With roughly 295 deployable fighting ships, the Navy's fleet is the biggest and most powerful in the world. For your viewing pleasure, we've lined them all up in order from the smallest to the largest, including the the latest aircraft carrier class. But hey, even the small ships in this gallery play some big roles in US military operations.
Updated on March 25, 2020 with the latest number of fighting ships available for deployment, and updated pictures throughout.
There is only one ship from the Banner class still on the Navy's commissioned roster: the USS Pueblo.
The spy ship was captured by North Korean forces on January 23, 1968 while it was on a surveillance mission off the country's coast. Its 83-member crew was held (and tortured) for 11 months before being released into American custody.
The USS Pueblo itself, meanwhile, remains in North Korea as a tourist attraction.
The USS Sentry, shown here on the Hudson River in 2002, and other Avenger-class ships are built primarily of wood, with an external coating of glass-reinforced plastic. This reduces the ship's magnetic signature and better protects it against mine blasts.
Updated:Caption:Fox Van AllenPhoto:Chief Photographers Mate Johnny Bivera/Navy
Mines: Dangerous remnants of past wars
Mines continue to be a major hazard to the Naval fleet, even in times of relative peace. In 1988, the USS Samuel B. Roberts was nearly sunk by an Iranian mine in the Persian Gulf. Iraqi mines, meanwhile, caused significant damage to the USS Princeton and USS Tripoli during the first Gulf War.
The oldest ship in the Navy's fleet by far, the 219-year-old USS Constitution, is a three-mast frigate ordered and named by President George Washington. It earned its nickname "Old Ironsides" during the War of 1812, when it survived a barrage of fire from the HMS Guerriere.
Rather than decommission the ship, the Navy has maintained the USS Constitution's commissioning for the purposes of historical demonstration and educational outreach.
The Virginia class features a number of innovations over the older design, including pump-jet propulsion (as opposed to bladed propellers), photonic sensors (as opposed to traditional periscopes) and improved sonar.
Updated:Caption:Fox Van AllenPhoto:Ron Stern/US Department of Defense
In February 2020, the the Virginia class USS Colorado returned from a maiden deployment to its homeport Groton, Connecticut.
The USS Freedom, designed by Lockheed Martin and commissioned in 2008, is the first of a class of small, multipurpose ships that operate in the littoral zone -- that is, close to shore.
As of October 2019, nine Freedom-class ships had been commissioned. The ships are equipped with a BAE Systems Mk 110 57 mm gun (400 rounds in turret), an Mk 49 launcher with 21 surface-to-air missiles and four .50-inch machine guns.
The USS Independence is a variant of littoral combat ship built by Austal USA (General Dynamics). Like its Freedom-class cousin, the Independence is outfitted with surface-to-air missiles and machine guns.
Starting in 2019, ships of this class were expected to be redesignated as "Fast Frigates" by the Navy, and outfitted with upgraded armor and weaponry. Freedom-class littoral combat ships will be upgraded, as well.
Length: 418.6 feet
Displacement: 3,100 tons (full)
Updated:Caption:Fox Van AllenPhoto:Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Nicholas Kontodiakos/U.S. Navy
Attack submarine (Seawolf class)
The "quiet, fast, and well-armed" submersibles in the Seawolf class were designed to replace the aging Los Angeles-class fleet of submarines. But its high cost ($3 billion to $3.5 billion each) and the end of the Cold War led to the Seawolf program's cancellation after just three submarines were built.
In this picture, the USS Jimmy Carter undergoes de-perming in the Magnetic Silencing Facility at Naval Base Kitsap. The process will reduce the ship's electromagnetic signature, better protecting it from enemy detection and mines.
Length*: 453 feet
Displacement: 12,158 tons (full)
*Note: This is the length of the USS Jimmy Carter, which is slightly larger than the other ships in its class.
Updated:Caption:Fox Van AllenPhoto:Master Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jerry McLain/U.S. Navy
Destroyers (Arleigh Burke class)
Speedy and easy to maneuver, destroyers are frequently used by the Navy to help protect larger boats.
Destroyers in the Arleigh Burke class, such as the USS Dewey shown, were the first to be built around the Aegis automated weapons system. Aegis's powerful radar tech can track more than 100 targets simultaneously and counter short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.
Length: 509 feet
Displacement: 9,700 tons (full)
Updated:Caption:Fox Van AllenPhoto:MC2 John Philip Wagner, Jr./Navy
Trials in the gulf
In February 2020, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit Delbert Black conducted trials in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Ohio class of submarine was designed, in the Navy's own words, as an "undetectable launch platform for intercontinental missiles." Indeed, each ballistic missile submarine in the Ohio class, such as the USS Rhode Island (shown), carries 24 Trident II nuclear missiles.
Each Trident II missile contains eight W88 warheads, all capable of individual targeting. W88 warheads have a yield of 475 kilotons -- nearly 30 times more powerful than the atomic blast that leveled Hiroshima in World War II.
Length: 560 feet
Displacement: 18,750 tons (full)
Updated:Caption:Fox Van AllenPhoto:PH1 Roers/Department of Defense
As seen off the coast of San Diego in February 2020, an unarmed Trident II missile launches from the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Maine.
The test launch marks 177 successful missile launches of the Trident II strategic weapon system.
