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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 Star Trek: The Motion Picture. 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.