The World’s Most Powerful Naval Forces Might Surprise You

Two-thirds of the Earth’s surface is covered with water. Out of the 195 countries, 44 of them don’t have direct access to the ocean. The rest have an easy path to the deep blue. Nations would be smart to ensure that they have their naval branches up to par. Historically, America, China, and Russia have been known to maintain the most powerful navy forces. Is this still true? Let’s take a look at the current standings of the naval forces around the globe.

Don’t Count Out This Archipelago: The Phillipines

Philippines navy ship Dagupan City arriving at a military port in Zhanjiang, in China's southern Guangdong province
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

Even with the Philippines being a small archipelago, they deserve a proper place on this list. Their forces consist of over 24,000 personnel, including 7,500 Marine Corps. Their naval force packs a punch too.

Being surrounded by water means the Philippines don’t take any chances. They have 119 navel assets with four frigates, ten corvettes (small warships), and 35 patrol crafts. They have a total of $3 billion for their defense budget, so if things get heated, they’ll be able to foot the bill.

Royal Navy of Morocco

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Absalon L16/Pinterest
Absalon L16/Pinterest

The Royal Navy of Morocco is under the rule of the management of Administration of Defence Morocco. Meanwhile, King Mohammed VI heads the Moroccan Armed Forces. The navy has the task of controlling, facilitating, and securing the country’s economic zone, which spreads across 81,000 square nautical miles.

Morocco has 121 naval assets with a budget of $3.4 billion for defense purposes. They also have 22 patrol crafts, six frigates, and one corvette. It sounds like they’re ready and set for warfare.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force

Japanese Self Defence Force see off the Japanese support vessel
Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images
Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

Americans are already somewhat familiar with the Japanese forces after the tragic events of Pearl Harbor, but the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force wasn’t established until 1954. Some sources reveal that the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has 45,800 personnel on hand.

With 143 navel assets, it makes sense for them to have that many personnel. Due to their involvement in past battles and placement in the Pacific Ocean, their budget for defense is $44 billion. You can never be too safe.

Mexican Naval Infantry Corps

Mexican Naval forces
Navy Recognition
Navy Recognition

The Mexican Naval Infantry Corps has been around since 1822, but they reorganized in 2007. Much like any other force, they are responsible for keeping the peace around the borders. The surprising thing is the number of assets they have.

They have a total of 143 naval assets and a $7 billion budget for defense. With the complications of securing borders in Mexico, among other things, they might have to dip into that $7 billion sooner than they might hope.

The Italian Navy

italian-naval-force
Francesco Militello Mirto/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Francesco Militello Mirto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Italian Navy came about in 1946 after World War II. The first title it had was Regia Marina, but that was in 1861 before needing a decked out naval force. The Italian Navy has 30,923 naval personnel.

Outside of having a large navy on hand, you’d be shocked to learn just how large their defense budget is. With four destroyers, 143 naval assets, ten mine warfare vessels, and ten patrol crafts, Italy’s naval budget reaches $37.7 billion.

Myanmar is a Southeast Asian Powerhouse

Myanmar Navy Seals march during a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of Armed Forces Day
Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images
Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images

Myanmar is a Southeast Asian nation with over 100 ethnic groups in its population. The country maintains a well-equipped naval team, with the Myanmar Navy having 19,000 naval personnel. Their conception was recent, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t one of the most powerful naval forces in the world today.

Myanmar has 155 naval assets which include two mine warfare vessels, and five frigates. Their defense budget is at $2.4 billion, and that’s a lot for a force that only recently came about.

The Oldest Division Of The Armed Forces Of South Korea

the Republic of Korea navy destroyer ROKS Sejong the Great DDG 991
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

South Korea has its own Republic of Korea Navy, formed in 1945. That seals the deal as far as being one of the most significant forces in the world. Not only that, but they’re the oldest division of the Armed Forces of South Korea.

South Korea might be more friendly than North Korea, but that doesn’t mean they let their guard down securing their borders. Their defense budget is locked in at $40 billion to go along with 166 naval assets.

Bolivia Means Business

Bolivia navy troops parade during a ceremony commemorating the 134th anniversary of the invasion by Chilean troops
AIZAR RALDES/Stringer
AIZAR RALDES/Stringer

As of 2008, the Bolivian Navy had approximately 5,000 personnel. Compared to other countries with billions of dollars for defense, Bolivia only has $315 million. Yes, that is far off from a billion, but that could be all they need.

Their country became landlocked in 1904, but that didn’t stop them from developing a River and Lake Force under the Ministry of National Defense in 1963. To this day, they are gradually building their naval force.

Turkey Has A Ton Of Personnel

Naval Forces of Turkey enters the harbour of the Russian port of Novorossiysk
STR/AFP/Getty Images
STR/AFP/Getty Images

You could trace the Turkish Naval Forces to 1081 if you tried. However, it wouldn’t be until 1949 before they officially became apart of the Turkish Naval Forces Command. Surveys reveal that they have 48,600 naval personnel.

With stacked personnel like that, you can believe they have a ton of assets. Turkey has 194 to be exact, including eleven mine warfare vessels, and 34 patrol crafts. In total, their defense budget is $10.2 billion and will only continue to grow.

A Lot Of Coastline For Pakistan To Protect

Pakistan  navy indigenously built submarine, with French assistance, launches August 24, 2002 in Karachi, Pakistan
Syed Zargham/Getty Images
Syed Zargham/Getty Images

With a total of 650 miles of coastline to protect throughout the Arabian Sea, it’s safe to say that the naval force of Pakistan is finely tuned. The Pakistan Navy came about in 1947, and since then, they’ve grown to have 197 naval assets.

