An aircraft carrier is a warship with a full-length flight deck and facilities for carrying, arming, deploying, and recovering aircraft, that serves as a seagoing airbase. Typically, it is the capital ship of a fleet, as it allows a naval force to project air power worldwide without depending on local bases for staging aircraft operations. It is extremely expensive to build and important to protect. Aircraft carriers have evolved from converted cruisers to nuclear-powered warships that carry numerous fighter planes, strike aircraft, helicopters, and other types of aircraft.
There is no single definition of an "aircraft carrier". and modern navies use several variants of the type. These variants are sometimes categorized as sub-types of aircraft carriers, and sometimes as distinct types of aviation-capable ships. Aircraft carriers may be classified according to the type of aircraft they carry and their operational assignments. Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, former head of the Royal Navy, has said that "To put it simply, countries that aspire to strategic international influence have aircraft carriers".
Carriers have evolved since their inception in the early twentieth century from wooden vessels used to deploy balloons to nuclear-powered warships that carry dozens of aircraft, including fighter jets and helicopters. Today, there are thirty-six aircraft carriers in the world within twelve navies. The United States Navy has ten large nuclear-powered carriers, known as supercarriers, carrying up to ninety aircraft, the largest carriers in the world. As well as the supercarrier fleet, the US Navy has nine amphibious assault ships used primarily for helicopters; these can also carry up to twenty-five fighter jets, and in some cases are as large as some other nations' fixed-wing carriers.
- 1 Types of carrier
- 2 History
- 3 Structure
- 4 Flight deck
- 5 Aircraft carriers classes in service
- 6 Future aircraft carriers
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Types of carrier
||The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (November 2013)|
(with Hull classification symbol)
- Amphibious assault ship (LPH/LHA/LHD)
- Anti-submarine warfare carrier (CVS)
- Balloon carrier & balloon tenders
- Escort carrier (CVE)
- Fleet carrier (CV/CVN/CVA/CVAN)
- Flight deck cruiser (CVG)
- Helicopter carrier (CVH)
- Light aircraft carrier (CVL)
- Sea Control Ship
- Seaplane tender & seaplane carriers
(note: not all sources regard all these types as true aircraft carriers)
A fleet carrier is intended to operate with the main fleet and usually provides an offensive capability. These are the largest carriers capable of fast speeds. By comparison, escort carriers were developed to provide defense for convoys of ships. They were smaller and slower with lower numbers of aircraft carried. Most were built from mercantile hulls or, in the case of merchant aircraft carriers, were bulk cargo ships with a flight deck added on top. Light aircraft carriers were carriers that were fast enough to operate with the fleet but of smaller size with reduced aircraft capacity. Soviet aircraft carriers now in use by Russia are actually called heavy aviation cruisers, these ships while sized in the range of large fleet carriers were designed to deploy alone or with escorts and provide both strong defensive weaponry and heavy offensive missiles equivalent to a guided missile cruiser in addition to supporting fighters and helicopters.
There are four main configurations of aircraft carrier in service in the world's navies, divided by the way that aircraft take off and land:
- Catapult-assisted take-off but arrested-recovery (CATOBAR): these carriers generally carry the largest, heaviest, and most heavily armed aircraft, although smaller CATOBAR carriers may have other limitations (weight capacity of aircraft elevator, etc.). Three nations currently operate carriers of this type: ten by the United States, and one each by France and Brazil for a total of twelve in service.
- Short take-off but arrested-recovery (STOBAR): these carriers are generally limited to carrying lighter fixed-wing aircraft with more limited payloads. STOBAR carrier air wings, such as the Sukhoi Su-33 and future Mikoyan MiG-29K wings of the Admiral Kuznetsov are often geared primarily towards air superiority and fleet defense roles rather than strike/power projection tasks, which require heavier payloads (bombs and air-to-ground missiles). Currently, Russia, China, and India possess commissioned carriers of this type.
- Short take-off vertical-landing (STOVL): limited to carrying STOVL aircraft. STOVL aircraft, such as the Harrier Jump Jet family and Yakovlev Yak-38 generally have very limited payloads, lower performance, and high fuel consumption when compared with conventional fixed-wing aircraft; however, a new generation of STOVL aircraft, currently consisting of the F-35B has much improved performance. This type of aircraft carrier is in service with one for India and two for Italy, Spain also operates one amphibious assault ship as a STOVL aircraft carrier for four ships total in active carrier service; the UK and Thailand each have one active STOVL carrier but both no longer have any operational STOVL aircraft in inventory. Some also count the nine US amphibious assault ships in their secondary light carrier role boosting the overall total to fifteen.
- Helicopter Carrier: Helicopter carriers have a similar appearance to aircraft carriers with regular fixed wing operations. Some are designed for addition of, or may include, a ski jump ramp allowing for future STOVL operations or may have an unused ski jump installed before retirement of STOVL aircraft and repurposing, in the past conventional carriers were converted and called commando carriers or LPHs. Currently the majority of helicopter carriers but not all are classified as amphibious assault ships. South Korea has one of this type, Japan two, the UK two, France three, and Thailand one, and the US nine for a total of eighteen. The US's LHA and LHD class ships do operate a few STOVL aircraft in normal deployment, the UK's Illustrious, and the Thai HTMS Chakri Naruebet were STOVL aircraft carriers.
The 1903 advent of heavier-than-air, fixed-wing aircraft was closely followed in 1910 by the first experimental take-off of such an airplane from the deck of a United States Navy vessel (cruiser USS Birmingham), and the first experimental landings were conducted in 1911. On 9 May 1912 the first plane to take-off from a ship underway flew from the deck of the British Royal Navy's HMS Hibernia. On 9 May 1912,Seaplane tender support ships came next; in September 1914, the Imperial Japanese Navy Wakamiya conducted the world's first successful naval-launched air raids. Used against German forces during World War I, on 6 September 1914 a Farman aircraft launched by Wakamiya attacked the Austro-Hungarian cruiser Kaiserin Elisabeth and the German gunboat Jaguar in Qiaozhou Bay off Tsingtao; neither were hit.
The development of flattop vessels produced the first large fleet ships. In 1918, HMS Argus became the world's first carrier capable of launching and landing naval aircraft. As a result of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, which limited the construction of new heavy surface combat ships, most early aircraft carriers were conversions of ships that were laid down (or had served) as different ship types: cargo ships, cruisers, battle cruisers, or battleships. These conversions gave rise to Lexington-class aircraft carriers (1927), Akagi and Courageous-class. Specialist carrier evolution was well underway, with several navies ordering and building warships that were purposefully designed to function as aircraft carriers by the mid-1920s, resulting in the commissioning of ships such as Hōshō (1922), HMS Hermes (1924), and Béarn (1927). During World War II, these ships would become the backbone of the carrier forces of the United States, British, and Japanese navies, known as fleet carriers.
Prominence in World War II
The aircraft carrier dramatically changed naval combat in World War II.
This was because air power was becoming a significant factor in warfare. The advent of aircraft as focal weapons was driven by the superior range, flexibility and effectiveness of carrier-launched aircraft. They had higher range and precision than naval guns, making them highly effective. The versatility of the carrier was demonstrated in November 1940 when HMS Illustrious launched a long-range strike on the Italian fleet at their base in Taranto, signalling the beginning of the effective and highly mobile aircraft strikes. This operation incapacitated three of the six battleships at a cost of two torpedo bombers. World War II in the Pacific Ocean involved clashes between aircraft carrier fleets. The 1941 Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was a clear illustration of the power projection capability afforded by a large force of modern carriers. Concentrating six carriers in a single unit turned naval history about, as no other nation had fielded anything comparable. However, the vulnerability of carriers compared to traditional battleships when forced into a gun-range encounter was quickly illustrated by the sinking of HMS Glorious by German battle cruisers during the Norwegian campaign in 1940.
