25 Largest Warships In History

Posted by , Updated on May 22, 2024

The drive to create larger, faster, and more powerful entities is not a new idea, particularly in the realm of military operations. Throughout history, a nation’s naval strength and administrative prowess have been crucial in sustaining its dominance on the global stage. As a result, countries have built countless imposing war vessels over the centuries. Are you intrigued by some of the most remarkable warships in the world? This article will uncover some of the biggest and most powerful battleships and warships across the globe. We’ll explore famous British and Japanese warships, and of course, the legendary USS Enterprise. Join us as we delve into the 25 Largest Warships in History.


America Class

America ClassSource: defensetech.org via Wikipedia, image: https://commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

The America Class is a large assault ship of the US Navy. So far, only one ship, the USS America, has been completed (in 2014). The ship has a total length of 257 m (844 ft) and displacement (weight) of about 45,000 long tons (46,000 t).


Shokaku Class

Shokaku Class Source: Sunburst: The Rise of Japanese Naval Air Power 1909–1941via Wikipedia, image: https://commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

The two Shokaku Class aircraft carriers were built for the Imperial Japanese Navy in the late 1930’s. Completed shortly before the start of the Pacific War in 1941, they were called, “arguably the best aircraft carriers in the world” when built. Measuring 257.5 m (844 ft 10 in) in length, both ships were sunk in 1944.


Audacious Class

Audacious ClassSource: armouredcarriers.com via Wikipedia

The Audacious Class aircraft carriers were a class of aircraft carriers proposed by the British government in the 1930’s and 1940’s and completed after WW II. Measuring 257.6 m (845 ft), they were in operation from 1951 until 1979.



TaihoSource: Wikipedia, image: https://commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

Laid down in 1941, Taiho was an aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy during WW II. With a total length of 260.6 m (855 ft), Taiho was expected to survive multiple bomb, torpedo, or shell hits and continue to fight effectively afterwards. She sank in June 1944 during the Battle of the Philippine Sea after suffering a torpedo hit from the US submarine USS Albacore.



AkagiSource: Akagi & Kaga via Wikipedia, image: https://commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

Another aircraft carrier built for the Imperial Japanese Navy, Akagi was in service from 1927 to 1942. It served in the Second Sino-Japanese War in the late 1930’s before taking part in the Attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Then, Akagi participated in the Battle of Midway in June 1942. After being severely damaged from the battle, she was intentionally sunk (a practice called scuttling). Akagi was 261.2 m (857 ft) long.


Charles de Gaulle

Charles de GaulleSource: globalsecurity.org via Wikipedia, image: https://commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

With an overall length of 261.5 m (858 ft) and weight of 42,500 tons, Charles de Gaulle is the largest western European warship currently in use. Launched in May 1994, this nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is the flagship of the French Navy.


INS Vikrant

INS VikrantSource: theworldreporter.com via Wikipedia

Boasting an impressive length of 262 m (860 ft), INS Vikrant is the first aircraft carrier built in India. Currently being outfitted, the warship it is expected to be completed by 2023. Translated as “courageous” or “bold,” Vikrant weighs about 40,000 metric tons (39,000 long tons).


HMS Hood

HMS HoodSource: Wikipedia, image: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ (public domain)

One of the oldest battleships on the list, HMS Hood was the last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy. Launched in August 1918, the ship was 262.3 m (860 ft 7 in) long, and it had a displacement (weight) of 46,680 long tons (47,430 t). HMS Hood was sunk by the Nazi Germans in the Battle of the Denmark Strait in 1941.


Graf Zeppelin Class

Graf Zeppelin Class Source: Wikipedia, image: https://commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

The Graf Zeppelin Class were 4 German Kriegsmarine aircraft carriers planned in the mid-1930’s. However, due to political fighting between the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe, disputes within the ranks of the Kriegsmarine itself, and Adolf Hitler’s loss of interest, none of these 262.5 m (861 ft) long ships were ever completed.


Yamato Class

Yamato ClassSource: The Battleships via Wikipedia, image: commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

The Yamato Class battleships were battleships of the Imperial Japanese Navy constructed and operated during WW II. Displacing 72,000 long tons (73,000 t) at full load, the vessels were the heaviest battleships ever constructed. The overall length of these ships was 263 m (863 ft). Although 5 Yamato Class vessels had been originally planned, only 3 were completed.


Clemenceau Class

Clemenceau Class Source: news.bbc.co.uk via Wikipedia, image: https://commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

The Clemenceau Class aircraft carriers are a pair of aircraft carriers which served in the French Navy from 1961 until 2000. Then, one of them, Clemenceau, was dismantled and recycled while the other vessel, Foch, was transferred to the Brazilian Navy where she continues to serve as Sao Paulo. The overall length of Clemenceau Class is 265 m (870 ft).


Essex Class

Essex Class Source: Wikipedia, image: https://commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

The backbone of the U.S. Navy’s combat strength during WW II, the Essex Class was a class of aircraft carriers that made up the 20th century’s most numerous class of capital ships. The class had 24 vessels, but four of those ships have been preserved and opened to the public as museums: Yorktown, Intrepid, Hornet and Lexington.



