The United States Navy’s Powerful Fleet
The United States Navy has 290 combat-ready vessels, more than 3,700 aircraft and nearly 340,000 active duty personnel. In the U.S., she operates from bases in Virginia, South Carolina, Connecticut, Georgia, New Hampshire, California, Washington and Hawaii. The Navy’s largest base is in Yokosuka, Japan, and she also operates out of bases in other locations across the globe.
The Navy exerts its power at sea via eight types of vessels. It’s not just about battleships, destroyers and aircraft carriers anymore. Ready to learn more about the newcomers? Let’s take a look at some of the most powerful vessels in the American fleet.
Cruiser – USS Bunker Hill (CG-52)
USS Bunker Hill is a guided missile cruiser of the Ticonderoga class. Her formal construction began — she was “laid down” — in January 1984, and her commission began in September 1986. Bunker Hill is 567 feet long and 55 feet across and has a draft of 34 feet. She has a range of 6,000 nautical miles (nmi) at 20 knots (kn).
Unlike previous vessels with twin-arm Mark 26 missile launchers, Bunker Hill was the first Ticonderoga-class vessel with the Mark 41 Vertical Launching System. She reportedly fired 31 RGM-109 Tomahawk missiles during Operation Freedom in March 2003.
Cruiser – USS Mobile Bay (CG-53)
The USS Mobile Bay was named after the 1864 American Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay. Her motto is “Full Speed Ahead.” She carries Tomahawk Land Attack missiles, which were used during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and Seahawk LAMPS helicopters for anti-submarine warfare.
The Mobile Bay has a crew of 30 officers and 300 enlisted crewmembers. She was built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi, and her home port is Naval Base San Diego. She is a Ticonderoga-class, guided-missile cruiser capable of reaching a top speed of 32.5 kn.
Cruiser – USS Antietam (CG-54)
The USS Antietam was named for the 1862 battle between General Robert E. Lee and Union Major General George McClellan during the Civil War. Her home port is in Yokosuka, Japan, where the United States Navy’s largest base is located.
She is propelled by four General Electric LM2500 gas turbines, two controllable-reversible pitch propellers and two rudders. Her armament includes two 61-cell Mk 41 vertical launch systems with 122 missiles, plus eight Harpoon missiles. The Antietam ran aground in Tokyo Bay in January 2017, which left her out of operation for some time. Her motto is “Power to Prevail.”
Cruiser – USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55)
The USS Leyte Gulf is armed with 122 missiles fired from two 61-cell Mk 41 vertical launch systems. She carries Harpoon missiles, 25-mm Mk 38 guns, 0.50 caliber machine guns, Phalanx CIWS Block 1Bs and two Mk 32 12.75-inch triple torpedo tubes.
In 1996, she collided with aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt off the coast of North Carolina. No one was injured, but the Leyte Gulf sustained $2 million in damage. In 2007, a fire occurred during an upgrade in Norfolk, Virginia. It was not, as initially feared, a terrorist incident.
Destroyer – USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51)
The Arleigh Burke destroyer class was built to complete strategic land strikes using Tomahawk missiles, anti-aircraft strikes using Aegis radar and surface-to-air missiles, anti-submarine strikes with towed sonar array and anti-submarine rockets, and anti-surface warfare strikes with Harpoon missile launchers.
The Arleigh Burke class replaced the Kidd class at a cost of $1.843 billion per ship. There are 67 active ships in service now. The USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) was commissioned in July 1991 and is based in Norfolk, Virginia. Her motto is “Fast and Feared,” and she has a range of 4,400 nmi at 20 kn.
Destroyer – USS Bainbridge (DDG-96)
This Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer is the fifth Navy ship to be called the Bainbridge. She was named after Commodore William Bainbridge, who commanded the USS Constitution during the War of 1812. The Bainbridge carries more than 100 missiles aboard two Mk 41 VLS magazines.
Her radar and combat system can track more than 100 targets at a time. The Bainbridge and other destroyers pursued Somali pirates who had captured Captain Richard Phillips of the MV Maersk Alabama in 2009. In the movie about the incident, the USS Truxtun played the role of the USS Bainbridge.
Destroyer – USS Barry (DDG 52)
Named after the “Father of the American Navy,” Commodore John Barry, this Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer incorporated several improvements, particularly the ability to refuel a helicopter. In 2004, she won the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy for most improved ship in the Atlantic Fleet.
Her four General Electric LM2500-30 gas turbines deliver 100,000 total shaft horsepower through two shafts. She carries a crew of 33 commissioned officers, 38 petty officers and 210 enlisted personnel. The Barry is equipped with Electronic Warfare Systems, Torpedo Countermeasures and a Decoy Launching System.
