StarShip Classifications in your Head Cannon!

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by KamenRiderBlade, Nov 24, 2018.

  1. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commander Red Shirt

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    List the StarShip Classifications in your Head Cannon along with Time Frame, roles, size of fleet, state of universe, etc.

    e.g.:
    Cruiser
    Frigate
    Battle Ship
    etc.
     
  2. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

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    My "head canon" parallels the game Star Fleet Battles, based on TOS/TAS. Going from biggest to smallest:

    Battleship -- this is a beast. Four engines and a ton of weapons. In the game's lore, only the Klingon B-10 was ever constructed, with many delays and cost overruns. Everyone else designed one, but nobody could afford to build it.

    Dreadnought -- a true heavy-hitter, with thee engines and half-again more weapons than a cruiser. Many were converted to Heavy Carriers with a boat load of space fighters / attack shuttles. These never fought alone, but rather lead a battle fleet of ten to twelve other ships. The Klingon C-9 outclassed the Fed DN so much, they had to upgrade it to the DNG.

    Heavy Battle Cruiser -- a maxed-out cruiser, attempting to cram a Dreadnought's weapons onto a cruiser hull. The Federation had four nearly-identical versions, swapping out the weapons on the goose-neck (a pair of photons / plasma torps / missiles [called "drones" in the game] / or phasers). The Klingon C-7 is a near-perfect warship.

    Heavy Cruiser / Battle Cruiser -- Our favorite ship. The cruiser is a perfectly-balanced work-of-art capable of handling any mission that comes its way. Of course, the Klingon D-7 (and the earlier D-6) is a fair match to the Constitution-class starship. There was a Command Cruiser version with extra C4I facilities.

    New Heavy Cruiser -- based on the War Cruiser below, this was a cheaper / faster-built ship of the line with most of the wartime capabilities of the all-purpose Heavy Cruiser.

    Light Cruiser -- basically, three-quarters of a Heavy Cruiser, also an all-around balanced ship. The Federation design pre-dated the saucer ships but was solid enough it served well into the General War, often as a carrier escort or commando troop transport.

    War Cruiser / New Light Cruiser -- a cheaper Light Cruiser with reduced peacetime capabilities. Many variants including carriers, escorts, and scouts (see below). It's a toss-up as to whether the Klingon D-5 or the Fed NCL is the best in class.

    Destroyer -- half of a Heavy Cruiser. The Federation's Saladin-class is affectionately known as the Lollipop due to the top silhouette (one engine and a saucer). Many were built as Electronic Warfare ships, aka Hermes-class "Scouts", with powerful sensor/scanners that doubled as jammers. Also, many were converted to Carrier Escorts to protect the flattops.

    War Destroyer -- The Federation needed a better / cheaper ship in the Destroyer role (which used the same size saucer as the CA/CC), so they made a whole new design. This freed up the slipway needed to build more CA/NCL. Of course, there were scout and escort varients.

    Frigate -- a third of a cruiser. Used as a screen for the main war ships. Often converted to carrier escorts, also converted to scouts and supply / transport ships. The Klingon F-5 is either the game's biggest Frigate or smallest Destroyer.

    Cutter / Corvette -- The smallest independent warship. For the Federation, this was the main Police Force boat (not part of Star Fleet -- think US Navy/Coast Guard relationship). The Klingon E-4 and E-3 were originally convoy escorts and later used as carrier escorts; the G-2 was their police boat.

    Gunboats / Fast Patrol Ships -- about 35 meters long with a tiny crew, these were flying weapon platforms. They were too small to operate in deep space without a PF Tender, typically a converted CW. Usually deployed as a flight of six, it was a cheap way of adding a dreadnought's firepower into the battle. The Federation did not use Gunboats but rather developed some of the best fighters in the known universe.

