This article is about the different types of spacecraft which appear in the Honorverse, a series of military science-fiction novels written by American author David Weber, which feature Honor Harrington as its main character.


The series is set in the 41st Century, when humanity has left Earth to establish thousands of colonies and new worlds in the stars in a process known as the "Diaspora of Man", and tells the story of the conflict between the Star Kingdom of Manticore and the People's Republic of Haven, two "star nations" formed from worlds colonized by humans which, after decades of cold war, have finally engaged into a massive interstellar war. The novels deal mostly with the "naval" (spaceborne) aspects of the war, later branching into espionage, politics and clandestine facets not only from the main conflict but also from the rest of the fictional universe depicted.

While the ship classifications are typical of recent periods of naval warfare (such as cruisers and destroyers), the modes of combat are reminiscent of the Age of Sail-tactics, due to limitations on faster than light travel near stars, and the existence of hyperspace Junctions, which serve as traffic choke points for interstellar travel and shipping. The result is tactics and strategy somewhat similar to that of pre-nuclear powered navies in Old Earth history. Because the main propulsion for starships is the impeller drive, which produces two bands of gravitic stress (above and below the ship's hull), ship's weapons are mounted on the sides of ship hulls, re-introducing the 'broadside' of years long past. Without gravitic stress protection for the bow and stern, ships mount heavy point-defense there. As well, a ship's chase weapons and stern attack weapons are mounted there. as well as the highest sensitity sensors since they 'see' better without gravitc stress band interference.

The most common fleet battle formation is the "wall of battle" in which the vulnerable bow and stern of the shps present are perpindicular to the enemy's weapons. Witht the addition of off-axis missile launchers and better control of attack missiles in avoiding point defense weapons, the wall of battle has become less important as a battle formation. Since ships in wall of battle formation rely on their armor and sidewalls to protect the largest vulnerable aspects, the largest types of warships (ie, superdreadnoughts, dreadnoughts, and to a lesser extent battleships) are best suited to that formation and are known as "ships of the wall" or "wallers".

General configuration[]

The hull form of starships in the Honorverse is dictated by their propulsion systems. Consequently, most hyper-capable ships resemble flattened spindles, with their smallest dimensions at the extremes near the bow and stern, where the fore and aft impeller rings are located; they contain the impeller nodes used to generate the propulsion wedge. The main visual difference between military and civilian ships is that military ships have flared-out bow and stern ends known as "hammerheads", in which are mounted chase weapons, much of the point-defense weaponry, and the most sensitive and capable sensor arrays. Civilian ships lack hammerheads, and their bow and stern are not flared in the military manner.

The size of warships in the Honorverse was retconned in recent years by David Weber, as the sizes originally mentioned, coupled with the masses provided resulted in ships impossibly light for their official size.

Ship Type (Original Length/Retconned Length)

  • Superdreadnought (4,000 meters/1,500 meters)
  • Dreadnought (3,000 meters/1,400 meters)
  • Battleship (2,000 meters/1,200 meters)
  • Battlecruiser (1,500 meters/710 meters)
  • Heavy Cruiser (1,200 meters/500 meters)
  • Light Cruiser (900 meters/380 meters)
  • Destroyer (600 meters/340 meters)


  • Main article: Impeller drive

The main normal-space propulsion system in the Honorverse is a reactionless drive known as the "impeller drive". This system consists of a number of generators or "impeller nodes" arranged in a circular pattern or "ring" near the bow and stern of a ship. The impeller nodes generate two planes of gravity stress "above" and "below" the ship. The planes are together known as an "impeller wedge" in part because they are at an angle to each other (wider apart at the bow and closer together at the stern), and each is impenetrable by all known weapons. Honorverse ships also use reaction thrusters for maneuvering, though they are most effective in smaller vessels..

