United States Navy ships
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The names of commissioned ships of the United States Navy all start with USS, meaning 'United States Ship'. Non-commissioned, civilian-manned vessels of the U.S. Navy have names that begin with USNS, standing for 'United States Naval Ship'. A letter-based hull classification symbol is used to designate a vessel's type. The names of ships are selected by the Secretary of the Navy. The names are that of states, cities, towns, important persons, important locations, famous battles, fish, and ideals. Usually, different types of ships have names originated from different types of sources.
Modern cruisers, destroyers and frigates are called Surface combatants and act mainly as escorts for aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, auxiliaries and civilian craft, but the largest ones have gained a land attack role through the use of cruise missiles and a population defense role through Missile defense.
See List of ships of the United States Navy for a more complete listing of ships past and present.
The ability of putting most nations within striking distance of U.S. air power make aircraft carriers the cornerstones of US forward deployment and deterrence strategy. Multiple carriers are deployed around the world to provide military presence, respond quickly to crises, and participate in joint exercises with allied forces; this has led the Navy to refer to their Nimitz-class carriers as "4.5 acres of sovereign and mobile American territory". Former President Bill Clinton summed up the importance of the aircraft carrier by stating that "when word of crisis breaks out in Washington, it's no accident the first question that comes to everyone's lips is: where is the nearest carrier?" The power and operational flexibility of a carrier lie in the aircraft of its carrier air wing. Made up of both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, a carrier air wing is able to perform over 150 strike missions at once, hitting over 700 targets a day. Carrier air wings also protect friendly forces, conduct electronic warfare, assist in special operations, and carry out search and rescue missions. The carriers themselves, in addition to enabling airborne operations, serve as command platforms for large battle groups or multinational task forces. U.S. Navy aircraft carriers can also host aircraft from other nations' navies; the French Navy's Rafale has operated, during naval exercises, from U.S. Navy flight decks.
Following below is a list of all carriers (and their homeports) on active duty or under construction as of 10 January 2009[update]. For a list of all carriers see List of aircraft carriers of the United States Navy and List of escort aircraft carriers of the United States Navy.
Enterprise class (Six originally planned, only one ever constructed)
Nimitz class (10 ships)
- USS Nimitz (CVN-68) — Everett, Washington
- USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) — Norfolk, Virginia
- USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) — San Diego, California
- USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) — Norfolk, Virginia
- USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) — Everett, Washington
- USS George Washington (CVN-73) —Yokosuka, Japan
- USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) — Bremerton, Washington
- USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) — Norfolk, Virginia
- USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) — Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, California
- USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) — Norfolk, Virginia
Ford Class (Two under construction, Two more planned)
- USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) — Under Construction, will replace the USS Enterprise
- USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) — Under Construction, may replace the USS Nimitz
- USS Enterprise (CVN-80) — Planned, may replace the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower
Amphibious assault ships
Amphibious assault ships carry Marines and are the platforms for Marine aircraft. They project power as aircraft carriers do, allowing the military to strike targets from a distance. Amphibious assault ships superficially resemble aircraft carriers except without an angled flight deck.
- Wasp class (8 ships)
- USS Wasp (LHD-1), Norfolk, Virginia
- USS Essex (LHD-2), San Diego, California
- USS Kearsarge (LHD-3), Norfolk, Virginia
- USS Boxer (LHD-4), San Diego, California
- USS Bataan (LHD-5), Norfolk, Virginia
- USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6), Sasebo, Japan
- USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7), Naval Station Mayport
- USS Makin Island (LHD-8), San Diego, California
- America class (At least four ships planned)
Amphibious Transport Docks
An amphibious transport dock, also called a landing platform/dock (LPD), is an amphibious warfare ship, a warship that embarks, transports, and lands elements of a landing force for expeditionary warfare missions. Several navies currently operate this kind of ship. The ships are generally designed to transport troops into a war zone by sea, primarily using landing craft, although invariably they also have the capability to operate transport helicopters.
- San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock (9 active ships)
- USS San Antonio (LPD-17), Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia
- USS New Orleans (LPD-18), Naval Base San Diego, California
- USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19), Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia
- USS Green Bay (LPD-20), San Diego, California
- USS New York (LPD-21), Naval Station Mayport
- USS San Diego (LPD-22), Naval Base San Diego, California
- USS Anchorage (LPD-23), Naval Base San Diego, California
- USS Arlington (LPD-24), Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia
- USS Somerset (LPD-25), Naval Base San Diego, California
- USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26), (Under construction)
Dock Landing Ships
Dock landing ships are similar to amphibious transport dock ships, but lack hangar facilities to store and service embarked aircraft.
- Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship (8 active ships)
- USS Whidbey Island (LSD-41), Little Creek, VA
- USS Germantown (LSD-42), Naval Base San Diego, California
- USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43), Little Creek, VA
- USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44), Little Creek, VA
- USS Comstock (LSD-45), Naval Base San Diego, California
- USS Tortuga (LSD-46), United States Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan
- USS Rushmore (LSD-47), Naval Base San Diego, California
- USS Ashland (LSD-48), Little Creek, VA
- Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship (4 active ships)
There are two major types of submarines, ballistic and attack. Ballistic submarines have the single strategic mission of nuclear deterrence by being hidden launching-platforms for nuclear ICBMs. Attack submarines have tactical missions, including controlling naval and shipping activity, serving as cruise missile-launching platforms, and intelligence-gathering.
- Los Angeles class (42 in commission) – attack submarines
- Seawolf class (3 in commission) – attack submarines
- Virginia class (8 in commission, 2 under construction, 12 ordered, 8 more planned) — attack submarines
- Ohio class (18 in commission) – 14 ballistic missile submarines, 4 guided missile submarines
The destroyer evolved from the need of navies to counter a new ship which made a devastating debut in the 1891 Chilean Civil War and in the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894. This was the swift, small torpedo boat that could dash in close to the larger ships, loose their torpedoes and dash away. The world's navies recognized the need for a counter weapon, and so the torpedo boat destroyer—later just "destroyer"—was born. Modern destroyers have evolved greatly from this initial role; some are arguably the primary surface combatants of their fleets.
- Arleigh Burke class (61 in commission, 1 launched, 4 under contract, 75 planned) 
- Zumwalt class (1 under construction, 1 ordered, 1 more planned) — designed as multi-mission ships with a focus on land attack.
Frigates (according to the modern classification of U.S. navy warships) are smaller ships than destroyers. They are designed primarily to protect other ships (such as merchant convoys), and perform some Anti-Submarine Warfare duties. They are of more limited scope than destroyers, but are also more cost-efficient.
- Oliver Hazard Perry class (22 in commission)
- Cyclone-class patrol ship (14 built, 13 in service, 1 transferred to the Philippine Navy)
- USS Tempest (PC-2), Little Creek, VA
- USS Hurricane (PC-3), Little Creek, VA
- USS Monsoon (PC-4), Little Creek, VA
- USS Typhoon (PC-5), Manama, Bahrain
- USS Sirocco (PC-6), Manama, Bahrain
- USS Squall (PC-7), Little Creek, VA
- USS Chinook (PC-9), Manama, Bahrain
- USS Firebolt (PC-10), Manama, Bahrain
- USS Whirlwind (PC-11), Manama, Bahrain
- USS Thunderbolt (PC-12), Little Creek, VA
Mine Countermeasures Ships
- Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship (14 in service)
- USS Avenger (MCM-1), United States Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan
- USS Defender (MCM-2), United States Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan
- USS Sentry (MCM-3), San Diego, California
- USS Champion (MCM-4), San Diego, California
- USS Guardian (MCM-5), United States Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan
- USS Devastator (MCM-6), San Diego, California
- USS Patriot (MCM-7), United States Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan
- USS Scout (MCM-8), Manama, Bahrain
- USS Pioneer (MCM-9), San Diego, California
- USS Warrior (MCM-10), San Diego, California
- USS Gladiator (MCM-11), Manama, Bahrain
- USS Ardent (MCM-12), Manama, Bahrain
- USS Dextrous (MCM-13), Manama, Bahrain
- USS Chief (MCM-14), San Diego, California
Littoral combat ship
A littoral combat ship (LCS) is a type of relatively small surface vessel intended for operations in the littoral zone (close to shore). It is "envisioned to be a networked, agile, stealthy surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals."
- Independence-class littoral combat ship (2 completed, 1 in service)
- Freedom-class littoral combat ship (2 completed, 2 in service)
Historically significant vessels
The U.S. Navy has operated a number of vessels important to both United States and world naval history:
- USS Constitution, nicknamed "Old Ironsides", is the only surviving vessel of the original six frigates authorized by Congress in the Naval Act of 1794, which established the United States Navy. It served with distinction in the War of 1812, singlehandedly defeating a number of powerful enemy warships, and is currently docked in Charlestown, Massachusetts, as the oldest commissioned warship afloat.
