Starfleet is the exploratory and defensive force of the United Federation of Planets.
Starfleet's function is to explore unknown territory on the behalf of the Federation government, to defend the Federation and its allies from threats, to further Federation policies and interests throughout interstellar space, and when applicable, to initiate first contact with newly-discovered worlds and engage in diplomatic negotiations on the behalf of the Federation.
Starfleet is commanded by the Commander-in-Chief and reports to the Federation Secretary of Exploration. Over-all, Starfleet fields 17,751 starships and 19,940 support ships, along with 879 starbases and space stations, a few million shuttles and other auxiliary craft, and around 60 million active and 17 million reserve personnel.
The Federation Starfleet was chartered in 2161 with the founding of the Federation. A charter was written and an institution for the training of the Federation Starfleet officer corps, Starfleet Academy, was established. The Federation Starfleet was created from the space and science programs and militaries of the Federation's founding Member States, including the Earth Starfleet (founded in 2141), the Andorian Imperial Guard, the Vulcan Defense Directorate, the Tellarite Guard, and the Rigellian, Denobulan, and Alpha Centauran military forces. Starfleet Headquarters, the primary hub of Starfleet Command, was built near the Presidio in San Francisco on Earth, as the United Earth Starfleet Command complex had been, as was the Academy.
In accordance with the Starfleet Charter, Starfleet is charged with the following duties:
- 1: "To explore strange new worlds; To seek out new life and new and new civilizations; To boldly go where no one has gone before."
- The primary mission of Starfleet is exploration, expansion of knowledge, and contact with new species. Mentioned in both the Charter and the Articles of the Federation, it is considered one of the core ideals of the Federation itself.
- 2: Defense
- Starfleet is also the first line of defense for the Federation. Starfleet vessels patrol the Federation's frontier and borders, and in wartime are the primary combatants.
- 3: Aid and Assistance to all Federation Members, Colonies, and Protectorates
- Starfleet is frequently tasked with the transport and protection of Federation diplomats and officials, and is the first responder to all disasters, natural and otherwise.
- 4: Regulation of shipping
- An often overlooked duty in the eyes of the public, Starfleet frequently escorts convoys that are in hostile areas and is partially responsible for the enforcement of Federation trade regulations within Federation space and along its borders. Many shipping and regulation duties are actually performed by the Federation Merchant Marine and Federation Border Patrol, respectively, as well as by local authorities.
Starfleet is divided into numerous departments, divisions, and independent agencies. Actual starship operations fall under the control of the Chief of Starfleet Operations and are organized by fleets.
There are forty-five numbered Fleets, plus the Active Reserve Force. Each numbered fleet is made up of two Wings of two Task Forces each, and the Active Reserve Force is made of six Task Forces and the Starfleet Training Squadron. Each task force fields three Battle Groups, and a battle group is made up of three Starship Squadrons and two Support Squadrons. Each unit type larger than a squadron is led by a flagship and has extra support ships.