Chapters of Fleet 31 work independently in planning and attending local events, much like any other organization. What makes Fleet 31 different is that our chapters work together for events, accomplishing goals, recruitment, and so on in a spirit of cooperation rather than competition.
We place a limit of no more than one chapter per greater city metro area. With each chapter, this policy allows us to work together in networking across the city, and administrate both more effectively and more efficiently within a chapter, without overstretching to a point where members of a chapter can only rarely attend events due to distance of travel. If you live in a different city from a friend who is also in the fleet, fret not; much of our communication is done via Facebook, and with our social media setup outlined below, enjoying Fleet 31 together shouldn’t be much of an issue.
In order to commission a chapter (or “ship”) in Fleet 31, a city must have a minimum of 7 active crew members (or less on a case-by-case basis in areas with lower population density). “Active” is defined as maintaining a level of contact with other members of the fleet through either real (dinners, conventions, etc.) or electronic (social media, online games, etc.) means more than once a month. A minimum of four of these members must be officers or NCOs. Of those four, one must hold a minimum rank of Lieutenant and be willing to hold him/herself accountable for the well-being of the ship as the Commanding Officer, with at least one more eligible for that rank.
Once interest has been expressed in commissioning a new Ship / Chapter, and the Fleet approves the request to begin recruitment, it will be considered to be in Drydock status (ship being built, refit, etc., and crew being recruited), until such time has it meets the Minimum Requirements (above) to launch and enter its several week Shakedown period (below). During this time period, the Commanding Officer may wish to set up a Facebook Group and/or website to aid in recruitment for and coordination of the new Ship / Chapter, and to let potential members know what kind of people they’re looking for as new recruits and what kind of events & activities members might expect to participate in upon joining.
This part will sound much, much more difficult than it actually is. When the minimum membership has been attained, the appropriate Sector Commander will discuss with the CO the intended name, registry number, and class of the ship. Names and registry numbers are considered unavailable if they are found in Alpha or Beta canon, or if they are in use by any other active fan organization. Any Alpha canon ship class may be used; Beta canon classes are generally limited to STO for Gaming Ships and on case-by-case approval for Literary Ships. The easiest method to determine a valid range of registry numbers is to consider the class of ship and use its estimated launch date to compare to other known vessels of the time. Naming ships after real and fictional persons is not encouraged, and if an exception is issued, it can not be an obvious link to another franchise. The most common allowance for ships named for real people has been limited to Science Ships named for Scientists.
Senior staff are to be chosen by the Commanding Officer following the ship commissioning process. The CO will not choose people simply to fill titles, but instead to fill roles to accomplish duties outlined here.
When a ship is first commissioned, it will enter a period of shakedown, wherein the Admiralty will watch over the ship to ensure duties are being performed and the ship is generally doing well. During this time, the Commanding Officer will hold the rank of Commander, the First Officer (if chosen) will hold a rank no higher than Lieutenant Commander, and any department heads chosen will hold ranks no higher than Lieutenant. During this time, the ship will begin to accumulate materials necessary for self-sufficiency, such as business cards, banners, etc.; our resources have made this step quite affordable, although the costs will be split among the crew, and any donors from elsewhere in the fleet. Shakedown usually ends when the crew size hits between 12 and 15 members, although it is not to last less than one week.
When a ship leaves its shakedown period, the crew is given the option to choose a Commanding Officer. If the current CO is chosen, he or she will be promoted to the rank of Captain, with other promotions trickling down as appropriate. If another person is chosen as CO, another shakedown period will continue for the following 2-3 weeks, allowing time for judgment of administrative skill. Once the ship is taken off shakedown status, the ship will be considered self-sufficient, and will be encouraged both to plan its own events, as well as take part in fleet-wide events.
If the bulk of a crew is moving from one location to another, special considerations may be granted to allow the ship registration to change locations with them.
If a ship from another organization wishes to join Fleet 31, the case will be considered individually. However, leeway will be given in the name and registry of the ship, though it must be noted that if a Fleet 31 chapter already exists in that location, the existing F31 chapter will take precedence regarding the geographic chaptering policy.
There are no monthly reports or papers to fill out detailing to the Admiralty how things are going in the individual ship. There are no reports on specific activities, except for the sake of the fleetwide blog. Nothing about recruitment rates, or anything else really. All a CO has to do is keep in touch with the Admiralty for an occasional update on whether or not things are going positively (and if not, how to fix it).