" When word of a global political crisis breaks out in Washington, it’s no accident that the ﬁrst question that comes to everyone’s lips is, ‘where is the nearest carrier?' " -statement by President Bill Clinton in the 1990's on-board the Aircraft Carrier Theodore Roosevelt.
THE HISTORY AND EVOLUTION OF THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER.
It all started with the first start and landing from an anchored ship.
This was the very first time that an airplane had landed aboard an anchored ship.
But as winds in the bay were 10 to 15 miles per hour (4.5–6.7 meters per second), Ely elected to have the cruiser remain anchored.
Ely and his wife, Mabel, were guests of Captain Pond for lunch.
Photographs were taken and 57 minutes after his landing, he took off for the return flight to safe ground again.
The temporary wooden deck had been erected aboard the ship at the Mare Island shipyard. It was 133 feet, 7 inches (40.7 meters) long and 31 feet, 6 inches (9.6 meters) wide. Twenty-two manila hemp cables were stretched across the deck at 3-foot (0.9-meter) intervals. These were to catch hooks mounted beneath Ely’s airplane and drag it to a stop. Each cable had a 50-pound (22.7 kilogram) sand bag at each end. The bags were precisely weighed so that the Curtiss would not slew to one side. A guideway was laid out on the deck with 2-inch × 4-inch (5 × 10 centimeter) planks, and 2-foot (0.6-meter) high barriers were at each edge of the flight deck. The use of arresting wires would become common with aircraft carrier operations.
About Eugene Burton Ely - The first civilian aviator to start and land aboard a ship.
Together with his wife and friend Mabel, he traveled the country, “barnstorming,” making flight demonstrations and entering aviation meets.
He was later killed that same year, at Macon, Georgia, 19 October 1911, when he was unable to pull out of a dive.
The picture shows Eugene Burton Ely with his Curtiss Pusher. He is wearing an improvised life vest made of bicycle tire inner tubes.
Jul. 11, 1919 - The Naval Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1920 provided for the conversion of the collier Jupiter into a ship specifically designed to launch and recover airplanes at sea. It was an aircraft carrier, that was later to be named USS Langley.
The engineering plans for this conversion were modified in November and it was then included that catapults would be fitted at BOTH the forward and at the after endings, of the flydeck.
On March 20, 1922, the Navy commissioned the Langley, its ﬁrst carrier, built from a converted collier called the Jupiter. Later that year, as a result of the 1922 Washington Naval Limitation Treaty, which limited battleship inventories, Congress authorized the conversion of the unﬁnished battleships Lexington and Saratoga. In June 1934, the Ranger, the ﬁrst ship built as an aircraft carrier, was commissioned.
[ The picture shows the first ever built Aircraft Carrier - the Langley, constructed in the year 1922. ]
Carriers ﬁgured heavily in World War II, particularly during operations in the Paciﬁc [Asia/Japan area]. The Japanese launched their attack on U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, from carriers, and in May, 1942, the United States struck back decisively in the Battle of the Coral Sea - The really ﬁrst naval battle conducted, in which the opposing ﬂeets fought without their ships coming in sight of one another. A month later, the Battle of Midway proved one of the turning points in the war, and reinforced the whole concept of naval air support.
By the end of World War II, the United States had commissioned more than 34 carriers, with several more made operational late in 1945. But it had also lost several such vessels, including the ﬁrst two, the Langley and the Lexington. Following the war, the introduction of guided missiles revolutionized the nature of the carrier battle group, while nuclear ﬁssion replaced diesel power for the most advanced carriers.
But as the Cold War progressed, it became clear that only extraordinary aircraft carriers could support the vessels’ emerging threefold purpose:
to deliver air strikes against targets on sea and land;
to protect other ships at long range;
and to support antisubmarine operations through their battle groups.
Only a true economic power could afford to build carriers big enough to perform all three tasks,
—A distinction that, in effect, separated the United States from the rest of the world and, today, still does.
With its launch of its 59th carrier, Forrestal, in 1959, the United States introduced the new era of 'the very large carrier'. The Forrestal included rectangular extensions on the rear part of the ﬂight deck, which greatly expanded the deck area. Designers had also moved the elevators off to the side, so that they could be used even as aircraft were taking off and landing.
Two years later, in 1961, the Navy introduced its ﬁrst nuclear-powered carrier, the Enterprise. It is no accident that the world’s most well-known ﬁctional spaceship, from the 1960s television show Star Trek, was also called the Enterprise. During that era, the standard of excellence among carriers—the epitomy of technological superiority anyone was likely to encounter in real life—was the Enterprise, which carried 100 aircraft, displaced 75,700 tons (68,674 tonnes), and moved at speeds higher than 30 knots (55.6 kph).
With eight nuclear reactors, it could travel for three years before the nuclear fuel needed to be replaced in port/dock.
As impressive as it was, the Enterprise would be eclipsed by the Nimitz (commissioned in May 1975) and the rest of the ships within its class. Instead of the former eight nuclear reactors, these required only two new ones, whose uranium cores needed to be replaced, only once every 13 years. The carriers weight displaced 81,600 tons each, but had much smaller propulsion systems, and thus, could therefore example store much more aircraft fuel onboard as needed.
Components in the Carrier Concept
The carrier is one of the leading means for force projection, or the ability to project an aggregation of military personnel from the continental United States (or another theatre) in response to military requirements. As long as it operates in international waters, a carrier needs no permission to conduct landings or overﬂights. These ﬂoating military bases constitute sovereign U.S. territory capable of moving over the oceans —which is 70% of Earth’s surface— in the service of United States bests political interests.
Carriers make possible a variety of options.
They may be used to insert forces ashore; on the other hand, their presence is so intimidating that they may be used to simply “show the ﬂag”; or remind hostile powers of the United States presence in the area. They are capable of attacking airborne, sea borne, or land targets, and engage in sustained operations to support other military forces—for example, the ground forces deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
Strike and battle groups.
[ Picture shows the Nimitz strike group ]
National command authorities do not deploy carriers alone. Rather, the aircraft carrier is the center of a battle group, a force of a half-dozen or more ships. The carrier battle group, or CVBG, may be used to protect merchant or military shipping; to provide protection to a Marine amphibious source en route to, or arriving in, an objective area; or to establish a naval presence to support the United States national security interests.
Members of a battle group may include at least one destroyer and one frigate, two attack submarines, two guided missile cruisers, one guided missile destroyer, and a logistical support ship carrying even more frozen food and jetfuel. Destroyers and frigates are primarily for anti-submarine warfare, while the attack submarines, as their name implies, attack both enemy submarines and vessels/ships. Both guided missile cruisers and destroyers are multi-mission surface combatants, the ﬁrst type armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles for long-range strike capability, and the second one equipped for anti-aircraft warfare. The logistical support ship is usually a combined ammunition, oiler, and supply vessel, since the rest of the battle group are not driven by nuclear fuel (except some submarines). The United States Navy at one time had nuclear powered cruisers as part of its fleet. Ultimately, all these ships would prove to be too costly to maintain and they would all be retired between 1993 and 1999.
[ The Enterprise Carrier Strike group (CSG) sails through the Atlantic Ocean in formation. ]
Additionally, the carrier—by deﬁnition—serves as a home base for a number of aircraft, known as the carrier air wing. These typically include three squadrons of F/A-18 Hornets, which are all-weather ﬁghter and attack aircraft, and one squadron of F-14 Tomcats, made for ﬂeet air defense and precision strikes against ground targets. Along with these are one squadron of S-3B Vikings, the primary overhead/mission tanker, which is equipped for day and night surveillance, electronic countermeasures, command/ control/communications warfare, and search and rescue; one squadron of EA-6B Prowlers, which jams enemy radar, electronic data links, and communications; one squadron of E-2C Hawkeyes, all-weather tactical warning and control system aircraft; and one squadron of SH-60 Seahawks, twin-engine utility or assault helicopters.
Overview of a Modern Carrier
U.S. aircraft carriers fall into several groupings, the largest of which is the Nimitz class. Largest warships in the world, these measure 1,092 feet (332.9 m) from bow to stern, and 252 feet (76.8 m) across. As large as it is, the large U.S. carrier still does not provide enough room for takeoff and landing by conventional means; therefore, the carrier deck includes a number of items for these purposes, as well as for the storage of aircraft below decks.
