Admiral Hayes: First off, Captain. We at this review board would like to say welcome back home, to you and your crew. Not even Jim Kirk himself managed such a miraculous feat.
Captain Janeway: Thank you, Admiral. It's good to finally be home.
Admiral Cho: We're here today to review your performance over the last seven years, and discuss one reoccurence that troubles us deeply.
Captain Janeway: About that. I am fully prepaired to face the music. Our disregarding of the Prime Directive is my fault and mine alone. Please don't fault my crew.
Admiral Cho: Oh, no no no no! Those were exceptional circumstances, and we have no doubt that you acted in good faith. You were in an impossible situation, and did what you had to.
Captain Janeway: Then what...?
Admiral Hayes: It's the shuttles.
Captain Janeway: I'm sorry, The shuttles?
Admiral Hayes: Yes. When you left spacedock seven years ago, you were equipped with six shuttles. More than enough for your assignment, and almost as many as such a small ship can carry.
Admiral Cho: Yet your logs show you blew through those within a few months.
Captain Janeway: Well we were in impossible circumstances!
Admiral Hayes: We understand that. However, you kept losing shuttles, long after you exhausted your supply.
Captain Janeway: .......
Admiral Cho: You even designed a shuttle, after you assessed that your shuttles weren't "up to the challenge." The Delta Flyer, I believe. And then proceeded to lose it, as well.
Admiral Hayes: ...only for The Delta Flyer II to turn up.
Captain Janeway: ......
Admiral Hayes: The fact is, Captain. Not only have you lost far more shuttles than you left with by order of magnitude, you have returned with more shuttles in your hold than you left with. This is very disturbing.
Admiral Cho: Do you care to explain this, Captain?
Admiral Janeway: ...no. No, I don't.
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What Do I Call That Ship, Anyway? - A Guide To Ship Classification
Ever wondered the difference between a battlecruiser and a battleship, or debated whether your vessel is a light, medium, or heavy freighter? The Star Wars universe is absolutely full of all sorts of wonderful starships, but there are so many terms and classifications for them that it can get awfully confusing sometimes! This post is intended as a non-exhaustive guide to describing some common ships’ various classifications in your writing, both military and civilian.
The rest is under the cut. Sorry for the long post, mobile users!
A capital ship is defined as any armed military starship with a length greater than 100 meters, typically designed for fleet warfare. The Anaxes War College System, established during the Clone Wars and used by the successive governments, divided capital ships into seven main classifications:
Corvette: 100-200 meters in length
Frigate: 200-400 meters
Cruiser: 400-600 meters
Light cruiser: 350-400 meters (sometimes interchangeable with frigates)
Medium cruiser: 400-500 meters
Heavy cruiser: 600-1000 meters
Star Destroyer: 1000-2000 meters
Battlecruiser: 2000-5000 meters
Dreadnaught: 5000+ meters
Sometimes, depending on its armament and typical role in a battle, a ship could be moved up or down a classification. The Carrack-class light cruiser, for example, was sometimes considered a cruiser despite technically being a frigate at 350 meters long. The Secutor-class Star Destroyer was classified as a Star Destroyer even though it was 2200 meters long, because its role as a carrier ship meant that it had a light armament that was atypical of battlecruisers. (Note that Star Destroyer as a classification was separate from the specific term Star Destroyer originally used by Kuat Drive Yards to describe their own ships. By the time of the Clone Wars, many capital ships not manufactured by KDY were also referred to as Star Destroyers.)
Some other terms were also used to describe capital ships:
Battleship: a general name used for large capital ships, often Star Destroyer-sized and above. They were well-armed and shielded, and took either an active role in combat or a “peacekeeping” role.
Warship: often synonymous with battleship, but sometimes used as a specific class, comparable to a frigate or a cruiser.
Battlecruiser (informal): a large, heavily-armoured capital ship that was not considered a battleship, made for destroying other capital ships. Alternately, a vessel designated “battlecruiser” due to differing naming customs, while serving the role of another class of ship.
Flagship: the primary command ship in a fleet, usually the largest or most powerful vessel.
Carrier: a starship designed primarily to carry smaller starships and fighters into battle. While dedicated carriers usually had few weapons and weaker shielding, others could serve a dual purpose as carriers and battleships.
Interdictor vessel: a starship with the ability to generate a gravity well and pull vessels out of hyperspace. Interdictors could belong to varying capital ship classes, ranging from frigates to Star Destroyers.
Super Star Destroyer: a ship with the typical dagger-shaped profile of a Star Destroyer that falls into the size category of battlecruiser or dreadnaught.
Superdreadnaught: a little-used term for a very large dreadnaught. The Eye of Palpatine, at 19 kilometers in length, was considered a superdreadnaught.
(The Supremacy, a 60-kilometer wide Mega-class Star Dreadnaught, could be called a superdreadnaught)
A starfighter is a small, maneuverable ship used in space or atmosphere battles. There are several different kinds of ships commonly considered starfighters:
Snubfighter: a fighter carrying a crew of one or two people, typically equipped with laser or blaster weaponry, missiles or torpedoes, and a hyperdrive. The infamous X-wing starfighter is a snubfighter.
Bomber: a fighter designed for combat against well-armoured targets such as capital ships, space stations, and buildings. They carried projectile weapons such as proton bombs, concussion missiles, proton torpedoes and thermal detonators, often in addition to energy weapons, and were generally escorted by more maneuverable starfighters or support craft like frigates.
