Sharlin Class Warcruiser
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2009)|
|First appearance||In the Beginning (chronological)|
|Fighters||15 Nial class fighters |
|Auxiliary craft||Flyers |
|Armaments||6 Neutron Cannons
1 Electromagnetic Pulse cannon
|Defenses||Tractor beams 
Minbari stealth device
|Propulsion||Stalasha gravimetric drive |
|Power||Fusion Reactors |
The Sharlin Class Warcruiser is the main starship used by the Minbari Federation in the fictional Babylon 5 universe. Also commonly known as the Minbari War Cruiser, the Sharlin class is very large but conflicting sizes have been noted by different resources. The accepted size figure of 1,600 meters in length and roughly 1,900 meters in height was first noted by fan writer Brandon Bray, who worked as a consultant for Mongoose Publishing, producers of the Official Babylon 5 Role Playing Game. This size was officially accepted by Mongoose and published in their game line.
Sharlin class ships do not use conventional engines like rockets or ion propulsion. Instead, the Minbari War Cruiser used a combination of gravitational and electromagnetic fields for propulsion, a system called a gravimetric drive system in the episode "Mediations on the Abyss". This, described by Minbari Ambassador Delenn in the episode "Matters of Honor", was used to provide propulsion and artificial gravity. No canon information exists on what powered Minbari ships, save for some vague references to fusion reactors. Material from Mongoose Publishing suggests that Minbari warships use an artificial quantum singularity for its main power, while fusion reactors provide a secondary reserve power for this type of vessel. The Sharlin class is very well armed, having gravitic and electro-magnetic cannons. In the TV movie "In the Beginning" this type ship was seen destroying an Earth space station, the Minbari weapon vaporizing an estimated volume of 3770 cubic meters, with a low-end destructive output of 265 Terawatts (63.3 kiloton per second). The ship also makes use of stealth technology which allows it to become effectively invisible to the scanners and targeting systems used by the younger races seen in the TV series.
These ships can hold up to 8,000 people. In peacetime the Sharlin class ships only have the 190 person regular crew. In combat situations there can be 60 additional combat personnel, such as pilots, gunners, and other support officers, and about 8,000 ground troops. The low crew requirement is due to the advanced computer system in place. The Valen'tha—a specially equipped Sharlin class—is home to the Grey Council, the leaders of the Minbari government.
The Sharlin class ships have a special holographic chamber. The chamber provides a complete 360 degree 3D image of the space around the ship. Normally it is used as a command center during battle situations. This chamber allows the commander to view the battlefield. A similar chamber is used by the Grey Council.
Among the younger races of the galaxy, the Sharlin class has no equals. During the Earth-Minbari war only a few Sharlin class ships were lost, typically by ramming, while the Sharlin class inflicted heavy casualties on the humans. However, the Sharlin class was no match for the more advanced First Ones—the Shadows were able to destroy a number of Sharlin class ships during the course of the war with ease through the use of planet killer missiles and slicer beams. In Babylon 5: A Call to Arms, a Sharlin is annihilated as it intercepts a planet killer missile aimed at the IAS Excalibur.
Known Sharlin Class Ships
- Drala Fi (Black Star) - The Minbari Flagship during the Earth-Minbari War. Destroyed by Captain John Sheridan on board the EAS Hyperion earning him the title of "Starkiller" by all Minbari, and making him the only publicly known Earth captain to have destroyed a Minbari Cruiser and survive. Since the Minbari lost many ships in the 2 year war, it's almost certain many Earth captains also survived battle with the Minbari, but Sheridan is the only one actually shown "on screen" defeating them. In a later episode, Susan gives Sheridan a piece of the Black Star that EarthForce now had for over 10 years post-war, and EarthForce likely used it to study the Minbari ships and was maybe how Earth managed to break their stealth technology after the war ended, as seen in Season 3 and Season 4 EarthForce ships were able to achieve a full weapons lock onto Minbari ships.:31
- Trigati - This ship participated in the Battle of the Line. When the order to surrender came, the ship's captain committed suicide rather than obey. His crew took the ship into hyperspace, and spent the next ten years in exile. In 2259, after John Sheridan took command of Babylon 5, the Trigati reappeared and tried to provoke Sheridan into firing on them in the hopes of restarting the Earth-Minbari War. When he refused, another Minbari vessel came out of hyperspace and attempted to force the Trigati's surrender. The Trigati's crew committed suicide rather than obey.:174
- Ingata - This war cruiser came to Babylon 5 in 2258 while carrying home the body of the deceased war leader Branmer.:148
- Valen'tha - a specialized advanced war cruiser that serves as home to the Grey Council. It was this vessel that was severely damaged and basically destroyed by EarthForce (the humans) at the disastrous first contact between the humans and Minbari. The EarthForce Hyperion opened fire on the Minbari war cruiser, completely ripping through and destroying the Minbari armor in only one volley, and it ripped apart the Minbari warships hull. The damage done to the Minbari warship by the EarthForce Hyperion was so severe it had rendered the Minbari warship completely disabled and useless, and resulted in the death of the Minbari leader Dukhat along with the majority of the Minbari crew on board. This started the war between Minbar and Earth.
- Dogato - John Sheridan and Delenn commanded the first major battle of the Army of Light against the Shadows in sector 83 from this ship.
- Enfili - This vessel also participated in the first major battle against the Shadows in Sector 83.
During the Earth-Minbari war, many EarthForce ships where able to damage or even destroy Minbari ships, which resulted in the war lasting over 2 years. The problem was, at the time, EarthForce ships could not achieve a weapons lock due to the Minbari stealth system they used on their ships. This forced EarthForce ships to fire manually in space, which made it near impossible for most EarthForce ships to land hits on Minbari ships. Although even with only manual firing, it's said that many Minbari still died fighting Earth during the bloody 2 year war. An EarthForce Nova class destroyer was capable of ramming the capital class ship of the Minbari, the Sharlin, and destroying it while the Earth ship still remained intact. Due to the stealth systems and need to fire manually, many Earth ships instead would ram Minbari ships in order to destroy them. Although not all EarthForce ships resorted to ramming, as even with manual fire, we know Earth still destroyed Minbari ships as even stated by Sinclair when he said quote "I took out one of their fighters, and then hit my afterburners", so it's clear that during battles the Minbari did in fact lose both warships and fighters, but Earth took much heavier losses due to the stealth technology of the Minbari. It wasn't until 10 years later in Season 3 that Earth had broken the Minbari stealth tech and could now fully lock onto Minbari ships. Now 10 years later, Earth-Alliance with its new ships could arguably defeat the Minbari if a war where to occur again, due to EarthForce having new ships with much stronger firepower, and most importantly, having broken the Minbari stealth.
- The Official Guide to Babylon 5 (CD ROM)
- "All Alone in the Night". Babylon 5.
- "Points of Departure". Babylon 5.
- Bassom, David (1997). The A-Z Guide to Babylon 5. Dell Publishing. ISBN 0440223857.
- Lane, Andy (1997). The Babylon File:The Definitive Unauthorized Guite to J. Michael Straczynski's Babylon 5. Virgin Publishing. ISBN 0753500493.