Destroyer vs. Frigate

What's the Difference?

Destroyers and frigates are both types of warships, but they have distinct differences in terms of size, capabilities, and roles. Destroyers are larger and more heavily armed than frigates, making them suitable for offensive operations and engaging in combat against other ships, submarines, and aircraft. They are equipped with advanced radar systems, missile launchers, and anti-aircraft guns, allowing them to provide air defense and conduct long-range attacks. On the other hand, frigates are smaller and less heavily armed, primarily designed for escorting larger ships and conducting anti-submarine warfare. They are equipped with sonar systems, torpedoes, and anti-ship missiles, making them effective in detecting and neutralizing enemy submarines. While both destroyers and frigates play crucial roles in naval operations, their differences in size and capabilities determine their specific functions and areas of expertise.


Photo by Arron Choi on Unsplash
ArmamentHeavyLight to Medium
CostExpensiveRelatively Affordable
Photo by Karl Callwood on Unsplash

Further Detail


When it comes to naval warfare, two types of warships that often come to mind are destroyers and frigates. Both vessels play crucial roles in modern naval operations, but they differ in various aspects, including their size, capabilities, and intended roles. In this article, we will delve into the attributes of destroyers and frigates, exploring their key characteristics and highlighting the unique features that set them apart.

Size and Displacement

One of the primary distinctions between destroyers and frigates lies in their size and displacement. Destroyers are generally larger and heavier than frigates, boasting a greater displacement and overall length. This larger size allows destroyers to carry a more extensive array of weapons, sensors, and equipment, making them formidable warships on the high seas.

On the other hand, frigates are smaller and lighter, designed to be more maneuverable and versatile in various naval operations. Their reduced size enables them to operate in shallower waters and navigate through narrow channels, making them suitable for coastal defense and anti-submarine warfare.

Armament and Firepower

Destroyers are renowned for their impressive armament and firepower. Equipped with advanced missile systems, naval guns, and anti-aircraft weaponry, destroyers possess a significant offensive and defensive capability. These warships often serve as the backbone of a fleet, providing long-range strike capabilities and air defense cover.

Frigates, while not as heavily armed as destroyers, still possess a formidable arsenal. They typically feature anti-ship missiles, torpedoes, and anti-submarine warfare systems. Frigates excel in anti-submarine operations, utilizing their sonar systems and helicopters to detect and neutralize underwater threats. Additionally, frigates often serve as escorts for larger vessels, providing protection against surface and subsurface threats.

Sensors and Technology

Destroyers are equipped with state-of-the-art sensor suites, including advanced radar systems, sonar arrays, and electronic warfare capabilities. These sensors enable destroyers to detect and track multiple targets simultaneously, providing situational awareness and enhancing their ability to engage threats effectively.

Frigates, while not as technologically advanced as destroyers, still possess a range of sensors that allow them to perform their designated roles. They typically feature radar systems, sonar equipment, and electronic warfare suites, albeit with slightly reduced capabilities compared to destroyers. Frigates excel in anti-submarine warfare due to their specialized sonar systems, which enable them to detect and track submarines effectively.

Speed and Endurance

Destroyers are known for their high speed and endurance, allowing them to cover vast distances quickly and operate for extended periods. These warships often possess powerful propulsion systems, enabling them to reach speeds of over 30 knots. Their larger size also allows for increased fuel and ammunition storage, enhancing their operational range and endurance.

Frigates, while not as fast or enduring as destroyers, still possess respectable speed and endurance capabilities. They typically achieve speeds of around 25 knots, enabling them to keep up with fleet formations and respond swiftly to emerging threats. Frigates also have sufficient fuel and ammunition storage to operate effectively for extended periods, albeit with a slightly reduced range compared to destroyers.

Roles and Missions

Destroyers are primarily designed for multi-mission warfare, capable of engaging threats in the air, on the surface, and underwater. They often serve as flagships, leading task forces and providing command and control capabilities. Destroyers are also deployed for power projection, conducting offensive operations against enemy targets and providing protection to friendly forces.

Frigates, on the other hand, are more specialized in their roles. They excel in anti-submarine warfare, coastal defense, and escort missions. Frigates are often deployed to protect vital sea lanes, conduct patrols in littoral waters, and provide support to larger vessels during operations. Their versatility allows them to adapt to various scenarios and contribute to the overall effectiveness of naval operations.


In conclusion, destroyers and frigates are both essential components of modern naval forces, each with its unique attributes and capabilities. Destroyers, with their larger size, extensive armament, and advanced technology, excel in multi-mission warfare and power projection. Frigates, on the other hand, are smaller, more maneuverable, and specialized in anti-submarine warfare and coastal defense.

While destroyers are often considered the heavy hitters of the fleet, frigates play a crucial role in protecting vital sea lanes, conducting patrols, and providing support to larger vessels. Ultimately, the choice between a destroyer and a frigate depends on the specific mission requirements and the operational environment. Both warships contribute significantly to naval operations, ensuring the safety and security of maritime interests around the world.

Comparisons may contain inaccurate information about people, places, or facts. Please report any issues.