Special Report

Countries With The Largest Naval Fleets

defence.lk / Wikimedia Commons

When the British sang the patriotic song “Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves,” it was as much a statement of fact as a boast. The British no longer have the world’s biggest fleet, and the United States doesn’t either.  

To determine the countries with the largest fleets, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed defense statistics website GlobalFirepower’s 2023 naval forces database with information about 145 countries’ militaries. We ranked countries according to the number of naval vessels in their military, starting at 150 vessels, and included the number of vessels in four classes of vessels. Data on notable ships came mostly from Military Factory, among other sources. Data on total military spending and military spending as a percentage of gross domestic product, came from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s Military Expenditure Database.

Following a relentless military buildup, China now has the world’s largest navy. This is cause for concern for Taiwan, which is about 100 miles east across the Taiwan Strait from the Chinese mainland. China has more submarines, destroyers, frigates, and corvettes than any other nation. Russia, traditionally a land power that has historically sought ice-free ports, is second in total vessels. 

North Korea, which has the third-most offshore patrol boats behind Sweden and Indonesia, ranks third. Sweden and Indonesia have such a high number of offshore patrol boats because they are needed to keep vigil over their unique coastlines. (These are the 35 different ships and submarines in Indonesia’s navy.

The U.S. is fourth, buttressed by 11 aircraft carriers, more than any other country. In terms of quality and firepower, the U.S. Navy has no equal in the world. (Here are 11 new warships that will join the U.S. Navy fleet.)

The Royal Navy (U.K.), the world’s most powerful until World War II, is not even among the top 21 largest navies at sea. How times have changed.

Click here to see countries with the largest naval fleets.

21. Turkey
> Naval fleet size: 154
> Number of aircraft carriers: N/A
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 25 — #9 most of 145
> Submarines: 12 — #9 most of 145
> Offshore patrol vessels: 34 — #32 most of 145
> Notable ship: Anadolu (L-400) — amphibious assault ship
> Military spending, 2021: $15.5 billion — #18 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 2.1% — #45 most of 145

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20. Japan
> Naval fleet size: 155
> Number of aircraft carriers: N/A
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 46 — #4 most of 145
> Submarines: 21 — #6 most of 145
> Offshore patrol vessels: 6 — #90 most of 145
> Notable ship: JS Izumo (DDH-183) — helicopter carrier
> Military spending, 2021: $54.1 billion — #9 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 1.1% — #106 most of 145

19. South Korea
> Naval fleet size: 157
> Number of aircraft carriers: N/A
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 38 — #6 most of 145
> Submarines: 22 — #5 most of 145
> Offshore patrol vessels: 35 — #31 most of 145
> Notable ship: ROKS Daegu (FFG-818) — Daegu-class frigate
> Military spending, 2021: $50.2 billion — #10 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 2.8% — #28 most of 145

18. Spain
> Naval fleet size: 166
> Number of aircraft carriers: N/A
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 11 — #24 most of 145
> Submarines: 2 — #40 most of 145
> Offshore patrol vessels: 23 — #45 most of 145
> Notable ship: Juan Carlos I (L61) — amphibious assault ship
> Military spending, 2021: $19.5 billion — #16 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 1.4% — #86 most of 145

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17. Bolivia
> Naval fleet size: 170
> Number of aircraft carriers: N/A
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 0 — #66 most of 145
> Submarines: N/A
> Offshore patrol vessels: 49 — #17 most of 145
> Notable ship: PR51 Santa Cruz de la Sierra — offshore patrol vessel
> Military spending, 2021: $625.3 million — #82 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 1.5% — #73 most of 145

16. Mexico
> Naval fleet size: 194
> Number of aircraft carriers: N/A
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 20 — #12 most of 145
> Submarines: N/A
> Offshore patrol vessels: 150 — #5 most of 145
> Notable ship: ARM Revolucion (P-164) — offshore patrol vessel
> Military spending, 2021: $8.7 billion — #28 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 0.7% — #126 most of 145

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15. Algeria
> Naval fleet size: 201
> Number of aircraft carriers: N/A
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 11 — #24 most of 145
> Submarines: 6 — #17 most of 145
> Offshore patrol vessels: 25 — #42 most of 145
> Notable ship: Kalaat Beni Abbes — amphibious transport dock
> Military spending, 2021: $9.1 billion — #26 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 5.6% — #4 most of 145

14. Myanmar
> Naval fleet size: 210
> Number of aircraft carriers: N/A
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 8 — #36 most of 145
> Submarines: 2 — #38 most of 145
> Offshore patrol vessels: 124 — #7 most of 145
> Notable ship: UMS Min Ye Kyaw Htin — attack submarine
> Military spending, 2021: $2.1 billion — #60 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 3.3% — #17 most of 145

13. Egypt
> Naval fleet size: 245
> Number of aircraft carriers: N/A
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 20 — #12 most of 145
> Submarines: 8 — #14 most of 145
> Offshore patrol vessels: 48 — #19 most of 145
> Notable ship: ENS Gamal Abdel Nasser (L1010) — amphibious assault ship
> Military spending, 2021: $5.2 billion — #43 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 1.3% — #93 most of 145

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12. Finland
> Naval fleet size: 246
> Number of aircraft carriers: N/A
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 0 — #66 most of 145
> Submarines: N/A
> Offshore patrol vessels: 8 — #83 most of 145
> Notable ship: Rauma — Rauma-class missile boat
> Military spending, 2021: $5.9 billion — #37 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 2.0% — #46 most of 145

11. Colombia
> Naval fleet size: 265
> Number of aircraft carriers: N/A
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 11 — #24 most of 145
> Submarines: 4 — #29 most of 145
> Offshore patrol vessels: 53 — #15 most of 145
> Notable ship: ARC Gloria — training ship
> Military spending, 2021: $10.2 billion — #25 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 3.4% — #16 most of 145

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10. Sri Lanka
> Naval fleet size: 275
> Number of aircraft carriers: N/A
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 5 — #46 most of 145
> Submarines: N/A
> Offshore patrol vessels: 59 — #13 most of 145
> Notable ship: SLNS Gajabahu (P626) — offshore patrol vessel
> Military spending, 2021: $1.6 billion — #64 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 1.9% — #54 most of 145

9. Thailand
> Naval fleet size: 292
> Number of aircraft carriers: N/A
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 13 — #18 most of 145
> Submarines: N/A
> Offshore patrol vessels: 49 — #18 most of 145
> Notable ship: HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej (FFG-471) — frigate
> Military spending, 2021: $6.6 billion — #33 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 1.3% — #89 most of 145

8. India
> Naval fleet size: 295
> Number of aircraft carriers: 2 — #2 most of 7
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 42 — #5 most of 145
> Submarines: 18 — #8 most of 145
> Offshore patrol vessels: 138 — #6 most of 145
> Notable ship: INS Vikrant — aircraft carrier
> Military spending, 2021: $76.6 billion — #3 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 2.7% — #30 most of 145

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7. Italy
> Naval fleet size: 313
> Number of aircraft carriers: 2 — #2 most of 7
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 17 — #15 most of 145
> Submarines: 8 — #15 most of 145
> Offshore patrol vessels: 18 — #57 most of 145
> Notable ship: Giuseppe Garibaldi — aircraft carrier
> Military spending, 2021: $32.0 billion — #11 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 1.5% — #75 most of 145

6. Indonesia
> Naval fleet size: 324
> Number of aircraft carriers: N/A
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 31 — #7 most of 145
> Submarines: 4 — #30 most of 145
> Offshore patrol vessels: 202 — #2 most of 145
> Notable ship: KRI Banda Aceh (LPD-593) — landing platform dock
> Military spending, 2021: $8.3 billion — #29 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 0.7% — #125 most of 145

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5. Sweden
> Naval fleet size: 367
> Number of aircraft carriers: N/A
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 7 — #40 most of 145
> Submarines: 5 — #25 most of 145
> Offshore patrol vessels: 298 — #1 most of 145
> Notable ship: HSwMS Karlstad (K35) — corvette
> Military spending, 2021: $7.9 billion — #32 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 1.3% — #95 most of 145

4. United States
> Naval fleet size: 484
> Number of aircraft carriers: 11 — #1 most of 7
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 114 — #2 most of 145
> Submarines: 68 — #3 most of 145
> Offshore patrol vessels: 10 — #81 most of 145
> Notable ship: USS Gerald R. Ford — aircraft carrier
> Military spending, 2021: $800.7 billion — #1 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 3.5% — #15 most of 145

3. North Korea
> Naval fleet size: 519
> Number of aircraft carriers: N/A
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 5 — #46 most of 145
> Submarines: 35 — #4 most of 145
> Offshore patrol vessels: 169 — #3 most of 145
> Notable ship: Sinpo-class — submarine
> Military spending, 2021: N/A
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: N/A

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2. Russia
> Naval fleet size: 598
> Number of aircraft carriers: 1 — #6 most of 7
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 112 — #3 most of 145
> Submarines: 70 — #2 most of 145
> Offshore patrol vessels: 59 — #12 most of 145
> Notable ship: Admiral Kuznetsov — aircraft carrier
> Military spending, 2021: $65.9 billion — #5 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 4.1% — #11 most of 145

1. China
> Naval fleet size: 730
> Number of aircraft carriers: 2 — #2 most of 7
> Destroyers, frigates, and corvettes: 165 — #1 most of 145
> Submarines: 78 — #1 most of 145
> Offshore patrol vessels: 150 — #4 most of 145
> Notable ship: Liaoning — aircraft carrier
> Military spending, 2021: $293.4 billion — #2 highest of 145
> Military spending as pct. of GDP: 1.7% — #63 most of 145

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