In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast maneuverable long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller powerful short-range attackers. They were originally developed in the late 19th century as a defence against torpedo boats, and by the time of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, these "torpedo boat destroyers" (TBD) were "large, swift, and powerfully armed torpedo boats designed to destroy other torpedo boats."〔Gove p. 2412〕 Although the term "destroyer" had been used interchangeably with "TBD" and "torpedo boat destroyer" by navies since 1892, the term "torpedo boat destroyer" had been generally shortened to simply "destroyer" by nearly all navies by the First World War.〔Lyon p. 8, 9〕
Before World War II, destroyers were light vessels with little endurance for unattended ocean operations; typically a number of destroyers and a single destroyer tender operated together. After the war, the advent of the guided missile allowed destroyers to take on the surface combatant roles previously filled by battleships and cruisers. This resulted in larger and more powerful guided missile destroyers more capable of independent operation.
At the start of the 21st century, destroyers are the heaviest surface combatant ships in general use, with only three nations (including the United States, Russia, and Peru) operating the heavier class cruisers, with no battleships or true battlecruisers remaining.〔Although the Russian are sometimes classified as battlecruisers, due to their displacement they are described by Russia as large missile cruisers.〕 Modern destroyers, also known as guided missile destroyers, are equivalent in tonnage but vastly superior in firepower to cruisers of the World War II era, capable of carrying nuclear tipped cruise missiles. Guided missile destroyers such as the ''Arleigh Burke'' class are actually larger and more heavily armed than most previous ships classified as guided missile cruisers, due to their massive size at long, displacement (9200 tons) and armament of over 90 missiles.〔(Northrop Grumman christened its 28th Aegis guided missile destroyer, William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) ) April 19th, 2010. Retrieved August 29th, 2014.〕
The emergence and development of the destroyer was related to the invention of the self-propelled torpedo in the 1860s. A navy now had the potential to destroy a superior enemy battle fleet using steam launches to launch torpedoes. Fast boats armed with torpedoes were built and called torpedo boats. The first seagoing vessel designed to fire the self-propelled Whitehead torpedo was the 33-ton in 1876. She was armed with two drop collars to launch these weapons; these were replaced in 1879 by a single torpedo tube in the bow. By the 1880s, the type had evolved into small ships of 50–100 tons, fast enough to evade enemy picket boats.
At first, the danger to a battle fleet was considered to exist only when at anchor, but as faster and longer-range torpedoes were developed, the threat extended to cruising at sea. In response to this new threat, more heavily gunned picket boats called "catchers" were built which were used to escort the battle fleet at sea. They needed significant seaworthiness and endurance to operate with the battle fleet, and as they necessarily became larger, they became officially designated "torpedo boat destroyers", and by the First World War were largely known as "destroyers" in English. The anti-torpedo boat origin of this type of ship is retained in its name in other languages, including French (''contre-torpilleur''), Italian (''cacciatorpediniere''), Portuguese (''contratorpedeiro''), Czech (''torpédoborec''), Greek (''antitorpiliko'',''αντιτορπιλικό''), and Dutch (''torpedobootjager'').〔Lyon p. 8〕
Once destroyers became more than just catchers guarding an anchorage, it was realized that they were also ideal to take over the role of torpedo boats themselves, so they were fitted with torpedo tubes as well as guns. At that time, and even into World War I, the only function of destroyers was to protect their own battle fleet from enemy torpedo attacks and to make such attacks on the battleships of the enemy. The task of escorting merchant convoys was still in the future.
抄文引用元・出典: フリー百科事典『 ウィキペディア（Wikipedia）』