In U.S. (and other) Navy-speak, a surface combatant is just that - a ship designed to carry out combat operations on the surface of the water. This is distinct from, say, submarines, which carry out combat underneath the surface; and from noncombatants, of which there are many in the U.S. Navy (tenders, freighters, tankers, tugs, research ships, drydocks, launches, lifeboats, underway replenishment ships, etc. etc.) and obviously in merchant or civilian service around the world.

Current examples of U.S. Naval surface combatants include:

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