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The Shipmaster is the head of the Elite fleet in orbit. The Shipmaster (Rtas Vadumee) is the head of the Elite resistance and controls the ship Shadow of Intent. Rtas Vadumee is the most well known Shipmaster of the Covenent fleet, and is seen in a handful of videos throughout Halo 3.
The Shipmaster is a respected Zealot and has been Shipmaster for most of the games.