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    From the beginning, Sails were the coolest way to harness the winds... 

  • Viking Longships, capable of both crossing the ocean and sailing up rivers, carrying bloodthirsty pillagers, was a terrifying sight for European villages and cities for 200 years. Norsemen could also build one on a spot. With an axe.
  • The shores and ports of the Eastern Roman Empire (a.k.a the Byzantine Empire) were defended by Dromons, which were descendants of the old Roman Navy's Galleys. Like the Viking Longship, it has a dragon figurehead. Unlike Viking Longships, it's Dragon figurehead can actually breathe fire for use as a weapon.
    • The fire in question is the Greek Fire, which is basically a substance akin to flamethrower jelly but was rumoured to be unquenchable by water (dousing it with water was also reported to spread the flames). The Dromon deploys Greek Fire through a siphon, an invention that shoots the substance in a method not unlike the modern flamethrower.
  • Admiral Zheng He's fabled Treasure Ships during his Voyages for the Ming Dynasty. Essentially floating fortresses custom built for the Admiral's Grand Tour of a mission, it was a trade/cargo ship, a mobile embassy (Zheng He's flagship had a small Chinese palace for a bridge), an exploration vessel with smaller "life ships" for landing trade or troops, and also a warship with a fearsome array of cannon, ballistas, bomb-catapults and (considering this is China) rockets.
    • And there was a fleet of these ships. Who were also supported by lesser Chinese naval vessels during their mission.
    • The reason why Treasure Ships are quite multirole was due to Zheng He's primary mission: Diplomacy and establishment of trade ties with multiple peoples, kingdoms, and empires, some of which Imperial China contacts for the very first time. Think of it as a Chinese Enterprise, boldly going where no Chinaman has gone before. Perhaps the biggest thing afloat in Asia for its time.
      • In Asia? Try the world; considering that conservative estimates place them at 60m in length and most pass the hundred meter mark, it's safe to say that they were the biggest things afloat till the 19th century, when those crafty westerners learned to build ships from iron.
    • Unfortunately, these massive ships were, in all likelyhood, nothing more than showpieces, stuck to floating along the yangtze river, due to their oversized hulls becoming too unstable to stay together in rougher waters.
  • During the Japanese Warring States Period, Oda Nobunaga faced the Mori Clan, who were known to be adept admirals. Nobunaga, knowing how he has absolutely zero naval experience, sought to balance out the odds by launching Tekkosen, which was basically a Castle on a boat, ironclad at some parts, and armed with cannon. The Mori clan's purely wooden small-ships didn't stand a chance during the Battle of Kizukawaguchi, where Oda's Tekkosen were deployed.
  • The Korean Turtle Ship. Its a warship with spikes on the top of it. How awesome is that?
    • Admiral Yi's variant was not only fully closed, but the first known ship with iron armor and built for long-range cannon fire. And a smoke screen dispenser. And one cannon on the ram, to fire inside a breached hull after ramming. "Turtle ships" were faster and more maneuverable than one would expect, due to the combination of sails and oars as well as overall good design (based on a ramming ship and not too overloaded); the Japanese ships opposing them were faster, but didn't have long-range weapons and like most of their contemporaries relied mostly on boarding, so the "turtles" had enough opportunities to ram.
  • The galleasses fielded by Venice during the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Much less tactically agile than galleys, but with vastly superior firepower, the six galleasses deployed are between them reported to have disabled or sunk up to 70 of the Ottoman fleet of approximately 250 ships.
  • USS Constitution, better known as Old Ironsides, is the oldest commissioned warship still afloat, having been built in 1797. During the War of 1812, she sank several British ships, raising the morale of the Navy. The ship's hull was so strong that cannonballs bounced off her like she was Made of Iron, hence her nickname. Note that she's actually made of wood.
    • Constitution and her sister ships were designed to be Lightning Bruisers, able to significantly outmatch the Royal Navy's ships of the same class, and outrun anything that outclassed them in gunnery (such as Ships of The Line). They were built with reinforced hulls made of exceptionally hard southern live oak. Since the Constitution and the other 5 frigates in her class constituted the entire US Navy, (most major navies at the time had 200 ships; the Royal Navy had more than 600) it was essential that the ships could defeat any other frigate and sail away from anything larger.
      • The USS Constitution and most of her sisters had Royals. They used four sails per mast and larger sails than most British battleships used. A late-18th century or early 19th-century American Frigate wasn't to be trifled with. The USS Constituion is an 18th century Frigate, still in commision, with more than twice the displacement of a WWI-era destroyer.
  • HMS Victory, flagship of Horatio Nelson, and the oldest vessel still commissioned in any Navy (but confined to dry-dock).
  • The legendary Nova Scotian schooner, Bluenose. Launched in 1921, for 17 straight years she was undefeated in any racing and fishing competitions she entered. She also starred in the 1933 Chicago World's Fair and George V's Silver Jubilee. Bluenose has been on Canadian dimes since 1937.
  • Cutty Sark, a tea clipper so fast it remained profitable to run well into the age of steam-powered boats.
  • SMS Seeadler ought to qualify. I mean seriously, a sailing warship in 1916? And a successful one at that.
  • There are still cool sailboats in the modern world; witness The Maltese Falcon (yes, her name includes the 'The'), which has a vintage Bentley as a coffee table decoration.
  • Don't forget the yacht America, a schooner so fast that after starting a 53 mile race with a fouled anchor, she won the race by 18 minutes. For the non sailing types, that's so far ahead of the pack that when the Queen of England asked who was in second place, the response was "There is no second, Your Majesty."
  • The Austronesian cultures of the Pacific Ocean are scattered across half of the world's largest sea, and they're like a cultural version of Sibling Yin-Yang to the Norse—Austronesians live in the burning South Pacific Ocean, while the Norse live in cold and icy Scandinavia. Their boats range from outrigger canoes, to double-hulled catamarans, to massive 50-foot beasts like the Hawaiian voyaging canoe or the Filipino balangay. The flying proa is called that not only because of its speed—with a skilled crew and good winds, it can literally skim the water.

    From harnessing wind to generating pressure, Steam powered the world... 
  • USS Monitor and CSS Virginia, the two famous "ironclad" boats from The American Civil War; when these two ships clashed, the fight only ended because they ran out of ammo, each having exhausted her magazines in futile attempts to damage the other.
    • You may have heard Virginia referred to incorrectly by the name 'Merrimack', which was the name of the Union ship on whose dredged-up bones CSS Virginia was built. Almost certainly former Union name is used in reference to the battle with the Monitor solely for Added Alliterative Appeal. However short-lived her commissioning nation proved to be, however reviled its cause or unhallowed its memory, simple respect demands Virginia be given her proper name.
      • If the USS Moniter had been allowed to use full powder charges and explosive shells the CSS Virginia would have lost. It was a draw.
  • Turbinia, the first successful steam turbine powered ship. When built, she was the fastest ship afloat, capable of 34.5 knots. Her builder Charles Parsons demonstrated this at the Spithead Naval review in 1897, when she arrived unannounced and buzzed the assembled warships before outrunning every picket ship sent to stop her. Theretofore, the Admiralty had seen no particular value or future in steam-driven ships; Turbinia's showing convinced them that all future ships would be powered by turbines, leading to...
  • HMS Dreadnought. Admiral Jackie Fisher was made head of the Royal Navy because he had a plan to economize on naval expenditure. That plan involved using submarines to defend against invasions, and projecting power by means of battleships larger and faster than anything else in service. Dreadnought was their prototype, and probably the most famous ship in the world until Titanic sank. Her arrival on the scene caused other nations with battleship construction programs to retool them more or less entirely; previous generations of battleships were collectively renamed "pre-dreadnoughts", and even today naval historians refer to the prewar years as the Dreadnought Era.
    • Not badass enough? HMS Dreadnought also carries the distinction of being the only battleship in WWI to sink a submarine - by ramming, no less.
  • Of course, HMS Majestic, to predreadnoughts as Dreadnought was to her own type, was scarcely less revolutionary. Majestic finally combined all the technological developments of the past thirty years, ending a confused period of naval design that produced many a floating deathtrap, and her basic design was used by everyone for the next decade until Dreadnought upended the apple cart.
  • One of the cooler dreadnoughts was the Queen Elizabeth-class battleship HMS Warspite, which, despite being a Floating Disaster Area, managed to distinguish herself fighting in both world wars. A good example of the Warspite's career would be her service at the Battle of Jutland, where she was attached to Admiral Beatty's battlecruiser squadron, sustained fifteen direct hits and nearly sinking, before having her steering jam while trying to avoid a collision with the Valiant. With her steering jammed, she ended up steaming in circles, drawing the fire of the German battlecruisers away from the badly damaged Warrior, whose crew were thus able to abandon ship. When the Warspite's engineers and damage control parties finally managed to regain control of her steering, they found themselves on a direct course for the German fleet, with only one turret still capable of operating, and central fire control and rangefinders all out of commission. Despite this, she was still able to fire twelve shots under local control before she was finally ordered to withdraw for repairs. She had a long and distinguished career after that, but her steering was never quite the same again. One of her most notable achievements is that in the 1940 Battle of Calabria she scored the longest range gunnery hit by one moving ship against another in history, hitting the Italian battleship Giulio Cesare from 24 km away.note 
  • The Deutschland-class heavy cruisers of the Reichsmarine (later the Kriegsmarine). Due to restrictions imposed by the post-WWI Treaty of Versailles, the Germans basically did everything they could to pack a battleship's power onto a boat the size of a cruiser. While this resulted in a ship with several design compromises (such as relatively thin armor), its power and capabilities were so terrifying to the British that they started referring to the ships as "pocket battleships." The other ships of the class were called Admiral Scheer and the infamous Admiral Graf Spee (which, to cut a long story short, was scuttled by her captain to avoid what he thought would be a losing battle). Deutschland was later renamed to Lützow, in part to conceal from Allied intelligence that the under-construction cruiser Lützow had been sold to the Soviet Union during their very brief peace treaty with Nazi Germany and in part because having a ship named "Germany" get sunk would've been quite embarassing.
  • Before aircraft carriers evolved into their current, more standardised, forms, one notable design was the converted Courageous-class cruisers, which had two separate decks: the hangar opened directly onto a shorter flying-off deck at the front of the ship, with a longer landing deck built on the floor above. At the same time, the Japanese carrier Akagi took this a step further, with three flight decks stacked above one another. The designs proved to be inefficient, but both win major cool points.
  • The nuclear-powered USS Enterprise (CVN-65) was the eighth naval ship to bear the name. The previous Enterprise (CV-6, often referred to as "The Grey Ghost" and "The Big E") remains the most decorated vessel in the history of the United States Navy, and one of the few carriers built before the war to fight to nearly the end — she was damaged by a kamikaze strike, and would have returned to action had the war not ended while she was in dry dock.
    • USS Enterprise (CV-6) had about the most badass crew in WWII; her her aircraft fought in the Battle of Pearl Harbor, and played a major role in the Battle of Midway. "The Big E" herself was one of three Yorktown-class carriers; the defining trait of her badassery is that, by 1943, she was the only American aircraft carrier still fighting in the Pacific Theater, in which aircraft carriers were the sine qua non of a meaningful naval presence. Her crew hung a sign on the flight deck: "Enterprise vs Japan". Enterprise won.
    • Enterprise also has the distinction of being the first fleet aircraft carrier equipped for night operations, and for proving just how invaluable they are. After being temporarily knocked out of commission during the Battle of Okinawa by a kamikaze pilot crashing into the ship's hull, Enterprise launched a night raid on the Kyushu, Sasebo, and Nagasaki air fields. The next day, her task force did not encounter a single kamikaze pilot.
      • If you were wondering why Roddenberry chose this ship's name to make famous — well, now you know.
    • Sadly, efforts to preserve CV-6 as a museum ship fell through, despite it being perhaps the most worthy ship of preservation ever. Instead, she met the ignominious fate of being torn up for scrap metal. And due to the sheer bulk of CVN-65's early nuclear reactors, removing them won't leave enough of a ship to preserve. There is, however, talk of removing her distinctive square island for preservation. Hopefully (unlike the broken promise by the Navy to preserve CV-6's tripod mast outside the Naval Academy football stadium), this will actually happen.
    • In honor of the late Enterprises(CV-6 and CVN-65) the third Gerald R. Ford class aircraft will named Enterprise, number 9 in the U.S. Navy to be named Enterprise
  • The carrier and nameship USS Yorktown (CV-5) surely has to qualify. She sustained three bomb hits, one of which punched right through the flight deck armor and killed sixty-six of her crew, and another twelve damage-causing near-misses at the Battle of Coral Sea — the first battle in which aircraft carriers directly opposed one another, and for that reason also the first in which neither side's ships sighted or fired directly upon the other. Initial repair estimate: three months. Upon arriving in Pearl Harbour 18 days later the estimate had shrunk to two weeks in drydock. The yard dogs turned her loose 48 hours later to participate in the Battle of Midway. At Midway on June 4, she took three severe bomb hits but was back underway in a hour, just in time to receive two torpedo hits. With a 26 degree list, she was deemed unsafe and abandoned. A salvage party arrived June 6 to right the ship and were making good progress when two more torpedoes struck. Finally, a sinking destroyer's magazine exploded, blowing equipment off the ship, sending internal fixtures flying about, and breaking bones among the salvage party. The USS Yorktown finally sank on June 7, 1942 at 7:01 am before a second salvage attempt could be made. The near miraculous recoveries convinced the Japanese they had sunk a different, undamaged carrier three times (thus actually believing at first that Midway was at least a stalemate, and reporting home that Yorktown, Enterprise and Hornet had all been sunknote ); once at Coral Sea and twice at Midway. "The Fighting Lady" was one tough mother.
    • Others have already mentioned the other two Yorktown-class carriers but what about the USS ''Hornet''. She was the one who carried out the daring Doolittle raid at a time when America was losing against the Japanese onslaught. She was also there during the Battle of Midway alongside her sister ship(s) up until Guadalcanal. Unfortunately, during the Battle of Santa Cruz, Hornet was severely damaged by Japanese bombers, and the crew were forced to abandon, with the Navy having to give the order to eventually scuttle her. However, before that could take place, Japanese destroyers, whose crew members had recognized her as the one who carried out the same Doolittle raid months earlier, finished her off with torpedoes. Of note is that Hornet was actually the last fleet carrier lost during the Pacific war. All subsequent US carrier losses were either Light or Escort carriers.
  • The Shōkaku-class aircraft carriers were the best carriers of the Imperial Japanese Navy, and arguably the best carriers in the world when the war started, with speed that was unmatched and a large air complement of what was then the most advanced carrier aircraft in the world. They were part of the strike force that assaulted Pearl Harbor and began the Pacific War, and after the disastrous Battle of Midway which saw 4 of the IJN's six fleet carriers sunk, they became to crux of Japan's naval air strength for the rest of the war until the IJN's carrier force was wiped out in 1944.
  • Though never passing beyond the experimental stage, the Habbakuk would have qualified in both senses, being a ship constructed out of ice.
  • The Yamato-class Battleships. They were the largest battleships ever made (surpassed in military vessel size only by the Nimitz supercarriers), which automatically makes them Cool Boats, even if they was sunk before causing much damage. Also, the anime Space Battleship Yamato turned the nameship into a Cool Starship, which has to earn some extra points.
    • To a reasonably lesser extent, Yamato's sister ship Musashi. Slightly greater displacement than her predecessor, and (upon her final refit prior to the battle of Leyte Gulf) more armed to the goddamn teeth. Took an unprecedented number of hits before finally going down, despite not getting a chance to fire at enemy surface ships, much like her sister a year later. Nonetheless embodies the Defiant to the End trope just as much.
    • The Yamato-class didn't get that much action because they were so crucial to the IJN's naval strategy, as the most powerful battleships in existencenote , that they were Too Awesome to Use for anything less than the decisive battle to end the war, and therefore sat in port awaiting the opportunity until it was too late.
    • Some have argued that the Yamato actually had the crown of the longest range gunnery hit, or at least damaging shot, to another moving target, with her salvo damaging the escort carrier White Plains (the very same same ship that would eventually defeat the heavy cruiser Choukai in a gun duel) enough to send her back to the continent for repairs from 31 kilometers away. While technically it's not a direct hit, the shell ended up causing enough damage by detonating under the White Plains' keelnote , which means that it's one of the few times where her Type 1 shell, which were designed for diving shot (and thus has less than stellar performance on a direct hit), worked perfectly.
  • German battleships Bismarck and Tirpitz (both of the same class, with Bismarck being the lead ship). They single-handedly scared the crap out of the British. It took an entire British fleet and carrier-based aircraft to corner and sink Bismarck, and they even went to the trouble of staging a one-way raid using an obsolete destroyer packed with explosives to blow up a French drydock capable of holding Tirpitz for repairs, and when Tirpitz was relocated to a Norwegian fjord, the British went even further in staging at least nine raids using Lancaster heavy bombers carrying 11000 pound "Tallboy" bombs; so large their explosions made artifical lakes, finally succeeding on the 9th attempt.
  • For all the flak that HMS Hood gets for blowing up minutes after engaging Bismarck, Hood is still a Cool Ship. When she was built, she was the largest and fastest battleship of the interwar years, and would not be equaled until her nemesis Bismarck was commissioned in 1940. Her pleasing aesthetics add icing to her title of being the pride of the Royal Navy.
  • The Iowa-class battleships, rather than going for the Awesome, but Impractical that the Yamato turned out to be, were smaller, faster, and while not as extravagantly armed and armored as the better-known Japanese battleships, had plenty of weapons and armor for the war. It should be noted that Iowa class battleships were the only true battleships to be kept in serious service past World War Two, continually updated with new weapons. Still impractical nowadays, and they are now effectively retired, but no other ship in this section of the list, including the famed-but-terminally impractical Yamato, is still within decades of her last day of service.
    • The Iowa class was built specifically to both out run and out gun the Japanese Kongō class. 30+ knots and nine 16" cannons was the requirement. Everything else was a blank cheque.
      • Fun fact about the Iowa's 16" cannons: They were designed to fire a special "Super-heavy" shell that weighed nearly 1.5x as heavy as regular 16" shells, giving it immense armor-penetrating capabilities.