    Fighters / Attack Shuttles -- one or two-man combat shuttles, typically in squadrons of six fighters, the cruiser-base carriers usually carried 12 while the dreadnought-based heavy carriers had 24.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2018
  3. Arpy

    Arpy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    For me, Earth’s Starfleet has its origins in NASA, so it's more about humans living in Outer Space than it is about warring with aliens. From a human perspective, war is outlawed on Earth and space is mostly empty, so our ships up among the stars are about exploration, science, transportation, colonization, etc. Our classifications reflect that non-belligerent intent, even as they're armed as well or better (thanks, science) than those of enemy empires. No battleships, attack cruisers, warbirds, or imperial star-destroyers among the Starfleet classifications.

    Cruisers: the largest ships
    Frigates: midsize ships
    Corvettes: smaller ships

    Scouts: small recon vessels
    Escorts: as close to warships as Starfleet gets
    (I think it's also important to remember that a lot of fighting is done by automated weapons platforms and drones. I don't see this any different as "the ship will clean itself." Changes are coming to the real world, and I think our art should reflect that.)

    I kinda like the idea of a Clipper or Cutter or Schooner for a really fast ship, just to add some more nauticalia in there. Though I don't take any of this too seriously...a lot of these terms were created to classify ships with certain numbers of masts and jibs.

    Tugs, Tenders, Tankers, Transports, Freighters, Factory Ships, Science Vessels, Colony Ships...there are a lot of others to consider too, beyond fighting ships.

    And we should remember that Bird-of-Prey, Warbird, Marauder, Battlecruiser, Attack Cruiser, Cube, Tactical Cube, etc are all also classifications of ship, not individual classes themselves. I wonder if there are any Orion galleons out there...

    Could there be an analog to a submarine for Trek ships? A subspaceine?

    If you're interested in classifications, I highly recommend Jackill's Ships of the Fleet books. They have a lot of unusual ones.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2018
  4. Mysterion

    Mysterion Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The classification scheme presented in the Ships of The Starfleet books and the Federation Reference Series work best for me. Detailed enough to manage a large and diversely-purposed fleet, but avoiding some of the nonsensical BS I've seen in some other fandom works like Jackill's
     
  5. Arpy

    Arpy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    How so?

    -

    Also something to remember is that ships may be reclassified during their lifespan. An Excelsior Class may be a heavy cruiser when it’s first built but considered a regular *cruiser by the time of the Dominion War, or be used to haul cargo as the U.S.S. Hood mostly did.

    In “Yesrerday’s Enterprise,” the E-D was referred to as a battle cruiser. Is this because its insides were different, regardless that the same model was being used, or do the Klingons refer to it using their own classification scheme?

    *cruiser can be synonymous with starcruiser, like ship can be synonymous with starship. I wonder if battlecruiser can be synonymous with battle starcruiser or battlestar lol
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2018
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  6. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

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    One bit of nonsense can be found on Memory Beta. Look at the information about the Saber-class ship. They list it as having three configurations: Light Cruiser, Destroyer, and Frigate. How can one ship fall into three different size categories?
     
  7. Arpy

    Arpy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Beta is a Treklit wiki, right? Are they merely noting what was presented in different Trek books? Or do they do creative work themselves?
     
  8. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commander Red Shirt

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    Certain authors / story lines are in different novel universes? Parallel worlds / Multiverse?
     
  9. Unwrapped

    Unwrapped Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    I've been under the impression that Memory Beta mainly collects off screen sources, but I'm not sure how they try to reconcile aspects of some of them. I was looking at a fan produced blueprint set the other night for the Steamrunner, which classifies it as a fast frigate, but other sources like Tigger's SotSF series class it as a heavy destroyer. FASA assumed that the Reliant was a cruiser like the Enterprise, while other sources have more consistently treated it as a frigate.

