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Surface combatants (or surface ships or surface vessels) are a subset of naval
warship 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 ...
s which are designed for
warfare War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (new ...
on the surface of the water, with their own weapons and armed forces. They are generally ships built to fight other ships, submarines, aircraft or land targets, and can carry out several other missions including counter-narcotics operations and
maritime interdiction Maritime interdiction (or naval interdiction) operations (MIOs) are naval operations, that aim to delay, disrupt, or destroy enemy forces or supplies en route to the battle area before they do any harm against friendly forces, similar to air interdi ...
. 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.Naval Transformational Roadmap
Office of Naval Research The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is an organization within the United States Department of the Navy responsible for the science and technology programs of the U.S. Navy and United States Marine Corps, Marine Corps. Established by Congress in 19 ...
. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
Surface ships include
cruiser A cruiser is a type of warship 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 with ...

cruiser
s,
destroyer In naval A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically ...

destroyer
s,
frigate A frigate () is a type of warship A warship or combatant ship is a that is built and primarily intended for . Usually they belong to the of a state. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faste ...

frigate
s, and
corvette A corvette is a small warship. It is traditionally the smallest class of vessel considered to be a proper (or Rating system of the Royal Navy, "rated") warship. The warship class above the corvette is that of the frigate, while the class below wa ...

corvette
s, and several outdated types including
battleship A battleship is a large armored warship A warship or combatant ship is a that is built and primarily intended for . Usually they belong to the of a state. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually ...

battleship
s and
battlecruiser The battlecruiser (also written as battle cruiser 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 ...
s. The category does not include
aircraft carrier An aircraft carrier is a warship A warship or combatant ship is a that is built and primarily intended for . Usually they belong to the of a state. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster ...
s,
amphibious assault ship An amphibious assault ship is a type of amphibious warfare ship employed to land and support ground forces on enemy territory by an Amphibious warfare, amphibious assault. The design evolved from aircraft carriers converted for use as helicopter ...
s, and
mine hunter A minehunter is a naval ship, naval vessel that seeks, detects, and destroys individual naval mines. Minesweeper (ship), Minesweepers, on the other hand, clear mined areas as a whole, without prior detection of mines. A vessel that combines bot ...
s, as these generally do not use on board weapons system (i.e. aircraft carriers generally only attack with their aircraft, and mine hunters are not primarily combat vessels). However, some warships combine aspects of the surface combatant and other roles, such as the Russian ''Kuznetsov''-class aircraft carrier, which carries both aircraft and an array of conventional armament (the class is sometimes termed a "heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser"). Modern
naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat (French language, French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violence, violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapons) or unarmed (Hand-to-hand combat, not using ...
is divided into three operational areas:
anti-surface warfare Anti-surface warfare (ASuW or ASUW) is the branch of naval warfare concerned with the suppression of surface combatants. More generally, it is any weapons, sensors, or operations intended to attack or limit the effectiveness of an adversary's surfac ...
(ASUW),
anti-air warfare Anti-aircraft warfare or counter-air defence is the battlespace response to aerial warfare, defined by NATO as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action".AAP-6 It includes surface based, subsurface ...
(AAW), and
anti-submarine warfare Anti-submarine warfare (ASW, or in older form A/S) is a branch of underwater warfare that uses surface warships, aircraft, submarines, or other platforms, to find, track, and deter, damage, and/or destroy enemy submarines. Such operations are ...
(ASW). The current canonical combined arms naval
task force A task force (TF) is a unit or formation established to work on a single defined task or activity. Originally introduced by the United States Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unoffici ...
or task group centers around a
flagship A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer The commanding officer (CO) or sometimes, if the incumbent is a general officer A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, spac ...
hosting dedicated command elements to conduct tactical operations within each of these areas. In smaller surface action groups (i.e. a single or a few task elements, such as a lone
Aegis-equipped
Aegis-equipped
destroyer or cruisers on patrol), the same combatant commander may be responsible for managing all three areas as part of his duty in carrying out his vessel's mission, while larger formations such as a
carrier strike group A carrier strike group (CSG) is a type of carrier battle group A carrier battle group (CVBG) is a naval fleet consisting of an aircraft carrier (designated CV) capital ship and its large number of escorts, together defining the group. ...
may have an individual commander in charge of each separate warfare element. Western naval career advancement for
unrestricted line officer An unrestricted line officer (shortened to URL officer) is a designator given to a commissioned officer of the line in the United States Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , ...
s also follow this model: a career line officer in a command-oriented track will specialize, train, and be billeted into distinct surface, naval aviation, or subsurface warfare posts.


Missions


Anti-submarine warfare Anti-submarine warfare (ASW, or in older form A/S) is a branch of underwater warfare that uses surface warships, aircraft, submarines, or other platforms, to find, track, and deter, damage, and/or destroy enemy submarines. Such operations are ...

Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) is an important role for surface combatants, as submarines present a serious threat to navies and civilian vessels. Many surface combatants carry weapons and sensors to engage submarines, but increasingly an on-board
helicopter A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft A rotorcraft or rotary-wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air aircraft An aircraft is a vehicle or machine that is able to fly Flies are insect Insects or Insecta (from Latin Latin (, ...

helicopter
is used as the primary anti-submarine asset.


Anti-surface warfare Anti-surface warfare (ASuW or ASUW) is the branch of naval warfare concerned with the suppression of surface combatants. More generally, it is any weapons, sensors, or operations intended to attack or limit the effectiveness of an adversary's surfac ...

Anti-surface warfare (attacking enemy ships) is typically carried out using anti-ship missiles, often from the ship but also from helicopters - particularly against small ships such as
fast attack craft A fast attack craft of the Chilean Navy A fast attack craft (FAC) is a small, fast, agile and offensive warship armed with anti-ship missiles, Naval gun, gun or torpedoes. FACs are usually operated in close proximity to land as they lack both the ...
.
Naval gun Naval artillery is artillery mounted on a warship, originally used only for naval warfare and then subsequently used for naval gunfire support, shore bombardment and anti-aircraft roles. The term generally refers to tube-launched projectile-firin ...
s may also be used in an anti-surface role.


Anti-aircraft warfare Anti-aircraft warfare or counter-air defence is the battlespace response to aerial warfare, defined by NATO as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action".AAP-6 It includes Surface-to-air missile, surf ...

Anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) is typically defensive in nature, protecting the ship and other friendly ships against both aircraft and incoming missiles (which may be fired from aircraft, but also from other ships, submarines or land platforms). Some surface combatants are developing
anti-ballistic missile An anti-ballistic missile (ABM) is a surface-to-air missile designed to counter ballistic missiles (missile defense). Ballistic missiles are used to deliver nuclear weapon, nuclear, Chemical weapon, chemical, Bioagent, biological, or conventiona ...
and/or
anti-satellite missile Anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) are space weapons designed to incapacitate or destroy satellite In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object that has been intentionally placed into orbit. These objects are called artificial satellit ...
capabilities.


Land attack

Land attack takes two main forms: *
Naval gunfire support Naval gunfire support (NGFS) (also known as shore bombardment) is the use of naval artillery to provide fire support Fire support is defined by the United States Department of Defense as " Fires that directly support land Land is the soli ...
- support to troops ashore, often as part of an
amphibious operation Amphibious warfare is a type of offensive military operation that today uses naval ship Image:HMAS Darwin (FFG 04).jpg, , an Australian frigate A naval ship is a military ship (or sometimes boat, depending on classification) used by ...
* Strategic strike - destroying high-value targets, often at long range using cruise missiles such as
Tomahawk Image:Tomakawk-rmj.JPG, Pipe tomahawk A tomahawk is a type of single-handed axe native to the many Native Americans in the United States, Indigenous peoples and nations of North America, traditionally resembling a hatchet with a straight shaft. T ...
.


USN categories

In the
United States Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colors = Blue and gold  , colors_label = Colors , march = "Anchors Aweigh" , mascot = , equipment = List of equipment of the United St ...
, there are two divisions of surface combatant
missions Mission may refer to: Religion *Mission (station) A religious mission or mission station is a location for missionary work, in particular Christian missions. History Historically, missions have been religious communities used to spread ...
:Surface Combatant Force Requirement Study
Federation of American Scientists The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) is an American nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a ...
, Military Analysis Network, US Navy ships. Updated 1998-04-19. Retrieved 2009-08-29. * Battle Force Capability (BFC): defines ships capable of
command of the sea Command of the sea (also called control of the sea or sea control) is a naval military concept regarding the strength of a particular navy A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a Nation's armed forces principally designated ...
and power projection:For discussion of command of the sea and power projection, see pages 7-8 of reference - Naval Transformational Roadmap. ** in a
carrier battle group A carrier battle group (CVBG) is a naval fleet consisting of an aircraft carrier (designated CV) capital ship and its large number of naval convoy, escorts, together defining the group. The first naval task forces built around carriers appea ...
** as units of a Surface Action Group (SAG) without a carrier. * Protection of Shipping (POS): defines ships intended to protect: ** traditional
convoy A convoy is a group of vehicle A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine that transports people or cargo. Vehicles include wagons, bicycles, motor vehicles (motorcycles, cars, trucks, buses), railed vehicles (trains, trams), watercraft ...

convoy
s **
underway replenishment Replenishment at sea (RAS) (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental mili ...
groups **
amphibious warfare Amphibious warfare is a type of offensive Offensive may refer to: * Offensive, the former name of the Dutch political party Socialist Alternative (Netherlands), Socialist Alternative * Offensive (military), an attack * Offensive language ** Fi ...
groups


Notes


References

{{reflist Warships