For hyperspace travel, the nodes can be reconfigured to generate two circular gravitic fields perpendicular to a ship's hull (the Warshawski sails) which allow the ship to "sail" along gravity waves in hyperspace safely. The size and power requirements of hyperspace capable impeller drive nodes mean that smaller ships are not hyper capable as they cannot generate the Warshawski sails needed for safe hyperspace travel. Formerly, somewhat larger ships without Warshawski sail capability did travel in hyperspace, but their speed was rather lower and they were unable to survive some not uncommon hyperspace conditions (eg, gravity waves). Long before Honor Harrington's time, starships without Warshawski sail capability simply did not attempt to travel in hyperspace, and nearly all smaller ships were not even equipped with hyperspace capable impeller nodes of any kind.

In normal space, impeller drive propulsion is also used, but is limited by a ship's ability to compensate (ie, balance) the accelerations possible. Without compensation, or when a compensator fails, those accelerations are immediately fatal to all passengers and crew. In general, it is easier to compensate for higher accelerations in smaller vessels, and so the maximum acceleration of LACs, pinnaces, and destroyers are much larger than those of dreadnoughts and superdreadnoughts. In fact, so inescapable is this limitation that it is possible to tell from maximum acceleration of a ship how much mass it has, and so, for warships which class of ship it is. Since gravitic fields (eg, impeller wedges) can be observed from great distances in real time, this fact is of critical importance during the opening phases of an engagement.

Weapons and defensive systems[]

Honorverse warships mount several different types of weapons. The usual weapons employed by warships include:

  • Energy weapons, the most important of which are lasers and grasers. Grasers (which are lasers operating at gamma ray wavelengths) have both a longer range and a greater effect on enemy targets, but at the cost of a larger mounting, higher power requirements, and greater size. As a consequence, most navies prefer to mount mixed energy batteries, trading the higher destruction capabilty of grasers for greater numbers of lasers. Newer designs have shown a tendency to rely more heavily on grasers, even in some cases carrying only grasers for their main batteries.
  • Impeller-drive anti-ship missiles: These missiles are propelled by small impeller wedges and are generally fitted with defensive ECM, sidewall penetrators, and (usually) laser warheads. Due to the better efficiency of point-defense weapons at close range, contact nuclear warheads have been replaced by laserhead missiles. These warheads "pump" laser beams in multiple directions from distances up to about 50,000 kilometers. Because a missile cannot be certain of the relative location of the target, laser beams are emitted in many directions in a "porcupine" effect, partly in the hope of hitting more than one ship with a single detonation. New developments in missile technology are the Multi-Drive Missile (MDM), which adds more impeller drives to the missile body to extend the missile's operational range to several million kilometers, off axis missile launchers which remove the need to reorient a ship prior to launch, and greatly increased control of missiles during their flight so as to increase survivability against point defense and ECM. This has reached a practical peak in the Apollo system of the Royal Manticoran Navy, which allows full real time control by shipboard computers of missile attack for their entire flight, greatly increasing survivability.
  • Countermissiles: These are smaller, shorter range (typically around 1,000,000 kilometers) missiles with reduced endurance and no warheads. Their role is to destroy incoming missiles using their impeller wedge, which will explode if run into another impeller wedge, or seriously damage a missile after its powered flight phase.
  • Point-defense laser clusters: These are a ship's "last-ditch" defense against missiles which have survived to reach the inner defense perimeter. Unlike countermissiles, point-defense lasers require direct hits to destroy enemy missiles, but as the enemy missiles are already on their final attack run when they come within range of the point-defenses, their maneuver possibilities are limited lest they move out of attack range.

The primary, though static, defense of a Honorverse warship is its impeller wedge, as both upper and lower stress planes are impenetrable by any known weapon, thus protecting the topsides and bottoms of warships from damage. The sides of a warship are typically protected by gravitic stress fields known as "sidewalls". Unlike the wedge, sidewalls can be penetrated by missiles equipped with penetration aids, but are essentially invulnerable to energy weapons at any range greater than 500,000 kilometers, and useful against energy weapons at closer ranges. Until the later phases of the First Havenite War, the bow and stern aspects of a ship could not be protected by any sidewall, and thus remained defenseless against enemy weapons, save for point defense and countermissile weapons. With the advent of "bow-" and "stern-walls", this weakness has been largely addressed. In addition to the wedges and sidewalls, warships mount conventional battle armors in the exposed parts of the ships.

