Azur Lane – Best Ships Tier List (January 2021)

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With more than 250 unique ships in Azur Lane, which ones are the best for your fleet?

In this post, we’ve put together a tier list of the best ships in Azur Lane, as well as detailed descriptions of the very best ships for your fleet.

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There are lots of ships that’ll do well on any fleet, but here are some of the ships that do better than most.

Some of the ships in Azur Lane that deserve the title as the best ships in the game include Retrofit San Diego, Retrofit Warspite, Essex, Enterprise, Helena, Akashi, U-47, and Centaur.

If you manage to pull any of these ships, it’ll be a great decision to spend resources on them and put them on your fleet.

You can find more details on these ships, as well as many others in the tier list below.

Table of contents

Best ships tier list

With more than 250 unique ships in Azur Lane, it can be difficult to know which ships you should go for and invest resources in.

To help players get an overview of the potential of ships, we’ve put together the following tier list, which includes ships worth considering on your team, but not every ship in the game.

This tier list ranks ships based on performance in PvE, not PvP. Each ship in the tier list is put in either S, A, B, C, or D tier, with S being the best and D being the worst.

Note, ships in the D tier are still better than many ships in the game, but are D-tier compared to the ships in the list.

You can also see which class, nationality, rarity, and position a ship belongs to in the table below.

When creating your fleet in Azur Lane, you should consider other factors than just the power of individual ships.

Learn more about these factors in our Azur Lane fleet building guide.

Here is a short description of each tier:

S tier – Ships in the S-tier are the best in the game, will do well on any fleet, and bring extraordinary power. If you acquire any of these ships, consider bringing them on your fleet as well as spend significant resources on increasing their power further.

A tier – Ships in the A-tier perform very well in battle and are definitely worth bringing on your fleet if you pull any. All ships in this tier have a lot of potential but fall short of those in S-tier.

B Tier – Ships in the B-tier performs as you’d expect from powerful ships capable of taking on the strongest enemies. You can bring B-Tier ships on your fleet, but you’ll probably end up switching them out sooner or later.

C Tier – Ships in the C-tier are below average in terms of power and usability. These ships are not the greatest and will have to be replaced at some point. You can use C-tier ships to progress, but when you reach later stages, you shouldn’t spend a lot of resources on them.

D Tier – Ships in the D-tier perform way below what you’d expect from top ships. These ships should not be heavily invested in, as they will be replaced soon. At the beginning of the game, you can use D-tier ships with no problems, but you will struggle later on if you don’t acquire better ones.

Here is the full tier list of the best ships in Azur Lane:

