This FAQ is an effort to consolidate much of the information spread throughout a horde of different threads on how to fight and win on the seas. Many players, even highly experienced ones, have trouble refining good tactics and strategies for use when playing large naval powers. No doubt this is largely because the most popular countries to play are NOT naval powers, namely Germany and the Soviet Union. The FAQ will be organized into functional sections, starting with basic information useful to any country with a navy and then going deeper into specifics about different ship types and how to organize and use them most effectively to control the sealanes and deny them to your enemies.
I. Early Fundamentals - this section will cover basic information that can be useful to any country that has a navy, from as small as Mexico to as large as the United States. It covers early planning and some initial tasks to take care of before the game clock starts.
A. Determine your naval objectives. - Here are the main uses for your navy which you are likely to see during play, depending on what country you play and what type of overall war strategy you plan to pursue, plus a general rundown of what is required to do each one. Remember, at this point you are just deciding what your objectives are, including time frame, and what forces you will likely need to meet them. You will get to the more specific tasks in a bit.
1. Are you going to be transporting and supplying armies overseas? Doing this with large armies is generally the province of the larger naval powers, but some medium powers like the Soviet Union and Germany may also choose this course. And any country might choose to do it on a small scale. If you plan to make numerous landings in different parts of the world, then battleships (BBs from here on), at least one small group, will likely be necessary for their shore bombardment value and ability to protect the transports carrying your troops. But if you are just planning to get ashore in one specific place, like invading the USA as Germany, then you can do without BBs altogether as their expense then outweighs their utility. Transports (TPs) are another thing you will definitely need, and if playing CORE you will want to research and build good ones. More on this below in the section on specific ship types. Cruisers (CAs) will likely have some role, but not necessarily. And last, destroyers (DDs). Virtually every kind of naval task, with the sole exception of the all-submarine navy I will mention later, will require destroyers, and in greater numbers than any other combatant.
2. Are you going to need to keep long sealanes, or even entire oceans, clear of enemy interference in order to maintain convoys to distant colonies and conquered territories? This is definitely the province of major naval powers, so if your country is NOT a major naval power you will need to make it one. The best ships to ensure domination of the seas against potentially powerful naval opponents are carriers (CVs). These are very expensive when you factor in technology, shipbuilding and the required planes. So if CVs are beyond your industrial reach, large numbers of CAs can be used to handle the job. In either case you will also need DDs to protect your capital ships, though you will need a lot more of them if you go the CA route. A small number of long range subs will be valuable if you go with the CV option, as they are great for tilting the surprise balance in favor of your CVs, and thus act as force multipliers for them. BBs are not needed for this task, contrary to initial appearances. For their cost they are not as good a value as CAs, and they can never hope to equal CVs in this role.
3. Are you planning to fight a strictly continental war but want to give yourself an edge by using the coastlines as an extra front? For this task a few BBs are going to be required, along with enough destroyers to keep them from being sunk by subs. A few transports will also be needed.
4. Are you going to need to defend yourself against a larger naval power who will be attacking you across an ocean? For this task you can take any of three approaches. First, if you are going to need a surface navy for other tasks in addition to this one, then you can do this duty with cruisers and destroyers. If not, meaning if this and/or #5 below are the only tasks you intend your navy to do, then your second option is to build an all-submarine navy and ignore most of the naval and sea doctrine trees. Third, if this is the ONLY naval task you had in mind, consider having no navy at all and just depend on coastal defenses, and use naval bombers to hit the enemy when they come near the coast.
5. Do you need to disrupt a naval power's ability to convoy resources to his home territory and supplies to his colonies? See above, because the naval requirements for this task are basically identical to those for task #4. So if either or both of these constitute your entire naval plans, you can go the all-sub route. If this is only one of your naval needs, go the cruiser/destroyer route. Obviously the no-navy plan is not an option for this one.
