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A naval ship is a military ship (or sometimes boat, depending on classification) used by a navy. Naval ships are differentiated from civilian ships by construction and purpose. Generally, naval ships are damage resilient and armed with weapon systems, though armament on troop transports is light or non-existent.
A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep waterways, carrying passengers or goods, or in support of specialized missions, such as defense, research and fishing. Historically, a "ship" was a sailing vessel with at least three square-rigged masts and a full bowsprit. Ships are generally distinguished from boats, based on size, shape, load capacity, and tradition.
A boat is a watercraft of a large range of type and size. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on their larger size, shape, and cargo or passenger capacity, and their ability to carry boats.
A navy or sea force is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake-borne, riverine, littoral, or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions. It includes anything conducted by surface ships, amphibious ships, submarines, and seaborne aviation, as well as ancillary support, communications, training, and other fields. The strategic offensive role of a navy is projection of force into areas beyond a country's shores. The strategic defensive purpose of a navy is to frustrate seaborne projection-of-force by enemies. The strategic task of the navy also may incorporate nuclear deterrence by use of submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Naval operations can be broadly divided between riverine and littoral applications, open-ocean applications, and something in between, although these distinctions are more about strategic scope than tactical or operational division.
Naval ships designed primarily for naval warfare are termed warships, as opposed to support (auxiliary ships) or shipyard operations.
Naval warfare is human combat in and on the sea, the ocean, or any other battlespace involving a major body of water such as a large lake or wide river.
An auxiliary ship is a naval ship designed to operate in support of combatant ships and other naval operations. Auxiliaries are not primary combatants, although they may have some limited combat capacity, usually of a self-defence nature.
A shipyard is a place where ships are built and repaired. These can be yachts, military vessels, cruise liners or other cargo or passenger ships. Dockyards are sometimes more associated with maintenance and basing activities than shipyards, which are sometimes associated more with initial construction. The terms are routinely used interchangeably, in part because the evolution of dockyards and shipyards has often caused them to change or merge roles.
Naval ship classification is a field that has changed over time, and is not an area of wide international agreement, so this article currently uses the system as currently used by the United States Navy.
The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. It has the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 336,978 personnel on active duty and 101,583 in the Ready Reserve, the U.S. Navy is the third largest of the U.S. military service branches in terms of personnel. It has 290 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of June 2019, making it the third-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force and the United States Army.
An aircraft carrier is a warship that serves as a seagoing airbase, equipped with a full-length flight deck and facilities for carrying, arming, deploying, and recovering aircraft. Typically, it is the capital ship of a fleet, as it allows a naval force to project air power worldwide without depending on local bases for staging aircraft operations. Carriers have evolved since their inception in the early twentieth century from wooden vessels used to deploy balloons to nuclear-powered warships that carry numerous fighters, strike aircraft, helicopters, and other types of aircraft. While heavier aircraft such as fixed-wing gunships and bombers have been launched from aircraft carriers, it is currently not possible to land them. By its diplomatic and tactical power, its mobility, its autonomy and the variety of its means, the aircraft carrier is often the centerpiece of modern combat fleets. Tactically or even strategically, it replaced the battleship in the role of flagship of a fleet. One of its great advantages is that, by sailing in international waters, it does not interfere with any territorial sovereignty and thus obviates the need for overflight authorizations from third party countries, reduce the times and transit distances of aircraft and therefore significantly increase the time of availability on the combat zone.
Carrier-based aircraft, sometimes known as carrier-capable aircraft or carrier-borne aircraft, are naval aircraft designed for operations from aircraft carriers. They must be able to launch in a short distance and be sturdy enough to withstand the abrupt forces of launching from and recovering on a pitching deck. In addition, their wings are generally able to fold up, easing operations in tight quarters.
Surface combatants are a subset of naval warships which are designed for warfare on the surface of the water, with their own weapons. They are generally ships built to fight other ships, submarines or aircraft, and can carry out several other missions including counter-narcotics operations and maritime interdiction. Their primary purpose is to engage space, air, surface, and submerged targets with weapons deployed from the ship itself, rather than by manned carried craft.
