A term used in navies to denote the most important type of warship in the national fleet. For centuries throughout the era of sailing navies it was the ship of the line, but after the introduction of iron, and later steel, construction, the battleship was the capital ship of the world's navies. The development of ship-borne air power during and after the Second World War (1939–45), which rendered the battleship virtually obsolete, for a time made the aircraft carrier into the capital ship of most navies. But this type of warship in its turn suffered from the development of its own original source of power into modern airborne, long-range weapons making it too vulnerable a target to be classed a capital ship any longer. When the missile-firing submarine with nuclear weapons was introduced it was considered by some the true capital ship of the era, but nowadays the term is obsolete.
Subjects: Maritime History.