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Standard Sci-Fi Fleet

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"Future space warfare will be based on large-tonnage, high-endurance combat platforms, and engagements will resemble naval battles more than air combat, with a battlefield in three dimensions instead of two. So the military's space branch must be based upon the navy."
General Chang Weisi, The Dark Forest

As Space Is an Ocean, naturally the space fleets in many Sci-Fi settings tend to follow the same lines as the wet navies of Earth. These are typically separated into three classes: Small Craft, Space Ships and Capital Ships.

Forms the backbone of a Space Navy. Compare/contrast Standard Sci-Fi Army, which may be on hand to fight boarding parties or conquer worlds. If it’s being shown in a visual medium, the director may use a Sci-Fi Flyby.

To compare the size of ships from various series please use this finely crafted link for a very helpful site, that has all your Standard Sci Fi vessels in scale to one another. This single image chart is also a work of art.

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    Small Craft 

These are characterized by having a relatively short endurance; unlike a 'real' spaceship, small craft don't independently travel long distances or stay in space for weeks on end. Consequently, small craft are almost always attached to a base of some sort or larger spacecraft. Furthermore, most don't have FTL, whether because it would be too expensive, a trip would take too long, or the engine would just be too big. In some settings, these small craft have the ability to travel and fight within atmospheres whereas larger ships do not (and are restricted to orbit).


Small and specialized modules, pods are not craft in their own right. They are carried by larger ships as auxiliaries. Most can hold one to two people, others can hold about a platoon of personnel. Of course, the term “small” can be relative. A Pod for a single mecha would be the size of a small house.
  • Escape Pod
    A lifeboat in space. Although they have no practicality in deep space, they do make sense when ships are involved in operations near shipping lanes, planets, moons or space stations and it helps crew morale if they know they can escape if required. When a larger ship is about to be destroyed the crew will scramble for the escape pods, hoping to reach rescue or at least a Conveniently Close Planet. Generally these have only rudimentary engines and no weapons, but will carry some survival supplies or perhaps operate as cryo-tubes. Can be used to create dramatic situations with stranded or adrift characters, or just to get civilians and redshirts out of the way so the main cast can save the day at the last possible moment.
  • Drop Pod
    Instead of deploying infantry from a landed ship or transport, sometimes individual soldiers or mecha will be dropped onto a planet's surface from orbiting craft using armoured pods. Generally single-use.
  • Boarding Torpedo / Breaching Pod
    A small ship-to-ship torpedo/missile/pod that is used to deliver infantry by penetrating or boring through the enemy hull.
  • Utility Pod
    Used for building and maintenance. Often spherical, barely fitting one or two people, with very thin walls, manipulator arms, some thrusters, and little else. It may not even have a built-in life support system, nor can it operate in an atmosphere or heavy gravity. They can be used to build space stations and ships, are almost always found at construction yards, and one or two could be attached to a ship for extravehicular transport / minor repair work.
    • Transport Pod: A common Utility variant that taxis personnel and small cargo from ship to ship. These lack any manipulators, and the most basic of these would just be a frame with thrusters.
    • Combat Pod: Occasionally, Utility Pods can be armed and armored for space combat, sort of a Space Technical. Much like their ground counterparts however, these improvised Pods are ill suited against machines built for war.

Space Fighter

Basically a space jet fighter. Usually armed with a mix of a Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon (so they can get into an Old-School Dogfight) and missiles. Space Fighters typically battle each other in space, but depending on the distribution of firepower in the universe, may be capable of damaging or even destroying capital ships. The most common type of small craft to (possibly) have an FTL drive. The best ones are designed to be used in an atmosphere as well.
  • Bomber
    Heavy, slow fighter-sized craft, armed with big missiles (commonly called Torpedoes) to damage or destroy capital ships. Often have one or more turrets for defensive weapons against fighters in addition to its offensive armament.
  • Interceptor
    Light, fast fighter whose primary purpose is to catch and destroy Bombers before they can strike the capital ships. They can also be deployed to catch up with recon craft to neutralize them. Real Life air Interceptors traded capability for speed, and as a result was less maneuverable compared to Fighters. In scifi, Interceptors tend to avoid this as technology allows for a more capabilities than their space fighter counterparts.
  • Stealth Fighter
    A stealth fighter, equipped with a cloaking device or such. They can also come in larger versions, depending on the setting.
  • Assault Fighter
    Glass Cannon fighter with lots and lots of guns.
  • Recon
    Trades weapons for sensors, stealth, and speed. Scouts ahead of primary fleet to gain last-minute intel on enemy positions.


Many universes which feature these may use them instead of or in addition to conventional space fighters. Alternately, many have Transforming Mecha that change into Fighters for space combat. In even rarer cases they can transform into capital ships.
  • Humongous Mecha
    Essentially, the attackers and bombers of a standard mecha fleet, specializing more in anti-ship combat because of their enormous amounts of attack power and armor at the expense of their speed.
  • Mini-Mecha
    More akin to fighters and interceptors due to their agility, but at the expense of heavy attack and defense compared to their humongous counterparts, these would have been more useful for anti-mecha combat than anti-ship combat.


Commonly used to transfer personnel or material from one ship to another, or down to the surface of a planet. Usually lightly armed and relatively fragile (though there are exceptions). Civilians may own these for personal transport. In some settings shuttles may have an FTL drive of their own, making them "real" (though small and weak) spaceships in their own right — but in many cases they are restricted to short-range travel only.
  • Drop Ship
    Specialized shuttle-like craft specifically made to carry troops from a ship to the surface, even into the middle of a battlefield or under fire. Always heavily armored, and usually armed with guns to support the infantry it deploys.
  • Boarding Ship
    Similar to a Dropship, this craft designed to breach a ship’s defenses and disembark marines afterwards. Sometimes such craft are literally rammed through a enemy hull. Much more maneuverable, heavily armed and armored than a Breaching Pod. Generally used when capturing a ship or it’s cargo rather than destruction is the primary goal.
  • Assault Shuttle / Gunboat
    A shuttle that sacrifices some or all of its cargo and passenger capacity for heavy armaments. Usually slower and less manoeuvrable than a Space Fighter, but can carry bigger guns and tougher armour and shielding.

    Space Ships 
These are full-fledged space ships; they have the endurance to go anywhere, but aren't powerful enough to be actual capital ships (military vessels may be referred to as "sub-capital" ships). The addition of stealth/cloaking capability to any of these turns them into the equivalent of submarines, allowing writers to recycle WW2-era destroyer vs. U-boat stories, regardless of the bad physics involved.

Patrol Boat / Scouts

Analogous to PT boats and gunboats, this craft are usually very small, fragile, and are used as police ships and/or for harassment. Not often a Hero's current ship, but often will be their first command. Blurs the line between Bombers and Cutters — cheap enough to produce in numbers, and sometimes fast and agile enough to be be a threat.
  • Fast Attack Craft
    Variant of the Patrol Boat, FAC are heavily armed ships, often with anti-ship missiles or guns. They maintain the speed, agility, and low cost, but retains the fragility and lack of endurance. Because of their speed and weaponry, they can outmaneuver Capital Ships while posing a major threat. Then again, they're not likely to survive a direct hit from escort craft.


Various smaller warships, ranging from small assault boats slightly larger than a Bomber to massive ships nearly a mile in length. Which size class gets which name varies from universe to universe, but is usually in the size and name order given above. With the exception of those crewed by main characters, these are usually the equivalent to Red Shirts in the fleet when the shooting starts. Generally speaking, deployed in groups ("flotillas") or as escorts for larger ships. They're sometimes referred to as "Tin Cans" because of their thin hulls.
  • Cutters and Corvettes are small and cheap enough to be built by even the poorest of nations. Law enforcement, personnel transport, and guard duty was the Cutter's main role, since it didn't require a large crew to operate. However, small raids can be conducted with these ships. Corvettes are highly maneuverable but lightly protected, used mostly for protecting planets.
  • Destroyer originally came from "torpedo boat destroyer" and for most of the 20th and 21st centuries destroyers have evolved to take on anti-submarine, -missile and -aircraft duties; as such, authors who have Shown Their Work while adhering to classical naming conventions will portray destroyers as being point defense-heavy to defend capitals from small craft. However, settings that don't strictly adhere to such naming conventions will often refer to destroyers as purpose-built ships created to eliminate enemy ships, which is a role they are starting to take on in the modern day, and ship classifications being arbitrary and subject to change based on the whims of political factors also has real-world precedence.
  • Escorts protect other ships from smaller, faster craft — much like the original role of the Destroyer. But thanks to their less impressive name, Escorts have been largely limited to a background role. And more often than not, they end up as red shirts — they tend to be the first to go in a fight, more so than any other tin-can ships. A bit of history: Destroyer Escorts (DE) were used in WWII to protect merchant convoys. They were actually smaller than fleet Destroyers and were much cheaper. Can also be a blanket term for the smaller ships like frigates, destroyers and corvettes, grouped into "escort squadrons" made up of multiple small ships.
  • Frigates tend to the most heavily armed of these ships, and sometimes act independently for raiding, long-range patrol, bombardment, or scouting. Considering the size of some space empires, having a large number of these craft may be required to picket such vast distances.


Jack of All Stats middle-weight warships that are well equipped enough that they can act independently against lesser forces like convoys or escort vessels and are fast enough to run away from enemy fleets with major capital ships. In real life cruisers are rapidly becoming a deprecated class due to naval weaponry & strategy consolidating roles into frigates which are dedicated to anti-submarine warfare, and destroyers that do everything else.
  • Light Cruisers when they appear in a setting will usually act as upsized escort ships, helping to screen bigger ships in fleet actions, scouting ahead of battlefleets as a picket ship, doing long range patrols between far flung areas of a civilisation or acting as the flagship of an escort squadron.
  • Cruisers are the middle of the pack in terms of warship size. Not exceptionally fast, heavily armoured or armed but cheaper than major capital ships, they will make up the bulk of the larger units in a navy. The weapons it carries are usually varied and capable of fighting all types of potential enemies, and can carry small detachments of Marines or other ground forces.
  • Heavy Cruisers are slower but more heavily armoured & armed than regulation cruisers. They can be the core flagship in task forces of lesser importance, and due to a slower speed will often be the leader in cargo or ground assault convoys. They might be considered capital ships in some settings or with navies that lack the big capital ships.
  • Battlecruiser may be used as a rough synonym for "cruiser", or the largest ship class in a setting that doesn't use battleship as a class type, or a faster & less armoured variant of large capital ships.
  • Assault Ships are cruiser sized vessels dedicated to placing combat troops directly onto enemy ships, bases or planets, with weaponry limited to self defence & short range bombardment. Usually heavily armoured due to the role attacking enemy forces directly, it carry shuttles, ground support fliers, breaching torpedoes, drop ships or drop pods to enable rapid deployment of their cargo.

Assault Carrier

The Assault Carrier is basically a smaller version of The Battlestar, only carrying a single squad or two of small craft. Many are capable of operating in the atmosphere, even (especially) if no other type of ship in the fleet can. These ships are usually considered their own autonomous units within the fleet, and commonly split off on separate missions (this makes them useful for the main cast of a series). The White Base of Mobile Suit Gundam is the Trope Maker here.
  • Escort/Light Carrier
    Typically around the same size as an assault carrier, but trades in most of the assault's guns for a larger fighter wing. An escort carrier rarely shows up on its own.


A warship that has disproportionately powerful (and sometimes massive) guns for it’s size. It trades speed, maneuverability,and some defense capabilities for offense. Generally better armored than a Destroyer, but not nearly as other Capital ships. However, their design means they’re not very useful in fleet offensive operations. Usually delegated to defending other planets or supporting bombardment against orbital stations or planetary targets. In settings with FTL travel these are sometimes the largest military ships that are not equipped with an FTL drive meaning that they are used only for defense.

Freighter / Cargo Ship

Ship whose purpose is to ferry goods from one planet to the next. Can be any size, from small-time vessels barely larger than a shuttle for personal-scale deliveries to mile-long(or more!) behemoths that can service entire colonies. Usually lightly armed, if at all. Mostly a background ship.
  • Repurposed Freighter
    Basically a weaponized transport, given enough guns and defenses to attack other ships. Alternatively, their cargo space may be repurposed to the deployment of Small Craft. A favorite of pirates, rebels, and desperate governments who need anything to act as a warship, these quasi-warships are relatively cheap and fast to produce. As these ships were not originally built for combat, they're less durable or capable than a conventional warship.

    In contrast to Q-ships, Repurposed craft do not hide the fact they are well armed. In fact, with the rapid modifications (added armor, engines, weapons, and sensors welded without regard to style) the refit may be very obvious. More so if in the hands or pirates / rebels, who love to decorate their craft.
  • Blockade Runner
    Smaller than most Cargo Ships, this is commonly used by smugglers and rebels, who soup up the engines and, if necessary, can give it extra guns and armor if it needs to fight. You're probably thinking of the Millennium Falcon (or Serenity, or the Bebop) right now, and you'd be right on the money. This is the go-to ship class for the Space Western settings. May be piloted by a Space Trucker.
  • Q-ship
    Taking the idea of the Blockade Runner to an extreme, a Q-ship is a Cargo Ship that is retooled into a warship, but still retains the outward appearance of its original form, so the enemy doesn't realize that it's armed until it starts shooting them. These can be used to defend supply convoys alongside or in place of normal escorts, or to sneak a fighting unit past the eyes of the enemy until it's too late. Note that a Q-ship is now primarily a warship, not a cargo hauler, so a ship like the Millennium Falcon would not be an example, as it is a freighter, it just happens to be armed for bear. Basically, if it isn't designed to be mistaken for a normal cargo ship until the enemy is being blown to bits, it is not a Q-ship.
  • Tender
    Military use freighter that can be used to extend the range of a fleet by carrying extra supplies (i.e., food, ammunition, fuel, etc.), or travels to a pre-planned rendezvous point to resupply it out in the field. Obviously they won't always be seen, because a fleet will tend to try to operate within its normal range, but occasionally it may need to go beyond those limits, at which point a Tender becomes invaluable.
  • Tanker
    A specific cargo ship that carries large amounts of oxygen, water, fuel/propellant and other liquid or gaseous cargo. Unlike their wet-navy counterparts, space tankers carry fuel for fusion reactors and FTL drives, and may even have their own extraction and refining equipment to pull their desired cargo directly from the nearest asteroid or gas giant. These ships are the life-blood of a Sci-Fi fleet, capable of keeping it running. And being so important, Tankers tend to be the first targeted for destruction. Being large, difficult to maneuver, and unarmed, they also make for easy targets(And depending on the cargo, are likely to explode spectacularly).

Colony Ships

These generally aren't very well armed, even if only because they tend to be outdated more often than not. They carry everything you need for a colony: Equipment, construction materials, animal and plant specimens, living environs, and lots of colonists. Sometimes designed to become raw materials for the colony, especially in the slower-than-light models. Comes in Generation Ship, Human Popsicle Sleeper Ship, Terraforming seeder ship, and vanilla FTL colony ship flavors. These can also be the centerpiece for an entire series, a Wagon Train to the Stars searching for a new home, capable of having both military and civilian-oriented storylines in equal measure.

Repair Ship

Basically a mobile shipyard these carry large quantities of spare parts, raw materials to manufacture spare parts and trained personnel to handle the actual repairs. In some cases they may even be large enough to act as a dry dock for smaller space craft (Destroyer and Cruiser range). Similarly to the Tender the main purpose is to support a fleet away from its base by allowing for more intensive repairs to be done on the spot rather than requiring a ship to return to base and in extreme cases patching up a badly damaged ship enough for it to get back to base rather than having to be scuttled.


Not much more than a flying barracks, these will be seen in almost any invasion (unless the fleet uses Mashups instead). It will almost certainly carry shuttles, but it may additionally have the ability to actually land on a planet. In pressing times it may be forced to forgo the majority of its troops and be forced to operate as an impromptu Carrier. On occasions, technically a ship of one of the other classes fitted to accommodate a troop compartment. This is most likely the place you'll see a Space Marine steps out from.


An unarmed (usually), often spacious and pleasant civilian ship, designed to carry VIPs from A to B, in style and comfort. Usually these will have an escort, as they're prime targets for Space Pirates and terrorists.


This is for those VIPs who prefer speed to comfort and want to get from A to B pronto, hell or high water. It's more cramped and less pleasant, but much faster, usually the fastest type of ship available. It is probably also used by government/corporate/space knight/whatever troubleshooters on missions. For universes without FTL communications, Couriers are the fastest way to communicate between the stars.

    Capital Ships 
The most powerful warships in a fleet; when people talk about fleet strength, counting capships is the quick and dirty way to do it. The presence of just one of these in an area can influence strategic calculations. These ships tend to be expensive to build. So expensive, in fact, that in "realistic" settings (well, the ones where space fleets function like WWII surface naval fleets anyway, which isn't actually realistic) they are almost never deployed without escorts and the captain will usually have an admiral on the scene to answer to in the squadron/task force/fleet. In other settings, these get treated as extra-big cruisers. Either way, unless you're in a huge fleet battle, losing one of these is a big deal. A uniquely big one may be The Mothership, a Mile-Long Ship, or even a Planet Spaceship.


