U.S. Navy Active Ship Force Levels, 1886-present

This tabulation was compiled from such sources as the Navy Directory (issued at varying intervals to 1941); the Annual Reports of the Secretary of the Navy (issued annually to 1931); Comptroller of the Navy (NAVCOMPT) compilations; Department of the Navy (DON) 5-Year Program, Ships & Aircraft Supplemental Data Tables (SASDT); and records and compilations of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OP-802K, now N804J1D) Ship Management Information System (now Ship Management System), refined and edited with the assistance of the annual Naval Vessel Register.

For consistent historical comparison, Naval Reserve Force (NRF) and Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force (NFAF) ships, and Military Sealift Command (MSC) fleet support ships, are included in current and recent active totals. Figures, and conclusions drawn from them, would, otherwise, be historically inconsistent, and comparisons would be skewed.

From 1963 through 1974, former guided-missile frigates (DLG/DLGN) are counted under the categories (cruisers, destroyers) to which they were assigned on 30 June 1975: DLG 6 class Became DDG 37 class; DLG 16 class became CG 16 class; DLG 26 class became CG 26 class; DLGN 25, 35, 36 classes became CGN 25, 35, 36 classes.

Surface warfare ship totals do not include submarines, mine warfare, patrol or auxiliaries.

TABLES:

1886-1891 | 1892-1897 | 1898-1903 | 1904-1909 | 1910-1916 | 1917-1923 |
1924-1930 | 1931-1937 | 1938-1944 | 1945-1951 | 1951-1957 | 1958-1964 |
  1965-1971 | 1972-1978 | 1979-1985 | 1986-1992 | 1993-1999 | 2000-present



U.S. Navy Ship Force Levels, 1886-1891


Date 12/86 12/87 12/88 12/89 12/90 12/91
Battleship            
Cruiser* 1 2 2 4 7 8
Monitor           1
Torpedo Boats         1 1
Steel Gunboats** 1 1 1 4 5 7
Auxiliaries           1
Screw Steamer*** 13 13 13 13 11 10
Screw Sloops^ 14 14 14 14 10 10
Gunboats~ 5 5 5 5 5 5
Sailing vessels@ 4 4 4 3 3 3
Steel Navy 2 3 3 8 13 18
Old Navy $ 36 36 36 35 29 28
Total Active 38 39 39 43 42 46

Notes

*    Mostly protected cruisers plus two armored cruisers and three unprotected cruisers.

**   Although not a gunboat, the steel-hulled despatch boat Dolphin was part of the "New Navy". The great increase in numbers after 1897 includes new building, conversions, and war prizes.

***  All wooden or iron ships until 1898 when the wartime expansion included eleven merchant ships temporarily converted to auxiliary cruisers.

^    Includes one steam sloop and one steam sloop-of-war.

~    Includes wooden, composite, and iron gunboats.

@    Includes one sloop-of-war and three training ships.

$    The distinction between "Old" Navy and "Steel" Navy is somewhat artificial, the former being the old iron-hulled vessels with early steam engines, while the latter term covers (with a few exceptions) the new steel-hulled triple-expansion steam engine warships that become the standard ships of 20th-century navies.


Events

•   U.S. authorized first vessels of the "steel navy" in 1883 and 1885. 

•   First battleship (pre-dreadnought) authorized in 1886. 

•   Publication of Alfred Thayer Mahan's widely read but often misunderstood The Influence of Sea Power Upon History in 1890.




U.S. Navy Ship Force Levels, 1892-1897 


Date 12/92 12/93 12/94 12/95 12/96 12/97
Battleship       3 5 6
Cruiser 8 9 16 17 16 16
Monitor 1 2 2 3 6 6
Torpedo Boats 1 1 1 1 1 6
Steel Gunboats 7 9 10 10 11 14
Auxiliaries# 1 1 1 1 1 1
Screw Steamer 9 7 7 7 7 7
Screw Sloops 8 7 6 6 6 5
Gunboats 5 5 5 5 5 10
Sailing vessels 3 2 2 2 1 1
Steel Navy 18 22 30 35 40 49
Old Navy 25 21 20 20 19 23
Total Active 43 43 50 55 59 72

Notes

•   First three battleships commissioned in 1895.




