largest navy in the world

Top 10 Largest Navies in the World

It’s not difficult to guess which country has the strongest navy in the world.
But are you not concerned about which countries are behind THAT?
Since the sea was navigable, empires from early ages began to the race to conquer the 70% earth, and the ability to project naval strength across oceans is a defining feature.
The list below is based on data compiled in Global Firepower’s world ranking by the number of offensive and defensive naval assets a country have.
These are the top 10 largest navies in the world in 2020:

10.Taiwan (Republic of China Navy)

most powerful navy
  • Aircraft carriers: 0
  • Amphibious warfare ships: 1
  • Cruisers: 0
  • Destroyers: 4
  • Frigates: 22
  • Corvettes: 0
  • Nuclear submarine: 0
  • Submarines: 4

The Republic of China Navy has significantly improved its naval defense technology over the past two decades, primarily by buying ships from the US and some warships from other countries.
Taiwan can also construct its vessels, too.
The Taiwanese Navy comprises nearly 38,000 operational personnel with over 100 active ships.
Taiwan Navy includes around 4 destroyers, 22 frigates, 31 missile combatant ships, 4 submarines, 12 patrol boats, 9 minesweepers, 10 auxiliary warships, 1 amphibious warship, and 28 fighter aircraft.
The ROC’s primary task is to protect its surrounding waters and territories against a possible blockade, attack, or invasion by the People’s Republic of China.
Relatively, the Chinese have a more powerful navy than the Taiwanese.
However, if both countries engage in maritime warfare, we can expect Taiwan to defend well in oceans.
This deployment protects the Taiwan Strait and adjacent seas by naval exercises and counter-strike wartime counter-invasion activities.
The Taiwanese navy competed for the 10th spot on this most powerful navy list with the Indonesian navy.
As the Indonesian navy have twice as many active personnel and considerably more ships in the Indonesian navy, but they limit most of their warships as seafarers.
Turkish navy is another large navy with a large coastal fleet and is primarily designed to operate only in the Mediterranean region.

9.Italy (Italian Navy)

largest navy in the world
  • Aircraft carriers: 2
  • Amphibious warfare ships: 3
  • Cruisers: 0
  • Destroyers: 4
  • Frigates: 10
  • Corvettes: 5
  • Nuclear submarine: 0
  • Submarines: 6

There is a naval fleet with some 31,000 personnel in the Italian Navy (officially Marina Militare Italiana).
Italian Navy operates warships of all types.
There is one aircraft carrier from Cavour light, which is also their flagship.
It can handle V/STOL (Harriers and F-35Bs), helicopters, and aircraft systems.
The Cavour can transport while holding troops and vehicles as well.
A smaller aircraft carrier named Giuseppe Garibaldi is in service for the Italian navy.
It was known as the Royal Marine before the Second World War, as the Republic of Italy replaced the Kingdom of Italy.
The fleet comprises 2 aircraft carriers, 6 diesel-powered submarines, 3 amphibious assault ships, 4 destroyers, 10 frigates, 5 corvettes, 10 coastal patrol boats, 10 offshore patrolling ships, 4 coastal patrol vessels, and 6 active anti-submarine frigates of Maestrale-class frigate.
The Marine Brigade of Italy (San Marco Marine Brigade) has a strength of 3,800 men, and the navy recruits the amphibious brigade on 3 amphibious transport vessels of the San Giorgio class.
Navy built it on considering enhanced standards, which can bring more troops compared to the third ship of San Giusto class.
Italy is reportedly developing a new amphibian attack boat from Trieste.
By 2022, this would take effect to replace the light aircraft carrier, Giuseppe Garibaldi.

8.South Korea (Republic of Korea Navy)

best navy in the world
  • Aircraft carriers: 1
  • Amphibious warfare ships: 1
  • Cruisers: 0
  • Destroyers: 12
  • Frigates: 14
  • Corvettes: 36
  • Nuclear submarine: 0
  • Submarines: 23

