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A warship or combatant ship is a
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 control, damage resilient an ...
that is built and primarily intended for
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 ...
. Usually they belong to the
armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or pa ...
of a state. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more maneuverable than
merchant ships A merchant is a person who trades in Commodity, commodities produced by other people, especially one who trades with foreign countries. Historically, a merchant is anyone who is involved in commerce, business or trade. Merchants have operated for ...
. 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 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 War is an intense ...

navy
, though they have also been operated by individuals,
cooperative A cooperative (also known as co-operative, co-op, or coop) is "an autonomous The federal subject The federal subjects of Russia, also referred to as the subjects of the Russian Federation (russian: субъекты Российск ...
s and
corporation A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the State (polity), state to act as a single entity (a legal entity recognized by private and public law "born out of statute"; a legal person in legal ...

corporation
s. 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-ship Q-ships, also known as Q-boats, decoy vessels, special service ships, or mystery ships, were heavily armed merchantman, armed merchant ships with concealed weaponry, designed to Camouflage#Camouflage by mimesis, lure submarines into making surfa ...
s of the
First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainmen ...
and the
armed merchant cruiser An armed merchantman is a merchant ship equipped with guns, usually for defensive purposes, either by design or after the fact. In the days of sail, piracy and privateer A privateer is a private person or ship that engages in maritime warfare ...
s of the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. 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 Fleet may refer to: Vehicles *Fishing fleet *Naval fleet *Fleet vehicles, a pool of motor vehicles *Fleet Aircraft, the aircraft manufacturing company Places Canada *Fleet, Alberta, Canada, a hamlet England *Chesil Beach#The Fleet Lagoon, The F ...
to be composed of merchant ships. Until the threat of
piracy Piracy is an act of robbery Robbery is the crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine publi ...

piracy
subsided in the 19th century, it was normal practice to arm larger
merchant ship A merchant ship, merchant vessel, trading vessel, or merchantman is a watercraft Watercraft, also known as water vessels or waterborne vessels, are vehicles A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine A machine is any physical syst ...

merchant ship
s such as
galleon on the "Suez Expedition" (part of the Portuguese Armada of 72 ships sent against the Ottoman fleet anchor in Suez, Egypt, in response to its entry in the Indian Ocean and the siege of Diu in 1538) – ''Tábuas da India'' in the João de Cast ...
s. Warships have also often been used as
troop carrier {{Use American English, date = February 2019 A troop carrier is a means of transporting soldiers. A troop carrier vehicle may be configured for troop transport while used for other purposes at other times. Examples

The Douglas C-47 Skytra ...
s or supply ships, such as by the
French Navy The French Navy (french: Marine nationale, lit=National Navy), informally , is the maritime arm of the French Armed Forces The French Armed Forces (french: Forces armées françaises) encompass the Army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "ar ...
in the 18th century or the
Japanese Navy , also simply known as the Japanese Navy, is the maritime warfare branch of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, tasked with the naval defense of Japan. The JMSDF was formed following the dissolution of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) after World War ...
during the Second World War.


History and evolution of warships


First warships

In the time of
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
,
Ancient Persia The history of Iran, which was commonly known until the mid-20th century as Name of Iran, Persia in the Western world, is intertwined with the history of a larger region, also to an extent known as Greater Iran, comprising the area from Anatolia ...
,
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era wa ...
and the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
, warships were always
galley A galley is a type of ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep Sea lane, waterways, carrying goods or passengers, or in support of specialized missions, such as defense, research, and fis ...

galley
s (such as
bireme A bireme (, ) is an ancient oared warship (galley A galley is a type of ship that is propelled mainly by oars. The galley is characterized by its long, slender hull, shallow draft (hull), draft, and low freeboard (nautical), freeboard (clearance ...
s,
trireme A trireme (, ; derived from Latin: ''trirēmis'' "with three banks of oars"; 'triērēs'', ''literally "three-rower") was an ancient vessel and a type of galley A galley is a type of ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the w ...