U.S. Navy Ship Force Levels, 1898-1903 


Date 12/98 12/99 12/00 12/01 12/02 12/03
Battleship 6 5 8 9 10 11
Cruiser 18 15 13 9 16 19
Monitor 14 6 5 6 6 6
Destroyers         8 16
Torpedo Boats 12 15 18 24 27 27
Submarines     1* 1 1 8
Steel Gunboats 34** 28 30 29 29 29
Auxiliaries# 30 26 25 25 26 26
Screw Steamer 16 13 11 10 9 9
Screw Sloops 4 4 3 3 3 2
Sailing Ships 1 1***        
Gunboats @@ 25 20 26 25 25 22
Steel Navy 114 95 100 103 123 142
Old Navy 46 38 40 38 37 33
Total Active 160 133 140 141 160 175

Events

•  Spanish-American War, April-August 1898.

•  First submarine enters service in 1900.  First torpedo boat destroyers enter service in 1902.


Notes

*    Holland, although technically a submersible torpedo boat, was the first of some 500 or so diesel-electric boats commonly referred to as "submarines."

***    About 20 steel ships, converted to gunboats, were bought by the Navy in 1898 because of the war with Spain.

#    Before the Spanish-American War, this category included the small freight carrier Fern.  For the wartime period and after, it covers colliers, supply ships, water supply ships, a transport, a hospital ship, and a refrigerator ship.

*** By the turn of the century, the only active sailing ship left in the Navy (the rest had become stationary receiving or training ships or had been transferred to State Militias or Marine Schools) was the bark Severn, used to train midshipmen at the Naval Academy in Annapolis.  The category is therefore closed.

@@    Twenty-three converted yachts, fourteen revenue cutters transferred from the Treasury Department, war prizes, and conversions of private craft temporarily increased the number of non-steel "gunboats" in the Navy during and after 1898.




U.S. Navy Ship Force Levels, 1904-1909


Date 12/04 12/05 12/06 12/07 12/08 12/09
Battleship 12 12 18 22 25 25
Cruiser 23 24 27 25 27 27
Monitor 5 4 4 4 2 2
Destroyers 16 16 16 16 16 20
Torpedo Boats* 29 32 32 32 33 33
Submarines 8 8 8 11 12 16
Steel Gunboats 29 28 25 22 20 19
Auxiliaries 28 27 29 30 30 29
Screw Steamer 4 4 2**      
Screw Sloops 2***          
Gunboats 21 19 19 18 16 16
Total Active 177 174 180 180 181 187

Notes

*     A number of torpedo boats went in and out of commission during this time period, often seeing service with reserve units or State Militias.  Most, however, came back into the Navy in 1917 and therefore remain on the list.

**     By 1906, all the screw steamers had either decommissioned or had become station ships, tenders, trainers, or auxiliaries, thus this category is closed down.

***     After 1904, the remaining two sloops, Hartford and Mohican, only served as training or station ships, thus closing down this category.

****     By 1906, the distinction between old and steel navy is no longer useful.




U.S. Navy Ship Force Levels, 1910-1916 


Date 12/10 12/11 12/12 12/13 12/14 12/15 12/16
Battleship 29 30 32 32 34 32 36
Cruiser 27 25 24 27 28 30 30
Monitor 2 3 3 3 3 3 3
Destroyers 27 36 42 46 50 57 61
Torpedo Boats* 31 30 30 25 19 18 18
Submarines 17 17 23 26 36 37 44
Steel Gunboats 18 18 17 17 17 17 17**
Auxiliaries 29 28 28 27 26 26 25
Gunboats 16 15 12 11 11 11 11**
Total Active 196 202 211 214 224 231 245

Notes

*      A number of torpedo boats went in and out of commission during this time period, often seeing service with reserve units or State Militias.  Most, however, came back into the Navy in 1917 and therefore remain on the list.

