A warship is a ship that is built and primarily intended for combat. Warships are usually built in a completely different way than merchant ships. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more maneuverable than merchant ships. Unlike a merchant ship, a warship typically only carries weapons, ammunition and supplies for its own crew (rather than merchant cargo). Warships usually belong to a navy, though they have sometimes been operated by individuals or companies.
In wartime, the distinction between warships and merchant ships is often blurred. In war, merchant ships are often armed and used as auxiliary warships, such as the Q-ships of World War I and the armed merchant cruisers of World War II. Until the 17th century it was common for merchant ships to be pressed into naval service and not unusual for more than half a fleet to be composed of merchant ships. Until the threat of piracy subsided in the 19th century, it was normal practice to arm larger merchant ships such as Galleons. Warships have also often been used as troop carriers or supply ships, such as by the French Navy in the 18th century or the Japanese Navy during World War II.
Evolution of warships
The age of galleysBy the middle of the 17th century, warships were carrying increasing numbers of cannon on their broadsides and tactics evolved to bring each ship's firepower to bear in a line of battle. The man-of-war now evolved into the ship of the line. In the 18th century, the frigate and sloop-of-war – too small to stand in the line of battle – evolved to convoy trade, scout for enemy ships and blockade enemy coasts.
Steel, steam and shellfireDuring the 19th century a revolution took place in the means of propulsion, armament and construction of warships. Steam engines were introduced, at first as an auxiliary force, in the second quarter of the 19th century. The Crimean War gave a great stimulus to the development of guns. The introduction of explosive shells soon led to the introduction of iron, and later steel, armour for the sides and decks of larger warships. The first ironclad warships, the French Gloire and British Warrior, made wooden vessels obsolete. Metal soon entirely replaced wood as the main material for warship construction.
From the 1850s, the sailing ships of the line were replaced by steam-powered battleships, while the sailing frigates were replaced by steam-powered cruisers. The armament of warships also changed with the invention of the rotating barbettes and turrets, which allowed the guns to be aimed independently of the direction of the ship and allowed a smaller number of larger guns to be carried.
The final innovation during the 19th century was the development of the torpedo and development of the torpedo boat. Small, fast torpedo boats seemed to offer an alternative to building expensive fleets of battleships.
The Dreadnought eraModern warships are generally divided into seven main categories, which are: aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, frigates, corvettes, submarines and amphibious assault ships.
Battleships encompass an eighth category, but are not in current service with any navy in the world. Only the deactivated American Iowa-class battleships still exist as potential combatants, and battleships in general are unlikely to re-emerge as a ship class without redefinition. The destroyer is generally regarded as the dominant surface-combat vessel of most modern blue water navies. However, it must be noted that the once distinct roles and appearances of cruisers, destroyers, frigates, and corvettes have blurred. Most vessels have come to be armed with a mix of anti-surface, anti-submarine and anti-aircraft weapons. Class designations no longer reliably indicate a displacement hierarchy, and the size of all vessel types have grown beyond the definitions used earlier in the 20th century. Another key differentiation between older and modern vessels is that all modern warships are "soft," without the thick armor and bulging anti-torpedo protection of WWII and older designs.
Most navies also include many types of support and auxiliary vessels, such as minesweepers, patrol boats and offshore patrol vessels.
Types of warship
- Armored cruiser
- Amphibious assault ship
- Aircraft carrier - A warship primarily armed with combat aircraft.
- Battlecruiser - A ship with battleship level armament and cruiser level armor; typically faster than a battleship because the reduction in armor allowed mounting of heavier propulsion machinery.
- Battleship - A large, heavily-armoured and heavily-gunned warship. A term which generally post-dates sailing warships.
- Bireme - An ancient vessel, propelled by two banks of oars.
- Capital ship
- Commerce raider
- Cruiser - A fast independent warship. Traditionally, cruisers were the smallest warships capable of independent action. Now virtually disappeared from the oceans, along with battleships and battlecruisers.
- Destroyer - A fast and highly maneuverable warship, traditionally incapable of independent action (originally developed to counter the threat of torpedo boats) but now the largest independent warship generally seen on the ocean.
- Dreadnought - An early 20th century battleship, which set the pattern for all subsequent battleship construction.
- Fast attack craft
- Fireship - A vessel of any sort, set on fire and sent into an anchorage with the aim of causing consternation and destruction. The idea is generally that of forcing an enemy fleet to put to sea in a confused, therefore vulnerable state.
- Galleass - A sailing and rowing warship, equally well suited to sailing and rowing.
- Galleon - A 16th century sailing warship.
- Galley - A warship propelled by oars with a sail for use in a favourable wind.
- Heavy cruiser
- Helicopter carrier - an aircraft carrier especially suited to helicopters and amphibious assault.
- Ironclad - A wooden warship with external iron plating.
- Longship - A Viking raiding ship.
- Man-of-war - A sailing warship.
- Missile Destroyer
- Monitor - A small, heavily gunned warship with shallow draft designed for land bombardment.
- Naval trawler
- Offshore patrol vessel
- Pocket battleship
- Pre-dreadnought battleship
- Protected cruiser
- Quinquereme - An ancient warship propelled by three banks of oars. On the upper row three rowers hold one oar, on the middle row - two rowers, and on the lower row - one man to an oar.
- Ship of the line - A sailing warship capable of standing in the line of battle.
- Supercarrier - an aircraft carrier of large tonnage
- Torpedo boat - A small, fast surface vessel designed for launching torpedoes.
- Trireme - An ancient warship propelled by three banks of oars.
warship in Danish: Krigsskib
warship in German: Kriegsschiff
warship in Estonian: Sõjalaev
warship in Modern Greek (1453-): Πολεμικό Πλοίο
warship in Spanish: Buque de guerra
warship in French: Navire de guerre
warship in Korean: 군함
warship in Croatian: Ratni brod
warship in Indonesian: Kapal Perang
warship in Hebrew: ספינת מלחמה
warship in Lithuanian: Karo laivas
warship in Hungarian: Hadihajó
warship in Malay (macrolanguage): Kapal perang
warship in Dutch: Oorlogsschip
warship in Japanese: 軍艦
warship in Polish: Okręt
warship in Portuguese: Navio de guerra
warship in Simple English: Warship
warship in Slovenian: Vojne ladje
warship in Serbian: Ратни брод
warship in Finnish: Sotalaiva
warship in Swedish: Örlogsfartyg
warship in Vietnamese: Tàu chiến
warship in Turkish: Savaş gemisi
warship in Ukrainian: Військові кораблі
warship in Chinese: 军舰