As the star stations and planets of the Beyond broke away from Earth control, the Earth Company built a fleet of FTL ships to bring them back in line. The first ships were repurposed scouts, which had always been armed in the expectation that they could find trouble exploring the Deep. After Cyteen declared independence in 2301, the armed fleet expanded. First merchants were armed, and then construction began on a fleet of 50 purpose-built carriers intended to impose Earth's will. Devil to the Belt explores early construction and the challenges of creating "rider ships" capable of countering Union forces. Typically, four riders multiplied a carrier's firepower. Downbelow Station explores the end of the Company Wars, following the fleet in a rear guard action in which the remaining 15 carriers are attrited to only 6. Downbelow Station reveals that Earth is in the process of building a "second fleet" to counter Union, but the Company Wars end before it can be brought to bear.
The novel Tripoint hints at the extensive logistics network required to support the Earth Company fleet, including supply transfer points, deep jump routes known only to certain ships, fuel dumps to supply the ships using the deep routes, and unexpected discoveries by the ships working outside the known navigation routes.