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In starship classification, a heavy cruiser was a large multi-purpose starship, a term sometimes used synonymously with battle cruiser. While the Federation considered their Constitution-class starships to be heavy cruisers in their heyday, the Klingons referred to the same vessel, in their terms, as a battle cruiser. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
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Background information Edit
The term "heavy cruiser" was first used in the shooting script for Star Trek: The Motion Picture for describing the Klingon K't'inga-class starships. It was used later for an on-screen display of the Constitution-class, which was from the Star Fleet Technical Manual, and and it was spoken in reference to the Ambassador-class. It was thereafter picked up by the production staff on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in their behind-the-scenes technical texts (such as the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual).
In addition to the above, the following classes were referred to as "heavy cruisers" exclusively in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual: