A starbase is generally defined as a heavily-armed, heavily-defended facility used by spacefaring cultures at which both military and civilian spacecraft may be repaired and resupplied.
Starbases may be a deep space structure like K-7 or DS9, an orbital facility such as Starbase 1 (aka Earth Spacedock), a planetary surface facility, or a combination of both planetary surface and orbital structure(s) such as Starbase 11.
Starbases are often the hubs of activity within their assigned sectors. They act as:
- Trading posts and way stations for civilian transports
- Military garrison facilities, coordinating military starship operations and support
- Diplomatic, governmental, medical and legal services for both military and civilian personnel
- Scientific and Medical research centers
In many ways starbases are analogous to the forts, fortresses, and castles used on Earth during various period of its history.
Command and control
Within the United Federation of Planets most starbases are Starfleet facilities and commanded by a flag officer (commodore or an admiral grade), but depending on the primary function of the facility such as commerce or cargo transfer as was the case with Deep Space Station K-7, they can be under civilian authority as well.
Assigned and/or Support Craft
Depending on their size and primary function, the number of assigned and support craft would vary greatly. Almost all starbases carry a contingent of Auxiliary Craft such as Cargo management units (CMU or WorkBee), shuttlecraft or Runabouts.
Federation Starbases along the borders of belligerent stellar nations or realms like the Romulan Star Empire were often assigned a number of patrol ships to conduct extensive sensor sweeps into or across the border area, investigate anomalous sensor readings, conduct routine maintenance and repairs of sensor and navigation buoys, respond to ships in distress and act as a reactionary force in the event of a border breach. These patrol ships were most often Escort, Frigate or Destroyer type vessels.
Occasionally larger type starships were put on temporary assignment to a starbase often as a show of force or to reinforce the existing contingent during possible border crossings.
The use of starbases were proposed to Earth Starfleet as early as 2154. In this year, the NX-01 Enterprise was sent to scout for suitable planets on which starbases could be built. Among the potential candidates was the seventh planet of the Berengaria system. (ENT: "Bound")
The term "starbase" should not be confused with the term "space station", as not all starbases are space stations, nor are all space stations starbases. For example, an orbital dry dock gantry is a space station but not a starbase. Jupiter Station and the Regula I could be considered space stations but not starbases do to their primary functions as research facilities.
See also: Federation starbases