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Escorts are the smallest types of warships in use by the various starfaring navies of the Milky Way Galaxy's intelligent species. While individually weak when compared to larger capital ships, they can become quite potent in large numbers, and can use their speed to harass the heavier capital ships while protecting their own ships of the line from enemy escorts attempting to do the same.

Imperial Escorts

The conduct of the Great Crusade required vessels by the thousands, vessels that could not only carry armies and bring apocalyptic destruction to bear, but that could also endure the perilous transit of Warp space and endure the titanic forces and hardships of the Empyrean and the Deep Void both. Military vessels were needed, not only to replace losses were but meet the ever expanding demands of the Expeditionary fleets, the Armada Imperialis and, on a lesser scale, the Rogue Traders and local navies. To satisfy this constant need, a bewildering variety of classes of warship were developed to fulfil an equally bewildering variety of roles. Escort is the catch-all designation for the smallest division of Warp-capable warships, seldom larger than 1 km or 2 km in length, and possessing only a fraction of the mass and raw power of a capital ship. In a "clash of the line," the life expectancy of an Escort is almost nil. The most common Escort class of the Great Crusade was the Frigate, a multi-purpose armed vessel designed to largely balance firepower, defence and range. They were intended to be used both for independent operations of patrol and attack where a larger ship such as a Cruiser was unwarranted, and in squadrons as outriders, guardians, piquet ships, and armed reconnaissance vessels.

Other roles falling into this class include Destroyers; small Escorts, relatively heavily armed warships for their size, but commensurately ill-defended and with poor independent range designed either to attack larger ships and void stations in waves or expend themselves sacrificially to protect more important vessels and convoys (Destroyer duty was therefore largely regarded as a death sentence), and Warp runners. This latter ship class was designed to incorporate only minimal crew, armament and life support, sacrificing their design almost entirely for speed and range of operation, being employed principally as spy vessels, blockade runners, couriers and explorers.

Imperial Navy

Space Marines

Siege Frigates

  • Vigil-class Siege Frigate (Great Crusade era)


  • Baron-class Minekeeper (Great Crusade era)
  • Harpy-class Minekeeper (Great Crusade era)
  • Havoc-class Minekeeper (Great Crusade era)
  • Sceptre-class Minekeeper (Great Crusade era)
  • Stalwart-class Minekeeper (Great Crusade era)

Warp Runners

  • Spectre-class Frigate (Great Crusade era)


  • Thor-class Frigate (Great Crusade era)


Merchant Fleet

Chaos Escorts

Dark Eldar Escorts

Eldar Escorts

Necron Escorts

Ork Escorts

Tau Empire Escorts


Tau Allies

Tyranid Escorts


These are Escort starship types that are used by many different starfaring races in one form or another:

See Also


  • Battlefleet Gothic Rulebook
  • Battlefleet Gothic Armada
  • Battlefleet Gothic Magazine #2, pg. 40
  • Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 309-310
  • Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign
  • Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 194-195
  • Rogue Trader: Battlefleet Koronus (RPG), pg. 104
  • The Horus Heresy - Book Three: Extermination "Warships of the Great Crusade," by Alan Bligh, pp. 15, 62
  • White Dwarf 139 (UK), "Spacefleet," by Jervis Johnson & Andy Jones, pp. 17-18

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