29+ Fascinating U.S. Navy Warships

Billie Delgado

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zachary L. Borden (RELEASED)

From historical battles to humanitarian missions, the U.S. Navy's impressive fleet has developed over time. Here's a glimpse at their expansive fleet, boasting a world-renowned reputation for speed and might.

USS Emory S. Land AS-39

The Emory S. Land-class consists of three impressive vessels. The USS Emory S. Land AS-39 is the head of its class, providing many essential services. These include food, water, electricity, and more.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Corey Hensley/Wikimedia Commons

It has square footage similar to a suburb and travels extensively, so it can be readily available to serve at any moment. The USS Emory S. Land AS-39 has received many medals and commendations in its time, including four Meritorious Unit Commendations, the Navy Expeditionary Medal, and eight Battle Efficiency Awards.

USS Independence LCS-2

This breakneck combat ship is the head of the Independence-class but doesn't move far from shore. The USS Independence LCS-2 has the responsibility of defending coastal zones and its company. It also combats lesser ships, detects underwater vessels, and uncovers explosives.

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U.S. Navy photo by Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Nicholas Kontodiakos/Wikimedia Commons

The Independence is also tasked with carrying ammunition. The weapons on board often alter given the job, compared to many ships that will only carry a constant arsenal. The ship often carries motors and active jets. This prized jewel first hit the seas on January 16, 2010.

USS Gerald R. Ford CVN-78

The USS Gerald Ford CVN-78 is recognized for its immense size: it is one of the largest vessels that the American Navy has in its arsenal. Currently, it serves as the main ship for aircraft carrier, Gerald R. Ford-class, named after the former Head of State. This supercarrier was authorized in 2013 and shipped out 4 years later.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge Leoni/Wikimedia Commons

It is also armed with two A1B atomic piles, a comprehensive defense system, and an advanced deployment scheme for the aircraft aboard. If that wasn’t enough, the ship spans an incredible 1,106 feet in length and weighs in at 100,000 tons! Yet, it still is not the largest ship on deck for the Navy. It gets bigger from here.

USS Gerald R. Ford CVN-78

The USS Gerald R. Ford CVN-78 has a price tag to match its size. From sketches to the final product, the Navy spent a whopping $5.1 billion on the project! It took a crew of 19,000 laborers to build. The ship came together in Virginia, at the Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding Company.

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Mass Communication Specialist’s 2nd Class Kristopher Ruiz, Christopher Delano, Ryan Litzenberger/Wikimedia Commons

Considered the new and improved version of Nimitz vessels, the Ford-class of ships pulls out all the stops: Complete with AN/SPY-3 hardware. This ship can also launch significantly more jets, which will culminate in nearly $4 billion in savings over the next five decades.

USS Kidd DDG-100

The USS Kidd is a member of the Arleigh Burke-class. Its namesake comes from Isaac C. Kidd. Kidd, a Navy officer Rear Admiral who was a victim of the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II. He served on the USS Arizona, and this destroyer is a testament to his legacy.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Crossley/Released/Official U.S Navy Page/Flickr

But its accomplishments extend past the honorable naming. The Kidd was involved in the extensive rescue mission for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, an infamous case where a Boeing 777 disappeared mid-flight back in 2014. It also made its Hollywood debut in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's fight scene.

USS Ohio SSGN-726

The division of Ohio submarines is an impressive fleet. In the lead of the class is the USS Ohio SSGN-726. The collection is highly prized by the U.S. Navy, holding 18 different submarines. All of the ships are nuclear-powered and 14 are actively armed with nuclear warheads.

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U.S. Navy photo/Wikimedia Commons

It’s no wonder that an entire class of submarines is named after the USS Ohio SSGN-726, since it's been serving since its 1979 launch. What’s more, in the Navy the ship goes by its nickname, the "First and Finest!" It first came about from an SSGN ballistic missile submarine.

Seawolf-Class Attack Submarine SSN

The Seawolf-Class Attack Submarine SSN classification is very similar to the Virginia-class. It is categorized as an SSN, a nuclear-powered general-purpose attack submarine. The Seawolf-class was originally put together to replace the Los Angeles-class, but was superseded by the Virginia-class.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mr. John Narewski/Wikimedia Commons

Though there were originally a whopping 29 submarines planned for the Seawolf-class, currently only three are actively used. All 26 of the rest are out of action, with future plans for service canceled until further notice. These vessels are known for being large but wieldy, with speedy and quiet movement.

USS America LHA-6

The first amphibious assault ship of the America-class was originally built to succeed the USS Peleliu LHA-5, as part of the Tarawa-class. It was designed to be a flagship during exhibitions that required helicopters and other aircraft and was expected to lead other warships during these expeditions.

