Every Type of Vessel in the US Navy and Its Biggest Strength

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Every Type of Vessel in the US Navy and Its Biggest Strength

Have you ever wondered about every type of vessel field by the US Navy? The United States Navy is one of the most technologically advanced maritime forces in the world. As such, it doesn’t come as a surprise that it has numerous types of vessels to fulfill various mission needs.

Aircraft Carriers

Carriers are a dominant vessel used by the US Navy.
  • Combat Role: Fire support, air missions, electronic warfare

When discussing any type of vessel in the US Navy, it is impossible to forego mentioning the aircraft carriers. These are the types of boats that won the Second World War and allow for advanced force projection and interdiction thanks to having air wings aboard each vessel.

Amphibious Assault Ships

These vessels operate primarily as helicopter carriers these days.
  • Combat Role: Troop transport, anti-submarine warfare

Amphibious assaults are largely a bygone function of the US Navy. However, it still fields a potent type of vessel in amphibious assault ships. These flexible ships can transport helicopters, and troops, and conduct naval warfare missions as needed against enemy ships and submarines.

Amphibious Command Ships

ACS are primarily used as command ships in the modern era.
  • Combat Role: Command oversight of amphibious operations

One of the core functions of any Navy vessel is having a clear command structure. For this type of vessel, you’ll want an amphibious command ship. These serve as floating headquarters these days thanks to the unlikely event of needing an amphibious invasion ordered.

Amphibious Transport Docks

If you see one of these approaching, a Marine landing is incoming.
  • Combat Role: Troop transport, vehicle transfer

When the Marines need to get ashore with their vehicles and equipment, they will be using an amphibious transport dock. This type of vessel can readily carry transport and logistics helicopters while shuttling troops to war zones with the use of landing craft.

Dock Landing Ships

Dock landing ships can easily launch armored vehicles.
  • Combat Role: Launching landing craft and amphibious vehicles

This type of vessel has some overlap with the amphibious transport dock. However, this is a larger class of ship and is capable of launching tanks and armored amphibious vehicles to a front as needed.

Expeditionary Mobile Bases

Modular by nature, these vessels serve as resupply points.
  • Combat Role: Logistics and vehicle transfers

These modular platforms are the heart of logistics in naval warfare. As you would expect with this type of vessel, they reduce the need for US Navy ships to dock at foreign ports for resupply and fueling purposes.


While these were once a dominant combat vessel, they’ve largely been outpaced by aircraft carriers.
  • Combat Role: Vessel escort, shore bombardment

Cruisers were once one of the most coveted ships in the entire world. However, as you’ll find with this type of vessel, their deployment is more limited in scope these days. That said, classic cruisers still work well for escorting shipping vessels across hostile waters.

Guided Missile Cruisers

Readily carrying missiles, these ships are a deadly force in the water.
  • Combat Role: Air defense, shore bombardment

In the late 20th century, the face of naval warfare was changing. The reliance on guided ballistic missiles introduced a new need for the type of vessel that could readily interdict on targets without the need for a land-based deployment. Guided missile cruisers are the answer, readily launching missiles from afar to support land-based troops.


The age of the destroyer has long passed, but they’re still useful for any naval force.
  • Combat Role: Vessel escort

The destroyer caused a stir when it was introduced in the early 20th century. These days, the US Navy still fields this type of vessel but it is slowly becoming outmoded by more modern vessels. The strength of a destroyer is its heavy guns coupled with its high speed.

Guided Missile Destroyers

These serve as the first true stealth ships fielded by the US Navy.
  • Combat Role: Launching guided missiles, anti-ship and anti-air duties

The guided-missile destroyer is an exciting new development for the US Navy. Pioneering the concept of a stealth ship, this type of vessel maintains all the strengths of a traditional destroyer while also being harder to detect. This makes for a potent and deadly combination.


Frigates have a proud history in the US Navy.
  • Combat Role: Protecting other ships

A frigate is among the oldest type of vessel to be fielded by the US Navy. These were originally fielded during the Revolution, and they still maintain a presence in the modern era. The modern frigate is primarily used for escort purposes, usually in conjunction with other ships like destroyers and cruisers.

Littoral Combat Ships

Fire support for land-based troops is the main function of an LCS.
  • Combat Role: Fire support for land-based forces

LCS or littoral combat ships, are small stealth ships intended for fire missions for land-based troops. They are smaller by nature than something like a destroyer, but can readily rain fire down on enemy emplacements from miles away.

Mine Countermeasure Ships

Mine clearing helps prevent catastrophic damage to a shipping vessel.
  • Combat Role: Mine hunting and sea mine clearing

Sea mines still pose a threat to any type of vessel fielded by the US Navy. However, mine countermeasure ships readily dispose of these threats with minimal fuss. Mine clearing ships are still in constant use by the US Navy, and are vital for maintaining clear shipping lanes.

Patrol Ships

Smaller patrol ships have been used by the US Navy for decades now.
  • Combat Role: Coastal patrols

While the US Navy can control much of the waterways across the world, aircraft carriers make for poor coastal defenses. Patrol ships are light, smaller ships that are intended for patrolling both the oceans and freshwater bodies in a country.


Submarines can carry nuclear missiles, making them one of the most frightening vessels in the water.
  • Combat Role: Controlling naval activity and shipping lanes.

There isn’t a type of vessel that strikes fear into a sailor the way a submarine does. These submersible vessels frequently operate beneath the water, hunting enemy ships. Some also serve as mobile missile platforms. Their stealthy nature makes it impossible to detect, meaning launches can happen without any means of intervention.

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