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Top 10 Navies in the World


   Which is the most powerful navy in the world? Which are the top 10 strongest navies?

   Out Top 10 ranking of navies is based on their fleet surface combatants and submarines. This analysis considers offensive power of the world navies.

   Currently top 10 strongest navies in the world are these:


Top 10 strongest navies in the world

Nr.1 United States


   The US Navy is currently the most capable navy in the world. In the early 1990s, after the end of the Cold War, the US Navy has shifted its focus from large-scale war scenario with the Soviet Union to regional conflicts. The US fleet continues to shrink due to decreasing funding and lack of proper threat, however mainly at a cost of smaller ships, rather than major surface combatants and deadliest submarines. The US fleet is being well maintained. New ships and weapons continue to emerge. The US Navy has nearly 320 000 personnel.

   The US Navy operates 11 large aircraft carriers that are used to project power. These include a single Ford class carrier and a total of 10 Nimitz and Improved Nimitz class aircraft carriers. Each of these aircraft carriers has 70-80 aircraft. It is larger and more powerful force than complete air force of many nations. The aircraft carriers are deployed in carrier battle groups alongside a host of escorting warships and attack submarines. These escorting vessels and boats provide protection for the carriers from air-, missile-, sea- and underwater threats. Also these escorts provide additional strike capabilities themselves.

   The US Navy has a significant amphibious assault capabilities. The so called "gator navy" operates 8-9 America class and Wasp class amphibious assault ships. Each of these warships carry around 1 700-2 000 marines, as well as their armored vehicles, and deliver them ashore by tiltrotors, helicopters and howercraft. These warships are larger than most aircraft carriers. Additionally there are 11 San Antonio class large amphibious transports that also provide long-range amphibious capability. The US Marine Corps has more than 180 000 personnel and their own naval aviation, even though this service is not directly related to the US Navy.

   There are 22 Ticonderoga class missile cruisers. These were the first surface combatant ships equipped with the AEGIS weapon system, the most sophisticated air defense system in the world. These cruisers are designed to protect battle groups from missile attacks.

   The US Navy is building 3 extremely advanced and stealthy Zumwalt class destroyers. These are the largest destroyers ever built. Actually in terms of size, displacement and armament the Zumwalt class ships are closer to cruisers rather than destroyers. These warships are focused on land attack, but can also perform anti-aircraft and naval fire support. Also there are 64 Arleigh Burke class general-purpose destroyers that incorporate highly advanced weaponry and systems.

   There are no frigates in service with the US Navy. Instead these were recently replaced by Freedom and Independence class littoral combat ships. These small vessels carry little weapons at all and are not designed to combat equal warships.

   The US Navy operates a total of 3 extremely advanced Seawolf class nuclear-powered attack submarines. These boats are much more advanced than the boats other countries operate. Also there are 14 state-of-the-art Virginia class and 35 older Los Angeles class boats in service.

   There are a total of 14 active Ohio class boats that carry nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. These ballistic missile submarines have patrol areas in waters either close to the US or in the remoter parts of the world's oceans, making virtually impossible effective anti-submarine measures.

   The US Navy operates over 3 700 aircraft. Most of them are F/A-18 series multi-role fighters, as well as other associated aircraft, that are deployed on aircraft carriers.



Top 10 most powerful navies in the world

Nr.2 Russia


   After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian navy inherited its fleet from the Soviet navy. Since the early 1990s with the end of the Cold War and constant funding problems the Russian fleet has been significantly reduced in size. Most of its vessels are Cold War era relics. During the last two decades the Russian navy faces constant problems maintaining its major combatants due to limited funding. Still though it remains an exceptionally formidable force with around 140 000 personnel, numerous warships and submarines.

   The Russian navy operates a single Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier. It is not as capable as the American carriers and carries less aircraft. Still though it remains a formidable and fearsome vessel. Service of the Admiral Kuznetsov in the Russian navy is plagued with various accidents and plane crashes. There are problems with the ship's propulsion system. Russia definitely struggles maintaining its only aircraft carrier and keeping it operational. There are no immediate plans in Russia to build a successor for this ship.

   The Russian navy operates a single Petr Veliky battlecruiser, but apparently also struggles to maintain this massive warship. Also there are 3 smaller Slava class missile cruisers that have great anti-ship, anti-aircraft and anti-submarine capabilities.