In real life, this was a ship as fast as a cruiser but with reduced protection compared to a battleship and sometimes firepower, meant to seek and destroy enemy cruisers, where a battleship's extra armour wouldn't be a significant advantage and their inferior speed would mean enemy cruisers can outrun them. During WW1, battlecruisers ended up serving with the main battle fleet because their firepower was too valuable to pass up, but their lack of armor became a liability for the Brits. In science fiction, usage of "battlecruiser" may vary. A lot of the time science fiction works just ditch the "battleship" name and instead call their biggest, most powerful ships "battlecruisers", probably because "battleship" sounds archaic (and battlecruiser does sound cooler). If the fictional work has both battleships and battlecruisers, then expect the latter to be slightly smaller versions of the former, despite not being the case in real life (for decades, the largest capital ship was actually a battlescruiser, HMS Hood). A less commonly seen variant is the "War Cruiser". In science fiction, battlecruisers are often a fleet mainstay, serving not only in combat but also diplomatic, patrol, and just as the pride and joy of a fleet, the finest ship to serve on. War cruisers are an attempt to put the weapons of a battlecruiser on a smaller hull (such as a light cruiser or even destroyer), thus being less expensive and more quickly mass produced during wartime. This, of course means that there will be absolutely no non-combat related facilities(research labs, manufacturing, diplomatic facilities, cargo areas, recreational decks or lounges), very limited backup facilities, and much less spacious quarters.


An Airborne Aircraft Carrier several thousand feet (plus!) higher. Lightly armed, but carries Space Fighters of all kinds and is usually escorted by other Capital Ships. As such, much of the Carrier massive hull is dedicated to launching and supporting smaller combat craft. Carriers have no large ship-mounted weapons, sometimes using light anti-fighter weaponry and relies on defensive measures. Their primary means of offense is through their fighters. Somewhat like the Squishy Wizard of Capital Ships, especially when no Science Vessel is at hand. Occasionally has a built-in factory.

The Battlestar

Wields both guns and fighters, and is more often than not the Flagship of the fleet (unless a Dreadnought is on the scene). If the series only has one type of ship, it's usually this. See the trope for details.

Ship of the Line/Battleship/Dreadnought

A massive ship, usually the largest ship in the fleet, bristling with big guns. The navy's Mighty Glacier. If Battleships are present in a fleet, Dreadnoughts are even larger and more powerful than those. Super variants of these types typically mean they’re much larger and powerful than the standard, though generally not as common.

Note that the term "fast battleship" exists, because some of them, like the Iowa, were really fast in addition to having shitloads of guns and armor. In the real world, being huge meant that they had more room for sails/engines/reactors, meaning that Bigger Is Better in almost every respect.

However in sci-fi, they practically always move at a snail's pace because really heavily armed and armored AND really fast ships would leave those taking Artistic License with Economics the question 'Why do we make anything else?' For the rest of us, the answer is logistics and economics. Even strategy games, which often abstract or handwave away advanced economic concerns, recognize that bigger ships take more resources and time to build. Even a modern industrial powerhouse like the USA can only operate 4 supercarriers and their Carrier Strike Groups at once (requiring 11 such ships to operate 4 at a time), and costs would only go up for spaceships that have life support and other technical challenges absent from terrestrial warships. Few are the factions with the economic capabilities to build only capitals.

Besides, although you can use a sledgehammer to swat flies, it is neither the fastest nor most efficient tool for the job. Also, depending on the setting assumptions, carriers may be more effective as the arm of decision.

The Worldship

That's No Moon, that's a space station! These are basically mobile Space Stations, which may be used as homes by nomadic civilizations (especially a Horde of Alien Locusts), or as crowning achievements in engineering by a large spacefaring society. See also Big Dumb Object.

Banner Ships

Not necessary a true warship, but essentially carrying either the command party and a variety of tools to coordinate and command allied ships. Its sight in the battlefield brings despair to the foes and hope to the allies. May be either unarmed so it can be an iron fortress for the fighters or armed sufficiently to protect itself. In real practice, it usually would depend on escorts and may have defensive weapons but little offensive capability since that is not what they are supposed to be doing. Besides, usually being placed safely in the center or rear of a fleet, they would only hit their own ships with offensive weaponry. Think of them as the space variant of an AWACS or a command and control ship.

    Other Ships 
Some ships stand out due to various unique constructions or abilities, and are less noted for specific size or roles. These aren't found in every series, but appear often and are notable enough to warrant special mention:

Detachable Drive

An uncommon class of ship or Small Craft that basically serves as a flight system to allow a ship type of similar or smaller size to move further than it is normally designed to (Faster Than Light travel for an extreme example). These are often little more than a drive system, fuel, and an external docking mechanism for the craft to attach to (see also Mecha Expansion Pack). Commonly used by Space Fighters or mecha, although versions for larger ships are also seen from time to time. They're always way cooler than mere Space Tugboats.

Missile/Torpedo Boat

A ship whose main armament consists almost entirely of missiles and/or torpedoes. A few universes, due to their technological development, may have their entire fleets be basically this. There is such a wet navy concept called the arsenal ship, although it has not actually made it off the drawing board.

Historically, Torpedo Boats played the role of a Fast Attack Craft (see above) — a small, lighter craft capable of destroying slower Battleships. However, for the Standard Sci-fi fleet any size of ship will do for a Torpedo Boat.

Prison Ship

Normally unarmed in case of prison revolts but also escorted to prevent break-outs from outside forces. Prison ships are rare in military settings but will normally occur in settings with Casual Interstellar Travel. Expect such prisons to run by a brutal warden. They might also be used by Bounty Hunters to hold lots of captured targets at a time. Prison ships have some basis in Real Life, with the use of prison ships as a cheap alternative to building additional prisons, especially during wartime. Such vessels were often Hellhole Prisons.

Science Vessel

The Squishy Wizard of space, these ships generally aren't meant for combat but have specialized equipment and capacities that can be repurposed as weapons. Typically equipped with advanced sensor arrays, Polarity Reversers, and a Deus ex Machina or two if you're lucky.
  • Explorer
    Designed to travel space and study whatever may be found, being used to survey new stars, planets, and any scientific phenomena. Depending on the ship, it may or may not have any experimental super science capabilities. Some Explorer craft lack dedicated research labs, instead carrying equipment needed for preliminary study. Others may be large or advanced enough for such accommodations.

Hospital Ship

Another rarely seen type, these ships provide medical treatment. They tend to help in evacuation, heal wounded ground pounders, or even act as full blown hospitals. Like their wet navy counterparts, these ships could be well marked to easily identify it, and tend to be unarmed. Deliberately attacking one of these ships is usually considered a war crime, unless you're playing a strategy game where every unit is a viable target.

Ramming Ship

In spite of the very long range of space navy weapons, these specialized ships will occasionally appear. As their name suggest the purpose of this spaceship is to slam into other craft. Generally designed with a heavily armored prow and powerful engines to propel the craft to the requisite velocity. Despite the destructive nature of their mission, ramming ships endure the collision and can be employed again to do the same task.

Space Artillery

The Spaceborne equivalent to the BFG, the Space Artillery is a ship (usually of the smaller classes, but some can be the size of a Battleship, Dreadnought, or even Space Station) that consists of a command bridge, the biggest weapon they could find (up to, but not always, a Wave-Motion Gun), the engines to move it around, and little else. Space Artillery are usually Glass Cannons that add to the overall firepower of a fleet due to their ability to punch well above their weight, but are otherwise vulnerable and have to be screened by fighters and other ships.

Space Station/Star Base

Usually rivaled in size only by the Battleship and Dreadnought (or in more extreme universes, Worldship) classes, these are (relatively) immobile structures used for all kinds of duties, from habitats, to fortresses, space ports, factories, and the like. Colony Drops are always a danger when these things get knocked out of orbit. If the space station is even bigger than a World Ship, it might be a Dyson Sphere. Unneeded or obsolete ships of other types might be adapted to this use for various purposes (compare to the Real Life practice of such ships in port being used for housing or administration purposes without needing to construct additional buildings on land).

As noted in the Army trope, the variety of these ships often varies by medium. As even with animation (traditional or CGI), making and showing a lot of stuff can be time-consuming or expensive. Therefore, many television series' or movies stick with Battlestar or Cruiser-class vessels only, while games often expand further than that.


    Anime & Manga 
  • Gundam is the (sub-) Trope Namer for the Assault Carrier, which often serves as the Cool Starship for the main cast, and otherwise features primarily Cruisers and Battleships with Mobile Suits as their primary space fighter. As well as, naturally, Space Colonies and other stations. It should be noted that after the One Year War, nearly all ships in the Universal Century (and in most of the Alternate Universes for that matter) carried Mobile Suits, so the Battlestar and Carrier classifications were pretty redundant.
    • In the original Mobile Suit Gundam, the White Base was an experimental assault carrier designed to carry, service and launch mobile suits in addition to engaging enemy ships. It was uniquely able to fly in atmosphere and re-enter, while conventional ships launched their own re-entry pod.
      • The Salamis-Class and Magellan-Class were designed for 'big gun' engagements, the Salamis a fast cruiser, the Magellan a straightforward battleship. Their lack of mobile suit capability, however worked out disastrously against Zeon. Suits had to be strapped wherever there was empty space on the hull. Columbus-Class ships, unarmed vessels used for resupply, were converted to suit carriers and repair stations to fill the gaps, and in the Girhen's Greed series of games, the Salamis and Magellan were converted to carriers by attaching massive external hangars to them. They were refit for 0083 with additional guns, though they were still fairly Point Defenseless. In Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam these Salamis ships became the Salamis-Kai, with the front of the cruiser converted to a four-suit hangar and catapult.
      • Zeon, on the other hand utilized mobile suit carriers from the start, the Musai-class carrier being able to carry two suits internally and two more in its re-entry shuttle. However, they were literally Point Defenseless with not a single anti-air gun and encountering Federation mobile suits with them was predictably disastrous.
    • The RX-78 GP03 Gundam Dendrobium from Gundam 0083 Stardust Memory is an example of a mecha (the Stamen) with a Detatchable Drive (the Orchis). This also applies to the METEOR units for both the Freedom and Justice Gundams in Gundam SEED
      • Most Gundam shows set in the Universal Century make use of Base Jabbers, a detachable drive system that the mobile suits could stand upon and use to save fuel. They came in two flavors; an atmospheric variant with jet engines in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, and a space-faring version, little more than rocket engines with a cockpit for manual flight. They could be used with or without a crew and were often launched into enemies when their fuel was nearly expended as improvised weapons.
    • Spacefighters were used fairly heavily in the original series. 08th MS Team and Stardust Memory. In addition to standard spacefighters like the Saberfish, 'Core Fighters' doubled as escape pods for the protagonist mecha — this was also used in many other Gundam series. While they were reasonably effective used in tandem with the protagonist mechas, transformable mobile suits made fighters a rarity in the later Universal Century.
    • MS IGLOO takes a look at a few prototype weapons, two of them are a missile ship and a space gun.
    • The original Mobile Suit Gundam has the RB-79 Ball, a weaponized Utility Pod used to support Mobile Suits. Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team features a close-range variant of the Ball, the RB-79K, which one character uses to take down a Zaku. In 'MS IGLOO,' Zeon develops an equivalent weapon called the 'Oggo,' which uses standard mobile suit hand armaments fro economy. The Mobile Armors of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED is a fighter based on a Utility Pod design.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn has the Garencieres, a camouflaged Sleeve freighter seen in the opening sequence. While it lacks any sort of armament, it is fully outfitted to repair, launch and resupply most standard mobile suits. In a pinch, it can defend itself by extending robotic arms to use mobile suits and their hand weapons as turrets. Additionally, nearly every other ship class from the UC verse makes an appearance at some point.
    • Many vehicles served double duty in the Ground forces as well, and vice versa. Detachable Drives were often used to deploy and transport Mobile Suits through the air in planetside battles, while Mobile Armors operated in space as much as they did on the ground, often in the place of Space Fighters as in SEED.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico has the title ship as an Assault Carrier, with a number of cruisers on both sides, and a Jovian Worldship.
    • However, it's referred to in-show (and in the original title) as a "High-mobile Battleship", making it a fast battleship or battlecruiser.
  • Played with in the Crest of the Stars. There are several superficially recognizable ship classes, all with the familiar names... But then you suddenly understand that these names are translations from the local Conlang and all these classes reflect completely different fleet organization and tactics. What about their battleships being completely Point Defenseless missile platforms and shifting all point defense onto special ship class, and so on...
    • It's really not that different, honestly; the Battleship thing is the only real oddity, but even that's not that odd. Indeed, real world adaptions of the "Arsenal ship" concept, which was basically just a barge with a tiny crew and like 500 missile tubes might have used the BB or battleship hull numbers to reflect their role as heavy offensive warships. Further all point defense is not shifted onto a single ship class. More or less all the ships have some, often quite a bit, of point defense, but the dedicated vessels have even more, but then AA ships exist in the real world as well. They're not used that much differently either, really, the Battleships bombard at range, the cruisers are the main force that mixes it up closer, the AA ships protect from missiles, and the little frigates scurry around out in front being blown up in droves as cannon fodder.
    • The main fleet mainly consists of destroyers, cruisers, corvettes and carriers. Destroyer as Fragile Speedster, Cruiser as Mighty Glacier, Corvettes are purely point-defense against missiles and are defenseless against any destroyer or cruiser. Carriers have no fighters nor guns, but instead launch crazy amount of AI controlled suicide bombers. Each of them have their own weaknesses, even the mighty cruiser can be blown up in one hit by a destroyer if its shields are down. Although a cruiser's main gun can blow up a destroyer in one hit, because lighter ships travel faster in hyperspace in the series, it makes sense for a team of destroyers Zerg Rush on the much slower cruisers, hoping with More Dakka a lucky shot could send its shields out of commission long enough for other destroyers to deliver the fatal blow.
  • Macross uses all of these for its colonization fleets, with the Macross-class ships typically being Dreadnought sized Carriers with a Gun Platform built in, whole squadrons of Assault Carriers, colonization ships in the form of gigantic domed cities, fighters, bombers, destroyers, cruisers, mecha, and throwing in specialized ships such as factories, entertainment, science/research, farms, and so forth. The only one they don't have yet (though the Zentraedi probably do) are Worldships.
  • In Legend of the Galactic Heroes navies are built up of small one-man space fighters, carriers of said fighters, and normal cruisers that are mostly of the space gun type (with the ratio of carriers to cruisers being approximately 1:50 in most navies). The Empire has one model of each and The Federation has one model of each. Admirals of the fleets have flagships that are usually little more than Ace Customs of the normal cruisers, though some flagships are big enough to serve as ships of the line. In addition The Empire is also shown using Destroyers and Gunships (really small Cutter/Corvette type ships) and also built at least two Space Fortresses, but the latter are static defenses that are immobile until they attached huge engines to one and sent it against the other in an attempt to render the other inoperational.
  • The Iron Tribe (Humans) and most other tribes in Heroic Age used mostly Fighters, Cruisers and the occasional Battleship, but many tribes also had one or two Space Station-sized Space Guns (like the Iron Tribe's Ruby and Topaz Cores). The Iron Tribe also had two similarly-scaled Science Vessels, the Pearl Core which used force fields and gravity manipulation, and the Blue Core which disgorged hundreds of Attack Drones. The Argonaut, on the other hand, was a Battlestar that carried mecha and small satellite-like drones instead of Fighters.
  • The Space Battleship Yamato takes the trope Space Is an Ocean quite literally, so of course there is a lot of this in the show and the remake Space Battleship Yamato 2199. The humans have Frigates, Destroyers and fighters which are vastly underpowered when compared against the Gamilon's fleet which consists of Battlecruisers as flag ships flanked with carriers, cruisers and large numbers of all of the smaller ships; they even have submarines in space. While the eponymous is humanities first prototype Battlestar with a Wave-Motion Gun, copious amounts of guns and a small squad of fighters. 2202, Earth's fleet once again has cruisers, several versions of battleships, and more genuine battlestars, and adds the Ginga as a Banner Ship.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman (1987): The full Sangtee Empire fleet is never shown as Wondy and her crew are mainly focused on attacking slave ships and their escorts, however they're known to have Space Fighters, Breaching Vessels (though only ones captured by the rebels are seen in use), Escort Ships and Cruisers which are all run out of large local Space Stations that function as the capital city of their sector. They also have Drop Ships opertating on planets dedicated to mining, which is done by slaves.