trireme
s and
quinquereme From the 4th century BC on, new types of galley, oared warships appeared in the Mediterranean Sea, superseding the trireme and transforming naval warfare. Ships became increasingly large and heavy, including some of the largest wooden ships hither ...
s): long, narrow vessels powered by banks of
oar An oar is an implement used for water-borne propulsion. Oars have a flat blade at one end. Rowers grasp the oar at the other end. The difference between oars and paddles is that oars are used exclusively for rowing. In rowing the oar is connect ...
smen and designed to ram and sink enemy vessels, or to engage them
bow Bow often refers to: * Bow and arrow The bow and arrow is a ranged weapon A ranged weapon is any weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or device that can be used with the intent to inflict physical damage or harm. Weapons ar ...
-first and follow up with boarding parties. The development of
catapult A catapult is a ballistic device used to launch a projectile a great distance without the aid of gunpowder Gunpowder, also known as the retronym black powder to distinguish it from modern smokeless powder, is the earliest known chemical ...

catapult
s in the 4th century BC and the subsequent refinement of this technology enabled the first fleets of
artillery Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch Ammunition, munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry firearms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls and fortifications dur ...

artillery
-equipped warships by the
Hellenistic age The Hellenistic period spans the period of Mediterranean history The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, We ...
. During
late antiquity Late antiquity is a periodization Periodization is the process or study of categorizing the past into discrete, quantified named blocks of time.Adam Rabinowitz. It’s about time: historical periodization and Linked Ancient World Data'. Inst ...
,
ramming In warfare, ramming is a technique used in air, sea, and land combat. The term originated from battering ram A battering ram is a siege engine A siege engine is a device that is designed to break or circumvent heavy castle doors, thick cit ...
fell out of use and the
galley tactics Galley A galley is a type of ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep Sea lane, waterways, carrying goods or passengers, or in support of specialized missions, such as defense, research, a ...
against other ships used during the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
until the late 16th century focused on boarding.


The Age of Sail

Naval artillery Naval artillery is artillery Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch Ammunition, munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry firearms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defens ...
was redeveloped in the 14th century, but
cannon A cannon is a large-caliber A 45 ACP hollowpoint (Federal Cartridge, Federal HST) with two .22 Long Rifle, 22 LR cartridges for comparison In gun A gun is a ranged weapon designed to use a shooting tube ( gun barrel) to launc ...

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 The man-of-war (pl. men-of-war; also man-o'-war, or simply man) was a Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's Navy, naval warfare force. Although warships were used by English and Scottish kings from the early medieval per ...
emerged during the 16th century. By the middle of the 17th century, warships were carrying increasing numbers of cannon on their
broadside ship of the line A ship of the line was a type of naval warship constructed during the Age of Sail from the 17th century to the mid-19th century. The ship of the line was designed for the naval tactics in the Age of Sail, naval tactic known as ...
s and
tactics Tactic(s) or Tactical may refer to: * Tactic (method), a conceptual action implemented as one or more specific tasks ** Military tactics, the disposition and maneuver of units on a particular sea or battlefield ** Chess tactics ** Political tactic ...
evolved to bring each ship's firepower to bear in a
line of battle In naval warfare Naval warfare is human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, lang ...
. The man-of-war now evolved into the
ship of the line A ship of the line was a type 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 des ...
. In the 18th century, the
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
and
sloop-of-war In the 18th century and most of the 19th, a sloop-of-war in the Royal Navy was 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 ...
 – too small to stand in the line of battle – evolved to
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
trade, scout for enemy ships and
blockade A blockade is an effort to cut off Contraband, supplies, Materiel, war material or communications from a particular area by force, either in part or totally. A blockade is not an embargo or International sanctions, sanctions, which are legal b ...
enemy coasts.


Steel, steam and shellfire

During the 19th century a revolution took place in the means of
marine propulsion Marine propulsion is the mechanism or system used to generate to move a or across water. While s and s are still used on some smaller boats, most modern ships are propelled by mechanical systems consisting of an electric motor or engine turni ...
,
naval armament The list of naval weapon systems aims to provide reference about weapons mounted on surface combatant warships, and smaller craft and submarines found throughout the history of naval warfare. The list is sorted alpha-numerically by system service d ...
and construction of warships.
Marine steam engine A marine steam engine is a steam engine from Stott Park Bobbin Mill, Cumbria, England A steam engine is a heat engine In thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and ...
s were introduced, at first as an auxiliary force, in the second quarter of the 19th century. The
Crimean War The Crimean War, , was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856 in which Russian Empire, Russia lost to an alliance of Second French Empire, France, the Ottoman Empire, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, ...
gave a great stimulus to the development of guns. The introduction of explosive
shells Shell may refer to: Architecture and design * Shell (structure), a thin structure **Concrete shell, a thin shell of concrete, usually with no interior columns or exterior buttresses **Thin-shell structure, **Oil company Science Biology * Seashell ...
soon led to the introduction of
iron Iron () is a chemical element In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behav ...

