Naval ship

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.

Naval ships designed primarily for naval warfare are termed warships, as opposed to support (auxiliary ships) or shipyard operations.

HMS Invincible (R05)
HMS Invincible, a British aircraft carrier
USS Port Royal CG-73
USS Port Royal, an American cruiser
US Navy 040625-N-9769P-082 The Canadian destroyer HMCS Algonquin (DDG 283) is shown underway in close formation with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and the guided missile frigate USS Ford (FFG 54)
HMCS Algonquin, a Canadian destroyer
HMAS Darwin (FFG 04)
HMAS Darwin, an Australian frigate
Al-Fahaheel, a La Combattante-class fast attack craft of the Kuwaiti Navy
BADEN-WURTTEMBERG 00257 (cropped)
The "Baden-Württemberg", an F125-class frigate of the German Navy; currently the biggest frigates worldwide

Naval ship classification

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.

  • Aircraft carrier – ships that serve as mobile seaborne airfields, designed primarily for the purpose of conducting combat operations by Carrier-based aircraft which engage in attacks against airborne, surface, sub-surface and shore targets.
  • Surface combatant – large, heavily armed surface ships which are designed primarily to engage enemy forces on the high seas, including various types of battleship, battlecruiser, cruiser, destroyer, frigate, and corvette.
  • Submarine – self-propelled submersible types regardless of whether they are employed as combatant, auxiliary, or research and development vehicles which have at least a residual combat capability.
  • Patrol combatant – combatants whose mission may extend beyond coastal duties and whose characteristics include adequate endurance and sea keeping providing a capability for operations exceeding 48 hours on the high seas without support.
  • Amphibious warfare – ships having organic capability for amphibious assault and which have characteristics enabling long duration operations on the high seas.
  • Combat logistics – ships that have the capability to provide underway replenishment to fleet units.
  • Mine warfare – ships whose primary function is mine warfare on the high seas.
  • Coastal defense – ships whose primary function is coastal patrol and interdiction.
  • Sealift – ships that have the capability to provide direct material support to other deployed units operating far from home base.
  • Support – ships, such as oilers, designed to operate in the open ocean in a variety of sea states to provide general support to either combatant forces or shore based establishments. (Includes smaller auxiliaries which, by the nature of their duties, leave inshore waters).
  • Service type craft – navy-subordinated craft (including non-self-propelled) designed to provide general support to either combatant forces or shore-based establishments.


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:

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.

See also

External links

Media related to Naval ships at Wikimedia Commons

  • "US Navy Ships". Official Website of the United States Navy. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  • Jordan, Valinsky (30 April 2015). "Here's the Entire U.S. Navy Fleet in One Chart". Official Website of the United States Navy. Retrieved 26 March 2017.*"United States Naval Recognition Training Slides-Grand Valley State University Archives and Special Collections". Archived from the original on 2017-04-18. Retrieved 2019-01-01.
ARA Ciudad de Rosario

ARA Ciudad de Rosario (Q-62) is a multi-purpose auxiliary ship of the Argentine Navy based at Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires. It was formerly USCGC Red Wood (WLM-685).

Ceremonial ship launching

Ceremonial ship launching is the process of transferring a vessel to the water. It is a naval tradition in many cultures, dating back thousands of years. It has been observed as a public celebration and a solemn blessing.

Ship launching imposes stresses on the ship not met during normal operation, in addition to the size and weight of the vessel, and it represents a considerable engineering challenge as well as a public spectacle. The process also involves many traditions intended to invite good luck, such as christening by breaking a sacrificial bottle of champagne over the bow as the ship is named aloud and launched.

Crater-class cargo ship

Crater-class cargo ship is a category of EC2-S-C1 type liberty ship freighters constructed by the United States Maritime Commission for use by the U.S. Navy during World War II. The designation 'EC2-S-C1' was composed of 'EC' (for Emergency Cargo), '2' (for a ship between 400 and 450 feet (120 and 140 m) long (Load Waterline Length)), 'S' (for steam engines), and 'C1' for a Type C1 ship.

The class was named for the lead ship of its type, USS Crater (AK-70). Its 62 hulls was the largest among U.S. Navy cargo ship classes.

The ships were propelled by a reciprocating steam engine using a single screw with a power of 1,950 hp (1,454 kW) shaft.

Fighter catapult ship

Fighter catapult ships also known as Catapult Armed Ships were an attempt by the Royal Navy to provide air cover at sea. Five ships were acquired and commissioned as Naval vessels early in the Second World War and these were used to accompany convoys.

The concept was extended to merchant ships which were also equipped with rocket assisted launch systems and known as Catapult Aircraft Merchantmen (CAM ships).

HMBS Nassau (P-61)

HMBS Nassau (P-61) is one of two patrol boats, with HMBS Bahamas (P-60), operated by the Bahamian military. Like her sister ship, Nassau is armed with several heavy Browning M2 .50 caliber machine guns and a light auto cannon. She is commonly used for capturing illegal immigrants (particularly from Haiti), anti-piracy and smuggling missions, hurricane relief, search and rescue, routine patrols, and assisting maritime police.

In August 2016 Nassau arrived in the Netherlands for a nine-month refit at the Damen Group's Maaskant shipyard at Stellendam.

