The World’s Fastest Military Ships and Submarines

With geopolitical tensions rising in the Pacific, the U.S. Navy may be called upon to help defend Taiwan against a possible Chinese invasion. And though the Navy was vital to victories in previous wars, the buildup of the Chinese navy in recent years is a cause for concern. China now has the world’s largest navy. (See the countries with the largest naval fleets.)

Navies have been used in warfare for centuries to transport troops, defend coastlines, and bombard targets. They play a critical role for any military power. Part of maintaining a strong navy is employing a diverse fleet of warships, each with different features that could be advantageous in a given scenario. Fast warships are often used for combat, ground assault, patrol, and more.

To determine the fastest warships in the world, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the list Modern Warships & Submarines compiled by Military Factory, an online database of military vehicles, aircraft, arms, and more. Warship classes were ranked based on the top speed of the fastest ship within the class, and only those currently in service with a top speed of over 41 miles per hour were considered. Supplemental information about the year entered service, personnel, displacement, and which navies employ these ships also came from Military Factory.

The Zubr LCAC, or landing craft air cushion, is employed by multiple navies around the world. It was initially developed by the Soviet Union and later built in Russia and Ukraine. The Zubr is designed to counter different terrain, as it can effectively maneuver across diverse surfaces such as shallow waters, ice, and marshlands. Its operational range is 300 miles and its maximum speed clocks in at 69 mph.

Towards the top of this list is the Freedom-class littoral combat ship designed to conduct various missions in shallow waters. The first of this class was the USS Freedom, which was launched in September 2006 and commissioned into the U.S. Navy in November 2008. 

The USS Freedom is built to carry out coastal defense, reconnaissance, and rescue operations, among others. It has a top speed of 54.1 mph propelled by two Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbines and two Colt-Pielstick diesel engines. This combination of propulsion systems grants the vessel with commendable speed and agility in littoral zones. (Also see, the oldest ships and submarines still operating in the U.S. Navy.)

Littoral combat ships occupy some of the top spots as do ships that play roles in amphibious assault or offshore operations. Here is a look at the fastest U.S. military warships.

Click here to see the world’s fastest warships.

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