Other defensive systems include sensors, remotely deployable drones, electronic warfare systems such as jammers, and other electronic countermeasures systems. For detection purposes, ships mount gravitic sensors (for long-range scanning in real time), phased array radar systems (for close-range scanning) and lidar systems ("laser radar' used for precision fire control and targeting).

Class design evolution[]

Each type classification depends on considerations of size, mass, weaponry, fleet roles, manpower requirements, and performance. During Honor Harrington's RMN career, technological advances (most notably the development of a self-contained detachable multiple missile launcher known as a "missile pod" and better control of missiles during flight) have considerably changed the characteristics, capabilities and roles of almost every type of warship, at least in advanced navies. Some navies are not up to date (lack of money, leadership, technological ability, etc) and know it, while others believe themselves to be fully up to date, but are not. Early in her career, dreadnoughts were considered to be only slightly less capable and cheaper capital ships than superdreadnoughts, while later in her career that type has lost importance. The same thing had happened to the battleship class in most navies somewhat earlier. The "light attack craft" or LAC, obsolete and ineffective early in her career, has evolved (first in the RMN) into deadly strike vessels due to revolutionary developments in naval technology and combat doctrine.

The same is true for ships in each category. For example, while a "pod-laying" superdreadnought and an older, "pre-pod" member of fthat class may both be in the same class, the former far outclasses the latter in almost every respect. Also, the latest heavy cruiser designs late in her career are far more powerful and capable than a prior ship of the same type, actually having the firepower and capabilities of a battlecruiser of the earlier period. For smaller classes, such as light cruisers and destroyers, there has also been a steady increase in size, with each design generation being larger than its predecessors, in some cases taking on some of the characteristics of the (formerly) next larger class. Additionally, steady increases in the automation of warships in the leading edge navies (particularly the RMN) has reduced manpower requirements considerably and so making available sufficient manpower to support higher numbers of warships.

Hyperspace-capable warships[]

Superdreadnoughts (SD)[]

Superdreadnoughts are the largest and most powerful ships in the Honorverse. Developed to withstand the massive exchanges of fire typical of "wall of battle" tactics, these ships boast powerful sidewalls (defensive gravitic stress fields) and thick armor. In terms of firepower, superdreadnoughts are armed with dozens of the heaviest class of beam weapons and missile launchers, as well as extensive point-defense weapon arrays. This defensive and offensive capabilities have made superdreadnoughts extremely tough and and powerful. They cannot be defeated in one-on-one engagements by any lesser type of warship, except by the most extreme chance.

Late in Honor Harrington's career, after the missile pod launcher had been reintroduced, a variant of the superdreadnought type was developed. Known as "pod-laying superdreadnoughts", "podnoughts" or simply "SD(P)s", these ships are built around an extensive interanl storage space capable of holding and deploying hundreds of missile pods, thereby vastly increasing the firepower of a single ship at the expense of decreased hull strength. The development of the pod-laying superdreadnoughts have rendered all older superdreadnoughts (or "pre-pods") largely obsolete or, at least, unsuitable for modern naval warfare against more recent types.

The average tonnage of superdreadnoughts ranges from 6,000,000 to 8,500,000 tons. Generally, less massive superdreadnoughts trade protection for increased acceleration and shorter building periods.

Ship classes:

  • Manticore:
    • Conventional classes: Samothrace-, King William-, Manticore-, Sphinx- and Gryphon
    • Pod-laying types: Medusa (formerly Honor Harrington) and Invictus
  • Haven:
    • Conventional class: DuQuesne
    • Pod-layingtypes: Sovereign of Space- and Temeraire
  • Grayson:
    • Conventional classes: Manticore's Gift, Benjamin the Great, and Steadholder Denevski
    • Pod-laying types: Honor Harrington (Note that Grayson never renamed the Harrington Class after her execution was shown to have been a false claim on her return from capture by the People's Republic of Haven, citing religious and logistical difficulties)
  • Anderman:
    • 'Conventional class: Seydlitz
    • Pod-laying class: Adler

Light Attack Craft Carriers (CLAC)[]

Introduced after the development of the new models of light attack craft, the CLACs are large starships configured to transport, launch/recover, and service/support LAC wings (numbering between 100 and 200 LACs). CLACs were developed along the lines of wet navy aircraft carriers and for similar reasons. The carriers trade conventional weapons (as heavy beam weapons and offensive missile launchers) to carry and deploy LACs. They are therefore, incapable of serious offensive efforts on their own.