- USS Bonhomme Richard (1765) was involved in the Battle of Flamborough Head on 23 September 1779, one of the most celebrated naval actions of the American War of Independence. This battle is famous in part for the Bonhomme Richard's commander John Paul Jones, when called upon to surrender his sinking ship by the captain of the more heavily armed British frigate HMS Serapis by replying, "Sir, I have not yet begun to fight!", before defeating and capturing the Serapis.
- USS Philadelphia (1799) was a 36-gun sailing frigate that ran aground and was captured intact in Tripoli Harbor by Barbary corsairs during the First Barbary War. On the night of 16 February 1804, four months after the ship was turned against American ships, Lieutenant Stephen Decatur led a small detachment of U.S. Marines aboard a captured Tripolitan ketch close enough to board her. Decatur's men stormed the ship, overpowered the Tripolitan sailors, and set fire to Philadelphia. British Admiral Horatio Nelson reportedly called this "the most bold and daring act of the age."
- USS Susquehanna (1850) was Commodore Matthew Perry's flagship when the threat of force by his fleet brought about the signing of the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854. This treaty played a leading role in the opening of Japan to the West and the creation of the Open Door Policy.
- USS Monitor and CSS Virginia are together known for participating in the first engagement between two steam-powered ironclads, known as the Battle of Hampton Roads, on 9 March 1862. The Monitor was the first ironclad built by the U.S. Navy and its design introduced the rotating gun turret to naval warfare.
- USS Alligator was the first submarine built by the U.S. Navy. The submarine sank in 1863 while being towed during a storm and never saw combat. Though not technically a U.S. Navy vessel, H.L. Hunley (from the same war and era) was the first successful combat submarine.
- USS Kearsarge (1861) and CSS Alabama fought a celebrated a single-ship action known as the Battle of Cherbourg (1864) during the American Civil War on June 19, 1864, off Cherbourg, France.
- USS Maine (ACR-1) In January 1898, the Maine was sent from Key West, Florida, to Havana, Cuba, to protect U.S. interests during a time of local insurrection and civil disturbances. Three weeks later, on February 15 at 9:40 p.m., an explosion on board the Maine occurred in the Havana Harbor. The explosion was a precipitating cause of the Spanish-American War that began in April 1898.
- USS Olympia (C-6) is a protected cruiser that became famous as the flagship of Commodore George Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War in 1898. She has been preserved as a museum ship to the present day.
- USS Connecticut (BB-18) was the lead ship of her class of six battleships. She served as flagship the Great White Fleet, the popular nickname for the United States Navy battle fleet that completed a circumnavigation of the globe from 16 December 1907 to 22 February 1909. This dramatic show of force was presented by order of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt to demonstrate to the rest of the world America's military power and blue-water navy capability.
- USS South Carolina (BB-26) was the lead ship of her class, and, when commissioned in 1910, was the first American modern "dreadnought" battleship, a type of battleship armed with eight or more major caliber guns, pioneered by the British Royal Navy, which made all previous battleships obsolete.
- USS Langley (CV-1) was the United States Navy's first aircraft carrier, converted in 1920 from the collier USS Jupiter. She was also the U.S. Navy's first electrically propelled ship.
- USS Panay (PR-5) was a river gunboat that was sunk by Japanese aircraft on 12 December 1937 while she was anchored in the Yangtze River outside Nanking (now known as Nanjing), China. Japan and the United States were not at war at the time. The Japanese claimed that they did not see the American flags painted on the deck of the gunboat, apologized, and paid an indemnity. Nevertheless, the attack, and the subsequent Allison incident in Nanking, caused U.S. opinion to turn against the Japanese.
- USS Long Island (CVE-1) was commissioned on 2 June 1941 as the first of 122 escort carriers built by United States shipyards during World Wars Two. Escort carriers were typically smaller, shorter, slower, cheaper, and more quickly built than fleet carriers, and also carried fewer planes. They however made huge contributions to winning the war through escorting convoys, providing air support to ground troops, transporting aircraft, and forming the core of hunter-killer groups which sought out and sank enemy submarines.
