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Chapter 78 - The Administrator[]

"A Cutter begins with a fairly primitive jump core capable of limited interstellar mobility, typically in the modern world. A base 15 light year range, though modern controller design allows the integration of an LF battery to reach a double-jump range of 30 Light years. These ships tend to fall into the mass range of some Pocket Warship designs, but without the need for a separate jumpship.

Typically, Cutters lack drop-collars and have limited bay spaces. The primary purpose of these vessels began as in-system deep patrol and enforcement vessels servicing Belter communities in roles varying from search and rescue, disaster response, and antipiracy patrol. The most iconic being the Kowloonese Sampan series cutters, which saw a massive increase in numbers due to the stresses and strains of the Arluna Outbreak and the need to patrol quarantined space using indigenous forces to prevent the spread of the virus by either refugee flight, or pirates accidentally coming into contact with the virus and spreading it.

During the Jihad, Cutters from the Kowloon Coast Guard were pressed into service as Warship numbers among LCAF and allied navies plunged. Despite the short range of their jump capability and relative light armament, Cutter units had certain advantages, including a remarkably small jump signature, easy maintenance, and low observability despite powerful maneuver drives coupled with an effective capital armament.

Post-Jihad, cutters continued to be produced in the so-called 'Quarantine zone'. Which, coupled with the necessary manpower to sustain the quarantine, led to a situation where a regional militia formation not officially funded or supported by LCAF. Result the Guard became the largest source of jump-naval qualified personnel with skillsets appropriate to operating full-scale Warships in the Lyran Commonwealth. During the period of the Long Peace, Cutter units in the Quarantine filled most of the same roles LCN utilized combination assault dropship and standard core jumpships for. During the dual-clan assaults on Tharkad following the collapse of Operation: Hammerfall and the invasion of Tharkad, Cutters belonging to the Kowloon Coast Guard were critical in routing Jade Falcon and Wolf Naval units from the space over the Lyran Capital, and were critical in providing support to LCAF forces on the ground.

The Usage of Cutters in the LCN can be roughly compared to the usage of Submarine forces on old Terra during the pre-spaceflight era, that is, they operate in groups, and are often the first ships to enter a hostile system, preceding the main fleet by as long as three to six weeks, during which time their crews gather intelligence, deploy special forces, and conduct 'pre-assault' preparations in near total radio silence, sending information back using first or second generation 'black box' systems to bypass normal radio interception techniques.

The additional purposes served by the expanding 'cutter force' in the LCN include antipiracy patrol, search and rescue, and customs inspection. In the hierarchy of the reformed Lyran Commonwealth Navy, an officer wishing to command a larger warship must do a tour in "The cutters" as part of a "Cutter Patrol". This has led to a decidedly periphery-background flavor for Warship officers in the LCN. An institutional dominance of Belter and "Rockjack" personnel among LCN Warship branch commanders, often with the result of Kapitan or higher ranked officers speaking with a Kowloonese, Arlunan, Winterite, or Sol-belt accent. Though there are prominent exceptions to this general shift in tone.

Cutter Tactics in battle are 'wolfpack' tactics, with an emphasis on exploiting movement and maneuver options available to small vessels capable of conducting KF jumps in-system, and crews are trained to recover quickly from the aftermath of an in-system jump. This often provides a shock even to prepared groups of opposing pocket-warship and/or enemy fleet vessels, as they are not prepared for an enemy who arrives on a wave of EMP and thermal bloom within close striking range in the middle of a battle, unleashing fire and then, often, vanishing to reappear light-minutes away. this is exacerbated by the free use of thermonuclear anti shipping ordnance in combat against other warships.

Unlike the navies of other States, the LCN after the reforms of 3143 enter battle with all decks depressurized to limit fires and 'secondary shockwave' from hull hits. This practice is standard for Cutter forces since the 3060s. Cutter crews in combat zones may be operating under vacuum pressure for as long as three to six months before rotation to peacetime status. In peacetime, crews are expected to be constantly ready to deal with hull breach and loss of internal pressure, as well as ready to conduct damage control tasks at a moment's notice even while under thrust.

