The Kerl-class battleship, sometimes referred to as the Kerl-class Star Destroyer, was a warship designed for planetary defense, planetary assault, ground troop support, and ship-to-ship combat. It was produced for the Galactic Empire toward the end of the Galactic Civil War. It saw limited use by the Imperial Remnant, but rose to prominence in the navy of the Greater Sith Empire.
Kerl battleships shared largely the same design as the Victory I-class Star Destroyer, with the cylindrical bridge and communications antennae protruding from the command tower. One of the main differences in armament between the two classes were the eight heavy quad turbolaser turrets flanking the bridge structure, mimicking the placement of the heavy guns of the Imperial and Venator-class destroyers. These guns were the strongest mounted on the Kerl battleship, and while they were stronger than any turbolasers on the Victory-class, they were much less heat-efficient, leading to inopportune stalls during combat. To compensate for its less efficient firepower, the Kerl possessed a much larger hangar bay and carried twice as many starfighters as the Victory-class. Typical fighter complements consisted of two squadrons of TIE Fighters and two of TIE Bombers, or one of the Fighter squadrons exchanged for TIE Interceptors.
Kerl-class battleships were 800 meters long, smaller than the older Victory-class Star Destroyers. They were considered slightly weaker than Victory-class Star Destroyers, possessing shields of equal strength and weaker hull armor. Because of their weaker protection, Kerls were almost always deployed in groups of at least two. Their size allowed them to participate in atmospheric operations, allowing them to land on a planet surface and deploy ground forces directly. They also acted as direct fire support for ground forces, a tactic not seen regularly since the Clone Wars. Although the Kerl did have a triangularly-shaped hull and a raised bridge section, it was not considered a true Star Destroyer due to its small size and armament. Despite this, it was still referred to as such on occasion because of its similar appearance. Its role also gained it the nickname "pocket Star Destroyer".
The Kerl-class battleship was almost never seen in the Galactic Civil War, and as a result many people mistook the Kerl for a new design when it made its introduction into the fleets commanded by Darth Persia. In reality, the Kerl was produced by Kuat Drive Yards to help support Imperial Star Destroyers in the fleet of the Galactic Empire one year before the Battle of Endor. Although they performed well in field tests, the Kerl's combat roles were more or less already filled by the more powerful classes of Star Destroyers, and as a result, production of the new vessels was promptly halted. The few that had been already constructed were assigned to escort duties in the Outer Rim, and remained in obscurity.
After the fragmentation of the Empire with the death of their leader, the Kerl-class battleship was produced by some factions of the Imperial Remnant, who were very low in resources. The Dark Order of Korr was one of these factions, and sent the Kerls into battle alongside Enforcer-class picket cruisers, Strike-class medium cruisers, and other small capital ships. When the Greater Sith Empire was formed, it was decided that Kerl battleships would become the main capital ship of their naval forces due to its capabilities in combat, ability to directly deploy ground forces, and low cost and high speed in construction. Although the Imperial-class Star Destroyers were effective multipurpose capital ships, their production in the Sith Empire was dramatically decreased on the basis of the growing opinion that the previous models of Star Destroyers were larger, more powerful, and more costly than they needed to be. Therefore, the Imperial-class destroyers began to be used more as lead ships for task forces or fleets of smaller vessels, rather than composing the majority of fleets on their own.