A naval battle is a battle fought using ships or other waterborne vessels. Most naval battles have occurred at sea, but a few have taken place on lakes.
Although the nature of the ships involved has changed drastically, from triremes to sailing ships to battleships and aircraft carriers, many of the tactical principles remain the same, such as the importance of maneuver before the engagement proper, and the desirability of breaking off combat rather than risking the complete loss of a fleet.
Unlike land combat, naval battles tend to be brief affairs, in some cases lasting less than an hour, as with some of the famous duels between two ships. The largest naval battle was the Battle of Leyte Gulf around the Philippines in October 1944; it lasted for four days, and involved hundreds of US and Japanese ships.