Difference Wiki

Battleship vs. Destroyer: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on December 5, 2023
A battleship is a large, heavily armored warship with powerful guns, while a destroyer is a smaller, faster warship designed for escort and anti-submarine warfare.

Key Differences

Battleships are large naval warships known for their heavy armor and large-caliber guns, primarily used in fleet warfare. Destroyers are smaller, faster, and more maneuverable ships, designed for escort duties and anti-submarine warfare.
The primary role of a battleship is to engage and destroy enemy warships using its superior firepower. Destroyers, on the other hand, focus on protecting larger ships in the fleet and targeting submarines and smaller surface vessels.
Battleships, due to their size and armament, were historically symbols of naval dominance and power. Destroyers are more versatile, capable of a wide range of missions including screening, convoy escort, and mine-sweeping.
In terms of armament, battleships carry large-caliber guns and thick armor for direct naval engagements. Destroyers are equipped with smaller guns, torpedoes, and anti-submarine weapons, prioritizing speed and agility over firepower.
Battleships played a central role in naval warfare in the early 20th century but became less prevalent after World War II. Destroyers have remained integral to naval fleets, adapting to modern warfare with advanced technology and weaponry.

Comparison Chart

Size and Build

Large and heavily armored
Smaller and more agile

Primary Role

Engaging enemy warships with heavy guns
Escort duties and anti-submarine warfare


Represented naval power and dominance
Versatility in various naval missions


Large-caliber guns and thick armor
Smaller guns, torpedoes, anti-submarine weapons

Historical Role

Central in early 20th-century naval warfare
Consistent presence, adapting to modern warfare

Battleship and Destroyer Definitions


Designed for frontline engagement in naval warfare.
During World War II, the battleship was key in naval battles.


Smaller and faster than a battleship, with diverse capabilities.
The destroyer quickly adapted to various mission requirements.


A large, heavily armored warship with powerful guns.
The battleship dominated the sea with its formidable firepower.


Continues to be an integral part of modern navies.
Modern destroyers are equipped with the latest naval warfare technology.


Less prevalent in modern navies, replaced by aircraft carriers.
Post-World War II, battleships were phased out for more versatile ships.


A fast, maneuverable, long-endurance warship.
The destroyer excelled in escorting larger ships.


Symbol of national naval power and dominance.
The battleship served as a deterrent to enemy fleets.


Equipped with torpedoes, anti-aircraft, and anti-submarine weapons.
The destroyer's weaponry was essential in naval skirmishes.


Any of a class of very large warships, heavily armored and armed with numerous large-caliber guns. Also called battlewagon.


Designed for anti-submarine warfare and fleet protection.
The destroyer played a crucial role in defending against submarine threats.


A large capital warship displacing thousands to tens of thousands of tons, heavily armoured and armed with large-caliber guns; now obsolescent and replaced by smaller vessels with guided missiles.


One that destroys
A destroyer of our environment.


A ship of the line.


A small, fast, highly maneuverable warship typically armed with an assortment of weapons such as guns, torpedoes, depth charges, and guided missiles.


A non-functional rocket stage, used for configuration and integration tests.


That which destroys something.


A guessing game played on grid paper; see Battleship (game).


A small, fast warship with light gun armament, smaller than a cruiser, but bigger than a frigate.


An armor-plated warship built of steel and heavily armed, generally having over ten thousand tons displacement, and intended to be fit to combat the heaviest enemy ships in line of battle; the most heavily armed and armored class of warship at any given time.


(military) A larger warship with guided missile armament, usually intended for air defence or anti-ship roles. Often, but not always, larger than a frigate and smaller than a cruiser.


Large and heavily armoured warship


One who destroys, ruins, kills, or desolates.


Equipped with large-caliber naval guns for combat.
The battleship's guns could fire shells over vast distances.


A small fast warship used primarily as an escort to larger vessels and typically armed with a combination of 5-inch guns, torpedos, depth charges, and missiles; formerly identical to the Torpedo-boat destroyer.


A small fast lightly armored but heavily armed warship


A person who destroys or ruins or lays waste to;
A destroyer of the environment
Jealousy was his undoer
Uprooters of gravestones


Are battleships still common in modern navies?

No, they've been largely replaced by other warship types.

What was the main role of battleships?

Engaging and destroying enemy warships.

What are destroyers primarily used for?

Escort duties and anti-submarine warfare.

Can destroyers operate independently?

Yes, they're capable of independent operations.

What is a battleship?

A heavily armored warship with powerful guns.

What symbolized the power of a navy, a battleship or a destroyer?

Historically, the battleship symbolized naval power.

What’s the size difference between a battleship and a destroyer?

Battleships are significantly larger than destroyers.

What defines a destroyer?

A smaller, fast warship designed for multiple naval roles.

Do destroyers carry large guns like battleships?

No, they have smaller guns and specialized weaponry.

What made battleships less prevalent after WWII?

The rise of air power and more versatile ships.

Are destroyers equipped for direct fleet engagements?

They're more for supporting roles than direct engagements.

Do destroyers have a role in modern anti-piracy efforts?

Yes, they're actively used in anti-piracy missions.

What replaced battleships in modern navies?

Aircraft carriers and other versatile warships.

How do destroyers protect larger ships?

Through anti-submarine warfare and air defense.

Is the speed of a destroyer an advantage?

Yes, their speed and maneuverability are key advantages.

Are modern destroyers equipped with advanced technology?

Yes, they incorporate the latest in naval warfare technology.

How have destroyers evolved over time?

They’ve adapted to new warfare technologies and strategies.

Were battleships used in both World Wars?

Yes, they played major roles in both conflicts.

Did battleships have any weaknesses?

They were vulnerable to air and submarine attacks.

Why are battleships considered symbols of a bygone era?

Due to their replacement by more advanced and versatile warship types.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons