- Capital ship
The capital ships of a
navyare its "important" warships; the ones with the heaviest firepowerand armor. There is usually no formal criterion for the classification, but it is a useful concept when thinking about strategy, for instance to compare relative naval strengths in a theater of operationswithout having to get bogged down in the details of tonnage and gun diameters. A capital ship is generally a leading or a primary ship in a fleet.
In the 20th century, especially in World Wars I and II, typical capital ships would be
battleships, battlecruisers, and in WWII, aircraft carriers (though it took until late 1942 for carriers to be universally considered capital ships). All of the above ships were close to 20,000 tons displacement or heavier. Heavy cruisers, despite being important ships, were not considered capital ships.
An exception to the above in World War II was the "Deutschland"-class cruiser. Though this class was technically similar to a
heavy cruiser, albeit with considerably heavier guns, they were generally regarded as capital ships (hence the British label "Pocket battleship"). The "Alaska"-class cruisers, despite being oversized heavy cruisers and "not" battleships/battlecruisers, were also considered by some to be capital ships.
In the 21st century, the aircraft carrier is the last remaining capital ship, with firepower defined in decks available and aircraft per deck, rather than in guns and
calibers. The United States has undeniable supremacy in both categories of aircraft carriers, possessing not only 11 active duty supercarriers each capable of carrying and launching nearly 100 tactical aircraft, but an additional 12 amphibious assault ships every bit as capable (in the " Sea Control Ship" configuration) as the light VSTOLcarriers of other nations. Ballistic missile submarines (or "boomers"), while important ships and in tonnage are similar to early battleships, are usually counted as part of a nation's nuclear deterrentforce and do not share the sea control mission of traditional capital ships. (Although in some navies ( Royal Navyand United States Navy), ballistic submarines are given names typically formerly given to battleships).
The definition of "capital ship" was formalized in the limitation treaties of the 1920s and 30s; see
Washington Naval Treaty, London Naval Treaty, and Second London Naval Treaty.
Before the advent of the all-steel navy in the late 19th century, a capital ship was a warship of the First, Second or Third rates:
* 1st Rate: 100 or more guns, typically carried on three or four decks. Four-deckers tended to have problems with the waterline and the lowest deck could seldom fire except on the calmest of seas.
* 2nd Rate: 90–98 guns
* 3rd Rate: 64 to 80 guns (although 64-gun third-raters were very small and not very numerous in any era).
The term has also been adopted into
science fictionliterature and culture to describe large spaceships used in military contexts, particularly where other naval terms have also been adopted in similar fashion.
Ship of the line
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Look at other dictionaries:
capital ship — n. Historical an armored surface vessel of war, other than an aircraft carrier, carrying guns of a caliber greater than eight inches … English World dictionary
Capital ship — Navire capital Le navire capital, traduction du terme anglais capital ship largement employé en français , désigne le type de navire qui constitue le navire principal d une marine militaire. Terme militaire anglo saxon, il est passé dans le… … Wikipédia en Français
capital ship — /kæpətl ˈʃɪp/ (say kapuhtl ship) noun one of a class of the largest warships; a battleship, battle cruiser, or aircraft carrier … Australian English dictionary
capital ship — noun a warship of the first rank in size and armament • Hypernyms: ↑warship, ↑war vessel, ↑combat ship … Useful english dictionary
capital ship — one of a class of the largest warships; a battleship, battle cruiser, or aircraft carrier. [1680 90] * * * … Universalium
capital ship — noun the most important types of warships, capable of projecting fleet in being … Wiktionary
capital ship — noun a large warship such as a battleship or aircraft carrier … English new terms dictionary
capital — I. /ˈkæpətl / (say kapuhtl) noun 1. the city or town which is the official seat of government in a country, state, etc. 2. a capital letter. 3. the wealth, whether in money or property, owned or employed in business by an individual, firm, etc. 4 … Australian English dictionary
ship of the line — noun a large square rigged warship large enough to have a place in the line of battle. with up to 140 guns on at least two decks. A capital ship from the age of sail, superior to a frigate; usually, a … Wiktionary
Capital Radio (pirate) — Capital Radio (not to be confused with the later British radio station of the same name) was a pirate radio station which operated from international waters off the coast of the Netherlands in 1970.The station was set up by Canadian idealist Tim… … Wikipedia