    • The Iowa class were definitely as extravagantly armored as the Yamatos, just in a different way. Their design process considered money no object, with incredible results; while all other countries saved homogenous armor for key locations such as engines and the bridge, the Iowas were simply built of the world's finest homogenous armor. Then there's the superlative armor design. There's a reason that the penetration calculations for hits on the Iowas and Yamatos are surprisingly close. Add in their 16" rifles having the best armor-piercing shell in the world (about as good as the 18.1" shells on Yamato and Musashi, at least at long range), the only fire control system capable of letting the ship maneuver and fire at the same time (employing the Mark 1A Fire Control Computer)note , and an anti-aircraft suite to put anything else to shame, and they're at least equal, and quite probably far superior, to the 50% heavier Yamatos. They'd have been about equal surface combatants; the Iowas were hugely better in anti-aircraft action, and much better logistically — just imagine the fuel consumption of a 70,000 ton battleship, and what that does to her range and therefore her strategic value.
      • Fire control systems that enabled ships to simultaneously fire and manoeuvre had been fitted to ships since before WW1 - e.g. the Dreyer table. Most navies used a combination of face-hardened (for vertical surfaces such as belts and turret faces where shells would impact pretty much square on) and homogenous (for horizontal surfaces such as decks and turret roofs) armours on their battleships. The reason that USN battleships of this period used exclusively homogenous armour was that, due to the way it was manufactured, US face-hardened armour was excellent in thicknesses up to about 8", but much less effective in thicknesses greater than that, i.e. the kind of thicknesses you would use on the belt and turret faces of your pimping new battlewagon. So US designers decided to just use exclusively homogenous armour. See Bill Jurens' and Nathan Okun's work on this for more details.
      • Had the planned Montana class been built, they would've combined the size of the Yamato with superior metallurgy and advanced gunnery of the Iowa class (including 12 16" guns instead of 9), all while still being slightly faster than the Yamato (though slower than the Iowas). Such a ship would've dismantled the Yamato in a one-on-one duel with little difficulty. But they existed only on paper, as well before construction would've started it became clear that aircraft carriers were the future of naval warfare.
    • It should be noted that all four of the Iowa-class Battleships are still intact and are museum ships. The United States Navy only allowed the four Iowa-class battleships (USS Iowa (BB-61), USS New Jersey (BB-62), USS Missouri (BB-63), and USS Wisconsin (BB-64)) to be used as museum ships on the condition that they be kept somewhat combat-ready and are all also able to be reactivated if needed. Yes, really.
      • Also of the four, the Missouri or as it's known "Mighty Mo" or "Big Mo" actually saw use in the 21st century. In Battleship, the ship used to portray the Missouri is the actual Missouri, which is a real life museum and, prior to filming, had not sailed in over a decade. The reactivation we see onscreen is her actual reactivation and first voyage in years, crewed entirely by actual veterans.note 
      • Also, as modern anti-ship missiles have little armor-penetration capability and bunker-busters (which have plenty) don't work very well against a target that moves. This is the very reason why the Iowa-class fast battleships were modernized and reactivated in the 1980s: even the biggest carrier-killer missiles in the Soviet arsenal couldn't defeat battleship armor, and the battleships could still fight effectively with their electronics disabled by EMP. The Bikini Atoll tests also proved that battleships could withstand even a near-miss by a large nuke and remain operational.note  The Russians also knew this, and it scared the crap out of themnote .
  • The North Carolina-class battleships, particularly North Carolina herself. She was originally stationed in the Atlantic, so that she would be available to fight the Tirpitz. When the Tirpitz was a no-show (much to the crew's dismay, as they were looking forward to an opportunity to prove their ship's superiority), she was stationed to the Pacific, becoming the first new ship to arrive in the theatre since Pearl Harbor. From there she spent her first few months escorting Enterprise. During the Battle for Guadalcanal, the North Carolina laid down such an incredible amount of anti-air that the captain of Enterprise signaled to ask if she was on fire.
    • Washington, North Carolina's sister ship, also deserves mention. During the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, she was responsible for sinking the Kongo-class battleship Kirishima (which was in fact, the second Battleship lost in the same battle, as well as Japan's second Battleship lost during the war. Hiei , the ship in question, was also a Kongo-class battleship, thus making it the former's sister.)
    • The North Carolina class also had arguably the best torpedo protection in the worldnote ; a different torpedo bulkhead design was implemented in the succeeding South Dakota and Iowa classes, but it was later discovered that this system was flawed and the aborted Montana was going to revert to the North Carolina version..
  • USCGC Taney, a Treasury-class cutter and the only surviving vessel that fought at Pearl Harbor, having been docked at nearby Honolulu Harbor during the Japanese attack. Afterward she fought in both the Pacific and Atlantic theaters of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Currently enjoying an honorable repose as a museum ship, alongside the second USS Constellation and the World War II submarine USS Torsk, in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
  • USCGC Ingham, another Treasury-class cutter and the longest-serving ship of the class (commissioned 1936, decommissioned 1988). She was the last ship in commission to have a confirmed U-boat kill, and the only Coast Guard cutter to ever be awarded two Presidential Unit Citations. Like her sister, she is preserved as a museum ship, in Key West, Florida.
  • On the other side of the Pacific War, the IJN's Akizuki-class destroyers. Designed to fight off air attacks, in addition to carrying the most lethal torpedoes in the world they also mounted eight superb guns and a sophisticated fire control system that enabled each ship to accurately fire up to nearly 170 4" shells per minute. Lots and lots of Dakka.
    • The Akizuki class had nowhere near the AA firepower of an American destroyer (while their 10cm main guns were superior to the American 5 inch guns for AA purposes, American destroyers had large numbers of the superb 40mm Bofors autocannons while the Akizuki class, like all Japanese ships, had to settle for the far from superb 25mm Hotchkiss), let alone the AA capability of an American Light or Heavy Cruiser (both had up to 16 radar guided 5" AA cannons) or an American Battleship (up to 20 radar guided 5" AA cannons). Throughout WWII, the US was quite afraid of Japanese torpedoes because Japanese torpedoes used pure oxygen as their oxidizer and Japanese torpedoes weren't as prone to misfiring or exploding as either American, British, or German torpedoes.
      • To make things even worse for the Japanese, the American 5" cannons were secondary dual purpose weapons. An American Heavy Cruiser, like the USS Indianapolis, typically had about nine 8" guns. Modern warships don't have guns that large.