**     These two categories are merged together with the great wartime expansion of gunboat numbers in 1917.




U.S.Navy Active Ship Force Levels, 1917-1923


Date 4/6/17 11/11/18 7/1/19 7/1/20 7/1/21 7/1/22 7/1/23
Battleship 37 39 36 26 22 19 18
Monitors, Coastal 7 7 5 1 2@ - -
Carriers, Fleet - - - - - - -
Carriers, Escort - - - - - - -
Cruisers 33 31 28 27 10 12 13
Destroyers 66 110 161 189 68 (208rc ) 103 103
Frigates 17 17 - - - - -
Submarines 44 80 91 58 69 (11rc) 82 (7rc) 69 (5rc)
Mine Warfare - 53 62 48 50 (8rc) 36 38
Patrol 42 350 65 45 59 (1rc) 43 41
Auxiliary 96 87 304 173 104 83 82
Surface Warships 160 204 230 243 102 134 134
Total Active 342 774 752 567 384 (228rc) 379 (7rc) 365 (5rc)

Events

•  U.S. enters WWI 6 April 1917

•  Bolshevik Revolution begins 28 October (Old Style) 1917

•  WWI ends 11 November 1918

•  Washington Treaty in force 17 August 1923.


Notes

@     The last Coast Defense Monitor went out of commission in 1921.

rc     Reduced Commission: not included in "active" total. The drop in ship numbers evident from 1920-21 is a post-WWI readjustment to a peacetime strength, with limited budgets and naval arms limitation.




U.S. Navy Active Ship Force Levels, 1924-1930


Date 7/1/24 7/1/25 7/1/26 7/1/27 7/1/28 7/1/29 7/1/30
Battleships 18 18 15(3rc) 15(3rc) 16(2rc) 16(2rc) 16(2rc)
Carriers, Fleet 1 1 1 1 3 3 3
Carriers, Escort - - - - - - -
Cruisers 16 18 18 16 16 16 20
Destroyers 103 105 106 106 106 103 103
Frigates - - - - - - -
Submarines 77(3rc) 76(3rc) 80 77 77 80 81
Mine Warfare 39 40 39 40 40 37 36
Patrol 37 37 37 32 33 32 29
Auxiliary 84 73 71 69 68 68 68
Rigid Airships 1 2 1 1 1 1 1
Total Active 376 (3rc) 370 (3rc) 368 (3rc) 357 (3rc) 360 (2rc) 356 (2rc) 357 (3rc)
Surface Warships 137 141 139 137 138 135 139

Events

•  Battleship modernization program in effect 1926-1934.

•  London Treaty in force 31 December 1930.


Events

rc     Reduced Commission: not included in "active" total.




U.S. Navy Active Ship Force Levels, 1931-1937


Date 7/1/31 7/1/32 7/1/33 7/1/34 4/1/35* 7/1/36 9/1/37*
Battleships 12(3rc) 11(4rc) 11(4rc) 14(1rc) 15 15 15
Carriers, Fleet 3 3 3 4 4 4 3@
Carriers, Escort - - - - - - -
Cruisers 20 19 20 24 25 26 27
Destroyers 87^ 102 101 102^^ 104 106 111
Frigates - - - - - - -
Submarines 56 55 55 54 52 49 52
Mine Warfare 33 33 26 26 26 26 30
Patrol 27(1rc) 24 26 24 23 23 22
Auxiliary 69 65 68 71 71 73 75
Rigid Airships 1 1 1 1 - - -
Surface Warships 119 132 132 140 144 147 153
Total Active 308 (4rc) 313 (4rc) 311 (4rc) 320 (1rc) 320 322 335

Events

•  Japan enters Manchuria 18 September 1931. Hitler to power 30 January 1933.

•  Failure of the International Economic Conference to stabilize world currencies in July 1933 leads to growing instability.

•  Vinson-Trammell Act, 27 March 1934, authorizes--though it does not fund--Navy construction to Treaty strength.

•  Japan renounces Washington Treaty 29 December 1934, effective 31 December 1936.

•  Germany renounces disarmament clauses of the Treaty of Versailles 16 March 1935.

•  Spanish Civil War begins 18 July 1936.

•  Japan begins large-scale military operations in China 7 July 1937.


Notes

*     Data for 1 July not available.

@     CV-1 to AV-1 (auxiliary).

^     London Treaty exchange of new DD for older types allowed.

