Special Report

American WWII Ships Ranked From Oldest to Newest

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

When World War II started, the United States Navy was considerably less powerful than it is today. In 1939, the Navy’s fleet included just 15 battleships, five aircraft carriers, 18 heavy cruisers, and 19 light cruisers. However, production surged dramatically as the war continued, and the fleet grew from around 700 commissioned ships to more than 6,000 by the end of the war.

One of the reasons the United States got off to a slow start in WWII was the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. This treaty aimed to limit the production of warships so as to prevent an arms race in the aftermath of WWI. Instead, the treaty slowed down the Allied countries, which abided by it, as it prevented them from building up their naval strength.

During WWII, the United States deployed a variety of vessels, including aircraft carriers and cruisers, that contributed to the Allied victory. While some of the vessels were newly developed during the war, others were older and underwent significant upgrades to keep them current.

To identify the warship classes of World War II, 24/7 Wall St. consulted the World War II Database, an online collection of data regarding the people, events, equipment, and ships of WWII. We ranked the ships by the date they were first launched. The list only includes aircraft carriers, cruisers, and battleships. Data regarding ship classes, type, crew, aircraft capacity, armament came from the WWII Database. We referenced third party military and historical sources to find the production runs for each class.

The New York-class battleships, represented by the USS New York (BB-34) and USS Texas (BB-35), played an important role despite being older vessels. Commissioned before World War II, these ships were originally launched in 1912 but underwent upgrades and modernization to remain effective in combat. With the addition of anti-aircraft weaponry and enhanced firing systems, they proved to be crucial assets for the U.S. Navy

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Casablanca-class warships were some of the newest additions to the fleet in WWII, entering service in 1943. Among them, the USS Shamrock Bay (CVE-84), was the largest series of carriers in the Navy, with a total of 50 vessels constructed from 1942 to 1944. Distinguished by smaller size compared to traditional fleet carriers, these ships played supporting roles in various situations. Their adaptability allowed them to engage in operations such as as anti-submarine warfare, convoy protection, and air support for amphibious assault landings.

Interestingly, the ships with the highest production numbers on this list were produced in the later years of the conflict. This group mainly included larger vessels such as aircraft carriers and cruisers, the production of which was restricted under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty. In contrast, battleships tend to occupy older positions on the list, having been primarily used during WWI. With technological advancements and the rise of aircraft carriers in naval warfare, battleships gradually became less relevant.

 

Here are the oldest and newest classes of U.S. warships used in World War II:

30. Indiana-class battleship

  • First year launched: 1893
  • Number built: 3
  • Crew: 473
  • Armament: 4 x 13 in/.35cal, 8 x 8 in/.35cal, 4 x 6 in/.40cal, two Colt gatling guns, 3 torpedo tubes

29. New York-class battleship

  • First year launched: 1912
  • Number built: 2
  • Crew: 1,042
  • Armament: 5 x 14 in twin guns, 21 x 5 in single guns, 4 x 21 in torpedo tubes

28. Nevada-class battleship

  • First year launched: 1914
  • Number built: 2
  • Crew: 864
  • Armament: 10 x 14 in/.45cal guns, 21 x 5 in/.51cal guns, 4 x 21 in torpedo tubes

27. Pennsylvania-class battleship

  • First year launched: 1915
  • Number built: 2
  • Crew: 915
  • Armament: 4 x 360 mm/.45cal triple guns, 12 x 130 mm/.51cal guns, 12 x 130 mm/.25cal anti-aircraft guns
  • Aircraft capacity: 3

26. New Mexico-class battleship

  • First year launched: 1917
  • Number built: 3
  • Crew: 1,084
  • Armament: 12 x 14 in/.50cal, 14 x 5 in/.51cal, 2 x 21 in torpedo tubes

25. Tennessee-class battleship

  • First year launched: 1919
  • Number built: 2
  • Crew: 1,083
  • Armament: 4 x 14 in triple guns, 14 x 5 in single guns, 4 x 3 in single guns, 2 x 21 in torpedo tubes

