This article does not cite any sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Naval ship" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (March 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this message)
A United States Navy Atlantic Fleet task force underway in 1959. The ships include an aircraft carrier, two submarines, and seven destroyers.

A naval ship (or naval vessel) is a military ship (or sometimes boat, depending on classification) used by a navy. Naval ships are differentiated from civilian ships by construction and purpose. Generally, naval ships are damage resilient and armed with weapon systems, though armament on troop transports is light or non-existent.

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

Naval ship classification

Main article: Warship

United States Navy and Philippine Navy vessels in the Sulu Sea in 2005

Naval ship classification is a field that has changed over time, and is not an area of wide international agreement, so this article currently uses the system as currently used by the United States Navy.


Main article: Warship

The USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the longest naval vessel ever built, near Portsmouth, England in 2004

In rough order of tonnage (largest to smallest), modern surface naval ships are commonly divided into the following different classes. The larger ships in the list can also be classed as capital ships.

Some classes above may now be considered obsolete as no ships matching the class are in current service. There is also much blurring and gray areas between the classes, depending on their intended use, history, and interpretation of the class by different navies.

Auxiliary ships

The USNS Patuxent (T-AO-201) replenishment oiler resupplying HMS Dauntless (D33) in 2012
HNoMS Haakon VII (A537), a Royal Norwegian Navy training ship, off Washington, D.C. in 1970. The vessel formerly served as the USS Gardiners Bay (AVP-39) until 1958.

Navies also use auxiliary ships for transport and other non-combat purposes. They are classified by different names according to their roles:

See also