Special Report

The 10 Largest Navies In The World

During the second months of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the cruiser Moskva, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea fleet, was sunk while docked at the Russian-occupied port of Berdyansk, 50 miles west of Mariupol. Two smaller Russian ships fled the scene of the attack – one of them on fire.

Although it is unclear how many hits the Russian Navy has taken since it began its attack on Ukraine, what is clear is that Russia has one of the largest navies in the world in terms of fleet numbers – second only to China. 

To determine the world’s largest navy, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on naval fleets by country from the World Population Review. Countries were ranked based on the total number of warships and submarines as of 2022. Data on active military aircraft in use by each country’s navy came from Flight International’s 2022 World Air Forces directory. Data on military expenditure in 2020 came from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Naval power has been crucial for countries that border oceans and seas, and naval ships often patrol coastlines. Warships, which are designed for use in battle, include aircraft and helicopter carriers, submarines, and various classes of ships with specialized armored capabilities for engaging enemy crafts on the surface of the water, underwater, or in the air. These include destroyers, cruisers, frigates, corvettes, and amphibious assault ships.

Although China, Russia, and North Korea have the largest naval fleets by number, the size, quality, and capability of warships can vary greatly. Hence, having the largest navy does not necessarily translate to having the most powerful navy. Most countries have reduced the size of their naval fleets since World War II, replacing ships with fewer but more technologically capable vessels. 

For perspective, although the U.S. ranks as fourth in terms of the number of warships, a 2014 comparison of naval fleets by tonnage showed that the U.S. Navy had more mass than the next 13 navies combined, according to the World Population Review. (By tonnage, North Korea dropped off the top 10 list.) In fact, the U.S. has four of the world’s largest warships.

Click here to see the world’s largest Navy

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