged vessel as this may draw unwanted attention to the ship.
Every attempt should be made by the second convoy to rendezvous with the first. However realization must be made that the second convoy may need to proceed to its final destination on its own. If it is determined that the damaged vessel is has sustained too much damage to make continuing to the final convoy destination viable, escort craft should make every effort to escort the stricken craft to a jump point towards higher security space. Once the craft makes the jump, previously detached escort vessels are to proceed at best possible speed (avoiding all combat if possible) back to the original convoy unit.
The second and obviously least desirable option is leaving a ship behind without an escort. This is the fear of every convoy commander, ship captain and escort pilot. For whatever reason, the ship is unable to continue in formation and there are no escorts available to stay behind to protect the ship. Every effort should be made to provide the best chance at survival for the stricken vessel and/or its crew. If at all possible, a suitably equipped escort should remain behind only long enough to evacuate any wounded crew members for immediate medical treatment. If leaving an escort vessel behind to perform Search and Rescue (SAR) operations is not a viable option then at the very least a request for a SAR should be initiated as soon as possible.
Advisable tactics would be for the stricken vessel to attempt to reverse course and put as much distance between the aggressors ships and its position. If possible, employ Ghost Rider protocols and go as dark as possible and reduce their IR/EM signatures while attempting to open the range until TDAS contact with any aggressor vessels are lost. Upon losing contact, make an immediate major course correction, even if it requires you to increase power plant output to produce enough thrust to overcome your inertia. NOTE: Increase power plant output only as much as is needed to effect a course change then reduce output to minimal levels. Continue on a tangential course until you are confident you're outside the combat zone (30-50 km from last point of contact). Attempt to effect repairs as best as possible and make at best speed for the nearest Jump Point towards a high security sector or neutral or friendly space station or planet.
The worst option in the worst scenario is if a stricken ship is unable to escape the combat zone for one or more reasons including but not limited to:
- Major ship damage/Vessel is unable to move out of the combat zone
- Overwhelming force. There are too many aggressor ships in the area to effectively perform evasion and escape tactics
- Vessel has been boarded or is in imminent threat of being boarded
The best course of action is SURRENDER. No cargo is worth your ship, your life or the life of any crew members. CEASE FIRE IMMEDIATELY. If possible, dump all cargo (or all requested cargo if you've been scanned) and move (if able) out of the combat zone towards the nearest Jump Point leading to a higher security sector, friendly or neutral planet or space station.
Under most circumstances, the aggressors will go for your cargo and leave. Remember, to most aggressors this is purely a business transaction. One where they assume an acceptable level of loss and risk for an acceptable level of profit. However, there's no profit in attempting to board a vessel of well armed (which should always be the case) merchantmen when the vessel has already dumped its cargo. Attempting to take your vessel is always a possibility however it seems unlikely as they would then be responsible for a convoy containing a damaged vessel meaning their escape speed would be compromised. The recommendation of this guide is once your cargo is dumped, if you don't give the aggressors a reason, they should leave you once they have the cargo they're looking for.
NOTE: It is the recommendation of this BMP for all convoy captains and crew as well as any escort pilots to read: DYAD BMP: Anti-Piracy Guide
Conversely, once aggressors have broken off attack to retrieve their "ill gotten gains" DO NOT re-engage them in combat, no matter how tempting a target they may present. This will force the Pirates, who may have been inclined to let you go with your ship and your life to see you as a target that needs to be eliminated. Furthermore, employing this tactic makes it more likely that pirates will NOT allow future merchant ships to survive since it's easier to render the ship a burning hulk than risk taking a point blank missile shot. REMEMBER, sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.
NON-RP: If you decide to surrender to other players, then surrender. If you want to take the tactic of waiting until they get close only to go back on your word and blast them, it's probably not going to work out well for you. You might not care, and that's your right, but it's going to change the dynamic for future players. You may care even less but it's still worth saying.
