Capital ships are a class of starship larger than fighters, shuttles and simple freighters. Like other types of ship they are further classified by size and role.
The smallest ship class is the corvette. These ships are generally used for patrol and escort duties; they are large enough to carry a crew of over ten plus passengers and/or cargo. They are the smallest class of ship to carry capital-grade weaponry; these armaments are able to inflict significantly more damage than their fighter-scale analogues. Corvettes are generally the most nimble type of capital ship, able to navigate asteroid belts and other hazards when larger ships might struggle.
Frigates are the larger, better armed cousin of the corvette. Ships of this class are typically military in design and alignment. Their role is usually similar to that of the corvette: escort, patrol and protection. They are the smallest class of ship to be equipped with external fighter racks. This ability only adds to their usefulness. Frigates are the most common size of human warship seen in the Rimward Territories; they are large enough to deter opponents but not so large that they require a large supply train to maintain.
Examples include: the Royal Navy Pennyroyal
Destroyers are the smallest class of out-and-out warship. They are well armed, fast moving and can be applied to a variety of tasks. In large naval engagements they are most likely to be found harassing enemy cruisers and protecting valuable assets. In the Rimward Territories the ship is more likely operate alone or as the flagship of a local force. Destroyers are usually the reserve of organised military forces, though mercenary groups and megacorporations of sufficient size can afford to deploy and maintain a small number of them.
Cruisers are larger, sturdier and more dangerous than destroyers. Able to field a variety of weapons, they are traditionally well shielded, armoured and able. More at home in the well supplied environment of the human Core, Cruisers require supplies and support to operate independently for lengthy periods. Sol military forces operate a handful out of their more developed territory in the Rim, e.g. Highpoint and the Chromedent Nebula. Similarly, other militaries operate small numbers on the edges of their respective empires.
Examples include: the European Union Bulk Cruiser.
Battleships are the sturdy, slow and sizeable ships of the capital-class. Their sheer firepower and ability to take damage is unparalleled. Some naval commanders consider the ships unwieldy relics from the First Age; slow and outdated ideas of a bygone era. They are most frequently utilised to blockade planets and jump points, using their size and destructive ability to their advantage. They often carry ground forces as well as their regular crew, meaning they can land troops without the aid of unarmed troop transports. Like Cruisers, Battleships need significant logistical support in order to function, making their range limited by definition.
Carriers are capital ships designed for the sole purpose of deploying fightercraft. The crew and equipment involved in the storage, use and maintenance of even a small number of fighters means these ships are Cruiser-scale at the very least. Carriers are not traditionally well armed; they expect their fighter escort to do the fighting for them. This makes the ships a prime target in engagements, meaning they rarely travel without the escort of other capital ships. They are more likely to be seen in the Rimward Territories ferrying non-FTL fightercraft to new military bases, though their sheer hunger for supplies means they rarely travel anywhere with subtlety.
Examples include: The USEF Taft-class Strike Carrier.