Carriers are usually of dreadnought (in the RMN) or superdreadnought (in the RHN due to larger LACs) size. Smaller carriers are capable of greater accelerations and are more suitable for raids, while larger carriers are better suited to fleet action and therefore can afford to trade acceleration for larger LAC contingents. At least one class of Manticorian Q-ships also carry small LAC contingents (twelve ships divided into two squadrons in an early configuration).

CLACs are often outfitted as fleet command ships in part because once they have launched their LACs they tend to be low priority targets for the enemy even if they remain with other Fleet elements. It is also common for CLACs to launch their LACs and then hyper out to a previously arranged rendezvous.

Ship classes:

  • Manticore: Minotaur- and Chimera
  • Haven: Astra and Aviary
  • Grayson: Covington
  • Anderman: at least a single class ha been deployed, but the class name has not been mentioned.

Light Attack Craft (LAC). This is a small non-hyperspace capable, warship class in the Honorverse.

Old-style LACs were used for star system defense. They often mass around 10,000 tons. Advanced LACs were developed at the suggestion of Admiral Sonja Hemphill, and are much more capable. The size of advanced LACs vary. According to the glossary in War of Honor, modern LACs usually mass between 40,000 and 60,000 tons. There have also been references to "at least 30,000 tons." In Echoes of Honor, Captain Alice Truman informs the crew of H.M.S. Minotaur that Shrikes are about 20,000 tons.

The Star Kingdom of Manticore's first advanced LAC class was the Shrike. It was armed with a 150-cm graser (more commonly mounted on battlecruisers), four missile tubes with five missiles available for each, four countermissile launchers with fifty-two countermissiles total, and six point defense laser clusters, all forward facing. They were also equipped with sidewalls, a newly invented bow wall, and a life boat. The next model was the Shrike-A. Improvements over the original Shrike are unknown. The next in the Shrike series was the Shrike-B, which traded the lifeboat and its hangar for four countermissile launchers and six point defense laser clusters. The countermissile magazine was increased to one hundred, evenly divided fore and aft.

The Ferret-class LACs were designed to support the Shrikes in a strike escort role. They traded the Shrike's graser for more missiles, better electronic warfare, and a stern wall. Their total magazine capacity was fifty-six shipkillers and one hundred fifty countermissiles.

The Grayson-developed Katana LAC was designed as a "space superiority" LAC to combat enemy LACs. It's energy armament is equivalent to the point defense laser clusters mounted on ships of the wall. While these are too small for attacking proper starships, they are well suited against LAC class vessels. Its missiles are a similarly sized to counter-missiles which means that they has a small warhead but are significantly faster than a standard LAC suitable missile. In addition to its space superiority role, the Katana is frequently used in a missile defense role -- particularly for medium combatants such as battle cruisers.

Manticore's first LAC carrier, or CLAC, was HMS Minotaur. It carried one hundred Shrike-class LACs. All its weapons were mounted fore and aft, with the LAC bays port and starboard. Later LAC carriers had even fewer beam weapons and carried more LACs. The LACs aboard a carrier are organized in a wing, commanded by a COLAC (Commanding Officer, Light Attack Craft). Twelve LACs form a squadron, the next lower organizational unit. Usually, a wing has have two squadrons of Ferrets and the rest are Shrikes, ideally the most recent variant. All Manticoran CLACs are dreadnought-sized.

The Republic of Haven uses superdreadnought-sized CLACs for its first generation Cimeterres-class LACs.

Dreadnoughts (DN)[]

Dreadnoughts are "ships of the wall" which lie midway between the smaller battleships and the larger superdreadnoughts. While generally more capable and resistant than battleships, they can't take as much punishment or inflict so much damage as a superdreadnought can. Despite this, they have usually been used by navies at the side of superdreadnoughts, as their firepower and defenses allow them to withstand the combat of the wall of battle.

