Battle barges rival the battleships of the Imperial Navy in size, speed, and firepower. Their armament, however, is designed more for suppressing planetary defenses and bombarding surface targets than ship-to-ship combat. Battle barge designs can vary considerably from chapter to chapter.
A battle barge has launch and recovery facilities for small craft. The Space Marines make extensive uses of such facilities, typically carrying large numbers of landing vehicles (such as Thunderhawk gunships) and support craft for inserting troops onto hostile planets. A battle barge also includes teleportoriums for insertion of troops from orbit. A battle barge may carry three or more full companies of Space Marines to a combat zone.
While heavily armed, armored, and shielded, battle barges tend to maneuver slowly, making them vulnerable to attack from faster warships. Consequently, they are invariably accompanied by a fleet of escorts for additional protection.