Comparing Battleships, Cruisers, Destroyers, and Frigates: What Are the Differences?
Whether it is a battleship, a cruiser, a destroyer, or a frigate, they are the main equipment for maritime combat.

With the development of the times, battleships and cruisers have gradually withdrawn from the stage of naval warfare. At present, the main force of navies around the world is destroyers, supplemented by frigates, forming large-scale fleet groups to carry out military strike missions.

Since all ships perform maritime operations, what are the differences between battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and frigates?


One is the difference in ship tonnage; regarding the tonnage of the above four battleships, which has the largest displacement? The battleship can even reach the tonnage of small and medium-sized aircraft carriers.

For example, during World War II, the German Navy’s Tirpitz battleship had a full load displacement of 52,900 tons, which was even larger than France’s Charles de Gaulle nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and India’s Vikramaditya aircraft carrier.

Comparing Battleships, Cruisers, Destroyers, and Frigates: What Are the Differences?

Next is the cruiser. The tonnage of a cruiser is 10,000 to 30,000 tons, smaller than a battleship. For example, the Soviet Union commissioned the world’s largest guided missile cruiser, “Kirov,” in the 1980s, with a full load displacement of about 28,000 tons. Even this kind of tonnage exceeds the current Italian aircraft carrier Cavour, Garibaldi aircraft carrier, and Thailand’s Chakri Narubet aircraft carrier.

Among the cruisers in active service, the tonnage usually only has a displacement of 10,000 tons and below. For example, the Russian Varyag cruiser has a displacement of only 11,280 tons. Some American cruisers have not yet reached the 10,000-ton level. The USS Philippine Sea missile The full-load displacement of the cruiser is only 9,516 tons, which is not even as large as the 055 displacements currently in service in our country.

Conventional destroyer tonnage is only about 6,000 to 8,000 tons, and destroyers with strong combat effectiveness can reach more than 10,000 tons. China’s 055 large-scale destroyers, Japan’s Atago-class destroyers, and Maya-class destroyers are all 10,000-ton large-scale destroyers that can compete with the United States. The Russian and Russian cruisers are comparable.

The smallest tonnage is the frigate. The tonnage of the frigate can be as small as less than 1,000 tons of displacement. The most typical one is the 21630-class frigate in service with the Russian Caspian Fleet. The frigates like Astrakhan and Makhachkala have full load displacement. It only weighed about 600 tons, which was really insignificant compared to the battleships.

Combat Missions

Second, there is a difference in combat missions; the main mission of a battleship is to rely on powerful firepower to attack all ships on the sea. Because the battleship has the largest displacement, it can carry multiple large-caliber heavy guns, with a caliber usually above 200 millimeters. You can imagine it. How powerful is it? Two cannons can directly destroy a ship.

Comparing Battleships, Cruisers, Destroyers, and Frigates: What Are the Differences?

Cruiser, as we can tell from its name, is a ship that fights in the ocean. It protects the aircraft carrier’s ocean escort. It is equipped with a powerful firepower system and a defense system. For example, the “Ticonderoga” class guided missile cruisers currently in service in the United States are equipped with the “Aegis” system for the first time, including phased array radar, missile fire control system, missile launch system, etc., which can provide enemy situation early warning and fire counterattack for the fleet.

The combat functions of the destroyer are relatively comprehensive. It can not only undertake the air defense and anti-submarine escort tasks of the fleet but also undertake the patrol, warning and maritime blockade tasks. It is the main equipment used in the modern navies of major countries in the world. Take the Maya-class destroyer, the largest Aegis destroyer in active service in Japan, for example.

This type of destroyer is equipped with both the “Standard”-2ERBLOCKⅢA/B long-range air defense missiles to deal with most incoming conventional missiles in the air and the “Standard”-3BBLOCKⅡA Type sea-based interceptor missiles, as well as “Aslok” anti-submarine missiles.

Comparing Battleships, Cruisers, Destroyers, and Frigates: What Are the Differences?

The lowest level is the frigate. Compared with destroyers and cruisers, the attack firepower of frigates is not at the same level. Their ocean combat capabilities are weak. They usually perform escort, anti-submarine, air defense, and reconnaissance missions for aircraft carrier formations. In other words, they “lead” the “Knife Guard” role.

At this stage, the battleships were decommissioned in 1992 with the decommissioning of all four “Iowa” class battleships in the United States, marking the complete end of the battleship class; as for the cruisers, only patrol ships were in service in the United States and Russia, and the remaining The destroyers and frigates below are the main equipment of navies around the world.