In rough order of tonnage (largest to smallest), modern surface naval ships are commonly divided into the following different classes. The larger ships in the list can also be classed as capital ships:
The capital ships of a navy are its most important warships; they are generally the larger ships when compared to other warships in their respective fleet. A capital ship is generally a leading or a primary ship in a naval fleet.
A helicopter carrier is a type of aircraft carrier whose primary purpose is to operate helicopters. A helicopter carrier has a large flight deck that occupies a large part of the ship, which can extend the full length of the ship like HMS Ocean of the Royal Navy (RN), or only partway, usually aft, as in the Soviet Navy's Moskva class, the Chinese Navy's Type 0891A or the Royal Fleet Auxiliary's (RFA) RFA Argus. It often also has a hangar deck for the storage of aircraft.
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of large caliber guns. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the battleship was the most powerful type of warship, and a fleet of battleships was considered vital for any nation that desired to maintain command of the sea.
The battlecruiser, or battle cruiser, was a type of capital ship of the first half of the 20th century. They were similar in displacement, armament and cost to battleships, but differed slightly in form and balance of attributes. Battlecruisers typically had slightly thinner armour and a lighter main gun battery than contemporary battleships, installed on a longer hull with much higher engine power in order to attain greater speeds. The first battlecruisers were designed in the United Kingdom in the first decade of the century, as a development of the armoured cruiser, at the same time as the dreadnought succeeded the pre-dreadnought battleship. The goal of the design was to outrun any ship with similar armament, and chase down any ship with lesser armament; they were intended to hunt down slower, older armoured cruisers and destroy them with heavy gunfire while avoiding combat with the more powerful but slower battleships. However, as more and more battlecruisers were built, they were increasingly used alongside the better-protected battleships.
Some classes above may now be considered obsolete as no ships matching the class are in current service. There is also much blurring / gray areas between the classes, depending on their intended use, history, and interpretation of the class by different navies.
A cruiser is a type of warship. Modern cruisers are generally the largest ships in a fleet after aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships, and can usually perform several roles.
A carrier battle group (CVBG) or carrier strike group (CSG) consists of an aircraft carrier and its large number of escorts, together defining the group. The first naval task forces built around carriers appeared just prior to and during World War II. The Imperial Japanese Navy, IJN, was the first to assemble many carriers into a single task force, known as Kido Butai. This task force was used with devastating effect in the Imperial Japanese Navy's attack on Pearl Harbor. Kido Butai operated as the IJN's main carrier battle group until four of its carriers were sunk at the Battle of Midway. In contrast, the United States Navy deployed its large carriers in separate formations, with each carrier assigned its own cruiser and destroyer escorts. These single-carrier formations would often be paired or grouped together for certain assignments, most notably the Battle of the Coral Sea and Midway. By 1943, however, large numbers of fleet and light carriers became available, which required larger formations of three or four carriers. These groups eventually formed the Fast Carrier Task Force, which became the primary battle unit of the U.S. Fifth and Third Fleets.
The United States Navy, United States Coast Guard, and United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) use a hull classification symbol to identify their ships by type and by individual ship within a type. The system is analogous to the pennant number system that the Royal Navy and other European and Commonwealth navies use.
The Kriegsmarine was the navy of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It superseded the Imperial German Navy of the German Empire (1871–1918) and the inter-war Reichsmarine (1919–1935) of the Weimar Republic. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches, along with the Heer (Army) and the Luftwaffe of the Wehrmacht, the German armed forces from 1933 to 1945.
A corvette is a small warship. It is traditionally the smallest class of vessel considered to be a proper warship. The warship class above the corvette is that of the frigate, while the class below was historically that of the sloop-of-war. The modern types of ship below a corvette are coastal patrol craft, missile boat and fast attack craft. In modern terms, a corvette is typically between 500 tons and 2,000 tons although recent designs may approach 3,000 tons, which might instead be considered a small frigate.
The Swedish Royal Navy is the naval branch of the Swedish Armed Forces. It is composed of surface and submarine naval units – the Royal Fleet – as well as marine units, the Amphibious Corps (Amfibiekåren).
A warship or combatant ship is a naval ship that is built and primarily intended for naval warfare. Usually they belong to the armed forces of a state. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more manoeuvrable than merchant ships. Unlike a merchant ship, which carries cargo, a warship typically carries only weapons, ammunition and supplies for its crew. Warships usually belong to a navy, though they have also been operated by individuals, cooperatives and corporations.
The littoral combat ship (LCS) is a set of two classes of relatively small surface vessels designed for operations near shore by the United States Navy. It was "envisioned to be a networked, agile, stealthy surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals." Littoral combat ships are comparable to the corvettes found in other navies.
Naval gunfire support (NGFS) is the use of naval artillery to provide fire support for amphibious assault and other troops operating within their range. NGFS is one of a number of disciplines encompassed by the term naval fires. Modern naval gunfire support is one of the three main components of amphibious warfare assault operations support, along with aircraft and ship-launched land-attack missiles. Shipborne guns have been used against shore defences since medieval naval warfare.
The Soviet Navy was the naval arm of the Soviet Armed Forces. Often referred to as the Red Fleet, the Soviet Navy was a large part of the Soviet Union's strategic plan in the event of a conflict with opposing super power, the United States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), or another conflict related to the Warsaw Pact of Eastern Europe. The influence of the Soviet Navy played a large role in the Cold War (1945-1991), as the majority of conflicts centered on naval forces.
The names of commissioned ships of the United States Navy all start with USS, for "United States Ship". Non-commissioned, primarily civilian-manned vessels of the U.S. Navy under the Military Sealift Command have names that begin with USNS, standing for "United States Naval Ship". A letter-based hull classification symbol is used to designate a vessel's type. The names of ships are selected by the Secretary of the Navy. The names are those of states, cities, towns, important persons, important locations, famous battles, fish, and ideals. Usually, different types of ships have names originated from different types of sources.
The Portuguese Navy is the naval branch of the Portuguese Armed Forces which, in cooperation and integrated with the other branches of the Portuguese military, is charged with the military defense of Portugal.
The People's Liberation Army Navy Surface Force is a branch of the People's Liberation Army Navy in China. It consists of all surface warships in operational service with the PLAN. It operates 661 ships. The ships are organized into three fleets: the North Sea Fleet, the East Sea Fleet, and the South Sea Fleet. The People's Liberation Army Navy is turning away from its traditional focus on coastal and littoral warfare and instead prioritising the development of blue water capabilities. This has led to a significant reduction in fleet numbers as the PLAN has replaced a larger number of smaller ships with a smaller number of larger and more capable ships, including destroyers, frigates, corvettes, amphibious warfare ships and large auxiliary ships.
The structure of the United States Navy consists of four main bodies: the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, the operating forces, and the Shore Establishment.
The Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen is a United States Naval Special Warfare Command team that operates and maintains an inventory of small craft used to conduct special operations missions, particularly those of the U.S. Navy SEALs. Individually, SEALs and SWCC go through similar but separate specialized training programs both based in Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. SWCC training emphasizes special operations in the maritime environment. SWCC are trained extensively in crafts and weapons tactics, techniques, and procedures. Focusing on clandestine infiltration and exfiltration of SEALs and other special operations forces, SWCC provide dedicated, rapid mobility in shallow water areas where large ships cannot operate. Their capabilities include Direct Action through coastline or rivers, Special Reconnaissance, Coastal Patrol and Interdiction of suspect ships and surface craft. SWCC specialize in swift mobility; due to this, they also have a high level of training in tactical driving and convoy operations. They've conducted many missions alongside SEALs from providing reconnaissance to clandestine infiltration and hot extractions.
Special Operations Craft – Riverine craft perform short-range insertion and extraction of special operations forces in river and near-shore environments.