(covers information from several alternate timelines)
In 2370, the Maquis captured a defective Cardassian ATR-4107 missile. B'Elanna Torres spent nearly a month reprogramming its computer and upgrading its systems, and eventually named it Dreadnought owing to its formidable nature. (VOY: "Dreadnought")
|attack cruiser • attack fighter • battle cruiser • battleship • bird-of-prey • blockade runner • carrier vessel • colony ship • combat cruiser • corsair • corvette • cruiser • destroyer • diplomatic vessel • dreadnought • escort vessel • exploration vessel • flagship • freighter • frigate • garbage scow • geo-terraforming vessel • heavy cruiser • holding vessel • interceptor • light cruiser • medical ship • military vessel • mining vessel • patrol ship • penal deportation vessel • pilot vessel • prison ship • raider • reconnaissance ship • robot ship • runabout • science vessel • scout ship • star cruiser • starliner • starship • supply ship • support vessel • survey ship • tanker • timeship • trading vessel • training ship • transport ship • troop transport • tug • warbird • warship|
There are only three known direct on-screen references to a dreadnought; one comes from the radio chatter in the first Epsilon IX scene in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The dreadnought named Entente, was derived from Franz Joseph's Star Fleet Technical Manual, which also states that it is a Federation-class dreadnought. The outline of a three nacelled Federation-class ship is briefly glimpsed in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock computer screens on the USS Enterprise. Another is Dreadnought, the name B'Elanna Torres chose for the captured ATR-4107 missile in VOY: "Dreadnought". The third comes from Star Trek Into Darkness, where the USS Vengeance was identified as a Dreadnought-class warship.
Starfleet dreadnought type ships in general were known not only for their heavy firepower, armor and shielding, but also for having a more extensive & comprehensive Electronic Warfare capability than other Starfleet warships, for example Federation-class vessels were known to be equipped with a holographic decoy system that could fox even sophisticated sensor systems, while the Star Empire-class had a holographic camouflage system that could disguise the ship as another ship altogether, among other things. The increased EW capability that UFP dreadnoughts demonstrated was apparently not only a function of more space available to fit in various systems but also a power budget that left even Federation heavy cruisers in the shade. (citation needed • edit)
Dreadnought-class is briefly mentioned by William T. Riker in the novel Dark Mirror as a starship class that is the closest analog Starfleet has to the heavily-armed and armored version of the Galaxy-class from the mirror universe.
The game Star Trek Online uses the term "Dreadnought" as a distinct type of ship, usually combining the durability and movement characteristics of Cruisers with the tactical focus of Escorts. Starfleet's Dreadnought Cruiser is represented by the Galaxy X-class (β) from the TNG episode "All Good Things...". Other playable ships belonging to different factions in the game are also classified as "Dreadnought", including the Scimitar-class warbird, the Jem'Hadar battleship (though the game calls it a "dreadnought carrier"), the Xindi-Aquatic cruiser (also reclassified as a dreadnought carrier), the non-playable Voth city ship, and other game-exclusive designs. Dreadnought ships are also equipped with combat-capable hangar bays and can launch fighter ships in battle.