Battlestar : Battlestars are the main ships of the line in the Colonial Fleet. They carry a heavy armament and a large complement of fighter squadrons as well as a full complement of Marines and ground combat vehicles. As a result Battlestars can act simultaneously as battleships, carriers and mobile operation bases. Battlestars are designed to operate independently from other ships for extended periods. Smaller Battlestars are meant for reconnaissance, deep strikes and providing support to other ships. Larger Battlestars are often fleet command ships and carry one or more wings of fighters and different types of other craft such as assault ships, bombers, attack shuttles and gunships. The largest Battlestars are sometimes referred to as Warstars. Flagship Battlestars are sometimes referred to as Novastars. The term Battlestar is an abbreviation of Battlestarship.
Gunstar : Foregoing fighter facilities for extra guns, they are designed to destroy enemy capital ships using their often formidable firepower. Lacking fighters they are usually paired with Battlestars and Escortstars or are used to defend shipyards and other facilities. The largest Gunstars are often referred to as Dreadstars. There are two main types of Gunstars, the first type is armed with powerful forward guns and engages the enemy head on, while the second type carries its heavy armament along the ship sides to deliver broadside salvoes at the enemy, hence the term "Broadside Gunstar", they can also be referred to as a Meleestar.
Missilestars : While most ships in the fleet have missile bays of some kind, the Missilestar is designed to provide a versatile missile capability to any flotilla. Missilestars rely on their heavy missiles to engage enemy ships or ground targets. Warheads vary from conventional Tylium to nuclear anti warship weapons. They also carry anti-fighter and anti- missile, providing critical extra flak facilities to protect other ships. The ability of Cylons to jam and hijack missiles has greatly slowed development of missiles in the Colonial Fleet.
Strikestar : Strikestars are smaller than most Battlestars and Gunstars. Most have a limited fighter capacity, mostly for defensive purposes, and lack the heavy armour of Battlestars. They are primarily used as Battlestar escorts or for patrolling in areas that do not warrant the deployment of a full sized Battlestar. Strikestars are the most likely to see service on a day to day basis, reserving Battlestars for major military operations.
Escortstar : Early Battlestars lacked extensive fighter repair facilities. Light carriers and tenders were used to provide a fresh supply of fighters and other craft to keep the Battlestar fully operational. With the advent of larger, more advanced Battlestars with their own fighter production capacity, the need for Escortstars has somewhat diminished, but they are still vital to replenish stocks in times of war when losses may exceed a Battlestar's repair facilities. In times of peace Escortstars are sometimes used as patrol ships relying on their fighter squadrons to survey a sector. Escortstars were not meant to engage other capital ships and only have limited defensive weaponry.
Skirmishstars : These light support craft are the mainstay of the Colonial Fleet and the Orbital Guard. They are the most likely to deal with pirates, smugglers and other problems. They also escort convoys and supply vessels as well as Battlestars. Most Battlestar Groups will have several of these ships providing escort and recon duties in some cases up to dozens of craft.
Stealthstar : The term is applied to both small craft and larger ships. Stealthstars are designed to have a minimal dradis signature and rely on passive data acquisition. They are meant for infiltration and information gathering rather than combat. Some smaller Battlestars such as the Valhalla and Nightstar class have limited Stealth capability. Small craft Stealthstars are used in a similar manner, while their size allows them to pass off as space debris.
Other, sometimes older terms have been used in an informal manner over the years in and outside of the Service. This was more prevalent in the early days of the Colonial Fleet and the Cylon War when many older vessels were still in service and new Colonial ships with a similar profile would be named as such.