This new-found importance of naval aviation forced nations to create a number of carriers, in efforts to provide air superiority cover for every major fleet in order to ward off enemy aircraft. This extensive usage required the construction of several new 'light' carriers. Escort aircraft carriers, such as USS Bogue, were sometimes purpose-built, but most were converted from merchant ships as a stop-gap measure to provide anti-submarine air support for convoys and amphibious invasions. Following this concept, Light aircraft carriers built by the US, such as USS Independence, represented a larger, more "militarized" version of the escort carrier. Although with similar complement to Escort carriers, they had the advantage of speed from their converted cruiser hulls. The UK 1942 Design Light Fleet Carrier was designed for building quickly by civilian shipyards and with an expected service life of about 3 years. They served the Royal Navy during the war and was the hull design chosen for nearly all aircraft carrier equipped navies after the war until the 1980s. Emergencies also spurred the creation or conversion of highly unconventional aircraft carriers. CAM ships, were cargo-carrying merchant ships that could launch (but not retrieve) a single fighter aircraft from a catapult to defend the convoy from long range German aircraft.
Aircraft carrier designs since World War II have been effectively unlimited by any consideration save budgetary,[clarification needed] and the ships have increased in size to handle the larger aircraft. Before World War II international naval treaties of 1922, 1930 and 1936 limited the size of capital ships including carriers. The large, modern Nimitz class of US carriers has a displacement nearly four times that of the World War II–era USS Enterprise, yet its complement of aircraft is roughly the same—a consequence of the steadily increasing size and weight of military aircraft over the years.
Modern navies that operate such ships treat aircraft carriers as the capital ship of the fleet, a role previously held by the battleship. While some will call ballistic missile submarines capital ships, this is more in recognition of their overwhelming firepower as a national strategic nuclear deterrent than their role in the fleet. The change took place during World War II in response to air power becoming a significant factor in warfare. This change was driven by the superior range, flexibility and effectiveness of carrier-launched aircraft. Following the war, carrier operations continued to increase in size and importance. Supercarriers, displacing 75,000 tonnes or greater, have become the pinnacle of carrier development. Some are powered by nuclear reactors and form the core of a fleet designed to operate far from home. Amphibious assault ships, such as USS Tarawa and HMS Ocean, serve the purpose of carrying and landing Marines, and operate a large contingent of helicopters for that purpose. Also known as "commando carriers" or "helicopter carriers", many have a secondary capability to operate VSTOL aircraft.
Today's aircraft carriers are so expensive that nations which operate them risk significant political, economic, and military ramifications if a carrier was lost, or even used in conflict. Lacking the firepower of other warships, carriers by themselves are considered vulnerable to attack by other ships, aircraft, submarines, or missiles. Therefore, aircraft carriers are generally accompanied by a number of other ships to provide protection for the relatively unwieldy carrier, to carry supplies, and to provide additional offensive capabilities. This is often termed a battle group or carrier group, sometimes a carrier battle group.
Observers[vague] have opined that modern anti-ship weapons systems, such as torpedoes and missiles, have made aircraft carriers obsolete as too vulnerable for modern combat. Nuclear weapons would threaten whole naval carrier groups in open generalised combat. On the other hand, the proven or threatening role of aircraft carriers has an undeniably modern place in asymmetric warfare, like the gunboat diplomacy of the past. Furthermore, aircraft carriers facilitate quick and precise projections of overwhelming military power into such local and regional conflicts.
Carriers are large and long ships, although there is a high degree of variation depending on their intended role and aircraft complement. The size of the carrier has varied over history and among navies, to cater for the various roles that global climates have demanded from naval aviation.
Regardless of size, the ship itself must house their complement of aircraft, with space for launching, storing, and maintaining them. Space is also required for the large crew, supplies (food, munitions, fuel, engineering parts), and propulsion. US supercarriers are notable for having nuclear reactors powering their systems and propulsion. This makes the carrier reasonably tall.
The top of the carrier is the flight deck, where aircraft are launched and recovered. On the starboard side of this is the island, where air-traffic control and the bridge are located. The flight deck is where the most notable differences between a carrier and a land runway are found. Creating such a surface at sea poses constraints on the carrier – for example, the fact that it is a ship means that a full-length runway would be costly to construct and maintain. This affects take-off procedure, as a shorter runway length of the deck requires that aircraft accelerate more quickly to gain lift. This either requires a thrust boost, a vertical component to its velocity, or a reduced take-off load (to lower mass). These result in two main philosophies in order to keep the deck short: Catapult Assisted Take-Off (CATO-), and Vertical and/or Short Take-Off (V/STO-). Each method has advantages and disadvantages of its own. A catapult accelerates the plane by connecting it to a pressurised piston, and allows for even heavily-loaded aircraft to take off. Short take-off usually means either the use of a ski-jump and/or a reduced take-off load/capacity than normal to reduce the aircraft's mass. Vertical take-off or VTOL aircraft are specifically designed for that purpose, but are usually slower than conventionally-propelled aircraft.
On the recovery side of operations on the flight deck, this is mirrored: if the carrier deploys jets without VTOL capability, it will almost always have arrested-recovery systems (-BAR) to stop the plane, and an angled flight deck. If the aircraft are VTOL-capable or helicopters, they do not need to decelerate and hence there is no such need. The arrested-recovery system has used an angled deck since the 1950s because, in case the aircraft does not catch the arresting wire, the short deck allows easier take off by reducing the number of objects between the aircraft and the end of the runway. It also has the advantage of separating the recovery operation area from the launch area.
These constraints of affect the role of a given carrier strongly, as they influence the weight, type, and configuration of the aircraft that may be launched. For example, assisted launch mechanisms are used primarily for heavy aircraft, especially those loaded with air-to-ground weapons. CATOBAR is most commonly used on USN supercarriers as it allows the deployment of heavy jets with full loadouts, especially on ground-attack missions. STOVL is used by other navies because it is cheaper to operate and still provides good deployment capability for fighter aircraft.
Due to the busy nature of the flight deck, only 20 or so aircraft may be on it at any one time. A hangar storage several decks below the flight deck is where most aircraft are kept, and aircraft are taken from the lower storage decks to the flight deck through the use of an elevator. The hangar is usually quite large and can take up several decks of vertical space.
Munitions are commonly stored on the lower decks because they are highly explosive should the compartment they are in be breached. Usually this is below the water line so that the area can be flooded in case of emergency.
As "runways at sea", aircraft carriers have a flat-top flight deck, the job of which is to launch and recover aircraft. Aircraft launch forward, into the wind, and are recovered from astern. The differing types of deck configuration, as above, influence the structure of the flight deck. The form of launch assistance a carrier provides is strongly related to the types of aircraft embarked and the design of the carrier itself.
On Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) carriers, a steam-powered catapult is used to accelerate conventional aircraft to a safe flying speed by the end of the catapult stroke, after which the aircraft is airborne and further propulsion is provided by its own engines. On STOVL or Short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) carriers aircraft do not require catapult assistance for take off; instead on nearly all ships of this type an upwards vector is provided by a ski-jump at the forward end of the flight deck often combined with thrust vectoring by the aircraft; though a STOVL is able to launch without a ski-jump or catapult with reduced fuel and weapon load.
Carriers steam at speed, up to 35 knots (65 km/h) into the wind during flight deck operations to increase wind speed over the deck to a safe minimum. This increase in effective wind speed provides a higher launch airspeed for aircraft at the end of the catapult stroke or ski-jump, as well as making recovery safer by reducing the difference between the relative speeds of the aircraft and ship.
When recovering onto an 'Arrested Recovery' (CATOBAR or STOBAR) carrier, conventional aircraft rely on a tailhook that catches on arrestor wires stretched across the deck to bring them to a stop in a short distance. Post-WWII Royal Navy research on safer CATOBAR recovery eventually lead to universal adoption of a landing area angled off axis to allow aircraft who missed the arresting wires to "bolt" and safely return to flight for another landing attempt rather than crashing into aircraft on the forward deck. Helicopters and aircraft capable of vertical or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) usually recover by coming abreast the carrier on the port side and then using their hover capability to move over the flight deck and land vertically without the need for arresting gear.