Destroyer – USS Benfold (DDG-65)
The USS Benfold was built by Ingalls Shipbuilding and was laid down in September 1993 and commissioned in March 1996. Her homeport is Naval Base Yokosuka, Japan, and her motto is “Onward with Valor.” The Benfold was an early adopter of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System.
In 2010, she was the first ship to engage a ballistic missile and a cruise missile at the same time during the 2010 Stellar Daggers exercise. The Benfold was involved in a minor collision with a Japanese tugboat in Sagami Bay in November 2017, but no one was injured.
Amphibious Assault Ship – USS America (LHA-6)
The America class amphibious assault ship’s role is to put Marine Expeditionary Units of helicopters and transport aircraft ashore. The first America class ship was commissioned in 2014 as a replacement for the Tarawa class USS Peleliu. For the first three America class vessels, the cost was $10.094 billion per ship.
The USS America LHA-6 is the lead ship of the class. She was built by Huntington Ingalls Industries and operates out of San Diego. Her motto is “Ready for War or Peace,” and the aircraft on board include Harrier-IIs, Ospreys, F-35B Lightning IIs, Super Stallions, Venoms, Vipers and Nighthawks.
Amphibious Assault Ship – USS Bataan (LHD-5)
The USS Bataan is a Wasp class amphibious assault ship based out of Norfolk, Virginia. She was commissioned in September 1997 and is propelled by two boilers and two geared steam turbines generating 70,000 shaft horsepower. The Bataan carries 17 boats and landing craft and 1,687 troops in a Marine Detachment.
Between December 2001 and January 2002, the Bataan was reportedly one of two U.S. vessels used as prison ships to hold terror suspects. During the 2014 air campaign in Iraq, the ship participated in reconnaissance missions and at least one airstrike against ISIS.
Amphibious Assault Ship – USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6)
The Wasp class amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard is the current flagship for Expeditionary Strike Group Three. She is armed with RIM-116 Rolling Airframe missile launchers, RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missile launchers, two 20-mm Phalanx CIWS systems, three 25-mm Mk 38 chain guns and four 0.50 BMG machine guns.
A MV-22 Osprey taking off from the Bonhomme Richard in August 2007 crashed off the east coast of Australia. Twenty-three crew members were rescued, but three crew members died in the crash. The ship has appeared in scenes in the movies Battleship and Act of Valor.
Amphibious Assault Ship – USS Boxer (LHD-4)
Like five Navy ships before her, the USS Boxer is named after the HMS Boxer, a ship captured by the U.S. from the British during the War of 1812. The Wasp class USS Boxer was commissioned in February 1995. While en route from Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi to San Diego, her bridge wing was sheared off in the Panama Canal.
She has a range of 9,500 nmi at 18 kn. Her standard aircraft complement includes stealth strike-fighters, attack helicopters, heavy-lift helicopters, assault support tiltrotors, utility helicopters and attack aircraft.
Littoral Combat Ship – USS Milwaukee (LCS-5)
The USS Milwaukee LCS-5 is a Freedom-class littoral combat ship, which is a type of combat ship designed for operations near shore. There are two classes of littoral combat ships in the U.S. Navy: the Freedom class and the Independence class.
This one is propelled by four Rolls-Royce waterjets and is capable of 45 kn. She carries a crew complement of 50 core crew and 75 mission crew. In December 2015, the USS Milwaukee lost all propulsion while en route from San Diego to Nova Scotia and had to be towed to Virginia. The problem was a clutch that failed to disengage.
Littoral Combat Ship – USS Fort Worth (LCS-3)
The USS Fort Worth was the second Freedom class littoral combat ship constructed. Her home port is Naval Base San Diego. The Fort Worth has a lengthened stern transom and additional buoyancy tanks to increase weight service and enhance stability.
She carries 11 40-foot, high-speed boats and has a range of 3,500 nmi at 18 kn. In January 2016, Commander Michael Atwell was relieved of duty when the ship was sidelined for gear damage because of failure to use enough lubricating oil. The Navy said it had a “loss of confidence in Atwell’s ability to command.”
Littoral Combat Ship – USS Tulsa (LCS-16)
The USS Tulsa is an Independence class littoral combat ship. She was built from prefabricated modules at Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama. She was commissioned in February 2019. The USS Tulsa carries two MH-60R/S Seahawk helicopters and an MQ-8 Fire Scout helicopter.