The aircraft do not remain on the carrier’s deck when not in use; rather, they rest in a cavernous hangar beneath the deck, to which they can be summoned by means of four deck-edge elevators, each of which is capable of moving two aircraft at a time. For taking off, aircraft are attached to catapults, which give them the necessary acceleration to go from a standing position to 165 miles per hour (265.5 kph) in just two seconds. The ﬂight crew of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is capable of launching two aircraft and landing one every 37 seconds in daylight, or one per minute at night.
The ﬂight crew itself is a choreographed team, or rather a group of teams, each distinguished by jackets of different colors that signify their work functions (see picture below this text).
[ Picture shows a shooter aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise launching an F/A-18E Hornet from catapult two. The aircraft is assigned to the Thunderbolts of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251. Picture taken on September 26 - 2012. ]
To the pilot in the air, the most critical colors during inflight landing approach are the amber and red guiding deck lights from the Fresnel lenses back of the carrier. Depending on the angle of the light seen, the pilot knows if he is too low or too high, while red ﬂashing lights automatically signal a wave-off, meaning that the pilot cannot land at that time. When landing, a plane catches an arresting cable using its tailhook, which is a hook bolted to an 8-foot (2.4 m) bar attached to the rear part of the aircraft. The tailhook can bring a plane from a speed of 150 miles an hour (241.4 kph) to a complete stop within just 320 feet (97.5 m).
The Primary Flight Control, or “Pri-Fly,” is the control tower for ﬂights. Above it on the “island,” the part of the carrier that sticks up above the ﬂight deck, is the bridge, where you find the command and control center of the carrier as a whole. On the bridge is always an ofﬁcer of the deck (OOD), designated by the ship’s commanding ofﬁcer, who serves a four-hour watch. The OOD is responsible for all facets of the safety and operation of the ship, among which are navigation, ship handling, communications, and routine tests, and inspections. Also on the bridge are the helms-man, who steers the ship, and numerous other personnel.
Powered by two nuclear reactors with four geared steam turbines and four shafts, the Nimitz-class carrier is capable of spending at least half a year at sea without new provisions like food or beverages, and the ship can drive around for more than a decade without refueling. The ship’s enlisted crew men exceeds 3,000, plus 2,500 working on the flight and air wing. Below decks is an entire city, complete with vast warrens of living spaces, dining halls that serve nearly 20,000 meals a day, a radio and television station, a barber shop, a library, gymnasium, a hospital and dentist ofﬁce, shops, and a little post ofﬁce serving over 5000 men.
Other nations and lighter carriers.
The United States has decommissioned about as many carriers —63— as the rest of the world had aﬂoat in 2003. Nations with carriers includes the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, Italy, Japan, Spain, India, Brazil, Chile, Peru, China, and Thailand. The leading carrier power, other than the United States, was, not surprisingly, given the many previous British achievements in carrier design — the United Kingdom. In part to facilitate the building of smaller and more economical carriers, the British in the late 1960s developed the Harrier jet, which takes off almost vertically. As of 2003, its ﬂeet included three small carriers of the Invincible class, built for vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL), each capable of carrying eight Harriers and from 10 to 12 helicopters.
As of 2003, the United States had launched a total of 75 carriers, with two more under construction. Its 12 active carriers included the Enterprise and the Kitty Hawk class (the Kitty Hawk and Constellation), all launched in 1961; the John F. Kennedy, launched in 1968; and eight carriers of the Nimitz class: Nimitz, Dwight D. Eisenhower (1977), Carl Vinson (1982), Theodore Roosevelt (1986), Abraham Lincoln (1989), George Washington (1992), John C. Stennis (1995), and Harry S. Truman (1998). Additionally, the Ronald Reagan was under construction, with launch planned for the middle of the decade, while construction was to begin on the George H. W. Bush, with completion planned for 2009. (Both are Nimitz-class carriers.)
