Military Wednesdays - History of the Supercarriers

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Military Wednesdays - History of the Supercarriers

Wednesday, Apr 28 2010 by kjfitz

Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons. In comparison, a few countries operate medium carriers of around 40,000 tons (such as Charles de Gaulle), whereas light carriers closer to 20,000 (such as HMS Illustrious) are more typical. Supercarriers are the largest warships ever built— indeed, only some oil tankers are longer and heavier ships of any kind.

The first ship to be described by The New York Times as a supercarrier was HMS Ark Royal in 1938; with a length of 685 ft and a displacement of 22,000 tons, it was designed to carry 72 aircraft.

In 1943 the superlative was transferred to the 45,000-ton carriers of the Midway class, as a step-up from the 27,000-ton Essex class. Three ships were built in this class.Both are now decommissioned.

USS Midway

USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42)

USS Coral Sea (CV-44)

The post-war standard for supercarriers was set by the proposed USS United States (vener built) and USS Forrestal class. The Forrestal-class aircraft carriers were a four-ship class designed and built for the United States Navy in the 1950s.

There were four Forrestal-class ships built. All are now decommissioned.

USS USS Forrestal (CV-59) & USS Saratoga (CV-60)

USS Ranger (CV-61)

USS Independence (CV-62)

The Kitty Hawk-class supercarriers of the United States Navy were an incremental improvement on the Forrestal-class vessels. Four (or three depending on how you count them) ships of the class were built, all in the 1960s. All are now decommissioned.

Kitty Hawk (CV-63)

Constellation (CV-64)

America (CV-66)

John F. Kennedy (CV-67) was originally scheduled to be the fouth Kitty Hawk-class carrier, but because she received so many modifications during construction that she formed her own ship class and is often listed as a single-class carrier.

John F. Kennedy (CV-67)

Enterprise is a single-ship class, and is the second oldest vessel still in commission in the United States Navy.

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 1,092 ft (333 m) and displacements of over 100,000 long tons, they are the largest capital ships in the world.

Nimitz (CVN-68)

Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69)

Carl Vinson (CVN-70)

Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)

Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72)

George Washington (CVN-73)

John C. Stennis (CVN-74)

Harry S. Truman (CVN-75)

Ronald Reagan (CVN-76)

George H.W. Bush (CVN-77)