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown of Stars: Avalon’s space fleet covers all types of space ships: it has huge, moon-sized bases, space carriers and tinier jet fighters and mechas.
  • Let the Galaxy Burn (ASOIF as a Space Opera): The various navies for the most part follow these, though there is also a difference between normal ships and ones meant to operate in deep space, and there are some unusual ship types (the Ironborn have longships and super-longships, shown to be more manoeuvrable than most ships of their size. The Reach has septships, warships of various sizes decorated like septs, the equivalent of a church for the Faith of the Seven)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars in both the main series and Expanded Universe, covers just about everything here and then some.
    • Specifically, the Star Wars Expanded Universe gave us the Interdictor (which Star Wars Rebels brought into canon), which is used to pull other ships out of hyperspace or prevent them from making the jump to hyperspace in the first place, and the Golan Space Defense Platform which is essentially a ridiculous amount of guns and armor on a space station.
    • Fighters/Bombers/Interceptors:
      • X-Wings/Y-Wings/A-Wings for the Alliance. B-wings are sort of half-way between X-wings and Y-wings, and later replace the Y-wings completely in the bomber role.
      • The Empire, being less creative, simply calls them TIE Fighters/Bombers/Interceptors, although Interceptors are strictly superior to Fighters except in cost. The expanded universe adds dozens more TIE variants running the gamut from Bomber to Interceptor.
      • The Yuuzhan Vong coralskippers also fill this function.
    • No mecha in space, though the Imperials always use them on the ground. These are referred to as "walkers", and tend to be either giant quadrupeds or hexapods used as tank equivalents (such as the Imperial AT-AT, or the Republican AT-TE predecessors) or small, two-legged Chicken Walkers used as scouts and skirmishers (such as the AT-ST).
    • Shuttles: All over the place, including the classic Lambda (i.e. Vader's shuttle). Drop Ships include the clone Gunships and Imperial Sentinel landing craft (basically a Lambda with guns and armor), The Acclamator cruiser, which is over 740 meters long, also serves as a humongous Dropship. Wraith Squadron actually uses Drop Pods on one insertion, though they're a work in progress.
    • Corvettes, Frigates, Destroyers: Namechecked by the Corellian Corvette (Tantive IV, Leia's ship from A New Hope, is one of these), Lancer anti-fighter frigates, and Marauder destroyers. More generally, any self-respecting work in Star Wars has at least one of these.
    • Assault/Escort carriers: Many classes of smaller Yuuzhan Vong ship, plus there's an actual Imperial ship called an "escort carrier" that does nothing except haul around a couple squadrons of fighters.
    • Cruiser: The smaller Victory-class Star Destroyers; Katana-fleet Dreadnoughts; some of the corvette-class ships edge into this.
    • Space Gun: The Mandator-IV Dreadnought is like a plus-size Star Destroyer with anti-fighter guns on one side, and a pair of giant cannons that can vaporize a planetary base from orbit or kill a small fleet, once they're done charging.
      • From the EU: The Eclipse-class Star Destroyer, roughly the length of the Executor but much more massive and armed with a scaled-down superlaser. The superlaser can crack the crust of a planet or instantly disintegrate a starship. Due to the incredible cost and scale of the ship and the chaos caused by Emperor Palpatine's death, only two were ever made; crime lord Tyber Zann stole one, but found that its incredible size and distinctiveness made it impossible for him to hide and abandoned it.
      • In The Rise of Skywalker, the reborn Palpatine's Final Order has an entire fleet of Xyston-class Star Destroyers, each armed with a planet-destroying superlaser. Without shields, however, the superlasers are so vulnerable to damage that even starfighter guns can destroy the ships by targeting them.
    • Missile Boat: By name. Another case of Imperial Naming at its finest. Also the Victory I-class Star Destroyer (80 missile tubes for MultiTeraton Macross Missile Massacre Goodness).
    • Freighters: All over the place, with a disproportionately high number of:
      • Blockade Runners: Practically the Trope Maker, and certainly a perennial favorite. Some of them are armed enough to consider (and be used as) Q-ships.
      • Repurposed Freighter: Much of the Trade Federation and later the Separatist fleet came from putting turbolasers on their freighters.
    • Detachable Drive: A number of Republic starfighters use detachable hyperspace boosters to travel at lightspeed. Also, a number of cargo transports in Tie Fighter and X-Wing Alliance are essentially large detachable drives that strap several cargo containers onto their exteriors and push them through space.
    • Colony Ship:
      • The Vong fleet consists primarily of ships intended to shuttle their entire species from their old galaxy to a new one, and to terraform new worlds once their reach them.
      • The Outbound Flight Project, lead by Jedi Master Jorus C'baoth in 27 BBY, was meant to be an excursion into the Unknown Regions and hopefully pierce the hyperspace disturbance that prevents anyone from exiting the galaxy. The Outbound Flight was simply made by attaching six Dreadnaught-class heavy cruisers around a central fuselage.
    • Science Vessel: Rare, though it's mentioned as one of the many, many uses of Corellian Corvettes. The Jedi Order built multiple praxeum ships, serving as mobile academies in a variant of this trope. The most famous was the Chu'unthor of 400 BBY, which crash-landed on Dathomir in 230 BBY.
    • Battlecruiser: Older-generation warships, like the Kaloth-class, tend to come off this way.
    • Battleship/Ship of the Line: Rare, compared with the below options. Some older ships, such as the Kaloth or Katana, were probably this in their heyday.
    • Carrier: Also comparatively rare, but the Lucrehulk ships used by the Trade Federation and later by the Confederacy are cargo haulers retrofitted to use their ring-shaped hangars to hold squadrons of droid fighters. The Republic Venator-class cruiser is primarily this, with most of the fore section making up a large hangar bay intended to hold squadrons of fighters and gunships.
    • Battlestar: Any capital ship worth its salt carries fighters, but the Imperial Star Destroyers (despite the name, are referred to as cruisers and battleships in the scripts, with Han outright calling them the former on-screen, and Legends EU would establish that Star Destroyer is short for "Star System Destroyer" and should be capitalized to distinguish them from more conventional destroyers) and Mon Calamari Star Cruisers make big business out of it. Providence-class, Venator-class and Secutor-class ships and Yuuzhan Vong Grand Cruisers (notably Shedao Shai's Legacy of Torment) also fall here.
    • Worldships:
      • The Death Stars, due to their sheer size, were designed to be almost completely self-sustaining over at least short periods, and their designs include extensive life support and recreation areas for the crews living their full-time.
      • The Yuuzhan Vong worldships are these massive colony vessels they used to traverse the intergalactic void. Many of them were dying of old age due to the length of the journey. The remainder are used as mobile bases during the Yuuzhan Vong War.
    • Banner Ships: Most factions have ships designated as the flagships of a given force's general or admiral. The Republic simply assigned regular Venator-class ships to Jedi generals, but the Empire has a tendency to create immense, ominous Super Star Destroyers to serve as the personal vessels of high-ranking figures — Darth Vader's flagship, the Executor, is a typical example of this style and invariably dwarfs any ship it travels alongside. The First Order have the Supremacy, which is more like a mobile capital city for their regime and also has factories for assembling walkers.
    • Space Station: The Golans, among others. And, yes, they get Colony Dropped when the Vong take Coruscant. Not to mention the Death Star which also acts as a Space Gun to the highest degree, being strong enough to destroy entire worlds with a single blast of its superlaser.
    • Hospital Ship: The Rebel Fleet has a Nebulon-B Escort Frigate for this purpose, seen at the end of The Empire Strikes Back when Luke obtains his artificial hand, as well as during the Battle of Endor.
      Wedge: They're heading for the Medical Frigate!
    • Star Wars even classifies its unarmed and civilian ships, including "pleasure boats" and "yachts". The various Naboo royal ships are generally the latter.
    • Oddly enough, in the original trilogy this trope is averted for the Imperials. They have one man fighters, small shuttles, and then nothing between that and the mile-long Star Destroyers; this makes a certain amount of sense given the Empire's penchant for using intimidation and overwhelming power at the expense of anything else. The rebels actually do have a fleshed-out fleet, which adds to the David vs. Goliath feel.
  • Firefly: Due to its early cancellation, the series didn't get to show anything other than Alliance gunships (read: fighters) and cruisers, and a few models of civilian freighters. Serenity, on the other hand... gake a look at the Alliance fleet during the battle over Mr. Universe's planet. The Serenity RPG lists several more.
  • The aliens in Independence Day have an impressive armada. They move their entire civilization in an enormous mothership, which is over 500km in diameter. Their primary assault ships, or destroyers, are fifteen miles wide and contain a central Wave-Motion Gun that can torch an entire city. For defense, they possess countless fighter craft which make short work of any attempted counter-strike. In addition, we get a glimpse of transport ships getting ready to bring their ground forces to Earth.
  • In Alien, it's often hard to tell what purpose specifically the military ships are supposed to serve in general duty, when not on "bughunts." However, the civilian ships are always clearly identified: Prometheus was a long-range science ship, Covenant a colonization vessel, the Nostromo was a freighter hauler, and the Betty is a mercenary vessel/merchant ship/blockade runner very much in line with Serenity or the Millennium Falcon. The Sulaco might be an assault ship or a troop transport. The Alien movies also have large shuttles that seem to have some independent star-travel ability, and in some cases, might function as the "control cockpit" for a larger ship that is mostly composed of cargo modules. The Auriga in the 4th movie might have been a military science ship or a warship repurposed for scientific research.

