A Look Inside the Most Powerful Ships in the U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy is the most powerful in the world. It has a collection of vessels that would make Poseidon blush and stop a kraken in its tracks. Both new and old, some of these weapons systems are the gold standard for naval ships. Here are the Navy’s most powerful vessels. Only a wise person would know what the most powerful ship is on the last page.

9. Littoral combat ships

The US Navy's USS Coronado (LCS 4)
The U.S. Navy’s USS Coronado (LCS 4) | Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

Littoral combat ships are designed for warfare close to the shores. These are fast and deadly ships that can travel up to 40 knots. For a vessel of that size, that is some serious speed. These are used for fast assaults, and generally carry a hefty armament for destroying other small vessels. They also have the ability to deploy small tactical teams to take over other vessels.

Next: The LCS’s big brother

8. The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer

USS Stethem (DDG 63)
USS Stethem (DDG 63) | VCG/VCG via Getty Images

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are a serious force in our Navy. They compose about 20% of all of our naval vessels. The U.S. Navy has been so impressed with their performance that they aren’t even phasing them out for a better destroyer (something they typically do all the time). They are actually building them at the same time. Each class of destroyer has their own distinct advantages, and the Arleigh Burke-class ship is designed for multi-surface warfare; it can attack vessels under, on, or above the sea.

Next: Probably the coolest looking ship in the water

7. The Zumwalt-class destroyer

The USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000)
USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) | U.S. Navy/General Dynamics Bath Iron Works via Getty Images

Looking like something out of a science fiction movie, the USS Zumwalt is the largest destroyer in the world. Its sleek design provides it with a stealth profile that registers on the enemy radar as a small fishing vessel. Ever looking to the future, the Zumwalt can be retrofitted for electromagnetic rail guns or laser weapons when they become available.

Next: You would never see this ship coming. 

6. The Virginia-class submarine

USS New Hampshire (SSN 778)
USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) | Jeremy Lambert/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

The Virginia-class submarines are the U.S. Navy’s most powerful attack submarine. In fact, they are so efficient and advanced, we are building two a year. These puppies can do anything, from deploying a SEAL team from below the surface of the water, to launching cruise missiles. They are considered some of the most deadly weapons systems we have.

Next: A ship that is rightfully known as a “boomer”

5. The Ohio-class submarine

USS Florida (SSGN 728)
USS Florida (SSGN 728) | David Nagle/U.S. Navy/Getty Images

The Ohio-class submarines are our intercontinental ballistic missile launch platforms. They are designed for stealth and are a strategic deterrent to other countries wanting to launch nuclear arms against the U.S. Even though these submarines have the capability of destroying entire countries, they are being tamed a bit. Due to international treaties, some of the Ohio-class subs are being converted into guided missile launch platforms, like the USS Florida pictured above.

Next: Something like this would likely be used in a D-Day type of scenario.

4. Wasp-class amphibious assault ship

USS Bataan (LHD 5)
USS Bataan (LHD 5) | David C. Mercil/US Navy/Getty Images

The Bataan looks like an aircraft carrier, but it is technically a ship in the Wasp-class. They are amphibious assault ships. Every vehicle on the ship is designed to assist in assault missions. There are Harrier jets, Ospreys, Chinooks, and pretty much every other vertical take-off and landing vehicle you can think of. And if you need a vehicle to get your armor to the beach, they also have hovercraft to transport heavy assault and support vehicles. The Wasp-class will be replaced with the newer America-class amphibious assault ships soon, but for now, they remain the king of their class.

Next: This ship brings new meaning to a cannon. 

3. The battleship

U.S. Navy USS Wisconsin
USS Wisconsin (BB-64) | Naval History and Heritage Command

It is true that the era of battleships in the Navy has come to an end, but that doesn’t change the fact that these were the most powerful ships in the sea for almost two centuries. The Iowa-class battleship had a battery of 16-inch guns that were capable of launching nuclear warheads. During the 19th and 20th centuries, if a country wanted superiority on the sea, they needed an accompaniment of these legendary ships.

Next: The most advanced carriers in the world

2. The Ford-class aircraft carrier

USS Gerald Ford (CVN 78)
USS Gerald Ford (CVN 78) | Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge Leoni/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

The USS Gerald Ford is the newest aircraft carrier to join the U.S. Navy. It is the largest aircraft carrier in the world and has some very serious power behind it. This ship can hold over 75 assault aircraft and lay some serious waste to any conflict zone it’s sent to. You can check out the longer version of what this ship is capable of here.

Next: The most powerful ship in the Navy

1. Navy hospital ships

USNS Mercy (T-AH-19)
The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) | Gabriel R. Piper/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

The USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort are the military’s two hospital ships. These massive ships stand 10 stories tall and are the length of three football fields. Hospital ships can be deployed anywhere in the world to treat our soldiers and assist in humanitarian crises.

More powerful than any missile, shell, or bullet, is the power of compassion. These ships emulate that kind of compassion.

Follow The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!