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Top 10 Fastest Navy Ships in the World

Savio is a resident of Mumbai, India. Cars, bikes, and everything fast are his passion, and he writes about them on many sites.

USS Independence (LCS-2) at Naval Air Station Key West on March 29, 2010

USS Independence (LCS-2) at Naval Air Station Key West on March 29, 2010

What Are the World's Fastest Navy Ships?

Navy ships must be able to navigate choppy ocean waters, and they must also be able to handle enemy forces. These two requirements do not allow these ships to reach the same top speeds that other watercraft can; however, they can still be impressively fast. How fast? Let’s find out.

What Do We Mean by "Navy Ships"?

First let's define what we mean by navy ships. These include aircraft carriers, destroyers, interceptors, submarines, etc. All of these vessels vary in size and functionality; hence, when we talk about speed, chances are that it's the smaller ships that make it to this list rather than the aircraft carriers. For this reason, I created a separate list of aircraft carriers (scroll to the end of this article for the link).

A-90 Orlyonok

A-90 Orlyonok

1. A-90 Orlyonok (216+ Knots)

The A-90 Orlyonok is a Russian-built, amphibious, ground effect vehicle (ekranoplan) that could reach speeds in excess of 400 kilometers per hour—an astonishingly fast speed. This craft was capable of gliding a few meters above the water surface due to the ground effect, and it could achieve an altitude of 3,000 meters. Sadly, due to other military priorities, only five were built in the 1970s, and all were retired by 1993.

  • Name: A-90 Orlyonok (Ekranoplan)
  • Country: USSR
  • Top Speed: 216+ knots (248.45+ mph or 400+ kmph)
  • Sustained Speed: Same as top speed
  • Displacement: 140 metric tons
  • Range: 1080 nautical miles | 1242 miles | 2000 km
  • Status: Retired

A-90 Could Evade Radar and Sonar

Because it could fly a few meters above the water, the A-90 was invisible to radar. It was also invisible to sonar since did not touch the sea surface. In today’s world of stealth corvettes, this may not seem very sophisticated, but in the 1970s it represented a breakthrough in covert technology.

Since 2014 there has been talk of reviving the ekranoplan, so we may see it again in the 21st century after all.

Special Forces Interceptor, WP-18

Special Forces Interceptor, WP-18

2. Special Forces Interceptor, WP-18 (65+ Knots)

The WP-18 is the newest entrant in the world of fast watercraft and is built by a relatively new company as well, Abu Dhabi MAR. The purpose of the craft is interception, and it will be used by the navies and coast guards of the countries that purchase it.

  • Name: Special Forces Interceptor, WP-18
  • Country: Abu Dhabi
  • Top Speed: 65+ knots (74 mph or 119.2 kmph)
  • Sustained Speed: 47 knots (53.51 mph or 86.15 kmph)
  • Displacement: 13 tons
  • Range: 400 nautical miles | 460.31 miles | 741.1 km at 47 knots
  • Status: In production

Cruising Speed of the WP-18

The cruising speed of the WP-18 is an impressive 86 kmph—about as fast as driving a car on a highway. It's amazing to think that this craft can maintain that speed on choppy waters. The shape of the WP-18 allows it to cut through the waves and achieve that speed. The top speed, however, may require calmer seas.

HMCS Bras d'Or

HMCS Bras d'Or

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3. HMCS Bras d'Or (63 Knots)

This was the first of the fastest unarmed navy ships in the world. In fact, with a top speed of 63 knots, it continues to be the fastest battleship even today.

The HMCS Bras had a fascinating history and a bit of an infamous end. The historical element is that the ship's hydrofoil concepts came from Alexander Graham Bell. Take a look at some of its excellent credentials (excellent because no other ship was closer to these figures at the time):

  • Name: HMCS Bras d’Or
  • Country: Canada
  • Top Speed: 63 knots (72 mph or 117 kmph)
  • Sustained Speed: 40 knots (46 mph or 74 kmph)
  • Displacement: 240 tons
  • Range: 500 nautical miles | 575.4 miles | 926 km at 40 knots
  • Status: Retired (now in a museum in Quebec)

The End of the HMCS Bras d'Or

Now for the tragic part. Despite being the fastest ship at a time, when other ships hadn’t figured out to sail faster than 20–25 knots, a resource crunch ended HMCS's seafaring days in 1971. Mind you this ship was literally flying, sailing twice as fast as any other ship of the time, and the A-90 had yet to make its debut.

For those who are interested, it is possible to visit the Bras d'Or at the Musée Maritime du Québec.

Skjold-Class Corvette

Skjold-Class Corvette

4. Skjold-Class Corvette (60+ Knots)

Until the WP-18 Interceptor was introduced, the Skjold-class corvette was one of the fastest navy ships in the world. Skjold, which means shield in Norwegian, is part of the Royal Norwegian Navy. There were a total of six built and they are super fast, stealth-enabled, and equipped with attack missiles. Their speed numbers are impressive, too.