  • The Dark Forest: Earth builds a very impressive fleet consisting of two thousand ships armed with gamma-ray lasers, hydrogen bombs, railguns, and Space Fighters, and capable of reaching ten percent of light-speed. Unfortunately, the Trisolarans, being a Technologically Advanced Foe, have technology that is literally Made of Indestructium, and Earth's whole fleet is destroyed by a single probe that rams each ship one by one. In other words, this trope only makes sense when Space Age Stasis is in effect for both sides.
  • The Honor Harrington series uses almost all of the above and adds a few more, namely the Dreadnought as the second largest ships in most fleets, and the stupendous Super Dreadnoughts, which carry enough firepower to depopulate a planet, and are at one point described as having enough energy weapons to shatter a small moon, though that may have been hyperbole.
    • Except fighters. They are explicitly mentioned as completely unfeasible in their situation. There are some smaller ships taking their tactical niche, mostly missile defence and tying the lighter fleet units, but these aren't tiny single-seat tin cans, but warships in their own right, almost the size of a pre-war destroyer (incidentally, called "tin-cans" in-universe) without the hyperdrive and crew count is closer to that of a WWII-era bomber than a traditional starfighter. Initially, they started out as some sort of gunboat/torpedo boat analogue: Too small to be used for anything other than patrol duties except in some very specific and unlikely circumstances. The one time they prove to be a serious threat (if not an effective one) to a modern warship, it is because they were some place they weren't expected to be, mistaken for a group of friendly patrol ships, and the warship in question nearly stumbled blithely right into their gunsights. Once propulsion and powerplant technology catches up a bit, and strategists allow for some changes in space combat doctrine for these small ships note , they mature into the Goddamned Bats that we know and love from the later books.
    • The naval ships of the Honorverse come in a handy categorical list. Here are the common ones, from largest to smallest:
      • Superdreadnought: The largest ship-of-the-wall (analogous to the wet-navy "ships of the line", as in the line of battle), positively enormous with over a thousand crew. Often called "wallers", they are designed with heavy armor, heavy sidewalls, and heavy firepower, and are the core of any battle fleet. Later books introduce the pod superdreadnought or SD(P), a variant which is hollowed out to carry racks of deployable missile pods for the Macross Missile Massacre.
      • Dreadnought: Essentially the same as an SD, only slightly smaller. Also called "wallers". Go out of fashion in later books after podnoughts — ships which roll massive numbers of missile pods — attain primacy.
      • LAC Carrier: Designed to transport and service large numbers of LACs. Except for a few of the earliest models they have no offensive armament (just missile defense systems) relying on thier LAC wing to attack targets. The actual size varies quite a bit between nations and ship classes with Manticore favoring roughly dreadnaught-sized carriers while Haven prefers larger carriers that are about the same size as a superdreadnought.
      • Battleship: Not built by Manticore in centuries, but serve as something of a jack-of-all-stats for the Havenite navy, which has many more systems to protect and would otherwise tie up much of its wall of battle in picketing said systems.
      • Battlecruiser: The pride of the Royal Manticoran Navy and Manticore's favorite ship class, built to outgun smaller ships and outrun larger ones. Perfect for independent-squadron maneuvers, battlecruisers are so critical because of Manticore's enormous merchant marine. Rarely, if ever participate in the wall of battle, but often the anchor ship class of lighter pickets. Following the devlopment of the SD(P) there were some experiments with building pod carrying battlecruisers but they had to make to many sacrifices to facilitate this and the idea ended up being abandoned in favor of larger traditional battlecruisers.
      • Heavy Cruiser: Smaller than a battlecruiser, and the largest ship called a "tin-can" in universe. Do a lot of commerce protection and also serve as support elements for battlecruiser task groups.
      • Light Cruiser: Smaller and faster than a heavy cruiser, but serve largely the same function.
      • Destroyer: The smallest hypercapable warship built by most first-rate navies, including Manticore and Haven, and mostly geared toward commerce protection. They also serve as scouts for full-on battle fleets or battlecruiser task groups.
      • Frigate: The author has gone to a lot of trouble to explain why frigates, by the notion of a class between the Light Attack Craft and the Destroyer, don't make much economic sense. To cut the long story short, an Honorverse "frigate" would basically be a LAC with hyperdrive and the mass penalties involved; ton-for-ton a LAC would be more efficient for intrasystem duties. Frigates thus see no use whatsoever by any significant navy. However, they do exist. They're used by the very poorest Verge defense forces, by non-state groups like the Audubon Ballroom, and by some of the scrappier pirate bands— those who simply don't have the fiscal resources to field real military hardware but need SOMETHING armed and mobile.
      • Dispatch/Courier Boat: Basically a shell wrapped around a hyperdrive, with a bridge, a few spare rooms, and not much else, these tiny ships are designed to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible and ride the upper limit of the "hyper bands" that allow FTL travel in the Honorverse. They are used by the navies of all major powers to coordinate their forces and, later on, to coordinate with each other's governments.
      • Light Attack Craft: A patrol boat/torpedo boat analogue. Early books had them restricted to the system defense role (and third-rate navies) but technology improvements in later books resulted in them becoming a lot more useful. In addition to fighting lighter ships (battlecruisers and below) they are also used to screen fleets in a missile defense role.
  • Another, stand alone book by David Weber, The Apocalypse Troll, begins with two full Standard Sci-Fi Fleet battle groups. All of the cruisers and destroyers on both sides are either destroyed or go incoherent before the big ships make the Takashita Translation but after that there is still the Defender (a Battlestar) and an enemy dreadnought and a carrier surviving. They proceed to blast the crap out of each other across time and space until only the fighter wing commanders from both sides become the Sole Survivors and a Terminator Twosome since they find themselves a handful of centuries in (their) past.
  • The Lost Fleet is a fully formed armada based on real-life navies. The core fleet elements are battlecruisers, battleships, and heavy cruisers screened by light cruisers and destroyers. There are no dedicated carriers, and their Fast Attack Craft are rarely used and would be considered corvettes rather than fighters. Either way, they are woefully short-ranged, weak and easily destroyed; in practice, the smallest relevant ship class is the destroyer. The Syndicate Worlds "Hunter-Killer" ships straddle the line between heavy fighters and light corvettes. Also of note are the "fast fleet auxiliary" ships, which are basically mobile factories and repair shops. The only thing "fast" about them is their capacity to get in trouble.
    • There is a twist, though. While most would assume that battleships would be the postings of choice for any perspective commander, this has changed with the Forever War between The Alliance and the Syndicate Worlds. With complex tactics being a lost art, ships now individually charge into battle guns blazing, further increasing the horrible losses on both sides. This new Honor Before Reason mentality also means that battleships are now seen as postings for cowards or incompetent commanders, as a true warrior doesn't hide behind thick armor and strong shields. Battlecruisersnote  are now crewed by the most capable officers, who literally lead their fleets into battle, and have a ridiculously high attrition rate.
    • Many low-priority Syndic systems are only protected by "nickel corvettes", so named because 'when you've got to spend them, they don't last long.' When Geary first sees them in the novels, he is astonished that they are still used, as they were considered obsolete even in his time 100 years ago. Though it begins to make rather more sense when you realise that the military of the Syndicate Worlds is designed to be used against its own people as much as external enemies, up to and including Orbital Bombardment of rebellious provinces. You don't need a lot of warship to do that.
    • The "Beyond The Frontier" sequel series starts to vary the trope a bit, throwing in no less than three alien races and a third human faction, all with their own ideas about warship design.
  • In the Lensman Series there are a variety of spaceships. The fleet invading the Second Galaxy, for example, is described as having scout cruisers, light cruisers, cruising bombers, heavy defensive cruisers, maulers, battleships, super-dreadnoughts, and what may be the ur-example of the banner ship: "Technically the Z9M9Z, socially the Directrix and ordinarily GFHQ." In addition there are one- and two-man speedsters, space tugs, space freighters, space liners, and science ships, among other things. What's lacking are the short-ranged small craft — shuttles, fighters, drop pods etc. There explicitly are "ship's boats", though, which likely fulfil the functions of shuttles and drop pods (as well as lifeboats, in their most important mention).
  • Peter F. Hamilton's The Night's Dawn Trilogy features most of the ship classes from the standard fleet. However, due to the demands of FTL travel in this setting, all Adamist (mechanical) interstellar vessels need to be spherical, meaning the ships in the fleet differ only by size, whilst retaining a similar look. Nevertheless, they are divided into frigates, destroyers and battlecruisers. The Voidhawks (bitek sentient warships) also serve as interceptors and scouts thanks to their superior FTL and maneuverability. The big difference to the standard fleet is the lack of fighters, for the reasons of practicality. Instead, high-speed, high-G drones called 'combat wasps' actually do the fighting thousands of kilometres from their motherships.
  • The CoDominium: Standard space navies tend to have capital ships and small auxiliaries. Pournelle was aware of the various roles different ship types played. In fact, he choose the type of the INSS MacArthur based on its capabilities.
  • Andrey Livadny's The History of the Galaxy series has several human powers fielding Standard Sci Fi Fleets, most notably the Earth Alliance and the Confederacy of Suns (also its forerunner the Free Colonies). These include escape pods, a great number of Space Fighters (some capable of FTL travel), assault shuttles (each has enough firepower to take out an average military base), corvettes, missile boats, gigantic repair stations, technical tugs, frigates, cruisers, and flagship cruisers (a Battlestar). All ships (including fighters) are ridiculously oversized, with 500-meter corvettes and 7-kilometer flagship cruisers. Crew requirements are listed as much smaller than one would expect. Standard flagship cruiser crew complement is 150, although it can be crewed by up to 2000. This is due to the ubiquitous use of AI modules to run most systems.
    • It should be noted that in one of the later novels, the powers-that-be have determined that a Standard Sci-Fi Fleet is incapable of dealing with the threats to the far-reaching Confederacy and has been relegated to protecting the core worlds. A new doctrine was developed for protecting the outlying colonies using patrolling carriers and a newly-developed type of modular Space Fighter, which can be refitted to a completely different role (fighter, bomber, anti-capital ship) within an hour.
  • The smallest matrix capable ship of the Republic of Cinnabar Navy in the RCN series is the Cutter, six of which are docked to an anti-pirate Tender. Cutters carry a cluster of twelve chemically-fueled rockets with explosive warheads.
  • Iain M. Banks has written about a variety of spacefaring militaries in his scifi novels.
    • The Culture fields many types of ship, most of which are pretty big and bad even if they're not actually warships. The General Systems Vehicles are effectively Worldships, capable of housing hundreds of millions of people and building entire fleets. Medium and Limited Systems Vehicles are older, smaller versions of such being merely 5 or 10km long compared to the 80km+ length of the larger examples. General Contact Units are more versatile and significantly smaller vessels, usually carrying as many as hundreds of people in comfort but fulfilling Cruiser or Destroyer roles when required. Very Fast Pickets are demilitarised true warships, smaller and faster than GCUs and still capable of packing a nasty punch. They often carry around smaller groups, maybe dozens of people or fewer. Rapid Offensive Units and General Offensive Units fill the Cruiser and Battleship roles. They're ranked as some of the most dangerous bits of military technology in the Galaxy. Limited Offensive Units are the Frigates or Corvettes of the Culture. Notably, Culture Vehicles can effectively turn themselves into warships by fabricating weaponry, but the VFP, ROU, GOU and LOU Minds are built solely for the purpose and are exceedingly skilled combatants, strategists and tacticians.
      • Other races shown tend to name their warships more warship-like names. The Culture tends to feel a little embarrassed about its military side, other races such as the Homomda are rather more pragmatic and some such as the Affront positively glory in it with ships designed to look badass first and foremost.
      • It's worth noting that no-one fields Space Fighters. Anything smaller than an ROU offers about as much threat as a rowboat against the Yamato at full battlestations in open sea. It can't fit big enough engines, sensors, weapons or stealth equipment to be of any worth.
      • There are no Missile Boats or the like either... any weapon that can't travel at lightspeed (at the very minimum) is just too slow and too easily dispatched to be hazardous. Warheads are generally just displaced into their target for maximum effectiveness.
    • The many, many fleets of the Omnocracy in The Algebraist take conventional naval warship classes; Destroyer and Battleship and so on. There are no Carrier type vessels here, either, though they do make hefty use of long range projectiles. This is at least in part due to the fact that there is no Faster-Than-Light Travel outside of the Portal Network... if the portal is down, coming in the long slow way means you get to fling relativistic warheads at the target system whilst you decelerate.
  • Cordwainer Smith's Instrumentality stories provide some imaginative examples:
    • Fighters are football sized craft that are piloted by telepathic cats. They are armed with thimble-sized photonuclear bombs to fight ​Eldritch Abominations whose only weakness is intense light. Cats are the only beings fast enough to intercept the Rats, who can move extremely fast.
    • The Golden Ships are an example of a Super World Ship, a sphere 90 Million miles in length (short of an AU by 2 million miles). Extremely fast, it could move in seconds. However, the Golden Ship is really a decoy, being mostly hollow and consisting of foam and wires. It has no weapons of its own, and must rely on its speed to survive.
  • Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth series borrows heavily from the standard sci-fi fleet, although due to the nature of the setting's Faster-Than-Light Travel physics, the larger a ship is, the faster it typically moves; the main reason that every military vessel is not a dreadnought is the expense. Space Fighters do exist; they use the same drive systems but their role is more akin to a missile boat: their job is to get close enough to the target to accurately launch a single fire-and-forget missile that can kill just about any ship of any size. Most non-military interstellar trade and travel is conducted by Space Freighter-class ships.
  • Animorphs has pretty much the whole gambit. The small craft are the Bug Fighters, and the Andalite craft they were stolen from, differentiated by the placement of the 'tail' that holds the Dracon cannon. Bigger is Visser Three's Blade Ship, and the biggest are the Yeerks' Pool Ships and the Andalite Dome Ships, whose front halves seperate to double as medium-sized fighters. Possibly a Detachable Drive kind of thing.
    • Notably, neither the Bug Fighter nor the Andalite fighters are of the "single-seat cockpit" type more commonly seen in fiction — there's enough room inside for several people, they have their own FTL drives, can function in a wide variety of environments, carry a lot of weapons (the Andalite fighter has main guns, several secondary weapons, and a complement of missiles) and can function on very long term missions by themselves. They're more like little starships (smaller than the capital ones, that is) than "fighters", in this sense.
  • Averted in Philip K. Dick's short story Tony and the Beetles, where the whole enemy fleet is said to consist of armed freighters only.
  • Played straight for humans and the Turusch in Ian Douglas's Star Carrier series. Not so much for other races, who are only shown using one or two types of ships. Humans base their tactics on carrier battlegroups launching Space Fighters in advance of the group in order to perform a high-c (relativistic) strike at the enemy and tie up the enemy fleet while the battlegroup arrives to bring the heavy guns. In point of fact, carriers are also armed fairly well (using fighter launch tubes as Magnetic Weapons when not launching fighters). The Turusch have many different classes, but their massive command-and-control ships are, actually, hollowed-out planetoids. A later novel introduces the Grdoch, who completely avert this trope by having all of their ships, no matter the size, have the exact same configuration, armament, and defenses. This is because one of their hats is extreme redundancy, which also makes their ships so tough. They don't understand why humans bother having specialized ships.
  • In Larry Niven's Known Space series, by the Beowulf Shaeffer era nearly all interstellar spaceships have one of five basic designs. There's the mile-across Christmas ornaments made of what appears to be tinsel (and open to space) the Outsiders use, and every other race uses ships built into one of the four General Products hulls, which range in size from the basketball-sized #1 to the 300m diameter #4 (the #2 and #3 hulls, intermediate in size, are both modified cylinders rather than spheres). The Puppeteers will sell to anybody with money, so pretty much all races in Known Space (and near it; the Puppeteer Trading Empire is significantly larger than Known Space) use GP hulls. The Outsiders buy and sell tech as well, but their prices are much, much higher and they're the only known sentient race that thrive in hard vacuum and temperatures in the single digits on the Kelvin scale, so nobody else could use their ships even if they could afford one.
  • In Ark Royal, the larger human powers tend to rely more on carrier-based fleets with frigates being used in front-line fighting. The carriers are expected to stay back and are, thus, fragile. The titular ship is unique in that it's a Battlestar design that is considered to be obsolete 70 years later: it can launch fighters, but can also act as a front-line battleship with heavy Magnetic Weapons, missile launchers, and thick armor. Naturally, when aliens show up, whose Plasma Cannons are capable of gutting any modern carrier, the Royal Navy brass decide to Break Out the Museum Piece, figuring its thick armor will allow it to survive. It works, more or less, and all the human powers start to scramble to design and build more ships like that, as well as more heavily-armored frigates to support them. The aliens themselves also rely on carrier-based fleets, although their frigates also have One-Hit Kill plasma guns, and their plasma-based point-defense is good enough to intercept most human missiles and even mass driver shots, not to mention fighters. Later, bigger alien capital ships start showing up.
    • In the Warspite sequel trilogy the top brass are divided between those who want to build more heavy fleet carriers along the lines of the Ark Royal, and those who think they should focus on research into new technologies and abandon fighters in favor of heavily armed and armored battleships. HMS Warspite is a cruiser designed to test the new spinal mount plasma cannon technology.
  • It should be noted that most Russian science fiction writers tend to put the cap at the "cruiser" level, with heavy cruisers being the largest and most powerful ships in the 'verse. This likely stems from the fact that the Russian navy doesn't have any ships officially classified as "battlecruiser", "battleship", or "aircraft carrier" (although NATO classifications disagree).
    • This is exemplified in Mikhail Akhmanov's Arrivals from the Dark books, which is a little strange, since Earth's Space Navy is explicitly stated to be modeled on British and American wet navies, including the ranks, even reusing many ship and submarine names. The cruisers are further subdivided into heavy, medium, and light. There are also frigates. Corvettes are mentioned but never appear. No destroyers. Also, as in Real Life, as invoked Technology Marches On, so do the ship class ranking evolve. For example, in the first novel, humanity is still confined to the Solar System, and the United Space Forces fields several dozen Retro Rocket-like cruisers and frigates (one frigate is specifically stated to have been a light cruiser earlier but was "demoted"). Cruisers and frigates are of The Battlestar type, being able to launch fighters and possessing weapons of their own. In the next novel, taking place 37 years later, after humanity has a chance to reverse-engineer an alien starship, new types of heavy cruisers are built, which are not only FTL-capable but are also shaped like kilometer-long cylinders, equipped with powerful Deflector Shields and armed with Anti Matter Fixed Forward Facing Weapons (in addition to plasma turrets and fighters). Generally averted with other races, whose fleets are described. The Bino Faata (whose starship attempts to invade Earth in the first novel and whose remains are used to boost human technology levels) tend to use gigantic cylinder-shaped starships with no weapons (but powerful shields), capable of launching hundreds of cruiser-type combat modules (with a single bio-engineered pilot and a single Anti Matter weapon) and thousands of fighter-type combat modules (same exact design but smaller). The Dromi mainly utilize larger ships called "dreadnoughts" by humans and smaller fighter craft. Their technology is inferior to that of humanity's, but they make up for that with sheer numbers. The Lo'ona Aeo don't use warships of their own, being TechnicalPacifists, but they equip their mercenaries (currently humans) with three types of patrol and escort craft, the smallest of which is a three-man ship called a "beyri".
  • Chakona Space: Both Doove and one of his contributing authors, Allen Fessler have written stories featuring interstellar freighters. Naturally, the 'Verse's Federation Star Fleet runs a wide variety of different military vessels they use to police interstellar space. Pirate-operated Q ships, Fleet cruisers, and fighter carriers are also mentioned.
  • The novel Space Angel by John Maddox Roberts takes place on the aforenamed tramp freighter whose crew is eking out a living in the aftermath of a devastating war fought by such. One ship mentioned was the lightly-armed "scout," deployed (and expended) in huge numbers. One member of the freighter's crew was often drunk and didn't seem to have much in the way of actual duties other than spinning tall tales about the war; we later find that the freighter captain had been a scout pilot and he had been her gunner.
  • While the Spinward Fringe series namechecks most of the ship classes here, in practice almost all ships are either fighters or battlestars of varying sizes. The smallest destroyer will have at least one squadron of fighters, while a large carrier has the guns and shields to go toe-to-toe with any other ship in the setting without launching any fighters at all. Many ships also combine aspects of science ships and repair ships, able to research and manufacture new components as well as maintain themselves and their fighters. Particularly large corporations have carriers approaching world ship status, which act not just as the flagship of a fleet but also as a command centre for conquering planets and governing whole regions of space.
  • The Star Trek Expanded Universe has classes of every type on this list, from liaison cutters to dreadnoughts, for most major powers. See the Film folder for details.
  • Alexis Carew follows Age of Sail naval classifications, with boats,note  cutters and pinnaces,note  barquesnote  sloops,note  frigates,note  and ships of the line.note  There are also cruisers, STL-only defense ships far too big to go FTL due to the cost and complexity of the required sailplan, but since they don't have to deal with the energy-dampening effects of darkspace they can carry more advanced armaments such as missiles and laser cannons that are powered directly by the reactor, rather than the hand-loaded single-shot capacitor-powered guns on FTL ships.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
    • The major powers operate just about the whole list except for mecha. Battlestars are exceedingly popular.
    • Notably, the terminology on B5 varies wildly from one race to another. While most races use "Cruiser" or some variation ("Star Cruiser", "War Cruiser", etc.) for their largest warships, the humans prefer the term "Destroyer" for their Battle Star type ships, and use "Heavy Cruiser" to describe their smallest class of warship (although still over a kilometer long), with "Dreadnought" as the second-smallest seen. Presumably a case of advancing technology and ship sizes causing their old class designations to become obsolete, as the Omega and Warlock class Destroyers are massive (at least 1.7 km long).
      • The Minbari, Centauri, Narn and Shadow Cruiser-types explicitly support fighter craft, making them examples of The Battlestar as well. Some medium ships like White Stars and Earth Force Hyperion-class Heavy Cruisers also have a small number of fighters. Even the smallish Drazi Sunhawk can launch a single Drazi fighter.
    • Most major races have a cruiser or two, a fighter, and a transport that serves as a generic civilian ship, plus a couple types of space stations: The Narn, Minbari,and Centauri fit this pattern; the Centauri in particular have several small shuttles and transports, and Minbari have their personal flyers. Vorlon and Shadow fleets are slightly more diverse, with several small Vorlon ships and the Shadow scout vessel filling the small/medium capital ship role between fighter and cruiser; most League races only have one or two ships
    • The Vorlons and the Shadows also implement Planetkillers which are escorted by the various ship classes they have.
    • Fighters and mid-sized ships such as the Drazi Sunhawk are used to harass larger capital ships, while the larger capital ships serve as both battleship and fighter carrier roles. Gunships like the Whitestar are essentially flying cavalry ships built to match (or outgun) traditional (and larger) battleships as well as being nimble enough to outmaneuver even fighters.
    • Some background materials of questionable canonicity also include a number of carrier classes present in EarthForce (Poseidon, Essex, Shinano), although those are actually variants on the existing Omega and Nova classes with Starfury bays replacing many of the weapons. There is also the obsolete Olympus-class corvette.
    • Fighters and other small, sublight ships (which are usually civilian freighters, transports, and military and civilian shuttles/small transports), can make use of jumpgates to cross interstellar distances through hyperspace. This only works with fixed points, I.E. jumpgates, since the fighters and other small craft typically have no onboard Jump Drive to open up their own jump-point or re-enter normal space without a gate. Some of the smaller capital warships, most notably the somewhat fighter-like Drazi Sunhawk (one of the smaller alien warships), also lack onboard Jump Drives and most rely on jumpgates. This means that in the B5 'verse, where gates are an option, a carrier vessel can deploy fighters over interstellar distances. Most smaller (non-fighter) space vessels in B5 that aren't big military warships are also reliant on jumpgates.
  • Seemingly averted by earlier Star Trek series, nearly all evidence of a structured fleet comes from character dialogue and officially published Technical Manuals. In earlier installments such as the original show, this was likely due to budget constraints and the exploratory mission of the ship meaning it was generally operating alone. The few times the Original Series did show us other Starfleet vessels, they were identical to the Enterprise — explained in-universe as being other ships of the same class, and out-of-universe as being really inexpensive special effects. In one episode, an off-the-shelf model kit of the Enterprise itself was used to represent another, damaged, Starfleet vessel.
    • One of the earliest such books, the Starfleet Technical Manual published in 1975, list ships from the Hermes-class scoutship on up to the Federation-class dreadnought. The Constitution-class (to which the Enterprise belongs) is described as a heavy cruiser. The Klingons, however, classify it as a battlecruiser.
    • In TNG's alternate time line episode "Yesterday's Enterprise", the Enterprise-D is referred to as a Battleship.
    • Most of the rare fighters that crop up in Trek also have FTL ability, which is another strike against the norm.
    • The Defiant from Deep Space Nine was one of the smallest ships in the fleet, but with the armaments and Deflector Shields to rival the largest. It generally performed the role of a destroyer, defending the station and freighter convoys. Notably, the Defiant was brought in because the "Runabouts" the station was issued were little more than enlarged shuttles with a couple phasers put in for self defense. But that said, Deep Space Nine's Runabouts were head and shoulders above a The Next Generation shuttle, and were frequently used for long range travel.
    • One episode of Deep Space Nine has Kira and Dukat turning their freighter into a Q-ship, in an attempt to ambush a Klingon Bird-of-Prey that had been raiding Cardassian outposts.
    • The Maquis turned some small "courier vessels" into fighters by fitting aftermarket weapons, but seeing as they were more or less a variant on La Résistance, it was likely all they could afford anyway. The Federation uses their own variant of them in the subsequent Dominion War. These "fighters" and their larger "raider" cousins were warp-capable attack ships.
    • The battle in Deep Space Nine's "Sacrifice of Angels" shows an entire Federation battle fleet (of 600 ships) in action, with the Galaxy-class vessels used as battleships, the Excelsior-class vessels as cruisers, the Miranda-class vessels as frigates and escorts, the fighters as skirmishers and the Defiant as a sort of flying cavalry unit that can smash through holes in the enemy lines.
    • The Delta Flyer is a shuttlecraft size ship with enough weaponry (Borg inspired) to reasonably assist Voyager in a fight.
    • The Prometheus is designed specifically for warfare, as its Multi-vector assault mode demonstrates. It splits into 3 armed and warp-capable sections that can quickly overwhelm the shields on a Nebula-class ship and a Romulan D'deridex-class warbird. The same episode also shows multiple Defiant-class ships engaging Romulan warbirds and holding their own.
    • The Ambassador-class is often described as a Heavy Cruiser, a 24th century version of the Constitution-class. According to the same (early TNG) episode, the (unseen) New Orleans-class are designated "frigates."
