- "Sir, several unidentified objects have just entered orbit."
"My blockade will intercept them."
"They've destroyed the blockade. Our ships are just gone."
- ―An Imperial officer and Grand Admiral Thrawn
The Dreadnought-class heavy cruiser, also known as the Dreadnought Support Vessel, the Rendili Dreadnaught, or the Imperial Support Vessel, was a powerful, midsize capital ship that dated back to the reign of the Galactic Republic. Manufactured by Rendili StarDrive, the warship was designed for heavy space combat and planetary occupation, and was armed with a considerable number of turbolasers and heavy laser cannons. Featuring a heavily-armored hull with minimal shielding, the heavy cruiser could carry an entire starfighter squadron in a dedicated hangar.
Once utilized by the Republic Navy, the Dreadnought was still considered as one of the more capable ships of its class and size in use by the time of the Galactic Empire. During the Clone Wars, the Utapaun Security Forces utilized downscaled Dreadnoughts as anti-pirate vessels. Prior to the Battle of Yavin, the anti-Imperial Batonn insurgents employed a contingent of Dreadnought Support Vessels during a failed revolt, while several of the heavy cruisers later served as part of Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn's blockade over the planet Lothal in the year 0 BBY. The blockade lasted until Lothal's liberation from the Empire, when all Imperial ships present were destroyed by a pod of the space-faring purrgil creatures.
The Dreadnought-class heavy cruiser was also used by the Rebel Alliance during the faction's struggle against the Empire. Many former Imperial Support Vessels, which the Empire did not see worth the price of repair and simply left abandoned in orbit above planets, were salvaged and outfitted to serve in the Alliance Fleet. Circa 3–4 ABY, the rebels used a stolen Imperial Support Vessel, 49AX3, to transport their soldiers to undertake a raid at an Imperial refinery in the Outer Rim, securing the installation's fuel supplies for the rebel fleet.
- "Load up the shuttles! We've gotta evac!"
- ―Commander Luke Skywalker, to a rebel trooper
The Rendili StarDrive Dreadnought-class heavy cruiser, otherwise known as the Dreadnought Support Vessel, the Rendili Dreadnaught, or the Imperial Support Vessel, was an oblong, midsize capital ship class. Featuring a gray, heavily-armored hull along with several elliptical or rectangular protrusions amidship, the heavy cruiser could sustain a considerable amount of damage despite being equipped with minimal deflector shields, not to mention the hull redundancies that prevented atmosphere from venting into space during combat. While the exterior of the ship had a clamshell-like or rectangular bow, the interior featured a bridge and viewports at the bow and sides.
The Dreadnought-class featured multiple launch bays and could carry shuttles, along with a squadron of twelve starfighters in a dedicated hangar. It possessed twelve sublight engines in varying shapes and sizes, which rendered the vessel one of the fastest ships of its class at sublight speeds. The craft also held a primary hyperdrive rating of Class 4, with a backup at Class 18. Depending on configuration, the Dreadnought cruiser could carry 9,000 to 16,000 officers, pilots, and enlisted crew, as well as 3,000 troops and 28,000 personnel for encumbrance. The craft carried enough consumables to last one year for the crew and marketed at 7,200,000 credits.
Designed to support multiple weapon configurations, the versatile and powerful Dreadnought carried an impressive number of turbolasers—it possessed five forward and five aft twin medium turbolaser batteries, along with ten port and ten starboard quad light turbolasers. The warship was also equipped with five port and five starboard heavy laser cannons for anti-starfighter defense, a navigation computer, and medium-range sensors, including a dorsal sensor dish located near the stern of the vessel. Additionally, the Dreadnought-class heavy cruisers used by the Batonn insurgents featured red hull markings, a trait shared by other insurgent starships.
Designed for heavy space combat and planetary occupation, the Dreadnought-class heavy cruisers were commonly used to haul cargo and carry out various missions that larger crafts were unable to undertake. The Dreadnought commanders endeavored to move the ponderous vehicle into position to fire broadsides at hostiles to gain superiority in combat. Firing the ship's turbolasers and heavy laser cannons in minion groups of at least three would also increase the chance of hitting smaller and faster enemy starfighters and gunboats. To counter the attack of rival bombers, the cruiser's fighters were deployed while the Dreadnought gave them cover.
