Special Report

The US Navy's Newest Ships

Amendments passed to the FY 2023 defense spending bill meant that the U.S. Navy would retire four Freedom-class littoral combat ships. The original bill proposed retiring nine, a response to the ship’s many mechanical problems, and rapid obsolescence in light of the rise of China and a more aggressive Russia, and as the U.S. moves away from prioritizing combatting terrorism. One might assume that a ship class on the verge of mass retirement would be an outdated relic, possibly from the Cold War, but in fact the littoral combat ships are among the newest ships in the fleet.

Although the United States does not currently have the largest navy presence, it ranks as the world’s strongest naval power. (This is the world’s largest navy.) The U.S. Navy by itself boasts a fleet of over 240 ships and submarines. The biggest and oldest assets in the fleet are the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, which were a stabilizing factor throughout the Cold War. The U.S. owns 11 aircraft carriers overall, while countries like Russia and China only have one and three, respectively.

Looking ahead, the Nimitz-class carriers are starting to age out, as most are 30 years and older, and the U.S. is replacing them with the newer Ford-class supercarriers. The newest is the Gerald R. Ford which is just five years old. The Navy is replacing aircraft carriers on a one-for-one basis as they age out. (This is the world’s largest warship.)

To determine America’s newest warships, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the military data site World Directory of Modern Military Warships’ directory of all active ships in the U.S. and cross-referenced with data from the Naval Vessel Register. We compiled data on all ships and submarines — 33 in total — that have been commissioned in the service of the U.S. Navy for five years or less and ranked them by age.

Currently, the bulk of the U.S. Navy is made up primarily of the destroyer fleet, which accounts for nearly 30% of all naval vessels. The submarine fleet comes in a close second, accounting for roughly another quarter of the total strength of the force. Beyond this, an aging fleet of cruisers followed by littoral combat ships and amphibious assault support ships accounts for the rest of the naval vessels.

Here’s a look at the newest ships and submarines in the U.S. Navy.

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