   There are around 15 destroyers, including Udaloy class anti-submarine warfare destroyers and Sovremenny class general-purpose destroyers. Also there are around 9 frigates and 24 corvettes.

   Russian naval infantry is not that numerous and has only around 12 000 personnel. Marines are delivered ashore by a single Ivan Gren class amphibious transport ship. There are another 15 Ropucha I and Ropuch II class landing ships and 4 Alligator class landing ships. These vessels  provide long-range amphibious capability. However the Russian amphibious transports are much smaller and less capable than their US counterparts.

   Russian navy operates a number of nuclear-powered attack submarines. There are a number of Akula class nuclear-powered boats, that make up about half of Russia's dwindling nuclear-powered attack submarines fleet. A couple of new Graney class nuclear-powered boats are being constructed. Also there are 3 Oskar II class cruise missile submarines. These are the largest attack submarines ever constructed and are intended to attack US aircraft carrier battle groups and coastal installations. Also there are Kilo class diesel-powered patrol submarines, used for defense of naval bases.

   It appears that the Russian navy is heavily investing in its new Borei class ballistic missile submarines. A total of 3 of these boats are in service while another 5 are being constructed at a rather fast pace. These boats carry nuclear-tipped intercontinental missiles. There are a couple of older Delta IV class ballistic missile boats that also pose a significant threat. Worth noting that older Russian submarines of all types might have lower readiness due to insufficient funding.

   On paper the Russian navy looses to Chinese navy in terms of warship number and tonnage. However the Russian navy operates a number of proven and extremely deadly ballistic missile submarines.

   Russian naval aviation operates around 360 aircraft, including a small number of Tu-142 long-range anti-submarine warfare aircraft, Il-38 medium-range anti-submarine warfare aircraft, and Su-24 tactical bombers.



Top ten naval forces in the world

Nr.3 China


   Chinese navy is officially called the People's Liberation Army Navy. Until the late 1980s it was largely a riverine and littoral force. Since the early 1990s China began expanding its fleet and is currently building new warships and submarines at a rapid pace. The Chinese navy has around 255 000 personnel. Currently it is the second largest navy after the US Navy in terms of tonnage. Furthermore it has the largest number of major combatants.

   By 2018 Chinese navy operated a single Liaoning aircraft carrier. It is mainly uses as a training vessel. However a similar carrier, the Shandong, was commissioned in 2019.

   There are around 30 destroyers, 50 frigates and 40 corvettes. Though some of the older warships are not as capable as their Western or even Russian counterparts. On the other hand new advanced warships are being built at extremely fast pace. Additionally around 5-6 Type 055 class guided missile cruisers are nearing completion and should be operational in 2020.

   Chinese amphibious assault forces operate 4 amphibious transport docks, 32 tank landing ships and 31 medium landing ships. Chinese navy has 10 000 marines that can be landed on hostile shores.

   Chinese navy operates a fleet of 68 submarines. These are 4 Jin class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, that carry nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. However so far these missile submarines have not conducted any operational deterrence patrols, possibly due to various problems and design flaws. Still though these ballistic missile boats have high probability of surviving the first strike, once the country has been attacked. Also there are 2 active Shang class nuclear-powered attack submarines, a single Qing class diesel-powered attack submarine, 15 Yuan class diesel-powered patrols submarines, as well as 13 Song class diesel-powered patrol submarines.

   The Chinese navy also operates more than 700 aircraft. Its primary mission is to provide air defense for the fleet. There are over 140 multi-role fighters. Chinese naval aviation also operates a number of JH-7 maritime attack aircraft and over 30 H-6 medium-range bombers. These are intended to engage US carrier battle groups.



The largest navies in the world

Nr.4 Japan


   Japan's navy, officially referred as Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), consists of 50 800 personnel, over 150 ships and nearly 346 aircraft. The Maritime Self-Defense Force is officially limited to defensive doctrine due to Japan's constitution.

It operates technologically advanced warships and submarines. Also the Japanese navy is maintained in a high state of readiness and is extremely efficient. So even though Japan's navy looses to Chinese navy in terms of sheer warship number and tonnage, Japanese warships are typically more advanced and are packed with state-of-the art weapons. However the JMSDF does not have any nuclear weapons.