Another benefit of dreadnoughts is that they are cheaper and less complex than their larger cousins, meaning that more dreadnoughts than superdreadnoughts can be built for the same amount of money and resources. As a result, smaller navies have preferred to build dreadnoughts, as they lie more within their range of possibilities. Other navies, such as the Royal Manticoran Navy, have built large numbers of dreadnoughts to give them strategic flexibility to face larger navies such as the People's Navy.

During the First Havenite War, the dreadnought type became substantially less capable than newer superdreadnought designs, and the class was largely headed for obsolescence. Modern navies have ceased to build dreadnoughts and some have actually began to withdraw the type from active service.

Ship classes:

  • Manticore classes: Majestic and Bellerophon
  • Haven classes: New Boston and Rousseau
  • Grayson: None
  • Anderman: names not yet mentioned

Battleships (BB)[]

At one time, battleships were the heaviest capital ship type, but with the advent of the dreadnought and the even larger superdreadnoughts, they lost thier role. Lacking the firepower and defenses to fight and survive in the wall of battle, and too large to fill the cruiser or battlecruiser role, they are no longer in production or service in most navies. Most of those who do are third-rate fleets unable to obtain or support real ships of the wall.

Some multi-system star nations whose navies which must police and defend a large number of star systems have continued to build and operate the type to serve in rear-area system defense forces, as they are cheap enough to be built in large numbers and powerful enough to fight and defeat enemy raiding forces composed of lesser types such as battlecruisers. An example is the Havenite Navy. Battleships have proved to be incapable of fighting larger warships and suffered extensive losses when used in offensive missions in which they encountered them. Battleships have been deployed against Dreadnoughts and Superdreadnoughts, and can defeat such forces when outnumbering them substantially (eg, in the First Battle of Seabring and of Zanzibar). The Havenite Navy phased out their battleships after the end of the Committee of Public Safety regime, during the High Ridge/Saint-Just ceasefire after the First Havenite War. Average tonnage for battleships is between 2,000,000 to 4,000,000 tons.

Ship classes:

  • Manticore: None
  • Havenite class: Triumphant
  • Grayson: None
  • Anderman: Unknown

Battlecruisers (BC)[]

The smallest and lightest type considered to be a "capital ship", battlecruisers are not meant to fight in the wall of battle. Instead, their primary roles (at least in the Royal Manticoran Navy) are both commerce protection and commerce raiding; their offensive power allows battlecruisers to destroy any ship fast enough to catch them, while their acceleration allows them to outrun any ship capable of destroying them. Due to their mix of firepower and performance, battlecruisers have often been used as raiding forces against enemy systems, but their light construction prevented the type from withstanding the punishment any ship of the wall could inflict.

The advent of the multi-drive missile (similar in some respects to the early multiple stage launch rockets used at the dawn of the space age) and the reintroduction of missile pods threatened to make battlecruisers obsolete as an effective warship type. They were both incapable of staying outside the range of much larger numbers of enemy missiles, and incapable of providing large magazine spaces and producing missile salvos dense enough to be effective in the new, missile-intensive environment.

Despite this, advances in military technology led to larger battlecruisers, with some new class designs even being built as pod-laying ships (at greater cost in structural integrity than was the case with superdreadnoughts). Another approach is to build larger, battleship-sized battlecruisers. The latest generation of Manticoran battlecruiser, the Nike class, fall into this category though its balance of speed to armament and protection is still suitable to the offensive raider role; they should not be mistaken for pre-war battleships on the basis of their size. They are, in a sense, battleships recast for the pod-era.

Average tonnage for old-style battlecruisers was from 500,000–1,200,000 tons, while newer ships such as the Manticoran Nike class can reach 2,500,000 tons.