iron
, and later
steel Steel is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appe ...

steel
,
naval armour Naval armour refers to the various protections schemes employed by Warship, warships, and is distinguished from other kinds of armour. Naval sailing ships have had protection from weaponry since at least Ancient times, when Greek and Roman warship ...
for the sides and decks of larger warships. The first
ironclad An ironclad is a steam-propelled warship protected by iron Iron () is a chemical element with Symbol (chemistry), symbol Fe (from la, Wikt:ferrum, ferrum) and atomic number 26. It is a metal that belongs to the first transition series an ...
warships, the French and British , 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
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, while the sailing
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 were replaced by steam-powered
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. The armament of warships also changed with the invention of the rotating
barbette Barbettes are several types of gun emplacement in terrestrial fortifications or on naval ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep Sea lane, waterways, carrying goods or passengers, or in ...
s and
turret In architecture upright=1.45, alt=Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) De Cotte 2503c – Gallica 2011 (adjusted), Plan of the second floor (attic storey) of the Hôtel de Brionne in Paris – 1734. Archit ...
s, 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 A modern torpedo is an underwater ranged weapon A ranged weapon is any weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or device that can be used with the intent to inflict physical damage or harm. Weapons are used to increase the eff ...

torpedo
and development of the
torpedo boat A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval ship designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs were steam-powered craft dedicated to ramming enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes. Later evolutions launched variants of se ...
. Small, fast torpedo boats seemed to offer an alternative to building expensive fleets of battleships.


20th century


The dreadnought era

Another revolution in warship design began shortly after the start of the 20th century, when Britain launched the
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A ...
's all-big-gun battleship in 1906. Powered by
steam turbine A steam turbine is a machine A machine is any physical system with ordered structural and functional properties. It may represent human-made or naturally occurring device molecular machine that uses Power (physics), power to apply Force, f ...
s, 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
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. Mounting the same heavy guns as the
dreadnought The dreadnought (also spelled dreadnaught) was the predominant type of battleship A battleship is a large armored warship A warship or combatant ship is a naval ship that is built and primarily intended for naval warfare. Usually th ...
s on an even larger
hull Hull may refer to: Structures * Chassis, of an armored fighting vehicle * Fuselage, of an aircraft * Hull (botany), the outer covering of seeds * Hull (watercraft), the body or frame of a ship * Submarine hull Mathematics * Affine hull, in affin ...
, battlecruisers sacrificed amour 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 In navy, naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast, maneuverable, long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a Naval fleet, fleet, convoy or Carrier battle group, battle group and defend them against powerful short range attacker ...

torpedo-boat destroyer
was developed at the same time as the dreadnoughts. Bigger, faster and more heavily gunned than the
torpedo boat A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval ship designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs were steam-powered craft dedicated to ramming enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes. Later evolutions launched variants of se ...
, the destroyer evolved to protect the
capital ship The capital ships of a navy 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 war ...
s from the menace of the torpedo boat. At this time, Britain also developed the use of
fuel oil Fuel oil (also known as heavy oil, marine fuel, bunker, furnace oil, or gasoil) is a fraction A fraction (from Latin ', "broken") represents a part of a whole or, more generally, any number of equal parts. When spoken in everyday English, a fr ...
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. Tests were conducted by the Royal Navy in 1904 involving the torpedo-boat destroyer , the first warship powered solely by fuel oil. These proved its superiority, and all warships procured for the Royal Navy from 1912 were designed to burn fuel oil.


Decline of battleships

During the lead-up to the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, Germany and Great Britain once again emerged as the two dominant
Atlantic
Atlantic
sea powers. Germany, under the
Treaty of Versailles The Treaty of Versailles (french: Traité de Versailles; german: Versailler Vertrag, ) was the most important of the peace treaties A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or government ...
, 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 , , and raided the
Allied An alliance is a relationship among people, groups, or sovereign state, states that have joined together for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out among them. Members of an alli ...
supply lines. The greatest threat though, was the introduction of the
Kriegsmarine The ''Kriegsmarine'' (, ) was the navy 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 inte ...
's largest vessels, and . ''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 The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for th ...
in 1944. The British
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A ...
gained dominance of the European theatre by 1943. The Second World War brought massive changes in the design and role of several types of warships. For the first time, the
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 ...
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 Radar (radio detection and ranging) is a detection system that uses radio waves to determine the distance (''ranging''), angle, or velocity of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, Marine radar, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor ...