NOTE: The one exception to this rule is SLAVERS and/or GANKERS. Be warned, these are the scum of the universe. They have no code. No loyalty. No rules except to take from those too weak to defend themselves. If you've ceased fire, dropped your cargo and are attempting to move out of the combat zone and ships are still attempting to board your vessel or still firing on your ship, you should assume they are after either your ship or you and your crew or both. This guide has stated before that no ship is worth your life or the life of your crew (that's what ship insurance is for) however the reality is, in the black, a man's (or woman's) ship/crew is his/her castle/family and should be expected to be defended to the last bullet. Defending from boarding actions are outside of the scope of this document. However please refer to the guide listed in the paragraph above (DYAD) for defensive tactics against hostile elements. Furthermore, if presented with the group of individuals known as Gankers, those so psychopathic and/or sociopathic that they will simply destroy you and your cargo seeming for the sheer enjoyment, evidenced by their continuing to fire upon your ship when every effort has been made to surrender. Take every effort to save your crew if possible, after that the choice is yours. You can abandon your ship and hope they don’t kill you outright or decide to take down as many of them as possible in your last moments in this verse. There are no wrong decisions except for indecision.
Determining Escort Size, Selecting Escort Commander and Escort Pilots
IMPORTANT SECTION: PLEASE READ - Unless you're a Hull A pilot ferrying cargo from High Earth Orbit to London or some other Megatropolis or you're hauling cargo through High-Sec Space (Earth to Mars or Pike to Terra) you are going to be flying through space where someone is liable to want what you have and is willing to kill you for it. Now perhaps you fancy yourself a hot-on-the-stick pilot, maybe the best out of all of your buddies you drink with at whatever watering hole you frequent when you're not flying. Rest assured, the pilots flying the ships you will come up against are bar-none some of the best, most aggressive and most well equipped pilots most merchantman have ever come in contact with. Many of the marauders, pirates, psychopaths and terrorists out in the verse have some kind of military training (Note: This is not a put down of the UEE Military/Advocacy) Reason? The easiest path to citizenship within the UEE is military service. In addition, many criminals are given the option of military service as an option to reduce their penal sentences. What does this mean to you as a freighter/freelance pilot? First, those that wash out of the military end up with no appreciable skills save one (reducing someone's blood pressure to ZERO in the most efficient manner possible). Second, most pirates do not have long careers. Drugs, violence (usually against each other) and incarceration has weeded out the weakest of the herd. The ones you'll encounter in space therefore are the survivors and they didn't get that way by playing nice or fair or living by a code.
If you plan on flying through space without a suitably robust escort and this goes double for all of you expert Arena Commander pilots out there [this is the real deal, you can't press "X" to respawn out here] or enough firepower to deter even the craziest of Slam-crazed Slavers or WiDow-veined Gankers this BMP recommends you be sure to pay your ship insurance as your next of kin will be sure not to repeat your mistake. The following section will give recommendations on how to assess the size of an escort needed for a particular convoy and how to choose a suitable escort squadron.
Remember, you as the originator of the hauling contract or you as the Convoy Commander may be responsible for putting out a request over the TDD for qualified escort pilots. Similar to choosing the size of a convoy, many of the same factors should be looked at when choosing the size of your escort. However, the questions to be asked are:
- "What is the budget for escorts?" In a perfect universe, this BMP would say that credits are no object when dealing with the safety of your ship, it's crew and it's cargo. However in reality, convoys need to turn a profit. Therefore you should endeavor to get as much "crunch for the cred" as you can get. It is the recommendation of this BMP that at a minimum 5 - 10% of the value of the cargo should be set aside for hiring an organized escort.
- "What is the distance the convoy will be traveling?" Will it be a single system convoy? (make no mistake more pirate interdictions happen on single system runs than any other (According to UEE/Advocacy statistics) probably due to a lack of escorts on single system runs) Or will you be performing a multi-system transport? The types of assets you request as part of the composition of the escort will be determined in part by the answer to that question as arrangements will need to be made for potential refueling, rearming, repairing or Search and Rescue (the further you travel, the greater of a chance that someone will end up EVA) NOTE: Currently, the fuel usage mechanic in-game isn't clear. Once CIG provides more information how fuel will be used, replaced, purchased etc, this BMP will be updated.