    With regards to the Saber, the frigate description may come from the Starfleet Command 3 game. Frigates are considered the smallest and weakest playable class for game purposes, while the Defiant is considered a light cruiser and the Nebula is a battlecruiser because of its modularity. All of the frigate names on MB are apparently ones that can be generated by SFC's engine, while the destroyer names are ships from Armada II. So it sounds as though they're mentioning how the class has been used in different media but not inferring that each use is a separate design, just a different role in-source.
     
  10. Mysterion

    Mysterion Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, let's just pick one general type of ships: Frigates. In SotSF we get three classifications: Frigate (FR), Heavy Frigate (FH), and Fast Frigate (FF). Sensible, manageable, and yet broad enough to encompass a number of possible designs.

    Now let's turn to Jackill: We get Frigates, Heavy Frigates, Medical Frigates (shouldn't this just be a Hospital Ship?), Assault Frigates, Attack Frigates, Strategic Frigates, and Tactical Frigates!. Setting aside the insane level of micromanagement that this implies, WTF is the difference between a Tactical Frigate vs. a Strategic Frigate!? (And then there is the book Starfleet Prototype which has most of the above and adds the idiotic "Dreadnought Frigate" - apparently designated such because it has three nacelles*. And this is just frigates. Jackill also hands us at least six different types of Destroyer and a myriad of cruiser designations.

    *=because ANYTHING with three nacelles is a dreadnought, I guess.
     
  11. Unwrapped

    Unwrapped Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    That's why I tend to ignore a lot of those "extra" variations for my own head canon. I prefer the term "strike cruiser" and "strike frigate" for vessels with a "tactical/strategic" role, and that folds in designs like Jackill's Comanche with others. I likewise have come to fold "attack cruiser" in with "battlecruiser" for ease of use. I do have a copy of Starfleet Dynamics which has a three-nacelled fast frigate, but no "dreadnought frigate."
     
  12. Arpy

    Arpy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I kinda like how descriptive Jackill's are. All the ships are variants and contemporaries of one-another. They're different for a reason, so if they'd like to specify what that is for us... What's the difference between a tactical and strategic frigate? It says it in the book, and I don't remember. What do the ships themselves look like? Maybe the tactical one is more of a fighter and the strategic one is more if an overseer, with anti-jamming communications abilities and holographic displays of the battlefield?

    We're talking about a highly sophisticated far-future Federation that has diverse needs spread across many thousands of ships and lightyears of space. It's probably very easy for them to build or refit or send specific ships to different jobs. And, like mentioned, I kinda like how the diverse classifications might help umbrella the many diverse fan and canon designs into different categories, even if they're too plentiful to recall right now. After all, a "tactical star-frigate" is still a frigate. (And really, I don't take any of these too seriously, as they're bound to change with the next line of dialogue.)

    I like Jackill's use of "dreadnaught" to identify the heaviest versions of a type of ship. I understand why the extra-nacelled frigate, with the larger star drive section, and the larger shuttlebay, and whatever else would be described as the dreadnaught of its Reliant-looking configuration.

    In Trek, the ships get larger but the configurations stay the same. The Galaxy Class is the same shape as the Constitution Class. You can call them each heavy-cruisers of their eras (which I prefer), or you can call the Connie a "Starship" (as it was in TOS) and the Galaxy an "Explorer" (as it was in the TNG Tech Manual)....and the Excelsior a "Battleship" (as its classified in some places), and the Enterprise-H a "Galactic Cruiser" and the Enterprise-I a "Supergalactic Starcruiser," etc etc, 'til your nose is bleeding, meanwhile they're all the same configuration, only bigger. Plus, the Connie is no longer called a "Starship" because the word is now synonymous with ship or space ship, and the Connie did do "Exploring," so sorry, Galaxy.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2018
  13. Lord Other

