|Source: Drakefyre canon|
The Empire did not see the necessity of a large navy, or any navy at all, until trade shipments between Pralgad and Aizo became increasingly large and lucrative towards the end of the fourth century IE. With independent shipyards selling to whoever could afford ships, privateering suddenly became incredibly profitable and easy. With the development of warships intended to defend large cargo barges and transports, the Empire decided to step in. Rather than allow the Sailor's Association complete domination of the seas, Ironclad VI commissioned twenty warships for the first fleet of the Imperial Navy. To fund the outlay, he raised tariffs on intercontinental trade and ordered ship captains to aggressively pursue privateers and seize whatever gold they could find.
The creation of the Imperial Navy had additional benefits beyond protecting trade and making the seas safe. Intercontinental travel became more commonplace, and independent explorers got bolder as ships got faster and safer. While pursuing the fleeing Anama during the Anama War, the Imperial Navy discovered the continent of Vantanas. Emboldened by the discovery, exploration of Ermarian, led by the Imperial Navy, became a priority for many Emperors. Ironclad XIII, the last of the Ironclads, ordered the navy to sail around the Ndlovu Mountains, where they discovered Valorim, a continent ruled by Nephilim.