The United States has entered into a number of nuclear arms reduction treaties with Russia since commissioning the first Ohio-class submarine in 1981. Four Ohio-class submarines have since been stripped of their nuclear payload to comply.
The USS Ohio, shown undergoing said SSGN conversion in Bremerton, Washington in 2004, now holds 154 non-nuclear Tomahawk missiles instead. The sub can also carry other equipment, such as unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).
A convoy is led by the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf. This February 2020 exercise tested the vessels' abilities to safely cross the Atlantic while testing new ways of conducting a convoy.
Here, the USS Cape St. George launches a Tomahawk Land Attack Missile during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
Updated:Caption:Fox Van AllenPhoto:Intelligence Specialist 1st Kenneth Moll/Navy
Afloat forward staging base (Austin class)
The USS Ponce, decommissioned in 2017, was expected to be dismantled in coming years. The ship served as a launching pad for minesweeping MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters during 2013 mine-clearance exercises in the Persian Gulf.
The USS Ponce was replaced with the USNS Lewis B. Puller in the Persian Gulf in 2017.
Length: 570 feet
Displacement: 16,591 tons (full)
Updated:Caption:Fox Van AllenPhoto:Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Raegen/U.S. Navy
Dock landing ships (Harpers Ferry class)
Dock landing ships, such as the USS Harpers Ferry (shown), primarily transport other amphibious vehicles and their crews into hostile areas. It also supports helicopter landings.
Note: The Whidbey Island class of dock landing ship is identical in length, though it does have a slightly different weapons arrangement.
The USS Zumwalt, the first of the Zumwalt class of destroyers, is a next-generation stealth ship designed for surface warfare, anti-aircraft warfare, and naval gunfire support. It features an all-electric integrated power system, state-of-the-art automated sonar, and powerful on-board weapons. Future ships in the Zumwalt class, meanwhile, will test the Navy's new electromagnetic rail gun tech.
Zumwalt-class ships are loaded with long-range land attack projectiles (shown here in an artist's rendering). The rocket-mounted warheads have a range of 83 nautical miles and an accuracy of 50 meters.
The Lyndon B. Johnson Zumwalt-class ship may soon get an electromagnetic railgun weapon as well.
An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter flies by USS Blue Ridge, the 7th Fleet flagship, during March 2020 search and rescue training. Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy and, as 7th Fleet command ship, works to foster relationships with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.
Ships in the Navy's San Antonio class serve as transport for land vehicles and Marines in war zones. The ships can also serve as a launching or landing pad for CH-53E Super Stallion, MV-22B Osprey, CH-46 Sea Knight, AH-1 SeaCobra, and UH-1 Iroquois helicopters.
The USS New York, shown, was built using 7.5 short tons worth of steel recovered from the World Trade Center.
The Wasp-class variant of hybrid-drive amphibious assault ships, such as the USS Essex, is similar in size to its America-class cousins. Unlike the America class, however, Wasp-class ships feature a well deck as shown.
Here, the USS Essex performs a stern-gate marriage with Landing Craft Utility off the coast of Thailand.
Length: 847 feet
Displacement: 41,772 tons (full)
Updated:Caption:Fox Van AllenPhoto:MCSN Kari R. Bergman/USS Essex (LHD 2)
In this scene from February 2020, the crew of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima assemble to form the number 75, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the iconic raising of the flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
The amphibious assault ships in the America class, such as the USS America shown, support quick-reaction Marine expeditionary units.
These ships lack a lower well deck to launch sea vehicles, instead focusing on carrying aircraft. The USS America carries MV-22B Osprey troop carrier helicopters, AV-8B Harrier II ground-attack jump jets, and F-35B Lightning II stealth multi-role fighters, among others.
Length: 844 feet
Displacement: 43,745 tons (full)
Updated:Caption:Fox Van AllenPhoto:Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John Scorza/U.S. Navy
Undergoing amphibious training
In this photo, a Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicle has disembarked from the now-decommissioned USS Peleliu for an infantry and amphibious training mission.
Updated:Caption:Fox Van AllenPhoto:Journalist 2nd Class Zack Baddor/Navy
Aircraft carrier (Nimitz class)
According to the Navy, aircraft carriers "support and operate aircraft that engage in attacks on airborne, afloat, and ashore targets that threaten the free use of the sea." Each of the 10 active carriers in the Nimitz class are nuclear powered, and will refuel only once during a 50-year service life.
The USS George H.W. Bush is the most recently commissioned (2009) -- and final -- ship in the Nimitz class.
The Ford class of aircraft carriers are expected to eventually replace the Navy's Nimitz-class fleet. The first, the Gerald R. Ford, was commissioned in 2017. Here it is October 2019, conducting sea trials.
The USS Gerald R. Ford is the most technologically advanced warship ever built, with advanced arresting gear, automation systems, stealth features, the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missile system and an electromagnetic aircraft launch system that replaces traditional steam catapults.
The new design allows the USS Gerald R. Ford to dispatch units 25 percent faster than Nimitz-class carriers. This tech doesn't come cheap, however -- the $13 billion ship has suffered from massive cost overruns.
The next member of the Ford class, the John F. Kennedy, is expected to begin its service sometime in 2020.