Special Report

The Most Mass-Produced US Naval Ships in WWII

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Throughout World War II, nations across the globe and on both sides of the conflict raced to expand their naval fleets. Some of the most iconic naval vessels were widely produced during that time. Here we are taking a closer look at the most-produced U.S. military ships during WWII. (Currently, however, these are the 19 ships and submarines in U.S. naval fleet.)

To determine the most produced U.S. military ships used in World War II, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed warship production totals from Military Factory, an online database of military vehicles, aircraft, arms, and more. We included only ship classes that served in WWII and that at least nine or more units were produced during the lifetime of the class. The ship classes are ranked by the total number produced throughout the lifetime of the class. Supplemental information about type, notable ships, and a notable ship’s personnel and year it entered service also came from Military Factory. Ships belonging to the same class often had differing crew complements.  

The Fletcher-class destroyer composed the bulk of the U.S. Navy destroyer force of the Pacific Theater in WWII. This destroyer class was armed with five main guns and 10 torpedo tubes, as well as two depth charge racks – anti-submarine weapons. A total of 175 ships of the class were produced, and its destroyers participated in many naval engagements in the Pacific Theater. (Also see, a battle with Japan during WWII was the largest in U.S. naval history.)

It is worth noting that destroyers make up a significant amount of entries on this list. Other notable entries are aircraft carriers, patrol boats, and amphibious assault vessels. Together, they played a significant role in the Allied victory in both the Pacific Theater and the European Theater.

The Essex-class of aircraft carriers played an important role in turning the tide in the Pacific. Part of this was due to the high rate of production and the speed at which these ships entered the service. The flagship of the class, the USS Essex, was completed in just 20 months as the need for aircraft carriers was dire at the time. What may be even more impressive is that not a single Essex-class carrier was lost to enemy action during the war.

These vessels, which represent a diverse array of functions and capabilities, served as crucial elements in determining the outcomes of numerous engagements and, ultimately, the course of the war itself. 

Here is a look at the 29 most produced military ships of World War II:

29. Independence-class
> Number produced: 9
> Type: Conventionally-powered light aircraft carrier
> Notable ship(s): USS Independence (CVL-22), USS Cabot (CVL-28), USS Cowpens (CVL-25)
> Year USS Independence (CVL-22) entered service: 1943
> USS Independence (CVL-22) personnel: 1,569

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28. Sims-class
> Number produced: 12
> Type: Destroyer
> Notable ship(s): USS Wainwright (DD-419)
> Year USS Wainwright (DD-419) entered service: 1940
> USS Wainwright (DD-419) personnel: 192

27. Fargo-class
> Number produced: 13
> Type: Light cruiser
> Notable ship(s): USS Fargo (CL-106)
> Year USS Fargo (CL-106) entered service: 1945
> USS Fargo (CL-106) personnel: 1,255

26. Baltimore-class
> Number produced: 14
> Type: Heavy cruiser
> Notable ship(s): USS Fall River (CA-131), USS Saint Paul (CA-73)
> Year USS Fall River (CA-131) entered service: 1945
> USS Fall River (CA-131) personnel: 1,142

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25. Mahan-class
> Number produced: 18
> Type: Multicole destroyer
> Notable ship(s): USS Downes (DD-375)
> Year USS Downes (DD-375) entered service: 1937
> USS Downes (DD-375) personnel: 158

24. PT 95
> Number produced: 18
> Type: Motorized torpedo fast boat
> Notable ship(s): Huckins PT Boat (Patrol Torpedo)
> Year Huckins PT Boat (Patrol Torpedo) entered service: 1942
> Huckins PT Boat (Patrol Torpedo) personnel: 11

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23. Rudderow-class
> Number produced: 22
> Type: Destroyer escort
> Notable ship(s): USS Rudderow (DE-224)
> Year USS Rudderow (DE-224) entered service: 1944
> USS Rudderow (DE-224) personnel: 221

22. Essex-class
> Number produced: 24
> Type: Conventionally-powered aircraft carrier
> Notable ship(s): USS Essex (CV-9), USS Hancock (CV-19), USS Franklin (CV-13)
> Year USS Essex (CV-9) entered service: 1942
> USS Essex (CV-9) personnel: 2,600

21. Cleveland-class
> Number produced: 29
> Type: Light cruiser
> Notable ship(s): USS Cleveland (CL-55), USS Oklahoma City (CL-91), USS Wilkes-Barre (CL-103)
> Year USS Cleveland (CL-55) entered service: 1942
> USS Cleveland (CL-55) personnel: 1,255

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20. Benson-class
> Number produced: 30
> Type: Destroyer
> Notable ship(s): USS Laffey (DD-459)
> Year USS Laffey (DD-459) entered service: 1942
> USS Laffey (DD-459) personnel: 208

