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Battlestar Names and Their Name Sources

Created by John Larocque on July 1, 1996
Last revised: April 1, 1998
Special thanks to Larry Mager, Michael Passmore and Chris Pappas

Acronyms used in this document:
BG, BSG - Battlestar Galactica
EG - Encyclopedia Galactica
CWTM - The Colonial Warriors Technical Manual

This document is ©2005, John Larocque. All rights reserved.


How Many Battlestars are There?

Perhaps this is a question best left unanswered. Here is a transcript of a dialog recorded at the Galactica 15 Yahren Reunion, between Glen Larson, and an inquiring fan (actually, Larry Mager dressed in Commander Cain garb):

Fan: What were the names of the twelve battlestars? We've seen different lists.
Larson: They weren't battlestars. They were the names of the planets.
Fan: You have the Galactica, the Pacifica, the Atlantia, the Pegasus... the ship names.
Larson: We never arrived that there were twelve battlestars. We only actually shot the Atlantia, the Pegasus, the Galactica. I can't think of any others.
Fan: During the attack by the Cylons on the fleet, you hear in the background, the Pacifica, the Triton is moving up alongside the Acropolis. You hear these different names coming up. And we are tryng to decipher what they were.
Larson: I appreciate the question and we have reason to want to look into that, and we'll have to research that.

The Sources of the Battlestar Names

There are five main sources used for the battlestar names in this document. The discussion of these sources also raises the question of what is a reliable battlestar name source, and what is the correct spelling.

1. Battlestar Galactica television episodes - In the 24 hours of the Battlestar Galactica series, only five battlestars are speficially mentioned. These are, in order of appearance: Galactica, Atlantia, Columbia, Pegasus and Rycon. There are three more mentioned in background from the pilot episode: Acropolis, Triton and Pacifica.

2. The Battlestar Galactica pocket books - There were fourteen pocket books published by Berkely between 1978 and 1984. Two of them are sources for battlestar names. The Pacifica and Solaria are found in the pilot novelization Battlestar Galactica (Berkley, 1978) by Robert Thurston, and the Cerberus in BG 7: War of the Gods (Berkley, 1982) by Nicolas Yermakov (aka Simon Hawke.)

3. The Official Battlestar Galactica Scrapbook (Grosset & Dunlap, 1978) by James Neyland - On page 14, this publication asserts that there were five surviving battlestars before the ambush at Cimtar, of which four were destroyed by Cylon forces. In addition to the Galactica, it names three of these four battlestars, namely, the Atlantia, the Pacifica, and the Solaria. This publication mentions the Pegasus, which was presumed to be destroyed prior to Cimtar, only to reemerge in the two-part episode "The Living Legend".

4. Encyclopedia Galactica: From the Fleet Library Aboard the Battlestar Galactica (Windmill, 1979) by Bruce Krause - Under the section "Battlestar", it is specifically stated that "only two of the twelve battlestars are known to have survived the Final Destruction," namely the Galactica and the Pegasus. Elsewhere, under the biography of Colonel Tigh, it says that he previously served aboard the Bellerephon (note the spelling.) This is undoubtedly where the idea of "twelve battlestars" first appeared.

5. The Colonial Warriors Technical Manual (Space Waste, 1988) - One idea in fandom is that there was one battlestar per colony. This is the first known published reference to that theory. Unfortunately, it is also poorly researched and edited, and the authors freely made up definitions, flags, and time unit relationships. They provide a list of twelve battlestars, each paired with its own colony. Bellerephon, from EG, is rendered as Bellephon. No mention is made of the Cerberus, from the novelization, War of the Gods. Four new battlestar names appear, including the Argo, the Olympia, the Poseidon, and the Prometheus.

6 Larry Mager's Battlestars article in Anomaly #15, published by Sue Paxton's Anomaly - Larry Mager, a long time Galactica fan, produced an extremely well researched article on the battlestar names in Anomaly #15. In addition to the series episodes, he relied on three other sources -- background dialog in the pilot episode, a list given to Robert Thurston by the Galactica producers, and conversations with New West, from Galactica's Costuming Department. All the battlestar names from the first four references are present in Mager's list, although the Acropolis does not appear in his list as a battlestar, but a freighter or escort ship to the Pacifica. Two names from the CWTM also appear, the Olympia and the Prometheus. Where Mager's list disagrees from the CWTM is the inclusion of the Cerberus and the Acropolis instead of the Argo and the Poseidon.