South Korean Armed Forces are responsible for naval and amphibious landing activities.
Since the 1990s, South Korea has significantly improved its naval strength to counter North Korea, similar reasons like Taiwan.
But unlike the Taiwanese Navy, which imports many ships from western countries, the South Korean Navy operates every vessel made in their homeland.
Most of them are designed & manufactured by state-owned companies, while private firms like Hyundai and Daewoo make the rest of the armed vessels.
South Korea has about 70,000 active personnel, which is much more than the combined forces of our predecessors Italian Navy and the Republic of China (Taiwan).
Its naval fleet comprises of 23 submarines, 1 amphibious assault ship, 6 landing vessels, 8 landing crafts, 12 destroyers, 14 frigates, 36 corvettes, 11 mine countermeasures ships, and 70 fighter aircraft.
South Korea needs a powerful military to protect itself from its neighbor’s sea-based attacks with a threat on the horizon.
Thankfully, since the Korean War, the South Korean economy has slowly been improving, allowing the government to use modern military equipment with a large amount of money.
Based on what is happening regarding North Korea today, you can expect that the South Korean government will further boost the nation’s coastal defenses.
The ROK Navy is one of the oldest branches of the South Korean military.
Although South Korean Marines was a little established many decades ago, it has recently become a competent ocean force as a maritime army.

7. India (Indian Navy)

most powerful navy
  • Aircraft carriers: 1
  • Amphibious warfare ships: 1
  • Cruisers: 0
  • Destroyers: 11
  • Frigates: 14
  • Corvettes: 26
  • Nuclear submarine: 2
  • Submarines: 14

67,252 active personnel served the Indian Navy with a fleet of 137 warships and 235 fighter aircraft.
India is slowly but certainly improving the resources in its defense to become a global sea power to balance its Chinese neighbor.
INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier is the flagship of the Indian Navy.
In terms of the number of naval aviation carrying capacity, this carrier is moderate.
Cochin Shipyard (State-owned company) built the first homemade aircraft carrier INS Vikrant that was commissioned in 2013 and is more capable than its foreign-made predecessor.
It has increased India’s power projection capacity dramatically though the Indian Ocean.
In total, 11 destroyers are operating at the Indian Navy, including three destroyers of the Kolkata class, 3 Delhi class and 5 older destroyers in the Rajput class.
Indian Navy had crafted many of them in modern technology, including three Shivalik and six Talwar missile guided frigates.
There is also a single frigate of the Godavari class, three older Brahmaputra classes, and 26 corvettes intended to protect coastal Waters.
Indian Navy will soon operate single ballistic missile class submarines, while the second class ship will be commissioned shortly.
These submarines with nuclear power have been developed and incorporated with high secrecy.
Along with diesel-powered submarines, the Indian navy has two nuclear-powered submarines.
INS Vishal is an aircraft carrier planned for the construction of Cochin Shipyard by the Indian Navy, also known as the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 2.
It was designed to be India’s second aircraft carrier after INS Vikrant and India’s first supercarrier.
The Indian Navy is modernizing to upgrade its outdated military technology.
This modernization is often regarded as part of India’s defense plan to develop the security in coastal Waters and strengthen its influence in the Indian Ocean.

6. France (French Navy)

strongest navy
  • Aircraft carriers: 1
  • Amphibious warfare ships: 3
  • Cruisers: 0
  • Destroyers: 11
  • Frigates: 11
  • Corvettes: 0
  • Nuclear submarine: 10
  • Submarines: 0

The Kingdom of France established the French Navy in 1624 and is one of the world’s oldest naval forces. 
Also known as “La Royale,” took part in both World Wars and represented an important role in building the French colonial empire.
There are about 36,000 working naval officers, about 200 aircraft with a single carrier, 4 submarines, 6 attack submarines with combat ballistic missiles, 3 amphibious warfare ships, 4 air defense destroyers, 5 general purpose frigates, 6 surveillance frigates, 21 patrol vessels, and 18 mine counter-attack warships.
The list also comprises various supporting and assisting ships, including training ships, tugboats, and refueling vessels.
France is also one of the nuclear forces in the world, so it is not surprising that there is such a considerable force on the coastline.
French Navy defined its role as intelligence preserving, public protection, crisis prevention, and prevent the threat of possible invasion.
The Marine Nationale comprises four branches.

  • Force D’Action Navale
  • Forces Sous-marines
  • Aeronavale
  • Fusiliers marine.

The Naval Force operates many combat ships including nuclear carriers, nuclear submarines and, frigates.
Among them is French Navy flagship Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, which is a Unique class aircraft carrier
New frigates will be commissioned soon to replace destroyers class Cassard and class Georges Leygues with frigates of class Aquitaine. 