  • For all that they were seriously flawed designs (all three classes had to be rebuilt for structural and topweight reasons), the big Japanese heavy cruisers of the Myoko, Takao, and Mogami classes were better armed than any heavy cruiser afloat (10 8" guns and either twelve or sixteen torpedo tubes), very fast, and actually actually had decent armor protection, unlike many of their contemporaries. Also? They just look cool, especially the Takaos and their massive bridge structures.
  • GTS Finnjet, the fastest conventional ferry ever built. Able to hit 33.5 knots on gas turbines and diesels, had a strengthened bow for handling sea ice. Legends abound of outrunning newer fast craft and rescuing an icebreaker during a particularly hard winter.
  • Two absurdly dangerous ships that don't receive much attention. The two first true minelayers, Amur and her sister-ship Yenisey (named after the rivers on Far East) carried 300 sea mines each, and at that time the Russian Empire probably had the best ones. The co-designer and captain of Yenisey built her to lay minefields while making 10 knots, a previously unheard-of capability; on that basis he proposed an offensive minelaying doctrine, relying on the class's speed to protect them while laying minefields to deny enemy ports. When these ships were designed, the Russo-Japanese war was inconceivable; the minelayers were intended as a weapon to "end the Great Game in checkmate" (together with the rest of Russian and allied Japanese fleet, of course) and most likely able to do it, not to hide in a port each morning. In the war for which they weren't made, minelayers accomplished little, but on 14 May 1904 Hatsuse and Yashima blew up and sunk in a minefield near Port Arthur, left by Amur on their patrol route — and that was two Japanese battleships more than the whole Russian fleet managed to destroy at Tsushima. This minefield was mere 1/6 of the Amur's full load and not quite the sort of tactics this ship was supposed to use.
  • The Italian Navy always got Awesome, but Impractical capital ships (the cruisers were faster than anything in their tonnage but had little armor, and the battleships had the speed, heavy armor and more firepower than anything this side the American and Japanese World War II battleships but had very little range and very poor accuracy), but their torpedo boats... Well, during World War I the two best battleships of the Austrian Navy left the port to engage battle with one of them embarking a troupe to film their victory, and two torpedo boats popped out of nowhere and sank the other battleship so the troupe could record that instead.
    • Of course, torpedo boats in general are the reason that Destroyers exist at all (the name originated as a shortened version of "torpedo boat destroyer"), the latter originally being conceived to protect large, expensive battleships and cruisers from fast, torpedo-armed, and most importantly cheap torpedo boats. Many early destroyers were essentially giant torpedo boats, it having been decided that this was the most effective design for their mission requirements (it also allowed the destroyers to soften up enemy formations with torpedo attacks as well).
    • Of course, the Italians did have some straight examples. The Abruzzi and Zara-class cruisers averted the Fragile Speedster tendencies of prior Italian cruisers, being exceptionally well protected for cruisers. The second of the Abruzzi class, Giuseppe Garibaldi, lasted until 1971 as a missile cruiser.
  • Coming up next on Cool Boats: Real Life Edition.......the tale of the two Laffeys.
    • The first USS Laffey (DD-459), a Benson-class destroyer. When the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal began, the Laffey was at the front of the American column and practically right on top of a larger Japanese fleet including two battleships by the time the two sides noticed each other. Laffey immediately charged the closest battleship (IJN Hiei) and fired off every torpedo and gun she had, including raking the bridge with her anti-aircraft machine guns as she passed by. While she was then surrounded by both battleships and a pair of destroyers, and sunk by a torpedo hit, by incapacitating the Japanese admiral in that opening salvo she caused the battle to degenerate into a disorganized brawl, which the Japanese ended up fleeing without accomplishing any of their mission objectives.
    • The second USS Laffey (DD-724), an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer named in honour of the first one. During her service in the Pacific, she took damage from four bombs, six kamikaze crashes, and was set on fire, but still managed to survive, earning her the nickname, "The Ship That Would Not Die." She managed to get repaired, participated in Operation Crossroads, then served well into the sixties, and is now a museum ship at Patriot Point, South Carolina.
  • Good' ol Samuel B. Roberts. Heck, she's got the nickname, "The destroyer escort that fought like a battleship." During the Battle off Samar, she charged a heavy cruiser 11 TIMES HER SIZE (IJN Chōkainote ), and beat her!
    • She got so close that Chōkais guns could not depress enough to hit her, leaving her free to shred the superstructure with her anti-aircraft guns!
    • USS Johnston from the same battle also counts, as she was responsible for twice saving Taffy 3 from complete destruction by diverting Japanese fire away from the main force. Unfortunately, along with Roberts and the escort carrier Gambier Bay, she was sunk by fire from the Japanese battleship Kongo a few hours later. But thanks to their actions, the Japanese were forced to turn back at the cost of three Heavy cruisers sunk.
  • Arguably, Brunel's SS Great Eastern. OK, she was a commercial failure in terms of her intended role as a passenger ship, on the other hand she successfully laid the cables that for the first time enabled transatlantic telegraph communications between the US and UK, and her double-hull and generally ridiculously over-engineered design enabled her to brush off damage that was FAR worse than that which would sink the Titanic 50 years later. Also, she was 6 times bigger and twice as fast as any other merchant ship of her time.
    • To put the size of the SS Great Eastern - and how far ahead of her time she was - into perspective: she displaced about as much as a large WWI-era battleship, was about 40' longer than the HMS Queen Elizabeth, and designed to sail from the British Isles to Australia without refueling ... using 1850s technology.
  • The American Standard-type Battleships were as close to Boring, but Practical as dreadnoughts could ever hope to get. Realizing that trying to keep each new design on the cutting edge would leave the US Navy with a large fleet of expensive ships that in fleet operations would still be limited to the slowest or least maneuverable ship, they instead set a common set of performance requirements for multiple ship classes to be designed around. Each Standard battleship would feature All-or-Nothing Armor, four main turrets with three-gun arrangements, an unrefueled range of 8,000 nautical milesnote , a top speed of 21 knots, and a tactical turning radius of 700 yards. By requiring all ships to fit these common requirements, they guaranteed that they could operate in fleets together without having to factor in which ships were slower or took wider turns or needed more refueling. Each progressive design (the Standard battleships included five separate battleship classes) instead included improvements in other areas such as more powerful guns.