- What's the size of the convoy that will need to be escorted? All things being equal, the fewer ships that need to be protected, the fewer ships that are needed for escort duty. It is the recommendation of this BMP that a minimum ratio of 4 to 1(fighter/escort craft to convoy craft) be adhered to as closely as possible. This ratio will enable greater tactical flexibility to the escorts while still enabling the minimum level of defensive protection. This number is for pure fighter/strike craft only and does not take into account any additional ships for CiC, Support, SAR, or Fast Scout which may be desired given mission parameters.
- What is the composition of the convoy? Is the convoy comprised of all Starfarers or Tauruses? A convoy of large slow under-armed bulk transports will need a more robust escort than a convoy of relatively nimble, fast and well armed corvettes.
- Are there any mission particular parameters that need to be met? Or requirements set by the employer? Perhaps the originator of the escort contract doesn't like Cutlass (he had a bad run-in with pirate in a Cutlass once) so he will not hire any Cutlass as an escort. Perhaps, the escort calls for providing for a Constellation Andromeda class ship for the Escort Commander.
Regardless of composition and budget, all escorts should contain at minimum two ships flying in formation (flight leader and wingman). Preferably there should be 4 fighters, consisting of a flight and an element leader and their respective wingman for every escort ship. See Appendix B for a diagram of escort formations. Having a full flight enables escorts to quickly and decisively assess and deal with threats before they become an issue for the convoy. In addition, remaining flights can be temporarily re-deployed around the convoy to maintain defensive coverage or deal with new threats as the tactical scenario changes per the Escort Commander.
NON-RP: Not everyone wants to use escorts. That's a personal choice but when choosing escorts try to pick units that make sense and complement your convoy and it's route. Choosing a bunch of Freelancers to escort other Freelancers may not be the best idea. Use your best judgement
(Reference: 2 spacecraft equals an element; 2 elements equals a flight; 3 - 4 flights equals a squadron; 4 - 5 squadrons equals a wing/combat air group)
Similar to the Convoy Commander, the Escort Commander or EC, has the most demanding job within the Escort Branch of the convoy. This BMP will not go into all of the detail of the various responsibilities and tasks of the Convoy Escort Group. That information can be found in Part 2 of this compendium: Convoy Escort Tactics: An Interstellar Best Management Practices Guide. The responsibilities of the Escort Commander are:
- Determining the squadron/flight/element composition of the escort and unit designations;
- Determining the escort formation parameters (not just finger four, but how far from the escort to fly in formation;
- Tasks to be handled by each unit (Scout, Attack, SAR, EWAR, Support, etc.);
- Coordination with the Convoy Commander to ensure safe passage through contested space and
- Escort combat tactics
Escort Commanders should be chosen for their ability to lead, to determine and prioritize threats. This is different than simply being a good pilot and knowing how to kill pirates. An effective Escort Commander should have experience in freighter/transport operations. Ideally, an Escort Commander would have served previously in the capacity of Convoy (or Assistant) Commander. It is just as important to know when to go dark and tell the entire convoy to reduce all emissions and hide as it is to go know when to dive into the fray, fangs bared and claws out. The sign of a good Escort Commander isn't the number of Cutlass silhouettes on the side on his/her ship, it's the lack of bags under their eyes from seeing the faces of the cargo crews they've lost over the years.
During the course of combat operations, from the Detection Phase through the cessation of recognized combat, the Escort Commander will assume tactical control of the entire convoy and as such may issue orders to the fleet regarding formation, speed and course. Every attempt should be made by the Convoy Commander to defer to the Escort Commander and to assist their efforts in any way possible. NOTE: Ultimately, a pilot/Captain is responsible for his/her own ship/crew/cargo and can countermand any order given that appears to needlessly or recklessly place his/her responsibilities in jeopardy. Do keep in mind that you maybe asked to justify your lack of compliance to orders during a combat situation.
Selecting Escort Pilots
Now that you've set your budget and set your route and convoy size it's time to select your convoy pilots. Ideally, you can pick from a cadre of pilots you as the Convoy Commander have either flown with before or have knowledge of their skills. However that may not always be the case. Close attention should be paid to the reputation log generated for the individual pilots as this will give the best indication of what type of performance you can resonantly expect to get. While pilots do improve (it's almost a prerequisite to old age as an escort pilot) you shouldn't expect a pilot to go from losing his flight leader and his own ship in almost every mission they've flown in to becoming an expert pilot/tactician/strategist.