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U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Lawrence Grove/Wikimedia Commons

The USS America LHA-6 was first launched back in 2012 and was commissioned on October 11, 2014. It also carries the Latin motto "Bello vel pace Paratus." This roughly translates to "Ready for War or Peace," which is no doubt an intimidating slogan for potential enemies!

USS Somerset LPD-25

The San Antonio class of Navy ships was originally launched to replace the Austin-class of transport dock ships. One of these includes the USS Somerset LPD-25, named in honor of those who lost their lives on the United Airlines Flight 93, during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

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Petty Officer 3rd Class Emiline Senn/Wikimedia Commons

The USS Somerset was not commissioned until March 2014 and spent most of its time in San Diego, California, its original home port. Though it isn’t always active, it can carry up to 800 passengers and weighs in at 25,000 tons when at maximum capacity. It is also equipped to defend against both air and surface threats.


This super-cavitating stealth ship, called the GHOST, is one of the most advanced ships used to protect U.S. Navy personnel. It was designed by Juliet Marine Systems, a private company. The GHOST has been called the "stealth ship of the future" by some, with 4,000 HP engines that can avoid radar detection.

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Unsurprisingly the vessel is super-fast, whipping across the ocean without dragging its hulls. It was also built with a SWATH, a small waterplane-area twin-hull that decreases drag and allows the GHOST to travel at high speeds with a significantly lower risk of being flipped.

USS Enterprise CVN-65

The USS Enterprise CVN-65 was once a hero of its time, though today it has been officially decommissioned and replaced by the Nimitz-class. The aircraft carrier was said to be the longest marine vessel in the world, and the first carrier to run on nuclear power. This impressive ship was also the 12th heaviest supercarrier.

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Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Harry Andrew D. Gordon/Wikimedia Commons

The Enterprise was known by its nickname "Big E," and came with several mottos, including: "We are Legend," "Ready on Arrival," "Eight Reactors, None Faster" and "The First, The Finest." On February 2, 2017, the iconic ship was officially decommissioned and prepared for repurposing.

USS Wasp LHD-1

This multipurpose amphibious ship is the leader of the Wasp-class of ships and was designed to set ground forces on enemy terrain, as well as provide maintenance and further attack support. The USS Wasp LHD-1 has four missile systems, two Phalanx CIWS, and 0.50-cal. M2HB machine guns.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zachary L. Borden/(Released)/Wikimedia Commons

The Wasp has been in service for some time, being launched on August 4, 1987. It was officially commissioned just under two years later in July 1989. It is usually moored in Norfolk, Virginia, its homeport, though it is often used as a flagship. Its motto is "Honor, Tradition, Excellence."

USS George H. W. Bush CVN-77

It should be no surprise to you that the USS George H. W. Bush CVN-77 was named after the 41st president of the United States, George H. W Bush. It was named as such due to Bush Sr.’s heroics during World War II, where he served as a naval aviator. This supercarrier was the last vessel of the Nimitz-class to be built.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Micah P. Blechner/Wikimedia Commons

Like the aforementioned USS Wasp, the George H. W Bush is moored at its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia. It is nicknamed "Avenger," and carries the motto "Freedom At Work." Back when it was first deployed the ship was sent across the Atlantic, for an exercise in Britain.

USS Nimitz CVN-68

The Nimitz-class of ships is one of the well-recognized fleets of nuclear-powered supercarriers, and its leader is the USS Nimitz CVN-68, one of the largest of its kind in the known world. It has a long and storied history, considering that it was launched way back on May 13, 1972.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Denny Cantrell/Wikimedia Commons

Despite its "old" age, ships in the Nimitz-class actually only need to refuel every 50 years, as their nuclear-powered systems make regular servicing unnecessary. The USS Nimitz bears the nickname "Old Salt," and the motto "Teamwork, a Tradition." It carried many weapons including two anti-aircraft missiles and two Gatling guns.

Ohio-Class Ballistic Missile Submarines

The pictured submarine below is one of 14 nuclear-powered ballistic missile subs that are part of the Ohio-class of U.S. Navy submarines. The Ohio-class also has four guided-missile submarines that were formerly used as ballistics. These vessels are known to store warheads and 24 Trident II nuclear missiles.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chris Williamson/Wikimedia Commons

These submarines can launch intercontinental missiles while going completely undetected, and each and everyone has two separate crews that patrol for 90 days at a time, known as the Gold Crew and the Blue Crew. Their function as stealth submarines is surprising given their use as ballistic missile subs.

