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Sailors man the rails of the USS George Washington (CVN 73) aircraft carrier.

Aircraft Carriers

The Pride of the Navy

A Navy aircraft carrier doesn't just launch aircraft – it projects power. A carrier air wing can dominate large stretches of territory – on the ocean or to land – with their reach and technological sophistication. Aircraft carriers are the largest warships ever put to sea, and the Navy's carriers are considered to be the elite of the world. Typically traveling in battle groups, these vessels operate in international waters without needing permission for landing or overflight rights. Each carrier is sovereign U.S. territory – a floating city with a 24-hour airport and a population dedicated to protecting U.S. interests and keeping the peace.

So Big They Carry Their Own ZIP Code

On a carrier, you'll find a post office, a hospital, a dental clinic, barbershops, athletic facilities, chapels and more. Carriers have approximately 18 levels, including eight above hangar bay and ten decks below.

A carrier is the flagship of a battle group. The Admiral commands from the flag bridge, part of the “island” or superstructure above the flight deck. Using the most sophisticated reconnaissance aircraft and detection systems in the world, the Admiral and his staff can watch operations and conduct task group-level planning. On the bridge, the Captain monitors flights and oversees flight operations. There's another bridge for navigation and primary flight control with the "air boss," who controls aircraft both on the flight deck and in the air within five miles of the ship.

An aircraft carrier is a 24-hour/everyday ecosystem, constantly on guard and mission-ready for anything that unfolds. 

Explore one of the most powerful and sophisticated fleets the world has ever known. From aircraft carriers to submarines. From the ocean to the shore.

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) depart for a scheduled deployment.
World's Largest Warships

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was one of the most brilliant Navy tacticians and strategists in history – a major factor in U.S. victory in the Pacific theater during WWII. In his honor, the Navy launched the USS. Nimitz. Nine other Nimitz-Class carriers followed that launch, eventually replacing the world's first class of nuclear carriers, the Enterprise class. For over 40 years, these gigantic ships have been the world's most dominant and capable warships.

Get specs and tech of the Nimitz-Class.

The John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) aircraft carrier glides through open waters.
The Next Generation

The successor of the Nimitz-Class is the USS Gerald R. Ford. It's a new class of carrier, expected for delivery in 2015. It's represents the Navy's focus on super-advanced technology, efficiency and capabilities. An advanced reactor design gives it more power than the Nimitz class. It has stealth features to help reduce radar profile. For defense, a Ford-Class carrier features an evolved missile system and powerful AN/SPY-3 dual-band radar. Even the way it launches planes has changed – the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) replaces steam pistons with powerful magnets to launch jets.

All these technologies and more makes Ford-Class carriers the premier assets for crisis response and early decisive striking power in a major combat operation. 

Get specs and tech of the Ford-Class.