    • Of the ten American dreadnaughts that preceeded the Standard-type, 8 had the required 20-21kt top speed and could operate along side them while 2 also had the required 14"+ main battery (but with an older turret design that could not be modified for longer ranges). Of them:
      • The oldest four 4 were scrapped in 1924
      • One was scrapped in 1931
      • One was converted to a target/training ship in 1932 that capsized during the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Her wreck is now a memorial, national monument, and war grave.
      • One became a training ship that was scrapped in 1947.
      • One spent WWII escorting convoys across the Atlantic, supported numerous Allied landings (including Normandy), and helped bring troops back to the US before being sunk in a 1946 nuclear weapons test.
      • Of the last two? Both survived WWII. One survived the aforesaid nuclear bomb test and was sunk as a target. The other, the USS Texas, is currently a museum ship docked in Harris County, Texas.
  • The French Richelieu-class battleships, once the kinks were worked out. True Lightning Bruisers, their odd all-forward armament and compact machinery design allowed them to fit considerable armor and torpedo protection to rival the North Carolinas, could hit 30 knots (and Jean Bart could hit 32 with her uprated engines), and had a formidable 8 15" guns. And, once refitted in the US, had excellent accuracy and AA capability, too.
  • The Nelson-class sisters, probably the finest of the "Big 7" battleships of the 1920s. Special mention goes to Rodney who, despite being badly in need of an overhaul, managed to exceed her design speed by 2 knots during the hunt for Bismarck and then proceeded to deal the majority of the damage to the German ship. Adding a sense of poetic justice is that Rodney and Hood were often moored together when in port, meaning the ships and their crews were doubtless familiar with one another.

    With guided missles and nuclear power, a new age of war brought a new age of cool... 
  • The Nimitz class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and the earlier USS Enterprise, the world's first such carrier.
  • The US Navy's first guided missile cruisers were conversions of WWII ships that still retained much of their gun armament. It is perhaps appropriate, then, that USS Long Beach, the US Navy's first purpose-built missile cruiser, looked about as far from WWII designs as possible. Long, slim, with her only guns tucked neatly away in the superstructure, Long Beach looked futuristic as hell, especially with her massive square radar wrapped around the main tower.
  • The 50 Let Pobedy and the other ships of the nuclear-powered Russian Arktika class icebreaker are the red kings of the Arctic Ocean.
    • The USCGC Polar Sea and Polar Star are a bit older than the 50 Let, falling apart with age, but they can break just as much ice. Or could, y'know, if they weren't falling apart.
  • The research vessel Chikyu Hakken - a Japanese geological research vessel that can drill 6000-metre-deep holes in the ocean floor.
  • The new British Type 45 Daring-class destroyers, with the radar cross-section of a fishing trawler. Even if it doesn't have all the weapons it can carry fitted - weapons that included anti-aircraft cannon capable of shooting down the exact number of fighters that the Argentine Air Force had ready for combat, a point that was only underlined when one of the ships was immediately deployed to the Falkland Islands. Began appearing in the recruitment ads even before the first one was commissioned.
  • The Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, being the belated replacements for the Invincible class, and the largest modern ships outside of the US Navy with 65,000 tonne displacement, a capacity of over 70 aircraft (including minimally 40 fighters), and a range of 10,000 nautical miles.
  • The Russian nuclear-powered "Kirov" class heavy cruisers (or battlecruiser depending on who you ask; "atomic rocket cruiser" by Soviet designation). 20 anti-shipping missiles, four different kinds of surface-to-air missiles (up to 476 rounds can be carried, 340 ready to fire at any one time), 10 torpedo tubes, CIWS systems and a rapid-firing 130mm twin cannon. Bigger than some light aircraft carriers, and a living example of More Dakka.
  • The Iowa class battleships. That is all.
    • To clarify, and distinguish this example from the previous mention of the Iowa class, in 1984 Ronald Reagan was significantly increasing the size of the US Navy. One target of this increase were the four Iowa class battleships (some argue this was the result of Kirov envy), which had all been mothballed since the New Jersey provided fire support during the Vietnam War. The ships were put through an extensive refit, completely gutting the old systems and modernizing the ships. After the refit, the Battleships were arguably the best warships the world has ever, and ever will, see, with the old armament of 16" and 5" guns being supplemented by Tomahawk and Harpoon missiles, Phalanx cannons, and a helipad complete with a Sea Sprite ASW helicopter.
    • That extensive refit, though, was minor compared to some of the other ideas that were considered over the years, including installing the Aegis system (see below) and advanced anti-aircraft missiles, equipping them with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, and even removing the rear gun turret and replacing it with a massive hanger/flight deck assembly extending back to the stern for Harrier V/STOL jets. All were rejected as too expensive, and that last proposal would've probably made the ships dangerously unstable in heavy seas.
    • Not included in any of the refits the Iowas received: A replacement for the analog (that is to say, entirely mechanical) gunnery computer that helped the ship aim her guns. They found that a brand new digital targeting computer would at best be only as accurate as the old mechanical computer, and thus, not worth the trouble to upgrade.
  • R/P FLIP, a boat capable of capsizing itself and turning itself into a 5-storey tower poking out of the sea, used for ocean research.
  • The Ticonderoga-class cruisers, with their Aegis missile defence system, capable of controlling the missiles of other ships and only capable of being defeated by a Macross Missile Massacre. Unfortunately, using the 8000-ton Spruance-class destroyer's basic design and bulking it up to 9600 tons to handle the extra equipment has placed quite a strain on their hulls.
  • The follow-up Arleigh Burke-class destroyers (62 ships and counting) are similar in size to the Ticonderogas but designed from the ground up for the Aegis system (as well as, for the first time since the 1940s, incorporating armor into a US Navy design in the form of spaced steel plates with kevlar lining), making them more durable but at the expense of 25% fewer missiles.
  • The South Korean Sejong the Great-class destroyers are essentially Arleigh Burkes on steroids, but 128 VLS cells (same as the Ticonderogas), 16 dedicated anti-shipping missiles and two choppers. It is, as of 2011, the largest surface warfare ship class to carry the Aegis combat system.