USS Midway CV-41

The classic ship the USS Midway CV-41 was launched all the way back on March 20, 1945, the leader of the Midway-class of aircraft carriers. It was commissioned immediately prior to the end of the Second World War. Before 1955 it was considered the largest ship the world had ever seen, an impressive feat.

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PH2 (NAC) A.E. Rochells, USN/Wikimedia Commons

The Midway was said to be so large that it could not cross the Panama Canal. It continued its service until 1992, spanning almost five decades. Today it is used as a museum piece in San Diego, California, part of the USS Midway Museum. It earned the nickname the "Midway Magic."

USS Los Angeles SSN-688

A successful attack submarine, the USS Los Angeles SSN-688 is the lead ship of the Attack-class submarines. It was launched on April 6, 1974, only the first-ever submarine to be launched from Los Angeles. At one point the submarine even played host to then-president Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn, the first lady.

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US Navy photo by Mr. Paul Farley/Wikimedia Commons

Unsurprisingly. The Los Angeles was actually the oldest submarine being used by the Navy up until 2007. Just four years later the sub was decommissioned. It was then taken to the Ship-Submarine Recycling Program where it was fully recycled, as many ships of its kind are.

Virginia-Class Attack Submarine SSN-774

The SSN-774 is part of the Virginia-class of submarines and is a nuclear-powered sub that frequently crosses into international waters, and was designed to perform quick attacks in these areas and coastal waters. Submarines in the Virginia-class were built to succeed the Los Angeles-class submarines.

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U.S. Navy photo by General Dynamics Electric Boat/Wikimedia Commons

Believe it or not, this class of submarines is expected to be in active service until 2060! All 14 submarines in the Virginia-class are currently in active service, but as many as 48 ships have been planned. The SSN-774 is more technologically advanced than its predecessors, with updated masts, sensors, and rescue equipment.

USS Ticonderoga DDG/CG-47

The lead ship of the Ticonderoga­-class, the USS Ticonderoga DDG/CG-47 uses the unique Aegis combat system to trace multiple aircraft targets at a time, and also uses it to engage those aircraft in combat. It is the first combatant vessel to ever do so.

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Camera Operator: CIV STACEY BYINGTON, USN/Wikimedia Commons

It carries the nickname "Tico," along with the motto "First AEGIS Cruiser." The Ticonderoga was officially decommissioned in 2004. It was removed from the Naval Vessel Register and prepared to be scrapped and recycled. For unknown reasons it still sits at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia.

USS Freedom LCS-1

The head of the Freedom-class of ships, the USS Freedom LCS-1 is a combat vessel deployed close-to-shore. It was launched on September 23, 2006, and was tasked with combating potential attacks at-shore. The Freedom-class is one of only two littoral ships in the U.S. Navy, with the second being the Independence.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Karolina A. Oseguera

The Freedom has been used over the years in many different littoral missions, such as humanitarian aid and minesweeping. It is not often used in any combat or defense, because though it can go toe-to-toe with small vessels, it is near-ineffective against large warships.

USS Chief MCM-14

The U.S. Navy’s Avenger-class is made up of 14 mine countermeasure ships, which are used specifically for minesweeping in important waterways. Perhaps the most prominent of these MCM ships is the USS Chief MCM-14, currently part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

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MC1 Frank L. Andrews/Wikimedia Commons

The Chief was launched on June 12, 1993, and is built out of wood and plastic-reinforced glass. This well-thought-out design is an effective buffer for potential mine blasts that it may come across in the field, but it also restricts the magnetic signature of the ship. It is currently moored at its homeport of Sasebo, Japan.

USS Harpers Ferry LSD-49

Named after Harpers Ferry, a small town in West Virginia that was used as an important strategic point during the American Civil War, the USS Harpers Ferry LSD-49 is the leader of the Harpers Ferry-class ships. The ship has a rather catchy motto, "First in Freedom."

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United States Navy, Chief Mass Communication Specialist Ty Swartz/Wikimedia Commons

The Harpers Ferry is decked out with an impressive arsenal, including two rapid-fire cannons, two missile launchers, and six machine guns! However, the ship is perhaps best known for its role in humanitarian aid, particularly in Burma and the Philippines.

USS Arleigh Burke DDG-51

First launched in September 1989 and commissioned on July 4, 1991, the USS Arleigh Burke DDG-51 was the first-ever guided-missile destroyer to be constructed for the Arleigh burke-class. Today it is most known in the Navy as a stealth vessel, effective at dodging anti-ship missiles in combat.