   The Japanese navy has got no aircraft carriers, however there 2 large Izumo class and 2 Hyuga class helicopter carriers. These are multi-role ships that can conduct amphibious operations, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare. These large helicopter carriers provide the Maritime Self-Defense Force with great force projection capability. In 2018 it was announced that the Izumo class warships will be rebuilt as aircraft carriers as a response to rapid China's fleet buildup.

   Japanese navy operates 26 destroyers, including 2 Atago class large anti-air warfare destroyers and 4 Kongou class large general purpose destroyers. Actually these warships are nearly as large as cruisers. Also there are 4 Aikizuki class general purpose destroyers.

   There and around 10 frigates, plus 6 small destroyer escorts (corvettes).

   The JMSDF has got 3 large landing ships. Japan's marines are not numerous and number just over 3 000 personnel. This naval infantry is officially a part of Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces. Officially role of the Japan's marines is to counter-attack on captured islands and retake them. Though Japan is gradually increasing its expeditionary units.

   The Japan's navy has around 20 submarines. Interestingly these are diesel-powered attack submarines. As far as Japan does not use military warships with nuclear propulsion, it developed technologically advanced diesel-powered boat that have extended endurance and significant offensive capabilities. However Japan has got no ballistic missile submarines or nuclear ballistic missiles.

   Japan's naval aviation includes nearly 70 Lockheed P-3C Orions and a dozen of Kawasaki P-1s maritime patrol aircraft.



Top 10 most powerful navies

Nr.5 United Kingdom


   Navy of the United Kingdom is officially referred as the Royal Navy. From the mid 18th century the Royal Navy was the world's most powerful navy. It was an unmatched power and played a key part in establishing the British Empire. It was surpassed by the United States Navy only during the World War II. Currently the Royal Navy is focused on expeditionary operations and remains one of the world's foremost blue-water navies. Though due to decreasing funding it is being gradually reduced in size and warship number. Currently the Royal Navy has around 33 000 personnel.

   The Royal Navy operates a single Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier. The second ship of the class is planned to be commissioned within the next few years. Though these are much smaller than US aircraft carriers and slightly smaller than Russian and Chinese carriers.

   The British navy operates 6 Daring class anti-air warfare destroyers. These vessels can patrol large areas and provide air defense for the fleet. Also there are 13 Duke class frigates that serve alongside the Daring class destroyers. These frigates are mainly intended for anti-submarine warfare.

   The Royal Navy includes a well-regarded Royal Marine Commando Brigade. This brigade has around 7 700 personnel. The Royal Marines is the strongest naval infantry force in European Union. There are 2 Albion class landing ships alongside with 3 Bay class logistical landing ships.

   There are 3 active Astute class nuclear-powered attack submarines. Another 4 boats of this class are being constructed. Also there are 3 active Trafalgar class nuclear-powered attack boats, that will be gradually retired within the next few years.

   The Royal Navy also operates 4 Vanguard class ballistic missile submarines. Each of these boats can carry a maximum of 192 nuclear warheads. Such load is sufficient to wipe-out entire countries. A single Vanguard-class boat is on deterrence patrol at any one time. Details on these patrols are still highly classified.

   The British Fleet Air Arm mainly operates various naval helicopters for search and rescue, anti-submarine warfare, utility and other roles. The Sea Harrier and Harrier II close support aircraft were retired back in 2006 and 2011 respectively. A number of F-35B stealthy multi-role fighters were ordered as a replacement. These will operate from the new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.



The top 10 most powerful navies

Nr.6 France


   The French Marine Nationale is one of the world's oldest naval forces. Currently it has around 36 000 personnel.

   The French navy operates a single Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. It is the flagship of the French navy. It is the only nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, built outside the United States. However it is much smaller than the US carriers. The second aircraft carrier, similar to the British Queen Elizabeth class was planned, however these plans were eventually abandoned.

   There are 2 modern Horizon class anti-air warfare destroyers. These ocean-going warships are officially referred as frigates. However considering their size and powerful armament these ships are clearly destroyers. These are called frigates purely for political reasons. Also there are 2 older Cassard class and 4 Georges Leygues class destroyers, that should be retired soon

   The French navy operates 4 Aquitaine class guided missile frigates. More vessels of this class are being built. These new frigates will soon replace the Cassard class and Georges Leygues class destroyers and replaced by Aquitaine class frigates. There are 5 smaller La Fayette class and 6 Floreal class frigates.