  • Coming back to the US Navy, we have the Freedom and Independence class littoral combat ships. Designed to go right up to the shore and give some poor unfortunate a bloody nose (of death), they're also able to swap their gear for whatever mission they happen to be on as well as carrying helicopters and Awesome Personnel Carriers and the troops inside them. While they're small and in standard configuration lightly-armed even for their size, they're very fast and their modularity allows beefing up the armament as the mission requires.
    • Well, that was the idea, at least. It turns out that neither of the LCS designs can actually perform most of their intended functions, and those jobs they can do are done better by cheaper ships that are already in service. As of 2015, the LCSs (or "Little Crappy Ships," according to the sailors who man them) are being reclassified as frigates, and compare very poorly to the early-1980s vintage Perry-class guided missile frigates they replaced. This is a major embarrassment for the US Navy, as the Perrys have all been decommissioned already, while their replacements are not only not ready for the Fleet, but don't even have an expected service entry date other than "Soon, we swear!"
  • Sea Shadow was an experiment in building a stealth ship. While it never left the prototype phase and no more than one was ever constructed, the concept and extremely cool visual appearance has led to it popping up repeatedly in fiction. For example, it was used by the bad guy in Tomorrow Never Dies.

But below the depths, lie the Submarines...

  • The new German Type-212 U-Boat, arguably the stealthiest submarine in the world. While much smaller than British or American nuclear submarines, this vessel is non-nuclear - instead, it uses hydrogen fuel-cell arrays for propulsion, which are even quieter than nuclear fission reactors and can be turned off if tactics call for it.
  • The Soviet/Russian "Typhoon" class of nuclear missile submarines is the largest ever built. Each can carry 20 ballistic missiles, each with 10 warheads and also nuclear-tipped anti-shipping missiles. Very roomy for a sub, it has a sauna and a small swimming pool on board, as well as having the ability to stay submerged for up to a year.
    • It's been proposed that the unused Typhoon hulls be converted to transport submarines with 15000 tonnes of cargo capacity.
  • ...and its counterpart, the US Navy's Ohio-class SSBN. So damned quiet, enemy crews learned to listen for suspicious areas of completely silent water rather than trying to pick up anything aboard the boat itself.
    • Four have been converted to carry over 150 Tomahawk conventional cruise missiles.
  • Really, any modern American sub is an exercise in badassery. See also: the Los Angeles, Seawolf and Virginia classes of fast-attack SSN.
    • This troper worked on the second and third Seawolf class submarines (Connecticut and Jimmy Carter). I didn't have high security clearance or access to detailed specs, not that I'd be able to share them if I did, but I have seen enough to say for certain that any of the estimates of that submarine's capabilities that I've seen are...somewhat of an understatement.
    • On top of being really cool, the Virginia class also has the distinction of being one of the only military programs ever to consistently come in on time and under-budget.
  • The Russians have the Alfa class, the fastest military subs built. Their compact reactors were cooled by molten lead (no, really), and they could do up to 50 mph submerged.
  • Not to be outdone, the Royal Navy has the Astute-class nuclear attack sub. It has the same "enemies can detect it by looking for suspiciously quiet water" as the Ohio class, to such an extent that the designers were forced to make the vessel noisier to compensate.
  • The I-400 series of submarines of late-war Imperial Japan were the largest submarines until the decades-later Soviet Typhoons. Each had a rated underwater speed of 12 knots when the average for WW2 subs was 10, could circumnavigate the globe nearly one and a half times on one tank of gas and were intended to knock out the Panama Canal and other strategic East Pacific targets had the war not ended when it did. What truly sets the I-400 class apart from every submarine before or since was its capability to launch and recover the 3 float planes stored in its hangar. Making it more like an underwater-capable submarine-shaped escort carrier with 8 torpedo tubes. Or as it was eventually intended to use them, a submarine-shaped kamikaze carrier. Up to 17 were planned, with only I-400, I-401 and I-402 being completed. 400 and 401 were captured by the US after the Japanese surrender and sunk as practice targets, while 402 was converted to a tanker submarine in June 1945 before being sunk post-war for target practice like her sisters.
    • Preceded by the Type AM submarine carriers. Each held two of the M6A Seiran float-plane bombers later given to the I-400 class. Seven were ordered, but only two, I-13 and I-14, were completed and deployed. I-13 was sunk mid-July 1945, while I-14 surrendered at war's end and was scuttled off Oahu in '46.
  • The Australian Collins class. Can sneak up on US carriers in exercises, slipping past the most advanced ASW systems in the world. A lot of problems had to be fixed at great expense to get them up to what they were always meant to be, making it hard for them to shake their original poor reputation. Which isn't exactly helped by chronic manpower shortages in the Royal Australian Navy meaning that only 2-3 out of 6 can be deployed at a given time.
  • The Swedish HMS Gotland is a conventional sub with an Stirling engine that provides very good underwater endurance. She was used as an "enemy sub" in training exercises with the US Pacific Fleet of the coast of California some years ago. She put imaginary torpedoes in various aircraft carriers at several exercises, because of her extreme stealthiness, while the US Navy ASW crews never got a chance to pay back in kind.
    • Yes the US Navy was so concerned with the results that they rented the submarine for a year to try to figure out how it does what it does and how the hell to prevent it, after that year they were not much closer to a solution than when they started.
      • They know most of the 'hows' for what it does. The problem is, the how boils down to 'it incorporates every stealth-trick there was when they were laid down, diesel-electric engines are naturally less noisy than nuclear fission, and the Stirling engine extends their underwater endurance to lengths only (then) rivaled by nuclear submarines'. It's hard to figure out how to solve a problem that is fundamentally the exact same problem as before (How To Find A Quiet Moving Underwater Object), only harder.
  • And let's not forget the Great-Granmammy of all these sweet sexy sea lassies: The H. L. Hunley. Now, saddly she was a bit of a, ah... Sinking Disaster Area with sinking three times taking two and a half crews (and her financier/builder) with her, but she was the very first submarine to ever sink an enemy ship in combat. And don't let those images on The Other Wiki fool you. When the wreck was finally lifted from the seafloor (and removed of the low visiblility), people were saying that, with the surprising knife-like bow and stern and flush rivets, the sub looks a lot more like a WWI-Era U-Boat than the boxy retrofitted boiler that everyone was expecting. Keep in mind that this thing was built during the height of the The American Civil War by the industrially behind Confederacy, during a time when water-tight seals and pressure hulls intended to go under the surface for extended periods of time were beyond the cutting edge at best.
