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The only known on-screen reference to a dreadnought comes from the radio chatter in the first Epsilon IX scene in TMP. 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.
The term "dreadnought," denoting a class of warship larger and more heavily-armed than a cruiser, was taken from the HMS Dreadnought, a Royal Navy ship-of-the-line of the early 20th century which was regarded as the first such vessel. HMS Dreadnought is considered to be the prototype modern battleship design and is considered a battleship, not a distinct class of ships, by current naval historians.