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 The Battle of the Coral Sea, from 4 to 8 May 1942, was a major naval battle between the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and naval and air forces of the United States and Australia. Taking place in the Pacific War, Pacific Theatre of World War II ...
.


Cold War-era

Modern warships are generally divided into seven main categories, which are:
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,
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,
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,
submarine A submarine (or sub) is a watercraft capable of independent operation underwater. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability. It is also sometimes used historically or colloquially to refer to remotely operated ...

submarine
s and
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. Battleships comprise an eighth category, but are not in current service with any navy in the world. Only the deactivated American s still exist as potential combatants, and battleships in general are unlikely to re-emerge as a ship class without redefinition. The
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
is generally regarded as the dominant surface-combat vessel of most modern blue-water navies. However, the once distinct roles and appearances of
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 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 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 War is an intense a ...

navies
also include many types of support and auxiliary vessels, such as
minesweeper A minesweeper is a small 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 withst ...
s,
patrol boat A patrol boat (also referred to as a patrol craft, patrol ship or patrol vessel) is a relatively small naval ship, naval vessel generally designed for Coastal defense and fortification, coastal defence, border protection, immigration law-enforc ...

patrol boat
s and
offshore patrol vessels Offshore may refer to: Science and technology * Offshore (hydrocarbons) * Offshore construction, construction out at sea * Offshore drilling, discovery and development of oil and gas resources which lie underwater through drilling a well * Offs ...
. By 1982 the
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea Treaty, is an international agreement A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in intern ...

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."


=Development of the submarine

= The first practical submarines were developed in the late 19th century, but it was only after the development of the
torpedo A modern torpedo is an underwater ranged weapon A ranged weapon is any weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or device that can be used with the intent to inflict physical damage or harm. Weapons are used to increase the eff ...

torpedo
that submarines became truly dangerous (and hence useful). By the end of the
First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainmen ...
submarines had proved their potential. During the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
Nazi Germany's submarine fleet of
U-boat U-boats were naval submarines operated by Germany, particularly in the First First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best global and most importa ...

U-boat
s 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 An anti-submarine weapon (ASW) is any one of a number of devices that are intended to act against a submarine and its crew, to destroy (sink) the vessel or reduce its capability as a weapon of war. In its simplest sense, an anti-submarine weapon ...
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
escorts during the First and Second World Wars, such as the
destroyer escort Destroyer escort (DE) was the United States Navy mid-20th-century classification for a warship designed with the endurance necessary to escort mid-ocean convoys of merchant marine ships. The Royal Navy and Commonwealth forces identified such ...
. Confusingly, many of these new types adopted the names of the smaller warships from the
age of sail Age or AGE may refer to: Time and its effects * Age, the amount of time something has been alive Alive may refer to: *Life Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as signaling a ...

age of sail
, such as
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
,
sloop A sloop is a sailboat sloop ged sloop Image:Sail plan sloop.svg, Gaff-rigged sloop with a Topsail#Gaff rig, gaff topsail A sloop is a sailboat with a single mast (sailing), mast typically having only one headsail in front of the mast and ...
and
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
.


=Development of the aircraft carrier

= A major shift in naval warfare occurred with the introduction of the
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 ...
. First at
Taranto Taranto (, also ; ; nap, label=Tarantino Quentin Jerome Tarantino (; born March 27, 1963) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, and actor. His films are characterized by nonlinear narrative, nonlinear storylines, dark humo ...
and then at
Pearl Harbor Pearl Harbor is an American lagoon File:Kara-Bogaz Gol from space, September 1995.jpg, Garabogazköl, Garabogaz-Göl lagoon in Turkmenistan A lagoon is a shallow body of water separated from a larger body of water by a narrow landform, su ...

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.


Types

*
Amphibious warfare ship An amphibious warfare ship (or amphib) is an amphibious vehicle warship employed to land and support ground forces, such as marines, on enemy territory during an Amphibious warfare, amphibious assault. The largest fleet of these types is oper ...
**
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 ...
**
Amphibious transport dock An amphibious transport dock, also called a landing platform/dock (LPD), is an amphibious warfare ship, a warship that embarks, transports, and lands elements of a landing force for expeditionary warfare Expeditionary warfare is the deploymen ...
**
Dock landing ship A dock landing ship (also called landing ship, dock or LSD) is an amphibious warfare ship with a well dock to transport and launch landing craft Landing craft are small and medium seagoing watercraft, such as boats and barges, used to convey a ...
**
Landing Craft Landing craft are small and medium seagoing watercraft, such as boats and barges, used to convey a landing force (infantry and vehicles) from the sea to the shore during an Amphibious warfare, amphibious assault. The term excludes landing ships, wh ...