Interceptor: a particularly fast and maneuverable starfighter, designed to combat enemy fighters and bombers. They lacked heavy armour and ordnance payloads, and sometimes a hyperdrive, in the interest of making the fighter as fast as possible.
Atmospheric fighter: a starfighter specialized for flight in atmosphere, such as the TIE striker.
(A few models of classic starfighters)
Sometimes, larger ships were also considered starfighters. Certain transports, shuttles, and light freighters—generally, ones that have a heavy armament in relation to their size as well as decent maneuverability—could be lumped into this category. In addition, the term starfighter could (but does not always) include the following:
Gunship: a general designation for small troop deployment and attack carriers. They were usually equipped with heavy weaponry and armour, allowing them to survive and fight through a battle long enough to deliver or pick up troops and supplies. They could serve as escorts to larger ships, and some were designed to carry large ground-based vehicles like the AT-TE onto a battlefield. Sometimes, small capital ships were referred to as gunships.
Blastboat: a small starship built for combat, fast enough to intercept other ships and serve as a patrol craft but strong enough to survive encounters with well-armed and armoured opponents. They tended to fall between starfighters and capital ships in terms of function, size and armament, but some, such as the GAT-12 Skipray Blastboat, were considered heavy starfighters.
Airspeeder: though a starfighter is almost always capable of space combat, the term can sometimes be applied to certain low-altitude airspeeders.
(Republic LAAT-series gunships were heavily used throughout the Clone Wars and beyond)
A freighter is any spacecraft used to transport freight or cargo. Sometimes interchangeably called a cargo ship or barge. Freighters were often arranged into several loose categories depending on their size/capacity and function, though these classes could be highly variable.
Light freighter: a ship used for small cargo operations. Many light freighters were equipped with weapons and a decent hyperdrive, and were capable of holding their own in combat. They tended to measure around 30 meters in length, but could be larger or smaller, and commonly had a cargo capacity of about 50-100 metric tons. The Ghost and the Millennium Falcon were both light freighters.
Medium freighter: an ambiguous class of freighter. A medium freighter could be anywhere from around 30 meters in length to a couple hundred, and tended to have a cargo capacity of several hundred tons. Some medium freighters are also considered bulk freighters, and some function as container ships.
Heavy freighter: an ambiguous class used to describe a freighter with a larger cargo capacity than the light freighter. Whether a ship is considered a light, medium or heavy freighter depends on the manufacturer and series; there is no set definition. There are heavy freighters ranging in length from 50 to several hundred meters, and in cargo capacity from only 150 tons to over 50,000. Heavy freighter is often used interchangeably with bulk freighter.
Super freighter: a term used to describe a very large freighter or a freighter with a very large capacity. The Cargo Empress-class super freighter was one example, with a length of 110 meters and a capacity of 50,000 tons.
Bulk freighter: a freighter used in commercial shipping operations to carry bulk loads. Usually considered either a medium or heavy freighter, and often capable of carrying tens of thousands of tons.
Container ship: freighters used to haul large numbers of crates and containers, sometimes carried on the outside of the ship. Hundreds of thousands of tons of cargo could be carried on a container ship, but they were very costly to operate.
Drone freighter: an unmanned freighter, requiring no crew.
Tramp freighter: an unaffiliated ship operated by an independent captain.
Freight liner: an affiliated ship with established and scheduled ports of call.
(The class four container transport, also called an Imperial cargo ship, was a container ship capable of carrying up to 210 large cargo containers)
Transport/space transport/starferry: a starship that carried cargo or passengers from one location to another, or a vessel that performs this same function. Freighters, passenger liners, troop transports, and even ground vehicles such as AT-ATs all fit into this classification.
Shuttle/shuttlecraft: a small vessel used to transport personnel, usually through space, between a planet and a ship in orbit, or between two ships.
Yacht: a starship (or aquatic ship) used for recreational purposes. They were usually about the size of light freighters, but could get as large as small capital ships, and tended to be expensive.
Scout vessel: a starship used for scientific/commercial exploration or for military reconnaissance.
System patrol craft: a combat-capable starship intended to operate within a star system. They acted both as planetary defence/customs and as a first line of defence, and though they usually lacked hyperdrives many were considered small capital ships and were capable of skirmishing with other capital ships as large as frigates.
Boarding craft: a vessel used for boarding enemy ships and space stations, sometimes also a kind of shuttle.
Assault ship: a general term used to describe capital ships and starfighters intended for offensive action.
Consular ship: a diplomatic vessel. Alternately, any vessel officially used by a member of the Imperial Senate.
Courier: a fast ship built for delivery of urgent cargo and passengers.
Hospital ship: a medical spacecraft of varying size, often accompanying a military fleet into battle. More on hospital ships here.
Medical frigate: a ship used for medical support during battles. They often didn’t fit the size guidelines of other frigates, ranging from 35 meters to two kilometers.
Communications/comm ship: a naval vessel fitted with extra transceivers to help communication between fleet elements and military headquarters.
Tug: a starship fitted with tractor beams, used to move or guide ships, structures, or cargo containers.
Space station: a structure built for use in orbit or deep space, often intended for habitation or research purposes or as orbiting docks. While they were usually immobile, some military space stations such as the Death Star had engines and hyperdrives, making them starships as well.
And, of course, if you need to know the type/classification of a specific starship, you can always check out its Wookieepedia page or shoot me an ask! Good luck with your writing!
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