France built the Charles de Gaulle, a nuclear-powered vessel that could carry 40 planes, as well as the Jeanne d’Arc helicopter carrier. The latter type of ship, midway of a carrier and a cruiser, provided a means of giving several nations carrier capabilities. Such was the case with the Russian Federation, which had a large helicopter carrier, the Gorshkov, along with a semi-active multi-role carrier, the Kutznetsov. As the Soviet Union, Russia was slow to develop carriers, in part because it lacked sufﬁcient ports worldwide. By the late 1960s, however, the Soviets had begun to build aviation cruisers of the Moskva class. These have all been decommissioned since then, however. The world’s other superpower, China, has a small naval carrier force, consisting primarily of the Shichang multi-role support ship.
Other notable naval powers include Italy, which had six carriers, helicopter carriers, or amphibious assault ships either in operation or under construction in 2003. These included the Andrea Doria, scheduled for completion in 2007. Built along the V/STOL model, the Andrea Doria would hold eight Harriers or 12 helicopters. Other navies with aircraft carriers, helicopter carriers, helicopter destroyers, or amphibious assault ships included Japan, Brazil, India, Spain, Thailand, and Peru.
0 tonnes (110,250 short tons)
Length Overall: 1,092 fe(317.0 m)
Beam Overall: 252 ft (76.et (332.8 m)
Waterline: 1,040 feet 8 m)
Waterline: 134 ft (40.8 m)
Draft: Maximum navigational: 37 feet (11.3 m)
Limit: 41 feet (12.5 m)
Propulsion: 2 × Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors
4 × steam turbines
4 × shaftsW)
Speed: 31.5 knots (58.3 km/h)
Range: Unlimited distance; 20–25 years
Complement Ship's company: 3,200
Air wing: 2,480
Sensors and processing systems:
AN/SPS-48E 3-D air search radar
AN/SPS-49(V)5 2-D air search radar
AN/SPQ-9B target acquisition radar
AN/SPN-46 air traffic control radars
AN/SPN-43C air traffic control radar
AN/SPN-41 landing aid radars
4 × Mk 91 NSSM guidance systems
4 × Mk 95 radars
Electronic warfare & decoys:
SLQ-32A(V)4 Countermeasures suite
SLQ-25A Nixie torpedo countermeasures
Armament: 2 × Sea Sparrow
2 × RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile
2 × PHALANX CIWS (Close-In Weapons System) Gatling guns
Aircraft carried: 90 fixed wing and helicopters
The A4W reactor is a naval reactor used by the United States Navy to propel warships and generate onboard electricity.
The A4W designation stands for:
A = Aircraft carrier platform
4 = Contractor's fourth core design generation
W = Westinghouse, the contracted designer
These nuclear fission pressurized water reactors (PWRs) were jointly designed by Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory and Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory and built by Westinghouse Electric Company. Their reactor cores are expected to operate for about 20 years. The only ships to use these nuclear reactors are the Nimitz class supercarriers, which have two reactors rated at 550MWt each. These each generate enough steam to produce an 100 MW electricity supply plus 140,000 shaft horsepower (104 MW)
Sometimes characterized as “ﬂoating cities”, aircraft carriers are a potent symbol of strength as a naval power. It's a floating military airport. Although nations ranging from the United Kingdom and Russia to Peru and Thailand have their light carrier and helicopter carriers, the large carriers of the United States are without parallel in ability and ﬁrepower. Carriers provide an important means of force projection from the continental United States to any war theatre, no matter how hostile, and offer a ﬂoating platform for missions that include both combat and intelligence-gathering.
As President Clinton said during a visit to the carrier Theodore Roosevelt in the 1990s:
“When word of crisis breaks out in Washington, it’s no accident that the ﬁrst question that comes to everyone’s lips is, ‘where is the nearest carrier?’”
Watch the video about aircraft carriers below:
The US Navy recently sold a retired aircraft carrier to a naval scrapyard for only 1 cent.
The same naval yard that manufactures their new carriers.
Someone commented this and it was quite funny:
1 cent for a a retired aircraft carrier?
-I have a couple of spare bucks, on me, I mean, I got well over 50 dollars.
1 cent for the Aircraft Carrier a-ha' ?
-So. how much is it for that whole carrier group ?
Sources [except this website being a source in itself] :
Several sources and encyclopedias with topics about this subject [the aircraft carriers],
that can be found in our download section of this website.