The Dreadnought-class was used as a workhorse cruiser by the navies of both the Galactic Empire and its opponent, the Rebel Alliance, for miscellaneous purposes. While the Empire made use of the vessels to protect its worlds and stations, the Dreadnought served as a mobile base of operations for latter faction's battle groups.
Era of the Republic
Once quite common in the galaxy, the Dreadnought-class heavy cruiser was considered old and antiquated at the outbreak of the pan-galactic Clone Wars between the Galactic Republic and the Separatists in 22 BBY. At that time, the Utapaun Security Forces, the planetary defense forces of the planet Utapau, utilized downscaled Dreadnoughts as anti-pirate vessels, the largest of which was one-fifth the size of a Lucrehulk-class Battleship. The Republic Navy deployed at least one Dreadnought, which beared the faction's markings. Sometime later, after the war ended and the Republic transformed into the Empire in 19 BBY, the ship suffered damage and emerged from hyperspace near an abandoned Republic supply depot. Broadcasting a distress call to any Republic forces, the vessel had young clone troopers on board who knew nothing of the existence of a Galactic Empire.
- "Incoming! Ten ships on vector one-ten by 80. Batonn insurgents!"
"Two more groups incoming. Eleven vessels each. Admiral, they're targeting the cruisers."
- ―Imperial sensor officers, reporting to Admiral Thrawn
During the Imperial Era, a group of insurgents led by Nevil Cygni on the planet Batonn used Dreadnought Support Vessels in battle against the Empire a few years before the Battle of Yavin. During the siege of the Creekpath Mining and Refining complex, several of the vessels were part of the insurgent attack squadrons that opposed Admiral Thrawn's naval forces orbiting Batonn.
Although they targeted Thrawn's Arquitens-class light cruisers, the insurgents were defeated by the Imperial forces. The vast majority of the rebel forces were destroyed by Imperial TIE fighters and Thrawn's flagship, the Imperial Star Destroyer Chimaera, due to Thrawn anticipating Cygni's strategy.
Imperial blockade of Lothal
The Imperial Support Vessel was one of the starship classes used by the Imperial Navy. In 0 BBY, shortly before the Battle of Yavin, the Dreadnought-class heavy cruisers served as part of Grand Admiral Thrawn's Seventh Fleet during its blockade over the planet Lothal amid ongoing conflict with local rebel forces.
The blockade ultimately proved unable to contain the rebel presence on Lothal. After the rebel light freighter Ghost sneaked through the blockade by attaching itself to a passing cargo freighter, the Lothal resistance, led by Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger, launched a final attack on the Imperial forces and liberated Lothal from its occupation. During the engagement, the entire blockade, including many Imperial Support Vessels, was destroyed by a pod of purrgil—massive, whale-like creatures that were capable of naturally traveling through hyperspace—as part of Bridger's plan.
Galactic Civil War
In service of both sides
During the Galactic Civil War, the Dreadnought-class heavy cruiser was not used solely by the Empire, but was also in service of its nemesis, the Rebel Alliance. Although the vessel was still regarded as one of the more capable ships of its class and size in use at that time, the Dreadnought had become less and less popular during the war; the stress of combat, accidents, or simply fatigue would cause the ship to deteriorate, while the scarcity the model's parts only increased.
Considering that the craft also required a large crew and was equipped with outdated systems, the Empire did not see the Dreadnoughts as worth the price of repair, and broken vessels were left abandoned in orbit above planets. However, that was not the case for the Alliance. As rebel commanders relied heavily on fighter tactics, and the Dreadnought-class could carry an entire squadron of starfighters in a given hangar, many former Imperial Support Vessels were salvaged, refitted, and absorbed into the rebel fleet.
The large amount of modifications made to the Dreadnought-class by the Rebel Alliance also spawned another series of capital ships known as the Assault Frigate Mark II. Bearing little resemblance to the original Dreadnought, much of the starship's structure was either altered or completely removed, which resulted in a considerable reduction in the number of personnel required to operate the warship and a decrease in the vessel's endurance for damage, in favor of improving the vessel's maneuverability and speed while maintaining its armament.
