To protect ships from the menace of pirate activity, stellar governments may require flights in convoys with armed escorts, or they may establish routine patrols in troubled areas in the hope of catching corsairs in the act. In either case, the close escort is an ideal small ship for the protection of merchant traffic.
Originally, the close escort was designed and produced by the Imperium for fleet operations. The small, fast close escorts were committed as the flank screens for cruisers or small fleet task forces. Their speed and size also made them ideal for naval courier and personnel transfer duties. But ultimately, they found their true niche. Many close escorts have been assigned to specific star systems or groups of systems for commerce protection.
Close escorts may be encountered in nearly any star system, including in amber and red coded zones, protecting local merchant traffic. Because of this duty, they may be expected to stop much of the local traffic for inspection of cargo and to determine the correctness of ship’s papers.
Close escorts may also be encountered in nearly any star system in convoy with merchant ships or on naval operations in a task force with larger naval ships.