About Naval Vessels

Learn the Ropes > About Naval Vessels

NE Brasil in 2009

The original naval vessels were sailing vessels and early naval warfare involved ramming and boarding enemy vessels. As technology progressed, they evolved into today’s high-tech vessels, ranging from aircraft carriers to warships, from huge supercarriers to small fast attack craft.

Naval Vessel Descriptions
Aircraft carriers have a flat deck design allowing the deployment and recovery of aircraft. They are floating airbases, some of them capable of launching as many as 130 aircraft off of their decks and carrying as many as 5,000 sailors.
Amphibious assault ships are used to land and support ground forces on enemy territory. They sometimes carry helicopters and landing craft.
Battleships are large armored warships and are heavily armed. Battleships faded from use with the rise of air power, and guided missiles and bombs. The last US battleships, USS Wisconsin and USS Missouri, were decommissioned in 1991 and 1992, respectively.

Cruisers are warships, smaller than battleships but larger than destroyers. Many modern cruisers now function as command-and-control ships.

Destroyers are fast, maneuverable warships intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet or convoy.
Frigates are also warships, used to protect other ships, especially as anti-submarine warfare combatants.
Submarines are watercraft capable of independent operation underwater. Their use as warships began during the American Civil War.

This list is by no means comprehensive. For a complete list of all designations currently in use by the US Navy, see Current US Navy Ship Classifications in the Naval Vessel Register.

Silhouette images from www.military-graphics.com.

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