24. Colorado-class battleship

  • First year launched: 1920
  • Number built: 4
  • Crew: 1,080
  • Armament: 8 x 16 in/.45cal Mark 1 guns, 12 x 5 in/.51-cal guns, 4x3in/0.23-cal guns, 2x21in torpedo tubes
  • Aircraft capacity: 4

23. Omaha-class light cruiser

  • First year launched: 1921
  • Number built: 10
  • Crew: 458
  • Armament: 12 x 6 in/.53-cal guns, 2 x 3 in single anti-aircraft guns, 10 x 21 in torpedo tubes

22. Lexington-class aircraft carrier

  • First year launched: 1925
  • Number built: 2
  • Crew: 2,122
  • Armament: 4 x 8 in/.55-cal twin guns, 12 x 5 in anti-aircraft guns
  • Aircraft capacity: 91

21. Northampton-class heavy cruiser

  • First year launched: 1929 (tied)
  • Number built: 6
  • Crew: 621
  • Armament: As built: 3 x 8 in/.55-cal triple guns, 4 x 5 in/.25-cal anti-aircraft guns, 6 x 21 in torpedo tubes; 1941: 3 x 8 in/.55-cal triple guns, 8 × 5 in/.25-cal anti-aircraft guns, 2 x 47 mm saluting guns, 4 x 1.1 in/.75-cal anti-aircraft guns
  • Aircraft capacity: 4

20. Pensacola-class heavy cruiser

  • First year launched: 1929 (tied)
  • Number built: 2
  • Crew: 653
  • Armament: 10 x 203 mm/.55-cal guns, 4 x 127 mm/.25-cal anti-aircraft guns

19. Portland-class heavy cruiser

  • First year launched: 1932
  • Number built: 2
  • Crew: 848
  • Armament: 3 x 8 in /.55-cal triple guns, 8 x 5 in/.25-cal anti-aircraft guns, 2 x 47 mm 3-pounder guns, 4 x 40 mm quad Bofors anti-aircraft guns, 4 x 40 mm twin Bofors anti-aircraft guns, 17 x 20 mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft cannons
  • Aircraft capacity: 4

18. New Orleans-class heavy cruiser

  • First year launched: 1933 (tied)
  • Number built: 7
  • Crew: 899
  • Armament: 3 x 200 mm/.55-cal triple guns, 8 x 130 mm/.25-cal anti-aircraft guns, 2 x 37 mm saluting guns
  • Aircraft capacity: 4

17. Ranger-class aircraft carrier

  • First year launched: 1933 (tied)
  • Number built: 1
  • Crew: 2,461
  • Armament: 8 x 5 in/.25-cal anti-aircraft guns, 40 x .50-cal machine guns
  • Aircraft capacity: 86

16. Yorktown-class aircraft carrier

  • First year launched: 1936
  • Number built: 3
  • Crew: 2,217
  • Armament: 8 x 5 in/.38-cal guns, 4 x 1.1 in/.75-cal machine guns, 24 x .50-cal machine guns
  • Aircraft capacity: 90

15. Brooklyn-class light cruiser

  • First year launched: 1937
  • Number built: 9
  • Crew: 868
  • Armament: 5 x 152 mm/.47-cal triple guns, 8 x 127 mm/.25-cal anti-aircraft guns, 8 x .50-cal machine guns
  • Aircraft capacity: 4

14. St. Louis-class light cruiser

  • First year launched: 1938
  • Number built: 2
  • Crew: 888
  • Armament: 15 x 6 in/.50-cal Mark 6 guns, 8 x 5 in/.50-cal Mark 8 guns, 16 x 1.1 in guns, 12 x 20 mm saluting guns, 1 depth charge rack

13. Wasp-class aircraft carrier

  • First year launched: 1939
  • Number built: 1
  • Crew: 1,800
  • Armament: 8 x 5 in guns, 4 x 1.1 in anti-aircraft guns, 24 x .50-cal machine guns
  • Aircraft capacity: 80

