Military Ship Type

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A Starship Type is a description of the mission statement of a Starship. This should not be confused with Starship Classes, which is a particular design. Each design is usually assigned to a particular type of starship, and each type will usually have many different classes.

A starship type is usually identified by a starship type code, a one to three letter code attached to the starship class or description.

Broad Ship Types[edit]

The Imperial Navy acknowledges six broad ship types in its service:

  1. Battleships (Naval Fleet Operation)
  2. Cruisers (Naval Independent Operation)
  3. Carriers (Naval Fleet Operation)
  4. Escorts (Naval Defense Operation
  5. Small Craft (Naval Auxiliaries)
  6. Support ships (Naval Auxiliaries)

Each type has its own function within the overall mission of the navy.


The power of the Imperial Navy is concentrated in its battleships. Battleships were a symbol of naval dominance and national might, and continue to be a major factor in both diplomacy and military strategy. The battleship is the most powerful type of military spacecraft type in existence and is known for both its heavy armaments and armor protection.

Although its strengths are obvious, so to are its shortcomings. Battleships are resource hogs and notoriously expensive to build, man, operate and repair. Due to these characteristics, they are not the ship of choice for small navies, but they are a must for larger force with strong opponents. In larger fleets the strength of the force is often measured in the numbers and types of battleship and they continue to be the most dominant naval weapon on the field of battle.


Carriers are designed to carry smaller combat craft, often in large numbers. They are not intended to engage directly in combat and most of their weapon systems have more of a defensive focus. Their true offensive capability is realized in the combat craft which they carry. With these craft the carriers can carry out a wide variety of missions which include both attacking enemy’s combatants and world surfaces.

A subset of carriers, termed tenders, are designed to either carry larger combat vessels or which fill the role of transport, supply vessel, and repair shop with little innate combat ability. At times a tender may fill roles which are more properly in the mission profile of a light carrier. They are at the enemy's mercy when caught without the fighters which are needed to provide the defenses these vessels lack.

Fleet Tenders


Cruisers are more lightly armored and less heavily armed than battleships. Cruisers are often assigned to support battleships and carry combat to areas where a battleship is not considered necessary. Because the cost to build, man, and maintain these vessels is much less then that of the larger battleships, cruisers tend to be one of the mainstays of many navies. Cruisers are relatively strong warships and can be used in a variety of mission roles and can often be found as the dominate ship type in smaller fleet formations.


Escorts are vessels intended to protect and assist larger vessels. They are capable of independent action, but are often assigned to support battleships, carriers, and cruisers. They also fill a variety of other roles including security, scouting, exploration, deterring aggression, pirate hunting, rescue, and force projection.

Escorts are divided into three major groupings but there is no great consensus defining the differences between these groupings. Often a ship one navy may term as a frigate another might term a destroyer. Even within the same navy there is some confusion, and many argue that they are all just one class. Generally ships called destroyer tend to be the heaviest of the escorts sometimes ranging up to the size of a cruiser. Escorts tend to be the next largest with frigates being considered the smallest class of the group.



Smallcraft is considered a catchall class representing fighters and smaller support craft used by a navy. These include a variety of combatant ships, such as Fighters, assault landers, etc. and noncombatant ships, such as Liaison shuttles, couriers, sensor carriers, military scouts, etc. This ship classification sometimes overlaps with that of Support Ships & Others.

Note: System Defence Boats (SDB's) are an odd exception to the rule that the majority of smallcraft weight 100 dTons or less. Many SDB's are in the dTon class, but others range up to 10,000 dTons.

Fighters are small craft which usually have no jump capability. Their role is in-system offense and defense. Although many have the capability for in atmosphere operation, their primary area of operation is in space.
Assault Transport
Assault transports are usually smaller vessels which specialize in delivering troops to hostile locations. They are normally armored and may provide direct support for troops in ground operations. They also have roles associated with delivering supplies to combat zones, and as medivac, and battlefield medical support.
  • Interface Lander
Noncombatant Smallcraft
Smallcraft is a class that represent all of the smaller, support craft used by a navy in noncombatant roles. Although some may have weapons, they are not normally utilized in combatant roles.
  • Couriers
  • Gigs
  • Scout Ships
  • Sensor platforms
  • Shuttles

Support Ships[edit]

Support ships play important roles in maintaining naval ships and ports. These roles include replenishment, transportation, repair, port services, and research. Scout ships assigned to the Imperial Navy also fall into this category. Although most scout ships belong to the IISS, a small number are assigned to the navy and fulfill a variety of scouting missions and also serve as couriers. Scout ships may also be reassigned to naval duty in the time of conflict or when deemed necessary.

  • Minelayer
  • Minesweeper


Sometimes a starship will move from one type to another. Often former battleships became cruisers, and cruisers became destroyers, when the maximum ship size increases with the tech level of the computer. For example a CH Heavy Cruiser is a front-line warship, however as they age, and technology advances, a class may be no longer fit for the front-line, and moved to a more secondary role such as DE Escort Destroyer. Sometimes the same design with different armaments will be of a different type (e.g. CS Strike Cruiser vs CC Cruiser). Its also common to downgrade the starship mission for political reasons, so a cruiser could become a destroyer, if arms regulations restrict heavy warships in a demilitarized zone.

The mission statement tell the purpose of a ship, but not its size or performance. e.g a CP Patrol Cruiser is often smaller than a DE Escort Destroyer, even if the first has the mission to cruise behind enemy lines, while the second has the mission to escort the main battle group and to destroy fighters and other small vessels. The Starship Type is therefore confusing and the performance characteristics for civilian and military vessels is better explained by the Imperial Ship Profile code.

Related References[edit]

References and contributors[edit]

This list of sources was used by the Traveller Wiki Editorial Team and individual contributors to compose this article. Copyrighted material is used under license from Far Future Enterprises or by permission of the author. The page history lists all of the contributions.