A ship is a spaceborne vessel controlled by an empire. They are the primary way of interacting with objects and entities in the galaxy via specific ship orders. Ships are classified into civilian and military vessels, the former being controlled individually while the latter form fleets. All ships must be constructed and repaired at Starbases where there is a Shipyard module. Each Shipyard module can construct one ship at a time.
Civilian ships represent all unarmed vessels of an empire and are controlled individually. They are equipped with shields, armor and core components automatically once the next tier component tech is unlocked at a free cost and do not have to return to a Starbase to receive component upgrades. Each civilian ship except transports have a monthly maintenance cost of 0.75 Energy.
Civilian ships have the evasive fleet stance by default meaning that they will attempt to escape the system whenever a hostile fleet enters it.
Construction ships are used to build every space structure. They are not used up during construction meaning that they can go on to do other tasks after they have finished their building project. Fleet Orders allow the construction ship to build the following:
- See also: Surveying
Science Ships are the primary method of exploring the galaxy and the stars and systems within it. They require a scientist to operate.
Once crewed, the Science ship can conduct a survey of individual objects within a system. During these surveys, it can discover resources present on a celestial body (i.e.: planets, stars, asteroids, etc.). A survey may also result in the discovery of an anomaly. Furthermore, an object needs to be surveyed only once and any future hidden resources (such as strategic resources) will be automatically revealed once the requisite technology is researched. The Science ship can also survey debris left after a space battle which may yield research points or possibly even unlock unique technology options.
Science ships can also assist the research of a planet. Upon activation, the science ship will orbit the planet and boost its research output depending on the skill level of the scientist on board.
- See also: Colonization
The large colony ships allow an empire to settle habitable planets. When ordering the construction of a colony ship, the player is given the option of choosing the species of the pop that is to be sent to the new colony, inheriting all of its traits and ethics. Pops are not consumed nor transported in this process. Once finished, the colony ship may be sent to any habitable world within range to start a colony. Colony ships take one year to build and their upkeep cost is maintained throughout the whole colonization process. Alternatively, colony ships can also be built through the interface of the planet to be colonized. There are four types of colony ships available depending on government.
- See also: Land warfare
Transports ships are where assault armies are kept. After an army has been recruited it is automatically embarked in a transport ship which will be orbiting the planet where they were created. Therefore, they cannot be built manually. While armies have an upkeep cost, transport ships cost no additional energy to maintain. After a battle transport ships will heal the embarked armies.
During war transport ships must be carefully escorted by a military fleet since they are unarmed. Their only purpose is to carry assault armies into enemy planets so that they can occupy them. Additionally, some situation log projects require a transport ship to be completed.
Military ships represent all armed vessels of an empire and unlike civilian ships they can be grouped together into fleets and led by an Admiral. Military ships require both Energy and Alloys as monthly maintenance. They are designed via the ship designer.
Military ships are classified by their hull size, which influences their combat stats, cost, available sections and components and Command Point cost. Each ship takes twice as much time to be built compared to the previous one in the category. There are five available hull sizes, with the Titan and Colossus only available to owners of the Apocalypse DLC. Each ship size has two technologies that increase its hull points and one technology that increases its evasion.
Military ships must be upgraded manually when an upgraded design is created. The cost for upgrading each ship is simply the difference in construction cost between the new design and the old one. Each ship upgrades individually, with multiple ships being upgraded simultaneously if the starbase contains multiple shipyards.
When upgrading a ship, the system will attempt to use the most recent version of the same class name. If no design of the same class name is available, then the upgrade process will retrofit them to the most-recently saved design of the same size instead.
If a ship obtained via an event contains components not yet researched the ship should not be allowed to upgrade. Upgrading it will replace the components with the latest researched ones, even if those are inferior.
