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Helicopter carriers can either have a full-length aircraft deck like HMS Ocean, or have a large helicopter deck, usually aft, as in the Soviet Navy's Moskva class, the Chinese Navy's Type 0891A or RFA Argus. A full-length deck maximises deck space for helicopter landing spots. Such a design also allows for a hangar deck.
Pure helicopter carriers are difficult to define in the 21st century. The advent of STOVL aircraft such as the Harrier Jump Jet have complicated the classification; the United States Navy's Wasp class, for instance, carries six to eight Harriers as well as over 20 helicopters. Only smaller carriers unable to operate the Harrier and older pre-Harrier-era carriers can be regarded as true helicopter carriers. In many cases, other carriers, able to operate STOVL aircraft, are classified as "light aircraft carriers". Other vessels, such as the Wasp class, are also capable of embarking troops such as marines and landing them ashore; they are classified as amphibious assault ships.
HMS Hermes and two of her sisters were 22,000 ton fleet carriers converted to "commando carriers" only able to operate helicopters. Hermes was later converted to a STOVL carrier.
Helicopter carriers by country
|Country||Navy||In service||In reserve||Under construction|
|Australia||Royal Australian Navy||2||0||0|
|India||Indian Navy||0||0||0 (+ 4 planned)|
|Japan||Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force||4||0||0|
|South Korea||Republic of Korea Navy||1||0||1|
|Spain||Royal Spanish Navy||1||0||0|
|Thailand||Royal Thai Navy||1||0||0|
|United Kingdom||Royal Navy||1||0||0|
|United States||United States Navy||9||3||1 (+ 10 planned)|
Helicopter carriers currently in use
|Country||Name (Hull number)||Length||Tonnage (mt)||Class||Propulsion||Type||Classification||Commission|
|Australia||Canberra (L02)||230.82 m (757.3 ft)||27,500 mt||Canberra
(modified Juan Carlos I)
|Conventional||STOVL||Landing Helicopter Dock||28 November 2014|
|Australia||Adelaide (L01)||230.82 m (757.3 ft)||27,500 mt||Canberra
(modified Juan Carlos I)
|Conventional||STOVL||Landing Helicopter Dock||4 December 2015|
|Egypt||Gamal Abdel Nasser (L1010)||199 m (653 ft)||21,300 mt||Mistral||Conventional||VTOL||Landing Helicopter Dock||2 June 2016|
|Egypt||Anwar El Sadat (L1020)||199 m (653 ft)||21,300 mt||Mistral||Conventional||VTOL||Landing Helicopter Dock||16 September 2016|
|France||Mistral (L9013)||199 m (653 ft)||21,300 mt||Mistral||Conventional||VTOL||Landing Helicopter Dock||December 2005|
|France||Tonnerre (L9014)||199 m (653 ft)||21,300 mt||Mistral||Conventional||VTOL||Landing Helicopter Dock||December 2006|
|France||Dixmude (L9015)||199 m (653 ft)||21,300 mt||Mistral||Conventional||VTOL||Landing Helicopter Dock||December 2011|
|Japan||JS Kaga (DDH-184)||248 m (814 ft)||27,000 mt||Izumo||Conventional||VTOL||Helicopter destroyer||22 March 2017|
|Japan||JS Izumo (DDH-183)||248 m (814 ft)||27,000 mt||Izumo||Conventional||VTOL||Helicopter destroyer||25 March 2015|
|Japan||JS Hyūga (DDH-181)||197 m (646 ft)||19,000 mt||Hyūga||Conventional||VTOL||Helicopter destroyer||18 March 2009|
|Japan||JS Ise (DDH-182)||197 m (646 ft)||19,000 mt||Hyūga||Conventional||VTOL||Helicopter destroyer||16 March 2011|
|South Korea||Dokdo (LPH-6111)||199 m (653 ft)||18,800 mt||Dokdo||Conventional||VTOL||Landing Platform Helicopter||3 July 2007|
|Spain||Juan Carlos I (L-61)||230.82 m (757.3 ft)||27,079 mt||Juan Carlos I||Conventional||STOVL||Landing Helicopter Dock||30 September 2010|
|UK||Ocean (L12)||203.4 m (667 ft)||21,500 mt||Ocean||Conventional||VTOL||Landing Platform Helicopter||30 September 1998|
|UK||Argus (A135)||175.1 m (574 ft)||20,081 mt||Unique merchant conversion||Conventional||VTOL||Aviation Training Ship||1 June 1988|
|US||America (LHA-6)||257.3 m (844 ft)||45,000 mt||America||Conventional||STOVL||Landing Helicopter Assault||11 October 2014|
|US||Wasp (LHD-1)||257 m (843 ft)||40,532 mt||Wasp||Conventional||STOVL||Landing Helicopter Dock||29 July 1989|
|US||Essex (LHD-2)||257 m (843 ft)||40,650 mt||Wasp||Conventional||STOVL||Landing Helicopter Dock||17 October 1992|
|US||Kearsarge (LHD-3)||257 m (843 ft)||40,500 mt||Wasp||Conventional||STOVL||Landing Helicopter Dock||16 October 1993|
|US||Boxer (LHD-4)||257 m (843 ft)||40,722 mt||Wasp||Conventional||STOVL||Landing Helicopter Dock||11 February 1995|
|US||Bataan (LHD-5)||257 m (843 ft)||40,358 mt||Wasp||Conventional||STOVL||Landing Helicopter Dock||20 September 1997|
|US||Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6)||257 m (843 ft)||40,500 mt||Wasp||Conventional||STOVL||Landing Helicopter Dock||15 August 1998|
|US||Iwo Jima (LHD-7)||257 m (843 ft)||40,530 mt||Wasp||Conventional||STOVL||Landing Helicopter Dock||30 June 2001|
|US||Makin Island (LHD-8)||258 m (846 ft)||41,649 mt||Wasp||Conventional||STOVL||Landing Helicopter Dock||24 October 2009|
Retired helicopter carriers
- USS Iwo Jima (United States Navy) – the lead ship of the Iwo Jima class
- HMS Bulwark, HMS Albion, (Royal Navy) – helicopter carriers of the 1960s–1980s
- Moskva class (Soviet Navy)
- Vittorio Veneto class (Italian Marina Militare)
- Jeanne d'Arc (French Navy, decommissioned in 2010)
- USCGC Cobb (WPG-181) (US Coast Guard, decommissioned in 1946) – World's first helicopter carrier.
- HMS Illustrious (Royal Navy) An Invincible-class light aircraft carrier, which operated as a helicopter carrier when HMS Ocean was being refitted.
- "HMS Ocean (LPH01) Helicopter Carrier". Naval Technology. 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2014-04-20.
- "DCNS delivers the second Mistral-class helicopter carrier to the Egyptian Navy, the LHD Anwar El Sadat". 16 September 2016.
- "Hyuga Class". JMSDF Gallery (in Japanese). JMSDF. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
- B. Ireland and F. Crosby (2011). The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Aircraft Carriers And Naval Aircraft. Hermes House. p. 189.
- World Wide Aircraft Carriers
- "America 'Sails Away' for Maiden Transit to San Diego Homeport". United States Navy. 10 October 2014.
- "BBC News – Warship HMS Illustrious starts sea trials". Bbc.co.uk. 2011-06-17. Retrieved 2014-04-20.
Media related to Helicopter carriers at Wikimedia Commons