This BMP has only one hard and fast rule regarding the hiring of escort pilots: DO NOT HIRE UNFAMILIAR INDIVIDUAL PILOTS AND EXPECT TO MAKE A COHESIVE ELEMENT. It is our experience that pilots that are unfamiliar with each other will not follow instructions well, nor will they all have experience in flying in formation situations where it's necessary at times to forgo an easy kill to make sure your flight/element leader's tail is clear of enemies.
Try to follow the following recommendations when selecting pilots:
- Ideally hire pilots from the same organization, with recommendations if possible;
- If you are able to check, don't hire pilots with open bounties. Nothing is worse than having a licensed bounty hunter try to take out one of your escort pilots. It never ends well for anyone.
- Try to match pilots with other pilots of equal skill. A pilot fresh out of Arena Commander training will probably not pair well with a pilot that's just finishing their second UEE military tour as a combat pilot.
- Try to match pilots with similar equipment together in flights/elements. It's fine to have (2) 350rs, an Avenger, (3) Hornets (2) Auroras and a Cutlass in your escort. However pairing an Aurora with a 350r (regardless of pilot skill) is not utilizing either craft to their proper effective role
- If you can afford a dedicated search and rescue(SAR) craft, get one. If you can't, re-arrange your escort configuration so you can. Trust us you'll thank us later.
- Match your craft to your mission. It does you no good to have the hottest Super Hornet pilots this side of Tiber if their legs (ie. Range of their fighter craft) are so short they can't make past the first Jump Point without needing to refuel. Which brings us to our next point;
- If you're heading through space where you can reasonably expect to get bounced, hire support ship. Missiles, chaff, flares, fuel, spare parts are all finite resources once you leave High-Sec space. You'd better believe the pirates have them, if you can you should too and;
- The Convoy Commander may have to assume both the CC role and that of the Escort Commander. Sometimes all the wishing in the universe doesn't make something true. If you can't afford a pilot to take on the Escort Commander role, it will still need to be filled. If possible task, that responsibility to an Assistant Convoy Commander.
Convoy Combat Operations
Even with the best laid convoy routes, the tightest OPSEC and the most efficient and competent of Sensor Management/EWAR Officers, at some point in your travels you will find yourself under attack. Following the guideline set forth in this section will be the difference between a great story told over drinks at your local watering hole and a rousing eulogy given by your next of kin. With that being said, not every contact that is picked up on your sensor screen is a sociopathic killer hopped up on SLAM and looking for slaves. It could simply be a merchant such as yourself or an explorer or a myriad of other people making their daily lives in space. Before you let missiles fly like the redeeming hand of whatever deity you pray to, you’ll need to manage the next sections properly
At this point there's no sense in hiding, your enemy or someone else has located you. However, this doesn't mean you and the ships in your convoy should make it easy for the pirates and just roll over and die nor should you open fire with everything you’ve got. At the first sign of an unknown contact. the Convoy and Escort Commanders should be contacted to inform them of what you’ve observed. In systems with heavy traffic, it's not necessary to report EVERY contact, however, contacts that are acting in a suspicious manner should be reported to CiC. Begin paying attention to the type (Freighter, Fighter, Hauler, Luxury Liner, Scout Ship, etc.), the identification if possible. (If the contact has their contact information blocked from scanners report them IMMEDIATELY to CiC), the contact’s course and bearing. In addition, any contact on a CB:DR (Constant Bearing: Declining Rate) [intercept course] with your convoy needs to be reported IMMEDIATELY to CiC.
SUSPICIOUS OF AGGRESSIVE APPROACH
Action taken by another spacecraft may be deemed suspicious if any of the following occur (please note this list is not exhaustive)
- A definite course correction or alteration towards the starship/convoy associated with a rapid increase in speed, by the suspected craft that cannot be accounted for as normal activity in the circumstances prevailing in the area
- Continuous course altering that maintains or closes the distance between vessels;
- Additional starships joining the original starship in cruising on the same course and speed for an uncommon period of time and distance, not in keeping with normal activities or other circumstances prevailing in the area;
- Strengthening of shields facing your ship/convoy while moving towards you; prolonged or invasive scanning beyond what is typical in interstellar transit
- Appearing suddenly in close proximity to your starship/convoy after having utilized stealth tactics to do so.