   The French navy operates 3 Mistral class amphibious assault ships. These are the largest warships after the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. Primary mission for these ships are amphibious landing operations. They also provide command and force projection capability. The French navy includes a naval infantry brigade, which is around 8 000 men strong. These are expeditionary forces, that can be landed on hostile shores and perform armored raids up to 100 km into enemy territory.

   There are 4 Rubis class and 2 Amethyste class attack submarines. These are the smallest nuclear-powered attack boats. Currently new Sufren class nuclear-powered attack submarines are being built in France to replace the current boats.

   The French navy operates 4 Le Triomphant class ballistic missile submarines, that provide the backbone of the French nuclear deterrent.

   The French naval aviation has around 210 aircraft, including ground- and carrier-based aircraft. These include navalized Rafale multi-role fighters, E-2C Hawkeye carrier-borne early warning aircraft and Atlantique II maritime patrol aircraft.



The largest navies in the world

Nr.7 India


   The Indian Navy has around 67 000 personnel. It is a formidable force in South Asia. It is slowly but surely upgrading its equipment and transforming from coastal force to a real ocean-going force. However it significantly looses in terms of size and capabilities to the Chinese navy.

   Currently the Indian Navy operates a single INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier. This carrier is rather humble in terms of aircraft number. Another aircraft carrier, the INS Vikrant, is being built in India and should become operational in the near future. It will significantly increase India's force projection capabilities.

   Indian Navy operates a total of 11 destroyers, including 3 Kolkata class guided missile destroyers. These new warships are among the most capable destroyers in the world. Also there are 3 Delhi class and 5 older Rajput class destroyers.

   There are 13 frigates in service with the Indian Navy. Some of them are modern designs, including 3 Shivalik class and 6 Talwar class guided missile frigates. Also there are 3 older Brahmaputra class and a single Godavari class frigates.

   Also there are around 20 corvettes, that are intended to protect costal waters.

   The Indian Navy operates one large INS Jalashwa amphibious transport and 8 smaller landing ships (3 Shardul class, 2 Magar class, 3 Kumbhir class). These vessels are designed to deliver troops ant their equipment on hostile shores or to counter-attack on captured Indian shores. However India has got no dedicated naval infantry due to the lack of necessary equipment.

   The Indian Navy operates a single Arikhant class ballistic missile submarine. The second boat of the class will be commissioned in the near future. These nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines were developed and built in high secrecy. It was a milestone in the development of the Indian Navy. India joined five other countries, capable of designing and building nuclear-powered submarines.

   There is a single nuclear-powered attack submarine. The INS Chakra is a Russian Akula II class submarine, leased to India. Also Indian Navy is introducing modern Kalvari class diesel-powered patrol submarines. These are Franco-Spanish Scorpene class boats with some modifications, built for the Indian Navy. The lead boat was commissioned, 2 more boats should become operational soon, and 3 more boats are being constructed. Also the Indian Navy operates 9 Sindhughosh class diesel-powered patrol submarines. These are obsolete Soviet Cold War era Kilo class boats. There are 4 active Shisumar class (German Type 206 class) diesel-powered boats.

   Indian Naval Air Arm has around 210 aircraft. These include various types of carrier-based aircraft, as well 8-12 modern Boeing P-8I Neptune and around 5 ageing Ilyushin Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft.



Top 10 countries with best navy forces in the world

Nr.8 South Korea


   Several decades ago South Korean navy was little known. However recently it was transformed from a coastal force into a capable ocean-going force. Currently it has 70 000 personnel.

   The South Korean navy has got no aircraft carriers. However there is a single Dokdo class amphibious assault ship. It is similar in size to light aircraft carriers. It is a flagship of the South  Korean navy. Another ship of this class is being built and is planned to be commissioned in 2020.

   There are 3 Sejong the Great class guided missile destroyers. These are among the most advanced warships afloat today. Currently these are the most capable destroyers in the world after the American Zumwalt class. The Sejong the Great class ships carry a variety of missiles and capable of meeting virtually any threat at sea, on land, or in the air. In terms of displacement and weaponry these warships are closer to cruisers. Also there are 6 Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin class multi-purpose destroyers and 3 Kwanggateo the Great class destroyers (though some refer these warships as frigates).

   There is a single active Daegu class air defense frigate, which was commissioned in 2018. Three more warships of this class are under construction. Also there are 6 Incheon class coastal defense frigates. The South Korean navy operates 6 old Ulsan class frigates, that were commissioned between early 1980s and early 1990s. Though these older ships are planned to be decommissioned in the near future.