    Lord Other Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    I tend to stick with the Federation Reference Series (FRS) / Ships of the Star Fleet (SOTSF) system for most uses in a peacetime Federation setting, save for the nomenclature "Destroyers" which I don't think is in keeping with the quasi-military/peace-keeping philosophy exemplified by Starfleet in TOS & TNG. I tend to think of those vessels as either Escorts (which is what a destroyer typically functions as), Patrol Combatants (vessels well inside Federation space serving interdiction surveillance roles, with limited range and maneuverability), or tasked as Scouts (like the USS Revere from TMP, which in turn is from the Tech Manual (one of the Saladin class Destroyer / Hermes class Scout designs). Keeping in mind that Naval ship classification nomenclature is flexible and is more of a functional descriptor, rather than an absolute designation, a vessel may start off as a Explorer (as is the case with the TNG Enterprise-D), be refitted as a Heavy Cruiser for a part of its career (as I imagine many Galaxy class ships were during the Dominion War), and then end up in a Dreadnought configuration (like the TNG future Enterprise-D from "All Good Things"). That's my two cents. :biggrin:
     
  14. psCargile

    psCargile Captain Captain

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    The problem I see with ship classifications is that many ships are multifunction and multirole and military designations don't say a lot about a ship other than its military role, which is in most cases secondary to primary roles of exploration. In exploratory function what is meant by heavy cruiser, or frigate? Is a general purpose explorer the same as a heavy cruiser, or can a frigate be a general purpose explorer too? If the Galaxy and Constitution classes are a heavy cruiser general purpose explorers, is the Intrepid class a general purpose exploratory frigate? Or a dedicated science vessel frigate? Dedicated science vessel cruiser? What information should the classification present so that you have an idea about the ship's purpose and capability?
     
  15. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commander Red Shirt

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    The problem with Exploration Designations is that most of StarFleet are different variations of "Multi-Function All Purpose Explorers"

    Size determines how many different type of scientific missions can get done and at what rate, thats it.

    It also determines the capacity of your Engineering, Hospital, Diplomacy, and Surveillance capabilities.
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Easily enough - the very same thing happens in the real world, too, chiefly because there is no such things as a "size category" any more. That is, the western navies stopped believing in those soon after WWII, instead designating their ships after their missions. Take a NATO warship, any warship (other than flattop), and you can freely call it Destroyer, Frigate, Corvette or Cruiser, depending on whom you ask and what this generic ship of a couple of thousand tons is supposed to do. A delightful example of the confusion is the tiny D'Estienne d'Orves, whom the French called either Corvette or Aviso, but gave a F-for-Frigate pennant code anyway.

    I'm rather fond of the idea that the typical starship is but a shell. What gets embarked for a specific mission dictates the ship type: under the command of Pike in "The Cage", the starship was a humble Sloop, with just 200 crew and logistics modules for supply runs. But under Kirk in TOS, the starship was a Cruiser, with 400 crew to operate a broad set of research and combat modules...

    Bigger ships don't represent bigger mission classes. They just have potential to become a broader variety of mission classes.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commander Red Shirt

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    For me, the Military Designation is separate from it's Civilian one.
     
  18. Norsehound

    Norsehound Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I follow SFB/Starfleet Command also, mostly because I was the most impressed by how it filled out starfleet. Those military categorizations also effectively described the capabilities of the ship in scientific and patrol duties- ie Cruisers are the most balanced of the fleet. Dreadnoughts and Battlecruisers have more weaponry, but also more amenities due to their bulk and size. Klingons refer to the Enterprise-D as a Battleship, the refit as a Battlecruiser, et all.

    I also think ships get re-designated as they get older. Excelsior started life as a Dreadnought on the boards, got downgraded to a battlecruiser when she had sister ships, and by the 24th century she's just a heavy cruiser.

    Same thing with Mirandas. They begin as New Heavy Cruiser replacements for the aging Constitution/Enterprise class, get overproduced and end up in the 24th century as mere frigates. As (cold) wartime classes oddly they end up being more viable and long-lived than the 24th century replacements which were either too optimistic in their capabilities or too watered down for peacetime roles to be as long-lived.