Special Report

The Fastest Ships and Submarines in the US Navy

usnavy / Flickr

The United States has one of the largest naval fleets in the world (China and Russia are one and two, respectively) and still ranks as the most powerful navy globally. There are 243 surface and underwater warships that comprise the U.S. Navy. Aircraft carriers, guided missile destroyers, submarines, amphibious assault ships, cruisers, corvettes, mine warfare, and offshore patrol vessels are among the many ships that incorporate the different classes of vessels. But not all have the same speed capabilities. 

24/7 Wall St. reviewed an online database of military vehicles, aircraft, and vessels, Military Factory’s list of active U.S. military naval vessel classes to determine the fastest ships and submarines in the U.S. Navy. We also relied on several other sources, including Military-Today, and ranked all of the Navy’s warships according to the top speed of each vessel. Data on crew count and the year each vessel entered service also came from Military Factory. Supplemental information on how many vessels are in service in each class came from the World Directory of Modern Military Warships

By far the biggest crews of any ships listed here are the Ford-class and the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier classes. These two classes of aircraft carriers are also among the top 10 fastest ships in the naval fleet. Both have a top speed of 30 knots or 34.5 miles per hour. 

All four of the submarine classes are listed here, with speeds ranging from 28.8 mph (25 knots) for the Ohio class to 40.3 mph (35 knots) for the Seawolf class – the fastest submarine and tied for third fastest among all warships. (Also see, 11 new warships that will join the U.S. Navy fleet.)

Three out of six classes of amphibious ships are on the list as well, although they tend to be slower, with the fastest reaching 26.5 mph (23 knots). The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, the America-class amphibious assault ship, and the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship all play a crucial role and could be vital in the successful defense of Taiwan.

Here are the fastest ships and submarines in the US Navy. 

19. Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship

Source: usnavy / Flickr
  • Top speed: 16.1 mph (14 knots)
  • Number in US fleet: 8
  • Crew: 81
  • Year entered service: 2017

18. Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship

Source: viper-zero / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Top speed: 25.3 mph (22 knots) (tied)
  • Number in US fleet: 7
  • Crew: 413
  • Year entered service: 1970

17. San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock

Source: usnavy / Flickr
  • Top speed: 25.3 mph (22 knots) (tied)
  • Number in US fleet: 11
  • Crew: 361
  • Year entered service: 2016

16. America-class amphibious assault ship

Source: viper-zero / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Top speed: 25.3 mph (22 knots) (tied)
  • Number in US fleet: 2
  • Crew: 2745
  • Year entered service: 2014

15. Wasp-class amphibious assault ship

Source: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zachary L. Borden / Wikimedia Commons
  • Top speed: 26.5 mph (23 knots) (tied)
  • Number in US fleet: 7
  • Crew: 2979
  • Year entered service: 1995

14. Blue Ridge-class command ship

Source: viper-zero / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Top speed: 26.5 mph (23 knots) (tied)
  • Number in US fleet: 2
  • Crew: 842
  • Year entered service: 1997

13. Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Top speed: 28.2 mph (24.5 knots)
  • Number in US fleet: 4
  • Crew: 825
  • Year entered service: 1989

12. Ohio-class submarine

Source: usnavy / Flickr
  • Top speed: Submerged: 28.8 mph (25 knots) (tied), Surface: 13.8 mph (12 knots)
  • Number in US fleet: 18
  • Crew: 153
  • Year entered service: 1985

11. Virginia-class submarine

Source: usnavy / Flickr
  • Top speed: Submerged: 28.8 mph (25 knots) (tied), Surface: 17.3 mph (15 knots)
  • Number in US fleet: 19
  • Crew: 135
  • Year entered service: 1987

10. Los Angeles-class submarine

Source: usnavy / Flickr
  • Top speed: Submerged: 34.5 mph (25 knots) (tied), Surface: 28.8 mph (30 knots)
  • Number in US fleet: 28
  • Crew: 134
  • Year entered service: 2006

9. Ford-class aircraft carrier

Source: usnavy / Flickr
  • Top speed: 34.5 mph (30 knots) (tied)
  • Number in US fleet: 1
  • Crew: 4660
  • Year entered service: 2008

8. Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer

Source: usnavy / Flickr
  • Top speed: 34.5 mph (30 knots) (tied)
  • Number in US fleet: 2
  • Crew: 140
  • Year entered service: 1993

7. Nimitz-class aircraft carrier

Source: viper-zero / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Top speed: 34.5 mph (30 knots) (tied)
  • Number in US fleet: 10
  • Crew: 5680
  • Year entered service: 1975

6. Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer

Source: usnavy / Flickr
  • Top speed: 35.7 mph (31 knots)
  • Number in US fleet: 68
  • Crew: 380
  • Year entered service: 2010

5. Ticonderoga-class cruiser

Source: Stocktrek Images / Stocktrek Images via Getty Images
  • Top speed: 36.8 mph (32 knots)
  • Number in US fleet: 22
  • Crew: 330
  • Year entered service: 1983

4. Seawolf-class submarine

Source: usnavy / Flickr
  • Top speed: Submerged: 40.3 mph (35 knots) (tied), Surface: 20.7 mph (18 knots)
  • Number in US fleet: 3
  • Crew: 141
  • Year entered service: 2004

3. Cyclone-class patrol ship

Source: usnavy / Flickr
  • Top speed: 40.3 mph (35 knots) (tied)
  • Number in US fleet: 10
  • Crew: 30
  • Year entered service: 1983

2. Independence-class corvette

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Top speed: 50.6 mph (44 knots)
  • Number in US fleet: 12
  • Crew: 75
  • Year entered service: 1976

1. Freedom-class littoral combat ship

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Top speed: 54.1 mph (47 knots)
  • Number in US fleet: 9
  • Crew: 125
  • Year entered service: 1991

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