12. Long Island-class escort carrier

  • First year launched: 1940 (tied)
  • Number built: 1
  • Crew: 970
  • Armament: 1 x 5 in/.51-cal gun, 2 x 3 in/.50-cal gun
  • Aircraft capacity: 21

11. North Carolina-class battleship

  • First year launched: 1940 (tied)
  • Number built: 2
  • Crew: 1,880
  • Armament: 9 x 16 in Mark 6 guns, 20 x 5 in/.38-cal guns, 16 x 1.1 in machine guns

10. Atlanta-class light cruiser

  • First year launched: 1941 (tied)
  • Number built: 8
  • Crew: 673
  • Armament: 8 x 5 in/.38-cal twin Mark 12 guns, 9 x 1.1 in/.75-cal anti-aircraft guns, 8 x 21 in torpedo tubes

9. Bogue-class escort carrier

  • First year launched: 1941 (tied)
  • Number built: 45
  • Crew: 890
  • Armament: 1942: 2 x 5 in/.51-cal guns, 10 x 20 mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft cannons; 1945: 2 x 5 in/.38-cal guns, 8 x 40 mm twin Bofors anti-aircraft guns, 20 x 20 mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft cannon
  • Aircraft capacity: 24

8. Cleveland-class light cruiser

  • First year launched: 1941 (tied)
  • Number built: 29
  • Crew: 1,255
  • Armament: 4 x 152 mm/.47-cal triple guns, 6 x 127 mm/.38-cal twin guns, 4 x 40 mm quad Bofors guns, 6 x 40 mm twin Bofors guns, 10 x 20 mm twin Oerlikon cannons
  • Aircraft capacity: 4

7. South Dakota-class battleship

  • First year launched: 1941 (tied)
  • Number built: 4
  • Crew: 2,364
  • Armament: 9 x 406 mm/.45-cal Mark 6 guns, 16 x 127 mm/.38-cal DP guns, 68 x 40 mm guns, 76 x 20 mm guns

6. Baltimore-class heavy cruiser

  • First year launched: 1942 (tied)
  • Number built: 14
  • Crew: 1,700
  • Armament: 3 x 203 mm/.55-cal triple guns, 6 x 127 mm/.38-cal twin guns, 12 x 40 mm quad Bofors anti-aircraft guns, 24 x 20 mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft cannons
  • Aircraft capacity: 4

5. Essex-class aircraft carrier

  • First year launched: 1942 (tied)
  • Number built: 24
  • Crew: 2,600
  • Armament: 4 x 5 in/.38-cal twin guns, 4 x 5 in/.38-cal singe guns, 8 x 1.6 in/.56-cal quad guns, 46 x 0.8 in/.78-cal anti-aircraft guns

4. Independence-class light carrier

  • First year launched: 1942 (tied)
  • Number built: 9
  • Crew: 1,569
  • Armament: 24 x 40 mm Bofors guns, 22 x 20 mm anti-aircraft guns
  • Aircraft capacity: 30

3. Iowa-class battleship

  • First year launched: 1942 (tied)
  • Number built: 4
  • Crew: 1,921
  • Armament: 3 x 16 in/.50-cal triple Mark 7 guns, 20 x 5 in/.38-cal Mark 12 guns, 80 x 40mm/.56-cal Bofors anti-aircraft guns, 49 x 20 mm/.70-cal Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns
  • Aircraft capacity: 3

2. Casablanca-class escort carrier

  • First year launched: 1943 (tied)
  • Number built: 50
  • Crew: 860
  • Armament: 1 x 5 in/.38-cal DP gun, 8 x 40 mm twin Oerlikon cannons, 28 x 20 mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns
  • Aircraft capacity: 28

1. Alaska-class large cruiser

  • First year launched: 1943 (tied)
  • Number built: 2
  • Crew: 2,251
  • Armament: 9 x 305 mm guns, 12 x 127 mm dual purpose guns, 56 x 40 mm guns, 34 x 20 mm guns
  • Aircraft capacity: 4

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