^^     New DD begin to appear.

rc     Reduced Commission: not included in "active" total.




U.S. Navy Active Ship Force Levels, 1938-1944


Date 6/30/38 6/30/39 6/30/40 12/7/41 12/31/42 12/31/43 12/31/44
Battleships 15 15 15 17 19 21 23
Carriers, Fleet 5 5 6 7 4 19 25
Carriers, Escort - - - 1 12 35 65
Cruisers 32 36 37 37 39 48 61
Destroyers 112 127 185 171 224 332 367
Frigates - - - - - 234 376
Submarines 54 58 64 112 133 172 230
Mine Warfare 27 29 36 135 323 551 614
Patrol 34 20 19 100 515 1050 1183
Amphibious - - - - 121 673 2147
Auxiliary 101 104 116 210 392 564 993
Surface Warships 159 178 237 225 282 635 827
Total Active 380 394 478 790 1782 3699 6084

Events

•    WWII begins in Europe when Germany and the USSR invade Poland September 1939.






U.S. Navy Active Ship Force Levels, 1945-1950


Date 8/14/45* 6/30/46 6/30/47 6/30/48 6/30/49 6/30/50
Battleships 23 10 4 2 1 1
Carriers, Fleet 28 15 14 13 11 11
Carriers, Escort 71 10 8 7 7 4
Cruisers 72 36 32 32 18 13
Destroyers 377 145 138 134 143 137
Frigates 361 35 24 12 12 10
Submarines 232 85 80 74 79 72
Mine Warfare 586 112 55 54 52 56
Patrol 1204 119 74 50 50 33
Amphibious 2547 275 107 86 60 79
Auxiliary 1267 406 306 273 257 218
Surface Warships 833 226 198 180 174 161
Total Active 6768 1248 842 737 690 634

Events

•  WWII in Europe ends 8 May 1945.

•  V-J Day 14 August 1945 (15 August in western Pacific).

•  Pacific War formally ends 2 September 1945.

•  U.S.-USSR relations deteriorate 1945-1950.

•  Chinese Civil War won by communists 1949

•  Korean War begins 25 June 1950.


Events

*     V-J Day.

The increase in fleet size after 1950 is due to the mobilization, begun after North Korea invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950.




U.S. Navy Active Ship Force Levels, 1951-1957


Date 6/30/51 6/30/52 6/30/53 6/30/54 6/30/55 6/30/56 6/30/57
Battleships 3 4 4 4 3 3 2
Carriers, Fleet 17 19 19 20 21 22 22
Carriers, Escort 9 10 0 7 3 2 -
Cruisers 15 19 19 18 17 16 16
Destroyers 206 243 247 247 249 250 253
Frigates 38 56 56 57 64 70 84
Submarines 83 104 108 108 108 108 113
SSG/SSBNs * 1 1 2 2 1 2 2
Command Ships - - - - - 1 1
Mine Warfare 91 114 121 117 112 113 104
Patrol 40 29 23 22 15 11 12
Amphibious 208 189 226 223 175 139 134
Auxiliary 269 309 287 288 262 236 224
Surface Warships 262 322 326 326 333 339 355
Total Active 980 1097 1122 1113 1030 973 967

Events

•  Korean War Armistice signed 1953.

•  Taiwan Straits patrol begins 1955.


Notes

*     Guided Missile Submarine/Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine (nuclear powered).




U.S. Navy Active Ship Force Levels, 1958-1964


Date 6/30/58 6/30/59 6/30/60 6/30/61 6/30/62 6/30/63 6/30/64
Battleships - - - - - - -
Carriers 24 23 23 24 26 24 24
Cruisers 15 12 13 12 13 18 24
Destroyers 245 237 226 223 240 222 215
Frigates 71 61 41 41 68 40 40
Submarines 109 109 106 105 104 102 102
SSG/SSBNs 2 4 7 10 14 17 23
Command Ships 1 1 1 1 1 2 2
Mine Warfare 77 82 81 83 84 84 84
Patrol 12 6 4 4 2 - -
Amphibious 121 120 113 110 130 132 133
Auxiliary 213 205 197 206 218 216 212
Surface Warships 331 310 280 276 321 280 279
Total Active 890 860 812 819 900 857 859

Events

•  Lebanon landings 1958.