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US Navy photo by Patrick Reilly, 2nd Class/Wikimedia Commons

Its impressive abilities to detect missiles, as well as evade and launch them, is a result of its modified Aegis combat system. The USS Arleigh Burke holds the motto "Fast and Feared." This guided-missile destroyer currently sits at its homeport of Naval Station Rota, Spain.

USS Turner Joy DD-951

The Forest Sherman-class of destroyers is made up of 18 U.S. Navy ships. They go all the way back to the 1950s, with the USS Turner Joy DD-951 being launched on May 5, 1958. The namesake of this destroyer was a Vice Admiral named Charles Turner Joy, who was active in World War II and the Korean War.

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Official U.S. Navy photo KN-18396 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

The Turner Joy has spent its entire career as a destroyer ship in the Pacific Ocean. It saw several years of active service in the Vietnam War and was also involved in the Gulf of Tonkin, particularly the USS Maddox Incident. It was officially decommissioned in 1982.

USS Peleliu LHA-5

This former amphibious assault was part of the Tarawa-class of the U.S. Navy before it was officially decommissioned in 2015. Originally the Navy intended to name the assault ship, the USS Khe Sanh or the USS Da Nang. Eventually, it was christened the USS Peleliu after the WWII Battle of Peleliu.

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United States Navy, Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kerryl Cacho/Wikimedia Commons

It was first commissioned in 1980 and went on to establish a significant track record of rescue missions and evacuations over the years. As a result, it was given the nicknames the "Iron Nickel" and "The Fighting Five." Its motto throughout these years was "Pax per Potens," or "Peace through Power."

USS Samuel B. Roberts DE-413

This battleship is one for the history books, being launched back in 1944. The USS Samuel B. Roberts DE-413 was named after a war hero named Samuel Booker Roberts, Jr. Roberts was best known for navigating aircraft toward enemy forces back in 1942, and was awarded the Navy Cross.

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U.S. Navy/Wikimedia Commons

Tragically, the Samuel B. Roberts came to the end of its active service on October 25, 1944. On that fateful day, it was sunk by Japanese warships during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. 90 people died, but because of the heroic acts of the crew the ship was dubbed "the destroyer escort that fought like a battleship."

USS Santa Fe SSN-763

The USS Santa Fe SSN-763 was launched back in 1992, as part of the Los Angeles-class of submarines. One of 30 submarines in this class, the Santa Fe was commissioned on January 8, 1994, and was designed to fire land missiles and anti-surface ship missiles.

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MC2 Sebastian McCormack/Wikimedia Commons

The Santa Fe measured 361 feet in length, and by 1997 it was deployed to the Persian Gulf and the Pacific Ocean to engage in active combat. It was very successful in its role, receiving five naval awards between 2000-2006. This is in part to its advanced processing and sensor system.

The USS Zumwalt DDG 1000

This ship is a sight to behold - both an aircraft carrier and destroyer, the USS Zumwalt DDG-1000 is the largest and most powerful vessel of its kind. The guided-missile destroyer is the leader of the Zumwalt-class, and was specifically designed to perform in anti-aircraft warfare.

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U.S. Navy video/Released/Wikimedia Commons

It is estimated that the Zumwalt costs somewhere in the range of $3.5 to 4.5 billion, and sits in its homeport of San Diego, California. It was launched in October 2016 and was officially commissioned almost exactly 3 years later. The ship is understandably impressive and can hit targets as much as 83 miles away.

USS Hurricane PC-3

The patrol ship USS Hurricane PC-3 was launched on June 6, 1992, as part of the Cyclone-class of the U.S. Navy that was launched before 1994. The Hurricane was the third ship in this class, and was designed and constructed with the express purpose of guarding U.S. coastlines.

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Official Navy Page from United States of America MC1 Todd Stafford/U.S. Navy/Wikimedia Commons

The Hurricane is a much smaller vessel compared to others on this list, but its stature often works to its advantage. It can move very quickly through the water and is armed with grenade launchers and machine guns in case of attack. Perhaps these features are why the ship has been nicknamed "The Hurt and Pain."

USS Lewis B. Puller ESB-3

Replacing the USS Ponce AFSB, the USS Lewis B. Puller ESB-3 was launched in 2014 before being sent to Bahrain on its first commission in August 2017. It soon became part of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, active in the Persian Gulf. It was also the first Expeditionary Mobile Base in the U.S. Navy.

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Wikimedia Commons via U.S. Navy photo by Bill Mesta

Previously the Lewis B. Puller had also been used as an Afloat Forward Staging Base and Mobile Landing Platform. It carried out many services in the Middle East, particularly low-risk missions. This allowed more expensive and valuable ships to take the brunt of high-intensity combat.