Landing Craft
** Landing Craft Support *
Armed merchantman An armed merchantman is a merchant ship A merchant ship, merchant vessel, trading vessel, or merchantman is a watercraft Watercraft, also known as water vessels or waterborne vessels, are vehicles A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a ...
*
Aviso An ''aviso'' was originally a kind of dispatch boatDispatch boats were small boats, and sometimes large ships, tasked to carry military dispatches from ship to ship or from ship to shore or, in some cases from shore to shore. Dispatch boats wer ...
, a kind of dispatch boat * *
Carrack 300px, The large carrack, thought to be the '' Santa Catarina do Monte Sinai'', and other Portuguese carracks of various sizes. From painting, attributed to either Gregório Lopes or Cornelis Antoniszoon, showing voyage of the marriage party of ...
is a three- or four-masted ocean-going sailing ship that was developed in the 14th to 15th centuries in Europe, most notably in Portugal. *
Capital ship The capital ships of a navy 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 war ...
, the largest and most important ships in a nation's fleet. These were previously battleships, battlecruisers, and aircraft carriers, but the first two warship types are now no longer used. **
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 ...
, a warship primarily armed with
carrier-based aircraft Carrier-based aircraft, sometimes known as carrier-capable aircraft or carrier-borne aircraft, are naval aircraft Naval aviation is the application of military air power by navies A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch o ...
. ***
Fleet carrier A fleet carrier is an aircraft carrier An aircraft carrier is a warship that serves as a seagoing airbase, equipped with a full-length flight deck The flight deck of an aircraft carrier is the Deck (ship), surface from which its aircra ...
is an aircraft carrier designed to operate with the main fleet of a nation's navy ***
Light aircraft carrier A light aircraft carrier, or light fleet carrier, is an aircraft carrier An aircraft carrier is a that serves as a seagoing , equipped with a full-length and facilities for . Typically, it is the of a fleet, as it allows a naval force to ...
is an aircraft carrier that is smaller than the standard carriers of a navy.. ***
Escort Carrier 300px, Escort carrier The escort carrier or escort aircraft carrier (U.S. hull classification symbol CVE), also called a "jeep carrier" or "baby flattop" in the United States Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for ...
, also called a "jeep carrier" or "baby flattop" is a slow type of aircraft carrier used during WWII. **
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 ...
, a ship with battleship-level armament and cruiser-level armour; typically faster than a battleship because the reduction in armour allowed mounting of more powerful propulsion machinery, or the use of a more slender hull shape with a lower drag coefficient. **
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
, a large, heavily armored warship equipped with many powerful guns. A term which generally post-dates sailing warships. *** Ironclad battleship, battleships built before the pre-
dreadnought The dreadnought (also spelled dreadnaught) was the predominant type of battleship A battleship is a large armored warship A warship or combatant ship is a naval ship that is built and primarily intended for naval warfare. Usually th ...
in the 1870s and 1880s ***
Pre-dreadnought battleship Pre-dreadnought battleships were sea-going battleships built between the mid- to late- 1880s and 1905, before the launch of in 1906. The pre-dreadnought ships replaced the ironclad battleships of the 1870s and 1880s. Built from steel, protec ...
, sea-going battleships built to a common design before the launch of dreadnoughts, between the mid-1880s and 1905. Pre-dreadnoughts commonly featured a mixed main battery composed of several different caliber guns. ***
Dreadnought The dreadnought (also spelled dreadnaught) was the predominant type of battleship A battleship is a large armored warship A warship or combatant ship is a naval ship that is built and primarily intended for naval warfare. Usually th ...
, an early 20th-century battleship, which set the pattern for all subsequent battleship construction. Dreadnoughts differ from pre-dreadnoughts in that they feature an all-big-gun main battery. The advantage lies in that if all the big guns have the same characteristics, only one firing solution will be needed to aim them all. ***
Fast battleship A fast battleship was a battleship which emphasised speed without – in concept – undue compromise of either armor or armament. Most of the early World War I-era dreadnought battleships were typically built with low design speeds, so ...
*
Bomb vessel A bomb vessel, bomb ship, bomb ketch, or simply bomb was a type of wooden sailing naval ship A naval ship is a military (or sometimes , depending on classification) used by a . Naval ships are differentiated from civilian ships by cons ...
was wooden sailing ship which carried mortars instead of cannons. *
Coastal defence ship 300px, The Finnish coastal defence ship , one of the last examples of the type. Coastal defence ships (sometimes called coastal battleships or coast defence ships) were warships built for the purpose of Littoral (military), coastal defence, most ...
, a warship built for the purpose of coastal defense. *
Commerce raider The Bermuda Gazette of 12 November 1796, calling for privateering against Spain and its allies, and with advertisements for crew for two privateer vessels. Commerce raiding (french: guerre de course, "war of the chase"; german: Handelskrieg, "t ...
, any armed vessel—privately or government-owned—sanctioned to raid a nation's merchant fleet. *
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
were small ships during the age of sail. The concept was revived again in WWII as a merchant convoy escort and anti-submarine ship. They were only used by the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy. Used by many navies now *
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
, a fast, independent warship. Traditionally, cruisers were the smallest warships capable of independent action. Along with battleships and battlecruisers, they have largely vanished from modern navies. **
Armored cruiser The armored cruiser was 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 ...
**
Scout cruiser 250px, ''HMS Sentinel'', the first scout cruiser A scout cruiser was a type of warship of the early 20th Century, which were smaller, faster, more lightly armed and armoured than protected cruisers or light cruisers, but larger than contemporary d ...
**
Protected cruiser Protected cruisers, a type of naval 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 A militar ...

