Supercarrier
Overview
 
Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

, usually displacing
Displacement (ship)
A ship's displacement is its weight at any given time, generally expressed in metric tons or long tons. The term is often used to mean the ship's weight when it is loaded to its maximum capacity. A number of synonymous terms exist for this maximum weight, such as loaded displacement, full load...

 over 70,000 long ton
Long ton
Long ton is the name for the unit called the "ton" in the avoirdupois or Imperial system of measurements, as used in the United Kingdom and several other Commonwealth countries. It has been mostly replaced by the tonne, and in the United States by the short ton...

s.
Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

, usually displacing
Displacement (ship)
A ship's displacement is its weight at any given time, generally expressed in metric tons or long tons. The term is often used to mean the ship's weight when it is loaded to its maximum capacity. A number of synonymous terms exist for this maximum weight, such as loaded displacement, full load...

 over 70,000 long ton
Long ton
Long ton is the name for the unit called the "ton" in the avoirdupois or Imperial system of measurements, as used in the United Kingdom and several other Commonwealth countries. It has been mostly replaced by the tonne, and in the United States by the short ton...

s.
Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

, usually displacing
Displacement (ship)
A ship's displacement is its weight at any given time, generally expressed in metric tons or long tons. The term is often used to mean the ship's weight when it is loaded to its maximum capacity. A number of synonymous terms exist for this maximum weight, such as loaded displacement, full load...

 over 70,000 long ton
Long ton
Long ton is the name for the unit called the "ton" in the avoirdupois or Imperial system of measurements, as used in the United Kingdom and several other Commonwealth countries. It has been mostly replaced by the tonne, and in the United States by the short ton...

s.David Miller and Lindsay Peacock, Carriers: The Men and the Machines (London and New York: Salamander, 1991), p.
Encyclopedia
Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

, usually displacing
Displacement (ship)
A ship's displacement is its weight at any given time, generally expressed in metric tons or long tons. The term is often used to mean the ship's weight when it is loaded to its maximum capacity. A number of synonymous terms exist for this maximum weight, such as loaded displacement, full load...

 over 70,000 long ton
Long ton
Long ton is the name for the unit called the "ton" in the avoirdupois or Imperial system of measurements, as used in the United Kingdom and several other Commonwealth countries. It has been mostly replaced by the tonne, and in the United States by the short ton...

s.
Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

, usually displacing
Displacement (ship)
A ship's displacement is its weight at any given time, generally expressed in metric tons or long tons. The term is often used to mean the ship's weight when it is loaded to its maximum capacity. A number of synonymous terms exist for this maximum weight, such as loaded displacement, full load...

 over 70,000 long ton
Long ton
Long ton is the name for the unit called the "ton" in the avoirdupois or Imperial system of measurements, as used in the United Kingdom and several other Commonwealth countries. It has been mostly replaced by the tonne, and in the United States by the short ton...

s.
Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

, usually displacing
Displacement (ship)
A ship's displacement is its weight at any given time, generally expressed in metric tons or long tons. The term is often used to mean the ship's weight when it is loaded to its maximum capacity. A number of synonymous terms exist for this maximum weight, such as loaded displacement, full load...

 over 70,000 long ton
Long ton
Long ton is the name for the unit called the "ton" in the avoirdupois or Imperial system of measurements, as used in the United Kingdom and several other Commonwealth countries. It has been mostly replaced by the tonne, and in the United States by the short ton...

s.David Miller and Lindsay Peacock, Carriers: The Men and the Machines (London and New York: Salamander, 1991), p. 7: "There are four main types of carrier in service today. Largest of these are the super-carriers displacing over 70,000 tons; the U.S. Navy currently has fourteen, the Soviet Navy one." > The U.S. Navy currently has 11 such ships. >Putting the Pentagon on a Recessionary Diet > In comparison, a few countries operate what are by today's standards medium carriers (fleet carrier
Fleet carrier
A fleet carrier is an aircraft carrier that is designed to operate with the main fleet of a nation's navy. The term was developed during the Second World War, to distinguish it from the escort carrier and other lesser types...

) of around 40,000 tons such as the French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R91). The size and configuration of the Charles de Gaulle corresponds closely with the 45,000 ton Midway class
Midway class aircraft carrier
The Midway class aircraft carrier was one of the longest lived carrier designs in history. First commissioned in late 1945, the lead ship of the class, was not decommissioned until 1992, shortly after service in Operation Desert Storm in 1991.-History:...

 the United States built at the end of World War II, as a successor class to the much more numerous 27,000 ton Essex class aircraft carrier
Essex class aircraft carrier
The Essex class was a class of aircraft carriers of the United States Navy, which constituted the 20th century's most numerous class of capital ships with 24 vessels built in both "short-hull" and "long-hull" versions. Thirty-two were originally ordered; however as World War II wound down, six were...

 which did the heavy lifting in WW-II after 1943 when they entered service. Internationally, light carriers closer to 20,000 tons (such as HMS Illustrious
HMS Illustrious (R06)
HMS Illustrious is the second of three Invincible-class light aircraft carriers built for the Royal Navy in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She is the fifth warship and second aircraft carrier to bear the name Illustrious, and is affectionately known as "Lusty" to her crew...

) are more typical. Supercarriers are the largest warship
Warship
A warship is a ship that is built and primarily intended for combat. Warships are usually built in a completely different way from merchant ships. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more maneuvrable than merchant ships...

s ever built eclipsing even the largest battleship classes laid down by all countries.

History

The first ship to be described by The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

as a supercarrier was in 1938;. with a length of 685 ft and a displacement of 22,000 tons, it was designed to carry 72 aircraft."The Ark Royal Launched. Most Up-To-Date Carrier. Aircraft In The Fleet", The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

(14 April 1937), p. 11.
In 1943, the superlative was transferred to the 45,000-ton carriers of the Midway class
Midway class aircraft carrier
The Midway class aircraft carrier was one of the longest lived carrier designs in history. First commissioned in late 1945, the lead ship of the class, was not decommissioned until 1992, shortly after service in Operation Desert Storm in 1991.-History:...

, as a step-up from the 27,000-ton Essex class
Essex class aircraft carrier
The Essex class was a class of aircraft carriers of the United States Navy, which constituted the 20th century's most numerous class of capital ships with 24 vessels built in both "short-hull" and "long-hull" versions. Thirty-two were originally ordered; however as World War II wound down, six were...

.John G Norris, "World's Largest Warships: Three 45,000-Ton Carriers For Bombers Ordered by Navy", The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

(23 October 1943), p. 1.
The post-war standard for supercarriers was set by the proposed and ."Va. Firm Gets Giant Carrier Building Job. 65,000-Ton Warship Will Be Largest in Postwar Program", The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

(8 August 1948), p. 3.


Forrestal displaced 60,000 tons standard and 78,000 tons in deep load and is considered the first operational supercarrier in the present-day sense, as dubbed by the American press. The similarly-sized United States would have been in service earlier, had it been completed; its cancellation triggered the "Revolt of the Admirals
Revolt of the Admirals
The Revolt of the Admirals is a name given to an episode that took place in the late 1940s in which several United States Navy admirals and high-ranking civilian officials publicly disagreed with the President and the Secretary of Defense's strategy and plans for the military forces in the early...

".

The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

's 85,000-ton nuclear carrier Ulyanovsk
Soviet aircraft carrier Ulyanovsk
Ulyanovsk was the first of a class of Soviet nuclear-powered supercarriers which for the first time would have offered true blue water aviation capability for the Soviet Navy...

, closely comparable in size to earlier American supercarriers, was 40% complete when it and a follow-on vessel were canceled in 1991 during post-Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 funding cuts.

The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 is no longer alone in building supercarriers, with the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 building two 65,600-ton carriers Queen Elizabeth class
Queen Elizabeth class
Queen Elizabeth class may refer to*Queen Elizabeth class battleship - of the early 20th century*Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier - planned design of the 1960s...

, and France considering building one vessel
Future French aircraft carrier
PA2 is a planned new aircraft carrier developed for the French Navy by Thales Naval France and DCNS from the Thales UK/BMT design for the future British Queen Elizabeth class....

, possibly based on the same design. These ships are routinely referred to as supercarriers by British legislator
Legislator
A legislator is a person who writes and passes laws, especially someone who is a member of a legislature. Legislators are usually politicians and are often elected by the people...

sHouse of Commons Written Questions for Answer, 8 September 2003 House of Lords, 15 March 2007.House of Commons Written Answers for 17 June 2008Select Committee on Scottish Affairs Minutes of Evidence, Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1–19), 17 July 2007 and the media
News media
The news media are those elements of the mass media that focus on delivering news to the general public or a target public.These include print media , broadcast news , and more recently the Internet .-Etymology:A medium is a carrier of something...

. The two Queen Elizabeth class vessels will provide the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 with capabilities much closer to United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 carriers than its current Invincible class
Invincible class aircraft carrier
The Invincible class is a class of light aircraft carrier operated by the British Royal Navy. Three ships were constructed, , and . The vessels were built as aviation-capable anti-submarine warfare platforms to counter the Cold War North Atlantic Soviet submarine threat, and initially embarked...

 vessels. Giving evidence to the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 Defence Committee, the then First Sea Lord
First Sea Lord
The First Sea Lord is the professional head of the Royal Navy and the whole Naval Service; it was formerly known as First Naval Lord. He also holds the title of Chief of Naval Staff, and is known by the abbreviations 1SL/CNS...

 Admiral Sir Alan West explained that interoperability with the United States Navy was as much a deciding factor of the size of the carriers as the firepower of the carrier's airwing:
Future plans for supercarriers in the United States involve the construction of the U.S. Navy's next generation of carriers, the Gerald R. Ford class, which will have a 100,000 ton displacement.

Alternatives

The United States maintains eleven of these ships. Given their vulnerability to conventional and asymmetrical threats, more and smaller carriers have been suggested over the years, such as Elmo Zumwalt's Sea Control Ship
Sea Control Ship
The Sea Control Ship was a small aircraft carrier developed and conceptualized by the United States Navy under Chief of Naval Operations Elmo Zumwalt during the 1970s. Currently the term refers to naval vessels that can perform similar duties. The SCS was intended as an escort vessel, providing...

, and carriers the size of carrying STOVL
STOVL
STOVL is an acronym for short take off and vertical landing.This is the ability of some aircraft to take off from a short runway or take off vertically if it does not have a very heavy payload and land vertically...

 and UCAV aircraft.Fortress at Sea? The Carrier Invulnerability MythLawmaker Calls for Study on Small Carriers However, supercarriers' advocates consider them to be more cost effective than smaller carriers.Warbirds of the sea: a history of aircraft carriers & carrier-based aircraft, By Walter A. Musciano, Page 553

The mobile offshore base
Mobile offshore base
In the defense industry of the United States, a mobile offshore base — or MOB — is a concept for supporting military operations where conventional land bases are not available...

 (MOB) is a concept for a modular floating military base as large as 10 aircraft carriers. If realized, it could be moved anywhere throughout the world's oceans, obviating the need to seek permission from allied nations for use of land bases. The concept was studied in the 1990s by the U.S. government but was abandoned in 2001 as cost prohibitive.

Classes

  • United States class
    USS United States (CVA-58)
    USS United States , the third ship of the United States Navy named for the nation, but canceled during construction, was to be the lead ship of a new design of aircraft carrier. On 29 July 1948 President Harry Truman approved construction of five "supercarriers", for which funds had been provided...

     (USA
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

    , 1950s): Single-unit laid down, cancelled along with four others
  • Forrestal class
    Forrestal class aircraft carrier
    The Forrestal-class aircraft carriers were a four-ship class designed and built for the United States Navy in the 1950s. It was the first class of so-called supercarriers, combining high tonnage, deck-edge elevators and an angled deck...

     (USA, 1955): Four-unit class, all decommissioned
  • Kitty Hawk class
    Kitty Hawk class aircraft carrier
    The Kitty Hawk-class supercarriers of the United States Navy were an incremental improvement on the Forrestal-class vessels. Four were built, all in the 1960s, , , and...

     (USA, 1961): Four-unit class, all decommissioned
  • Enterprise class
    USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
    USS Enterprise , formerly CVA-65, is the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the eighth US naval vessel to bear the name. Like her predecessor of World War II fame, she is nicknamed the "Big E". At , she is the longest naval vessel in the world...

     (USA, 1961): Six-unit class, five cancelled, one still active
  • Project 1153 Orel
    Project 1153 OREL
    Project 1153 OREL was a 1970s-era Soviet program to give the Soviet Navy a true blue water aviation capability. The ship would have been about 75-80,000 tons displacement, with a nuclear power plant and carried about 70 aircraft launched via steam catapults...

     (USSR, 1970s): Cancelled
  • Nimitz class
    Nimitz class aircraft carrier
    The Nimitz-class supercarriers are a class of ten nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in service with the United States Navy. With an overall length of and full-load displacements of over 100,000 long tons, they are the largest capital ships in the world...

     (USA, 1975): 10 unit class, all active.
  • Ulyanovsk class
    Soviet aircraft carrier Ulyanovsk
    Ulyanovsk was the first of a class of Soviet nuclear-powered supercarriers which for the first time would have offered true blue water aviation capability for the Soviet Navy...

     (USSR
    Soviet Union
    The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

    , 1990s): Two units cancelled after partial completion
  • Gerald R. Ford class (USA, 2015): One unit in construction, one ordered, one pending order, further seven planned
  • Queen Elizabeth class (UK
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

    , 2016-2018): Two units under construction
  • Future French aircraft carrier
    Future French aircraft carrier
    PA2 is a planned new aircraft carrier developed for the French Navy by Thales Naval France and DCNS from the Thales UK/BMT design for the future British Queen Elizabeth class....

     (France
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

    , projected 2017):

See also


External links

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