Warship

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The Cannon Shot (1670) by Willem van de Velde the Younger, showing a late Dutch 17th-century ship of the line Het Kanonschot - Canon fired (Willem van de Velde II, 1707).jpg
The Cannon Shot (1670) by Willem van de Velde the Younger, showing a late Dutch 17th-century ship of the line

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. [1] As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more maneuverable 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.

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In wartime, the distinction between warships and merchant ships is often blurred. In war, merchant ships are often armed and used as auxiliary warships, such as the Q-ships of the First World War and the armed merchant cruisers of the Second World War. Until the 17th century it was common for merchant ships to be pressed into naval service and not unusual for more than half a fleet to be composed of merchant ships. Until the threat of piracy subsided in the 19th century, it was normal practice to arm larger merchant ships such as galleons. Warships have also often been used as troop carriers or supply ships, such as by the French Navy in the 18th century or the Japanese Navy during the Second World War.

History and evolution of warships

First warships

The first evidence of ships being used for warfare was in Ancient Egypt, specifically the northern Nile River most likely to defend against Mediterranean inhabitants. The galley warship most likely originated in Crete an idea which was soon copied and popularized by the Phoenicians. In the time of Mesopotamia, Ancient Persia, Phoenicia, Ancient Greece and the Ancient Rome, warships were always galleys (such as biremes, triremes and quinqueremes): long, narrow vessels powered by banks of oarsmen and designed to ram and sink enemy vessels, or to engage them bow-first and follow up with boarding parties. The development of catapults in the 4th century BC and the subsequent refinement of this technology enabled the first fleets of artillery-equipped warships by the Hellenistic age. During late antiquity, ramming fell out of use and the galley tactics against other ships used during the Middle Ages until the late 16th century focused on boarding.

The Age of Sail

Naval artillery was redeveloped in the 14th century, but cannon did not become common at sea until the guns were capable of being reloaded quickly enough to be reused in the same battle. The size of a ship required to carry a large number of cannon made oar-based propulsion impossible, and warships came to rely primarily on sails. The sailing man-of-war emerged during the 16th century.

By the middle of the 17th century, warships were carrying increasing numbers of cannon on their broadsides and tactics evolved to bring each ship's firepower to bear in a line of battle. The man-of-war now evolved into the ship of the line. In the 18th century, the frigate and sloop-of-war  – too small to stand in the line of battle – evolved to escort convoy trade, scout for enemy ships and blockade enemy coasts. [2]

Steel, steam and shellfire

During the 19th century a revolution took place in the means of marine propulsion, naval armament and construction of warships. Marine steam engines were introduced, at first as an auxiliary force, in the second quarter of the 19th century. The Crimean War gave a great stimulus to the development of guns. The introduction of explosive shells soon led to the introduction of iron, and later steel, naval armour for the sides and decks of larger warships. The first ironclad warships, the French Gloire and British Warrior, made wooden vessels obsolete. Metal soon entirely replaced wood as the main material for warship construction.

From the 1850s, the sailing ships of the line were replaced by steam-powered battleships, while the sailing frigates were replaced by steam-powered cruisers. The armament of warships also changed with the invention of the rotating barbettes and turrets, which allowed the guns to be aimed independently of the direction of the ship and allowed a smaller number of larger guns to be carried.

The final innovation during the 19th century was the development of the torpedo and development of the torpedo boat. Small, fast torpedo boats seemed to offer an alternative to building expensive fleets of battleships.

Pre-dreadnought era

Pre-dreadnought battleships were sea-going battleships built between the mid- to late- 1880s and 1905, before the launch of HMS Dreadnought in 1906. The pre-dreadnought ships replaced the ironclad battleships of the 1870s and 1880s. Built from steel, protected by case-hardened steel armour, and powered by coal-fired triple-expansion steam engines, pre-dreadnought battleships carried a main battery of very heavy guns in fully-enclosed rotating turrets supported by one or more secondary batteries of lighter weapons. The role of corvettes, sloops and frigates were taken by new types of ships like destroyers, protected cruisers and armoured cruisers.

