Super Star Destroyer (SSD) was a term used by Imperial, Rebel, New Republic and Galactic Alliance personnel for many dagger-shaped warship classes larger than Star Destroyers, ranging from Star Cruiser to Star Dreadnought models. In extreme cases, they are also large enough to be qualified as space stations.
It was often used concurrently with the term Super-class Star Destroyer, both of which capitalized on the general "Star Destroyer" term, which, after getting popular exposure throughout the Clone Wars, came to symbolize weapons that in people's minds could destroy entire star systems.
Darth Vader's command ship, the Executor, was a Super Star Destroyer and one of the most famous Imperial vessels fielded, as was the even deadlier Eclipse, which served as one of Emperor Palpatine's flagships.
The term "Super Star Destroyer" described some of the largest warships ever designed and fielded, and covered various warship classes that served primarily as command ships. All the known models were at least several kilometers long in order to support their increasingly heavy power generators and armaments. In at least one ship classification system, SSDs were regarded as large enough to be counted as space stations rather than regular starships. In large part due to their immense size, Super Star Destroyers required a crew of at least 280,000 to operate. One of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance, Mon Mothma, admitted when learning this that it would pose a dilemma if the Rebel Alliance did manage to capture one intact: they wouldn't have enough personnel to operate it.
The largest known models were usually fitted with extensive command and control suites which could handle far more naval forces than previous command stations, such as the Old Republic's Republic command ships of the Krath Holy Crusade or the Inexpugnable-class tactical command ships of the Mandalorian Wars. Like most other starship production lines, different ships within the same class were often subject to different specifications in terms of armament, crew and support vessels, based on their intended focus and roles.
Super Star Destroyers were on par with or larger than most other navies' ships-of-the-line, like the Trade Federation's Lucrehulk-class battleships or the Subjugator-class heavy cruisers of the CIS. As command ships, SSDs like the Executor-class were capable of projecting power across entire Oversectors and served as command ships for galaxy-spanning campaigns. They were good expressions of the Tarkin Doctrine, which argued that galactic peace could be achieved by developing the ability to project overwhelming firepower against any enemy, rendering all resistance futile before it even began.
- "From Super Star Destroyers to torpedo spheres, it has been nearly impossible to overestimate the amount of destructive force available to the average Moff or Sector Group Commander"
- ―Arhul Hextrophon, on the Empire's obsession with super weapons.
For tens of thousands of years, heavy warships were part of the Republic Navy's strategy for space combat. Large ships fought in the Alsakan Conflicts and the Old Sith Wars. They became obsolete at some point after 3000 BBY, when fleet doctrine shifted to groups of smaller-scale cruisers that combined their firepower and were more maneuverable. These new designs were armed with better weapons and more powerful shields than the older battlecruisers and battleships.
However, by the centuries prior to the Clone Wars, heavy warships had gained prominence again. The first modern design that would be lumped into the Super Star Destroyer category was the Procurator-class Star Battlecruiser, built two centuries before the Clone Wars. It spawned a series of increasingly large warship designs and went on to have many different models in its own production line.
Large vessels like the Procurator were used for generations by private defensive fleets fielded by rich, industrialized star sectors. Kuat, Corellia, and Humbarine were but three of the industrialized Core sectors that could afford to build such behemoths, which were fitted with hyperdrives with limited range to highlight their defensive purposes in the relative peace of the time.
While a member of the Techno Union, the shipyards of Kuat began to experiment further in this period with warship designs that eclipsed previous generations. Two decades prior to the Clone Wars, the shipyard unveiled the Mandator-class, a type of design that would fill out the modern dreadnought category in the Anaxes War College System.
During the Clone Wars, heavy warship classes like the Star Battlecruisers and Star Dreadnoughts were used by the resurgent Republic Navy, as large defense vessels. Some battlecruisers were refitted to lead task forces on raids deep into Separatist territory.
In the aftermath of the wars, the newly created Galactic Empire began an unprecedented research and development program for a new generation of heavy warship designs, creating vessels that would bear the colloquial term Super Star Destroyer.
Super Star Destroyer production was sometimes helped along by innovations in other areas. The Clone Wars saw the development of the Cardan-class space station series, which came to have some influence on the structuring of future naval projects, including the Super Star Destroyers and the Death Star battlestations.
A few months after the end of the Clone Wars, the Sarlacc Project was begun. It sought to develop a new, heavy Imperial command ship. This vessel, an early prototype for a new generation of dreadnoughts, was 12 kilometers in length and meant to be filled with weapons. It was destroyed by early rebel elements before it could be completed. Despite such an early setback, larger and more refined Star Dreadnought designs were eventually produced, noticably the Executor-class and Eclipse-class.
The Executor-class became a highly sought after command ship, and the creation of the lead vessel and other members of the class was mired by political intrigue and misinformation campaigns. When the Imperial Navy requested funds for construction of the Executor, it forged a profile on the vessel, calling it a Super-class Star Destroyer and making it out to be less than half its intended size, on par with the earlier Mandator- and Mandator II-classes. This was done to avoid arousing suspicion in the Imperial Senate about the true nature of the design as well as capitalize on the popularity of the dagger-shaped Star Destroyer class, which dated back to the Clone Wars. The Emperor's ultimate plan for these vessels was to have one Super Star Destroyer per sector, to serve as a command ship for Imperial forces stationed at the sector.
The term was shortened to "Super Star Destroyer," and both it and the fake designation of Super-class remained in colloquial use even long after the real name and designation had been revealed and the first vessel made operational.
As these vessels came to play a greater role in naval doctrine, some officers and military planners derided the battlecruisers and dreadnoughts as a wasteful budgetary expense. They derisively referred to all the designs as Super Star Destroyers and argued that vessels at Star Destroyer scale and smaller were the only things needed to keep the Empire safe. With the advent and subsequent destruction of the first Death Star, the Navy reluctantly adopted SSDs as a viable and cheaper alternative. Due to their increased effectiveness as terror weapons, dreadnought production was prioritized over battlecruiser designs.
Battlecruisers like the Praetor-class survived the transition into the Galactic Empire, but continued in limited service during the Galactic Civil War. Battlecruisers were hampered by their relative inflexibility compared to Star Destroyers and the lack of heavier firepower compared to the dreadnought models. The Praetor-class, for one, was considered outright outdated.
"Super Star Destroyer" and "Super-class" later carried over to other warship designs in the following decades, with even the Rebel Alliance referring to anything bigger than a Star Destroyer by these terms. Beyond the colloquialisms, many SSDs were referred to as "star dreadnoughts" as well, contrasting the usage of "star cruiser" (lowercase) to refer to Star Destroyers.
Early Imperial production
Before the Battle of Yavin, most Super Star Destroyer dreadnought production lines were still undergoing construction, and the few partially constructed ships were only used as command centers. At least one Super Star Destroyer was also put in dry dock in the first Death Star some time before its destruction in 0 ABY.
Once the Empire realized the threat posed by an organized rebellion with the downfall of the first Death Star, the Super Star Destroyers began to be mass-produced, with an average Moff or Sector Group Commander estimated to have one or more such superweapons in their arsenal throughout the course of the Galactic Civil War, bringing the total amount of ships up to hundreds or even thousands. The Executor-class alone was believed to have been made with over 20 ships to its name, their combined bulk equating to that of thousands of individual Star Destroyers. Such heavy warships served both as sector as well as regional command centers with individual ships kept off the records as black projects, sent into the Unknown Regions for secret missions, or stationed at hidden sites as additional assets.
In addition to mass-production, influential individuals could afford customized designs at the height of the Empire. The Dark Jedi and Inquisitor Jerec had Kuat Drive Yards build a grandiose flagship for himself, replacing his Imperial-class Star Destroyer as a sign of his growing ambitions. This vessel became the lead ship of its own class of dreadnoughts in addition to other dreadnought designs being produced during this period.
Overall, despite consisting of several classes with multiple models in each category, each Super Star Destroyer production line was relatively short, compared to the prolific Star Destroyers. There were still enough active ships around the time of the Battle of Hoth to make Rebel personnel also refer to them by the general term of Super Star Destroyer.