Ship classes:

  • Manticore:
    • Conventional classes: Redoubtable, Homer, and Reliant
    • Pod-laying types: Agamemnon
    • Newest (large) types: Nike
  • Haven:
    • Conventional classes: Lion, Tiger, Sultan and Warlord
    • Pod-laying types: Unknown
  • Grayson:
    • Conventional class: Raoul Courvosier
    • Pod-laying type: Raoul Courvosier-II
  • Anderman:
    • Conventional classes: Mendelssohn and Thor
    • Pod-laying type: Blücher
  • Solarian Navy:
    • Conventional classes: Indefatigable and Nevada
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Heavy Cruisers (CA)[]

Honorverse heavy cruisers serve as naval "jacks-of-all-trades"; they are used for roles such as commerce protection, raiding, defensive screen for capital ships, long-endurance system pickets, long-term independent deployments, and "showing the flag" assignments. Their weaponry, acceleration, and defenses are sufficient to protect them from moderate threats, but they cannot overpower larger ships alone (with notable exceptions), no are they intended to. Heavy cruisers usually are the largest starships available to third- or fourth-rate navies.

Due to their multi-purposed nature, heavy cruisers are very useful for most spacegoing navies, and are built in large numbers in most major navies. They are used in any mission which does not require capital ships. During Honoer Harrington's career, increasingly larger and more powerful heavy cruisers have been built by the leading navies, creeping into the weaponry and performance range of previous battlecruisers. The type's average tonnage is from 240,000–350,000 tons although the Mars (RHN) and Saganami-C (RMN) classes mass approximately 480,000 tons.

Ship classes:

  • Manticore classes: Prince Consort, Crusader, Broadsword, Star Knight, Edward Saganami, Edward Saganami-B, and Edward Saganami-C
  • Haven classes: Sword, Scimitar, Mars and Mars-B
  • Grayson classes: Jason Alvarez
  • Anderman classes: Verfechter, Emden
  • Solarian Navy classes: Gladiator

Light Cruisers (CL)[]

Light cruisers serve as the primary scouting units in most navies, also fulfilling roles of commerce protection, convoy escort and support for raiding operations. The type also has a niche as flagships for destroyer flotillas, usually leading groups of 20-30 destroyers. While they were never meant to fight in the wall of battle, light cruisers have also been used to provide defensive screens for larger capital ships. They are among the largest ships available to small navies whose primary role is that of system defense, such as the pre-Alliance Grayson Navy.

Light cruisers are also posted to remote stations or in system picket forces. Due to their speed,, weaponry, and defenses, they are sometimes used to ferry VIPs from one system to another, or deliver dispatches when courier ships are not available (usually to systems to which the cruisers have already been tasked to proceed in many cases). As has been the case with heavy cruisers, newer light cruiser designs have tonnages and firepower approaching that of prior heavy cruiser classes. Their tonnage usually ranges between 90,000 and 200,000 tons.

Ship classes:

  • Manticore classes: Courageous, Apollo, and Avalon
  • Haven classes: Brilliance, Conqueror, and Frigate
  • Grayson classes: Austin Grayson, and Nathan
  • Anderman classes: Nachtschatten
  • Solarian navy classes: War Harvest

Destroyers (DD)[]

Destroyers are the smallest hyper-capable warship currently being built by most navies in the Honorverse, and are usually the only hyper-capable type available for the smallest nations. The type has never been intended to fight in pitched fleet engagements, as they are simply not capable of surviving the firepower of capital ships. Instead, the primary roles for destroyers are anti-piracy operations, convoy protection duties, raiding operations, and surveillance (eg, of enemy systems, perhaps prior to a raid). They are designed to stand up to other destroyers and perhaps light cruisers in combat, forcing commerce raiders to consider using heavy cruisers. Destroyers are also usually employed for system picketing assignments and for remote naval stations. The average tonnage for destroyers is from 65,000 to 80,000 tons.

Ship classes:

  • Manticore classes: Hawkwing, Falcon, Chanson, Culverin, Arrowhead, and Roland (the last being a theoretical design)
  • Haven classes: City, Bastogne, Desforge, and Trojan
  • Grayson classes: Ararat
  • Anderman classes: Dolch

Frigates (FF)[]

By Honor Harrington's time, no major navies continue to build or operate frigates, as they are simply too light to be effective against any other warships. Those navies that continue to use them do so in patrol and anti-piracy missions. On the other hands, frigates are usually used as commerce raiders by pirates, terrorist groups, and "privateers" who cannot procure or support larger warships for themselves.