B. Begin to prepare a force to achieve your goals. This section is a very basic follow up to section A above, since it depends heavily on other sections of this FAQ, particularly the parts covering research and the specific ship types. Now that you have decided what tasks you want your navy to handle, and thus have at least a basic idea of what kind of ships you will be needing, you need to take the first step in building that navy. And the very first step is to burn to the waterline or send on convoy duty any ship which will not be needed. If you know you will not be needing BBs to achieve your goals, disband any BBs you have. If you know you will need more advanced destroyers than the wimpy ones you start with, send all the wimps on convoy duty (you will likely do this in every game regardless). And so on. Once you have pruned your fleet of all unneeded vessels, upgrade every other combat vessel you have. If they do not offer the option to upgrade, make a note to upgrade them the moment you get your first new upgrade tech (the techs that show a 'U' in parentheses by their description in the tree). The point of pruning and upgrading is to stop spending resources supplying your navy until you actually NEED it. Since upgrading of ships is very cheap (1 IC for CAs, 2 IC for BB and CVs) it only makes sense to use that to your advantage. The rest of the building of a navy comes down to only a couple of factors, i.e. researching the hull type you want to build and then starting construction early enough to complete the required number of ships before you need them in action. As I said, more on this in the other sections.
C. General research tips - These are just generalities. The specifics will be covered in the tech section and the section on ship types.
1. Since by now you should have an idea what types of ships you will need, set a specific final research goal for each one. Only the United States can expect to be able to research every naval technology, and in CORE even they cannot do it. So for each type of ship you will be needing, set an ending point and stick to it. For a small country one ending point might be the development of an early Battleship type. For a larger power it might be the development of Super Batteships. Set such a goal for each ship type you will need, and don't research any ship types beyond that goal. However, reseaching improvements for your ships is OK, but only if you can afford it.
2. Be alert to cross-tree dependencies. For example, you may be building an all-sub fleet. That doesn't mean you can totally forget the naval tree. For example, some sub techs require certain naval techs, so look ahead to your final tech goal, then work back through the requirements to get there and don't get caught by surprise. You should already know how to do this in land techs. Same thing goes here.
3. Start research as early as possible on the techs needed for the ship types you want. Some ships, especially BBs and carriers (CVs) take a LONG time to build, so you need to have their ship types researched early so you will still have time to build some of them. The improvements that are not prerequisites for your chosen ships types, like radars and such, can wait until your economy has expanded a bit.
II. Ship types - this section is a rundown of all the different ship types, their strengths and weaknesses, and their general usefulness. Tactics come later.
A. Battleships (BBs) - the so-called "queens of the sea". BBs are only really good for a couple of things. First, they are the only ship which can provide shore bombardment (the manual incorrectly states that cruisers can, but they can't). Second, they make excellent escorts to defend your amphib transports during sea crossings and the unloading phase of an amphib assault. They have two main weaknesses. First, their lousy visibility makes them very POOR escorts for carriers. Second, they have no way to detect or attack subs, so they MUST be escorted by destroyers or they are lunchmeat. BBs are very expensive and take a long time to build (about 18 months depending on model).
B. Cruisers (CAs) - CAs are decent all around surface combatants. They have decent surface attack ratings, low sub detection and sub attack, and fairly good air defenses. They are also far less expensive than BBs, and take far less time to build (about 1 year for most decent models). For these reasons their main uses are as escorts to defend carriers against surface ships and as patrol ships to defend your convoy routes and attack your enemies' convoys. Like BBs, they should be escorted by destroyers, but unlike BBs they can at least contribute somewhat to the ASW (anti-submarine warfare) task. More on this in the tactics section.
C. Carriers (CVs) - if BBs are the queens, CVs are the KINGS of the sea. This is definitely the most underrated of the surface ships, and when used correctly the most potent surface combatant. Nearly everyone knows that CVs are useful in ferrying aircraft to overseas battle fronts, but many think this is all they are good for. Not so. They can also act as mobile airbases for tactical bombers (except in CORE multiplayer, where this is generally forbidden), providing an airbase that moves around to provide support across a large front without having to rebase the bombers and lose org. Their carried air groups can be easily reinforced with reserve planes, due to the fact that rebasing TO a CV does not lower an air unit's org. But most importantly, a properly configured carrier task force (CTF) is by far the most potent naval force you can have. CVs have three main weaknesses. First, like BBs, they have no defense against subs and thus require a large escort of DDs. Second, if surprised they can be damaged by enemy surface ships before firing back (more on this in the tactics section), so you need to use care in your CTF composition to avoid being surprised. Third, their own cost plus the cost of the planes they will carry make them prohibitively expensive for most countries. Lesser model CVs are not terribly expensive and don't take terribly long to build, but the techs necessary to make them truly effective DO take a long time and have many prerequisites, so they end up being expensive anyway. Medium to good model CVs cost about as much per day to build as BBs but take about 2 years to build. Only three nations can reasonably expect to be able to afford them in sufficient numbers and quality to make it worthwhile: the USA, UK and Japan. These three all start with some CVs already built and a number of the most important CV-related techs already known. For everyone else they are really not worth the massive investment required.
