As the name suggests, war ships are ships that are exclusively designed for combat. They are used in battles and wars and have quite different features and characteristics than any other sea vessel. These ships are a lot faster and quicker to maneuver and are built strong to withstand damage and adverse conditions. As mentioned before, the ship is intended for combat and battle therefore, all the characteristics that are required to be good at this task can be found in them. Another unique trait of such ships is that it carries only weapons and ammunition and nothing more except necessary supplies for its own crew. Almost all the war ships of any given country belong to the navy of that respective nation, but there are exceptional cases where one finds them in the control of certain individuals or firms and companies as well.
Until recent times, the general merchant ship was often used in times of war as a war ship and it carried out all the tasks that would be expected from a combat vessel. There have been innumerable such examples especially during the two world wars. Also in times of emergency and war, these ships perform multiple tasks and the distinction gets blurred, for e.g. they could be used as carriers for troops and supplies etc. However the development of these kinds of ships from the early ages and civilizations, to the present day heavy and technologically advanced vessels is quite a fascinating story in itself. The earliest ships of combative features can be traced back to the 4th century B.C. They were called galleys and were narrow with multiple oarsmen on its banks to propel it forward.
The technologies of war ships didn’t see much change and the pattern remained the same. It comprised of moving with speed and apart from the sideways battle amongst the crew of the two ships, the ship itself was often used as a weapon by slamming it into the other. With the advent of cannons, the size of the ships grew bigger and came to a point when it wasn’t possible to propel it or maneuver it with oars; this is when the sails technology was introduced. Slowly and steadily, the ships began to be manufactured with iron and steel adding more strength. From the second quarter of the 19th century, war ships began to use steam engine powered propellers and heavy artillery as weapons.
The turn of the century saw the biggest developments in these vessels with the most notable being the Dreadnought. It was a British navy ship that was powered by steam turbines and in spite of being big it was fast and loaded with heavy arsenal. This was perhaps the first introduction to the ships of the modern warfare. Today’s war ships can be broadly classified in to seven categories namely frigates, cruisers, destroyers, aircraft carriers, corvettes, amphibious assault ships and submarines. The aircraft carrier is the biggest of these and the submarines arguable the deadliest at sea. One wonders where the technological advancements would lead to in this chain of developments.
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