Since the early 1950s on conventional carriers it has been the practice to recover aircraft at an angle to port of the axial line of the ship. The primary function of this angled deck is to allow aircraft that miss the arresting wires, referred to as a bolter, to become airborne again without the risk of hitting aircraft parked forward. The angled deck allows the installation of one or two "waist" catapults in addition to the two bow cats. An angled deck also improves launch and recovery cycle flexibility with the option of simultaneous launching and recovery of aircraft.
Conventional ("tailhook") aircraft rely upon a landing signal officer (LSO, sometimes called paddles) to monitor the aircraft's approach, visually gauge glideslope, attitude, and airspeed, and transmit that data to the pilot. Before the angled deck emerged in the 1950s, LSOs used colored paddles to signal corrections to the pilot (hence the nickname). From the late 1950s onward, visual landing aids such as optical landing system have provided information on proper glide slope, but LSOs still transmit voice calls to approaching pilots by radio.
Key personnel involved in the flight deck include the shooters, the handler, and the air boss. Shooters are naval aviators or Naval Flight Officers and are responsible for launching aircraft. The handler works just inside the island from the flight deck and is responsible for the movement of aircraft before launching and after recovery. The "air boss" (usually a commander) occupies the top bridge (Primary Flight Control, also called primary or the tower) and has the overall responsibility for controlling launch, recovery and "those aircraft in the air near the ship, and the movement of planes on the flight deck, which itself resembles a well-choreographed ballet." The captain of the ship spends most of his time one level below primary on the Navigation Bridge. Below this is the Flag Bridge, designated for the embarked admiral and his staff.
To facilitate working on the flight deck of a U.S. aircraft carrier, the sailors wear colored shirts that designate their responsibilities. There are at least seven different colors worn by flight deck personnel for modern United States Navy carrier air operations. Carrier operations of other nations use similar color schemes.
The superstructure of a carrier (such as the bridge, flight control tower) are concentrated to the starboard side of the deck in a relatively small area called an island, a feature pioneered on the HMS Hermes in 1923. Very few carriers have been designed or built without an island. The flush deck configuration proved to have very significant drawbacks, complicating navigation, air traffic control, and had numerous other adverse factors.
A more recent configuration, originally developed by the Royal Navy but since adopted by many navies for most smaller carriers, has a ski-jump ramp at the forward end of the flight deck. This was first developed to help launch STOVL aircraft take off at far higher weights than is possible with a vertical or rolling takeoff on flat decks. A ski-jump works by converting some of the forward rolling movement of the aircraft into vertical velocity and is sometimes combined with the aiming of jet thrust partly downwards. This allows heavily loaded and fueled aircraft a few more precious seconds to attain sufficient air velocity and lift to sustain normal flight. Without a ski-jump launching fully loaded and fueled aircraft such as the Harrier would not be possible on a smaller flat deck ship before either stalling out or crashing directly into the sea.
Although STOVL aircraft are capable of taking off vertically from a spot on the deck, using the ramp and a running start is far more fuel efficient and permits a heavier launch weight. As catapults are unnecessary, carriers with this arrangement reduce weight, complexity, and space needed for complex steam or electromagnetic launching equipment, vertical landing aircraft also remove the need for arresting cables and related hardware. Russian, Chinese, and future Indian carriers include a ski-jump ramp for launching lightly loaded conventional fighter aircraft but recover using traditional carrier arresting cables and a tailhook on their aircraft.
The disadvantage of the ski-jump is the penalty it exacts on aircraft size, payload, and fuel load (and thus range); heavily laden aircraft can not launch using a ski-jump because their high loaded weight requires either a longer takeoff roll than is possible on a carrier deck, or assistance from a catapult or JATO rocket, for example the Russian Su-33 is only able to launch from the carrier Kuznetsov with a minimal armament and fuel load. Another disadvantage is on mixed flight deck operations where helicopters are also present such as a US Landing Helicopter Dock or Landing Helicopter Assault amphibious assault ship a ski jump is not included as this would eliminate one or more helicopter landing areas, this flat deck limits the loading of Harriers but is somewhat mitigated by the longer rolling start provided by a long flight deck compared to many STOVL carriers.