Torch class: Unknown frigate class (produced in the Star Kingdom of Manticore)


Q-Ships are armed ships disguised as merchant vessels, used for commerce raiding, or anti-piracy operations. Some nations, such as Republic of Haven, have built Q-ships from the ground up, equipping them with military-grade impellers and other technology, while others such as Manticore converted merchantmen into Q-ships, though they don't have the speed or combat performance of true disguised warships.

Ship classes:

  • Manticoran classes: Caravan (Wayfarer subtype)
  • Haven classes: Trumball and Astra
  • Grayson: None
  • Anderman: Unknown

Hyperspace-capable merchant, utility and transport ships[]

Freighters and transport ships[]

Merchant vessels are large civilian hyper-capable freighters and transport ships built to transport goods and other cargo throughout interstellar distances. Because of peculiarities in the nature of hyperspace capable impeller drives, the most economic merchant vessel size is large; small vessels are too inefficient to keep in service. Crew, fuel, and maintenance are not much different than for smaller ships. So that operating a 4 million-ton freighter costs essentially the same as operating an 8 million-ton one. Most Honorverse merchantmen have masses which range in the vicinity of 8,000,000 tons, meaning these civilian freighters are usually larger than even superdreadnoughts. Smaller, and so faster freighters in the 4-to-5-million ton range are more flexible and destinations that can be served, and gained popularity in the Manticoran Alliance for military supply purposes during the First Havenite War.

Merchant vessels are usually not armed and have little in the way of defenses. Their propulsion equipment is not equivalent to military drive nodes and so they are not as well protected by their wedge as are warships. In addition, merchant ships don't have sidewalls, and are not armored. All this, coupled with the valuable cargo they carry, makes them the ideal prey for pirates and "privateer" ships, any of which will be more than a match for the usual merchant ship. As a result, some civilian operators have resorted to arming their ships, but this gives them only limited defensive capabilities and can be legally problematic in some jurisdictions. Armed merchant vessels are referred to as Merchant Cruisers (not to be confused with Q-Ships, which are primarily warships disguised as Merchant vessels, but are also sometimes referred to as Merchant Cruisers), and occasionally actively assist in anti-piracy operations in addition to their usual shipping role. An example is the small fleet of merchant ships owned and commanded by RMN Admiral Bachfisch in the pre-annexation Silesian cluster.

Passenger vessels[]

Unlike freighters, passenger vessels are usually much smaller (some of them the size of battlecruisers), have little in the way of cargo capability and are operated by larger crews and have much better accommodations. This results in passenger liners being much faster than freighters, while carrying thousands of passengers. Some passenger liners, especially those built for the Silesian run, even have military-grade impellers, compensators and even light missile batteries, which give them faster performances and the ability to look after themselves, but at the price of higher operating costs.

Classes: Pegasus-class

Royal Yachts/VIP Transports[]

These ships are configured to carry heads of state and large official delegations in interstellar travel. As befitting ships intended to carry VIPs, they are fast and equipped with the best electronics available. When carrying heads of state, they are usually heavily-escorted by military ships.

Ship classes:

  • Manticore: HMS Queen Adrianne and HMS Duke of Cromarty
  • Haven: RHNS Haven One
  • Grayson: GNS Grayson One

Courier Ships[]

Courier ships are the smallest viable hyper-capable ships in the Honorverse, essentially being not more than two Warshawski sails connected to a hull large enough to carry a minimal crew and supporting systems. They lack amenities and comforts usually enjoyed by the crews of larger ships, as they must devote as much space as possible for the impeller nodes and power plants required to generate Warshawski sails. As a result of their small size, they are the fastest hyper-capable ships available, and as their name implies, they are used by navies to send dispatches or carry emergency messages to naval stations in other systems. They are also used by governments as diplomatic support vessels and by both mail and news services to transport mail and news between systems.

Non-hyperspace capable ships[]

Light Attack Craft (LAC)[]

Light Attack Craft are small, sublight warships incapable of entering hyperspace. Since they were incapable of mounting the weapons needed to successfully engage larger military vessels, pre-war LACs were primarily employed for customs duties and light patrol operations, with only small system defense navies using them as combat vessels (as they could not afford larger, hyper-capable ships). LAC masses range between 10,000 and 20,000 tons. The type was considered to be obsolete, ineffective and useless by most navies—the Royal Manticoran Navy even ceased to build the type until technological advancements made LACs once again viable as combat vessels.

The development of more powerful impeller nodes and sidewall generators, improved fission piles for energy generation and new anti-ship missiles resulted in the complete reinvention of the LAC, to the point that they are completely different from older-style LACs. Unlike their predecessors, the new LACs do not have light broadside weapons, instead carrying a large bow laser or graser, or a battery of anti-ship missiles for offensive missions. Other models of LAC, beginning with the Grayson-designed Katana, have also been configured for specialized anti-LAC and missile defense roles. The Katanas is a specialized 'fighter' LAC and uses a specialized variant of the countermissile for offensive use against unarmored opponents and other LACs - essentially a miniature, very fast, very light shipkiller, but still capable of the countermissile's original purpose- and point-defense lasers as their primary armament. LACs are not capable of sustaining heavy damage, and one shot by a capital ship-grade weapon is usually enough to destroy a LAC.

As a result, the firepower and capabilities of light attack craft have been exponentially increased, to the point that one squadron of LACs can inflict as much damage as a heavy cruiser, for a fraction of the cost in both manpower and equipment - which also means that the loss of a single LAC squadron is not as damaging and expensive for a navy as losing a heavy cruiser can be. The new LAC models have allowed the Honorverse navies to multiply their offensive capabilities and boost their system defense forces; coupled with specialized hyper-capable tender and carrier ships known as CLACs, hundreds of light attack craft can be used to attack enemy systems and support ships of the wall in battle. In the manner of fighter aircraft (while still being warships), LACs are organized into "squadrons" which form "wings" attached to a carrier or to a system defense facility. The commander of a CLAC's embarked LAC forces (normally a Captain) is referred to as the COLAC, in order to avoid confusion with the Captain of the CLAC.

Ship classes:

  • Manticore: "Highlander-"-,Shrike-, Shrike-B-, Ferret- and Katana-classes, unknown pre-war classes
  • Haven: "Program-13"-,Cimeterre-, Cimeterre-Alpha and Cimeterre-Beta-classes, unknown pre-war and planetary defense classes
  • Grayson: Shrike-, Shrike-B-, Ferret-, and Katana-class
  • Anderman: Unknown, at least one class in service


Pinnaces are general purpose military small craft capable of lifting approximately 100 personnel for transport or even offensive roles. These ships are usually attached as auxiliary small craft to hyper-capable ships, or deployed to system or planetary stations as general purpose support vessels. Unlike cutters, pinnaces are equipped with impellers of their own, thus enabling them to generate wedges capable of high acceleration. They are also capable of atmospheric operations, and have variable-geometry wings for atmospheric flight.

Due to their small size, their primary weapon is a point-defense laser cluster; while not enough to fight even the lightest warship, even a LAC, the laser is more than enough to deal with civilian and merchant vessels as well as ground targets. This makes pinnaces useful for naval support duties and customs roles. Many pinnaces are equipped with a variety of air-to-ground weaponry for supporting Marine engagements planetside.


Shuttles are specialized small craft attached to and employed by starships for personnel and cargo movement from ship to ship or ship to surface. Depending on their primary mission, there are several types of shuttles. Cargo shuttles are configured primarily as freight haulers, with limited personnel capacity, whereas assault shuttles are heavily armed and armored variants typically configured to transporting at least a full company of ground troops in battle gear. In addition to lasers, the armament of assault shuttles usually include air-to-ground missiles which can even be used to deal with small starships such as couriers. These shuttles are employed in offensive landing and troop support duties.


Also small ships employed by starships for personnel movement from ship to ship. Unlike pinnaces and shuttles, cutters are too small to mount impeller nodes, and are limited to conventional reaction drives. This comes at a cost in acceleration and performance, resulting in cutters being used only for passenger ferry or limited orbital operations.


Runabouts are small civilian pleasure ships which are the Honorverse equivalent of today's sailing yachts and sport ships. They cannot enter hyperspace and are thus restricted to in-system operations.


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