19. Tolland-class
> Number produced: 33
> Type: Attack cargo ship
> Notable ship(s): USS Alamance (AKA-75)
> Year USS Alamance (AKA-75) entered service: 1944
> USS Alamance (AKA-75) personnel: 395

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18. Bogue-class
> Number produced: 45
> Type: Escort carrier / aircraft carrier
> Notable ship(s): USS Bogue (CVE-9)
> Year USS Bogue (CVE-9) entered service: 1942
> USS Bogue (CVE-9) personnel: 890

17. Lapwing-class
> Number produced: 49
> Type: Minesweeper
> Notable ship(s): USS Lapwing (AM-1)
> Year USS Lapwing (AM-1) entered service: 1918
> USS Lapwing (AM-1) personnel: 78

16. Casablanca-class
> Number produced: 50
> Type: Escort carrier
> Notable ship(s): USS Kalinin Bay (CVE-68), USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56), USS Shamrock Bay (CVE-84)
> Year USS Kalinin Bay (CVE-68) entered service: 1943
> USS Kalinin Bay (CVE-68) personnel: 860

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15. Allen M. Sumner-class
> Number produced: 58
> Type: Destroyer
> Notable ship(s): USS Allen M. Sumner (DD-692), USS Laffey (DD-724), USS Hugh W. Hadley (DD-774)
> Year USS Allen M. Sumner (DD-692) entered service: 1944
> USS Allen M. Sumner (DD-692) personnel: 336

14. Crater-class freighter
> Number produced: 62
> Type: Cargo ship
> Notable ship(s): USS Serpens (AK-97)
> Year USS Serpens (AK-97) entered service: 1943
> USS Serpens (AK-97) personnel: 206

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13. Gleaves-class
> Number produced: 66
> Type: Destroyer
> Notable ship(s): USS Gleaves (DD-423), USS McCalla (DD-488)
> Year USS Gleaves (DD-423) entered service: 1940
> USS Gleaves (DD-423) personnel: 276

12. John C. Butler-class
> Number produced: 83
> Type: Destroyer escort
> Notable ship(s): USS John C. Butler (DE-339), USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413)
> Year USS John C. Butler (DE-339) entered service: 1944
> USS John C. Butler (DE-339) personnel: 186

11. Edsall-class
> Number produced: 85
> Type: Destroyer escort
> Notable ship(s): USS Pillsbury (DE-133)
> Year USS Pillsbury (DE-133) entered service: 1943
> USS Pillsbury (DE-133) personnel: 209

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10. Gearing-class
> Number produced: 98
> Type: Destroyer / submarine hunter
> Notable ship(s): USS Gearing (DD-710), USS Floyd B. Parks (DD-884)
> Year USS Gearing (DD-710) entered service: 1945
> USS Gearing (DD-710) personnel: 336

9. Admirable-class
> Number produced: 123
> Type: Minesweeper / anti-submarine warfare vessel
> Notable ship(s): USS Improve (AM-247)
> Year USS Improve (AM-247) entered service: 1944
> USS Improve (AM-247) personnel: 104

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8. Clemson-class
> Number produced: 156
> Type: Destroyer
> Notable ship(s): USS John D. Ford (DD-228), USS McCalla (DD-253), USS Reuben James (DD-245)
> Year USS John D. Ford (DD-228) entered service: 1920
> USS John D. Ford (DD-228) personnel: 122

7. Fletcher-class
> Number produced: 175
> Type: Destroyer / anti-submarine warfare platform
> Notable ship(s): USS Fletcher (DD-445), USS Stoddard (DD-566), USS The Sullivans (DD-537)
> Year USS Fletcher (DD-445) entered service: 1942
> USS Fletcher (DD-445) personnel: 273

6. Higgins PT Boat
> Number produced: 199
> Type: Patrol boat / motor torpedo boat
> Notable ship(s): N/A
> Year entered service: 1942
> Personnel: 11

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5. PT 103-class
> Number produced: 326
> Type: Patrol boat / motor torpedo boat
> Notable ship(s): N/A
> Year entered service: 1941
> Personnel: 14

4. Landing Craft Infantry (Large)
> Number produced: 923
> Type: Amphibious assault ship
> Notable ship(s): N/A
> Year entered service: 1943
> Personnel: 24

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3. Landing Ship, Tank MkII (LST2)
> Number produced: 1,051
> Type: Amphibious assault transport vessel
> Notable ship(s): N/A
> Year entered service: 1942
> Personnel: 265

2. EC2-S-C1-class (Liberty Ship)
> Number produced: 2,751
> Type: Cargo ship vessel
> Notable ship(s): SS John Brown B4611
> Year SS John Brown B4611 entered service: 1942
> SS John Brown B4611 personnel: 87

1. Higgins Boat LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel)
> Number produced: 20,000
> Type: Amphibious assault landing craft
> Notable ship(s): N/A
> Year entered service: 1941
> Personnel: 39

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