Aircraft carriers classes in service
A total of 20 fleet carriers are in active service by ten navies. Additionally, the navies of Australia, Brazil, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States also operate ships capable of carrying and operating multiple helicopters and STOVL aircraft.
- Brazil (1)
- France (1)
- Charles de Gaulle (R91): 42,000 tonne nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, commissioned in 2001.
- United States (10)
- Nimitz class: ten 101,000 ton nuclear-powered supercarriers, the first of which was commissioned in 1975. A Nimitz-class carrier is powered by two nuclear reactors and four steam turbines and is 1,092 feet (333 m) long.
- China (1)
- Liaoning: formerly an incomplete stripped hulk of 57,000 tonne ex-Soviet Kuznetsov-class carrier Varyag, commissioned on 25 September 2012, and began service for testing and training. On 25 November 2012, Liaoning successfully launched and recovered several Shenyang J-15 fighters.
- Russia (1)
- Admiral Flota Sovetskovo Soyuza Kuznetsov: 55,000 tonne Kuznetsov-class STOBAR aircraft carrier. Launched in 1985 as Tbilisi, renamed and operational from 1995. Without catapults she can launch and recover lightly fueled naval fighters for air defense or anti-ship missions but not heavy conventional bombing strikes. Officially designated an aircraft carrying cruiser, she is unique in carrying a heavy cruiser's compliment of defensive weapons and large P-700 Granit offensive missiles. The P-700 systems will be removed in the coming refit to enlarge her below decks aviation facilities as well as upgrading her defensive systems.
- India (1)
- INS Vikramaditya, 45,400 tonnes, Modified Kiev-class. The carrier was purchased by India on 20 January 2004 after years of negotiations at a final price of $2.35 billion. The ship successfully completed her sea trials in July 2013 and aviation trials in September 2013. She was formally commissioned on 16 November 2013 at a ceremony held at Severodvinsk, Russia.
- India (1)
- INS Viraat: 28,700 tonne ex-British STOVL converted carrier HMS Hermes (launched 1953), purchased in 1986 and commissioned in 1987, scheduled to be decommissioned in 2019.
- Italy (2)
- Giuseppe Garibaldi (551): 14,000 tonne Italian STOVL carrier, commissioned in 1985.
- Cavour (550): 27,000 tonne Italian STOVL carrier designed and built with secondary amphibious assault facilities, commissioned in 2008.
- Spain (1)
- Juan Carlos I (L61): 27,000 tonne, Specially designed multipurpose strategic projection ship which can operate as an amphibious assault ship or STOVL carrier depending on mission requirement, has full facilities for both functions including a ski jump ramp, well deck, and vehicle storage area which can be used as additional hangar space, launched in 2008, commissioned 30 September 2010.
- United States (9)
- Tarawa class* a class of 40,000 ton amphibious assault ships, of which one, USS Peleliu (LHA-5), remains in service. Ships of this class have been used in wartime in their secondary mission as a light carriers with 20 AV-8B Harrier II aircraft after unloading their marine expeditionary unit. Scheduled to be decommissioned in 2014 and replaced by the 45,000 ton USS America (LHA-6).
- Wasp class* a class of eight 41,000 ton amphibious assault ships, members of this class have been used in wartime in their secondary mission as light carriers in the with 20 to 25 AV-8Bs after unloading their Marine expeditionary unit.
(* Normally carries only 6 Harriers; primary purpose is carrying, deploying, and supporting the transport and attack helicopters, tanks, trucks, guns, marines, and the equipment of an embarked Marine expeditionary unit.)
- Japan (2)
- Hyūga-class helicopter destroyer 13,950 ton helicopter-only anti-submarine warfare carrier with enhanced command-and-control capabilities allowing them to serve as fleet flagships.