    • Vessels of the Sovereign-class are capable of undertaking long-range exploration, scientific, humanitarian, diplomatic and tactical mission profiles. Basically, she's a return to the "one-ship taskforce" model of 23rd Century ships such as the original Starship Enterprise; a Heavy Cruiser.
    • Other than the absence of fighters and carriers, the former of which are used exclusively by the Dominion (and even those are fighters in name only, being the size of the Defiant or a Klingon Bird of Prey), the more militarist factions fit this trope pretty well. For instance the Klingon Bird-of-Prey is a scout/frigate/destroyer weight warship; Vor'cha, K't'inga, and D7 classes are battlecruisers; and the Negh'Var class fills the role of dreadnought. 24th century Klingons also have passenger transports and freighters similar to Cardassian cargo ships.
      • The Dominion "fighters" are more like Fast Attack Craft. The Dominion also has heavy cruisers and rarely seen dreadnoughts (referred to as "battleships.")
    • 24th century Romulans have small Scorpion-class fighters, stealth shuttles which appear to function like runabouts or couriers, scouts, science ships, and the big Warbird-type battlecruisers.
    • Cardassians have a fairly diverse space fleet including small Hideki-clas ships that double as warp-capable fighters/long-range shuttles/scouts, shipyards with utility pods and and another, boxier shuttle, a variety of freighters, the Galor-class, which is usually classified as a cruiser or a destroyer, and another cruiser-type similar to the Galor but more powerful with more armor, speed and troops (Keldon). They also operate a long-range artificially intelligent "missile" with enough onboard weapons systems to count as a small, well-armed warship in its own right. Voyager encounters one that was accidentally transported to the Delta Quadrant after being reprogrammed by the Maquis.
    • The Kazon operate large carrier vessels that are basically The Battlestar, delivering smaller raiders (small warships) and fighters (smaller versions of the raiders) to the battlefield while also featuring a standard weapons payload. They also have modified boarding shuttles with hull-piercing bows, and the small fighters double as personnel shuttles. A "Kazon Frigate" is also mentioned. They, the Romulans and the Klingons (see below) come closest to this trope of all Trek aliens.
    • Several different Krenim Ships were seen in the "Year of Hell" Voygaer two parter: a small patrol ship, encountered in timelines where the Krenim were a second-rate minor power, and a battlecruiser, encountered in timelines with a strong Krenim Imperium. The episode's main villain operated a specialized temporal weapon-ship, a huge gun whose beam could erase an object as small as a single molecule or an entire civilization from the timeline.
    • The Hirogen have a small warship-type, similar to the Kazon Raider, a large cruiser (the Venatic) and another large ship type which is distinct (which Iden used as a holoship).
    • Klingons, over the centuries, have fielded several battlecruiser types including the Negh'var dreadnought, numerous medium and light cruisers in the form of Birds-of-Prey and older K't'ingas, larger cruisers like the Vor'Cha, small scout ships and shuttle-like cargo ships, as well as freighters and passenger ships. Like most Trek races, though, they don't have fighters.
      • 22nd Century Klingons in Star Trek: Enterprise have a Battlecruiser (the D-5), a larger Battlecruiser (a recylced K'tinga), a large scout ship (the Raptor-class), a light cruiser (the 22nd Cenury Bird-of-Prey), a smaller, more shuttle-like scout (seen in the Pilot), and a horseshoe-shaped corvette (Goroth's starship). They also had a modified battlecruiser used as a tanker and crewed only by 12.
      • Mid-23rd century Klingons, as shown on Star Trek: Discovery, have a fighter/armed shuttle ("Raider"), a bigger small warship (the crescent-shaped Bird of Prey), Destroyers and Battle-Cruisers (something they call D-7 but looks nothing like the ship for Star Trek: The Original Series, plus another battlecruiser-type, and a large destroyer that looks like something from the deep sea), as well as =T'Kuvma's= (later, Kol's) unique Sarcophagus Ship serving as a kind of flagship/heavy cruiser. There was also a ship present at the Battle of the Binary Stars called a "cleave ship," that was used somewhat like a torpedo ram to take out Admiral Anderson's ship.
    • Speaking of the 22nd Century, the Suliban Cabal had two types of "cell ship" (a one-person stealth fighter and a similarly stealthy vessel the size of a large shuttlecraft), a "stealth cruiser" (their only non-modular design), and helixes, made up of thousands of cell ships. The liberated Suliban civilian prisoners at the Tandaran Prison Complex also had access to another type of small shuttle, which, like all Suliban ships, was implied to be warp-capable (unknown if it possessed the same stealth technology as Cabal ships).
    • Star Trek tends to introduce another ship-type, used by the Maquis, Kazon, Klingons, and several aliens-of-the-week, which could be called the Raider, a multi-decked small warship with the maneuverability of a fighter and a crew of usually between 12 and 36. Raiders are usually the smallest warship wielded by alien powers, and could generously include the Klingon scout-type Bird-of-Prey used by Kruge, Klaa, and the Duras Sisters, as well as the Kazon Raider, the Maquis Raider, and the Bajoran Raider.
    • Bajorans use small fighter-types, larger, still aerodynamic Interceptors, and a variety of freighter-like ships as scouts, troop ships, transports, and cargo vessels.
    • Escape and Utility Pods have been seen in the background, but otherwise don't play a vital role in the franchise.
    • While the Borg typically using the enormous (about 3 km per side) Cube vessels that act as battleships, since they typically send only a single one against a civilization, unless the need arises to send more. There are also smaller Spheres, which appear to serve as cruisers, small elongated Probes, scout ships that looked like small cubes (it's unclear how a scout ship differs from a Probe), Tactical Cubes (heavily armed and armored Cubes, so maybe dreadnoughts), and Diamonds (a specialized class used by the Borg Queen, so a flagship).
  • The Peacekeepers of Farscape have several classes of ships from fighters to capital ships of various types. Assorted other ships show up over the course of the series.
    • The major Empires seem to have one giant battlecarrier (command carriers, dreadnoughts), a fighter-type ship like a prowler or the horseshoe-shaped Scarran equivalent, and a Marauder/Stryker-type, which is like a Heavy Fighter or Gunboat combined with a Dropship. In the Scarrans' case, theirs is also a Lightning Bruiser. The PKs also have a smaller capital type ship, the Pantak-Class Vigilante, which looks to function like a frigate in fleet formations or like a light cruiser on its own.
    • Dialog establishes the Peacekeepers have several other small ships including "scrub runners" and another type identified only by serial numbers, that they use to train pilots before the traineers are considered ready to fly the much more sophisticated Prowlers. Depending on whether or not one applies Broad Strokes to reconcile the show's sometimes updated visual effects, the Peacekeepers might actually have two types of Marauders, one boxy and the other much sleeker, and possibly carrying a larger contingent of troops. The Peacekeepers tend to use the latter type as an all-purpose shuttle, transport, scoutship and gun platform though. Some Marauders, assigned to Retrieval Squads, even carry the same "immobilizer pulse" weapon as the larger ''Pantak'-class Vigilantes.
    • Peacekeepers also use alien mercenaries who sometimes have their own ships, such as in the case of the Coreeshi Bounty Hunters, who used a spidery-looking ship with landing legs to board Moya, and the Traegans, whose ship was armed with weapons and harpoons to snare ships that trespassed in Peacekeeper territory. The Traegan ship even had a Peacekeeper officer assigned to oversee the patrol and capture operations.
    • Talyn, a hybrid of Peacekeeper and Leviathan technology who was a living warship, was frequently called a "gunship," although in Farscape, it was never clear if "gunship" refers to size, tonnage, armament, or just any very heavily armed ship other than the above named types. Talyn was constantly growing and revealing new capabilities, such as stealth travel and intelligence gathering. He was also capable of long-range independent operation without support vessels.
      • Scarrans also have a modular-looking freighter that has been shown to double as a prisoner transport with facilities for conducting brutal experimentation on non-Scarran prisoners.
      • In addition, though it's never seen, the Scarrans are stated in dialog to have some kind of stealth capsule/boarding pod that Alcar used to board Talyn while the latter was "blinded" by the solar flares of Dam-Ba-Da's sun. It's not clear if this pod can carry more than one Scarran or whether it has the range and specs to operate independently. Also unclear is whether the pod/capsule actually possesses any kind of "stealth technology." Farscape characters frequently refer to "stealth vectors" that ships supposedly use to approach other ships when they want to avoid being detected, although some Luxan ships (see below) have the ability to cloak. Talyn's sensors external sensors were inoperative at the time he was boarded by the Scarran.
      • The Luxans follow this pattern, too, with a large cruiser-type (the Assault Piercer, seen early in the show as a derelict), a "Deep Space Voyager," mentioned but not seen, which sounds like a dedicated long-range scout or explorer ship, and two smaller ship-types, D'argo's small, powerful attack fighter- an "Eradicator," and the similar gunship/dropship- the "Penetrator"- which is like a Luxan version of a Marauder, which both have powerful weapons, shields, and a cloaking device ("deception shroud"). In the comics, the Luxans also have small scoutships similar to the Penetrator and Eradicator lineages but with fewer weapons and passenger capacity.
      • The Sheyangs also use fighter pods deployed from their capital ships.
    • The Peacekeeper Wars shows two full battlefleets going at it: Peacekeepers and Scarrans.
      • That series introduces the Scarran Emperor's command ship, a smaller warship than a dreadnought but one that is heavily armed, and faster even than a Stryker. It also introduces a different variant on the Command Carrier, a Flagship variant with what looked like extra armor, and which lacked the smaller ring-like structures on the standard version.
    • Ilanics (a cousin species to the Luxans) and their Scorvian enemies both had "cruisers" in the episode where they appeared, and the cruisers appeared to be of very similar or identical design, so it's possible that one species stole their tech from the other. The first cruiser (an Ilanic cruiser) was understaffed by just two scientists and was being used to research an experimental weapon. When the cruiser was about to be destroyed it launched a small shuttle, identical to the one used by the Tavleks in another first season episode (it was stock footage). The second cruiser showed up pretending to be an Ilanic ship but it was actually a Scorvian vessel in league with one of the first cruisers' crewmembers, who was a Scorvian in disguise. It's not clear if the Scorvians were operating a stolen Ilanic ship just for this deception, as the identical first cruiser was said to be an Ilanic design, or if the two species commonly use the same starship class.
    • At least two Plokavian ships show up; one was an arms dealer's ship that was barely seen before it was blown up; the other was much, much larger and also was barely seen, but it appeared to exercise some kind of official Plokavian authority, so it probably wasn't just a merchant ship like the first one.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003)'s Cylons avert the trope, because their fleets mainly consist of just basestars and their Raider complements, along with perhaps a Resurrection Ship. The Colonials, on the other hand, don't — before the nuclear holocaust, it appears that the Colonial Fleet was divided into battlestar groups — BSGs — consisting of battlestars and (presumably) support vessels. This doesn't really affect the show, because the only two military vessels to survive are the battlestars Galactica and Pegasus.
    • Cruisers and Destroyers do get mentioned as having been a part of the Colonial Fleet during the First Cylon War, but it's not clear if these are also considered "battlestars" or if they are still in service at the time the series begins.
    • "Blood and Chrome" shows the Orion-class Battlestar, a smaller, submarine-like "picket battlestar" with stealth technology in the form of a DRADIS-reflective hull. It also had some sort of massive antennae complex, likely long-range sensors. Perfect for the role of a "scout" Battlestar that can deploy Vipers and Raptors like its bigger cousins. There's also the Valkyrie-type Battlestar in "Hero," which also reappears in "Razor," "The Plan," and "Blood and Chrome," which is a smaller (but larger than the Orion) like like all Battlestars carries fighters and support vessels (primarily Vipers and Raptors, but also specialized stealth ships for recon missions) and has ship-to-ship missile launching capability. It seems that in the series, a "Battlestar" doesn't refer to a specific size or armament, but rather to any capital ship capable of launching Vipers.
    • Cylon Raiders are unmanned, and have a pack animal intelligence; though they are technically Living Ships, they fulfill the role of drone fighter that rarely makes it into sci-fi. The Heavy Raider fills the Heavy Fighter/Dropship role (like the Colonial Raptor). The Cylons were also shown to have had obelisk-shaped freighters as support vessels for Basestars, as well as Recon Drones, in the Miniseries and in "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part Two."
    • On the civilian side you've got some highly specialized ships like a sewerage treatment ship that was deemed expendable enough to be sent off on what was potentially a wild-goose-chase for a couple of months. They also built a stealth-fighter as a pet project.
  • The ships of Stargate SG-1 can be partially classed into a Standard Sci-Fi Fleet, although most space-faring civilizations seem to use only a very few ship classes (and of course the titular Stargates make the use of ships optional altogether in some situations). The Goa'uld have the largest variety, with the fighter-like Death Gliders, small cargo ships that are essentially shuttles, medium-sized bombers, dedicated troop transports, and Ha'tak mother ships, which are basically Assault Carriers, carrying both lots of cannons and lots of Death Gliders. Some powerful Goa'uld also developed larger Capital Ship classes. The Asgard mainly use various types of battleship, the Replicator Cruisers serve more as transports than anything, the Lucian Alliance mainly use converted freighters and Ha'taks, and the Ori have their massive Motherships. Most large ships in the 'verse seem to be Battlestars, including all large Earth vessels, though a few alien races do provide exceptions (for example, the Asgard can't afford to waste pilots in weak fighters due to their low numbers and negative population growth).
    • The Wraith, of all races, approach this trope the most, having Dart fighters, slightly-larger scout ships (only one is ever shown, though), supply ships (carrying people for food), cruisers, and massive Hive ships. Both of the latter are battlestars, carrying large numbers of Darts as well as armed with powerful energy cannons. There was also the one-off Super-Hive, which got big as a result of a powerful energy source. It could probably take on an Ori mothership and win.
    • The humans seem to focus mainly on Space Fighters (which makes sense, given that their ships were first developed by the Air Force). Types appearing in the series include the X-301 Interceptor, the X-302 Hyperspace Fighter, and the F-302 Fighter-Interceptor (a serial version of the X-302 without the unstable hyperdrive). The only capital ships to appear are the BC-303 and its successor, the 304.
      • This ties in to how the ships are designated as well: "X" seems to stand for "Experimental" and "F" for "Fighter", and presumably "BC" stands for "Battlecruiser".
      • There was only one BC-303 ever made, the Prometheus. When first introduced, the Daedalus was claimed to be the sister ship of the Prometheus, even though it was much larger and featured a substantially different design. Later, they just call all subsequent ships Daedalus-class. It's also unclear if the Prometheus was ever redesignated as BC-303, as it was originally introduced as X-303. By the time the three series end, six have been produced, of which only four are still functioning (one was destroyed by the Ori, and one was crippled by the Super-hive). The follow-up novels confirm that, due to the Great Recession, no new ship constructions are in the budget, and the Sun-Tzu is still drifting in deep space with no resources to retrieve it and with many wanting to scuttle the ship as too damaged to repair.
  • Firefly features a classic Blockade Runner which can be considered a co-Trope Codifier. It also carries two shuttles. The Alliance ships include a Carrier or possibly a Battlestar (the Tohoku-class cruiser, a.k.a. the Flying City Block) and a small Cutter/Corvette (the ASREV Gunship, the four-man space police car the size of a modern jet plane). Reavers use almost exclusively re-purposed civilian craft. One small Colony Ship (the homesteader) also makes an appearance.
  • The Andromeda Ascendant can be best described as a Battlestar, having several fighters, drones, and drop pods along with enough firepower to depopulate a planet in eight minutes. The Eureka Maru is a blockade runner. The Commonwealth Argosy also had a number of other ships classes such as battleships and troop carriers, which occasionally make appearances 300 years after the fall. The Magog have a worldship that is more accurately a mobile artificial star system.
    • Of note is the Siege Perilous-class Deep Stand-off Attack Ship II, which is a cross between a dreadnought and a space gun, as its primary role is to enter the battle from far away, unleash hundreds of ship-killer missiles at the enemy, and enter slipstream before the enemy got close enough to shoot back, as the ships of this class are Point Defenseless. Only 4 were built prior to the Nietzschean Revolt with one of them destroyed in port. One (Wrath of Achilles) was captured, and one (Balance of Judgment) managed to escape and survived the Fall. The Resolution of Hector is the first ship of this class to be built by the New Commonwealth. The Wrath of Achilles was recovered and added to the New Commonwealth fleet only to be destroyed with the majority of the fleet due to Collector treachery.
    • The Andromeda, like the other Glorious Heritage-class cruisers (AKA XMC-class cruisers), is also armed with the space equivalent of strategic nukes, turning it into the Cold War-era nuclear attack submarine. Nobody ever expected the Nova bombs to be used, as only a madman blows up stars, and they mainly served as deterrents (the Andromeda had 40 of them). This didn't work on the Nietzscheans, as they correctly figured that the "weak" High Guard would never use them.
  • Raumpatrouille: Due to the budget limitations of this 1966 series, basically only two major warships were shown: the Orion VII, its practically identical sister-ship, the Orion VIII, and the Hydra. Though designated as fast cruisers, they are fairly small craft, crewed by four or five persons, although they can accommodate more. This type of spacecraft carries up to four Lancet shuttles, which normally carry two persons, and twice that at a pinch. In episode 3, when the Orion goes missing for a time, Training Fleet 18 is diverted to look for it; it is said to consist of 22 battleships (Großkampfschiffe), 40 space cruisers and 132 satellite-launching boats.
  • Space: Above and Beyond featured space-going aircraft carriers prominently (that featured lasers and weapons on par with The Battlestar) and their "Hammerhead" Space Fighters. However some fleet scenes showed other craft that looked like heavy cruisers or another ship type, maybe assault ships or troop ships rather than carriers. The same series had large shuttle-like vehicles that were supposedly for in-system travel but sometimes seemed to be used for interstellar travel; they came in several variants and could serve the role of a dropship, even having a rack for a large, detachable habitat or cargo container that can serve as a temporary base-shelter for a squadron on deployment off-world. These shuttles could also mount guns for defensive purposes when deployed without other combat supports. The discrepancy in the show about interplanetary vs. interstellar travel capabilities of various ships has to do with the series being oddly inconsistent about how spacecraft (human and alien) actually travel interstellar distances, mentioning both opportunistic wormhole travel as well as various technological means of faster-than-light travel. So while Faster-Than-Light travel does exist in the show, it's not clear which ships can achieve this on their own using what's implied to be some sort of "drive" and which ships would need to rely on a wormhole to cross interstellar distances. The humans' enemies, the "Chigs," also had single-person fighters (including an Ace Custom with special technology, and a Red-colored variant that could skip across the gravity well of a black hole), a small "bomber" type ship operated by a small crew, more heavily armed and longer-ranged than the fighters, a diplomatic shuttle/cutter type similar to the "bomber" but possibly not a military vehicle, (if the Chigs have civilians), a "Stealth Destroyer" type of ship with low-observation technology and various conventional and "soft kill" weapons, and a rarely seen large, hexagonal ship that's probably either a heavy cruiser/dreadnought type or a carrier ship for the fighters. The "Silicates," humanoid androids of Earth origin who are allied with the Chigs, are said to have stolen "military spacecraft" during their uprising, but the rare glimpses of Silicate spacecraft we saw look pretty primitive and not exactly combat-worthy. These "space capsule" type vehicles may be dropships launched from larger, unseen craft. On the human civilian side, the series also shows as two medium-sized Colony Ships, a "Pleasure Cruiser" called the Bacchus that approached the Carrier 'Saratoga'' in size, and a large merchant freighter.
  • The Expanse: The TV adaptation prominently features a "Dreadnought" type of heavy cruiser in the Martian Congressional Republic Navy, with a hangar bay large enough to accommodate at least one and possibly more Missile Corvettes, which themselves are independent warships in the corvette/frigate range. The same series also features well-armed stealth-ships and various civilian spacecraft types ranging from shuttles to large freighters. The series does not have faster-than-light travel as all action takes place inside Earth's solar system, but it does have some technobabble that allows very fast "impulse" travel within the solar system and an alien built ring system to travel between hundreds of planetary systems.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Battlefleet Gothic gives most fleets a mix of Frigates, Cruisers, Assault Carriers, Battleships, and Battlestars supported by fighters, bombers, and drop pods. Most factions also have a Missile Boat frigate class, some have Space Guns, and Chaos and the Imperium also get Worldships in the form of the Blackstone Fortresses.
    • Ships of the Imperial Navy are generally grouped thus (from smallest to largest):
      • Escort ships: corvettes, destroyers, frigates.
      • Capital ships: light cruisers, cruisers, heavy cruisers (deemed obsolete in frontline service due to doctrine changes over ten thousand years, still found in civilian forces or reserve ... or in the hands of traitors), battlecruisers (using the standard cruiser chassis, these are often times badly damaged cruisers that were given an upgrade to go with their repairs), grand cruisers (almost as big as battleships, with appropriate armour and firepower, they've been removed from most frontline duties due to not fitting modern imperial strategy), battleships.
    • Most ships are armed with a mix of lances (high-power lasers) and macrobatteries (which depending on the ship can be anything from enormous cannons firing shells the size of buildings to plasma- or laser batteries), with most capital ships and dedicated escorts and cruisers also usually carrying torpedoes. Those cruisers and battleships that don't have torpedoes have Nova Cannons, railguns that fire what amounts to mini supernova warheads capable of incinerating entire squadrons of escorts and cruisers and cripple battleships on near misses, instead, with escorts that don't have torpedoes usually having hangars or single lances.
      • Notably, the Imperium doesn't really use pure carriers, but Battlestar-type ships that combine launch bays with turrets do exist (and are in fact quite effective, but tend to be looked down on by the Navy for not matching their idea of a "proper" warship, i.e. one that blows up the enemy with broadsides from its many, many guns). There are a few rare examples of pure carriers, with all their broadsides swapped out for massive numbers of hangar bays. Usually, the pure carriers are converted from damaged battleships as its cheaper to remove broken gun batteries and place a hangar there, while direct carrier production is low due to a desire for versatility when it comes to capital ships at the highest standard weight class. It is more common to see escort carriers and cruiser weight carriers than full battleship sized carriers. Even pure carriers still have gun turrets to defend themselves and hybrids tend to have long range guns to support the line battle while they safely deploy squadrons.
    • The Orks have an oddity, not enough for a subversion, called the "brute ram ship" because Ramming Always Works.
  • In the BattleTech universe the only ships capable of interstellar travel are fragile JumpShips (basically detachable drives that ferry smaller ships and cargo pods) and heavily armored WarShips, which are divided into the usual designations (frigates, cruisers, battleships, and such). The Succession Wars destroyed all known WarShips in the Inner Sphere, leaving JumpShips as the only means of interstellar travel. This forces DropShips filled with mecha into heavy use and limits space combat to fighters trying to kill said DropShips before they reach a planetary surface. The return of the Clan forces and their full armada of WarShips changes the equation a bit.
    • Special mention must be given to the DropShips — as you might expect, a ship intended to ferry groups of 100-ton mechs from ground to orbit and back are huge(indeed, the limits of "Largest Dropship" and "Smallest Warship" overlap), and impressively well-defended. Even a "standard" Hrothgar-pattern dropship carries as much firepower as an average lance of Assault Mechs. With the loss of Warships in the Inner Sphere, Dropships have expanded to take the roles of Carriers, escorts, and Assault ships as well as troop carriers. When the Warships came back, they picked up a new role: The "Pocket Warship"; up-gunned Assault ships armed with Sub-Capital weapons and even Capital-scale missiles, that can damage and even destroy full-sized Warships.
      • Perhaps as a consequence of such formidable DropShips, Aerospace Fighters in Battletech are no joke themselves. Most of them being every bit as armed and heavily-armored as a Tank or the series' signature Battlemechs.
    • It's also notable that since they are Lost Technology the Inner Sphere's Ares Conventions prohibit attacking JumpShips and thus they rarely even bother with armaments. Though they appear often enough that the distinction is made based on their drive type, JumpShips have full-sized K-F drives with bulky solar collectors, whereas WarShips have miniaturized drives. While the Clans don't suffer any such restrictions since they never lost the technology and don't hesitate to blast them out of the sky.
  • Lancer: Battlegroup covers basically the whole catalog of ship types between frigates, carriers, battleships, escorts, and (fighter) wings. Interestingly for a spin-off of a mecha game, mechs have only a minor role as an expensive type of wing that can perform boarding actions. Frigates and larger ships are classified as "capital ships" as they're capable of independent nearlight travel, while escorts and wings are treated as capital ship systems.
  • Rifts used shuttles of various types for the Mutants In Orbit Sourcebook, and also used Powered Armor and mecha in space, just like on the ground. The Phase World/Three Galaxies setting had all that, and also ships of every kind mentioned above.
  • Star Fleet Battles had almost all of these ship types *except* the mecha fighter.
  • Star Realms has the main focus of the game trying to build the trope. Starting off with weak Scouts and some "Vipers" (something like obsolete space fighter), the players use these to get stronger and more powerful ships and bases. One of the factions, the Blobs, have a ship called the "Ram". Based on the name and the artwork, it's used to plow through other ships. Another ship, the Parasite, looks like it latches itself on other ships and taking it over — a cross between a puppeteer parasite and Boarding Pod. Despite the name, the Cult's Mech ships are not humanoid mecha.
  • Tech Infantry has most of the standard ship types. A list of most ships in Earth Fleet can be found here. A nifty size comparison chart for ships from Tech Infantry, Babylon 5, Star Wars, and Star Trek can be found here.
  • Traveller Classic had all of these ship types except for the Bomber, mecha and Worldship. The smallest warships with spinal mounts could count as Space Gunships.
    • Actually Traveller does have bombers. Or rather can. Mention is made of craft optimized for close orbital/atmospheric work, and some would of course drop gravity bombs.
    • Big ships are the deciding factor in any given Traveller battle however no fleet can do without small ships as they can help dominate space or prevent domination and are thus an important strategic asset. In the Intersteller Wars, a vast Vilani armada could be paralysed because Terran raiders had done so much damage to the space lanes.
    • There are also "Fleet Tenders", little more than big jump drives that can carry a bunch of smaller (up to battleship size) ships that don't waste space on Jump Drives and instead have a ton of weapons and reaction drives. Such battleriders can usually take out jumpships of equivalent tonnage but they don't have the option of jumping away if faced with a superior force, so the Imperial Navy tends to relegate them to defense.
  • Starfire has all of these classes except mecha, surpassing the battleship in size with the Super Dreadnought and the even-larger Monitor. Not surprising, since David Weber (of Honor Harrington fame) was a major contributor to this game's development.
  • GURPS: Spaceships has given stats for everything but a worldship (though it does get a name check).
  • Most fleets in Rocket Age pack everything from small fighters to large capital ships.
  • Hc Svnt Dracones has, in rough order of increasing size, drones (including breaching pods and small ship-to-ship shuttles), "personal ships", corvettes, frigates, destroyers, carriers, cruisers, battleships, and dreadnaughts. Destroyers and larger (except battleships) have drone bays. Corvettes are probably the closest thing to manned fighters in that they can be crewed by one man and are incapable of interplanetary travel, but can carry up to 12 people. The seven Mega Corps make different variations on the standard design, MarsCo ships have nothing but Omni-Slots that can fit any modifications but no standard equipment, Pulse's are more maneuverable, even in atmosphere, and TTI grows Living Ships for instance.

    Video Games 
  • Multiplayer strategy space sim Allegiance (2000) has a wide variety of ships that a team can develop for its players, the better to crush the other team. Because the emphasis is on small ships, most of the classes would fit under "Space Fighter" in the standard sci-fi fleet. All factions start with Scouts, which are very light fighters with good sensors. Most also get either Fighters, which are Jack of All Stats of combat ships, or Interceptors, which are tougher and less flexible, designed for short-range combat. A team must protect its miners to get the resources to develop more ship types, and better versions of the ones it has. There are also Stealth Fighters, designed to take down the enemy's Mining Ships. And there are Bombers, Stealth Bombers, and Troop Transports, which are used to capture enemy bases. Mining Ships and Constructors are basically specialized Cargo Ships. And rich teams can also get capital ships, which is risky, but can turn the game into a Curb-Stomp Battle if successful. The largest are the Battleships, which can win a game single-handedly with a bit of luck, but are very expensive to get. There are also Assault Carriers, which are a toned-down variant of The Battlestar with weak cannons, but the ability to teleport in smaller fighters and repair them. Lighter capital ship classes are also present.
    • Because each faction is different, some have specialized ships that others don't have access to: One faction also has a sort of Heavy Fighter, light Torpedo Bombers, and, essentially, Space Guns.
  • Astro Empires mostly follows this trope to a T, the only real exceptions being the non-combat ships: Scout Ships are barely armed but extremely fast, being used for exactly what they sound like, Recyclers can convert Debris into Credits, Outpost Ships can establish new bases. The combat ships are straight examples: Bombers are bomber/gunship hybrid Glass Cannons with lots of weapons, Heavy Bombers are bigger and tougher Bombers, Ion Bombers have more advanced weapons and Shields, Corvettes are small and weak but fast and stealthy and only really good against small ships, Destroyers are fast but can pack a serious punch against larger ships, Frigates are a Jack of All Stats, Ion Frigates have more advanced weapons and shields, Cruisers are effectively bigger Frigates while Heavy Cruisers are bigger versions of them, Carriers can transport Fighters and Bombers but are nearly defenseless by themselves, Fleet Carriers are the same but bigger, Battleships are just what you'd expect: Big and strong.
    • Then come the Capital Ships, which require Orbital Shipyards to build: Dreadnoughts are basically bigger Battleships with massive defence, Titans are even bigger and have nearly impenetrable shields, Leviathans give power bonuses to the entire Fleet and can bulldoze everything short of a Planetary Ring, Death Stars are nearly indestructible and can sterilize an entire planet, but are painfully slow, and so big they can't fit through Jump Gates.
    • Notably, all ships bigger than a Frigate are The Battlestar, since they all have (very limited) Hangar Space, but Carriers are required to transport large amounts of Fighters and Bombers. Except Capital Ships all have more space than even Fleet Carriers, because everything about them is oversized.
  • Battlestar Galactica Online has three main classes: Strikes, which are Space Fighters, Escorts, and Lines. Each class is also subdivided into four different types — Interceptors, Assaults, Command and Multiroles. While the Basestar and Pegasus can be used, this is only through renting for up to an hour using the most valuable currency and they act as pure combatants without the option to launch fighters. There are Carriers that can carry player Strikes, but no true Battlestars as they can't really contribute to a direct fight. NPC-only classes include drones ranging from human-sized to Strike-sized, automated asteroid weapons platforms and Freighters.
  • In Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare The UNSA and the SDF have navies that consist largely of Carriers, Destroyers, Space fighters and small gunboats. The SDF does however have two one-off ships in the Olympus Mons and the Cerberus that could qualify as The Battlestar as they both carry fighters while having some heavy anti-ship weaponry that isn't seen on any other SDF ship.
  • Children of a Dead Earth subverts this trope to hell and back, being a scientifically accurate space war simulator. Anything that isn't a drone, a missile or a nuke is considered a "capital ship" and space battles are more like a mix between a joust, a fireworks show and a drive-by shooting.
  • Conquest: Frontier Wars, at least for the Terrans.
    • The Celareons also qualify, except they don't have fighters and carriers, while the majority of the Mantis fleet is made up of carriers, including their heaviest ship.
    • The Terrans also have a space gun, capable of shooting halfway across a star system and can One-Hit Kill almost any ship.
    • Interestingly, Terrans don't have any fighters or carriers until the technology is provided by the Mantis. Yes, humans have forgotten how to build carriers and can't build small ships. During the first part of the campaign, their typical role as disposable grunts for Terrans is performed by the Corvettes, which are actually the only Terran ships that automatically destroy enemy fighters.
  • From corvettes to dreadnoughts, the whole Jutland lineup is present in Celestus.
  • Escape Velocity:
    • In Nova, the Federation and Auroran Empire each have an interceptor, a fighter-bomber, a gunship, a battlecruiser, and a carrier (in both cases, the carriers could be classified as Type 2 battlestars as they possess moderate weapons and heavy armor). The Federation adds a scoutship and prototype a (larger) gunship during the game, while the Aurorans later develop a fast battleship designed for close-range brawling. The Polaris use living ships equivalent to fighters, gunships, frigates, destroyers, and two different Type 1 battlestars (one of which is massive and armed enough to serve double duty as a dreadnaught). Meanwhile the Rebels have an interceptor, fighter-bomber, three different gunships, and two different cruisers. While most pirate ships are fighters, Blockade Runners and Q-ships, they also have a carrier and a capital ship that can take different roles. The Vell-os psychically generate their ships on the spot, but the three seen configurations roughly correspond to fighter, frigate and cruiser, with sufficiently strong and skilled Vell-os to generate the latter two also capable of making any ship they are on acting as a sort of carrier by separately generating and controlling from a distance a few of the fighter-analogues.
    • In Classic, the Confederate warship line goes from Patrol Ship (a fighter — descriptions and its long name all call it a "patrol fighter") to Gunboat to Frigate to Cruiser (which in EV refers to a Battlestar/Dreadnought class, not the cruiser class described above). The Rebels have their own Cruiser design, a Manta class of Mook Mobile fighters left over from the Great Offscreen War, and a Destroyer which is obviously a converted Argosy freighter, a ship also popular with Space Pirates. Of the civilian ships available to the player, the Corvette is actually a heavy cruiser, the Clipper is a combination small freighter and light warship, and the Kestrel is The Battlestar that players will almost inevitably buy once they have the money.
    • In Override, the UE starts with a fighter, a destroyer and a carrier (effectively a type 2 battlestar), and later adds a cruiser (effectively a type 1 battlestar). The Voinians have a supply ship (the UE uses civilian contractors/ships), a 'heavy fighter' (more-or-less analogous to a fighter-bomber), an interceptor, a frigate, a cruiser and builds a dreadnought in the course of the story (which is promptly destroyed before it is even properly deployed). The Crescent Strands, on the other hand, pull off much shorter lineups with more ambiguous defined classes: the Zidagar have a fighter and what's more or less an assault carrier, the Igadzra have what's more or less a gunboat and a battleship by nature if not by name, while the Azdgari have an interceptor/fighter, what's more or less a patrol boat and a battlestar — but the Igadzra 'gunboat' and the Azdgari 'patrol boat' are actually the same multipurpose ship at base, with different outfitting and playing different roles in the navies. The Cosmic Frontier version will add a few more ships, such as a monitor (a UE smaller-than-destroyer patrol ship, roughly analogous to a cutter/corvette) and make clear that the UE monitor and destroyer were originally repurposed freighters even if they have by the present become designs of their own.
  • EVE Online has Corvettes, Frigates, Destroyers, Cruisers, Battlecruisers, Battleships, Carriers, Dreadnoughts, Force Auxiliaries (capital sized repair ships), Supercarriers and Titans, with everything above Battleships considered a Capital Ship by the game's standards. There's also fighters, which are NPC controlled and launched from Carriers and Supercarriers, as well as various non-combat ships and specialist ship types (such as interceptor or electronic warfare).
    • Almost all non-specialized Eve Online ships carry drones which are unmanned Fighters. Some very tiny ships qualify for Battlestar status if drones and guns satisfies the Fighters and guns requirement, such as the Algos-class Destroyer, Tristan-class Frigate, and Taranis class Interceptor (Advanced Frigate). The definition of a Fighter blurs even further because Frigates are comparable to the size and power levels of NPC fighters launched by player Carriers.
      • Eve ships are all quite sizeable in the lore. While frigates may look tiny compared to battleships, they are actually built on scale comparable with the Statue of Liberty. This was easily seen when "walking in stations" features were available, and you could compare the size of your pilot against them. It's actually rather surprising they can only fit the drones that they do.
    • Carriers, Force Auxiliaries, Dreadnoughts, Supercarriers and Titans have very slow speeds compared to the subcapital ships. There are actually no engines designed to fit on them, leaving them to rely on maneuvering thrusters once on a battlefield. The only real way to position them is managing the FTL systems used to deliver them to the battlefield, warp drives and jump drives, so that they land where you want them. This leaves them feeling pretty stationary once they get into combat. To go even further, Force Auxiliaries and Dreadnoughts can enter Triage and Siege Modes respectively which leaves them immobile but much more effective at their roles. Also all but the dreadnought fill support roles. The Carriers and Supercarriers do healing and transport including taking backup ships into combat for players who got blown up. Titans have clonebays aboard so players can spawn there if they die, and can open jump bridges which allow entire subcapital fleets to move long distances rapidly. Hence they fill the World Ship role to some degree.
    • Attack Battlecruisers are a rare example of Battlecruisers in the original sense. They have the special ability to fit weapons normally seen on Battleships, but have the speed, agility, and resilience of a Cruiser (and the price tag of a basic Battlecruiser, which tends to be half or less that of a basic Battleship, and Faction and other advanced Battleships only become more expensive).
  • FreeSpace had Cruisers as the smallest capital ship, with Destroyers actually being the "Battleship" class. In the second game, the "Corvette" class was added as an intermediate size between Cruiser and Destroyer. Other ship classes include freighters, science vessels, and AWACS ships.
    • The Blue Planet mod adds the United Earth Federation's "frigates", which are a classic example of a Gundam-style Assault Carrier. It also introduces huge logistics ships on all sides.
    • Blue Planet tech room descriptions go into detail how the shocking defeats of the second game led to a shift in GTVA doctrine regarding space combat. In short, big, slow Destroyers are outmoded (the newest designs are produced in fewer numbers and built for mobility and tactical flexibility), Corvettes are the new ships-of-the-line, and massive forward firepower is prioritized alongside the Hyperspeed Ambush.
    • The Wings of Dawn mod runs straight with it, though Destroyer class ships are nowhere to be seen as of the first installment. The unique ship Guardian Angel technically is an assault carrier, much smaller than Freespace's Orion and houses only a squadron of strike crafts instead of a whole fleet of them.
  • Galactic Civilizations has tiny (fighter), small (bomber), medium (corvette), large (cruiser) and massive (battleship) chassis for ships, and space stations. Depending on what you stick on the chassis, they may fill several of the above-mentioned roles — you can, for instance, make a massive-sized Colony Ship by sticking several colony modules on a massive chassis.
    • With a high Logistics rating, you can even create actual standard sci-fi fleets by mixing together everything from battlecruisers to heavy fighters. Or you could just go with There Is No Kill Like Overkill, build nothing but the biggest hammers you have available, and begin blasting.
    • However, Galactic Civilization fighters lack what is often their primary asset in fiction, a greater chance of dodging shots fired at them. Instead, the advantages of building warships with smaller hulls are lower technology requirements, ships that are usually cheap enough to be built quickly (even by your less industrialised worlds) and fielded in larger numbers (thanks to lower upkeep costs), the fact these small vessels can be combined into larger squadrons/fleets than their bulkier counterparts, and the related effect that this allows them to take apart larger ships because the bigger vessels can only kill one at a time.
  • Gratuitous Space Battles was explicitly designed to provide a pure fix of this trope. The player designs a fleet of fighters, frigates and gargantuan battleships then pits them against another fleet in a firestorm of technicolour glory.
  • Haegemonia: Legions of Iron has these for all three races. You start with just fighters, then can build corvettes, followed by cruisers and, finally, battleships. There are also unarmed support ships, which repair damaged warships in flight, although these are the last to be researched. There are freighters, Colony Ships, and spy ships. Space stations (asteroid mining stations and military starbases) can move before deploying (they can be undeployed in the expansion). Orbital guns can be built on colonized worlds to defend against attackers. The expansion adds troop transports and several other ship types armed with Solon weaponry.
  • The Halo series is chock-full of these.
    • The human and Covenant navies conform to the standard frigate/cruiser/etc. hierarchy, and the humans use modern naval ranks (even the Master Chief is named after a real-life navy rank: Master Chief Petty Officer). Both sides make heavy uses of dropships, and there is an actual ship called the Dreadnought. Also includes examples of World Ships (the Covenant capital of High Charity) and Space Guns (the UNSC's orbital "Super MAC" platforms). Though it bears mentioning that the UNSC ships called Carriers and the Covenant ships called Assault Carriers, while having their eponymous function, also have the heavy muscle in ship-to-ship engagements to double as Battlestars. The Supercarriers for both sides take this up a notch. To give you a good estimate of how big Covie Supercarriers are, they are roughly 5 times the size of the Assault Carrier (shown on bottom left corner). They're 27 km long, bigger than even Star Wars's Banner Ship example. There are giant repair and refit stations, too; on the human side, they're essentially giant squares of titanium a kilometer on a side. They were able to repair and refit six destroyers at a time, and even saw combat by being used as giant sacrificial shields large enough to protect an entire human fleet. Even larger than those, the Hopeful was built by welding two of those together, sandwiching a couple fusion power cores, jump engines, and basic defenses... and also building a gigantic state-of-the-art-hospital the size of a small city inside. What happens when you build a Tender ship the size of a Battlestar? This. Even bigger than those, however, was the Covenant space station Unyielding Hierophant, which was 30 km long.
    • Forerunners followed a similar mechanic as well. On the base level were War Sphinxes and Seekers, a manned or unmanned cross between a Space Fighter and mecha. Then you'd have standard warships such as dreadnoughts and cruisers, a single one of which had enough power to smash through an entire fleet of opposition. Finally, there were the aptly-named Fortress-class vessels, massive vessels each 100 kilometers long, capable of holding massive fleets of their own within. Of course, all but the Halo and Shield Installations were dwarfed by the ridiculously massive Mantle's Approach, a Battlestar among Battlestars, sizing up to a height of 371 kilometers.
  • Homeworld, being a Real-Time Strategy game IN SPACE!, is built around this, including pretty much every ship type above, using most of them verbatim: Fighters (including Bombers and Interceptors), Corvettes, Frigates, Carriers, Cruisers, Destroyers, Dreadnoughts. The Mothership is a Colony Ship with significant carrying and production capacity, and there are examples of most other ship types.
    • It is also worth noting that there are major differences between Corvettes, Frigates and Destroyers. The frigate is pretty much exactly as described at the top of the page, while the Destroyer is large and powerful enough to qualify as a Capital Ship in the classifications used here. The Corvette falls under the Small Craft category, a well armed Shuttle is probably the closest match. Thus we're talking ships that can cut a swathe of destruction against most fighters and also, in reasonable numbers at least, threaten larger vessels. Unless said vessels have weapons that can track and hit Small craft, in which case the Corvette force is going to have casualties, possibly lots.
      • According to the game's own classification system, Frigates include all of the smaller Capital Ships and include everything from smallish conventional warships to ion-cannon-based Space Guns to pocket carriers. The Destroyer/Missile Destroyer is the next step up, the first of the Super-Capital vessels (which include the Carrier and Heavy Cruiser). Meanwhile, Corvettes include anything that falls below the Strike Craft/Capital Ships line, but is bigger than a fighter. (It's actually quite simple, provided you don't try to map any semblance of real-world classes onto it.)
      • The Mothership in Homeworld: Cataclysm definitely does fit into this mould, however, being gradually upgraded throughout the game so that by the final missions it is a very respectable warship in its own right, and is armed with a heavy cannon capable of destroying most enemy vessels with a single hit. The Mothership in Homeworld 2 is also considerably more capable than the original Mothership, but not as good as the one in Cataclysm.
    • In Homeworld 2, the Heavy Cruiser was replaced by the Battlecruiser which has built-in bays for servicing damaged fighter craft. Plus the main goal of the game turns out to be acquiring a Battlestar with a Wave-Motion Gun and brutal point defenses.
    • Homeworld 2 has the Progenitor Movers which at first glance appear to be freakishly powerful combat drones. A few missions later though, it's shown that they're merely detachable drives used by the Precursors and it's only due to their hyper-advanced technology that these ships seemed so formidable at first.
    • Homeworld has a number of space guns of varying sizes. The standard Ion Cannon Frigate is a small-scale space gun, while the Vaygr battlecruiser and Progenitor Dreadnought are much more massive and are far more deadly. Highlighting its status as a space gun, the Vaygr battlecruiser has a weakness in that fighters can shoot out its engines, preventing it from aiming its main weapon. Lastly there's Sajuuk, a monster of a ship which can pick off enemy vessels at extreme range with its humongous beam cannon. Good thing it's on your side.
  • Infinite Space has most of the listed types, with standard destroyers, cruisers, and battleships making up the bulk of most fleets. Fighters are also available, but most are carried on hybrid ships; dedicated carriers are limited to certain navies with highly-advanced technology and a fleet doctrine that supports fighter use. In addition, a few nations have more exotic ships, like giant flying guns or dedicated sensor and communications vessels.
  • Mass Effect uses fighters (not technically considered ships), frigates (~130-200 meters), cruisers (500-700 meters), dreadnoughts (~1,000 meters) and carriers (ditto). Cruisers are the standard combatants (the "poor bloody infantry" of space combat), frigates attack in squadrons while taking the dual role of missile boats (though they have large main guns too) and anti-fighter platforms (thanks to carrying extensive GARDIAN suites) dreadnoughts are ultra-rare capital ships, and carriers are seemingly much more common capital ships with less weaponry but lots of fighters. Destroyers (the one known example is 168 meters) and corvettes also exist and are used, but they're rarely mentioned compared to the former types.
    • The Normandy is a frigate designed with advanced stealth capabilities to allow for recon and covert insertions deep into enemy territory.
      • The Normandy SR2 blurs the line between frigate and cruiser in terms of firepower due to its upgrades, which leave it armed, shielded and armoured enough to take down a cruiser. In terms of size, however, it appears the first Normandy is small for a frigate (Admiral Mikhailovich notes as much), likely passing for a corvette in-universe, while the second ship is a more front-line size.
      • It's worth noting that the original Normandy cost more than a Heavy Cruiser, and the second's upgrades are outright stated to be impractically expensive on top of the ship being almost twice the size (i.e. in line with a normal front-line frigate). Though this gives it the ability to punch above its weight, everyone sensible still hesitates to pit the ship against anything bigger than it is, as the true utility of the Normandy is as a troopship. With its speed, maneuverability and stealth, it excels in dropping small teams into vulnerable locations, then getting them out again. It undergoes Uniqueness Decay by the third game, where stealth tech is common enough that even some dreadnoughts have it.
    • The dreadnoughts and cruisers in the ME universe overlap significantly with Space Gun. While they have dozens of broadside guns, plus torpedo tubes and laser point-defense turrets, their defining feature among all races is that they have main weapons that are between 0.45 and 1 km in length. They're still well-armed outside of their main gun, however. The in-universe fluff implies that they typically stay close to home to act as a strategic deterrent against attacks on their homeworlds.
      • It's also mentioned that dreadnoughts are at their best as long-range artillery pieces: their projectiles have higher velocities than those of any other ship type, and range in space is limited solely by the opponent's ability to dodge. Which is why the best tactic against them is to close in to "knife range", thus avoiding their main gun, as the dreadnought, like other ships, has to turn its whole body to bring its main gun to bear. It still has tons of broadside turrets for back-up, though (the Kiliminjaro-class, for example, has 78 broadside turrets running 40% of the ship's width each on either side, for a total of 156 guns). Regardless, they're much more vulnerable in knife-fight range and require the use of smaller ships for defense against the enemy Zerg Rush. This is why the Destiny Ascension is threatened in the first game. The geth ships appear way too close for it to use its main gun effectively.
      • In Mass Effect 3, the massive quarian liveships, giant hydroponics bays which also contain much of the quarian population, are upgraded with Thanix cannons, reverse-engineered from Reaper tech. This effectively turns them into dreadnoughts in terms of firepower, although definitely not in terms of endurance. The quarians insist that they're technically not dreadnoughts, as this would violate the Treaty of Farixen, which they're not signatories to, anyway. Joker points out the problem of equipping them as Glass Cannon warships, and considers it unforgivably irresponsible, considering that these ships house their civilian population and that the guns make them high priority targets in a fight.
    • Ship construction in Mass Effect seems heavily limited by needing to ensure every single ship they build has quickly recharging shields and point-defense lasers to cover every flank against missiles, which gets exponentially more expensive the more they up-size, hence their largest warships typically only go a bit over a kilometer in length and a few million tons in mass. When shielding isn't a factor, they can build much bigger; the Heretic Station is an FTL-capable ship built by the pre-Robot War quarians and it's a whopping 1.55 billion tons. Arcturus Station is another FTL-capable craft, and it was built in four years by a minor power with the resources of a single planet (this being before Earth's first contact with the Citadel), and it's 218 million tons.note  The Nexus in Mass Effect: Andromeda, despite being built as a side project by a few corporate investors, easily masses several billion tons and is over 15 kilometers in length. The four Arks, transport ships considered a side project of the aforementioned side project, are each 1.5 kilometers and 17 million tons. The liveships themselves are some of the largest craft seen in the series, easily dozens of times more massive than a dreadnought owing to the enormous size of the bulbous front. Arming such ships with appropriate guns is hardly a problem either, as the quarians managed to procure dreadnought-level spinal weapons for their liveships despite being dirt poor (they don't appear to have installed an appropriate number of broadside guns, though). The problem in mass-producing dreadnought-sized ships as warships without the appropriate shielding and secondary weapons is basically the same as with the quarian liveships: they'd all be glass cannons. The races of the setting instead favor Quality over Quantity, especially since the last total war they were in was hundreds of years ago.
    • The Reapers' fleets consist of a mixture. The big, Sovereign-sized ships are simply referred to as "capital ships" while much smaller Reaper warships (around the mass of a Citadel Space frigate, like the Normandy SR-2) are referred to as "destroyers." They also include troop transports and "processor" ships which turn organics into husks or raw material to be used to assemble more Reapers.
    • Humans were also the only species to come up with carriers. They were built to get around the restriction of dreadnoughts imposed on Citadel races, though we don't ever get to see them in the series. According to the codex, they were extremely vulnerable, because the hangar bays effectively created routes into the soft interior of the ship, so they would hang back in fights and were always escorted. Other races do use fighters, but instead of having a dedicated craft, cruisers and dreadnoughts both act as The Battlestar.
  • Master of Orion had ships classed as follows: Frigate, Destroyer, Cruiser, Battleship, Titan, Doom Star. Fighters, bombers and heavy fighters were mountable as weapons on any craft or launched from ground bases. Troopships could also be brought along to invade particularly desirable colonies.
    • Master of Orion III had even more classes, such as Battle Cruisers, Dreadnoughts, and Superdreadnoughts.
    • The iOS port Starbase Orion has all the original classes, except the Doomstars are called Mammoths, most of which look like large ships instead of mobile planetoids. Only the Cyban Mammoths still look like space stations (then again, many of their larger ships have the rounded look, and the developers admit their Borg and Cylon inspirations). Additionally, the original class differences between the destroyer and the cruiser were less linear. The destroyer was faster, more maneuverable, and had more equipment slots. The cruiser had more tougher and had more weapon slots. Later, the game was rebalanced, and the trade-offs between the destroyer and the cruiser were eliminated in favor of the relationship typical of the rest of the classes (i.e. cruisers have more weapon and equipment slots).
  • While not the main focus of the Metroid games, in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption Samus gets a closer look at the various ship types The Federation and the Space Pirates use. While both have the standard fighters, cruisers and carriers, the Space Pirates have Boarding Pods that smash straight into enemy ships to deploy troops, while the Federation has recently introduced a new class of capital ship equipped with an organic supercomputer (and yes, it is suspiciously similiar to Mother Brain) that replaces most of the usual crew requirements. They use the extra room for more weapon systems.
  • The browser game Ogame has light fighters, heavy fighters, cruisers (only effective against fighters, otherwise useless even if they're the fastest warship of the game), battleships, battlecruisers (more oriented towards defense than battleships and designed to combat almost all smaller ships as Real Life ones), bombers (capital ships in this case), destroyers (dreadnoughts), and Death Stars (that can destroy moons but not planets). Also small and large cargoes, Colony Ships, recyclers, and espionage probes.
  • The R-Type series has the player's R9 spacefighter, Bydo fighters, carriers, mecha, a modular cruiser, and a recurring mega-battleship boss that occupies an entire level in each game it appears in. Some levels take place inside worldships or supercarriers.
  • Sins of a Solar Empire has three general ship types: frigates, cruisers and capital ships. Frigates and cruisers are split into various combat and support types including: flak frigates, missile frigates, bombardment frigates, light carriers, heavy cruisers and so forth. Capital ships consist of carriers, battleships, Colony Ships, science vessels, and planet bombers. There's also fighters, bombers, orbital constructors, trade freighters, star bases, and superweapons.
    • Rebellion adds corvettes (smaller than frigates) and titans (larger than normal capital ships).
  • In Space Tyrant each faction has a unique set of ships with different strengths and weaknesses:
    • Frigates: The cheapest ships, generally a Glass Cannon with high firepower but low HP
    • Destroyers: The other small ship, they are tougher than frigates but with less firepower making them mostly useful for screening frigates and capital ships.
    • Cruisers: A Jack of All Stats that combine reasonable toughness with good firepower at a moderate cost. For Hoplites and Space Slugs these tend to form the backbone of their fleets (the Bzzerk prefer carriers).
    • Carriers: A carrier that launches fighters to attack the enemy fleet, these tend to be the main fighting unit in the Bzzerk fleet. Hoplite carriers are equipped with Boarding Pods while Space Slug carriers are The Battlestar carrying heavy blasters alongside the fighters.
    • Battleships: Basically a larger, more expensive version of the cruisers. Good toughness and firepower but a bit too expensive to build in bulk.
    • Dreadnoughts: A Mighty Glacier that combines heavy firepower with extreme toughness. The downside is that their high cost limits your ability to use them and makes losing one very painful.
    • Command Ship: An unarmed ship that carries the fleet's admiral and can activate their special ability.
  • Mostly averted by Star Control II. Although some ships use normal designations (Skiff, Cruiser, Dreadnought), most aren't classified. While they could be shoehorned into the the standard ship types, each ship is defined more by a unique set of abilities than any kind of class. Star Control: Origins (set in a different universe) eventually allows humans to field several different types of ships: scouts, cruisers, Mk. II cruisers (probably the equivalent to a heavy cruiser), and battlecruisers. Plus there's the flagship. Aliens are shown flying around in different classes as well, but you usually can't recruit them.
  • StarCraft has a little of this in the aircraft combat aspect. Each race has their own variation of the Fighter, Bomber, Interceptor and Drop Ship, and the Terrans have a literal Science Vessel (the Zerg and Protoss have rough equivalents). The Terrans also get a Battlecruiser, which is essentially a well-armoured Space Gun, and the Protoss have a self-explanatory Carrier.
    • Aside from the Fighter, Drop Ship, and Science Vessel, the similarities blur some. The Protoss Corsair is a plain Interceptor (cheaper than their Fighter, faster, with only an anti-air weapon), but the Valkyrie (Missile Boat frigate class, meant to shoot down fighters) and Devourer are bigger, tougher, and more expensive than the Fighters. The Zerg get a standard Bomber for their Guardian, and a cheap flying bomb unit; the Terrans have no Bomber but do have a smallish Battlecruiser, Wave-Motion Gun optional; the Protoss have their Carrier and a cloaked recon vessel.
    • In StarCraft II the Protoss get the Void Ray, a Space Gun, which is pretty much engines and a cockpit floating around a laser crystal. They also get a Mothership that's basically a floating city with which can cloak allies and generate temporary wormholes.
      • The Terrans also get a bomber unit, the Banshee, and the new fighter unit is a Transforming Mecha.
  • While not generally including a fleshed-out fleet, the Star Fox series has a number of ships that fit into the classes: the player-controlled Arwings are typical space fighters, the Great Fox is an Assault Carrier being used as a mobile base, and the enemies and bosses have included mecha, Battlecruisers, repurposed Science Vessels and weirder things, including three ships that combine into one ship and later a robot.
  • If you can imagine it, you can build it in StarMade. Although you can build theoretically anything, ships inevitably tend to drift towards a few types that prove the most practical, while most generated NPC ships are already fairly standard. You can even reconstruct the Enterprise (or any ship from any sci-fi story ever, but usually it's the Enterprise).
  • Star Ocean series started fleshing out its spacefleet starting with the third game, where the in-game dictionary was introduced. However, the terminology it uses is somewhat inconsistent, which may be attributed to large period of time the series covers, and different races the ships belong to.
    • In Till the End of Time all combat ships are reffered to as "battle-class ships", or battleships, and said to be about 300 meters long. There are also "combat explorers" that carry some weapon and exceed 1 kilometer in length, but are inferior in combat to battleships due to, well, being explorers.
    • The Last Hope refers to Eldarian destroyers and cruisers, with the word "battleship" being used for smaller battlecrafts. Eldarian cruiser is said to be about 250 meters long, while when an Earthlingnote  spaceship is upgraded by Morphus, it's also refered to as a "cruiser", despite being measly 80 meters long.
    • The Divine Force features two Federation warships, which are alternately called "battleships" and "battlecruisers". Despite allegedly being in the same class, one of them is twice the other's size, being about 250 and 500 meters long respectively. Raymond's second ship, Aldous, is referred to as possessing cruiser-tier firepower, despite also being about 250 meters long (although it pulls double duty as a cargo ship). Additionally, Scorpium uses integrated Space Whales as spaceships, which are also called "battleships", while being over 900 meters long.
  • Almost everything is possible in Star Ruler. The game's default designs include Fighters, Bombers, Destroyers, Assault Carriers, Freighters, Star Bases, Space Stations, and Colony Ships. Using the ship designer allows you to stick with this or build them any old how in defiance of convention.
  • Starsector, being based on naval fleets, has a multitude of different ships that perform (or can be equipped to perform) a whole host of roles. Carriers, battlecarriers, battlecruisers, destroyers, frigates... This also allows the use of real-life tactics, such as pincers and hammer-and-anvil.
  • Star Trek Online mixes typical fleet designations with a variant of the MMORPG class structure.
    • There are currently nine classes of ships: Cruisers, Escorts, Science Vessels, Raiders, Raptors, Dreadnoughts, Warbirds,note  Battle Cruisers and Carriers. Player abilities and ship modifications will probably blur the lines further, as Cryptic is notorious for nonstandard class structure. However, some of these ships tend to have problems with the blurring because of how they're depicted on TV than they are in games.
      • There's a tenth class, the Frigate, but those are only used to classify Terran Empire Miranda-class ships. The player's version is referred to as a "Light Cruiser".
  • Stellaris has several categories for ships, which can be configured in different ways depending on their size and what technologies you've unlocked.
    • Corvettes are the only ships you have access to in the early game. They are the cheapest, smallest, fastest, and weakest ships, but their evasiveness means they can dodge large-sized weapons, and when outfitted with missiles or space torpedoes, corvettes can do a lot of damage for their size.
    • Destroyers are a little bigger, and the first ship class able to mount large-sized weapons, but they also make good picket ships when outfitted with lots of point-defense systems.
    • Cruisers are big and extremely flexible, and can mix-and-match hangar bays, missile launchers, artillery mounts for large weapons, or broadside mounts for smaller ones as needed.
    • Battleships are bigger and better (and slower) than cruisers, and can uniquely use "XL"-sized weapons in a spinal mount, turning the entire ship into a self-propelled Wave-Motion Gun. Battleships can also swap some or most of their heavy guns for hangar space carrying strike craft, effectively turning them into battlestars or carriers respectively.
    • With the Apocalypse expansion, players can also build titans, which are so enormous that an empire can only support a limited number of them, pack a main weapon even larger than a battleship's XL weapon, and provide an entire fleet with an offensive or defensive aura.
    • The same expansion also introduces the Colossus, a defenseless Kill Sat that can pacify an entire planet in a single blast with one of five weapons: a Global Pacifier that wraps it in an impenetrable force field and cuts it off from the rest of the galaxy, a Nanobot Diffuser that sends down a stream of nanobots to assimilate the population into the Hive Mind (available only to machine empires with the Driven Assimilator civic), a Divine Enforcer that causes a psychic religious experience in the entire population and converts them all to spiritualist ethics while killing all cyborgs, robots, and hive-mind units (available only to spiritualist empires), a Neutron Sweep that kills all organic life on the planet while leaving infrastructure untouched, or a World Cracker, which delivers a good old-fashioned Earth-Shattering Kaboom. The last two are not available to pacifist empires, effectively leaving them with the Global Pacifier as their only colossus weapon unless they're also spiritualists, while the Neutron Sweep is also not available to spiritualist empires.
    • The Federations expansion introduced, alongside all the diplomacy stuff, the Juggernaut. Armed with six strike craft wings, two battleship XL guns, and five medium guns, alongside an aura that can do things like make strike craft even stronger or make jumps cool down faster, and on top of that two shipyards to repair and build ships on the move. All of this in a package comparable in size and shape to the Supremacy.
    • Defenseless non-combat ships include science ships to survey systems and research anomalies, construction ships to build mining stations and outposts to claim systems, colony ships to bring settlers to new worlds, and transports to shuttle armies to their next conquest.
  • Sunrider has frigates, destroyers, cruisers, carriers, and extremely rare (and gigantic) super-dreadnoughts. Traditional space fighters are replaced by mecha called Ryders which fulfill many of the same roles. The Sunrider itself is The Battlestar, an experimental assault carrier: it was unique at the time of its creation, but by the end of the first game PACT has begun mass-producing their own version. The sequel adds gunboats and fast cruisers to the mix.
  • Sword of the Stars has ships divided into cruiser, destroyer and dreadnought sizes, with each size having different choices for chassis and weapons loadout that can serve several of the above roles (the freighter and Colony Ships are destroyer-size though later techs allow for cruiser versions, a torpedo ship can be made by giving a cruiser the torpedo section and filling all its medium/large turrets with missiles, the Siege Driver tech lets you build a dreadnought-size space gun, etc.). In lieu of space fighters are AI-controlled drones and assault shuttles (anti-planetary bombers carried individually by destroyers or later in groups by cruisers).
    • The sequel ups the ante by introducing the new leviathan-class ships, super-sized dreadnoughts. The destroyer meanwhile has been relegated to the role of escort ships without FTL drives and are deployed from larger-sized vessels when they arrive at battlefields.
      • The developers have stated why they have drones and destroyer-sized gunboats/corvettes instead of fighters: they'd just get swatted by point defense (and drones often are).
    • The humans also have the Node Missiles, destroyer- (cruiser- in the sequel) sized weapons equipped with FTL drives. They are faster and tougher than any other missile, and several of these can destroy most ships. Unfortunately, they have since been Nerfed (damage significantly decreased, cost significantly increased) to the point where they're not worth even researching.
    • Several races also have specialized ships related to their form of Faster-Than-Light Travel. The Zuul have giant space drills that punch temporary holes in space-time. The Hivers have gateships, which deploy to form their Portal Network. The Morrigi have gravboats, which speed up the fleet during FTL and slow down enemies in battle. Other ships added in the expansions include freighters, q-ships, patrol craft, starbase constructors, and propaganda ships.
    • Also of note is that there are no troopships on account of there being no ground combat whatsoever. Rather planets that refuse to surrender are bombarded from orbit. If you don't want to wreck the environment too badly you use assault shuttles or biowar missiles.
  • The two main sides (Galactic Spanning Corporation and Bora colonists) in Tachyon: The Fringe are shown to have Standard Sci-Fi Fleets, with GalSpan having the white-and-blue sleek-looking ships, and Bora using mining and cargo ships hastily refitted for combat. The ship list included with the game shows that both sides have a full complement of warships, including frigates, destroyers, cruisers, and carriers, not to mention 5 types of fighter craft for each. Based on the game and the ship list, it doesn't look like anyone else has anything coming close to a full-complement fleet. Star Patrol, yet another strong power, only has hyper-advanced Enforcer-class fighters and cruisers which seem to combine the best of each capital ship class (i.e. speed/maneuverability of a frigate, firepower of a cruiser, and fighter-carrying capability of a carrier), making them Battlestars.
  • In Vanquish, the ship that Sam uses to infiltrate the World Ship Providence looks very similar to a Star Wars Blockade Runner.
  • Naturally, as a space sim, Wing Commander has most of the standard fleet loadout. The Frigate and Destroyer are reversed in size compared to their Real Life counterparts, though, if not in firepower. Carriers get broken down into several sub-categories, influenced by the series original focus of the Pacific campaign of World War II IN SPACE!, including the original escort carriers being first built off of modified transport hulls. Battleships, however, are relegated to being mostly target practice, only seen in the novel Action Stations, set at the start of the Kilrathi war.
  • The X-Universe has M0 (Planet killers or battleships), M1 (Carriers), M2 (Destroyers), M3 (Heavy Fighters), M3+ (Enhanced Heavy Fighters), M4 (Interceptors), M4+ (heavy interceptors), M5 (Recon craft), M6 (Corvettes), M7 (Frigates), M7M (Missile Frigates), M8 (Bomber), and DO (Drone) ship classes. It also has GO, a special class of what amounts to unarmed cargo shuttles, used exclusively by the pacifist Goners.
    • It also has four different freighter classes. TS Transports (Space Truckers), TP Personnel Transports (luxury passenger ships), TM Military Transports (TS with much of the cargo bay converted to fighter docking), and TL Station Transports (capital ship-sized freighter for carrying space stations from shipyard to job site).
    • X3: Terran Conflict introduces the Aran, a one-of-kind Mobile Base. It is the only ship in the game capable of docking another Capital ship (in addition to loads and loads of fighters, corvettes and freighters), and has an immense cargobay. It is balanced by being slower than a Spacesuit and hellishly difficult to obtain, as it only spawns ramdomly (heavilly damaged and shieldless) during Blind Jumps.
    • X3: Albion Prelude adds a small number of M2+ super-destroyers (the ATF Valhalla, Terran Kyoto, Boron Megalodon, and Xenon I) that are bigger, tougher, and slower than M2's and usually include an extra gimmick such as being able to dock M6's or having missile turrets. They were pioneered in the Xtended Terran Conflict Game Mod for the previous game and made Ascended Fanon.
  • In Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, the Noah and the Gorgs have full fleets, including multiple types of fighters, gunships, and bombers, Space Marine shuttles, frigates, destroyers (scout, tactical, torpedo, heavy), cruisers (escort, heavy, battle), support ships, and battleships. The Vardrags have massive city-ships and smaller scout ships (which are still cruiser-sized). The Ghosts utilize destroyers, cruisers, and battleships, although their ships are meant for scouting and are exclusively armed with lasers to quickly disable enemies (although their heavy lasers do some hull damage as well). Raptors limit themselves to two types of destroyers and carrier-type cruisers. The less advanced Earth government and the Mega Corps use corvettes (regular, light) and frigates (regular, heavy).

