What roles do the different types of ships in Navy do?

What roles do the ships in Navy have? Such as what does a cruiser,destroyer,battlecruiser, frigate etc etc do? And who supplements who?


A very good question!
Actually, during ww2 the roles of the different battleships altered as they went into the war.
Because of the fact the Japanese failed to destroy the three aircraft carriers at Pearl Harbour, Yamamoto already suggested they just stirred up a sleeping bear…Battleships became targets (also look at Graf Spee, Bismarck) whereas aircraft carriers became the most valuable asset to the fleet, especially because of air support in the island hopping campaign
Also I might add that the biggest and most important battle was being fought in the Atlantic Ocean where the U-boats were trying to suffocate the UK and nearly succeeded.


So they don’t have specific roles? Ok, then what is the point of producing different naval vessels? A country could simply produce the cheapest (say light cruiser) vessel and call it a day


I think you misread my reply: every type of vessel has it’s own very distinguishing order of battle and function in the whole fleet. I merely suggest that the emphasis on naval battle shifted from large battleships slugging it out amongst themselves, towards aircraft carriers and submarines being the mainstay of the fleet, supported, ofcourse by many other ships. Air power and sinking supply ships became paramount.
Also consider the building of liberty ships which supplied the allied forces…probably the war winner pur sang!


The name itself is derived from the description of a ship big & powerful enough to form part of a navy’s main battle fleet. Traditionally, that’s what they do. They’re the symbols of power and prestige, the measuring ship for the status, not just of a navy, but of an entire nation.
When it comes to a full-on shooting war, they’re you’re ultimate guarantee of using sea power as you wish. You want to be able to overpower your expected adversary’s own battle fleet; ideally so he does not even challenge you in the first place. If he chooses to fight, you can take that fight because you have better/bigger battleships or simply more of them
In WWII, it becomes clear that this has ceased to become the only form of naval combat, and no longer the most/the only decisive expression of sea power. A new generations of battleships finds new purpose in more integrated tasks like providing fleet air defense and shore bombardment (at which they are unequaled)

Cruisers are the smallest ships which can send out on lone independent patrols. That makes them incredibly useful. Sometimes you need to send a message to someone who is threatening your interests. You want to let them know that you’re watching, you’re concerned and you want them to stop whatever it is they’re doing. You don’t send a full battle fleet full of your biggest ships; that would be too overtly hostile. You send a cruiser - it has size and presence, but in a smaller package. It can also carry a useful compliment of marines. In more peaceful times, you can send it to visit your colonies and allies and there’s enough room to have a good party on board. You can police your trade routes, guard your interests and show the flag, without causing a major international incident. In war, that trade route security become even more important. Plus you can use them to intercept the enemy’s maritime trade. They also function as ‘the eyes of the fleet’ - scouting and reporting on the enemy’s location, course and composition

These little ships grew out of the need to destroy (hence the name) small, fast, torpedo-carrying craft. Eventually, they became torpedo attack platforms in their own right (with the equivalent job of intercepting enemy craft trying to do the same thing). They also become key anti-submarine vessels. As with cruisers, they also have an important role of screening and reconnaissance within a fleet

WWII finds the aircraft carrier still maturing as a technology and as a naval offensive unit. Gradually, of course, it become the paramount means of power projection, replacing the battleship as the core of any strike fleet. That’s very much still being worked out and discovered in the conflicts early years. As with all the other ship types, you want to use them offensively, but also as a defensive counter to stop the enemy doing the same

This is a very rough overview, and the exact needs, doctrines and plans of each nation differ, hence no two navies look alike. Very simply put, you want a well-stocked maritime toolbox for what you think you’re going to have to do (in both war and peace). As handy as a big heavy wrench is, you don’t want to have nothing but big heavy wrenches. Sometimes you need a precision screwdriver or a general purpose hammer


Thanks!! Now I have a greater understanding on how the ships influence the naval battles and what Harry meant by every type of vessel has it’s own very distinguishing order of battle and function in the whole fleet.


Thanks Spindrift for your comprehensive and elaborate addition to this topic! I totally concur with your analysis and it gives a better view on what I was trying to explain.
As I am seriously ill, I am not always capable enough to elaborately respond to every question or message, so I do appreciate your help in this matter! :hugs::+1:


You’re all very welcome, happy to help & contribute!
And I wish you a swift recovery boemboemtsjak


Thanks for this exhaustive reply. An interesting note on the cruiser is the fact that you already pointed out: it can go on long independent patrols. That also made it perfect for commerce raiding. The Germans even had a word for it: Der Kreuzerkrieg. Lone cruisers would wreck havoc in the enemy’s maritime “hinterland” and harass his supply lines. The cruiser had the endurance to do it, the speed to run away from escorts and the guns to potential outgun anything that might catch it (fast destroyers).

Interestingly enough the US Navy hull classification for aircraft carriers is CV. I read somewhere that the C derives from the Cruiser classification indicating that the US might have had a similar purpose for carriers in mind when first constructing them (before they became the main battle horse). The V would have been derived from the French “voler” which means “to fly” which means CV would mean something like “aviation cruiser”. However I never found any definitive authority on this. Others claim CV simply stands for “carrier vehicle”, which makes no sense to me to be honest.