While conventional armaments were designed for most ships, the two Eclipse-class dreadnoughts had a superlaser as their primary weapon. The bulk of these two Super-class Star Destroyers was built around each ship's reactor and support systems, making them the most powerful conventional warships in history, and causing the design to attract unwanted attention from criminal third parties.
Their construction took almost over a decade, with the Emperor's downfall leading to delays and shifts in logistics. They were estimated to be powerful enough to allow whoever controlled them a real chance at taking power in the galaxy. This also made them high-profile targets by both the Rebel Alliance and, later, the New Republic. As a symbol of its status, the Eclipse was escorted by smaller Super Star Destroyers during the Battle of Pinnacle Base.
Following the Empire's collapse as a result of the Battle of Endor, it became increasingly difficult to maintain gargantuan warships, with the gradual breakdown and fracture of the Galactic Empire. Despite dozens of active battle groups being led by SSDs immediately after Endor, the lack of cooperation between various parts of the Empire and the gradual rise to power of the New Republic led to many Super Star Destroyers being destroyed or captured outright.
The focus switched to Star Destroyers or smaller vessels for the various Imperial warlords. Former support ships like the Strike-class medium cruiser saw a renewed service period as more mainline warships in the fleets of the Imperial Remnant.
The last major SSD known to have been commissioned by legitimate Imperial forces was an Executor-class ship known as the Razor's Kiss. She was, however, destroyed by the New Republic soon after her launch from Kuat in 7.5 ABY.
Over the years, the number of Super Star Destroyers dwindled as the older ships left in service were destroyed, captured, or kept in isolated Imperial enclaves. By the time Grand Admiral Thrawn took command of the Empire five years after Endor, his naval forces could not gain access to anything bigger than individual Star Destroyers. Even warlords who kept diplomatic relations with Thrawn were hesitant to throw their dreadnoughts in with his forces.
Concurrent with the warlordism, some fleet elements were recalled to the Deep Core, where scores of heavy warships became part of the "Dark Empire" ruled over by the clones of Palpatine. Here, the resurrected Emperor plotted their use as tools of conquest for 6 years after Endor, unleashing them alongside his fleets of World Devastators during the attempt at regaining his former glory with Operation Shadow Hand in 10 and 11 ABY.
Prior to this operation, this Dark Empire retook large portions of the Core Worlds, beginning a vicious Imperial Civil War in the aftermath of the retaking of Coruscant from the New Republic. Several prominent Super Star Destroyers were destroyed in the infighting, like the Mandator III-class dreadnoughts Aculeus and Panthac and the Executor-class dreadnought Whelm.
During the rise of the resurrected Palpatine, at least four 15 kilometer-long Sovereign-class Super Star Destroyers underwent construction, while the two Eclipse-class vessels were completed and fielded. These six vessels were meant to be the beginning of a new era of superlaser-armed warships, but with the destruction of Byss and the final death of the Emperor, they were all destroyed.
The power having shifted to the New Republic, the threat of SSDs decreased. Despite this, the Republic constructed a counterpart to the Empire's Super Star Destroyers, with the Mon Calamari–produced Viscount-class Star Defender and Mediator-class battle cruiser filling holes in the Republic's naval forces.
Apart from the Republic's new designs, several SSDs remained in the hands of foreign powers. One eight-kilometer-long SSD was observed in the fleet of the Imperial Remnant during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion and at least one Executor was part of rogue Imperial pirate forces just prior to the start of this conflict.
During the events surrounding the Swarm War, the Megador, a Super Star Destroyer equipped with sixteen engines, was used as flagship for the then-supreme commander of the Galactic Alliance Defense Force, Gilad Pellaeon.
Super Star Destroyers were known to be used in the Second Galactic Civil War, with the Megador and the Dominion participating on the side of Darth Caedus's faction of the Galactic Alliance. At some point following the Second Galactic Civil War, heavy warships like the Star Defenders and Star Dreadnoughts were phased out of service, citing the expenses in operating the various designs.
By 130 ABY, the main-line Pellaeon-class Star Destroyer had some of its systems partially based on achievements made with the successful Executor-class. The larger Imperious-class Star Destroyer was based on the Pellaeon and had a larger frame than the standard Star Destroyer classes of previous generations, but still shared their designation rather than be rated a battlecruiser or a dreadnought.
