The signature of a naval platform is crucial for both its operational performance and its survivability (including recoverability).
The survivability of a platform is defined as the capability to continue to carry out its designated mission(s) in a combat threat environment. It includes susceptibility – the likelihood of being detected, identified, and hit – and vulnerability, which determines the degradation of a mission after being hit by a weapon. The reduction and control of signatures enhance the operational performance and survivability of the platform, because low signatures make it more difficult to be detected, identified, and targeted. It also increases the effectiveness of own platform’s countermeasures against incoming threats.
For surface ships the most important above water signatures in this respect are the radar signature, infrared signature and visual signature. In the underwater domain, stealth is determined by the acoustic and seismic signatures, hydrodynamic signals, static magnetic and electric fields.