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A Dreadnought is a more tactical variant of what would normally be called a heavy cruiser. A ship designated as a heavy cruiser can become a dreadnought either after being built from the ground up as more heavily armed and armored, or, an existing heavy cruiser can undergo a refit.

The Scimitar, for example, was built initially as a dreadnought, while the Alternate-future USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) had undergone a major refit and become a dreadnought.

As a general rule, dreadnoughts have more powerful weapons than other ships of similar class, thicker hull plating, redundant or regenerative shields, or a superior cloaking device comparatively, are to be expected on dreadnoughts.

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