An Aircraft Carrier is a naval warship with a full-length flight deck on which aircraft can be launched and landed. Aircraft carrier's is also serve as a seagoing airbase and have facilities for carrying, arming, deploying, and recovering aircraft. Today, 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.
Aircraft carrier, naval vessel from which airplanes may take off and on which they may land. As early as November 1910, an American civilian pilot, Eugene Ely, flew a plane off a specially built platform on the deck of the U.S. cruiser Birmingham at Hampton Roads, Virginia. On January 18, 1911, in San Francisco Bay, Ely landed on a platform built on the quarterdeck of the battleship Pennsylvania, using wires attached to sandbags on the platform as arresting gear; he then took off from the same ship.
- WWI Period
The British Navy also experimented with the carrier; during World War I it developed the first true carrier with an unobstructed flight deck, the HMS Argus, built on a converted merchant-ship hull. The war ended before the Argus could be put into action, but the U.S. and Japanese navies quickly followed the British example. The first U.S. carrier, a converted collier renamed the U.S.S. Langley, joined the fleet in March 1922. A Japanese carrier, the H.I.M.J.S. Hosyo, which entered service in December 1922, was the first carrier designed as such from the keel up.
Fundamentally, the carrier is an airfield at sea with many special features necessitated by limitations in size and the medium in which it operates. To facilitate short takeoffs and landings, airspeeds over the deck are increased by turning the ship into the wind. Catapults flush with the flight deck assist in launching aircraft; for landing, aircraft are fitted with retractable hooks that engage transverse wires on the deck, braking them to a quick stop.
- WWII Period, the Age Of The Aircraft Carrier
Although naval strategists continued to extol the battleship and battle cruiser after World War I, these capital ships soon were swept away by the new art of naval aviation. Conventional naval guns were limited to a range of perhaps 20 miles, but by World War II the aircraft carrier—a ship capable of launching, recovering, and storing aircraft that could themselves destroy ships—had extended the battle range of surface fleets by as much as 300 miles. In doing so, it had a profound effect on naval warfare.
Carriers were first used in combat during the early stages of World War II. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor by carrier-based planes on December 7, 1941, dramatically demonstrated the potential of the aircraft carrier, which thereafter was the dominant combat vessel of the war. The carrier played leading roles in the sea battles of the Pacific theatre, such as Midway Island, Coral Sea, and Leyte Gulf.
- Post WWII
Carriers built after the war were larger and had armoured flight decks. Jet aircraft posed serious problems because of their greater weight, slower acceleration, higher landing speeds, and greater fuel consumption. Three British innovations contributed toward solution of these problems: a steam-powered catapult, an angled, or canted, flight deck, and a mirror landing-signal system.
On September 24, 1960, the first nuclear-powered carrier, the Enterprise, was launched by the United States. It had no need for the fuel bunkers, smokestacks, and ducts for the elimination of exhaust gases that had occupied space in previous carriers.
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. Another development was the substitution of missile armament for much of the former antiaircraft firepower. Carriers with combined capabilities are classified as multipurpose carriers.
Hull Type Identification
Several systems of identification symbol for aircraft carriers and related types of ship have been used. These include the pennant numbers used by the Royal Navy, Commonwealth countries, and Europe, along with the hull classification symbols used by the US and Canada.
|CV||Generic aircraft carrier|
|CVB||Large aircraft carrier (retired)|
|CVAN||Nuclear-powered attack carrier|
|CVG||Flight deck cruiser (proposed)|
|CVHA||Aircraft carrier, Helicopter Assault (retired)|
|CVHE||Aircraft carrier, Helicopter, Escort (retired)|
|CVV||Aircraft Carrier (Medium) (proposed)|
|CVL||Light aircraft carrier|
|CVN||Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier|
|CVS||Anti-submarine warfare carrier|
|CVT||Training Aircraft Carrier|
|LHA||Landing Helicopter Assault, a type of amphibious assault ship|
|LHD||Landing Helicopter Dock, a type of amphibious assault ship|
|LPH||Landing Platform Helicopter, a type of amphibious assault ship|