Famous War Ships

The following are the famous warships that sailed and ruled the seas from the 18th to 20th centuries.


When Essex CV-9 arrived, it marked the beginning of American dominance in naval air power during the Second World War. The lead ship of the Essex class, she was commissioned in December 1942. The ship and her sister’s vessels lay the foundations of the modern fleet. She launched her aircraft against the Japanese forces in several areas including the Marcus Island in 1943 and in the Marshall Islands in 1944. She also served during the Korean War and the Cold War. Essex CV-9 was decommissioned in 1969 and was sold for scrap in 1975.


There are seven ships of the Royal Navy that have been named Warspite since 1596. The two Warspite ships in the 20th century are the HMS Warspite (03) and the HMS Warspite (S103), with the former having the more illustrious stint.

The HMS Warspite (03) belonged to the Queen Elizabeth class of battleships. Launched in 1913, she served in both World Wars which led her to receive many decorations, the most of any Royal Navy ship. By now scarred, she was decommissioned after World War II. In 1947 she ran aground when she was towed to be torn down and in 1950 she was scrapped.


The HMS Dreadnought was the ship that changed the face of the naval power. The sixth ship of the Dreadnought class, she was commissioned in 1906.

She introduced many firsts that revolutionized naval warfare during the early 20th century. The Dreadnought was the first to introduce the main battery, and the first ship to be run by steam turbines, which made her the fastest battleship in her time. During World War I Dreadnought was also the first battleship to sink a submarine when she rammed Germany’s SM U-29. She was decommissioned in 1919 and was scrapped in 1925.


The USS Arizona was a Pennsylvania-class battleship. Despite being commissioned in 1915, she remained stateside during much of World War I. But her biggest claim to fame (although tragic one) was her downfall during World War II when the Japanese bombed her during their attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. She exploded and sank, killing all 1,177 soldiers and crew aboard. She still lies at the bottom of the Pearl Harbor, now as a memorial wreck.

Famous War Ships


The USS Forrestal was a supercarrier commissioned in 1955. She served in the Pacific, Atlantic and the Mediterranean seas before she was decommissioned in 1993. Afterwards, she was made as a museum but plans to save her went for nought. She was eventually scrapped in December 2015.


“U-boot” (or the English “U-boat”) is short for the German word unterseeboot, “undersea boat,” a line of military submarines. During the Second World War, Germany produced and commissioned about 380 U-boats during World War I and 1,250 U-boats.


The HMS Warrior was the second of the Warrior line of ships, and the first ironclad ship not only of its class but of the whole Royal Navy. Launched in 1860 and decommissioned a year later, she was later renamed as HMS Vernon III in 1904 and HMS Warrior in 1923. She had served as a depot ship and a storeship.

In 1927 the ship was used an oil jetty and continued to function this way until 1979. Now she serves as a museum ship in Portsmouth.


The HMS Argus was originally a cruise ship under construction but at the outbreak of World War I, she was converted into the world’s first aircraft carrier. Launched in 1918, she spent much of her early years as a testing ground for carrier warfare, equipment and fleet tactics. She was recommissioned and partially updated before World War II and functioned as a training ship. In 1946 she was sold for dismantling.


The HMS Victory was launched in May 1765, becoming one of the biggest and most powerful wooden warships of its time, and a symbol of Great Britain’s supreme naval power. She served as the flagship of Admiral Lord Nelson during the legendary Battle of Trafalgar (1805), which successfully helped England in driving away France and Spain.

After serving for about four decades, the HMS Victory was now in poor condition. She was about to be scrapped in 1922 when she was instead converted into a museum ship. Victory has been one of the country’s popular tourist spots, having netted about 25 million visitors.


Built for the Imperial Japanese Navy during the late 19th century, the Mikasa was the only ship of its class and is now considered the last example of a pre-“dreadnought” ship. It served during the Russo-Japanese War as Admiral Heihachiro’s flagship. Days after the war, she accidentally self-exploded and sank, but later was luckily and successfully salvaged and re-constructed. Mikasa also served in World War I and the Russian Civil War. She was decommissioned in 1922 and now serves as a museum ship based in Yokosuka in Kanagawa Prefecture.


Despite having been launched and commissioned in 1944, the USS Missouri never participated in any major battles during the Second World War. But her place in the naval history cannot be disputed — this is the ship where the Empire of Japan signed the surrender documents that finally put an end to the war on September 2, 1945.


There are several ships named Yamato, but the most distinguished is the lead ship of the Yamato class launched as a Japanese Imperial Navy ship during the Second World War. Commissioned on December 16, 1941 — nine days after the Pearl Harbor attack — she was designed based on the belief that a powerful ship sporting big guns was meant just to intimidate enemies and maintain her control in the Pacific. She was one of the biggest and heaviest ships of its time; along with her sister ship Musashi.

Yamato opened fire just once during her lifetime — during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944, where she was sent to battle against American forces. In April 1945, she was attacked by American bombers which led to her rapid sinking, with 3,332 crew members perished.


Designed to destroy the British ships in May 1941, the Bismarck was commissioned in August 1940. She downed the HMS Hood and attacked the HMS Prince of Wales which forced the latter to send herself home.

However, in 1941 Bismarck herself was attacked by the British aerial torpedoes. Crippled severely, she sailed to German-occupied France for repairs. Still, she was relentlessly chased by a dozen of British warships, whose sustained blitzkriegs led her to be incapacitated. She was later scuttled by her crew and finally sank to the bottom of the ocean.

If you wish to know more about famous warships and their insights, you can read the following books:

HMS Victory Manual 1765-1812: An Insight into Owning, Operating and Maintaining the Royal Navy’s Oldest and Most Famous Warship (Owners’ Workshop Manual)

Written by Peter K. Goodwin who has not only spent a career in navy but also served as a maritime historian and keeper/curator of HMS victory, this book is an interesting read for beginners. The book entails eye-catching visuals of victory, modern square-rigged ships and paintings. A bonus in this book is the plans and diagrams made by John McKay, which you wouldn’t find elsewhere. You will also find a workshop manual to operate a warship.

Warships: WWII to the Present Day: Features Seven Views of Each Vessel 

Written by Martin J who specializes in military history, this book is not only reasonable but also very informative. Alongside some amazing visuals of ships, guns, railing, aircraft carriers, cruisers, amphibious landing craft, and destroyers, etc. it gives an overview of the famous warships in the world, from World War 2 till the present date. It also equips the reader with modern era naval technology and detailed artworks/seven different views of each for the reader to get completely vowed. If you like warships, this is a must-have.