She is propelled by two gas turbines, two diesel engines, four waterjets, a retractable azimuth thruster and four diesel generators. She is capable of 40 kn and 47 kn sprints, and her range is 4,300 nmi at 20 kn. She has a core crew of 40, plus up to 35 mission-dependent crewmembers.
Littoral Combat Ship – USS Freedom (LCS-1)
The USS Freedom LCS-1 is the lead ship of the Freedom class of littoral combat ships in the U.S. Navy. She is the third Navy vessel to be named “Freedom.” The Freedom class was designed for shallow-water missions, including minesweeping and humanitarian relief and is capable of submarine resistance.
The ship has a semi-planing monohull design capable of slicing through the water at more than 40 kn. She was designed by Lockheed Martin and built by Marinette Marine in Wisconsin. The USS Freedom’s motto is “Fast, Focused, Fearless.” She is 378 feet long and 57.4 feet across and has a draft of 12.8 feet.
Ballistic Missile Submarine – USS Alabama (SSBN-731)
The USS Alabama is a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine. She is the sixth member of the Ohio class. The Alabama was commissioned in 1985, and she remains in active service. Her motto is “We Dare Defend Our Rights.”
The USS Alabama is 560 feet long and has a beam of 42 feet and a draft of 38 feet. She is propelled by one S8G PWR nuclear reactor, two geared turbines and one shaft producing 60,000 shaft horsepower. She has a crew complement of 15 officers and 140 enlisted crewmembers. The Alabama carries Mk 48 torpedoes and 24 Trident II D5 ballistic missiles.
Ballistic Missile Submarine – USS Alaska (SSBN-732)
The USS Alaska is an Ohio class ballistic missile submarine based in Kings Bay, Georgia. She was commissioned in 1986 and has the motto “Alert, Confident, Able.” The sub displaces 16,765 long tons surfaced and 18,750 long tons submerged.
She is capable of speeds of more than 25 kn. In seven different years from 2004 to 2019, the Alaska received the Navy Battle Efficiency “E” award for being the most efficient unit in her squadron. In 2014, she received the Battenberg Cup awarded to the best ship or submarine in the Atlantic Fleet.
Ballistic Missile Submarine – USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN-730)
This Ohio class ballistic submarine is the only Ohio class sub not named after an American state. Instead, she is named after United States Senator Henry M. Jackson. She was built by General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut.
The Henry M. Jackson’s S8G nuclear reactor was designed by General Electric specifically for Ohio class submarines. The reactor compartment itself is 42 feet in diameter, 55 feet long and 2,750 tons. The reactor’s coolant water must be highly pressurized to remain liquid at high temperatures. The need for high strength piping in a heavy pressure vessel increases construction costs, giving this sub a high price tag.
Ballistic Missile Submarine – USS Kentucky (SSBN-737)
The USS Kentucky was laid down in December 1987 and commissioned in July 1991. Her motto is “Thoroughbred of the Fleet.” The sub collided with the attack submarine USS San Juan (SSN-751) during a joint training drill in 1998, and one of the Kentucky’s stern planes was damaged. The San Juan’s forward ballast tank was also breached.
The Kentucky carried on with the exercise a day later, but the San Juan returned to port. In November 2015, the USS Kentucky launched an unarmed missile that was mistaken for a UFO or meteor, thanks to social and broadcast media.
Ballistic Missile Submarine – USS Louisiana (SSBN-743)
Four Navy ships have carried the name Louisiana, including this Ohio class nuclear submarine. The USS Louisiana was the last of the Navy’s Ohio class submarines. She was laid down in 1992 and commissioned in 1997. Her home port is at Naval Base Kitsap in Bangor, Washington. Her motto is “Union, Justice, and Confidence.”
The Louisiana suffered damage in a 2016 collision with the offshore support vessel USNS Eagleview in the Strait of Juan De Fuca. The sub carries Trident ballistic missiles armed with thermonuclear warheads. She is one of only 14 Ohio class submarines to carry these warheads.
Attack Submarine – USS Albany (SSN-753)
The USS Albany SSN0753 is a Los Angeles-class submarine laid down in 1985 and commissioned in 1990. The sub is nearly 362 feet long and approximately 33 feet wide at the beam and has a draft of almost 31 feet. An S6G nuclear reactor propels it. She has a crew complement of 15 officers and 98 enlisted crewmembers.
The Albany’s reactor requires refueling after 30 years, has an endurance of 90 days and has tested at depths of 800 feet. She is armed with four 21-inch torpedo tubes, Tomahawk land attack missiles, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and mines.