The 2,200 meter Allegiance-class design was a typical example of the Star Cruiser subclass of battlecruisers. Allegiances were smaller Super Star Destroyers seen in use as escorts for larger vessels like the Eclipse-class. They had a design reminiscent of the Imperial-class Star Destroyer, only larger. The class had a ventrally protruding reactor core and no visible launch bay.
The Aramadia was an Imperial SSD that was captured by the Yevethans and acted as one of Nil Spaar's flagships during the Yevethan Purge in 16-17 ABY. Following the Battle of N'zoth and the end of the Purge, it was towed to N'zoth and used as a museum. In top-down profile, it resembled the Imperial-class Star Destroyer.
The Arc Hammer
At least 9.6km long, almost half as long as an Executor-class Star Dreadnought, the Arc Hammer was essentially an armed factory ship that also served as a command ship for the Dark Trooper Project. The design was very sleek compared to other Super Star Destroyers (similar only to Jerec's ship), and noteworthy for a large quadruple tower structure protruding from the dorsal and ventral side in the general area of the bridge structure. Dorsal bays could launch the ship's complement of Dark troopers onto a target in a combat drop. The Arc Hammer was destroyed from within by Kyle Katarn's sabotage.
Assertor-class Star Dreadnought
The 15.000 meter Assertor-class Star Dreadnought was a heavily armed Imperial Star Dreadnought. Ships of this class sometimes led elite units that used TIE/D Defender starfighter squadrons. Two were seen at Naval Station Validusia.
The 7,200 meter Bellator-class dreadnought was based on the earlier Mandator and Mandator II dreadnought models and was a slightly scaled down version of them. Several vessels were seen at Naval Station Validusia. Two Bellators were viewed by the commanders of Death Squadron at a fleet gathering prior to the Battle of Hoth. At least one vessel later served in the forces of the resurrected Emperor Palpatine in 10 ABY. A Bellator was escorted by a Star Destroyer in orbit of Byss around this time.
The Eclipse-class was designed as flagships for Emperor Palpatine and were constructed in relative secrecy. They were 17.5 kilometers in length, with much of their interiors taken up by generators used to power the ship's main weapon, a scaled-down superlaser. The class's design was meant to evoke ancient seagoing warships.
Executor-class Star Dreadnought
The Executor-class Star Dreadnought was the first class associated with the SSD moniker. It was 19 kilometers in length, was powered by a central reactor underneath its command tower, had over 5,000 various weapons-systems, and could carry over a thousand starfighters in its multiple hangar bays. Its design was meant to overwhelm any opposition, sending the enemy into retreat or resignation by its mere presence. The class became popular within the Imperial Navy, and officers desired such ships as a status symbol. Since the Super-class designation originated with this ship, it was often called Super-class Star Destroyer interchangably with other terms.
Mandator II-class Star Dreadnaught
The 8,000-meter Mandator II-class Star Dreadnaught was built and fielded by KDY and the Galactic Republic. The model served in the Republic Navy during the Clone Wars and guarded vital targets from Separatist attacks.
Mandator III-class dreadnought
The 12,000-meter Mandator III-class was built and fielded by the Galactic Empire. It was several kilometers longer than previous models and enlarged to carry massive armaments.
Sovereign-class Super Star Destroyer
The Sovereign-class was a 15-kilometer, scaled-down version of the Eclipse-class, meant for mass production. Like the Eclipse, the Sovereign was armed with a superlaser as its primary weapon. None of the four initial ships survived the fall of the resurrected Palpatine, and all were destroyed before completion.
Super Star Destroyer prototype
This ship, developed in the Sarlacc Project, was 12 kilometers long, had a central reactor, and was meant to be covered in armaments and serve as the Imperial Navy's symbolic flagship. It was destroyed while partially unfinished during the Battle of Byss. Despite its destruction, it served as a precursor to later classes, like the Executor.
This 19,000-meter dreadnought model was used by the Galactic Empire. Several vessels participated in the prelude to Operation Shadow Hand, where at least one was destroyed during the infighting of the Imperial Civil War.
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