    Web Comics 
  • Schlock Mercenary uses most of the types on this page, from troop transports up through frigates and cruisers all the way to massive Battle Fortresses. There are no fighters, with automated cruise missiles being used instead.
    • The comic also adds its own class — Battleplates, colossal armoured ships designed to take asteroid impacts the hard way. They are designed to carry enough hypernet-linked drones to create a wide enough perimeter around a planet, to have enough time to react to a relativistic asteroid aimed at the planet, and also carry enough weaponry to destroy said relativistic asteroid with extreme speed. This also makes them very good at destroying everything else. They are unusual in that the bulk of their armament uses gravy, rather than the usual railguns, lasers and particle beams. Only humans build these, and they are among the most feared individual vessels in space.
    • At one point the characters consider adding another category to this list when they get their hands on a particularly large Fabber, basically a Mobile Factory, and consider adding engines, a helm and crew quarters so they can christen it Scrapyard of Insufferable Arrogance. Mainly to make fun of the Ob'enn ship naming scheme.
    • Petey adds another variation called Penetrators, which are basically (sometimes) recoverable missiles which also contain a drop-pod. Flung up to near-c by a launcher, a single one can capture an Ob'enn Thunderhead by simultaneously scramming the main annie plant (and do so safely most of the time, which in itself is very impressive), and implant an agent to subvert the AI.
    • Another innovation of the Toughs is the 'Very Dangerous Array', a wide ranging network of independent missiles that doubles as a powerful sensor array, able to detect and retaliate against incoming hostiles at the same time. (With the logical drawback in that being used as munitions decreases its ability as a sensor array.)
    • There's also mention of the Planet Mercenary Rating System, further explained in the Planet Mercenary RPG, which is used to provide a weay of comparing the combat effectiveness of ships between different species who might have different definitions for ship classes. The rating system uses a letter to define the size of the ship followed by a number that represents the threat it poses.
  • Crimson Dark has most of the above. Both sides have fighters, bombers, frigates, destroyers, and carriers. The Republic calls their big warships Battleships, while the Alliance equivalent are called Heavy Cruisers. Their are also a variety of civilian freighters seen in the comic.