Offshore helicopter support ships:
- Thailand (1)
- HTMS Chakri Naruebet helicopter carrier: 11,400 tonne STOVL carrier based on Spanish Príncipe de Asturias design. Commissioned in 1997. The AV-8S Matador/Harrier STOVL fighter wing, mostly inoperable by 1999, was retired from service without replacement in 2006. Ship now used for royal transport, helicopter operations, and as a disaster relief platform.
Amphibious assault ships:
- France (3)
- Mistral-class amphibious assault ship 21,500 tonne full deck amphibious assault ship with hospital and well deck.
- Republic of Korea (1)
- Dokdo class amphibious assault ship 18,860 ton full deck amphibious assault ship with hospital and well deck and facilities to serve as fleet flagships.
- United Kingdom (2)
- HMS Illustrious: 22,000 tonne STOVL Invincible class carrier, commissioned in 1982. Originally there were three of her class but the other two have since been retired to save money. Fixed-wing aircraft carrier operations ended after first Sea Harrier and then RAF/RN joint force Harrier II aircraft were retired by the UK as a cost-saving measure in 2010, now operating as a Landing Platform Helicopter until Ocean is out of refit in 2014 and then to be preserved as a memorial.
- HMS Ocean amphibious assault ship 21,750 ton full deck amphibious assault ship based on the Invincible-class aircraft carrier hull but without facilities for fixed wing aviation.
Future aircraft carriers
The Canberra Class landing helicopter dock based on the Spanish Juan Carlos I jointly built by Navantia and BAE Systems Australia, and are the largest ship ever built for the Royal Australian Navy. HMAS Canberra is to under go sea trails in late 2013 and is to be commissioned in early 2014, while HMAS Adelaide is expected to enter service in 2016. The Australian version retains the ski-ramp from the Juan Carlos I, However the RAN has opted against a carrier based fixed-wing capability.
On 25 September 2012, NBCNews.com reported that the Chinese government had commissioned their first aircraft carrier, Liaoning. However, this carrier was not built by the Chinese, but rather laid down for the Soviet Navy in 1988 and partially completed at a Ukrainian shipyard as Varyag. It was later purchased as a stripped hulk by China in 1998 on the pretext of use as a floating casino, then partially rebuilt and towed to China for completion. On 24 November 2012, China announced that for the first time Liaoning had successfully launched and recovered several J-15 fighter aircraft.
According to James Nolt, senior fellow at the World Policy Institute in New York, it might take China many years to develop the technology, training, and operational capability necessary for an effective carrier.
The French Navy has set in motion possible plans for a second CTOL aircraft carrier, to supplement Charles de Gaulle. The design would be much larger, at 65,000–75,000 tonnes, and would not be nuclear-powered like Charles de Gaulle. There are plans to base the carrier on the current Royal Navy design for CATOBAR operations (the Thales/BAE Systems design for the Royal Navy is for a STOVL carrier that can be reconfigured to CATOBAR operations.)
On 21 June 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy placed France's participation in the project on hold. He stated that a final decision on the future of the French carrier would be taken in 2011 or 2012. British plans for two aircraft carriers will proceed and were in no way conditional on French participation. The project was cancelled as part of the 2013 defence review.
India started the construction of a 40,000-tonne, 260-metre-long Vikrant-class aircraft carrier in 2009. The new carrier will cost US$762 million and will operate MiG-29K, Naval HAL Tejas, and Sea Harrier aircraft along with the Indian-made helicopter HAL Dhruv. The ship will be powered by four turbine engines and will have a range of 8,000 nautical miles (14,000 km), carrying 160 officers, 1,400 sailors, and 30 aircraft. The carrier is being constructed by a state-run shipyard in Cochin. The ship was launched into sea in August 2013 and is scheduled for commissioning in 2018.
In December 2009, Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma said at his maiden navy week press conference that concepts currently being examined by the Directorate of Naval Design for the second indigenous aircraft carrier, the IAC-2, are for a conventionally powered carrier displacing over 50,000 tons and equipped with steam catapults (rather than the ski-jump on the Gorshkov/Vikramaditya and the IAC) to launch fourth-generation aircraft. The aim is to have a total of three aircraft carriers in service, with two fully operational carriers and the third in refit.
In August 2013, A launching ceremony for Japan's largest military ship since World War II is held in Yokohama on Tuesday, August 6. The 820-foot-long, 19,500-ton flattop destroyer Izumo will be deployed in March 2015.
Speaking in St. Petersburg, Russia on 30 June 2011, the head of Russia's United Shipbuilding Corporation said his company expected to begin design work for a new carrier in 2016, with a goal of beginning construction in 2018 and having the carrier achieve initial operational capability by 2023. Several months later, on 3 November 2011 the Russian newspaper Izvestiya reported that the naval building plan now included (first) the construction of a new shipyard capable of building large hull ships, after which Moscow will build two(80 000 tons full load each) nuclear-powered aircraft carriers by 2027. The spokesperson said one carrier would be assigned to the Russian Navy's Northern Fleet at Murmansk, and the second would be stationed with the Pacific Fleet at Vladivostok.
The Republic of Korea Navy believes it can deploy two light aircraft carriers by 2036 and expand its blue-water force to cope with the rapid naval buildups of China and Japan, according to a Navy source.
The Royal Navy is constructing two new larger STOVL aircraft carriers, the Queen Elizabeth class, to replace the three Invincible-class carriers. The ships will be named HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. They will be able to operate up to 40 aircraft, and will have a displacement of 70,600 tonnes. The ships are due to become operational from 2020. Their primary aircraft complement will be made up of F-35B Lightning IIs, and their ship's company will number around 680 with the total complement rising to about 1600 when the air group is embarked. The two ships will be the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy.
The current US fleet of Nimitz-class carriers will be followed into service (and in some cases replaced) by the Gerald R. Ford class. It is expected that the ships will be more automated in an effort to reduce the amount of funding required to maintain and operate its supercarriers. The main new features are implementation of Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) (which replace the old steam catapults) and unmanned aerial vehicles.
With the deactivation of the USS Enterprise in December 2012 (decommissioning scheduled for 2013), the U.S. fleet comprises 10 supercarriers. The House Armed Services Seapower subcommittee on 24 July 2007, recommended seven or maybe eight new carriers (one every four years). However, the debate has deepened over budgeting for the $12–14.5 billion (plus $12 billion for development and research) for the 100,000 ton Gerald R. Ford-class carrier (estimated service 2015) compared to the smaller $2 billion 45,000 ton America-class amphibious assault ships able to deploy squadrons of F-35B of which two are already under construction and twelve are planned.
- Carrier-based aircraft
- Modern US Navy carrier air operations
- Project Habakkuk
- Mobile offshore base
- Hull classification symbol
- Unsinkable aircraft carrier
- Seaplane tender
- Balloon carrier
- Airborne aircraft carrier
- Submarine aircraft carrier
- List of aircraft carriers
- List of amphibious warfare ships
- Number of warships in service worldwide
- dictionary.com Aircraft carrier
- GlobalSecurity.org World Wide Aircraft Carriers
- Encyclopaedia Britannica Aircraft Carrier: "Subsequent design modifications produced such variations as the light carrier, equipped with large amounts of electronic gear for the detection of submarines, and the helicopter carrier, intended for conducting amphibious assault. ... Carriers with combined capabilities are classified as multipurpose carriers."
- United States Navy fact File: Amphibious Assault Ships - LHA/LHD/LHA(R)
- "Aircraft carriers crucial, Royal Navy chief warns." BBC, 4 July 2012.
- The Naval Review and the AviatorsFlight 18 May 1912
- "Flight From the Hibernia". The Times (London) (39895): 8 col.3. 10 May 1912.
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- Ships That Mother Seaplanes: craft of the "hush-hush" fleet may play a part in first trans-Atlantic flight. Popular Science monthly, February 1919, page 80, on Google Books.