Guidance Note: In helping to evaluate suspicious activity, the following may be of assistance to determine the nature of a suspect spacecraft:
- The registration data of the spacecraft belongs to a known piracy/terrorist/slaver/ganker pilot or clan/group/organization
- The absence of identification data or markings of any kind
- The CB:DR (Constant bearing:Declining Rate) course.
- The existence of unusual and non-conforming equipment relative to the class of the spacecraft (Suckerpunches on a non Advocacy/Bounty Hunter ship, Torpedoes on a 350r/M50, etc.)
Other events, activity and/or spacecraft may be deemed suspicious by members of the Convoy or Escort based upon their personal experiences within High Sec Space and information shared among the interstellar transit community.
REQUESTS FOR IDENTIFICATION AND WARNINGS
Where time and circumstances permit, forces or individuals presenting a threat should be warned and given the opportunity to withdraw or otherwise cease threatening actions. This section provides some sample language to use when issuing such warnings:
Failure to respond to warnings may be considered as evidence of hostile intent.
NOTE: As of the drafting of this document, the author(s) have no idea how intervessel communications will work. As such most of this section is conjecture and is subject to change. When new and credible information becomes available, effort will be made to update this section accordingly.
In interstellar space environments, requests for identification and warnings are generally communicated via Interstellar Space Channels (ISC)
- Warning Message: “Unidentified spacecraft contact (at [insert position and registry/call sign]), you are approaching a commercial convoy with appropriate escort. Your identity is not known and your intentions are unclear. Please reduce speed, divert course and establish communications immediately. REPEAT, this convoy is capable of defending itself. Please state your intentions.”
If you or your convoy is queried, a response should be given on standard channels. Suggested language for a response to a query can include:
- The first part of the response should always include your name as Captain or Commander of the vessel or convoy and registration class/and ship name
- The second part of the response depends on the location and transit mode. Options include:
- “I am/we are conducting routing peaceful operations in interstellar space”
- “I am/we are engaged in commercial transport”
- “I am/we are simply transiting through this part of space”
If asked for specific information not required or that you don’t feel necessary simply reply that the individual isn’t authorized for that information. That response should be given to queries such as:
- What’s your destination?
- What’s your cargo?
- How many ships in your convoy?
- How many escorts do you have?
- Do you have any ships with damage?
As long as the vessel maintains a safe and non-threatening distance and communicates its intentions (verifiable on sensors), the vessel should be allowed to go on it way. Constant monitoring should be performed to confirm that the vessel in question has not changed its posture into a more threatening stance.
Furthermore, diligence should be maintained throughout the convoy to make sure that other vessels are not using the unidentified contact as a distraction to get into position for a possible attack. Sensor discipline should be maintained by all vessels in the convoy.
INTERSTELLAR PIRATE ATTACK
If the crew of a convoy or escort suspects that it is coming under a interstellar pirate attack, there are specific actions that are recommended to be taken during the approach stage and the attack stage. it should be noted that “Interstellar pirates” is a general term for any aggressor against your vessel or vessels for the purpose of destroying and/or stealing cargo/crew/ships. In general, pirates will be unable to initiate boarding procedures until the target vessel is completely unmaneuverable, therefore any period up until this stage can be considered as ‘approach’ and gives vessels valuable time in which to activate their defenses and make it clear that the vessel(s) are prepared and will resist.
If a starship convoy is engaged in Quantum travel and drops back into Normal Space due to the presence or interdiction of a pirate vessel, the Escort Commander and Convoy Commander should initiate the convoy’s pre-prepared emergency procedures. Of which, some generally common steps are as follows:
- Sound the emergency alarm throughout the ships in the convoy and/or send a transmission on all available channels to the convoy indicating that “Unknown Contacts are approaching the convoy” and to “prepare for possible hostile actions”
- Request Escort Commander dispatch a Recon Flight to intercept and identify unknown contacts
- Activate the convoy’s Emergency Communication Plan. Which should include: Sending out a distress signal (regardless of the size of your escort or likelihood of prevailing in the assault). This will warn authorities and/or other starships in the vicinity and possibly get assistance enroute to your location faster.
