Naval warfare has gone on for centuries across international waters, and warships have always been every military’s weapon of choice. The first warships ever built were galleys, which were a type of ship propelled by oarsmen. These ships, which existed in the Roman Empire and Ancient Persia, were designed to ram into enemy vessels and cause them to sink.
Fast-forward to the 19th century, warships became more sophisticated and prominent and peaked after World War II. Warships could come in the form of an amphibious warfare ship, cruiser, destroyer, and many more. While some warships are designed to only carry ammunition, others are so massive and robust that there’s not much they can’t do during wartime. In this list, however, we have rounded up 10 of the most terrifying warships to ever set sail.
10/10 Iowa Class
The Iowa Class battleships were built by the US Navy. With a displacement of 57,540 long tons and a speed of 38 mph, the Iowa Class battleships were larger and faster than the previous dreadnoughts built by the US Navy.
They were constructed to counter the Japanese Kongo Class battleships, which were pretty fast, so the US Navy had speed, and firepower in mind while building these monsters. There were four Iowa Class battleships, and they served the United States until the late 1990s before they were decommissioned.
9/10 Littorio Class
Littorio Class battleships of the Regia Marina were the largest and most powerful warships built by the Italian Navy and were commissioned in 1942. Although the inter-war treaty of that era allotted 35,000 tons for the construction of battleships, Italy broke the agreement and built the Littorio and Vittorio Veneto, both having a displacement of over 40,000 tons.
With a speed of over 30 knots and 9 units of 15 inches guns, the Littorio Class were the fastest battleships at the time.
8/10 Kirov-Class Cruiser
The Kirov-Class cruiser is the largest surface combat ship the world has ever seen, featuring a plethora of anti-ship missiles, fixed guns, torpedoes, and surface-to-air missiles. The Russian Navy uses the 827-foot-long gunboat as an offensive weapon of war.
Running on oil-fired steam turbines and nuclear marine propulsion, the Kirov-Class cruiser produces 140,000 hp with a 32-knot top speed. The combat ship can accommodate a crew of 710 and 3 helicopters. Although the Soviet Union commissioned four cruisers, only one known as the “Pyotr Velikiy” is still functional.
7/10 King George V Class
The King George V Class comprises five battleships that the British Royal Navy used during World War II. Unlike the Italian Navy that flouted the naval treaty, the Royal Navy played the game by the rules and equipped the ship with only ten 14-inch guns, which some might consider to be weak.
To compensate for the rather weak artillery, the five battleships of the King George V Class were well-armored and could deliver 28 knots.
6/10 Nagato Class
The Japanese Nagato Class battleship put on more weight over her service life than any other ship. Commissioned in 1920, the Nagato Class ships were 738-foot long, making them one of the largest battleships in the world at the time.
The Nagato Class ships were the first in the world to have eight 16-inch guns, but having just 25 knots, they were not as fast as the King George V Class ships. The Nagato battleships were enlarged to almost 46,000 tons and were the only battleships to survive World War II.
5/10 South Dakota Class
Another wonder of the maritime world is the South Dakota Class battleships built by the US Navy. Although the initial intent was to make a compact ship that’s a tad smaller than the North Carolina Class ships, the South Dakota Class battleships were about 680-foot long and capable of displacing 46,200 tons at full load.
Unlike the North Carolina battleships that could not resist its own 16-inch guns, the four ships in the South Dakota Class were well-armored to protect the vital parts and they served the United States throughout World War II.
4/10 Bismarck Class
The KMS Bismarck Class battleships were the largest battleships of Nazi Germany, with a length of 823 ft 6 in and displacement of 50,000 tons. The Germans also built a sister battleship for the KMS Bismarck known as “KMS Tirpitz”, which was the same length as the Bismarck.
It is believed that the KMS Bismarck battleship single-handedly prevented the British Royal Navy from capturing the infamous Adolf Hitler. Although the armor of the Bismarck ship protected its vital areas, it was destroyed in 1941.
3/10 Yamato Class
Both battleships in the Yamato Class were built by the Imperial Japanese Navy at the peak of World War II, and they are perhaps the largest battleships to have ever set sail, with an overall length of 862 ft 10 in. Displacing 73,000 tons and having 18 inches guns, you’d expect the Yamato Class ships to be indestructible.
However, both the Yamato and Musashi ships sank before the war was over. The Musashi was discovered in 2015 by Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen, after about 7 decades of searching.
2/10 Richelieu Class
Commissioned in 1940, the Richelieu Class battleship was built by the French Marine Nationale, who ensured that it met naval treaty requirements. To ensure the Richelieu Class ship did not exceed 35,000 tons, the eight 15-inch guns were arranged in an all-forward manner and installed in two quadruple turrets.
The Marine Nationale built a sister ship known as Jean Bart, but this time around, they exceeded the treaty limit and equipped the battleships with more powerful anti-aircraft guns.
1/10 HMS Vanguard
The last battleship built by the British Royal Navy was the HMS Vanguard, with a displacement of 44,500 long tons. Commissioned in 1946, the HMS Vanguard the Royal Navy realized the threat posed by the Japanese and German battleships at the time, and they decided to equip a modified Lion Class battleship hull with 15 inches guns to build the HMS Vanguard.
The HMS Vanguard was 814 ft 4 in long and featured an incredible amount of firepower, speed, and armor, but it was never used in combat.