The United Nations Naval Service is a futuristic fictional military organisation created by David Feintuch in his Seafort Saga series of novels. The organisation is heavily based on the Napoleonic-era Royal Navy, including the presence of teenage officers serving aboard major ships, largely illiterate lower-deck crewmembers, and draconian discipline. The command structure is extremely simplified compared with modern military organisations, with 'line' officers proceeding from Cadet to Midshipman (often abbreviated to 'Middy'), Lieutenant (the lowest commissioned rank), Commander, Captain, Admiral, and Fleet Admiral. The UNNS operates FTL interstellar vessels on multi-year voyages between Earth and several colonies. The series follows the career of a UNNS officer, Nicholas Seafort.
The series takes place in the years just preceding and decades after 2200. A reformed UN has become the world government, as well as administrating Earth's colonies. Other political organizations, such as the US presidency, have only regional authority. The Secretary General is similar to a President of Earth.
Keeping with the Napoleonic-era theme, the world has become very religious, and in some cases social customs have reverted. For example, swearing in public can lead to legal difficulty, duels are legal, and the Unified Christian Church holds much sway over the public.
Technological advancements include the discovery of N-waves, which are used to travel faster than the speed of light, advanced and sentient AI, and weaponized lasers.
Interstellar travel is not in its infancy, but travel is only available to the more well off. The UNNS is the only body authorized to move cargo and passengers to the colonies. Because this artificial monopoly hurts colonial business, tensions are beginning to rise on the more stable worlds that are not dependent on Earth to survive.
The UN Navy is the premier military body, held in higher regard than the Armed Forces. It is responsible for ships and transport, while the Army oversees space stations and ground bases.
Admission to the Navy Officer Academy can take place as early as age 12, but a 15-year-old entrant is mentioned. The young ages are to reduce the dangers of Melanoma T, untreatable cancer that is a side effect of the ship's propulsion system. Those exposed to the N-waves, which are necessary to move the ship faster than the speed of light, within a few years within puberty have reduced chances of catching the disease, although the danger remains. After a period of training of around two years, newly promoted Midshipmen will be assigned a ship to begin hands on training and the potential for further advancement. Officers hold watches on the bridge, and are responsible for piloting the ship, assisting passengers and other supervisory roles.
Crewmen are a completely different matter. They are taken from the dregs of society, often uneducated and criminal. Due to the few who would voluntarily accept the long voyages under harsh discipline, any able bodied man is accepted into the Navy as a sailor, and are offered a half year signing bonus. Sailor come from all walks of life and many ages. Their service is capped at 10 years to reduce the risks associated with N-wave travel. Sailors hold many jobs, from working in the galley, engine room or hydroponics bay, to more technical tasks such as a communications technician. Due to the low standards, the majority of sailors are simply "gauge watchers", told to report to a superior if they see any danger signs, but not able to fix problems themselves.
The UNNS operates two main types of ship during the period in which the first four books are set- the Ship of the Line and the Sloop, again using Napoleonic naval terminology. The former are commanded by Captains while the latter are commanded by Commanders (although custom dictates that the commanding officer of a ship is addressed as "Captain" regardless of his actual rank in all but the most formal situations). Ships of the line typically have three decks while sloops have two, although some larger sloops (e.g. UNS Challenger) have three decks, and are only slightly smaller than ships of the line. Cargo barges are also mentioned, huge in mass and only operated by a skeleton crew. Later in the series a new type of ship, the two deck fastship, is introduced under the command of a Commander. Very lightly armed but also significantly faster than standard ships, fastships are often used as message runners. In the final books, another new design of ship is introduced, the Galactic class. These ships are much bigger than any other ship built, with six disks and several thousand passengers and crew.
The ships themselves are frequently described as several inch high round rubber disks around a pencil. The tip of the pencil would be the cargo bays, the opposite end would be the FTL engines. The disks are where the crew, officers and passengers live and work.
On three deck ships, the division is roughly: Deck One for the officers, Deck Two for Passengers, and Deck Three for the crew. Each deck would have the group's recreation, dining and sleeping facilities. However, as there are more passengers than any other group, the overload from deck two are housed in sections of Deck One and Three.
Each deck is housed in a circular disk and divided into sections, each numbered. The amount of sections depends on the size of the ship. In the event of a decompression, airtight doors will seal off each section, limiting the damage to the ship as a whole, but leaving little chance of survival for anyone trapped unsuited in the holed section.
All ship types have a complement of line officers (those in the chain of command), typically three lieutenants for a ship of the line and two for a sloop, as well as four midshipmen in a ship of the line, three for a sloop. Staff officers, not in the chain of command, include the Pilot, Ship's Doctor and the Chief Engineer.
The most important regulation is the naval oath, which is central to the plot of Midshipman's Hope as it binds Seafort to the Captaincy even though he considers himself incompetent and Vax Holser to be far better suited.
"I do swear upon my immortal soul to serve and protect the Charter of the General Assembly of the United Nations, to give loyalty and obedience for the term of my enlistment to the Naval Service of the United Nations, and to obey all lawful orders and regulations, so help me Lord God Almighty."
"When a commander in the Theater of Operations has data essential to the preservation of the main body of Naval forces, and communication with his superiors is restricted through no act or omission of his own, he may relieve his superior and assume command of all forces in the theater for the duration of the emergency. In order that authority not be divided or contested, the superior must allow the temporary usurpation of his authority. No challenge may be made to the assumption of command by any other officer under said superior, or any officer not in the theater. However, upon conclusion of the emergency the relieving officer must show by incontrovertible and conclusive evidence that his usurpation of authority was essential to preserve the main body of Naval forces. The penalty for wrongful usurpation is death. Any such sentence, once imposed, may not be appealed, commuted, or pardoned."
- Midshipman's Hope
- Challenger's Hope
- Prisoner's Hope
- Fisherman's Hope
- Patriarch's Hope
- Children of Hope
- Feintuch, David (1994). Midshipman's Hope. London, United Kingdom: Orbit Books. ISBN 978-0446600965.
- Feintuch, David (1995). Challenger's Hope. London, United Kingdom: Orbit Books. ISBN 978-0446600972.
- Feintuch, David (1995). Prisoner's Hope. London, United Kingdom: Orbit Books. ISBN 978-0446600989.
- Feintuch, David (1996). Fisherman's Hope. London, United Kingdom: Orbit Books. ISBN 978-0446600996.
- Feintuch, David (1996). Voices of Hope. London, United Kingdom: Orbit Books. ISBN 978-0446603331.
- Feintuch, David (1999). Patriarch's Hope. London, United Kingdom: Orbit Books. ISBN 978-0446524582.
- Feintuch, David (2001). Children of Hope. London, United Kingdom: Orbit Books. ISBN 978-0441008049.
- "Ships of the United Nations Naval Service". webcitation.org. 2009-10-25. Retrieved 2017-03-24.