Protected cruiser
** Torpedo cruiser **
Unprotected cruiser An Unprotected Cruiser was a type of naval warship in use during the late Victorian or pre-dreadnought Pre-dreadnought battleships were sea-going battleship A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of la ...
**
Heavy cruiser The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range and high speed, armed generally with naval guns of roughly 203 mm (8 inches) in caliber, whose design parameters were dictated by the Washington Naval Tr ...
***
Pocket battleship The ''Deutschland'' class was a series of three ''Panzerschiffe'' (armored ships), a form of heavily armed cruiser A cruiser is a type of warship A warship or combatant ship is a naval ship that is built and primarily intended for nav ...
**
Light cruiser A light cruiser is a type of small or medium sized warship. The term is a shortening of the phrase "light armored cruiser", describing a small ship that carried armor in the same way as an armored cruiser: a protective belt and deck. Prior to this ...
** Large cruiser **
Guided Missile 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 A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a ...
*
Aircraft cruiser The aircraft cruiser (also known as aviation cruiser or cruiser-carrier) is a warship that combines the features of the aircraft carrier and a surface warship such as a cruiser or battleship. Early types The first aircraft cruiser was origin ...
(also known as aviation cruiser or cruiser-carrier) is a warship that combines the features of the aircraft carrier and a surface warship such as a cruiser or battleship. *
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
, a fast and highly maneuverable warship, traditionally incapable of independent action. Originally developed to counter the threat of
torpedo boat A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval ship designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs were steam-powered craft dedicated to ramming enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes. Later evolutions launched variants of se ...
s, they are now the largest independent warship generally seen on the ocean. **
Guided missile destroyer A guided-missile destroyer is designed to launch anti-aircraft guided missiles. Many are also equipped to carry out anti-submarine, anti-air, and anti-surface operations. The NATO standard designation for these vessels is DDG. Nations vary i ...
*
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 ...
*
Fire ship A fire ship or fireship, used in the days of wooden rowed or sailing ship A sailing ship is a sea-going vessel that uses sail A sail is a tensile structure—made from fabric or other membrane materials—that uses wind power to propel ...
, a vessel of any sort set on fire and sent into an anchorage or fleet with the intention of causing destruction and chaos. Exploding fire ships may be called
hellburners Hellburners (Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Du ...

hellburners
. *
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
, Originally a medium sized sailing ship. Frigates used in modern navies (Although they date back to the 17th century) that are typically used to protect merchant vessels and other warships. *
Galleass Galleasses were military ships developed from large merchant galley A galley is a type of ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep Sea lane, waterways, carrying goods or passengers, or ...
, a sailing and rowing warship, equally well suited to sailing and rowing. *
Galleon on the "Suez Expedition" (part of the Portuguese Armada of 72 ships sent against the Ottoman fleet anchor in Suez, Egypt, in response to its entry in the Indian Ocean and the siege of Diu in 1538) – ''Tábuas da India'' in the João de Cast ...
, a 16th-century sailing warship. *
Galley A galley is a type of ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep Sea lane, waterways, carrying goods or passengers, or in support of specialized missions, such as defense, research, and fis ...

Galley
, a warship propelled by oars with a sail for use in favorable winds. **
Bireme A bireme (, ) is an ancient oared warship (galley A galley is a type of ship that is propelled mainly by oars. The galley is characterized by its long, slender hull, shallow draft (hull), draft, and low freeboard (nautical), freeboard (clearance ...
, an ancient vessel, propelled by two banks of oars. **
Trireme A trireme (, ; derived from Latin: ''trirēmis'' "with three banks of oars"; 'triērēs'', ''literally "three-rower") was an ancient vessel and a type of galley A galley is a type of ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the w ...

Trireme
, an ancient warship propelled by three banks of oars. **
Quinquereme From the 4th century BC on, new types of galley, oared warships appeared in the Mediterranean Sea, superseding the trireme and transforming naval warfare. Ships became increasingly large and heavy, including some of the largest wooden ships hither ...
, an ancient warship propelled by three banks of oars. On the upper row, two rowers hold one oar; on the middle row, two rowers; and on the lower row, one man to an oar. *
Gunboat A gunboat is a naval watercraft designed for the express purpose of carrying one or more guns to shore bombardment, bombard coastal targets, as opposed to those military craft designed for naval warfare, or for troopship, ferrying troops or au ...
**
Motor gunboat The motor gun boat (MGB) was a small, high-speed British military vessel of the Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved ...
* Grab were a type of ship common on the Malabar Coast in the 18th and 19th centuries. The ghurāb was originally a galley, but the type evolved into sailing ships. * Gallivat were a small, armed type of boats, with sails and oars, used on the Malabar Coast in the 18th and 19th centuries. * Helicopter carrier, an aircraft carrier especially suited to helicopters and amphibious assault. * Ironclad, a wooden warship with external iron plating. ** Casemate ironclad were a type of ironclad gunboats used in American Civil War. ** Central battery ship ** Turret ship ** Floating battery * Longship, a Viking raiding ship. * Man-of-war, a British Navy expression for a sailing warship. * Minesweeper (ship), Minesweeper * Minehunter * Minelayer * Missile boat * Monitor warship type, Monitor, a small, heavily gunned warship with shallow draft designed for land bombardment. **River monitor, a Monitor warship type, monitor used in rivers. **Breastwork monitor * Naval trawler * Naval drifter * Offshore patrol vessel *
Q-ship Q-ships, also known as Q-boats, decoy vessels, special service ships, or mystery ships, were heavily armed merchantman, armed merchant ships with concealed weaponry, designed to Camouflage#Camouflage by mimesis, lure submarines into making surfa ...
, also known as Q-boats, decoy vessels, special service ships, or mystery ships, were heavily armed merchant ships with concealed weaponry, designed to lure submarines into making surface attacks. This gave Q-ships the chance to open fire and sink them. * Submarine chaser is a small warship used in anti-submarine warfare. * Ship of the line a sailing warship capable of standing in the
line of battle In naval warfare Naval warfare is human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, lang ...
. A direct predecessor to the later battleship. * Sloop-of-war was a sailing vessel category later revived in WWII as a convoy escort ship. * Submarine, a ship capable of staying submerged for days. Though modern submarines can stay underwater for months. With food supplies an only limit factor. **Cruiser submarine were a type of a very large submarine designed to remain at sea for extended periods in areas distant from base facilities. **Midget submarine is any submarine under 150 tons, typically operated by a crew of one or two but sometimes up to six or nine **Submarine aircraft carrier is a submarine equipped with aircraft for observation or attack missions. These submarines saw their most extensive use during World War II, although their operational significance remained small **Attack Submarine is a submarine with the purpose of attacking other submarines. **Ballistic Missile Submarine is a submarine capable of deploying submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) with nuclear warheads. **Cruise missile submarine are submarines equipped with cruise missiles * Troopships are ships to carry soldiers. * Torpedo boat, a small, fast surface vessel designed for launching torpedoes. **Motor torpedo boat


See also

* List of naval ship classes in service


Notes


References


Footnotes


Bibliography

* * * * * {{Authority control Naval warfare Warships, *