  • Name: Skjold-Class Corvette
  • Country: Norway
  • Top Speed: 60+ knots (68.32 mph or 110 kmph in calm seas)
  • Sustained Speed: 40 knots (45.54 mph or 73.31 kmph)
  • Displacement: 274 tons at full load
  • Range: 800 nautical miles | 920 miles | 1500 km at 40 knots
  • Status: In production

If it is any consolation then this corvette is still the fastest combat ship in the world. It has some pretty nasty missiles that can obliterate most enemy craft.

Barracuda XSV-17

Barracuda XSV-17

5. Barracuda XSV-17 (60 Knots)

The Barracuda XSV-17, much like the Skjold, is a high-speed, wave-piercing vessel that is capable of high speeds of up to 60 knots. There is a video showing the XSV (aka Thunder Child) riding through the waves during a storm. You can see that it is capable of handling waves of 20 feet and above and yet carry out its operation.

  • Name: Barracuda XSV-17
  • Country: Ireland
  • Top Speed: 60 knots (68.32 mph or 110 kmph in calm seas)
  • Sustained Speed: 45+ knots (51.24 mph or 82.5 kmph)
  • Displacement: 15.9 tons at full load
  • Range: 350–700 nautical miles | 805 miles | 1296 km
  • Status: In production
Interceptor DV15 RWS

Interceptor DV15 RWS

6. Interceptor DV15 RWS (50+ Knots)

The DV15 RWS was one of the fastest interceptors before the WP-18 was introduced. In fact, both of these crafts are from the same manufacturer. It forms a good defense against speedboats; piracy control, anti-smuggling operations, and active patrolling are some of its core strengths.

  • Name: Interceptor DV15 RWS
  • Country: Abu Dhabi
  • Top Speed: 50+ knots (56.93 mph or 91.66 kmph)
  • Sustained Speed: 40 knots (45.55 mph or 73.33 kmph)
  • Displacement: Not available
  • Range: 350 nautical miles | 402 miles | 648 km at 40 knots
  • Status: In production

Where Is the DV15 in Service?

The DV15 already is in service in many countries. Forty-five units of the DV15 have already been delivered, and many more are in the pipeline. It is common for countries to consider procuring both the DV15 and the WP-18 as a combination. Mozambique is an example of a country that has procured both interceptors.

Pegasus-class hydrofoils

Pegasus-class hydrofoils

7. Pegasus-Class Hydrofoils (50 Knots)

The Pegasus class hydrofoils were designed by Boeing for the United States Navy, primarily for NATO operations. Long before the touted USS Freedom and Independence joined the navy, the hydrofoil was known for its speed. We will learn more about the USS Freedom and Independence below.

  • Name: Pegasus-Class Hydrofoils
  • Country: United States of America
  • Top Speed: 50 knots (56.93 mph or 91.66 kmph)
  • Sustained Speed: 40 knots (45.55 mph or 73.33 kmph)
  • Displacement: 241 tons at full load
  • Range: 350 nautical miles | 402 miles | 648 km at 40 knots
  • Status: Retired in 1993

Fate of the Pegasus-Class Hydrofoils

A grand total of six crafts were built, and they were commissioned in 1977. They were eventually retired in 1993.

USS Flagstaff (PGH-1)

USS Flagstaff (PGH-1)

8. USS Flagstaff (PGH-1) (50 Knots)

This was the only Flagstaff-class vessel built and used by the American Navy. It was a hydrofoil much like the Pegasus-class vessels. However, its history was tainted by faulty equipment and the need for an overhaul. The PGH-1 was even loaned by the Navy to the Coast Guard, who after two years of use returned it to the Navy. The Coast Guard was quite impressed by the speed of the vessel for anti-smuggling operations and interception of suspicious vessels.

  • Name: USS Flagstaff (PGH-1)
  • Country: United States of America
  • Top Speed: 50 knots (56.93 mph or 91.66 kmph)
  • Sustained Speed: 48 knots (54.65 mph or 88 kmph)
  • Displacement: 68 tons at full load
  • Range: Not known
  • Status: Retired in 1978

The PGH-1 did have an illustrious career, serving in Vietnam briefly and then in the Pacific fleet. Once the Coast Guard returned the vessel to the Navy, it was decommissioned and later scrapped.

USS Independence

USS Independence

9. USS Independence (45 Knots)

The USS Independence, as well as the USS Freedom, were tested by the American Navy for a high-speed littoral-class combat ship. The Independence is built by Austal USA, located in Alabama. This ship can reach a top speed of 52 mph, which is close to the cruising speed of cars in most countries. They are built for anti-pirate operations, interception support, and aircraft carrier support. The stealth build is quite evident in the picture.