20th century to present

The dreadnought era

Another revolution in warship design began shortly after the start of the 20th century, when Britain launched the Royal Navy's all-big-gun battleship Dreadnought in 1906. Powered by steam turbines, it was bigger, faster and more heavily gunned than any existing battleships, which it immediately rendered obsolete. It was rapidly followed by similar ships in other countries. The Royal Navy also developed the first battlecruisers. Mounting the same heavy guns as the dreadnoughts on an even larger hull, battlecruisers sacrificed armour protection for speed. Battlecruisers were faster and more powerful than all existing cruisers, which they made obsolete, but battlecruisers proved to be much more vulnerable than contemporary battleships. The torpedo-boat destroyer was developed at the same time as the dreadnoughts. Bigger, faster and more heavily gunned than the torpedo boat, the destroyer evolved to protect the capital ships from the menace of the torpedo boat.

At this time, Britain also developed the use of fuel oil to produce steam to power warships, instead of coal. While reliance on coal required navies to adopt a "coal strategy" to remain viable, fuel oil produced twice the power and was significantly easier to handle. [3] [4] Tests were conducted by the Royal Navy in 1904 involving the torpedo-boat destroyer Spiteful, the first warship powered solely by fuel oil. [5] [6] These proved its superiority, and all warships procured for the Royal Navy from 1912 were designed to burn fuel oil. [7] [8]

Decline of battleships

During the lead-up to the Second World War, Germany and Great Britain once again emerged as the two dominant Atlantic sea powers. Germany, under the Treaty of Versailles, had its navy limited to only a few minor surface ships. But the clever use of deceptive terminology, such as Panzerschiffe deceived the British and French commands. They were surprised when ships such as Admiral Graf Spee, Scharnhorst, and Gneisenau raided the Allied supply lines. The greatest threat though, was the introduction of the Kriegsmarine's largest vessels, Bismarck and Tirpitz. Bismarck was heavily damaged and sunk/scuttled after a series of sea battles in the north Atlantic in 1941, while Tirpitz was destroyed by the Royal Air Force in 1944. The British Royal Navy gained dominance of the European theatre by 1943.

Japanese battleship Yamato under air attack off Kure on 19 March 1945 Japanese battleship Yamato under air attack off Kure on 19 March 1945 (80-G-309662).jpg
Japanese battleship Yamato under air attack off Kure on 19 March 1945

The Second World War brought massive changes in the design and role of several types of warships. For the first time, the aircraft carrier became the clear choice to serve as the main capital ship within a naval task force. World War II was the only war in history in which battles occurred between groups of carriers. World War II saw the first use of radar in combat. It brought the first naval battle in which the ships of both sides never engaged in direct combat, instead sending aircraft to make the attacks, as in the Battle of Coral Sea.

Russian Typhoon-class submarine Typhoon3.jpg
Russian Typhoon-classsubmarine

Cold War-era

Modern warships are generally divided into seven main categories, which are: aircraft carriers, cruisers, [lower-alpha 1] destroyers, frigates, corvettes, submarines, and amphibious assault ships. Battleships comprise an eighth category, but are not in current service with any navy in the world. Only the deactivated American Iowa-classbattleships still exist as potential combatants, and battleships in general are unlikely to re-emerge as a ship class without redefinition. The destroyer is generally regarded as the dominant surface-combat vessel of most modern blue-water navies. However, the once distinct roles and appearances of cruisers, destroyers, frigates, and corvettes have blurred. Most vessels have come to be armed with a mix of anti-surface, anti-submarine and anti-aircraft weapons. Class designations no longer reliably indicate a displacement hierarchy, and the size of all vessel types has grown beyond the definitions used earlier in the 20th century. Another key differentiation between older and modern vessels is that all modern warships are "soft", without the thick armor and bulging anti-torpedo protection of World War II and older designs.

Most navies also include many types of support and auxiliary vessels, such as minesweepers, patrol boats and offshore patrol vessels.