AzumaSUltra RareVanguardLarge CruiserSakura Empire
Friedrich der GrosseSUltra RareBacklineBattleshipIronblood
SeattleSSuper RareVanguardLight CruiserEagle Union
GeorgiaSSuper RareBacklineBattleshipEagle Union
GascogneSSuper RareBacklineBattleshipVichya Dominion
NagatoSSuper RareBacklineBattleshipSakura Empire
AkashiSSuper RareBacklineRepair ShipSakura Empire
YukikazeSSuper RareVanguardDestroyerSakura Empire
San Diego (Retrofit)SSuper RareVanguardLight CruiserEagle Union
RoonSSuper RareVanguardHeavy CruiserIronblood
MonarchSSuper RareBacklineBattleshipRoyal Navy
Warspite (Retrofit)SSuper RareBacklineBattleshipRoyal Navy
EnterpriseSSuper RareBacklineAircraft CarrierEagle Union
EssexSSuper RareBacklineAircraft CarrierEagle Union
CentaurSSuper RareBacklineLight Aircraft CarrierRoyal Navy
U-47SSuper RareSupportSubmarineIronblood
I-13SSuper RareBacklineSubmarine CarrierSakura Empire
MinneapolisSSuper RareVanguardHeavy CruiserEagle Union
Duke of YorkSSuper RareBacklineBattleshipRoyal Navy
HelenaSEliteVanguardLight CruiserEagle Union
UnicornSEliteBacklineLight Aircraft CarrierRoyal Navy
AyanamiSEliteVanguardDestroyerSakura Empire
Ping Hai (Retrofit)SEliteVanguardLight CruiserEastern Radiance
Ning Hai (Retrofit)SEliteVanguardLight CruiserEastern Radiance
Yat Sen (Retrofit)SEliteVanguardLight CruiserEastern Radiance
KitakazeASuper RareVanguardDestroyerSakura Empire
MikasaASuper RareBacklineBattleshipSakura Empire
Bunker HillASuper RareBacklineAircraft CarrierEagle Union
Graf ZeppelinASuper RareBacklineAircraft CarrierIronblood
SwiftsureASuper RareVanguardLight CruiserRoyal Navy
IllustriousASuper RareBacklineAircraft CarrierRoyal Navy
EldridgeASuper RareVanguardDestroyerEagle Union
NeptuneASuper RareVanguardLight CruiserRoyal Navy
MontpelierASuper RareVanguardLight CruiserEagle Union
Saint LouisASuper RareVanguardHeavy CruiserIris Libre
BismarckASuper RareBacklineBattleshipIronblood
King George VASuper RareBacklineBattleshipRoyal Navy
AmagiASuper RareBacklineBattlecruiserSakura Empire
I-168ASuper RareSupportSubmarineSakura Empire
U-101ASuper RareSupportSubmarineIronblood
HoodASuper RareBacklineBattlecruiserRoyal Navy
WashingtonASuper RareBacklineBattleshipEagle Union
TirpitzASuper RareBacklineBattleshipIronblood
Jean BartASuper RareBacklineBattleshipVichya Dominion
Mogami (Retrofit)AEliteVanguardHeavy CruiserSakura Empire
Jintsuu (Retrofit)AEliteVanguardLight CruiserSakura Empire
VestalAEliteBacklineRepair ShipEagle Union
Z23 (Retrofit)AEliteVanguardDestroyerIronblood
Laffey (Retrofit)AEliteVanguardDestroyerEagle Union
Saratoga (Retrofit)AEliteBacklineAircraft CarrierEagle Union
Portland (Retrofit)ARareVanguardHeavy CruiserEagle Union
AlbacoreBSuper RareSupportSubmarineEagle Union
IbukiBSuper RareVanguardHeavy CruiserSakura Empire
Elegant Kizuna AiBSuper RareVanguardHeavy CruiserKizuna Ai
North CarolinaBSuper RareBacklineBattleshipEagle Union
IzumoBSuper RareBacklineBattleshipSakura Empire
KagaBSuper RareBacklineAircraft CarrierSakura Empire
I-19BSuper RareSupportSubmarineSakura Empire
U-81BSuper RareSupportSubmarineIronblood
Queen ElizabethBEliteBacklineBattleshipRoyal Navy
AuroraBEliteVanguardLight CruiserRoyal Navy
Little BelBEliteVanguardLight CruiserRoyal Navy
JavelinBEliteVanguardDestroyerRoyal Navy
Z1 (Retrofit)BEliteVanguardDestroyerIronblood
Nicholas (Retrofit)BEliteVanguardDestroyerEagle Union
ColumbiaBEliteVanguardLight CruiserEagle Union
ClevelandBEliteVanguardLight CruiserEagle Union
Kizuna AiBEliteVanguardDestroyerKizuna Ai
Ark RoyalBEliteBacklineAircraft CarrierRoyal Navy
ShouhouBRareBacklineLight Aircraft CarrierSakura Empire
Hyuuga (Retrofit)BRareBacklineAviation BattleshipSakura Empire
SiriusCSuper RareVanguardLight CruiserRoyal Navy
KawakazeCSuper RareVanguardDestroyerSakura Empire
BelfastCSuper RareVanguardLight CruiserRoyal Navy
Prinz EugenCSuper RareVanguardHeavy CruiserIronblood
TaihouCSuper RareBacklineAircraft CarrierSakura Empire
Shangri-LaCSuper RareBacklineAircraft CarrierEagle Union
ShoukakuCSuper RareBacklineAircraft CarrierSakura Empire
ZuikakuCSuper RareBacklineAircraft CarrierSakura Empire
AkagiCSuper RareBacklineAircraft CarrierSakura Empire
Anniversary Kizuna AiCSuper RareBacklineAircraft CarrierKizuna Ai
FumiruiruCEliteBacklineAircraft CarrierUtawarerumono
ArizonaCEliteBacklineBattleshipEagle Union
WichitaCEliteVanguardHeavy CruiserEagle Union
LondonCEliteVanguardHeavy CruiserRoyal Navy
SouryuuCEliteBacklineAircraft CarrierSakura Empire
HiryuuCEliteBacklineAircraft CarrierSakura Empire
Curlew (Retrofit)CRareVanguardLight CruiserRoyal Navy
Sendai (Retrofit)CRareVanguardLight CruiserSakura Empire
TanikazeCRareVanguardDestroyerSakura Empire
Kagerou (Retrofit)CRareVanguardDestroyerSakura Empire
Newcastle (Retrofit)CRareVanguardLight CruiserRoyal Navy
Curacoa (Retrofit)CRareVanguardLight CruiserRoyal Navy
ChaserDEliteBacklineLight Aircraft CarrierRoyal Navy
ZeppyDEliteBacklineAircraft CarrierIronblood
IsuzuDRareVanguardLight CruiserSakura Empire

Ships in Azur Lane can be categorized into three main categories based on their position in battle: Backline, also known as the main fleet, Vanguard, and Submarine.