If a country plans on attacking them, they’ll run into a lot of difficulties getting through their eleven patrol crafts, five submarines, and ten frigates. Pakistan’s defense budget is pretty steep too, at $7 billion. They’ve got their bases covered.

One Of The Youngest Naval Forces is in Indonesia

Indonesia's army forces stand in formation prior to a military parade for celebrations of the 73nd anniversary of the Indonesia navy military
Andrew Lotulung/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Andrew Lotulung/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Did you know that the Indonesian Navy is one of the youngest naval forces in the world? First established in 1945, they’ve already grown to have 74,000 active duty personnel.

That’s a lot of active personnel, so it isn’t shocking to know they also have 221 naval assets. That’s more than anyone else previously mentioned on this list so far. Another exciting fact about the Indonesian Navy is their $6.9 billion dollar defense budget. They’re ready.

Columbia’s “Armada Nacional”

a patrol boat of fluvial combat-- during a drill of combat on the Guapi river, in a rural area of Guapi, deparment of Cauca, Colombia
ROBAYO/AFP/Getty Images
ROBAYO/AFP/Getty Images

The official name for Columbia’s naval force is Colombian National Navy, but they also call it “Armada Nacional.” They’re in charge of keeping both Pacific and Caribbean borders protected. It shouldn’t be too hard considering they have 35,086 total personnel.

Their defense budget is $12.1 billion, and they also have 234 naval assets. The Armada Nacional is as tough as they come if we’re honest, and they would serve as a great ally in a battle.

Rear Admiral Kari Takanen Commands Finland

finland
OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images
OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images

Rear Admiral Kari Takanen is the current Finnish Navy Commander-in-Chief. He has the pleasure of having a defense budget of $3.7 billion and 270 navy assets. If trouble comes, you can bet he’ll be ready with his troops.

The Finnish Navy also has 31,500 navy personnel. They have eight patrol crafts and eight mine warfare vessels under their control. Finland doesn’t sound like the country you want to anger, or else you might be in a world of trouble.

India’s Navy Has Been In Business Since 1612

The Indian Navy 's third Scorpene-class submarine 'Karanj' is pictured at its launch ceremony
PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images
PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images

India has a reputation for having one of the toughest naval forces in the world. A few things folks don’t know about the Indian troops is that you can trace their origins to 1612! They were the protectors of British merchants that traded within their coastal area during that time. Also, their name was East India Company’s Marine.

Having one of the oldest and most extensive fleets around the globe, it isn’t surprising that they have 295 assets. The real kicker is their defense budget is $47 billion!

The Prominent Egyptian Forces

Egyptian spectators look at navy forces performing on the Nile in Cairo
KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

The Egyptian Navy Forces is the largest in Africa and the Middle East, so they had to make this list. That’s not the only accolade they have, either. They’re ranked sixth in the world when it comes to the number of vessels owned.

Needing to protect over 2,000 kilometers of shoreline is an enormous responsibility. That’s why they have 319 naval assets and own a defense budget of $4.4 billion. If anyone thinks about getting close, they’ll most likely encounter one of Egypt’s 53 patrol crafts.

Russia Has A Lot Of Coastline To Protect

The Morshansk missile boat takes part in the main naval parade marking Russian Navy Day
Peter KovalevTASS via Getty Images
Peter KovalevTASS via Getty Images

There’s no way we could exclude Russia from this list. The Russian Navy has 37,653 kilometers of coastline to account for, so their fleet is enormous. They’re known for their development of nuclear weapons, so that makes them a bit more lethal compared to other countries.

The Russian Navy has a total of 352 naval assets at their disposal. That includes 13 destroyers, 78 corvettes, and 41 patrol crafts. They can always get more with $47 billion in the defense budget.

The Navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army

An Iranian war-boat fires a missile during the
ALI MOHAMMADI/AFP/Getty Images
ALI MOHAMMADI/AFP/Getty Images

The Islamic Republic of Iran Army established its navy in 1932, and if you thought Russia had many assets, they have them beat. Iran acts as the first line of defense in the Gulf of Oman, so they have 398 total navy assets.

The Navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army must have a thing for going underwater because they have 33 submarines, which is a decent margin compared to other countries. With a defense budget of $6.3 billion, making another craft wouldn’t put a considerable dent in their budget.

The United States Navy Knows What To Do

U.S. sailors wave to a passing boat while
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It’s no secret that the United States has one of the most powerful and massive military forces in the world. The U.S. Navy has 415 naval assets for crying out loud. With 66 submarines, 65 destroyers, 20 aircraft carriers, and ten frigates, other nations would be smart to team up with the U.S Navy.

They might already seem well equipped for battle, but that doesn’t limit how big of a defense budget they have. Currently, the naval budget is estimated at $647 billion.

Don’t Pick A Fight With China

The Chinese Navy stand to attention on the advanced ship on July 16, 2009 in Zhoushan, Zhejiang
Wu Linhong/VCG via Getty Images
Wu Linhong/VCG via Getty Images

These past few naval forces have packed a punch, and China comes in with a haymaker. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy as they call it has a total of 255,000 personnel. No big deal, right?

If you thought 300 assets was a lot, try 714 on for size. It wouldn’t be fair if you were a smaller country and you had to go up against the Chinese. If one of their 39 corvettes gets taken out of commission, they have $151 billion worth of defense budget to get a new one.

The Leader, North Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the
STR/AFP/Getty Images
STR/AFP/Getty Images

It had to happen. North Korea had to make this list and for a good reason. North Korea is like the bully on the playground, using its nuclear weaponry as leverage. It’s also helpful to have 967 naval assets.

Messing with them will inevitably lead to an unpleasant outcome as they have 25 mine warfare vessels, 438 patrol crafts, and 86 submarines. To top it off, their defense budget is $7.5 billion. North Korea is as dangerous as they come.