Destroyers are mid-sized ships with a relatively low amount of armor and weapons and a relatively high degree of speed and maneuverability. Destroyers are commonly fitted for anti-submarine warfare and supporting roles in larger fleets. Destroyers offer a cheaper alternative to a cruiser or battleship, albeit a less powerful one, but for beginners, destroyers can be extremely useful ships.
☀In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast, maneuverable long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller powerful short-range attackers. They were originally developed in the late 19th century as a defense against torpedo boats, and by the time of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, these "torpedo boat destroyers" (TBD) were "large, swift, and powerfully armed torpedo boats designed to destroy other torpedo boats." Although the term "destroyer" had been used interchangeably with "TBD" and "torpedo boat destroyer" by navies since 1892, the term "torpedo boat destroyer" had been generally shortened to simply "destroyer" by nearly all navies by the First World War.
Before World War II, destroyers were light vessels with little endurance for unattended ocean operations; typically a number of destroyers and a single destroyer tender operated together. After the war, the advent of the guided missile allowed destroyers to take on the surface combatant roles previously filled by battleships and cruisers. This resulted in larger and more powerful guided missile destroyers more capable of independent operation.
At the start of the 21st century, destroyers are the global standard for surface combatant ships, with only three nations (United States, Russia, and Peru) operating the heavier class cruisers, with no battleships or true battlecruisers remaining. Modern destroyers, also known as guided missile destroyers, are equivalent in tonnage but vastly superior in firepower to cruisers of the World War II era and are capable of carrying nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. At 510 feet (160 m) long, a displacement of 9200 tons, and with an armament of more than 90 missiles, guided missile destroyers such as the Arleigh Burke class are actually larger and more heavily armed than most previous ships classified as guided missile cruisers.
Destroyers are an extremely generally class of small ships, usually under 400 units of length and with a similarly small beam. Stability is generally low with destroyers with values routinely under 100. This is due to a slim profile and a disproportionate height of the engines, bridge, and pilothouse. When construction a destroyer keep in mind:
- Use thin and lightweight armors to afford the ship the greatest practical speed and freedom of movement.
- Utilize any speed tweaking techniques to increase your ships speed. A competent destroyer can easily make 120 knots.
- Adding a ring of cylinders around the keel of the ship will greatly improve stability.
Due to destroyers emphasizing speed and maneuverability over armor and firepower there is rarely enough deck space to mount large caliber guns. Destroyers favor small numbers of compact weapons like the MK 45 or the famous 127mm naval gun. Due to their high speed, destroyers also make extremely competent torpedo platforms. Destroyers are very commonly built to counter submarines and as such are regularly equipped with depth charges. Destroyers can boast moderate anti-air batteries, AA defense is not the purpose of a destroyer and should be equipped with this in mind.
Destroyers make extremely effective missile platforms as they can fire a salvo and retreat to a safe range quickly and easily. Missiles of any type can easily make a destroyer prohibitively expensive therefore offsetting the value of a cheap, effective vessel.
Due to the high level of versatility afforded to destroyers a skippers strategy in using, or fighting one depends largely on the abilities of the individual destroyer.
- Destroyers can easily be used as up-gunned torpedo boats and maneuver in close to an enemy to launch a wave of torpedoes. This places your ship at tremendous risk against large gun combatants, but can also be the surest way to defeat a Goliath.
- Fighting a destroyer using torpedoes necessitates destroying the engine. If you can keep a destroyer dead in the water you will have eliminated their chief advantage and a big-gun ship can destroy them with ease.
- Larger up-gunned destroyers can compete with cruisers as the destroyer should have the speed advantage. A skipper should dodge shells and throw accurate fire into their enemies guns.
- Facing an up-gunned destroyer, a skipper should treat it as a cruiser and look to pour as much fire into it as possible. Destroyers traditionally have rather low stability so use that to your advantage and try to create a list.
- Missile destroyers can be armed with up to 32 missiles for both anti-air and anti-surface war. When fighting larger, less maneuverable ships fire a salvo of as many missiles as you see fit. With the VLS missiles you can hide more than 80 kilometers away, so make good use of the range afforded to these weapons. If engaging smaller ships that can potentially dodge a missile fire your rockets in shorter, controlled bursts.
- Fighting a missile destroyer for lower level ships is likely a death sentence. If your ship is maneuverable enough, dodge the missiles. This will most likely leave you with little more than a five-inch gun to deal with. If your ship is significantly armored it will have no trouble shrugging off 16-32 missile hits. Close the distance on the enemy and destroy it.