By 1982 the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) treaty negotiations had produced a legal definition of what was then generally accepted as a late-twentieth century warship. The UNCLOS definition was : "A warship means a ship belonging to the armed forces of a State bearing the external marks distinguishing such ships of its nationality, under the command of an officer duly commissioned by the government of the State and whose name appears in the appropriate service list or its equivalent, and manned by a crew which is under regular armed forces discipline." [1]

Development of the submarine
USS Plunger submarine USS Plunger - NH 85735 - cropped.jpg
USS Plunger submarine

The first practical submarines were developed in the late 19th century, but it was only after the development of the torpedo that submarines became truly dangerous (and hence useful). By the end of the First World War submarines had proved their potential. During the Second World War Nazi Germany's submarine fleet of U-boats almost starved Britain into submission and inflicted huge losses on US coastal shipping. The success of submarines led to the development of new anti-submarine convoy escorts during the First and Second World Wars, such as the destroyer escort. Confusingly, many of these new types adopted the names of the smaller warships from the age of sail, such as corvette, sloop and frigate.

Development of the aircraft carrier

A seaplane tender is a ship that supports the operation of seaplanes. Some of these vessels, known as seaplane carriers, could not only carry seaplanes but also provided all the facilities needed for their operation; these ships are regarded by some as the first aircraft carriers and appeared just before the First World War.

A major shift in naval warfare occurred with the introduction of the aircraft carrier. First at Taranto and then at Pearl Harbor, the aircraft carrier demonstrated its ability to strike decisively at enemy ships out of sight and range of surface vessels. By the end of the Second World War, the carrier had become the dominant warship.'

Development of the amphibious assault ship

Shinshū Maru was a ship of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. She was the world's first landing craft carrier ship to be designed as such, and a pioneer of modern-day amphibious assault ships. During some of her operations, she was known to have used at least four cover names, R1, GL, MT, and Ryujo Maru.[ citation needed ]

An amphibious warfare ship is an amphibious vehicle warship employed to land and support ground forces, such as marines, on enemy territory during an amphibious assault. Specialized shipping can be divided into two types, most crudely described as ships and craft. In general, the ships carry the troops from the port of embarkation to the drop point for the assault and the craft carry the troops from the ship to the shore. Amphibious assaults taking place over short distances can also involve the shore-to-shore technique, where landing craft go directly from the port of embarkation to the assault point. Amphibious assault ships have a well deck with landing craft which can carry tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles and also have a deck like a helicopter carrier for helicopters and V/STOL aircraft.

Types


See also

Notes

  1. The Kirov-class battlecruiser is a guided missile cruiser that straddles the line between a heavy cruiser and a battlecruiser. They are often called battlecruiser by Western defense commentators. [9]

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battleship</span> Large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Torpedo boat</span> Small, fast naval ship designed to carry torpedoes into battle

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pre-dreadnought battleship</span> Battleships built from the 1880s to 1905

Pre-dreadnought battleships were sea-going battleships built between the mid- to late- 1880s and 1905, before the launch of HMS Dreadnought in 1906. The pre-dreadnought ships replaced the ironclad battleships of the 1870s and 1880s. Built from steel, protected by case-hardened steel armour, and powered by coal-fired triple-expansion steam engines, pre-dreadnought battleships carried a main battery of very heavy guns in fully-enclosed rotating turrets supported by one or more secondary batteries of lighter weapons.

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This glossary defines the various types of ships and accessory watercraft that have been used in service of the United States. Such service is mainly defined as military vessels used in the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard, as well as the defunct, incorporated, or renamed institutions such as the United States Revenue Cutter Service. Service of the United States can also be defined in this context as special government missions in the form of expeditions, such as the Wilkes Expedition or the North Pacific Exploring and Surveying Expedition. The scope of the glossary encompasses both the "Old Navy" of the United States, from its beginnings as the "Continental Navy", through the "New Navy" and up to modern day. The watercraft included in the glossary are derived from United States ships with logbooks published by the National Archives and Records Administration.

References

Footnotes

  1. 1 2 "United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Part II, Subsection C". United Nations. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  2. Winfield, Rif; Roberts, Stephen S. (2017-10-30). French Warships in the Age of Sail 1626–1786. Pen & Sword Books Limited. ISBN   9781473893535.
  3. Bacon 1901, p. 246.
  4. Dahl 2001, p. 51.
  5. Anon. 1904b, p. 27.
  6. Lyon 2005, p. 80.
  7. Lyon 2005, p. 97.
  8. Siegel 2002, p. 181.
  9. Armi da guerra, De Agostini, Novara, 1985.

Bibliography