Dating back to the time of the Republic, the Enigma was an old Dreadnought-class cruiser deployed by the Alliance Fleet. Allegedly a haunted vessel, the ship suffered power fluctuations, while the vessel's new parts inexplicably broke or disappeared, and even some of its crew vanished aboard the craft. Although these events could have been caused by an Imperial saboteur, some crew believed that the ship was actually cursed, claiming that they had seen ghosts wandering the Dreadnought's corridors.
Raid at Imperial Refining Platform M36
- "We just secured a year's worth of fuel for the fleet. If we jump through an asteroid, we wouldn't just blow ourselves—we'd blow up the Rebellion's hopes."
- ―A Pau'an rebel major
Circa 3–4 ABY, a team of Rebel Alliance soldiers led by a Pau'an major undertook a raid at Imperial Refining Platform M36 in the Outer Rim Territories, using the stolen Imperial Support Vessel 49AX3 as a transport. Assisted by the Jedi Commander Luke Skywalker and his T-65B X-wing starfighter, the rebels stole the refinery's fuel supplies for their fleet, but their escape was blocked by an Imperial II-class Star Destroyer after the Pau'an refused to enter hyperspace through the surrounding asteroid field.
Skywalker soon landed his X-wing in the Imperial Support Vessel's hangar after destroying several attacking Imperial TIE fighters. He and the Pau'an then used the latter's private shuttle to draw away the attention of the remaining TIEs. The tactic worked, and the rebels aboard 49AX3 were able to escape, fleeing to a nearby world.
Behind the scenes
Reintroduction into Star Wars canon
The Dreadnought-class first featured as a background ship in "A Fool's Hope," the penultimate episode in the final season of the Star Wars Rebels television series, which first aired on March 5, 2018. Prior to the episode's release, the ship was initially showcased in a trailer for the series finale. The cruiser's colloquial name, Imperial Support Vessel, was revealed through concept art illustrations by Andre Kirk in the accompanying "A Fool's Hope" episode guide on StarWars.com.
The 2018 reference book Star Wars: Complete Vehicles identified the vessel as the Rendili Dreadnaught, while the 2019 reference book Ultimate Star Wars, New Edition later introduced its technical name as Dreadnought-class. Unlike other sources, the book does not capitalize the colloquial name, rendering it as Imperial support vessel. While "Every Type of Ship in Star Wars Rebels," a 2019 installment of the Star Wars By the Numbers web series created for StarWarsKids.com, identified the ship as Dreadnought Support Vessel, Fantasy Flight Games' 2020 roleplaying game sourcebook Starships and Speeders provided the vehicle's full technical name.
Star Wars Legends origins and inconsistencies
The designs for the Imperial Support Vessel were derived from the Imperial Dreadnaught, which figured prominently in The Thrawn Trilogy, a Star Wars Legends novel series written by Timothy Zahn. The Dreadnaughts originated in the 1989 Imperial Sourcebook, written by Greg Gorden and published by West End Games for Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game.
Although Ultimate Star Wars, New Edition initially established that the Dreadnought-class heavy cruiser was equipped with a Class 2 hyperdrive, Starships and Speeders later stated that the ship held a primary hyperdrive rating of Class 4 along with a backup hyperdrive rating of Class 18. This article assumes the latter and more recent source is correct. Additionally, the 2020 book The Art of Star Wars Rebels erroneously identifies the vessel as light cruiser.
- Star Wars: Build the Millennium Falcon 52 (Starship Fact File: Carrack-class Light Cruiser) (First mentioned)
- Star Wars: Destiny – Two-Player Game (Card: ) (First pictured)
- (First identified as Imperial Support Vessel)
- Star Wars: Complete Vehicles (First identified as Rendili Dreadnaught)
- Ultimate Star Wars, New Edition (First identified as Dreadnought-class)
- (First identified as Dreadnought Support Vessel)
- Starships and Speeders (First identified as Dreadnought-class heavy cruiser)
- The Art of Star Wars Rebels (as light cruiser)
- Star Wars Complete Vehicles, New Edition
- Star Wars: Battles that Changed the Galaxy (Picture only)
Notes and references
- (First pictured)