Shinano Source: Shinano!: The Sinking of Japan's Secret Supership via Wikipedia, image: commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

Measuring 266.1 m (872.9 ft) long and boasting a displacement of 65,800 metric tons, Shinano was a large aircraft carrier built by the Imperial Japanese Navy during WW II. However, the warship was quickly sent into battle when it still had several serious design and construction flaws. She ended up sinking just 10 days after being put into use, on 29 November 1944.


Iowa Class

Iowa Class Source: fas.org via Wikipedia, image: https://en.wikipedia.org (public domain)

The Iowa Class battleships were a class of 6 fast battleships ordered by the US Navy in 1939 and 1940. Eventually, just 4 of them were completed, and they served in several major US wars including WW II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. These battleships were 270 m (887 ft) long and had a displacement of 45,000 long tons.


Lexington Class

Lexington ClassSource: Directory of the World's Capital Ships via Wikipedia, image: en.wikipedia.org (public domain)

The Lexington Class aircraft carriers were a pair of aircraft carriers built for the US Navy during the 1920’s. The warships proved extremely successful as carriers and served in many battles. One of them, Lexington, was sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942, while the other ship, Saratoga, was destroyed in an atomic bomb test in 1946.


Kiev Class

Kiev ClassSource: Soviet Warships 1945 to Present via Wikipedia, image: https://commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

Also known as Project 1143 or the Krechyet Class, the Kiev Class aircraft carriers were the first class of fixed-wing aircraft carriers built in the Soviet Union. Out of the 4 Kiev Class ships that were completed, 1 was scrapped, 2 are out of service and 1, the Admiral Gorshkov, was sold to the Indian Navy where it is still in service.


Queen Elizabeth Class

HMS queen elizabethSource: naval-technology.com via Wikipedia

The Queen Elizabeth Class is a class of 2 aircraft carriers currently under construction and being outfitted for the Royal Navy. The first, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will be ready for use in 2017, and the second, HMS Prince of Wales, is scheduled to be ready in 2020. Measuring 284 m (931 ft) long, the vessels have a displacement of approximately 70,600 tons.


Admiral Kuznetsov Class

Admiral Kuznetsov ClassSource: Wikipedia

The Kuznetsov Class aircraft carriers were the last class of aircraft carriers built in the Soviet Navy. The class consists of 2 ships – Admiral Kuznetsov (readied in 1990 and serving today in the Russian Navy) and Liaoning (sold to China, which finally readied the ship for use in 2012). The ships have a total length of staggering 302 m (990 ft).


Midway Class

Midway Class Source: gonavy.jp via Wikipedia, image: commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

The Midway Class aircraft carrier was one of the longest-serving aircraft carrier designs in history. First commissioned in 1945, the lead ship of the class, USS Midway, was not taken out of service until 1992, shortly after service in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. The USS Franklin D. Roosevelt was decommissioned in 1977 and the third ship USS Coral Sea was decommissioned in 1990.


USS John F. Kennedy

USS John F. Kennedy Source: navy.mil, image: cs.wikipedia.org/wiki (public domain)

Nicknamed the Big John, the USS John F. Kennedy is the only ship of her class and the last conventionally powered carrier built for the US Navy. An all-purpose carrier with a total length of 320 m (1,052 ft), the ship was even capable of anti-submarine warfare.


Forrestal Class

Forrestal ClassSource: web.archive.org via Wikipedia, image: cs.wikipedia.org (public domain)

The Forrestal Class aircraft carriers were 4 aircraft carriers (Forrestal, Saratoga, Ranger, and Independence) designed and built for the US Navy in the 1950’s. It was the first class of super carriers, combining high tonnage, elevators, and an angled deck. The ships were 325 m (1,066 ft) long and had a displacement of 60,000 tons.


Kitty Hawk Class

Kitty Hawk ClassSource: Wikipedia, image: https://zh.wikipedia.org (public domain)

The Kitty Hawk Class supercarriers of the US Navy were an improvement on the Forrestal Class vessels (see Nr. 5). The Kitty Hawk Class includes 3 vessels (Kitty Hawk, Constellation, and America) all of which were built in the 1960’s. Measuring 327 m (1,073 ft) long, all 3 warships are now out of service.


Nimitz Class

Nimitz Class Source: The Naval Institute Guide to the Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet via Wikipedia, image: commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

The Nimitz Class supercarriers are a class of 10 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers of the US Navy. With an overall length of 1,092 ft (333 m) and full-load weight of over 100,000 long tons, they have been the largest warships built and in service. The ships have participated in many battles and operations across the world, including Operation Eagle Claw in Iran, the Gulf War, and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Gerald R. Ford Class

Gerald R. Ford ClassSource: gao.gov via Wikipedia, image: commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

The Gerald R. Ford Class is a class of supercarriers being built to replace some of the existing Nimitz Class carriers. The new vessels have a hull similar to the Nimitz carriers, but introduce new technologies such as the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, as well as other design features intended to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs. Gerald R. Ford Class warships will also be slightly bigger than Nimitz, coming in at a total length of 337 m (1,106 ft).


USS Enterprise

USS EnterpriseSource: web.archive.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

The world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise is (at 342 m or 1,123 ft) the longest and possibly also most famous naval vessel ever built. Having served for 51 consecutive years, she is also the longest serving US warship. Used in numerous battles and wars including the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, the Korean War etc., USS Enterprise became one of the most well-known battleships. It also appeared in several movies such as Top Gun and Star Trek. The largest American battleship, USS Enterprise is one of the world’s top 10 destroyers.