  • Name: USS Independence
  • Country: United States of America
  • Top Speed: 45 knots (52 mph or 83.72 kmph)
  • Sustained Speed: 44 knots (50.84 mph or 81.86 kmph)
  • Displacement: 3,500 metric tons
  • Range: 3,500 nautical miles | 4000 miles | 6,500 km
  • Status: In operation

Sustained Cruise Speed of the USS Independence

This vessel holds the record for its sustained cruise speed of 44 knots for four hours. This kind of sustained high cruise speed for such a long period of time is unparalleled.

USS Freedom

USS Freedom

10. USS Freedom (45 Knots)

Most of what we have said about the USS Independence is true for the USS Freedom, as well. One difference, however, is that the Freedom was developed by Lockheed Martin.

  • Name: USS Freedom
  • Country: United States of America
  • Top Speed: 45 knots (52 mph or 83.72 kmph)
  • Sustained Speed: 44 knots (50.84 mph or 81.86 kmph)
  • Displacement: 3,500 metric tons
  • Range: 3,500 nautical miles | 4000 miles | 6,500 km
  • Status: In operation

The ship comes with helipad and hangars, meaning it can actually carry helicopters in its bay. The total order for the ships in the littoral class was reduced from 52 to 40, and it is expected that the Navy will choose one vendor going forward. Till such time, both Lockheed and Austal are the vendors manufacturing their respective ships.

Note About Videos

The videos in this article belong to the users who posted them on YouTube. The author does not own them nor does he validate their sources. The videos are included to provide additional information about the subject being discussed.

Further Reading

© 2018 Savio Koman

Comments

Savio Koman (author) from Mumbai, India on November 12, 2018:

Hello JRC,

Thanks so much for taking the time to read the article. It's a pleasure having knowledgeable readers commenting on the article.

Also, thanks for pointing out aspects that appear to be inconsistencies. But let me explain if you will?

1. Ekranoplan wrong classification: Agree that the Ekranoplan is neither a ship nor an aircraft and in few of my articles I have mentioned so. I write on the fastest things. So it is not just ships but cars, bikes, aircraft, SUVs, etc. Now the thing is that Ekranoplan as a subject is either past or expected in future. There are no Ekranoplans in service as we speak. But Russia is building the Chaika A-050 to be ready by 2022 and so are few other countries. The question then was should I make a separate list of such fascinating vessels which do not have an equivalent today or club them with some other similar vessels? I settled for the latter. Should we see Ekranoplans operational again, I will definitely make a separate list. Also, A-90 is not the only one. Read more here:

https://discover.hubpages.com/travel/Fastest-Civil...

https://owlcation.com/misc/Fastest-Aircraft-Carrie...

As you can see I have considered them as ships and further classified as navy or civilian ones.

2. HMCS Bras d'Or: Here a bit of history reading and classification nomenclature did me in. The fact was that the ship was to be fitted with defense and attack armors, but for the resource crunch and operating expenses which put things on hold made me classify it as I did. Now if you are like me then you would have also noticed the size of the ship and therefore the reason for it to be classified as a warship. I take that point, though.

3. Faster than 20-25 knots: Okay, this one is more about the exception to the rule vs. the rule. When the general rule was ships doing about 20-25 knots, there was one ship doing way more than that. Not only the ships you mentioned, but USS New Jersey (1943), USS Wisconsin (1944), USS Enterprise (1961) and more were capable of doing 30-35 knots and more. I mean, I was aware of the period and other ships doing speeds faster than 20-25 knots. The link that I had posted under point 1 will show you these behemoths and more.The point is, my statement was to mean when most of the ships of the world were crawling, this ship was flying... that's all.. :)

By the way, I will bring in a special mention of Turbinia, Yamato and Le Fantasque in my articles very soon. :)

JRC on November 12, 2018:

There are many inaccuracies in this article that I wish to point out. To start, the Ekranoplan, A-90 Orlyonok, should not be on this list as it never classified as a ship, it is its own classification - a ground effect vehicle. Secondly, you referred to the HMCS Bras d'Or as a 'battleship', which it is very far from. The correct term is 'warship'. Battleships are heavily armored, heavily gunned ships, and this ship had neither. Lastly, you said that "despite being the fastest ship at a time when ships hadn’t figured out to sail faster than 20-25 knots". This is completely incorrect. The Turbinia, built by the British in 1894 was capable of travelling at 34.5 kts, and even the Japanese super-battleship, the Yamato, was capable of travelling at 27 kts despite it weighing 73,000 tons. This isn't even mentioning the Le Fantasque, the French destroyer of 1934 that could travel at 45 knots.

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