LCN Uniforms were changed under the 3143 reforms to bring the entire Commonwealth Navy to the same basic standard. Officers and personnel are therefore in "Skinsuit" at all times, even while posted to planetary surfaces, and DC (Damage control) and survival harnesses have been integrated into the "Dress over garment" formal dress uniform.

Cutter Captains are required to be certified in the following:

1. Jump Navigation Calculations-including carrying out jump calculations without computer assistance. 2. Nuclear ordnance handling, arm/disarm procedures, and deployment methods. 3. Null-gee maneuvering and space-walks. 4. Damage control tasks.

As a result, every ship's captain in the LCN whether commanding a dropship, or a Battleship, assigned to a cutter or a station, is also required to be proficient in these four tasks.

By 3151, a mere eight years after the initial reforms, the LCN's officer corps is 'mostly compliant' to these requirements, with those non-compliant being given the option of either accepting demotion until proficient, or accepting forced retirement as unfit for naval service.

Other notable regulation changes:

Leave policy and leaves of absence- No vessel or station may place more than 3% of their total personnel on leave status at any given time. Officers, senior, and junior enlisted are expected to live aboard ship (if assigned to a vessel) and may receive an allotment of 3 days per fiscal quarter (90 days) of off-post leave. those with families and young children may have 3 days off per month to spend time with their loved ones. (this may be taken per-month, or banked for longer, depending on the needs of the command). Personnel on active duty may not retain or transport more personal goods than will fit in a one meter by half meter by half meter ship's locker, this includes personnel assigned to ground service. Additional items must be shipped home or placed in offsite storage.

During Refits, Crew personnel are assigned to assist Yard personnel on refits, repairs and maintenance of their vessel. Leave policy remains tightly restricted.

Dependents may live on-base for shore duties, and dependents housing for crews at-sea is maintained at the home-port location. Education and basic civil services for Dependents is provided from the Personnel budget. Dependent housing is maintained internally, with that being one common duty for crewmen and officers assigned to station and/or base (Shore) duties. Cubic meters of space for Dependents are assigned based on the rank of the active duty personnel, with an average of 10 cubic meters added over basic housing for each step in rank progression.

Dependents with jobs off-post are provided with a 'car pass' and all dependents are provided with identification documents citing security clearances. for shore duty and dependent's housing, services are provided, including car service for dependent personnel with off-post or off-site jobs. For station-bound dependent personnel (see: Duran, Boojum, and Tharkad Naval Shipyards and Naval Shipyard Buena Habitat) weekly shuttle service is available. Teen dependents (ages 11-18) may sign up for 'pre service' education including flight school, Aviation and Naval maintenance, and Avionics technician training. vocational education offerings for teens include Machine Shop, basic ship maintenance, and pre-qualifier courses for engineering and medical fields. these are accredited courses in partnership with various unions and guilds throughout the Lyran Commonwealth, and provide pre-credits for entry into LCN and LCAF supported military academies.

Academy Cadets:

Cadets attending LCAF supported academies on a Naval track are fitted the same skinsuit pressure-undergarment used in the Fleet, and Academy uniforms are altered to fit over this suit. Cadets on a Naval track are expected to meet the same standards as other cadets, while also meeting strict standards of conduct and deportment required of LCN under the Reformed Regulation series, to include limitations on personal items and personal time or 'leave time'. (during holiday breaks, LCN cadets are temporarily assigned to the crew of whichever cutter, destroyer, warship, dropship, or station happens to be nearest to their school.) during this time, their official Rank in service while on holiday break is "Midshipman Apprentice".

Service period is 5 years for Enlisted, with a minimum of 5 years post-academy service for Officer candidates.

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