5. United Kingdom (Royal Navy)

largest navy in the world
  • Aircraft carriers: 2
  • Amphibious warfare ships: 6
  • Cruisers: 0
  • Destroyers: 6
  • Frigates: 13
  • Corvettes: 0
  • Nuclear submarine: 11
  • Submarines: 0

The British Navy, officially known as the Royal Navy. British Empire once had the most powerful navy in the world from the mid-18th century to the early 20th century.
It was an unrivaled influence and played a major role in the development of the British Empire.
The United States Navy only surpassed it when the Second World War occurred.
Now, the Royal Navy mostly focuses on expeditionary activities.
Currently, Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier is in commission expect while in the next couple of years.
British naval aircraft carriers are much larger than American carriers, slightly bigger than Russian and Chinese carriers.
British Navy owns six anti-air fighting destroyers, and these vessels patrol wide areas to provide the fleet with air defense.
In contrast to the Daring class destroyers, thirteen duke frigates were mostly for warfare against submarines.
There is a well-respected, Royal Marine Commando Brigade of 7700 personnel in the Royal Navy.
The Royal Marines is the European Union’s most powerful naval infantry force (second in the world after US marines corps).
There are two landing ships in class Albion and three logistic landing platform vessels in Bay class.
Three nuclear-powered submarines are operating in the Astute class.
There are also three nuclear-powered attacking Trafalgar-class active warships that will slowly retire in the coming years.
British also maintain four Vanguard ballistic missile submarines and Tomahawk cruise missile for all submarines.
Each of these ships can carry a maximum of 192 nuclear warheads.
This power is enough to wipe out whole countries at once
The fleet contains one aircraft carrier, three ballistic missile submarines, six nuclear power submarines, three amphibious vessels, six destroyers, 13 frigates, three offshore patrols ships, 13 minehunters, 18 fast patrol boats.
The Royal Navy also uses an HMS Bristol destroyer type 82 and an HMS Victory ship of the line.
The latter is noteworthy as the oldest naval vessel ever afloat and serves as the first sea lord’s flagship.

4. Japan (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force)

top 10 navy in the world
  • Aircraft carriers: 0
  • Amphibious warfare ships: 7
  • Cruisers: 0
  • Destroyers: 40
  • Frigates: 6
  • Corvettes: 0
  • Nuclear submarine: 0
  • Submarines: 20

Japanese maritime self-defense force was officially established a few years after the Second World War.
Having nearly 51,000 active personnel with a fleet of 150 vessels and over 300 aircraft, making it one of the largest navies in the world.
The Japan Self-Defense Maritime Force comprises 7 warships, 40 destroyers, 6 frigates, 4 air defense destroyers, 3 landing ships, two landing crafts, 25 counter-attack vessels, six patrol ships, and eight training boats.
Japan recently modernized its marine facilities, just like South Korea, to defend itself from the North Korean threat.
Nonetheless, the Japanese government finds nuclear weapons to a dissuasive for North Korea.
The Japan Sea Forces is a Japanese self-defense military unit, which is responsible for Japan’s coastal defenses.
Under US supervision, they established the Japanese naval forces after the imperial Japanese navy breakup after the Second World War.
Japan Maritime supervision,-Defense Force (JMSDF) is a Japanese navy of 50,800 personnel, 150 ships, and almost 346 aircraft.
The naval self-defense force is legally limited to military doctrine, as a part of the Japanese constitution.
It operates state-of-the-art warships and submarines. In contrast, they keep the Japanese fleet ready and highly efficient.
Therefore, while Japanese navies lose their numbers and tonnage to the Chinese fleet, Japanese warships are more modern and equipped with the latest guns.
The JMSDF has no nuclear-powered submarines but has around 20 submarines belong to Japan’s navy.
As far as Japan does not use nuclear warships, it has built up diesel submarines that have improved strength and offensive capabilities.
Yet Japan does not have any underwater ballistic missiles or strategic ballistic missiles.
Naval aircraft in Japan comprises about 70 Lockheed P-3C Orions and a dozen Kawasaki Navy P-1s.