•  Cuban quarantine October-December 1962.

•  Tonkin Gulf incident 1964./p>




U.S. Navy Active Ship Force Levels, 1965-1971


Date 6/30/65 6/30/66 6/30/67 6/30/68 6/30/69 6/30/70 6/30/71
Battleships - - - 1 1 - -
Carriers 25 23 23 23 22 19 19
Cruisers 27 29 35 35 34 31 30
Destroyers 221 217 216 219 201 155 152
Frigates 39 42 46 50 43 47 61
Submarines 104 104 105 105 100 103 100
SSG/SSBNs 30 37 41 41 41 41 41
Command Ships 2 2 2 2 2 - -
Mine Warfare 84 84 83 84 74 64 59
Patrol - - 3 6 7 15 17
Amphibious 135 159 162 157 153 97 95
Auxiliary 213 212 216 210 207 171 177
Surface Warships 287 288 296 304* 279 249 262
Total Active 880 909 931 932 885 743 752

Events

•  Carrier strikes on North Vietnam and Market Time Operations begin 1965.

•  Sea Dragon amphibious operations 1966-1968.


Notes

*     Vietnam era high.

The dramatic fall in ship numbers after 1968-1969 is due to the decision to limit the use of American military force in Vietnam and the decommissioning of many WWII-era ships.




U.S. Navy Active Ship Force Levels, 1972-1978


Date ^ 6/30/72 6/30/73 6/30/74 6/30/75 6/30/76 6/30/77 9/30/78
Battleships - - - - - - -
Carriers 17 16 14 15 13 13 13
Cruisers 27 29 28 27 26 26 28
Destroyers 132 139 119 102 99 92 95
Frigates 66 71 64 64 64 64 65
Submarines 94 84 73 75 74 77 81
SSBNs 41 41 41 41 41 41 41
Command Ships - - - - - - -
Mine Warfare 31 34 34 34 25 25 25
Patrol 16 14 14 14 13 6 3
Amphibious 77 65 65 64 65 65 67
Auxiliary 153 148 135 123 116 114 113
Surface Warships 225 239 211 193 189 182* 188
Total Active 654 641 587 559 536 523 531

Events

•  Last U.S. forces withdraw from South Vietnam following the ceasefire 1973.

•  South Vietnam falls to North Vietnamese communists 1975.


Notes

^     Beginning with FY 78, the fiscal year runs 1 October through 30 September.

*     Post-Vietnam low for surface warships.




U.S. Navy Active Ship Force Levels, 1979-1985


Date 9/30/79 9/30/80 9/30/81 9/30/82 9/30/83 9/30/84 9/30/85
Battleships - - - - 1 2 2
Carriers 13 13 12 13 13 13 13
Cruisers 28 26 27 27 28 29 30
Destroyers 97 94 91 89 71 69 69
Frigates 65 71 78 86 95 103 110
Submarines 80 82 87 96 98 98 100
SSBNs 41 40 34 33 34 35 37
Command Ships - 3 4 4 4 4 4
Mine Warfare 25 25 25 25 21 21 21
Patrol 3 3 1 4 6 6 6
Amphibious 67 63 61 61 59 57 58
Auxiliary 114 110 101 117 103 120 121
Surface Warships 190 191 196 202 195 203 211
Total Active 533 530 521* 555 533 557 571

Events

•  Grenada operation 1983.

•  Attempted peacekeeping in Lebanon 1983.


Notes

*     Post-Vietnam War low (total active ships).




U.S. Navy Active Ship Force Levels, 1986-1992


Date 9/30/86 9/30/87 9/30/88 9/30/89 9/30/90 9/30/91 9/30/92
Battleships 3 3 3 4 4 1 -
Carriers 14 14 14 14 13 15 14
Cruisers 32 36 38 40 43 47 49
Destroyers 69 69 69 68 57 47 40
Frigates 113 115 107 100 99 93 67
Submarines 101 102 100 99 93 87 85
SSBNs 39 37 37 36 33 34 30
Command Ships 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
Mine Warfare 21 22 22 23 22 22 16
Patrol 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
Amphibious 58 59 59 61 59 61 58
Auxiliary 23 127 114 137 137 112 102
Surface Warships 217 223^ 217 212 203 188 156
Total Active 583 594* 573 592 570 529 471

Events

•  Fall of the Berlin Wall and many East European communist governments, 1989-1990.

