The British Empire was the largest empire in history because of its naval strength and in particular the ability of its ships to fire cannons over longer distances than any other navy.
In modern warfare, navies still play an essential role in combat, and the biggest, baddest warships are able to change the shape of a conflict.
These 12 incredible modern warships are all capable of changing the game in a heartbeat during naval battles.
12. HMS Agamemnon
The HMS Agamemnon is a monster submarine. It is the sixth-Astute class submarine to join the ranks of the British Royal Navy and the sixth vessel to bear the name of the Greek King in that navy’s history.
As a nuclear submarine, the Agamemnon will run in near perfect silence until she’s ready to strike. The reactor will not need to be refueled once in the estimated 25-year service life of the submarine, either.
The Agamemnon will carry a range of 38 different weapons, many for naval warfare, but it will also be able to accurately attack land targets up to 1,000 miles away.
11. HMAS Canberra
The Canberra uses the sophisticated Vampir system for defense, and up to 18 helicopters can be based on the ship at any one time.
More importantly, the Canberra is designed to deliver over 1,000 troops to any part of a battle in rapid deployment conditions. It’s capable of upsetting the balance of minor conflicts, quickly.
The Canberra has been used, to date, only in humanitarian missions to deploy emergency aid to Australian allies.
10. Frigate Forbin
The Forbin’s role is essential in major naval conflicts; she acts as air-defense to protect carrier battle groups. The ship’s only job is to take monitor, take out and control operations when a fleet is being attacked from the air.
She has been on active duty protecting both French and American carrier groups while they conduct operations against piracy in the Gulf of Somalia and joint operation exercises with the Indian Navy.
9. Corvette Boikiy
She uses two anti-sub torpedo tubes to carry out her mission. The corvette passed her inspection in November 2012 and was then transferred officially to the Baltic Fleet.
The corvette is new enough that the complete details of her fit out are still unclear. There was a recent addition of a 100mm gunnery system to the corvette which was delivered later than the ship herself. She entered active duty in 2013.
8. USS Anchorage
The USS Anchorage is designed for recovery of objects during naval conflicts and to assist in their repair. One of the key roles that the boat has played so far is in trials with NASA to fetch space capsules for rapid retrieval.
She also carries an airframe missile launcher and up to 4 helicopters to act in defense of her operations. She should be able to hold off a fair amount of aerial assault whilst carrying out her main duties.
7. USS America
Aircraft carriers are the most powerful naval vessels in the world. Their staff runs into the thousands and they are often considered to be more like a floating city than a standard ship.
America was the first and only American carrier to be equipped with a sonar defense system making her defensive capabilities as powerful as her attacking capabilities. Supercarriers don’t so much change battles as they shape them from start to finish.
6. USS Gerald R Ford
The vessel is named after the former American president and was christened by his daughter, Susan Ford Bales.
The Gerald Ford is capable of launching 25% more operational aircraft than previous carriers and she can do it with 25% less crew.
Unfortunately for the Gerald Ford, this sounds better in theory than it currently works in practice, and her deployment has been substantially delayed as these efficiency measures are currently leading to too many failed launches.
5. HMS Queen Elizabeth
Unusually for a carrier, she will only carry aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing and there will be no “slingshot” capacity for other forms of aircraft.
The carrier’s typical load will be 24 F-35Bs and a number of helicopters (designed to facilitate the deployment of a small unit of marines).
However, she is said to be able to carry up to thirty-six planes but with a more limited capacity for helicopters if required to.
4. USS Enterprise
The USS Enterprise is the third aircraft carrier and ninth naval vessel to bear the name in the US Navy’s history. It will be delivered in 2025 and will be the most technically advanced aircraft carrier in the world.
There is, however, an outside possibility that the naval command will extend the building times for the USS Enterprise so that more of the lessons learned during the completion of the USS Gerald R Ford can be taken into account during construction.
Don’t worry even if the ship is late, the US Navy will still have 12 carriers to call upon at any one time.
3. Juliet Marine Ghost
You won’t see the Juliet Marine Ghost coming or at least that’s the theory. Gregory Sancoff, the designer, realized that the US Navy needed better small boats after hearing about terrorists attacking the USS Cole in 2000.
The Juliet Marine is the first GHOST ship; it’s a super-cavitating stealth ship which is difficult to trace by both sonar and radar. It has the potential to revolutionize the deployment of small squads of 3-5 men.
It’s also not defenseless and can carry anti-submarine warfare or mine countermeasures on top of a range of cannon and missile options. Basically, don’t mess with the Juliet Marine Ghost.
2. USS Zumwalt
She is a guided missile destroyer, but what makes her pack rather more power than the average destroyer is her amazing stealth capabilities.
If you were to look at her profile on radar, you’d think she was a tiny fishing boat rather than a $4 billion warship, and that means she should be able to sneak up on enemies before laying waste to them with her missile batteries.
Her most powerful weapon is a gun which can fire at targets up to 100 miles away.
1. HMS Defender
Construction of the Defender was completed in 2009, though she only undertook sea trials in 2011. The ship has since seen a lot of operational service and is considered to be the most powerful vessel of her class in the world.
She’s run escort duty to keep Russian task groups away from sensitive European waters and has been working in Syria and Oman as both air-defense and international policing. She seized a ton of cannabis from a dhow in Omani waters as part of the latter duties.
Naval vessels all have a specific role to play and each of those roles is vital. The carriers may be the ships with the most brute force to bring to bear on a situation, but a single nuclear missile fired from a submarine could end their threat in a heartbeat.
That means that there are many different niches to be filled in naval warfare and each of them vital. Air-defense, sub-killers, submarines themselves, minesweepers, etc. are all required to work in concert to deliver an effective naval campaign. These 12 vessels are or were designed to maximize their contribution at war.