The CWTM and the EG, continue to have an influence on Galactica fandom. Recently the CWTM list was printed in one of the Maximum Press comic books. Prior to July 1996, the Battlestar Galactica Frequently Asked Questions made use of the CWTM list, and later, Mager's, before trimming the list down to the five battlestars specifically named in the series.

I. The Five Battlestars at Cimtar

Several sources, including the original script, state that there were only five battlestars present in the pilot episode, at the Battle of Cimtar. These are their names.

Galactica

Commander Adama's battlestar. Present at Cimtar.

Atlantia

President Adar's battlestar. Destroyed at Cimtar. First and last appearance in the pilot episode.

Acropolis

From background dialog in the pilot episode. Here is the first transcript from the home video version of the pilot (0:19:53):

Apollo: Zac?
Tigh: His ship was destroyed just short of the the fleet.
Background (female): Transferring target scanners to decks seven and eight.
Background (female): Battlestars Atlantia and Acropolis losing speed.
Background (male): Must regain speed three points to maintain position with Atlantia.

Here is the second transcript from the home video version of the pilot (0:25:05):

Adama: We're withdrawing. Flank speed for home.
Background (male): This is the Acropolis. We are on fire. Abandon ship. Request shuttles to...

Triton and Pacifica

From background dialog in the pilot episode. The Pacifica was also referenced in page 14 of The Battlestar Galactica Scrapbook, and the pilot novelization, Battlestar Galactica on page 11. The latter poses problems because it asserts that the Pacifica was destroyed prior to the peace conference. The Triton was also confirmed by New West from the costuming department. Here is the transcript from the home video version of the pilot (0:23:55):

Tigh: That puts them well within the range of the planets Virgon, Sagitarra...
Adama: and Caprica.
Background (male): Request damage reports from battlestars Triton and Pacifica.
Background (female): No response from the Triton and Pacifica.

II. Other Battlestar Names from the Series

In addition to the five battlestars named in the pilot, there are three other names used throughout the series.

Columbia

According to Centurion Vulpa, it was destroyed at Cimtar. This, however, contradicts dialog from the pilot episode, which does not name the Columbia as one of the five battlestars. Therefore, Vulpa is wrong. Here is the scene in "Gun on Ice Planet Zero - Part I":

Vulpa: What are the coordinates of the battlestar Galactica.
Cree: I'm from the Columbia.
Vulpa: The Columbia was destroyed at the peace conference.
Cree: Peace conference?

Pegasus

Commander Cain's battlestar. Presumed lost at the battle of Molocay, it reappears and disappears again in "The Living Legend".

Rycon

Commander Kronos' battlestar. Perished at the Battle of the Cosmara Archipelago, and mentioned in the episode "Take the Celestra".

III. Battlestar Names from Other Sources

These are battlestar names, from sources other than the series itself, including publications cited above, a list given to novelist Robert Thurston, and costume department information provided by New West. Most, if not all, can be considered non-canon.

Solaria

Referenced on page 14 of The Battlestar Galactica Scrapbook, and page 58 of the pilot novelizaton Battlestar Galactica. Both publications place the Solaria at Cimtar. This, however, contradicts dialog from the pilot episode, which does not name the Solaria as one of the five battlestars. Therefore, the books are wrong. The name is also confirmed from costume department information.

Cerberus

Referenced on page 147 of the War of the Gods novelization by Nicolas Yermakov. The name is also confirmed by costume department information. "I [Adama] was assigned to the Bronze Squadron of the battlestar Cerberus. My wingmates were Lieutenant Cain, who would later command the Pegasus, and Lieutenant Apollo. Yahrens later, when my first son was born, I named him in honor of my friend." The Maximum Press comic Battlestar Galactica Special Edition #1, uses this passage from the novelization as the basis for its story.

Bellerophon

Referenced under the section "Tigh" in Encylopedia Galactica, as Bellerephon. It is also present in a list given to Robert Thurston. According to Thurston's list, Bellerophon is the correct spelling.

Olympia and Valiant

The Olympia is from Thurston's list, and is also referenced in the CWTM. According to Mager, a variant list has the Valiant in place of the Olympia.

Promotheus, Argo and Poseidon

Three more battlestar names from the CWTM. The Prometheus was also confirmed from costume department information.