Surface combatant
Surface combatants are a subset of Naval
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

A warship is a ship that is built and primarily intended for combat. Warships are usually built in a completely different way from merchant ships. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more maneuvrable than merchant ships...

s which are designed to engage in combat on the surface of the water, with their own weapons. They are generally ships built to fight other ships, submarines or aircraft, and can carry out several other missions including counter-narcotics operations and maritime interdiction. Their primary purpose is to engage space, air, surface and submerged targets with weapons deployed from the ship itself, rather than by manned carried craft.

Surface combatants include cruiser
A cruiser is a type of warship. The term has been in use for several hundreds of years, and has had different meanings throughout this period...

s, destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

s, frigate
A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...

s and corvette
A corvette is a small, maneuverable, lightly armed warship, originally smaller than a frigate and larger than a coastal patrol craft or fast attack craft , although many recent designs resemble frigates in size and role...

s, and several outdated types including battleship
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

s and battlecruiser
Battlecruisers were large capital ships built in the first half of the 20th century. They were developed in the first decade of the century as the successor to the armoured cruiser, but their evolution was more closely linked to that of the dreadnought battleship...

s. The category does not include aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s, amphibious assault ship
Amphibious assault ship
An amphibious assault ship is a type of amphibious warfare ship employed to land and support ground forces on enemy territory by an amphibious assault...

s, and mine hunters, as these generally do not use on board weapons system (i.e. aircraft carriers generally only attack with their aircraft, and mine hunters are not primarily combat vessels). However some warships combine aspects of the Surface combatant and other roles, such as the Russia Admiral Kuznetsov class aircraft carrier, which carries both aircraft and an array of conventional armerments (the class is sometimes termed a "heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser").

Modern naval warfare
Naval warfare
Naval warfare is combat in and on seas, oceans, or any other major bodies of water such as large lakes and wide rivers.-History:Mankind has fought battles on the sea for more than 3,000 years. Land warfare would seem, initially, to be irrelevant and entirely removed from warfare on the open ocean,...

 is divided into three operational areas: anti-surface warfare
Anti-Surface Warfare
Anti-surface warfare is a type of naval warfare directed against surface combatants. More generally, it is any weapons, sensors, or operations intended to attack or limit the effectiveness of an adversary's surface ships....

 (ASUW), anti-air warfare (AAW) and anti-submarine warfare
Anti-submarine warfare
Anti-submarine warfare is a branch of naval warfare that uses surface warships, aircraft, or other submarines to find, track and deter, damage or destroy enemy submarines....

 (ASW). The current canonical combined arms naval task force
Task force
A task force is a unit or formation established to work on a single defined task or activity. Originally introduced by the United States Navy, the term has now caught on for general usage and is a standard part of NATO terminology...

 or task group centers around a flagship
A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, reflecting the custom of its commander, characteristically a flag officer, flying a distinguishing flag...

 hosting dedicated command elements to conduct tactical operations within each of these areas. In smaller surface action groups (i.e. a single or a few task elements, such as a lone Aegis-equipped
Aegis combat system
The Aegis Combat System is an integrated naval weapons system developed by the Missile and Surface Radar Division of RCA, and now produced by Lockheed Martin...

 destroyer or cruisers on patrol), the same combatant commander may be responsible for managing all three areas as part of his duty in carrying out his vessel's mission, while larger formations such as a carrier strike group
Carrier Strike Group
A carrier strike group is an operational formation of the United States Navy. It is composed of roughly 7,500 personnel, an aircraft carrier, at least one cruiser, a destroyer squadron of at least two destroyers and/or frigates, and a carrier air wing of 65 to 70 aircraft...

 may have an individual commander in charge of each separate warfare element. Western naval career advancement for unrestricted line officer
Unrestricted Line Officer
Unrestricted Line Officers are commissioned Officers of the Line in the United States Navy who are qualified to command at sea the Navy's warfighting combatant units such as warships, submarines, aviation squadrons and SEAL Teams...

s also follow this model: a career line officer in a command-oriented track will specialize, train, and be billeted into distinct surface, naval aviation, or subsurface warfare posts.


In the US Navy there are two divisions of surface combatant missions
Military operation
Military operation is the coordinated military actions of a state in response to a developing situation. These actions are designed as a military plan to resolve the situation in the state's favor. Operations may be of combat or non-combat types, and are referred to by a code name for the purpose...

  • Battle Force Capability (BFC): defines ships capable of command of the sea
    Command of the sea
    A naval force has command of the sea when it is so strong that its rivals cannot attack it directly. Also called sea control, this dominance may apply to its surrounding waters or may extend far into the oceans, meaning the country has a blue-water navy...

     and power projection:For discussion of command of the sea and power projection, see pages 7-8 of reference - Naval Transformational Roadmap.
    • in a carrier battle group
      Carrier battle group
      A carrier battle group consists of an aircraft carrier and its escorts, together composing the group. The first naval task forces built around carriers appeared just prior to and during World War II. The Imperial Japanese Navy was the first to assemble a large number of carriers into a single...

    • as units of a Surface Action Group without a carrier.
  • Protection of Shipping (POS): defines ships intended to protect:
    • traditional convoy
      A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

    • underway replenishment
      Underway replenishment
      Underway replenishment or replenishment at sea is a method of transferring fuel, munitions, and stores from one ship to another while under way.-History:...

    • amphibious warfare
      Amphibious warfare
      Amphibious warfare is the use of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to project military power ashore. In previous eras it stood as the primary method of delivering troops to non-contiguous enemy-held terrain...

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