China has the world’s largest naval fleet by numbers, followed by Russia and North Korea, with the United States coming in fourth. Numbers do not tell the whole story, however, as the size, quality, and capabilities of naval vessels can vary widely. When measured by mass, the U.S. naval fleet dominates all other nations with its immense and powerful ships. In fact, the U.S. fleet has more mass than the next 13 navies combined. (This is the world’s largest navy.)
To determine the largest vessels in the U.S. Navy, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a list of active U.S. naval vessel classes from Military Factory, an online database of military vehicles, aircraft, naval vessels, and more, as well as other sources, including Military-Today. We ranked the U.S. Navy’s ships according to their total displacement – the volume of water displaced by the vessel converted to weight in tons. (Draft is the necessary depth of water a vessel needs – it is the vertical distance, in feet, between the waterline and the lowest point of the hull.)
Two similarly-sized aircraft carriers – the Nimitz-class and Ford-class supercarriers – are not only the largest navy vessels in the U.S. Navy, but also the largest warships in the world. The U.S. fleet of Nimitz nuclear-powered carriers, with a length of about three football fields, entered service in 1975. The 10 ships can hold 60 aircraft each and were designed for a 50-year service life. The carrier’s displacement of 114,000 tons is the largest.
As the Nimitz carriers’ time in action winds down, they are being replaced by the new Ford-class carriers, which can hold 75 aircraft apiece and are equipped with improved combat capabilities. Though the Ford carriers measure about the same in terms of length and width, their overall displacement is 112,000 tons.
Other large U.S. Navy ships include two classes of amphibious assault ships and a class of amphibious transport dock, all of which are designed to carry helicopters and to deliver Marines and their equipment to shore. (These are the 19 ships and submarines in the U.S. naval fleet.)
Click here to see the largest ships in the US Navy fleet.
Click here to see our detailed methodology.
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