All Warbird-era Romulan military vessels are painted green. The reason for this is that green is the colour of Romulan blood (unlike human blood, which is iron-based and is coloured iron-rust red when oxygenated, Romulan blood, like Vulcan and Rigellian blood, is copper-based and is green when oxygenated). As a result, green is the colour the Romulan associate with rage, bloodshed and war, the same way humans associate those concepts with the colour red. The reason that the D-7 class ships are not green is because the D-7 is a Klingon design. The green color was added to the Birds of Prey in the TV series Star Trek: Enterprise.
Other starships, however, are other colours such as the 23rd century bird of prey. This is a light brown or grey with a red wing pattern.
Bird of Prey (22nd century)
The Bird of Prey was an advanced starship encountered first in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Minefield" named for its aggressive bird-like styling; the earliest featured Bird of Prey was encountered by humans – specifically those aboard the Earth starship Enterprise – in 2152, and was revealed to have advanced tactical systems including a cloaking device.
This type of Bird of Prey was only seen in the episode "Minefield"; at least two were in service in the year 2152 and were encountered when the Enterprise struck a mine during a survey of a Minshara class planet. The two Birds of Prey ordered the Enterprise to leave the system at once notifying them that the planet they had attempted to reach was "annexed" by the Romulan Star Empire.
Another 22nd century ship, the drone ship was designed to be remotely controlled across vast distances of space, using the telepathic abilities of captured Aenars. The vessel was heavily armed and extremely maneuverable, capable of dodging torpedoes fired at close range.
The vessel had the unique ability to imitate the visual appearance and weapons fire of alien vessels (such as the Andorians and Vulcans) using holographic technology and specially configured disruptors. Its primary task was to attack the vessels of other races under the guise of another race and so create instability and distrust among the powers of the time. Upon its discovery, however, the vessels' actions may have served instead to promote greater cooperation. The drone project was overseen by Admiral Valdore, a former Romulan Senator and presumably the namesake of the later Valdore-class of Warbird. There were at least two prototypes of these vessels constructed by the Empire. The two featured craft were ultimately destroyed by one another when the captured Aenar pilot was contacted telepathically by his sister.
Bird of Prey (2260s)
The Bird of Prey was a variety of Romulan warship in use during the 2260s (not to be confused with the Klingon platform also known as the Bird of Prey). Ships of this class were built as a saucer-shaped primary hull with two nacelles attached by forward-angled pylons. The most distinctive feature, however, was a red and white bird in flight painted onto the bottom of the hull. According to background lore, the original script for the episode "Balance of Terror" called for the Romulans to have a ship that was a copy of the USS Enterprise, which the Romulans had built using Federation technology that they obtained through espionage. However, the producers ultimately decided to have the Romulan ship only vaguely resemble the Enterprise, as evidenced by the saucer-like hull and pylon-mounted cylindrical nacelles.
In the episode "Balance of Terror", one such vessel crossed the Romulan Neutral Zone, destroyed three outpost satellites, and retreated in order to test Federation resolve; however, the Bird of Prey was heavily damaged by the USS Enterprise before it reached Romulan space, forcing its commander to scuttle in order to avoid capture.
Birds of Prey had advanced weapons compared to Starfleet ships of the period, featuring a cloaking device and powerful plasmatorpedo launcher. However, the ships were slower than Federation craft due to a more primitive warp design. This ship also seemed to suffer from an acute fuel shortage in the episode, which implies limited range, and also more of a Federation-style fusion or antimatter-based drive system as opposed to the artificial quantum singularity power sources of the later Romulan ships in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
In "Balance of Terror", when asked for an estimation on the power limitations of the Romulan ship, Scotty responded that "Its power is simple impulse". Because impulse power is commonly associated with sublight speed, this line had, at one time, been interpreted by many including the Star Fleet Battles gaming universe to mean that this type of ship and those before it lacked warp drive and that warp technology was gained from their alliance with the Klingons. This supposition is not supported on screen or in Star Trek: Enterprise episodes involving Romulans. In later editions, the "impulse only" statement was reinterpreted to indicate that the Romulans at this time only lacked tactical warp capability, meaning that they were unable to engage in combat at warp speeds and were required by power limitations to slow to sublight in order to fight.
Klingon D-7 class battlecruiser
In the original series, at least three starships of the Klingon D-7 class were used by the Romulans. (This came to pass when a fire at NBC's studio warehouse destroyed the only existing Romulan ship model (the 2260s Bird of Prey), necessitating re-use of the surviving Klingon props.) Novels (as well as fans) have speculated that these vessels were given to the Romulans during a brief alliance with the Klingon Empire against the Federation (in exchange for which, the Romulans provided the Klingons with cloaking technology), though this is non-canon and has never been confirmed onscreen. The Romulans refitted the D-7s in their service with cloaking devices and the Federation occasionally referred to Romulan controlled vessels of this class as "battlecruisers."
Although all Romulan warships are referred to as Warbirds by the Romulan Star Empire, the typically recognized Romulan Warbird is a massive ship built around a large hollow centre that is often used as a docking bay and ship tender area during large-scale fleet operations for smaller Romulan ships such as scouts, pseudo-fighters (similar to Federation Runabouts), fighters, shuttles and transports. The Romulans appeared to have changed this basic design with the introduction of the Norexan-class Warbird.
The first of the Warbird type, the Praetor-class was developed in the late 23rd century. It was revolutionary in its design as it was the first purely Romulan warship design to have tactical warp capability and was the largest vessel the Romulans had ever built. It featured three forward-firing plasma torpedoes, one heavy type-R in the nose and two medium-strength type-G plasma launchers near the warp engines at the ends of the wings. The nose was elongated into a pointed tip where the heavy type-R plasma launcher was located. This class was the pride of the Romulan Imperial Navy for nearly 50 years. The Praetor-class was never seen by the Federation. The RIS Praetor and its sister vessels are featured in the PC Game Star Trek: Starfleet Command II: Empires at War.
With advancements in both warp drive and cloaking technology, coupled with the need to keep up with Federation, Klingon, Gorn and Cardassian warships, the Romulans naturally looked to their greatest warship design as the template for their next Warbird. Released in the early 24th century, the D'talla Class kept the original design philosophy as the Praetor but was upgraded in many respects not the least of which was the re-configuration of the forward plasma launchers. The Praetor-class had extremely powerful forward firepower but no aft-mounted weapons, which proved to be detrimental in some cases against Gorn vessels with very balanced firing arcs. As a result, two light type-F plasma launchers were mounted astern thanks to advancements in Romulan matter/antimatter converter designs. The ship had to be made larger than the Praetor in order to accommodate the extra firepower and more powerful matter-antimatter converter. The power use of this ship made it extremely costly for the Romulans who had inferior power-generation technology compared to the Federation and Klingon Empire. As a result, the Romulans began to research the artificial quantum singularity drive system that would be featured on its successor, the D'deridex-class Warbird. This Warbird is now known by the Federation as the A-type Warbird to differentiate it from the newer D'deridex-class Warbird. In the Romulan language of Rihannsu, D'talla means "Grand Duty". One notable vessel is the IRW Melak which was destroyed following the detonation of an experimental Romulan weapon known as the Shiva Device. It is thought that this is the type of Warbird that the USS Enterprise-C fought at Narendra 3 in Yesterday's Enterprise. The D'talla-class Warbird IRW Melak is featured in the opening cinematic of the PC game Star Trek: New Worlds.
The D'deridex-class, also known to Starfleet as the B-type Warbird to differentiate it from the earlier D'talla-class, is a heavily-armed class of starship used by the Romulans in the mid- to late 24th century. Differences between the D'talla-class and the D'deridex-class include an increase in size and aesthetic aspect as well as reconfiguration again of the plasma banks, most notably upgrading the aft-launchers to type-G, moving the existing type-G launchers to the middle of the ship on the lower wings to the immediate left and right of the ship's head and adding two type-F launchers to the upper wingtips just above the warp engines. In the Romulan language of Rihannsu, D'deridex means "Grand Executioner". This was obviously a fitting name for such a large and powerful vessel. This class was first encountered by Starfleet circa stardate 41986.0 in 2364 when the starship Enterprise-D encountered a ship of the class, commanded by Commander Tebok, that violated Federation territory while investigating the destruction of outposts on both sides of the neutral zone (TNG: "The Neutral Zone"). The Romulan class moniker was revealed in the episode "Tin Man". Powered by an artificial quantum singularity, the D'deridex class is approximately 60% longer and almost twice the volume of a Starfleet Galaxy class starship. The Warbird possessed a triple hulled frame, leaving it hollow in the middle. Whilst comparable with a Galaxy class starship the Warbird had a lower top speed and was less maneuverable in close proximity but possessed far greater firepower. Its main advantage lay in the advanced cloaking device. As with all Romulan warships, D'deridex-class Warbirds are able to attack an unprepared foe with little or no warning thanks to advanced Romulan cloaking technology (TNG: "The Defector"), although the act of de-cloaking and diverting power to weapons and shields gives a vessel ample time to open fire if they so wish (TNG: "The Neutral Zone/The Defector"). The D'deridex-class served to great effect during the Dominion War. On board, decks are lettered and sections numbered: some crew quarters are on C deck and launch bay 3 is on deck E, section 25. In real life, the D'deridex class was designed by Andrew Probert for Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The Norexan-class warbird was first seen in the movie Star Trek Nemesis as the IRW Valdore and its sister ship. It is not as long as a Federation Galaxy class starship, it encloses a smaller volume and is certainly not as massive. Very little is known about these ships: they are equipped with cloaking devices and appear to be very maneuverable despite their size. The two featured vessels were disabled by the Reman Warbird Scimitar. It should also be noted that, while the Scimitar was able to put the full force of its weapons against both the Enterprise-E and the Valdore, the Scimitar's cloaking device prevented similar reprisals from both vessels (Though the Valdore ships did seem to have an easier time of targeting the cloaked Scimitar than the Enterprise-E).
- The sleek and modern design is similar in concept to the Klingon Bird of Prey and may have been designed to serve during the Dominion War. It may also have been developed in response to the new Sovereign class starship or the Negh'Var class battleship - two newer designs. At least two starships of the class existed in 2379.
- The ship's official class designation is debated: it is listed in the customizable card game as the Norexan-class (Valdore being the name of an individual ship), while the Star Trek: Titan novels identify it as the Mogai-class; however, none of these names have been confirmed onscreen.
- Popular fandom overwhelmingly refers to these vessels as the Norexan-class in much the same way that it refers to a certain unnamed Federation type as the Akira-class. This is due to the card game being released a decade before the Titan novels and the fact that the card game is more widely known and recognized as opposed to the single Titan line of novels.
- Other non-canonical Norexan-class ships of the line include the IRW Norexan, IRW Mogai, IRW Pretorian, IRW Vitaar and IRW Noral.
Other Romulan ships
Romulan shuttles were known to be in use during the 2370s and were similar in size to a Federation Danube class runabout. The only featured vessel of this class was that of Senator Vreenak, shown visiting Deep Space 9, in the episode "In the Pale Moonlight". This type of vessel is known to possess a cloaking device; the ship was seen decloaking after landing at the station. The design scheme and design follows the general Romulan design of a D'deridex class.
This small Romulan vessel was first seen (obliterated) in the TNG episode "The Enemy", and later that season in "The Defector". It is used as a surveying/research vessel and transport. It is a small craft that was observed to hold a crew complement of about three. The class is equipped with deflector shields. Its forward crew cabin has a blunt-nosed profile bearing a distinct resemblance to the 20th century Boeing 747. The ship model was designed by TNG art illustrator Rick Sternbach.
Known scout ships
- Pi - This scout ship crashed on the planet Galorndon Core in 2366, after venturing about 0.5 light-years into Federation space. The ship autodestructed after crashing on the planet; only the wreck was recovered and observed partially on-screen. It is likely that the scout ship was on a covert operation in Federation space.
- Unnamed vessel - Seen in the episode "The Defector", this marked the first and only intact appearance of the ship type. The scout ship, commandeered by the notorious Admiral Jarok (who assumed the alias Sublieutenant Setal), flees across the Neutral Zone to the Federation with information of a possible invasion. After the ship is severely damaged by weapons fire from a pursuing Romulan D'deridex class Warbird, Jarok is granted asylum and evacuated from the scout; however, he activates the scout's autodestruct mechanism before Starfleet can board and inspect it.
The science vessel was a redress of the scout ship model, though hosts a crew of up to 73. The vessel was known to be equipped with deflector shields.
Known science vessels
- Unnamed vessel - In 2368, a vessel of this class (the only one seen externally) was testing an experimental interphase cloaking device. The vessel's warp core was damaged during testing, and it was aided in repairs by the Enterprise-D. The Starfleet crew provided the Romulan crew with a modified subspace resonator which allowed the science vessel to reach Warp 2 on its journey home. (TNG: "The Next Phase").
- Talvath - This science vessel, commanded by Dr. Telek R'Mor, was engaged in an extended three-year scientific mission; in 2351, it encountered a micro-wormhole whose opposite exit was located twenty years in the future, in the Delta Quadrant. Using this wormhole, R'Mor made contact with the stranded Federation starship, USS Voyager (VOY: "Eye of the Needle"). The vessel exterior remains unseen throughout the episode; given this and the time differential, it is unclear if the Talvath is of similar design to the science vessel seen in TNG.
- Romulan Bird-of-Prey (22nd century) at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Romulan drone-ship at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Romulan Bird-of-Prey (23rd century) at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- D7 class at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- D'deridex class at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Romulan scoutship at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Romulan science vessel at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Romulan shuttle at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Valdore type at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)