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Basic Information

The flagship is the lead ship in a fleet. This designation was traditionally given to it because it was either the largest, fastest, newest, most powerful, or most well known ship in the fleet. The name derives from the fact that this is the ship on which the commander of the fleet would sail, and therefore the one from which his personal command flag would be flying.

In the modern era, this role is somewhat complicated by the fact that a commander's role is less about leading troops into battle and more about juggling vast quantities of information. Increasingly, navies are deploying command ships which, whilst much less combat capable than the flagships of old, are far better fitted with command and control equipment - a sort of seaborne AWACS or JSTAR.

Generally, once naval warfare becomes a study in its own right - as opposed to land combat afloat - what a flagship really needs is the additional space to accomodate a commodore or admiral and his staff. Large capital ships are the obvious answer (up until the modern, purpose built command ship) but on a smaller scale this can lead to some very odd teams - witness the destroyer squadrons lead from either destroyer tenders (originally) or destroyer leaders (later), and earlier still the use of obsololete ships of the line as flagships for squadrons of smaller vessels (the Royal Navy found this a relatively useful employment for the otherwise mostly pointless fourth-rates).



Game and Story Use

  • This tradition might carry over into an era when fleet of spacecraft take over from nautical fleets.
  • As the most prominent ship of a nation, it will likely see a fair amount of diplomacy and political intrigue - both from its enemies and from its own side, as political factions will compete to get their own nominees to serve on such a prestigious post.
  • Other nations might not be able to resist the temptation to secretly sabotage a flagship to embarrass the nation owning it. The PCs might get involved on either side of this attempt.
  • The small ships leader might be a useful HQ for a seaborne campaign - for example something set in an archipelago like the Carribean. The local commodore is based out of a decrepit old warship anchored in one of the regional harbours (or orbiting some relevant planet when in space) and the PCs - as naval officers, privateers or free agents come and go looking for work, payment and bounties. And possibly engaged in intrigue with, for or against (corrupt) local officials, the resistance, local natives or various forms of villain such as pirates, smugglers and slavers - depending on the setting.
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