    • A note on titles: Unlike other Confederate warships, the Hunley was actually in service with the Confederate Army rather than the Navy (although several Navy seamen volunteered as crewmembers), and thus was never properly prefixed with the "CSS" used by most Confederate warships.
  • And of course the first real submarine (as opposed to most submarines up until the end of WW2, which were better described as submersibles): the German Type XXI U-Boot, designed to be submerged most of the time instead of spending most of the time above the surface like the other submarines of the time, it is the inspiration for most of the later submarines, though like many of Germany's late war projects this too was unfinished and only two submarines made patrols where they both failed to actually sink something.
  • Spain was, once, the pioneer in submarine design, providing at least three to this list:
    • The Ictineo I, which used a chemical air scrubber to prolong the time it could be submerged, had a security system to help her surface even if its ballast tanks failed, and even a system to warn the crew that they were running low on oxygen (admittedly, it was just a candle, but it worked).
    • The Ictineo II, the first submarine with air-independent and combustion propulsion, and also the first that overcame the basic problems of machine-powered underwater navigation.
    • The Peral Submarine, the first with electric batteries, its performance levels (save for range) were similar or even superior to World War I U-boats (similar figures of performance were not reached until 10 years later), it had a very reliable navigation system and it could launch torpedos with great accuracy.
  • And let's not forget the cool subs that dive For Science!, often to depths their military cousins can only dream of:
    • The Bathyscaphe Trieste, an "underwater dirigible" that was the first to descend to the bottom of the Challenger Deep, the very deepest known point anywhere in the world's oceans. And even though it was built in the 1950s, that feat wouldn't be repeated by a crewed vehicle for five decades.
    • The Deep Submergence Vehicle Alvin, famous for finding a lost hydrogen bomb off Palomares, Spain, surviving a swordfish attack, exploring the wreck of the RMS Titanic and discovering new lifeforms at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. And thanks to tune-ups and upgrades, it's still diving more than a half century after its debut.
    • Mir 1 and 2, Alvin's Russian cousins, used by James Cameron to film the underwater scenes in Titanic and Ghosts of the Abyss, and famous for their work under the Arctic.
    • Denise, Jacques Cousteau's diving saucer, designed to be purposefully different than every submarine that had come before, including a squid-like propulsion system that let it maneuver incredibly quickly and turn gracefully.

    If war isn't your thing, consider these cool civilian vessels... 

When you want get around the world in a hurry..

  • She was known as the Earthrace,Had a MUCH cooler paintjob and circumnavigated the world in 61 days back in 2008.
  • Try the (unfortunately Canceled) HMCS Bras d'Or (FHE 400). This military hydrofoil was clocked at over 63 knots (117 km/h!! or 72 mph!!) making it possibly the fastest warship ever built!
  • The Skjold-class corvettes are slightly slower, but at 60 knots (110 km/h) they're still the fastest warships ever put into production. They're also quite stealthy, and their catamaran design is pure cool. The "corvette" designation is a case of Insistent Terminology by the Royal Norwegian Navy. Normally a vessel of their size would be a missile boat (or by Norwegian tradition, "motor torpedo boats" despite torpedoes having long since been replaced by missiles on such vessels). The Norwegians however consider the Skjold-class to be far too seaworthy (to say nothing of too awesome) to be considered mere "boats".

But when you want to relax, Travel by Liner!

  • The RMS Aquitania. One of two ocean liners to make the White Star Line squirm, she is the only four-stacker ocean liner from the early 1910s to survive two World Wars and a Great Depression where others like her (including the venerable RMS Olympic) would have been scrapped for money. But for some reason, she continued to serve right up to 1950 when she was already hemorrhaging money and suffering through extended wear and lack of maintenance. Even though she was scrapped, nevertheless she became one of the legendary Cunard Liners before the Queens and until the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2's launch, held the title for the longest service career of any 20th century ocean liner. It's no wonder she earned the rightful nickname of "The Ship Beautiful".
  • Speaking of the RMS Olympic, she was a badass in her own right. Launched in 1910 with her maiden voyage in 1911, the Titanic's elder sister seemed to have all the luck in the world compared to the RMS Titanic and Britannic. While not built for speed compared to the Cunard Line's Lusitania and Mauretania, the Olympic and Titanic oozed luxury from every rivet and every plate. The Olympic also had the mishap of smacking her stern into the HMS Hawke, but proved to the world that her revolutionary watertight compartments could hold her from sinking. It got better for the Olympic going into World War I, serving as a dazzle-painted troop transport that not only was able to rescue the sunken crew from the mine-struck HMS Audacious but RAM A GODDAMN U-BOAT in her war service! It's no wonder the elder White Star Sister came to be known as "Old Reliable" and lasted in regular service until 1935, when Cunard and White Star were forced to merge.
  • In the new Jet Age, people needn't spend a week at sea traversing the Atlantic through stormy seas and foul weather. You'd at least think there wouldn't be a need for a brand new transatlantic liner, right? Meet the RMS Queen Mary 2, the pride of the current Cunard fleet (as owned by Carnival) and the only transatlantic liner in service today. Her title "RMS" was bestowed by the Royal Mail Service upon her christening to honor the heritage of the ocean liners before her, and she actually does carry Royal Mail in normal transatlantic operations. When not fording the stormy North Atlantic seas between New York and Southampton, she goes on a yearly Round-The-World cruise, visiting ports around the world. As she has lost her title of "world's largest passenger ship" to Royal Caribbean's 'Freedom of the Seas', the Queen Mary 2 still remains the Largest Ocean Liner afloat.
  • NS Savannah, the world's only nuclear powered cruise ship. Well technically she's a nuclear powered cargo liner, but still. She was however designed with Awesome, but Impractical in mind since she was built solely to impress peoplenote . However this just meant that she looks more pimped out and impressive than most other luxury liners of the era, which is saying quite a lot.

    When you're out saving the whales... 

Go back on board the Cool Boat. Make sure you have your seasickness pills...<<|Real Life|>>


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