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Naval History and Heritage Command

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Modern Surface Warfare

Adroit Marks the Way for Princeton
With the use of hand flares, USS Adroit (MSO-509) marks possible mines in an effort to extract the already damaged USS Princeton (GG-59) from a minefield. USS Beaufort (ATS-2) stands by to assist. Painting, oil on canvas board; by John Charles Roach; 1991; Framed dimensions 26H X 34W. Accession #: 92-007-X.

In the early days of the Surface Navy, wooden frigates, propelled by sails, would fire cannon balls at enemy ships in an attempt to either sink or capture the ships on the open seas. The rise of the “New Navy” gave birth to world-wide missions such as the Great White Fleet, convoy operations of World War I, the great carrier battles of World War II, large amphibious landings in Korea, and the United States ability to engage in two simultaneous wars along separate fronts. Advancements in propulsion and weaponry have increased the capabilities of today’s Navy into a force that protects American interests globally. Modern surface warfare conducts a wide variety of missions—from multiple ship classes—including aviation, damage control, and seamanship. More advanced missions include anti-air warfare; amphibious warfare; ballistic-missile defense; visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS); mine warfare; and anti-submarine warfare. 

This page highlights Navy vessels that are equipped with modern propulsion systems such as fuel, nuclear or electric. 





Amphibious Assault

Amphibious Transport Dock

Amphibious Dock Landing

Amphibious Command

Littoral Combat Ships

Mine Countermeasure Ships

Patrol Coastal Ships

Aircraft Carriers

Additional Resources

Selected Imagery

Photo #: USN 1107281  USS Wedderburn (DD-684)
USS Wedderburn (DD-684) firing her 5/38 guns at a target drone aircraft, during exercises, 21 August 1964. The ship following next astern is USS Porterfield (DD-682). The relative positions of Wedderburn's signal flags, with the port side red Bravo flag hoisted higher, indicate that the ship is firing to port. Evenly hoisted flags on Porterfield indicate that her guns are not yet trained out. Photographed by PH2 R.D. Fennell. Official U.S. Navy Photograph. Catalog#: USN 1107281.

A P-3 Orion Anti-Submarine Warfare Plane, USS BUCK (DD-761), and a SH-3 Sea King Anti-Submarine Warfare Helicopter
A P-3 Orion Anti-Submarine Warfare Plane, USS Buck (DD-761), and a SH-3 Sea King Anti-Submarine Warfare Helicopter participate in an anti-submarine warfare demonstration for the Fortieth Joint Civilian Orientation Conference off the California coast on 20 April 1970. This conference was held to provide an opportunity for selected civilian leaders, from all walks of life, to visit major military installations. National Archives. Catalog #: USN 1144053.

A UH-46A Helicopter
During operations in The Pacific a UH-46A Helicopter from the Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Three (HC-3) moves supplies from the USS Mount Katmai (AE-16) to the USS New Jersey (BB-62). National Archives. Catalog#: K-54519.

USS Iowa (BB 61) firing her 16”/50 guns, circa 1943. Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog#: NH 45487.

Photo #: NH 98868  USS Epperson (DDE-719) USS Sarsfield (DD-837)
USS Epperson (DDE-719), in the foreground and USS Sarsfield (DD-837) Taking part in anti-submarine warfare exercises, 15 June 1950. Sarsfield has fired a dual Hedgehoge pattern, and is over-running the impact area. Note that she carries only one twin 5/38 gun mount forward. Official U.S. Navy photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog#: NH 98868.

Decommissioned Battleships
Decommissioned battleship USS Iowa (BB-61) at the Naval Shipyard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Docked to Iowa's starboard is USS Wisconsin (BB-64), another mothball fleet ship. USN 1180429.

Photo #: 80-G-332660  Surrender of Japan, Tokyo Bay, 2 September 1945

Surrender of Japan, Tokyo Bay, 2 September 1945. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur and Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz walk past assembled U.S. naval and military officers to take their places for the surrender ceremonies, on board USS Missouri (BB-63), 2 September 1945. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-332660.

USS Yorktown (CV-10) crewman at work on a control board in the carrier's damage control room, 1943. National Archives. Catalog#: 80-G-K-15346.

Published: Fri Aug 07 13:21:01 EDT 2020