•  Gulf mobilization and war, 1990-1991.

•  Dissolution of the Soviet Union and end of the Cold War, 1991.


Events

^     1980s high for surface warships.

*     1980s high for total active ships.

A rapid decline in force level is evident after the anticommunist revolutions in Eastern Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Union, 1989-1991.




U.S. Navy Active Ship Force Levels, 1993-1999


Date 9/30/93 9/30/94 9/30/95 9/30/96 9/30/97 9/30/98 8/17/99
Battleships - - - - - - -
Carriers 13 12 12 12 12 12 12
Cruisers 52 35 32 31 30 29 27
Destroyers 37 41 47 51 56 50 52
Frigates 59 51 49 43 42 38 37
Submarines 88 88 83 79 73 65 57
SSBNs 22 18 16 17 18 18 18
Command Ships 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
Mine Warfare 15 16 18 18 18 18 18
Patrol 2 7 12 13 13 13 13
Amphibious 52 38 39 40 41 40 41
Auxiliary 110 94 80 67 52 57 57
Surface Warships 148 127 128 123 122 109 106
Total Active 454 404 392 375 359 344 337

Notes

End of the Cold War 'peace dividend' leads to decommissioning of many older ships, especially cruisers and auxiliaries, in a manner similar to downsizing at the end of the Vietnam war.




U.S. Navy Active Ship Force Levels, 2000 - 2006

<
Date 9/30/00 9/30/01 9/30/02 9/30/03 9/30/04 9/30/05 9/30/06
Carriers 12 12 12 12 12 12 12
Cruisers 27 27 27 27 25 23 22
Destroyers 54 53 55 49 48 46 50
Frigates 35 35 33 30 30 30 30
Submarines 56 55 54 54 54 54 54
SSBN 18 18 18 16 14 14 14
SSGN 0 0 0 2 4 4 4
Mine Warfare 18 18 17 17 17 17 16
Amphibious 41 41 41 38 37 37 35
Auxiliary 57 57 56 52 51 45 44
Surface Warships 128 127 127 118 115 111* 114
Total Active 318 316 313 297 292 282 281

Notes

•  9/11 and the GWOT does not increase Navy ship force levels.

•  START treaty limits encourage creation of SSGN class, fleet ballistic missile submarines converted to carry conventional strike cruise missiles. Older surface warships continue to be replaced at a less than one-to-one ratio.

*     Low since 1921

•    To clarify the ship numbers included in this table, the year 2000 entries include active commissioned ships, those in the Naval Reserve Force (NRF) and ships operated by the Military Sealift Command (MSC).  Row entries are self-explanatory, with the auxiliary category including combat logistic ships (such as oilers, ammunition, combat store ships), mobile logistics ships (such as submarine tenders) and support ships (such as command, salvage, tugs and research ships).  Command ships have been subsumed into that category and the separate line entry removed.  A new row has been added for guided missile submarines (SSGN).

Post-1999 data provided by N8F.




U.S.Navy Active Ship Force Levels, 2007 to 2011


Date 9/30/07 9/30/08 9/30/09 9/30/10 9/30/11    
Carriers 11 11 11  11 11    
Cruisers 22 22 22  22 22    
Destroyers 52 54 57 59 61    
Frigates 30 30 30 29 26    
LCS * 1 1 2 2
Submarines 53 53 53  53 53    
SSBN 14 14 14 14 14    
SSGN 4 4 4 4    
Mine Warfare 14 14 14  14 14    
Amphibious 33 34 33 33 31    
Auxiliary 46 45 46 47 47    
Surface Warships 115 118  121  123 122     
Total Active 278** 282 285  288  285     

Notes

•    Cost increases encourage construction of more affordable class of littoral combat ships, intended for inshore or 'brown water' operations in high risk environments.

*     Littoral Combat Ship

**    Low since the start of World War I




June 10 2011



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