Ships that belong to the Main Fleet category are ships that position themselves in the back of the battle and fire powerful weapons like Air Strikes and Artillery besides their regular attacks.

The Vanguard is the 3 ships that you control in battle, that fight at the frontline and have special weapons including torpedoes besides their regular attacks.

Submarines are assisting ships that do damage to enemies automatically in battle and when you move around the battle selection map.

You don’t actively control submarines in battles, except for in a few special stages.

Best backline ships

Backline ships are ships that can only be positioned in the back of your fleet.

These are the ships that you aren’t controlling in battle, only when they’ve charged up their special skills like airstrikes.

The backline is also known by many players as the main fleet, as it often deals more damage than the frontline – the vanguard.

Classifications that can be placed on the backline include Aircraft Carriers, Battlecruisers, Repair Ships, and Battleships.

The main fleet’s job is to dish out tons of damage from afar by using powerful cooldown-based skills.

The main fleet will attack enemies with regular attacks that come too close.

Here are two examples of great ships for your main fleet.


Monarch is a powerful Battleship of Super Rare rarity from the Royal Navy.

Monarch is one of the strongest ships for the backline in Azur Lane.

She has excellent stats and skills to complement them.

Monarch’s first skill, Monarch’s Coercion, gives her a 40% (70% max) chance to fire a special barrage when attacking with her main gun.

This special barrage deals damage based on her level and decreases the speed of enemies hit.

Her second skill, Against the Current, increases Monarch’s reload stat by 0.6 (1 max) for every 1% loss of HP.

This skill also heals her by 3% of her max HP every 2 seconds for 8 seconds when she reaches 20% or less HP.

Monarch’s final skill is Siren Killer, which increases her damage against Sirens by 5% (15% max).

Monarch can equip one battleship weapons, one light cruiser/destroyer weapon, and then one Anti-Air gun.

Monarch is a great addition for your fleet, and is sure to bring a lot of damage!

Azur Lane Monarch ship


Enterprise is another strong backline ship you should consider bringing on your fleet.

She is an Aircraft Carrier of Super Rare rarity from the Eagle Union, who specializes in airstrike-related attacks.

Every single gear slot of hers is an aircraft of some sort with her first slot being a Fighter plane weapon, her second a Dive Bomber plane weapon, and her third a Torpedo Bomber plane weapon.

Her set of gear slots compliments her skill, Lucky E fantastically.

Lucky E gives Enterprise a 40% (70% max) chance for an airstrike attack to deal 2x damage and make Enterprise enter stealth mode in which she avoids all damage for 8 seconds.

Besides Enterprise being an incredibly strong ship with great slots, skill, and stats, she is also easily obtained through new player events and the medal exchange.

Therefore, we recommend you bring Enterprise on your fleet.

Azur Lane Enterprise ship

Best vanguard ships

Ships that can be placed on the frontline of your fleet are known as vanguard ships.

Vanguard ships are the ones you control with your joystick in battle.

These ships attack continuously throughout the fight, and some of them have cooldown-based skills liked the backline.

Most vanguard ships have a torpedo skill, which accounts for a significant part of their damage output.

Classifications that can be placed in the vanguard include Cruiser Ships and Destroyer ships.

To maximize your chances of winning a battle, you should actively control your vanguard to avoid attacks and reposition yourself to launch an attack like torpedos from optimal angles.

Here are two examples of excellent ships for your vanguard.


Roon is a Heavy Cruiser Super Rare vanguard ship from Ironblood with incredible stats, especially firepower.

The three gear slots Roon carries are a Heavy Cruiser weapon, a Torpedo weapon, and an Anti-Air weapon.

Roon has three powerful skills, Expert Loader, Well-Rounded Armor, and Siren Killer.

Expert Loader makes Roon’s ammo type alternate between HE and AP every 2 rounds of firing her main gun.

Exper Loader also increases Roon’s reload by 1% (3.5% max) every time she fires her main gun up to a total of 12 stacks.

