The Oldest Ships and Submarines Still Operating in the US Navy

A strong navy can strengthen a military power, providing it with additional defense, assault, tactical, and strategic capabilities. A military with a strong navy has the capacity of moving military forces great distances efficiently and effectively. In fact, maritime powers have often become empires, expanding to new territories with the help of their navies. From the Romans to the Spanish conquistadors and the British Empire, each incredible military has been buoyed by its navy. (These are the peak strength of history’s most powerful navies.)

Currently, the United States ranks as the world’s strongest naval power with the U.S. Navy alone boasting a fleet of over 240 ships and submarines. Perhaps the crown jewels of the American fleet are the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, which were a stabilizing factor throughout the Cold War. The U.S. owns 11 aircraft carriers overall, while countries like Russia and China only have one and three, respectively. (This is the world’s largest navy.)

However, as the Nimitz-class carriers begin to age — most are thirty years and older — the U.S. is replacing them with the newer Ford-class supercarriers. Submarines from the Cold War era are also aging out and being replaced as well. 

To determine America’s oldest warships, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the military data site World Directory of Modern Military Warships’ directory of all active ships in the U.S. We compiled data on all ships and submarines — 24 in total — that have been in the service of the U.S. Navy for more than 35 years and ranked them by age.

As it stands now, the bulk of the U.S. Navy is made up primarily of the destroyer fleet, which accounts for nearly 30% of all naval vessels. The submarine fleet comes in a close second, accounting for roughly a quarter of the total strength of the force. Beyond this is an aging fleet of cruisers followed by Littoral Combat Ships and amphibious assault support ships account for the rest of the Navy’s vessels.

Although the U.S. is repairing and replacing much of its naval vessels from a bygone era, it still ranks as the strongest in the world.

Here’s a look at the oldest ships and submarines still operating in the U.S. Navy.

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