    Web Original 
  • Orion's Arm uses pretty much the whole variety. There are small ships like Landers, Singleships, Gravity Tugs, and Miners, transports like the Grapeships, a variety of Explorers, Cargo Ships, Colony Ships, Seedships, and Generation Ships, giant habitats like Cyclers, and Worldships, and detachable drives like Boostbeams and Solar Moths. Then there are oddities like Museum Ships, Civilization Ships, Arkships, Linelayers, and others. As far as warships are concerned, Corvettes, Cruisers, Carriers, Dreadnoughts, and massive Leviathans have all been used in the past, with the largest ever being the Juggernaut Class. Capital ships are also accompanied by self-replicating robotic escorts called Autowars. There are also some truly bizarre ships, like the Zoeific Bioships, the Muuh Iceships, and the Voidships.

    Web Videos 
  • The YouTube channel Spacedock is pretty much an entire index/encyclopedia of this trope for virtually every example in science fiction.
  • The Templin Institute has a video titled "Building Your Interstellar Navy" that goes into detail on the many ship types seen in sci-fi stories, and how the definitions of different types are often nebulous. Since so much space-based science fiction operates by the principle that Space Is an Ocean, towards the end it also looks at the real-life structures and doctrines of the American, Soviet, and German navies past and present to use as guides for creating a realistic space fleet.

    Western Animation 
  • Il Était Une Fois...... l'Espace has many, even if few ship classes are mentioned: space freighters and a sort of space liner — the Cosmopolitan — are among the civilian ones. Among warships there are cruisers — the top of the line are heavy cruisers like the Nautilus-class of Cassiopeia — plus frigates, fighters — ranging from one-man SpaceFighters to considerably larger ships — and finally in the case of the Humanoids up to planet-killer weapons that also act as full-fledged battleships as well and even a city ship.
  • The Irken Armada in Invader Zim is an example of this trope, having the Capital Ship (referred to as The Massive) be the size of a small planet (and which has large containers filled with snacks of all things) and countless smaller ships orbiting around it.

    Real Life 
  • During the Kennedy administration, the United States Air Force created a "realistic" design for a space battleship. It would be propelled by an "Orion drive" (i.e. driven by the force of nuclear explosions), and would be equipped (alongside a full nuclear arsenal) with naval-style battleship turrets. In practice, the very design of the ship terrified Kennedy to such an extent that he cancelled the entire program — but in theory, the battleship could have been built, and presumably could have paved the way for an entire fleet of other military space-craft. Plans for small single-person combat craft also existed, and are discussed on the Space Fighter page.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): ISO Standard Space Fleet, Standard Space Fleet



A United Federation of Planets Fleet gathers to strike at the Dominion.

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