3. Russia (Russian Navy)

navies of the world ranking
  • Aircraft carriers: 1
  • Amphibious warfare ships: 52
  • Cruisers: 6
  • Destroyers: 18
  • Frigates: 6
  • Corvettes: 78
  • Nuclear submarine: 59
  • Submarines: 0

Russian Federation has one of the best navies in the world, officially established in 1992 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
It comprises about 148,000 active personnel and over 300 operational vessels and 300 boats, which almost triples the Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces active staff.
Russia’s naval fleet includes one cargo carrier, one battlecruiser, three cruisers, 13 destroyers, eight frigates, 78 corvettes, 17 submerged SSNs, 22 submarines, 13 submarines for ballistic weapons, 7 submarines of cruise-missiles, 3 submarines for special purposed purposes.
While Russia is better known for its strong ground forces (military), the Russian navy is now an indication that Russia is well prepared for sea skirmishes making it a formidable force.
The Russian navy inherited the fleet from the Soviet navy after the fall of the USSR.
The Soviet fleet has decreased substantially since the early 1990s with the end of the Cold War and the resulting funding problems.
Cold War remnants are the bulk of its vessels. In the last two decades, because of its small funding, the Russian defense has faced problems maintaining its main troops.
Also, three smaller missile Slava class cruisers offer great anti-ship, anti-aircraft (guided-missile destroyer) and antisubmarine warfare capabilities.
The Russian Navy loses the warship number and tonnage on paper to the Chinese navy.
Russia, however, has several proven ballistic missile submarines, which have been extremely deadly.

2. China (People’s Liberation Army Navy)

largest navy in the world 2020
  • Aircraft carriers: 2
  • Amphibious warfare ships: 69
  • Cruisers: 0
  • Destroyers: 36
  • Frigates: 52
  • Corvettes: 42
  • Nuclear submarine: 14
  • Submarines: 45

China’s navy has rapid growth in its offensive arsenal by building new warships and submarines.
The Chinese Army is officially called the People’s Liberation Army, has the strength of about 255,000 active personnel.
Today in 2020, in terms of tonnage, it ranks as second-largest fleet after the US Navy.
Chinese navy owns a single Liaoning aircraft carrier, which was commissioned in 2018 and is used primarily as a training ship.
A similar carrier is scheduled to become operational around 2020.
These newer warships are not as capable as their western or Russian counterparts.
On the other hand, the construction of a new advanced warships is rapid.
This year it is expected that about 5 to 6 guidance missile cruisers of type 055 are about to be completed.
People’s Liberation Army Navy quickly arose as one of the world’s powerful maritime forces.

1. United States (United States Navy)

Most powerful navy in the world- United States Navy
  • Aircraft carriers: 11
  • Amphibious warfare ships: 34
  • Cruisers: 22
  • Destroyers: 69
  • Frigates: 21
  • Corvettes: 27
  • Nuclear submarine: 70
  • Submarines: 0

The US Navy is the most powerful and largest navy in the world, still in 2020. 
The US shifted its naval functionalities from a possible direct war with the Soviet Union to regional conflicts in the early 1990s following the Cold War. 
For lower funding and lack of adequate threat currently, but mainly to the cost of smaller ships, US fleets continue to decline instead of major surface combatant soldiers and the most deadly submarines. 
In the early 20th century, the US took over the British empire in terms of naval strength.
Big thanks to one of our best presidents Theodore Roosevelt, who employed Big Stick ideology.
The US Navy operates 11 large aircraft carriers with the fastest planes with 5th generation technology.
There are currently ten carriers in the Nimitz class and 1 Ford class in the US navy. They can operate fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters and are nuclear powered.
And each carrier can carry 70 to 80 modern fighter jets.
(Fun Fact- Technically, the US Navy is the second most powerful air-force in the world after the US Airforce, if we can consider the number of total fighter planes and attack helicopters commissioned in the US Navy).
Each of these warships carries approximately 1700-2000 Marines and blinded vehicles and delivers tilt rotors, helicopters, and hovercraft to shore. 
These assault ships are heavier than most carriers.
Nuclear powered attack submarines patrol waters near the United States or far away from the seas, making effective anti-submarine efforts useless.
Nearly 3,700 planes serve the US Navy. Most of these are multi-role fighters of the F/A-18 family and other aircraft associated with them, based on carrier aircraft.
USS Pueblo is still in service, the scientific study vessel. 
But North Korea, which attacked and captured the ship for supposed entry into North Korean territory in 1968, is currently being held.
And in the foreseeable future, it will probably remain at the top, based on how much the US government spends on military equipment.

Above is the list of the top 10 navies in the world​. 
In this article, the ranking is based on the sheer offensive scale and number of ships.
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