Attack Submarine – USS Alexandria (SSN-757)
Los Angeles class USS Alexandria SSN-757 is a nuclear-powered attack submarine based out of San Diego, California. She was commissioned in 1991 and remains in service under the motto “Twice as Strong.” The USS Alexandria was participating in exercises under an Arctic Ocean ice floe with the Trafalgar class submarine HMS Tireless in 2007 when the Tireless experienced an explosion that killed two crew members.
In August 2016, machinist mate Kristian Saucier was convicted of taking and possessing cell phone pictures of the Alexandria’s classified propulsion system. In 2017, he was released from jail and received an other-than-honorable discharge from the Navy, but he was later pardoned in 2018 by President Trump.
Attack Submarine – USS Annapolis (SSN-760)
The Los Angeles class nuclear-powered submarine USS Annapolis is assigned to Submarine Squadron 11 based at Point Loma Submarine Base in San Diego, California. The squadron is responsible for anti-submarine, anti-surface, strike, special and mine warfare as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The USS Annapolis is one of five submarines in the squadron.
The sub is equipped with BQQ-10 Sonar and BPS-15 Surface Search Radar. She is armed with four 21-inch torpedo tubes and 12 vertical launch Tomahawk tubes as well as Mk 48 ADCAP torpedoes, Tomahawk missiles and CAPTOR mines.
Attack Submarine – USS Asheville (SSN-758)
The USS Asheville SSN-758 is a nuclear-powered fast attack submarine. She carries a developmental Advanced Mine Detection System (AMDS) sonar array with transmitters and receivers in the sail and beneath the hull at the bow. The system is for target detection, mine avoidance and bottom navigation.
The USS Asheville was commissioned in 1991 and remains in service out of Naval Base Guam under the motto “From the Mountains, to the Sea.” Don’t believe what you read in Tom Clancy’s novel Debt of Honor, where the USS Asheville was sunk by a Japanese Navy submarine. That was pure fiction.
Aircraft Carrier – USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76)
The USS Ronald Reagan is a Nimitz class, nuclear-powered supercarrier. She was built by Northrop Grumman in Newport News, Virginia, and commissioned in July 2003. Her home port is at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. The USS Ronald Reagan displaces 101,400 long tons.
She is 1,092 feet long (1,042 feet long at the waterline) and has a beam of 252 feet (134 feet at the waterline) and a draft of between 37 and 41 feet. She is powered by two Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors, four steam turbines and four shafts producing 260,000 shaft horsepower.
Aircraft Carrier – USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75)
The USS Harry S. Truman was the eighth of the Navy’s Nimitz class aircraft carriers. She was commissioned in July 1998 and operates from Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. She has participated in Operation Joint Endeavor, Operation Deny Flight, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom — Afghanistan, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Summer Pulse ’04 and NATO Operation Medshark/Majestic Eagle ’04.
The massive and formidable ship has a crew complement of 3,532 crew members and an air wing of 2,480. She has an unlimited range and a lifespan of about 20 to 25 years with proper maintenance.
Aircraft Carrier – USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77)
The USS George H. W. Bush CVN-77 is the last of the United States Navy’s Nimitz class supercarriers. Her construction took place between 2003 and 2009, at a cost of $6.2 billion. Her home port is Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.
The impressive ship carries 90 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. She was the first supercarrier to include a bulbous bow design to improve buoyancy and hull efficiency. Additionally, her curved flight deck edges reduced her radar signature, and her new coating system and deck covering reduced her weight by 100 tons.
Aircraft Carrier – USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78)
The Gerald R. Ford class of aircraft carriers is being built to replace the Navy’s USS Enterprise CVN-65 and Nimitz class supercarriers. They have a hull similar to that of the Nimitz class but include new technologies such as the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System.
The USS Gerald R. Ford CVN-78 is the lead ship of the new class. She was laid down in November 2009 and delivered to the Navy in 2017. She was built at a cost of $12.8 billion, not including research and development costs, and is reportedly the world’s largest aircraft carrier.
Aircraft Carrier – USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79)
The USS John F. Kennedy is the second of the United States Navy’s Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carrier. Her construction was recently completed in October 2019, and the ship was christened on December 7, 2019. She was built by Huntington Ingalls Industries at a cost of $11.341 billion and has not yet been commissioned.
The USS John F. Kennedy will have a crew complement of 4,660. She is powered by two A1B nuclear reactors and is capable of traveling at 30 knots. The ship will carry up to 90 combat aircraft on a flight deck of 1,092 feet by 256 feet.