Warhammer 40k Wiki
Warhammer 40k Wiki

"...and their vessels cast a shadow across the stars and in that dark shadow was dread, the dread that fortells death. The Space Marines had arrived and they are fear incarnate, they are the Lords of Death"

— Attr. Unknown

A Space Marine Nova-class Frigate of the Ultramarines Chapter

The Nova-class Frigate is a Rapid Strike Vessel utilised by the fleets of most Space Marine Chapters. These warships are used primarily for patrolling through the domains controlled by a respective Chapter, and for providing a highly mobile Escort for the Chapter's Battle Barges and Strike Cruisers.

The Nova-class Frigate also conducts routine convoy escort missions, as well as scouting and surveillance missions before a Chapter commits its valuable resources to a warzone. A Nova-class vessel will most likely be the only Lance-armed warship available to a Space Marine Chapter.


The Nova-class Frigate is part of a class of Space Marine vessels collectively known as Rapid Strike Vessels. Of all the vessels used by the fleets of the Adeptus Astartes, it is the Nova-class Frigate that the Imperial Navy, always a rival of the Astartes' fleet arms, most takes exception to.

It lacks sufficient size to truly fulfil the deployment and planetary assault roles for which Space Marine warships are primarily intended and its Lance armament and speed make it a menacing gunboat in its own right. As such, the Nova remains rare in most Space Marine fleets, a trend the Imperial Navy, the Inquisition and other Imperial institutions perpetually concerned with maintaining the balance of power within the Imperium would dearly love to see continue.


Unlike the vessels of the Imperial Navy, a Space Marine starship has a relatively small crew. A Space Marine is far too valuable a resource to waste in manning a gun or watching a surveyor screen, and so only the officers aboard a vessel are likely to be Space Marines, as well as the few Techmarines who oversee the engines and perform other mechanical duties.

Almost all the starship's systems are run and monitored by Servitors; half-human cyborgs who are hard-wired into the vessel's weapons, engines and communications apparatus. There are also a few hundred Chapter Serfs to attend to other duties, such as serving the Space Marines during meal times, preparing them for battle and other such honoured tasks.

These Serfs come from the Chapter's homeworld or the enclave they protect, many of them Novitiates or former Aspirants who have failed some part of the recruiting or training process.

These Serfs are fanatically loyal to their transhuman masters, and indoctrinated into many of the lesser orders of the Chapter's Cult. Although human, they still benefit from remarkable training and access to superior weaponry than is usually found on an Imperial Navy vessel, making them a fearsome prospect in a boarding action, even without the support of their genetically modified lords.

Notable Nova-class Frigates and Squadrons

See Also