D. Destroyers (DDs) - DD's are without doubt the most important surface ship in the game and the workhorses of the fleet. They are the only naval vessel which can provide true defense against subs. They are also the best air defense platform. They are inexpensive and quick to build, making them easily replaceable. And they are the only combat vessel that can be sent on convoy escort duty to protect your convoy transports. When sent on convoy duty, one DD becomes 10 convoy escorts.
E. Transports (TPs) - TPs are required if you plan to ferry troops, either via simple transfer to a friendly port or by amphibious invasion. They are also needed to convoy resources and supply. They are basically defenseless, so they always require escort. In vanilla there is only one TP model, so there is no real research to plan. In CORE there are different models of transports, but only two are worthy of consideration. The Mass Steamer is the cheapest, fastest building model and is the best choice if you are building TPs for convoy duty. The Auxiliary Cruiser is the fastest and least defenseless, and thus makes the best choice for amphibious operations (the so-called Attack Transport is far too slow and no better at defending itself that any of the less expensive models). When sending on convoy duty, one TP unit becomes 20 convoy TPs.
F. Subs (no abbrev. needed, but officially are SS) - Subs have three main uses. First, they can be used in large groups to prey on enemy surface fleets. Second, they can be used in large or small groups to eat at enemy convoys. Last, they can be used in very small numbers in CTFs (carrier task forces, remember? ) to help them achieve surprise and avoid being surprised. One minor task you can use them for is as pickets to detect ships approaching your shores so that your land based naval bombers can pound them. At low to mid tech levels they are not very potent offensively, but this is compensated for by the fact that destroyers and, to a lesser extent, cruisers are the only ships that can shoot back at them. They are cheap and quick to build, like destroyers, so they are easily replaceable.
III. Technology - most of the technology is pretty straightforward in both vanilla and CORE, but there are a few important notes you should keep in mind.
A. Start your naval research early, especially if you are going to be building BBs or CVs. These vessels take a LONG time to build, so if you wait too long to research the techs needed to build the hulls you want, you won't get them built in time. Improvements that are not prerequisites for the ship types you are planning to use can wait until after you begin actually building the ships.
B. Upgrading a ship only applies new technologies like better radars, torpedoes or sonars. It will NOT upgrade the basic hull. So a CV hull which carries 2 squadrons will NEVER carry more than 2 squadrons, no matter how much you upgrade it. If you need a CV to carry more, research and build a different HULL type. You can tell which techs provide better hull types because they say "Activates unit: Enterprise class carrier" or "Activates unit: Super Cruiser" or some such. The same thing goes for naval guns. A BB which carries a 260mm gun will NEVER carry a 406mm gun. For the bigger gun you need to research the hull type that was designed to carry it. To tell which this is, look at the gun tech in the artillery tree and click on any naval tech it enables. This will change the view to show you that naval tech, so read its description and it will tell what ship type it activates. The same goes for "Improved" versions of naval guns. They do NOT improve the ships which were based on the un-improved version of the same gun.
C. Ships in upgrade mode are assigned the latest tech available at the moment you deploy them back to the map. For example, say you upgrade a cruiser to have improved decimetric navigation radar but then when it finishes upgrading you just leave it in the queue and don't deploy it back to the map. Then a year later you deploy it, but by then you have researched improved centrimetric navigation radars. The ship will have those newer radars even though you didn't actually research them until after it was finished upgrading. The rationale is that a ship which is done building but has not yet been deployed remains in drydock, with the dock workers occasionally tinkering with it to keep it up to date until it is actually launched back into the water. So queue up all your ships for upgrade as soon as possible, but don't deploy them back to the map until you really need them. That way they get the advantage of the best techs you have at the time of launch, in addition to the fact that they do not consume supplies while drydocked. The same rule applies to newly constructed ships.
D. Upgrading of DDs - never do it. DDs are not worth the trouble of upgrading, since they are so cheap to build in the first place. If you get better DD techs, just build new DDs and retire the old ones by sending them on convoy duty because......
E. Units on convoy duty completely ignore tech level and unit type. Any kind of transport is equal to any other the moment you send it on convoy duty. And the most advanced destroyer in the game is no better than the least, when assigned to convoy duty. For this reason, when building DDs or TPs specifically for convoy duty, build the cheapest kind available. Only build the good ones if you plan to use them in your fleet. Obviously you also never want to disband TPs or DDs, but rather send them on convoy duty instead. Convoy ships consume no supplies anyway, so why not?
F. Tech improvements which can be particularly valuable are: ASW techs like sonars, ASDIC, ASW rockets and magnetic anomaly detectors - all of these combine to make your DDs into deadly sub-hunters; radars - both navigation radars to improve your surprise handling and fire control to increase your chances of scoring hits on the enemy; and, at the highest tech levels which most countries will never see, antiship and antiair missiles.
G. It should be noted that most of the techs in F above are dependent on techs from the electronics tree, so don't neglect your electronics research if you want to have a truly powerful navy.
IV. Tactics - this section is divided into functional groups, usually called "task forces". For each one I will describe its uses, weaknesses and optimum composition.
A. Carrier task force (CTF) - a CTF, when properly used, is the most potent surface combatant group in the game, just as in real life, but also requires the most explanation. It can stake out a seazone and blatantly dare the enemy to try to pass through. It can also support land operations, although in CORE multiplayer this use is limited by the CAG restriction (which I won't go into in this FAQ, except to say that it forbids basing any type of air unit except short-ranged CAGs on CVs). The best composition for a CTF is as follows:
1. 2-4 CVs (depending on their capacity) to carry from 6-12 air units
2. 0-3 CAs to defend against surface ships if the CTF is surprised
3. 5-7 DDs to provide defense against subs and, to a lesser extent, enemy air
4. 1-3 subs, to prevent being surprised and to aid in achieving surprise
The total number of ships should be 12, although at very high tech you can get away with a 9-unit CTF. The reason I list the number of CAs as being zero to three is because at higher tech level of DDs and subs you can safely dispense with the CAs altogether, since you will almost never be surprised and the DDs and subs will be powerful enough to deal with it if you are. In fact, since the CA is the highest visibility escort in the group, leaving it out actually helps you in the surprise equation. Also, the reason I state that you might want to have as many as 12 air units aboard a CTF is that you may want to have one group of escort fighters to run air superiority interference for a second group of naval or tac bombers (again, this is generally forbidden in CORE multiplayer). Due to the air stacking penalty you need to be careful to avoid having both groups involved in the same air combat. Fortunately the air stacking penalty ONLY applies to air-to-air combat, so having 12 air units does not compromise your ability to pound enemy fleets.
Surprise is the most important combat variable in the use of CTFs, so more explanation is needed. When a CTF (any fleet in fact) enters combat with an opposing naval force, the very first thing the game does is calculate surprise. It looks at the visibility (lower is better) and detection values (higher is better) of all the ships in each of the opposing fleets, compares them to each other, and then applies a random value to determine whether either side manages to surprise the other. Three outcomes are possible:
1. Neither side achieves surprise. This is the most common outcome to most meetings (unless the enemy is a small sub group). In this case all CVs immediately "scramble" their planes for the first round of combat and things proceed from there, with both sides firing on each other simultaneously. Advantage goes to the CTF, since the planes add a large amount of firepower to the bucket and most ships capable of hurting a CV lack adequate air defenses. Also, enemy fire will be concentrated against the planes instead of the CTF's ships, allowing the planes to act as shields for the CTF.
2. The CTF is surprised by the enemy - this is bad. When this happens the planes do NOT scramble in the first round, and the opposing force gets one free round of fire directly against the CTF ships. Most of the damage your carriers are likely to ever take will come from this. In the second round the planes scramble and the situation is then just like #1 above.
3. The CTF surprises the enemy - this is beautiful. When this happens, the planes scramble and they, plus all ships in the CTF, get one free round of unopposed fire against the enemy. In the second round, assuming the enemy isn't already toast, the situation is just like #1 above.
It should also be noted that CVs begin with a natural surprise advantage which is not apparent at first glance. While CVs seem to have really bad visibility, this is more than offset because they also have the highest surface detection ratings of any ship type. The reason sub escorts are so important to the surprise equation is that they have a ZERO surface visibility, and the only vessel with a decent sub detection value is the DD. The flip side of this issue is the reason why you NEVER want BBs in your CTFs, i.e. they have the worst visibility of any escort in the fleet, mediocre surface detection and ZERO sub detection, thus greatly tilting the surprise equation against you. Since their firepower can never hope to match that of an entire carrier-based air wing, they are far more of a liability than an asset. Lastly, a word on leader choice for CTFs. Two leaders traits are very useful for CTFs, even when the leadership value of the people who carry them may not be great. The first is Spotter, which increases your chance to detect the enemy before he detects you. The second is Blockade Runner, which helps you avoid detection. If you have a leader with both traits who is promotable to Grand Admiral, USE HIM, even if his leadership is low.
The matter of choosing the type of air units for use with your CTFs is relatively simple. Naval bombers are the best unit by far for fleet operations, as torpedo bombers have too short a range to reach beyond their own seazone. Escort fighters are the best choice for air defense and interception, for the same reason, i.e. all other fighter types have too short a range to fill the role. In general you want the mix of bombers to fighters to be about 2 to 1. For example, a 12 squadron capacity CTF should have 8 bombers and 4 fighters. The same ratio applies if you should decide to replace the naval bombers with tac bombers and assign the CTF to the support of land operations. There is one instance where you can safely offload the fighters and carry all naval bombers. When you are assigning the CTF to patrol seazones against enemies who do NOT have any CVs of their own, you can omit the fighters since you need not fear encountering hostile carrier-based fighters which might shoot down your own bombers. You need not really fear naval bombers in any case, as your own bombers will still be able intercept them, although neither side is likely to really hurt the other unless the numbers are terribly lopsided. However, if you know there is a naval bomber threat, having fighters aboard is still best. After all, it is much better to shoot the enemy planes down rather than simply drive them off, not to mention your naval bombers will lose org fairly quickly in any interception battle.
The last important note on the use of CTFs is the fact that air units aboard a CV cannot be reinforced to full strength after they take damage; they must be rebased to land first, or the CTF itself must return to port. So it is highly advised that you keep at least one replacement air group nearby for every CTF-based air group in-theater. Unlike rebasing on land, rebasing TO a CV does not lower org so you can rebase damaged planes to land, and the reserve group that flies out to the CTF to replace them arrives with full org, ready for immediate action.
The only two types of naval forces that can drive a properly configured CTF out of a seazone are: a more powerful CTF or....drum roll for the HoI devs....a convoy of transports. More on this in the special convoy section near the end of the FAQ.
B. Surface action group (often just called a surface action)- a surface action is a task force of surface ships whose duty is to attack other surface ships. If your resources and strategy allow you to deploy BBs, then these will form the core of your most powerful surface actions. If not, or if you wish to deploy numerous surface actions, cruisers can readily be substituted for the BBs to make less powerful, but still quite useful, CA surface actions. The optimum configuration is 6 BBs or CAs plus 6 DDs for a full sized fleet, or 4 BBs or CAs plus 5 DDs for a smaller patrol group. If your enemy does not have subs or has very few, you can trade a couple of DDs for BBs or CAs, changing the mix from 6/6 to 8/4 or even 9/3. Be careful with changing the mix too far, however, because your enemy might have more subs than you know, or might suddenly ally with another nation which DOES have a good sub fleet. With subs being so cheap, you should never assume that you won't run into some.
Surface actions are best used in an advanced role to clear enemy surface ships out in advance of an invasion fleet or to blockade the enemy and keep his surface fleets from getting to or from a particular place. For example, you could use a surface action in the North Sea to keep the Kriegsmarine from launching an invasion of Norway. Or you could use a few surface actions in the west Pacific to keep the Japanese from sending raiders out to hit your convoys. Another use for surface actions is to intercept incoming enemy invasions, however subs are better suited for this role if you have them in your navy. When going for barrier missions likes blockades, you should usually deploy as close to the source of interference as possible if you have naval superiority, and as close to the destination as possible if your enemy has the better navy. For example, if you want to cut off supplies from Japan to Truk before invading it, you have two choices. If you are the USA and thus have the better, larger navy, then set up your blockade near the Japanese home islands; this not only cuts off the supply convoys to Truk, but also to a number of other Japanese possessions, plus it helps keep the Japanese navy from moving out to Truk to interfere with your invasion fleet, or MAF (see below). If you are Australia, however, setup your blockade at the seazone right outside Truk's port. This way you minimize the chance of your surface action being savaged by the numerically superior Japanese fleet, which will tend to stay close to its home waters.