Siren Killer increases her damage against Sirens by 5% (15% max).

Lastly, Well-Rounded Armor is a skill that actives every 30 seconds, placing 4 rotating shields around Roon that absorbs up to 8 shots each and lasts 5 seconds (15 max).

Roon is an incredible vanguard ship with both damage and some defense, making her a ship you won’t regret putting on your team.

Azur Lane Roon ship


Yukikaze is a great choice for your vanguard if you happen to get your hands on her.

She is a Super Rare destroyer ship from Sakura Empire.

Yukikaze can carry a Destroyer weapon, a Torpedo weapon, and an Anti-Air weapon.

She carries three incredible useful skills, which makes her one of the very best vanguard ships despite her having worse stats than many other top tier vanguard ships.

Her first skill, Yukikaze of Kure, reduces the damage received by the enemy backline by 3.5% (8% max) as long as Yukikaze is alive.

Furthermore, this skill heals any backline ship that drops to 20% health for 4% (10%) of their maximum health.

The healing part of Yukikaze of Kure can only be used once per battle. Her second skill, The Unsinkable Lucky Ship gives Yukikaze a 5% (25% max) chance to decrease damage received from an attack to 1 and increases her luck by 5 at the start of a battle.

Lastly, All Out Assault, her third skill, makes her trigger a Full Barrage every 15 (10 max) times the main battery is fired.

Because of Yukikaze’s incredible utility for the entire fleet, she deserves the title of being one of the best vanguard ships out there, so consider her for your fleet if you get her.

Azur Lane Yukikaze ship

Best submarines

Submarines are unlike backline and vanguard ships as you don’t actively control them except for in a few special stages.

Instead, submarines assist you and your fleet in battle by automatically firing missiles, etc. at enemies.

Submarines do also occasionally deal damage to enemies while you move around the battle selection map.

Even though you don’t actively control submarines, getting great ones for your fleet can make a major difference in battle.

Here is, in our and many other players’ opinion, the best submarine in the game.


U-47 is a Super Rare submarine from Ironblood with powerful stats and skills.

U-47 can carry two Submarine Torpedo weapons and a Destroyer gun.

Her first skill is The Bull of Scapa Flow, which increases the damage of the next torpedo that hits a ship U-47 has just hit with a torpedo by 20% (40% max).

If U-47 is the only ship in your submarine fleet, her second skill activates upon entering a battle, Lone Wolf.

Lone Wolf increases your entire fleet’s damage dealt to Battleships by 5% (20% max) for the whole battle.

Lone Wolf also increases search level by 1 and ammo by 2.

Lastly, U-47’s third skill, All Out Assault, makes U-47 trigger a Full Barrage at the start of a battle.

Not only does U-47 herself deal a lot of damage and is useful in that regard, but she also buffs the rest of the fleet, making her the best submarine in Azur Lane.

Best starter ship

You can choose between 3 different ships at the beginning of the game: Z23, Laffey, and Javelin.

There is a slight difference between these three ships in terms of stat structure and gameplay.

However, later on in the game, you won’t really notice this and will acquire the other two ships you didn’t pick from gameplay.

Z23 focuses on damage, having the highest firepower of the three, as well as a skill that compliments her firepower, Ironblood Vanguard, which increases her firepower by 30% for 8 seconds.

Laffey is a more balanced ship with a more balanced stat distribution.

Laffey’s skill is Solomon Wargod, which increases her firepower, evasion, and reload time by 20%.

If you’re looking for a solid overall ship, Laffey is the one for you.

Javelin is a special ship as she doesn’t have higher defense or firepower than the other two, but does have slightly higher survivability because of her incredibly high evasion stat.

Her skill, Javelin Raid, further boosts her evasion by 30% for 8 seconds, making her even harder to do damage to.

All in all, if you’re looking for damage, go with Z23, if you want an overall solid ship, choose Laffey, and if you want a special evasive ship, pick Javelin.

If I had to rank the three ships on how good they are, I would rank Laffey as number one, Z23 second, and Javelin third.

However, as mentioned, they are very close in terms of how good they are, so you can pick whichever as still be just fine.

Azur Lane all starter ships

That’s our tier list on the best ships in Azur Lane.

Hopefully, you have a better overview of the potential and power of the top ships in the game, and now know which ships to aim for and invest resources into.

If you have any input or suggestions for this tier list, you can leave them in the comment section below.

Jack Roque

Having been a gamer his entire life, Jack is interested in multiple genres of both desktop and mobile games. He covers everything from guides to tier lists on popular games here on

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