HMS Fox (A320)

HMS Fox, pennant number A320, was a Bulldog-class hydrographic survey ship of the British Royal Navy.

HMS Heather (K69)

HMS Heather was a Flower-class corvette of the Royal Navy.

HMS Honeysuckle (K27)

HMS Honeysuckle was a Flower-class corvette that served with the Royal Navy during the Second World War. She served as an ocean escort in the Battle of the Atlantic.

HMS Mallow (1915)

HMS Mallow was an Acacia-class sloop built for the Royal Navy, and later operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as HMAS Mallow.

HMS Smiter (P272)

HMS Smiter is an Archer-class patrol and training vessel of the British Royal Navy.

KRI Fatahillah (361)

KRI Fatahillah is an Indonesian Navy ship named after Fatahillah, a national war heroic figure who recaptured Sunda Kelapa from the Portuguese and consequently changed its name to Jayakarta. KRI Fatahillah is a missile-equipped corvette, the first ship of Fatahillah class.

Mine countermeasures vessel

A mine countermeasures vessel or MCMV is a type of naval ship designed for the location of and destruction of naval mines which combines the role of a minesweeper and minehunter in one hull. The term MCMV is also applied collectively to minehunters and minesweepers.

Naval Sea Systems Command

The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) is the largest of the United States Navy's five "systems commands," or materiel (not to be confused with "material") organizations. NAVSEA consists of four shipyards, ten "warfare centers" (two undersea and eight surface), four major shipbuilding locations and the NAVSEA headquarters, located at the Washington Navy Yard, in Washington D.C.

NAVSEA's primary objective is to engineer, build, and support the U.S. Navy's fleet of ships and its combat systems. NAVSEA accounts for one quarter of the Navy's entire budget, with more than 150 acquisition programs under its oversight.

The other Navy systems commands are:

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR)

Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC)

Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP)

Parthian-class submarine

The Parthian-class submarine or P class was a class of six submarines built for the Royal Navy in the late 1920s. They were designed as long-range patrol submarines for the Far East. These boats were almost identical to the Odin class, the only difference being a different bow shape.

Raven-class minesweeper

The Raven class was a class of two World War II-era U.S. Navy minesweepers. They were succeeded by the Auk class which were based on the Ravens.

Ship prefix

A ship prefix is a combination of letters, usually abbreviations, used in front of the name of a civilian or naval ship which have historically served numerous purposes, such as identifying the vessel’s mode of propulsion, purpose, or ownership/nationality. In the modern environment prefixes are used inconsistently in civilian service, however, in government service the vessels prefix is seldom missing due to government regulations dictating a certain prefix be present. Today the common practice is to use a single prefix for all warships of a nation's navy, and other prefixes for auxiliaries and ships of allied services, such as coast guards. For example, the modern navy of Japan adopts the prefix “JS” – Japanese Ship. However, not all navies used prefixes; this includes the significant navies of China, France and Russia.

USNS Sirius (T-AFS-8)

USNS Sirius (T-AFS 8) was a Sirius-class combat stores ship of the United States Navy, named for Sirius (α Can. Maj.), the brightest visible star.

Sirius was built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson for the Royal Navy. Laid down in 1965, she was launched in 1966 from Wallsend as RFA Lyness (A339) in the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary. On 15 November 1980, the ship was acquired by charter by the United States Military Sealift Command. She was transferred to the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command in 1981.

Sirius was deactivated and struck from the Naval Vessel Register in 2005 and given to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD), then assigned to Texas Maritime Academy under an agreement that it can be activated by MARAD at any time. During the fall of 2005, the Sirius served in New Orleans for Katrina relief, from September 10 until November 29 and at Lake Charles, LA for Rita relief until March 2. Because of its extended relief effort the Sirius was unable to undergo a refit in 2006 to adapt its new role as a training vessel and comply with U.S. Coast Guard safety standards. Because the Sirius had not undergone a refit, it could not be formally commissioned as the USTS Texas Clipper III nor could it be used for summer training cruises. In the winter of 2009 the US Coast Guard ruled that the Sirius was unfit for training and was prepared for decommissioning while the school looked for a new training ship. On June 25, 2009, the Sirius was returned to the U.S. Maritime Administration.Google Earth imagery shows her anchored in Beaumont, TX as along with the Beaumont Reserve Fleet until February, 2013. Updated pictures as of October, 2014 show her no longer there.

The Ex-USNS Sirius, T-AFS-8 was sold for scrap to ESCO Marine, Inc. on May 5, 2014. The vessel departed the Beaumont Reserve Fleet on May 28, 2014 arriving at ESCO Marine, Inc., in Brownsville, TX on June 1, 2014. The vessel was completely dismantled and all materials recycled and properly disposed of by January 22, 2015.

USS Charles F. Adams

USS Charles F. Adams (DDG-2), named for Charles Francis Adams III (Secretary of the Navy from 1929 to 1933), was the lead ship of her class of guided missile destroyers of the United States Navy.

United States Naval Ship

United States Naval Ship (USNS) is the prefix designation given to non-commissioned ships that are property of the United States Navy (USN).

Aircraft carriers
Patrol craft
Fast attack craft
Mine warfare
Command and support


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