We recently saw a dramatic illustration of this fact when this ship became the only currently commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy that has sunk an enemy vessel in battle:
I'm not so sure this is a proud moment in Navy history:
As the Navy closes in on its 240th birthday, it has reached a milestone: Only one ship remaining in its fleet has ever sunk an enemy vessel -- and it's the USS Constitution, which earned the nickname "Old Ironsides" for withstanding British bombardment during the War of 1812.
. . .This honor fell to the Constitution with the decommissioning of this vessel, the Perry-class frigate USS Simpson:
The Constitution, a three-mast wooden frigate, was retired from active service in 1881, but has remained a part of the Navy and was designated as a floating museum in 1907. It fought in the Mediterranean Sea during the First Barbary War in the early 1800s, but is best known for its altercation with the HMS Guerriere on Aug. 19, 1812.
About 400 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia, the two ships tangled shortly after the War of 1812 had broken out. The Constitution badly damaged the Guerriere, which was eventually boarded by U.S. sailors and set ablaze, according to a Navy history of the battle.
The Simpson sank an Iranian vessel in the Persian Gulf in 1988 when the U.S. and Iran were shooting at each other but not officially at war:
JACKSONVILLE, FLA. -- The United States Navy decommissioned its last Perry-class frigate, reducing the Navy's number of ships that have sunk an enemy vessel to just one. The end of the Navy's frigates marks a new era of naval warfare where ships are less likely to go to battle in the open sea.
. . .
After 30 years of service — including an April 1988 battle when it fired missiles at and sunk an Iranian oil platform and an Iranian Navy vessel — the ship's service came to an end on Sept. 29 with a ceremony at Mayport Naval Station.On the one hand, modern navies don't engage in ship-to-ship combat much anymore. On the other hand, well, you figure out what is on the other hand.