- Immediately change heading and determine if the ability to outrun and return to Quantum travel is able to be achieved (remember the goal isn’t kills, its SCUs delivered)
- If not already at full speed, increase to maximum safe speed (convoy ships only) to open the distance. Try to have all vessels stay in formation and fly straight to maintain maximum speed and minimize risk of collisions.
- If an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) weapon has been successfully deployed and one or more vessels have systems offline, begin efforts to get systems online as soon as possible. Priority should be given to (in this order): Life Support, Engines, Shields, Weapons, and Sensors. If possible utilize battery backup power to power critical systems.
- Ensure that all starship Automatic Identification and Location Systems are turned to ON
- All crew not assigned to systems operation (pilot, navigation, shields, sensors/ewar) should be assigned to gunner positions
- All crew members should don protective EVA suits (Light or Medium only), arm themselves with an appropriate sidearm and all airlocks, cargo doors and bulkhead doors between sections should be fully secured
- Activate Electronic Countermeasures and ECCM as warranted by the situation and as ordered by the Convoy Commander. Activate other appropriate self defense measures.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT AND SELF DEFENSE
Across Interstellar Space, there are many views, customs, policies, rules, laws and practices when it comes to the Rules of Engagement (ROE) and Self Defense. For the benefit of the reader, this BMP Guide offers these considerations. Convoy/Escort Commanders and individual pilots and vessel Captains should consult with the specific regulations in the systems and space in which they operate, but in the absence of clear guidance, these standards and definitions may aid a pilot/Captain to make the best choice possible in challenging circumstances. For the benefit of knowledge, some discussion regarding ROE is included; however, ROE is primarily a military and law enforcement distinction and most civilian vessel operators need only be concerned with Self-Defense. The nature of space is such that mercenaries and in fact any interstellar traveller may find themselves in close proximity to, if not entwined in regional conflict scenarios. To that end, the guidance on ROE is also presented in brief format.
If in doubt, please seek out the ROE documentation for starship pilot/Captains under UEE Interstellar Maritime Law
Categories of Self Defense
Interstellar law and the planetary laws of all races and species recognize the right to self-defense, which is the use of force to defend against attack or imminent attack. This guidance is intended for use by all interstellar travelers where their own regulations are not clear or require additional considerations. For the purpose of this section, the right of self defense is considered on two levels.
- Individual Self-Defense. This refers to a the right of an individual to defend him or herself ( and in some cases, other individuals) from attack or an imminent attack.
- Protection of Others. This refers to the right to defend specified persons, who are not part of your fleet or convoy against an attack or an imminent attack. For some systems and planets, the right of individual self-defense or fleet/convoy self-defense man not include the right to use force to defend another systems’ planets or organizations’ citizens
HOSTILE ACT AND HOSTILE INTENT
For the purposes of this guide, the right to use force in self-defense arises in response to a hostile act (attack) and/or demonstrated hostile intent (threat of imminent attack).
DEFINING/INDICATORS OF HOSTILE INTENT
Hostile intent is the threat of the imminent use of force. A determination of hostile intent is based on the existence of an identifiable threat, recognizable on the basis of the both of the following conditions:
There is no checklist of indicators that will conclusively determine hostile intent. For the most part determining hostile intent is left up to the individual pilot/Captain. The following examples of actions that may, depending on the circumstances, demonstrate hostile intent:
- Illuminating a vessel with fire radar, laser or electromagnetic designators
- Engaging other offensive ship systems and sensors
- Engaging illegal invasive internal sensors/scanners
- Aiming or directing weapons, especially turrets or gimbaled weapons at another vessel
- Closing within weapon release range, especially when seeming illogical
- Passing targeting information
- Laying or preparing to lay space mines
- Failing to respond to the proactive measures listed below:
PROACTIVE MEASURES THAT MAY ASSIST IN ASCERTAINING HOSTILE INTENT
In addition to the above indicators of hostile intent with time, circumstances and risk permitting, starship captains should take proactive measures to assist in determining the intent of an opposing entity, including but not limited to:
- Verbal query
- Verbal warning
- Visual signals
- Tractor beams or vessel blockades
- Changing course and speed to determine if unknown vessels maintain an attack profile
- Illuminating vessels with fire control radar/sensors and/or raising/reinforcing facing shields
- Firing warning shots
USE OF FORCE IN SELF-DEFENSE
Subject to any limitations promulgated in the ROE, all necessary and proportional means and actions may be used in self-defense. Where time and operational circumstances permit, starship captains should provide a warning to the threatening entity in order to give that vessel and opportunity to withdraw or cease it’s threatening actions. Starship Captains are permitted to use force in self-defense only if non-forceful alternatives to prevent or deter the attack or imminent attack:
- Have been exhausted;
- Are not available
- Are deemed insufficient to defend spacecraft in those circumstances
DESIGNATION/ENGAGEMENT OF TARGETS
Once it has been determined that unidentified contacts are indeed hostile, it will be important that individual vessel pilots and/or Captains be allowed to determine and engage targets at their discretion. The only exception to this rule is when the Escort Commander (who by this time will be in charge of the convoy) has made the determination that:
- Another aggressor ship should be targeted (due to damage, ability, threat level, etc.)
- A vessel within the convoy requires assistance from another convoy vessel
- The convoy is going to attempt to jump back into Quantum travel
It will be important that the individual ship pilots/Captains remember to have their gunners check their field of fire (as to not accidentally hit other friendly vessels) and to make sure they are keeping proper formation integrity. Pilots that break up the formation to chase down hostile contacts or protect their own ship actually hurt the entire convoy because there is now a gap in defensive fire and sensor and shield coverage where their vessel used to be located.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
If possible, a ship in your escort group should be designated as Search and Rescue (SAR). This is an extremely important role as at some point an escort pilot or convoy pilot or crew will end up drifting through space as their ship disintegrates into burning wreckage. If by chance you can’t afford a dedicated SAR vessel, members of your convoy should make every attempt to perform SAR on the crew of any cargo vessel and if within a reasonable range, the escort fighter pilots as well. It should be noted that the escort pilots assume a certain level of risk and part of that risk is that the convoy will not be able to effect a concentrated SAR should they need to eject out of their fighters.
SALVAGE OR NOT TO SALVAGE
Whether or not you should be performing salvage operations is an important question. If by chance an enemy ship gets destroyed in the vicinity of the convoy, it's the recommendation of this BMP to leave the ship where it is and fly on to your destination. Remember the purpose of the convoy: To ensure the safe delivery of your cargo and crew to its destination. NOT the salvage of enemy vessels. Every moment you spend stopped in hostile space is another chance you take of having enemy reinforcements or another hostile group stumbling upon your group while you're salvaging as opposed to hauling cargo.
The only caveat to this rule is if a ship in your convoy is disabled or destroyed and you can safely retrieve some/any/all of the cargo from the stricken vessel. Note: Retrieving crew members is a TOP priority and should be attempted in all but the most dangerous of conditions.
Remember, every second you spend in hostile space retrieving cargo is placing your other ships at risk. Make it fast and make it count.
End of the Line - Destination Operations
Congratulations, you and your convoy have reached your intended destination. Sit back and bask in the glow of the credits you’ve earned. But before you do that, there are a few things you as a Convoy Commander should do before your group breaks up and heads for the door of the nearest bar or next convoy. That would be:
- After Action Report: Convoy
- After Action Report: Escort
After Action Reports are where people can go and provide a notation to the personnel dossiers of the pilots they’ve flown with. This is an integral portion of the process where you put your comments of how flying with the various people was and if you would recommend them to fly with. Remember, the experience you had was because of the reputation system. It only works as well as the information as you enter into it.
We hope this BMP Guide has been a helpful addition to assisting you in making a profit and finding your way in the Star Citizen Universe.
APPENDIX A - FORMATIONS