Naval capacity represents the number of military ships that an empire can manage. Going beyond this limit will increase ship maintenance costs by a percentage equal to the overcame value. For example if an empire exceeded its naval capacity by 50% it will increase the maintenance cost of each ship by 50%. Each empire can build a Titan for each 200 Naval Capacity, up to a maximum of 20 Titans at 3800 naval capacity. An empire's base naval capacity is 20, and is modified by:
- Galactic Force Projection ascension perk adds +80
- Each Soldier Job adds +4
- Each Warrior Drone Job adds +4
- Each Starbase Anchorage module adds +4, or +6 with the Naval Logistics Office building
- Each naval doctrine technology building adds +30
- Each Fleet Management Procedures repeatable technology adds +20 (can only be researched 5 times)
- Each Pirate Free Haven corporate building adds +10
- Each Mercenary Liaison Office corporate building adds +10
- Each Strategic Coordination Center level adds +50
- Citizen Service civic increases Naval Capacity by +15%
- Subspace Ephapse civic increases Naval Capacity by +15%
- Naval Contractors civic increases Naval Capacity by +15%
- Genocidal civics increase Naval Capacity by +33%
- Fleet Logistics Corps / Automated Underway Replenishment supremacy tradition increases Naval Capacity by +20%
- Master's Teachings: Warring States edict increases Naval Capacity by +10%
- Grand Fleet unity ambition increases Naval Capacity by +20%
- Fleet Organizer ruler trait increases Naval Capacity by +15%
- Brain Slug Host ruler trait increases Naval Capacity by +10%
- Covenant: End of the Cycle increases Naval Capacity by +100%
- Federation member empires have reduced Naval Capacity by -20% (capacity is set aside for use by the Federation fleet)
- Satrapy empires have reduced Naval Capacity by -30%
Maximum Naval Capacity may never exceed 9999. This is not a hard cap on the number of ships an empire can support; it is fully possible to exceed this limit as long as an empire can afford the increased maintenance fees for all of its ships. In fact, the AI will frequently build over its naval capacity if it has the resources to maintain their fleets. Because of this, it may likewise be necessary to build over your naval capacity, especially when you're preparing to go to war against an AI with equivalent or better fleet power (though, in this case, players should also look into increasing their naval capacity whenever possible, if only to reduce maintenance costs).
Command Limit is a limit on how large any one individual fleet in an empire can be. An empire's base command limit is 20, increased by the following (the hardcoded maximum is 500, but cannot be reached without mods):
- +10 per hull type technology
- +20 per fleet doctrine technology
- +10 per Admiralty Support Staff technology (repeatable, but only 5 times)
- +10 Distinguished Admiralty civic
- +20 War Games \ Three-Dimensional Awareness \ Combat Variable Mitigation supremacy tradition
- +20 Galactic Force Projection ascension perk
Maximum attainable Command Limit without mods: 260
As ships partake in battle they will increase their rank. Ships, when built, start off with zero experience. Ships built in starbases with a fleet academy apart from the required shipyard are granted 100 experience points and therefore start as experienced. Ships get +1 experience point every day they are in combat.
Ranks are classified as follows:
|Veteran||1000-9999|| +20% Damage|
+5% Hull points
|Elite||≥ 10000|| +40% Damage|
+10% Hull points
|Available only with the Apocalypse DLC enabled.|
The colossus is a unique military ship that requires the Colossus Project ascension perk and has a single slot which can be equipped with a weapon of true mass destruction capable of affecting an entire planet. It has no weapons to defend itself although its Hull points are significantly higher compared to average ships (three times that of a Titan) and can be equipped with defense components. During space battles the Colossus will follow direct orders and will maneuver straight to its designated target. This means that the Colossus will do things such as going straight through an ongoing space battle to fire upon an enemy planet. Only one colossus can be constructed at a time, although the empire can construct a new one if the current one is destroyed. The Colossus cannot be merged into fleets.
The extreme destructive power of a Colossus has major effects on diplomacy. If an empire constructs a Colossus, its mere existence is enough to destroy any semblance of "galactic international law" in the local region and replace it with appeal to force. This is represented as such;
If an empire owns an active Colossus, it gains the ability to use that as a justification to declare war on its rivals. On the other hand, however, if an empire owns an active Colossus, other empires will also be able to use that as a justification to declare war on the Colossus owner. In both cases, the resulting war will be Total War, allowing the Colossus to be used, although if the Colossus is destroyed, Total War will end and the war will revert to a normal war. In addition to that, the extreme opinion penalties that occur from firing a Colossus will more or less make it impossible to conduct any diplomacy with the victim(s) while also making it harder to conduct diplomacy with empires in a federation with the victim and other non-ally empires. On top of that, using a Colossus causes large amounts of War Exhaustion on the targeted empire, and gives it +50% Ethics Attraction towards Militarist and Xenophobe ethics, which can cause the diplomatic and political climate in the region to grow even more hostile over time.
The Colossus Project ascension perk does not directly unlock the Colossus hull or its weapons; rather, the perk grants access to an associated special project which, once finished, will unlock both the ship and its weapon. After the special project is halfway completed the empire will be prompted to choose a weapon of mass destruction.
A Colossus can carry the following weapons: