Destroyers are a class of a starship that are designed primarily for anti-frigate combat and small ship support. They are larger than frigates, and around the same length of cruisers, albeit with a much lower mass and volume. Their very focused role and purpose means they are seldom-used outside of military and security duties.
The first destroyers were developed as a response to the emergence of fast-moving frigates on the stellar battlefield. Initially, they started as stripped-down cruisers with smaller weaponry, though the designs were eventually streamlined to focus on speed and offensive capability, and less so on armor and endurance. First attempts were carried out by the Gallente against Caldari frigates, although they ultimately fell back on the tactic of using drones instead. The first real successes came with the Amarr, who used destroyers against rebel frigates during the Minmatar Rebellion.
Military forces were the exclusive operators of destroyers only until recently. There was little use for the starships for civilian purposes, and thus there was equally little demand. However, the increasing prevalence of private fleets on the clusterwide scene, as well as their need to defend themselves against the sudden rise of the pirate factions, meant that the empire navies began to sell their outdated destroyers to the general market.
Eventually, the balance of power shifted enough that there was little sense in withholding the vessels from non-military use. Civilian variants of modern destroyers became widely available, with the first capsule-compliant destroyers released to the pod pilot market in YC 107.
Destroyers are anti-frigate vessels first-and-foremost. Though similar in length to cruisers, the tactical requirements for speed means their mass and volume is a fraction of those vessels, closer to frigate-sized starships. As a result, destroyers have much less armor and shielding than larger ships. Destroyers equip a full rack of frigate-sized weaponry, which permits them to decimate small vessels while still being able to hold their own against cruisers and above (although their size can make them easy targets for medium-sized weaponry).
As combat-focused vessels, all of a destroyer’s systems are focused around ship-to-ship engagements. Their large cargo bays are designed to store ammunition for its primary weapons, and plentiful spares for supplying friendly combat frigates that the vessel is typically grouped with. The massive power requirements for the speed and weaponry means that most of the ship’s hull construction is focused on providing energy to the turrets and engines. Destroyers thus resemble extremely-cramped cruisers, with a bridge, crew quarters and dedicated engineering sections, interconnected with very narrow corridors.
Destroyers have a much lower endurance than both cruisers and frigates, and are not able to be away from harbor for extended periods. Its ability to berth is a common design consideration, with destroyers typically undocking alongside a squadron of frigates. The life support systems are not typically outfitted in sustaining a crew beyond its operational capacity, while the engineering systems will begin to show strain after a relatively short period of time.
A destroyer’s speed and large cargo bay means it is often a popular choice by independent captains for fast trade work, as well as salvaging and scavenging. However, since all destroyers are built with combat in mind, fundamentally changing its role can be extremely expensive, so it is rare to see a destroyer that is not outfitted for destroying.
The crew counts of destroyers tend to be in the low tens, with no more than fifty bodies on board, generally speaking. As destroyers are built for combat, there is little need for additional capacity for passengers and the like. Destroyers, like cruisers, have a more typical organizational structure, with a captain, first mate, and a small cadre of departmental officers, with deputies if necessary. For every station that needs manning, there are two rotating crew members, with the ship’s quarters designed to accommodate half of the required personnel. Officers share their cabins in rotation, though the captain has their own quarters, as per tradition.
The cramped conditions for destroyers is not for everyone. Moreover, as a destroyer only leaves dock with combat in mind, a very specific mindset is needed to live on one. As with frigates, only experienced or highly-trained crew are enlisted onto destroyers.