   The South Korean navy operates 7 German Type 214 class (locally known as Sohn Won-yil class)  diesel-powered submarines with air independent propulsion system. Also there are 9 older Chang Bogo class diesel-powered submarines.

   The South Koran Marine Corps are modeled after the US Marines Corps and have around 29 000 personnel. In case of war these forces can be deployed on North Korean territory and on other islands. There are 2 active Cheong Wang Bong class amphibious landing ships. Two more ships of this class are under construction. Also there are 4 Go Jun Bong class amphibious landing ships.

   The South Korean naval aviation has around 70 aircraft. Most of these are actually helicopters. Though there are 16 Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft.



Top 10 navies in the world

Nr.9 Italy


   The Italian navy (officially Marina Militare Italiana) has an ocean-going fleet and around 31 000 personnel. The Italian navy operates warships of every type.

   There is a single Cavour light aircraft carrier. It serves as a flagship of the Italian navy. It can operate V/STOL aircraft (such as the Harriers and F-35Bs), as well as helicopters. The Cavour can also transport military personnel and vehicles. a smaller Giuseppe Garibaldi aircraft carrier in service with the Italian navy. There is also a smaller Giuseppe Garibaldi light aircraft carrier.

   Italian navy operates 2 Horizon class destroyers. For political reasons these warships are officially referred as frigates. However considering their size and powerful armament these ships are clearly destroyers. Also there are 2 older Durand de la Penne class multi-role destroyers. The Marina Militare operates 6 smaller Carlo Bergamini class guided missile destroyers and 4 more are being built and should be comissioned soon. These vessels are also officially referred as frigates, but are much larger and more powerful than most frigates in the world and even some destroyers.

   There are 6 active Maestrale class anti-submarne frigates. Though all of these warships are planned to be decommissioned within the next couple of years. There are 2 smaller Soldati class patrol frigates.

   The Italian navy has a 3 800 men strong San Marco marine brigade. This amphibious brigades relies on 3 San Giorgio class amphibious transport ships. The third ship of the class, San Giusto, is built to improved standard and can carry more troops. Currently Italy is building a single Trieste amphibious assault ship. that is planned to be commissioned in 2022. Once in service it will replace the less capable Giuseppe Garibaldi light aircraft carrier.

   There are 4 Salvatore Torado class (German Type 212 class) diesel-powered boats with air independent propulsion system and 4 older Sauro class diesel-powered patrol submarines.

   Italian naval aviation is 2 000 personnel strong and operates a dozen of AV-8B Harrier II close support aircraft. Another 29-30 F-35B multi-role fighters were ordered for use onboard Italian aircraft carriers. There is a small number of maritime patrol aircraft, though these are operated by the Italian air force, rather than the Italian navy.



The strongest navy in the world

Nr.10 Taiwan


   The Taiwanes navy has got 38 000 personnel. Most of its warships are purchased from the United States. Some warships were obtained from other countries. Though Taiwan is also capable of building its own vessels.

   On this Top 10 list the Taiwanese navy competed with Indonesian navy for the 10th position. Even though Indonesian navy has twice the personnel and significantly more warships, most of its fleet is limited to costal operations, while the Taiwanese navy operates a number of ocean-going frigates. Another powerful player, that not made to this Top 10 list was a Turkish navy, which is also powerful and has a strong costal fleet, which is mainly intended to operate in the Mediterranean region.

   There are 4 Kee Lung class destroyers. These are former US Kidd class destroyers. Though the vessels were overhauled and upgraded, before being delivered to the Taiwanese navy.

   The Taiwanese navy operates a total of 20 frigates. These include 8 Cheng Kung class frigates. These warships were produced in Taiwan and are based on a US Oliver Hazard Perry class. There are 6 Chi Yang class (former US Knox class) and 6 Knag Ding class (French-built La Fayette class) frigates.

   There are a total of 10 landing ships. These include a sole Hsu Hai (former US Anchorage class) and 2 Chung He class ships (former US Newport class).

   The Taiwanese navy has got only 2 useful Hai Lung class submarines. These are Dutch Zwaardvis class boats, purchased from the Netherlands back in the mid 1980s.

   Taiwanese naval aviation operates 12 refurbished and upgraded P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft.




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