naval battle featured template (1)
Game: Hearts of Iron IV
Content Type: Gaming Guides


A good task force composition is a necessary part of winning the naval game in Hearts of Iron IV, allowing you to protect both your coastlines and any convoys you have. However, simply sending out a bunch of submarines or battleships won’t work very well, and you’ll quickly find your navy devastated. It’s not exactly clear in-game how your navy should be organized, so in this guide we’ll walk you through some of the best compositions you should use for the different naval missions in Hearts of Iron.

To find the best ship designs to use for your navy, check out our Best Ship Designs guide.

Naval terminology can get confusing, so here’s a brief rundown for those unfamiliar with navy management.

Theater: Naval theater are very similar to their land counterparts. You can create and delete these at will, and assign any number of fleets to them. Each theater has a reserve fleet that can be used to reinforce task forces automatically.

sample american naval theatres
Example Theaters

Fleet: Fleets are a collection of task forces. They can be assigned an admiral which will then provide benefits to all task forces within the fleet. Additionally, fleets can distribute task forces to regions that the fleet is assigned to.

Task Force: This is the most basic level of control you can have over ships. You can determine how many ships should be in a task force, and assign missions to them.

Putting together a force to raid convoys is pretty simple: just put a bunch of submarines together and assign them to a region. We’d advise getting a decent amount of submarines together before deploying them, 20 submarines should be the minimum used.

Example Raiding Task Force:

Similarly, minelaying task forces have a simple composition. You’ll want to make a pure force of minelaying submarines or destroyers, whichever you are using. As a general rule, minelaying pre-1940 means you’ll want to use destroyers; after 1940 submarines become more cost-efficient. Of course, if you’re minelaying in contested waters, you’ll want to have other task forces in the region protecting your mine layers. Feel free to use however many ships you want in a task force — they will constantly lay mines until you reach 1000 in a region.

Example Minelaying Task Force:

Note that the more ships you have in the minelaying task force, the faster the minefield will be completed.

The real action in naval combat in Hearts of Iron IV are the strike forces. These forces only exit port to engage the enemy, allowing you to avoid fuel costs from fielding capital ships. You may want to create multiple strike forces in one fleet so that you can engage multiple enemy fleets in different regions simultaneously. The main rule of thumb to follow with strike forces is a minimum of three screening ships per capital ship — but more screening ships is optimal.

example strike force template
How the example strike force appears in-game

Example Strike Force:

Carriers count as capital ships, so you’ll want to make sure you’re accounting for those when taking the 3:1 rule into account.

Patrol forces are important for actually engaging in naval combat. Patrols will locate and provide information on enemy task forces, which will then allow a naval battle to begin (since strike forces will not leave port until an enemy fleet is spotted). Patrol task forces need to move fast and be able to hold their own in combat, so they consist of destroyers and light cruisers.

Example Patrol Task Force:

Every patrol group can only be assigned a single region, so multiple groups will have to be created to patrol multiple regions.

If you’re relying on naval convoys to fulfill resource needs, protecting those convoys is going to be vital. In general, you’ll need at least 5 anti-submarine destroyers in a region, since submarines are the biggest threat to convoys. If the enemy is utilizing naval bombers, it would be prudent to include anti-air destroyers or light cruisers.

Example Convoy Escort Task Force:

Keeping these task forces small and cheap allows you to protect more regions without dedicating too much industrial capacity towards them.


Depending on your campaign, you may find it necessary to modify some of the compositions above to better match your situation. With well-designed ships and task forces, you should have no problem maintaining naval superiority in multiple regions simultaneously.

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