- USS Ruben James (DD-245) was a Clemson-class destroyer was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine in a case of mistaken identity, during the period of neutrality five weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor entered the United States into World War Two. Many consider it the first United States Navy ship sunk by hostile action in the European theater of World War II. The ship's sinking provoked a furious outburst in the United States, especially when Germany refused to apologize, instead countering that the destroyer was operating in what Germany considered to be a war zone and had suffered the consequences
- USS Arizona (BB-39) was a Pennsylvania-class battleship, best known for her cataclysmic and dramatic sinking, with the loss of 1,177 lives, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the event that brought about U.S. involvement in World War II. The USS Arizona Memorial is constructed over the shattered hull, which still contains the remains of most of the crew. It is commonly—but incorrectly—believed that Arizona remains perpetually in commission, likely because naval vessels entering Pearl Harbor render honors to the remains of the vessel.
- USS Enterprise (CV-6), a Yorktown-class aircraft carrier, was the most engaged and decorated U.S. warship in World War II, involved in five of the six major carrier-versus-carrier battles of the Pacific Theater, as well as a host of minor engagements, and earning 20 of 22 possible battle stars. She was the only ship outside the British Royal Navy to earn the Admiralty Pennant, the highest award of the British, in the more than 400 years since its creation.
- USS Hornet (CV-8), a Yorktown-class aircraft carrier, was best known for launching the spectacular Doolittle Raid on Tokyo on 18 April 1942, as well as participating in the pivotal victory at the Battle of Midway.
- USS Gato (SS-212) was the lead ship of her highly successful class of submarine, which, along with the closely related Balao-class submarine and Tench-class submarine, eventually totaled 213 ships. These modern submarines were responsible for most of the destruction 55% of Japan's merchant marine that came about from American submarine attack during World War Two. The war against shipping was the single most decisive factor in the collapse of the Japanese economy during the war. The Gato, Balao, and Tench classes also remained the backbone of American underwater fleet well past the ending of the war.
- USS Juneau (CL-52) was an Atlanta class light cruiser torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine I-26 at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal 13 November 1942. A total 687 men, including, infamously, all five of the Sullivan brothers from Waterloo Iowa, were killed in action as a result of its sinking.
- USS Washington (BB-56) was the only US battleship to sink an enemy battleship in direct combat, when she sank the Japanese battleship Kirishima in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, 13 November 1942.
- USS Essex (CV-9) was an aircraft carrier and the lead ship of the twenty four-ship Essex class. The Essex class was the twentieth century's most numerous class of capital ships, was the backbone of the U.S. Navy's combat strength during World War Two from mid-1943 on, and (along with the addition of the three Midway class carriers just after the war) continued to be the heart of U.S. Naval strength until the 1960s and 1970s.
- USS England (DE-635) was a Buckley-class destroyer escort destroyer escort that sunk six Japanese submarines in twelve days during May 1944, a feat unparalleled in the history of antisubmarine warfare.
- USS Archerfish (SS-311) was a Balao-class submarine best known for torpedoing and sinking the 72,000 ton Japanese aircraft carrier Shinano, the largest warship ever sunk by a submarine, in November 1944.
- USS Indianapolis (CA-35), a Portland-class cruiser, was sunk on 30 July 1945 by the Imperial Japanese Navy, leading to the worst loss of life at sea in U.S. Navy history. Approximately 300 sailors of the listed crew of 1,196 died in the attack itself, but of the 880 who survived after, only 316 men lived to be rescued. The men survived four days after suffering from a lack of food, dehydration, exposure, and shark attacks (as referenced in the movie Jaws).
- USS Missouri (BB-63), an Iowa-class battleship, was the site of the surrender of the Empire of Japan which ended World War II. She was also the last battleship built by the United States. In 1955, she was decommissioned and assigned to the inactive reserve fleet (the "Mothball Fleet"), but reactivated and modernized in 1984 as part of the 600-ship Navy plan, and fought in the 1991 Gulf War. Decommissioned in 1995, she was the last actively serving battleship in the world. She was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association in 1998 and became a museum ship at Pearl Harbor, moored facing the USS Arizona.
- USS Nautilus (SSN-571), a submarine commissioned in 1954, was the world's first nuclear-powered ship. It demonstrated its capabilities by traveling 62,562 miles (100,684 km), more than half of which was submerged, in two years before having to refuel while breaking the record for longest submerged voyage, as well as being the first submarine to transit submerged under the North Pole in 1958.
- USS Liberty (AGTR-5) was an intelligence gathering ship attacked by Israeli jet fighter planes and motor torpedo boats on June 8, 1967, during the Six-Day War while in international waters off the Sinai Peninsula.
- USS Skate (SSN-578), a nuclear-powered submarine commissioned in 1957, was the first ship to physically reach the North Pole when she surfaced there in 1958.
- USS Triton (SSRN-586), a nuclear-powered submarine commissioned in 1959, made the first submerged circumnavigation of the world during its shakedown cruise in 1960, as well as being the only non-Soviet submarine to be powered by two nuclear reactors.
- USS George Washington (SSBN-598), commissioned in 1959, was the first ever ballistic missile submarine.
- USS Long Beach (CGN-9) was the first nuclear-powered surface warship in the world when she was commissioned in 1961 and signaled a new era of United States naval weaponry by being the first large ship in the Navy to have guided missiles as its main battery.
- USS Enterprise (CVN-65) was the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier when she was commissioned in 1961.
- USS Maddox (DD-731) was an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer that was involved in a skirmish with North Vietnamese torpedo boats on 2 August 1964, known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which served as President Lyndon B. Johnson's legal justification for deploying U.S. conventional forces in Vietnam and for the commencement of open warfare against North Vietnam.
- USS Pueblo (AGER-2) was an intelligence gathering vessel boarded and seized by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) on 23 January 1968 and is still under Korean control. The ship remains in commission to this day.
- USS Nimitz (CVN-68) is lead ship of her class of ten nuclear-powered supercarriers. Since the Nimitz was commissioned on 3 May 1975, these ships have been the centerpiece of American naval power. They are also largest warships ever built, although they are being eclipsed by the upcoming Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers.
- USS Phoenix (CL-46) was a Brooklyn-class light cruiser, present during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and earning nine battle stars for World War II service. Transferred to the Argentine Navy in 1951, she was ultimately renamed the General Belgrano in 1956. She was torpedoed and sunk during the Falklands War in 2 May 1982 by the British nuclear-powered submarine HMS Conqueror, with the loss of 323 lives, or just over half of Argentine deaths in the war. The sinking of the Belgrano was highly controversial in both Britain and Argentina at the time, and remains so to this day.
- USS Stark (FFG-31) was struck on May 17, 1987 by two Exocet antiship missiles fired from an Iraqi Mirage F1 fighter during the Iran–Iraq War becoming the victim of the only successful anti-ship missile attack on a U.S. Navy warship.
- USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) is an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate which struck an Iranian mine on 14 April 1988, severely damaging, and nearly sinking her, resulting in ten injured sailors, but no fatalities. The ship suffered flooding, fires, and a broken keel, which normally is fatal to the ship, but damage control efforts saved the ship. The attack resulted in the launching of Operation Praying Mantis. The ship is still in active service.
- USS Vincennes (CG-49) is a Ticonderoga-class AEGIS equipped guided missile cruiser. On 3 July 1988, the ship shot down Iran Air Flight 655 over the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 civilian passengers on board, including 38 non-Iranians and 66 children.
- USS Cole (DDG-67) On 12 October 2000, while at anchor in Aden, Yemen, the Cole was attacked by Al-Qaeda suicide bombers, who sailed a small boat near the destroyer and detonated explosive charges. The blast created a hole in the port side of the ship about 40 feet (12 m) in diameter, killing 17 crew members and injuring 39.
- USS Greeneville (SSN-772) is a Los Angeles-class submarine that, on 9 February 2001, precipitated international controversy when she struck the Japanese fishery high school training ship Ehime Maru (えひめ丸) off the coast of Oahu, causing the fishing boat to sink in less than ten minutes with the death of nine crew members. The Greeneville was conducting a practice emergency main ballast tank blow as a demonstration to civilian visitors.
- Aircraft carriers
- Amphibious assault ships
- Carrier strike group
- United States ship naming conventions
- List of submarine classes in service
- List of naval ship classes in service
- List of auxiliary ship classes in service
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- French Sailors Experience Flight Operations Aboard Roosevelt, US Navy Press Release, 22 July 2008, navy.mil
- "Amphibious Assault Ship USS America (LHA 6) Commissioned into U.S. Navy". October 12, 2014.
- "Northrop wins contract add-on for 10th LPD-class amphibious transport dock ship". The Mississippi Press. 30 April 2010.
- "US Navy Orders Up To 10 Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers". June 5, 2013.
- PRODUCT LINES AT SUPSHIP BATH
- "U.S. Navy to Commission Independence class Littoral Combat Ship USS Coronado (LCS 4)". April 3, 2014.
- Tucker, Spencer. Stephen Decatur: A Life Most Bold and Daring. Naval Institute Press; 2005. ISBN 978-1-55750-999-4. p. xi.
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- "CNN.com – U.S. sub hits Japanese fishing vessel, 10 missing – February 9, 2001".[dead link]