Top Ten Navies by Aggregate Displacement, 1 January 2022. Analysis and diagram by u/Phoenix_jz

You may need to click on this to make it readable. 

Ran across this on Facebook, posted by Buddy Stewart, an administrator at the “Navy General Board” page. He found it here. Thought it might be of interest. I can’t vouch for the accuracy, but it looks credible to me.

The creator’s notes are below. 

I figured with all the discussion flying around over the past year over the sizes of various navies – particularly with regards to the greater-than-ever attention being paid to the growth of the PLAN – I would ‘publish’ some of the data from my own navy tracking spreadsheet to give everyone an idea of the relative sizes of the top ten navies, by aggregate displacement of commissioned ships, which I tend to find is a better way of measuring the sizes of navies than my mere ship counts. Figures are aggregates of full load displacement in metric tonnes.

To break down what each of these categories mean;

  • Surface Warships is an aggregate of all above-water warships and major aviation and amphibious assault platforms. This category includes CVNs, CVs, CVLs, LHDs, LHAs, LPDs, CGs, DDGs, FFGs, corvettes, OPVs, CPVs, lighter patrol craft, and MCM vessels.

  • Submarines is what it says on the tin – SSBNs, SSGNs, SSNs, SSKs, and for select nations where applicable (and where information is available), special purpose submarines.

  • AORs includes all major fleet replenishment vessels (coastal vessels do not count, however).

  • Other Auxiliaries is a very wide net that essentially captures everything else. Special mission ships, support vessels, minor amphibious assault vessels (LSDs, LSTs, LCAC’s, LCM’s, LCU’s), training vessels, tugs, coastal support vessels, hydrography ships – all essential parts of navies, but generally stuff that isn’t paid too much attention to as its far less flashy than the warships proper.

Interesting trends in data that I thought I would share for various navies;

Though much has been said about the PLAN ‘overtaking’ the USN in number of ships, the actual data is not so friendly. A large part of the PLAN’s numerical ‘edge’ comes from the larger number of smaller platforms they operate, be it corvettes like the Type 056/56A (50+22), or missile boats like the Type 22 (83). Much of this numerical strength was pre-existing relative to the last few years – what is really notable is the fact much of the PLAN’s growth is now driven by larger warships – such as the two LHDs, eight DDGs, and SSBN commissioned in 2021 (but nine Type 056A corvettes were still commissioned), as the PLAN is finding its pace with constructing large numbers of major surface combatants. However, they still have a long way to go in all categories before they really match the USN in size, if they ever do – as it stands the 22 cruisers and 69 destroyers of the American escort fleet clock in at 870,000 tons to the aggregate 474,000 tons of the PLAN’s destroyers and frigates – many of which are still older types of limited utility compared to even something as old as a Flight I Burke.

That said, the USN will see some notable contraction in tonnage over the next few years as many older Ticonderoga-class cruisers and several LCS’s are retired, while new frigates are still about five years away from seeing service. That said, given the availability issues of the Ticonderoga’s, this isn’t really much of a practical reduction in strength.

The VMF remains comfortably as the third largest navy. Though its surface fleet has seen better days, things are slowly improving as new frigates commission and older surface combatants get through their refits. It is worth noting that the VMF is still disproportionately powerful underwater with its large fleet of SSGNs, SSNs, and SSKs, though still somewhat smaller than the USN’s fleet in displacement (it appears larger here because of the significant special purpose submarine fleet). The PLAN may be the world’s second largest navy, but underwater, the VMF is on deck and the PLAN is in the hold.

The British Royal Navy remains in the number four spot, as we step down from the ‘million plus’ club of the top three navies. British aggregate displacement remains notable with regards to its low ratio of combatant tonnage to support fleet, a testament to the size of the RFA. This, combined with the large displacement of the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers (about 140,000t of carriers, temporarily second only to the USN’s 1.14 million tons of carriers) puts the British ahead of the JMSDF, which otherwise still has a significantly larger surface fleet, but is much shallower in terms of support ships (reflective of the different environments the two navies operate in).

There’s not much to say about the Indian Navy, other than to expect a significant increase this year when Vikrant commissions. Steady, if slow, construction has seen them replace older destroyers and frigates, though the true long-term challenge will be their SSN program. The Marine Nationale still comfortably holds its seventh-place position, though it is somewhat at an ebb given its AOR fleet is at an all-time low with just two Durance-class tankers in commission. This trend will continue through 2022, as the first Vulcano-class LSS for the Marine Nationale will not enter service until 2023. The MN can, however, boast of having one of the most modern surface combatant fleets anywhere – by the end of 2022, when the last Georges Leygues-class frigate leaves service and the new Lorraine commissions, it will have not a single ship commissioned before 2000 in its front-line escort fleet of Horizon and FREMM.

The ROKN is something of a rising star, though this year they’ve poked their head into the top eight briefly thanks to stagnation in the displacement of the normal number eight, the Marina Militare – the latter is down two frigates from a sale to Egypt, and a new ‘OPV’ due to delays brought on by Covid. The ROKN is an example of another navy heavy in combatant displacement but shallow in support ships, reflective of its operating environment. Though the Korean carrier program has so far stolen much of the attention of the ROKN’s development, that remains a long way off and for now the more notable areas of growth are the steady frigate program, and indigenous submarine program.

The Marina Militare, as mentioned before, is at something of a low ebb, though they will likely regain the number eight position as a new LHD and two OPVs will net them about 35,000 tons in 2022 (as the carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi will leave service this year). The first half of the 2020s will see the delivery of a significant number of surface combatants – two FREMM and six ‘OPVs’ of the PPA type – as well as another LSS of the Vulcano-class.

The Indonesian Navy is an unlikely tenth, but they are still very much present – albeit this is primarily the responsibility of their five Makassar-class LPDs that net them the 57,000 tons that, in combination with an unusually large fleet of LSTs and LSMs, puts them over the Turkish Navy (which just misses our list at 258,048 tonnes). That said, even if they were to fall out of their current ‘position’ in the short term, they are likely to remain in the top ten in the long term, due the large expansion planned for their surface fleet of at least ten frigates by the end of the decade.

7 thoughts on “Top Ten Navies by Aggregate Displacement, 1 January 2022. Analysis and diagram by u/Phoenix_jz

  1. The big news to me is tht Taiwan has dropped out of the number 10 spot. That might be okay if they were further ahead in building a real A2D force, but that’s not really what’s happened.

  2. Wow I am surprised we (the UK) are still forth. If it was in terms of combat power we would be somewhere below tenth………

  3. That’s great information. Tonnage is a useful metric, obviously it’s not the end all be all. I don’t think anyone thinks Indonesia has a navy comparable to Australia regardless of tonnage.

    One thing the chart shows to me is the point that the way the world is now, you have to include the Coast Guards tonnage as well. For example, France has Navy assets doing missions that the US normally delegates to the USCG. The US, China, and Japan have large well equipped Coast Guards, which is something the UK doesn’t have at all.

  4. Is there comparable data on the US, China, Japan, and other Coast Guards ??
    Another factor to consider is number of personnel ⚓️

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