C. Amphibious invasion task force (which I will call MAF - for Marine Amphibious Force) - a MAF is basically nothing more than a surface action with TPs attached to it. If you have a BB surface action, then that is the one to use for this. Remember, only BBs can provide shore bombardment, no matter what the manual says. As mentioned before, when playing CORE the best TP to use for a MAF is the Auxiliary Cruiser due to its higher speed and its better defensive stats. It even adds a little bit of firepower to the bucket for you. Also, do not send more than 24 TPs in the MAF. While TPs do not count against the command limit of the admiral in charge, escorting more than 24 TPs with a fleet (in addition to the 12 combatants) does apply a penalty in combat. To clarify, you can have as many as 12 combatant ships PLUS 24 TPs, for a total of 36 ships, and suffer no penalty as long as there is a Grand Admiral in command.
One note on the actual landing phase of an amphibious assault: smaller stacks of units unload more quickly than large ones. For example, if you are invading with 12 divisions of marines, unloading them as one 12-division stack will take about a week. 12 stacks of one div each will unload fastest, in rougly 2-3 days. A happy medium if you want to avoid too much micromanagement would be 4 stacks of 3 divs each, which would take about 3.5-4 days to unload. Take advantage of this to minimize the time your MAF must sit in one place waiting for troops to disembark. This is not an issue when disembarking to friendly controlled territory however, where a stack of 12 is just as fast as a stack of 1. Also note, you can use group number hotkeys to select units loaded onto transports to issue them the movement order to unload/invade. This can be very useful if you assign all of your little 1- or 3-div stacks to be members of the same hotkey group. Just select all the stacks together by dragging a box around them before they load and assign them to a hotkey number. You can then select the entire group by that hotkey, which will let you give all the little stacks the same orders with only one command and keep them in synch with each other in time.
D. Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) group - an ASW group is exactly what the name implies, a group of ships whose role is to hunt and sink enemy subs. Since the prime anti-sub vessel is the DD, this is the core of any ASW group. The optimum composition is generally either 6 DDs plus 3 CAs if your enemy also presents a surface threat, or 7 DDs plus 2 CAs if he is weak in surface ships. Still include CAs in either case, though, because even if the enemy doesn't attack with surface ships the CAs can absorb damage for the DDs so they can hang longer in case of a protracted battle with a very large sub group. Protecting the DDs is not a huge issue, since they are so cheap, but enhancing their ability to hang in a firefight increases their ability to sink more subs and maximizes the time they spend on patrol as opposed repairing in port.
E. Submarine wolfpack - any group of submarines that includes no surface ships. For intercepting convoys use 3, 6 or 9 subs per group and be prepared to rotate groups out to port to repair. If you want to use your subs to hunt surface ships, use 9 subs per group. And if you want to use them as pickets, where you park them in a seazone for the purpose of merely detecting enemy fleets who will then be attacked by your land based naval bombers, use 2-3 subs, since using only one makes it too likely that an enemy will pass without being detected.
A final word on the killer convoys:
Sadly, and VERY unrealistically, convoys in HoI 1.06x lower both the strength and org of ANY and EVERY enemy ship which happens to be there as they pass through a seazone. This can wreck very expensive BB surface actions or CTFs if they make the mistake of staking out a seazone where enemy convoys are passing through. To avoid this I recommend sending a 9-sub wolfpack out one seazone in advance of the surface action or CTF. By "in advance" I mean one seazone closer to the port the convoys are coming from. This anti-convoy guard will do the job of sinking the convoy TPs (and suffering the consequences) before they get to the seazone where your expensive BBs or CVs are parked. Since subs are the cheapest vessel that is really capable of the job, and thus expendable and easily replaced, they are the obvious best choice. In a pinch, though, you can use an ASW group or a CA surface action to hold back the convoys for a short time (a few days). You will also want to keep another wolfpack or two nearby to relieve the one playing advance anti-convoy guard, since whichever group is intercepting the convoys will degrade quickly in strength and org, and when they reach zero org they stop intercepting. As a potential bonus, if an enemy fleet should come and try to drive off a wolfpack that is the advance for a CTF, the CTF's naval bombers can be sent from the neighboring seazone to pound them.
Note: please reply with comments on any questions or naval issues I may have neglected, and I will update this primer accordingly. Thanks go out to the following:
John Heidle - for encouraging me to write this FAQ in the first place.
Long Lance - for correcting the CTF air reinforcement section
Good luck. And good hunting.