Whether official or unspoken, every team is made up of a variety of distinct and important positions. These differences typically meld together to present a tough unified team. As a team, the U.S. Navy is no different. The sea service’s strength is derived from expert specialty players in the domains of subsurface, surface, aviation, information and special operations – one of the largest components being the Naval Surface Force.
While the roots of the surface fleet dates back to Oct. 13, 1775 when the Continental Congress authorized the first naval force – consisting of only wooden-hulled frigates, the enduring mission to protect and defend the nation and her interests has evolved into a very modern undertaking utilizing some of the most advanced technology available. Supported by men and women homeported and deployed around the world, the Surface Force adds a tremendous amount of value to the Navy team and serves as the backbone of America’s maritime superiority.
With an assortment of eight different ship classes, the surface fleet carries out a wide array of missions. From the deep blue open ocean waters to the shallows of the littorals close to shore, surface ships can deploy independently or as part of larger Navy and joint forces (e.g., within carrier and expeditionary strike groups and surface action groups).
Surface force ships are capable of operations including, but not limited to:
- Anti-Surface Warfare: The essence of establishing sea control – focused on providing the necessary presence, posture and access to strategic maritime areas to deter threatening or would-be adversarial surface combatants.
- Anti-Air Warfare: Aegis cruisers and destroyers conduct Anti-Air Warfare to defend themselves and other high value assets, like aircraft carriers and large deck amphibious ships, from attack by enemy missiles and aircraft.
- Anti-Submarine Warfare: Conducted primarily by cruisers and destroyers, surface ships detect, track and and target enemy submarines.
- Amphibious Warfare: Transport and launching United States Marines ashore anywhere in the world.
- Helicopter and Fixed-wing aviation operations: Provide everything from a lethal punch in combat to Search and Rescue and Anti-Submarine Warfare.
- Mine-Countermeasures: Enabling the Navy to combat one of the world’s cheapest and most widely available threats to both military and commercial shipping – naval mines.
- Ballistic Missile Defense: Certain cruisers and destroyers are capable defending the US homeland and our allies from the threat of ballistic missile attack.
While the U.S. Navy is made up of various elements, their unique capabilities only enhance the Navy team’s ability to support and defend America and her allies. With advanced technology and dedicated crews, Surface Force ships are equipped to handle a number of complex situations around the globe and, no matter the task at hand, the flexibility and value they bring to the Navy, Joint Staff, and the nation is immeasurable.