The Tech Side #7: Imperial Starships – A Basic Anatomy Lesson

In this series of articles – The Tech Side – I continue expanding on various bits of assorted tech, what gave me the ideas for them, and a little about what I did with them in various stories.

This time, I’ll be taking a closer look at the Terran Empire’s starships!

As sci-fi fans, we all love the starships our favorite characters cruise the cosmos in, don’t we? Yes, I was sure you’d agree!

Starships! The Terran Empire’s Space Fleet has a lot of them – and in order to manage and protect such an enormous amount of territory, that’s quite understandable!

While there are a lot of these ships, we only encounter relatively few of them in the stories themselves.  The Galaxii series for example, revolves mainly around the adventures of two sets of characters on two different ships; the I.S.S. Antares and the I.S.S. Mordrake. Both ships are of the same class – being cruisers of the Benatar class. In Panic! Horror In Space, the antics of the I.S.S. Mercury both enthrall and entertain! What does the prefix “I.S.S.” stand for? Why, “Imperial Star Ship” of course!

Class Is In Session!

There are different types of ship in service in the Space Fleet, ranging from small shuttles, fighters, scout craft and the like, all the way up to cruisers, battlecruisers and battleships. The below serves to give a brief outline of these types, from smallest to largest:


Battlespringers like the I.S.S. Mercury (from Panic! Horror In Space) are the smallest class of independent, autonomous Space Fleet vessels equipped for deep space interstellar travel. The Main Fleet doesn’t have many of these types, and they are used far more by the Pioneer Fleet on account of their smaller size and crew requirements than destroyers, while carrying roughly the same armament and holding the same speed capability and response time. Their crew capacity tends to vary between 150 and 200 (although older models were equipped to carry less) and usually includes a platoon of Security Marines (20).


Next up in size, is the destroyer. Destroyers are usually the smallest autonomous deep space vessels used by the Main Fleet, and typically carry one standard shuttle. Destroyers – especially attack destroyers, are adaptable and flexible, fast, and well-armed for their size. Destroyers are used for a wide variety of more outwardly military roles and purposes (mine laying, maintenance & collection, bombardment, orbital support etc.). Their crew capacity tends to vary between 150 and 250, and generally includes a platoon of Security Marines (20) for handling onboard security and away missions. 


Cruisers like the Antares and Mordrake carry typically two standard shuttles, and are typically the biggest regular Main Fleet ships seen around the Empire. Adaptable and flexible, they are large, fast, roomy and well-armed. Cruisers tend to be used for a wide variety of roles and purposes. Their crew capacity tends to vary between 200 and 300, and usually includes a platoon of Security Marines (20).


Battlecruisers carry one squadron of fighters, at least two shuttles, one trooplander and fewer support vehicles than does a battleship. Battlecruisers carry the same standard Fleet weapons as do all the smaller ships – slam-torpedoes, ion lasers, blasters, etc. – but just a lot more of them. Battlecruisers, Battleships and Dreadnoughts tend to not be seen much, except when a full scale war breaks out. They tend to be kept at secret locations, or on lengthy patrols of the Terran Empire. Crew capacity varies between 300 and 500, including two platoons of Security Marines (40).


Battleships of the Terran Space Fleet carry at least two squadrons of fighters, several shuttles, trooplanders, and other support vehicles. Battleships come with a massively potent and destructive energy weapon called a ‘plasma canon’, which is of a smaller scale and effect as the main weapon of a Dreadnought, as well as numerous other standard Fleet weapons such as slam-torpedoes, blasters and other energy weapons. Crew capacity varies between 500 and 700, including two platoons of Security Marines (40) and room to carry and house 1 company (100) Star Marines when needed.

Dreadnoughts (and Super-Dreadnoughts)

Dreadnoughts are the largest class of independent, autonomous Space Fleet vessels equipped for deep space interstellar travel. Dreadnoughts also carry several squadrons of fighters, shuttles, trooplanders, and other support vehicles, in greater scale than do Battleships, perhaps by fifty percent or more. Dreadnoughts are also typically armed with a massively potent and destructive energy weapon called a ‘plasma canon’, which is at least twice as potent as the similar main weapon carried by a battleship. Like the aircraft carriers of the mid-twentieth century, which were the keystone of military domination of the planet Earth, Dreadnoughts have become the main ace-in-the-hole battle-piece of the Terran Space Fleet. Very large (and also very expensive to make and staff), Dreadnoughts are therefore also few and far-between. The Terran Space Fleet only has about three in service, each of which forms a Main Fleet Battlegroup (M.F.B.) with its escort of Battleships, Battlecruisers, Cruisers, Destroyers and Battlespringers. Crew capacity varies between 700 and 1000, including three platoons of Security Marines (60) and room to carry and house 1 battalion (1000) Star Marines when needed.

Classes of Ship

Different types of ships are built at different times, according to different designs to meet various needs, and so these are referred to as ‘classes’. All ships built according to that specific design belong to that class of ship.

For example, the I.S.S. Mordrake is a Benatar class cruiser, as is the I.S.S. Antares – and as many other individual ships which are built according to that particular design. These ships are both light cruisers (type) of the Benatar class (class). Although at first glance there are obvious differences between both ships, they are still built according to the same design, which has been refined slightly during the run of production. To extend this example, the I.S.S. Munray is also a light cruiser, but of the Stingray class – a different class to the other two examples, and thus built to a different design with different specifications – although broadly similar.

Since most of the action plays out on Benatar class cruisers in Galaxii and battlespringers in Panic!, let’s look more closely at those ships.

The diagram of a typical Benatar class side-view below is labeled for your ease of reference:

The diagram of a typical battlespringer side-view below is labeled for your ease of reference:

Further reading:

To sum up

For more information about the sort of ships and tech – or the Space Fleet – featured in Galaxii , feel free to download the free guide shown below (click on the cover!)

In Closing

That about covers it! I hope I’ve explained everything in a way that’s easily understood! I really enjoyed translating my original hand-drawn sketches into digital blueprint diagrams for this article, and I think they look pretty neat that way!

Feel free to email or message me via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn if you have any comments or questions!

Until next time,

Cheers! 🙂


If you’re reading this long after it was posted, click “The Tech Side” to see a list of all the articles posted in this series!

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