Aircraft carriers are enormously important. They serve as bases for warplanes. They have flight decks for planes to take off and land. They carry equipment for arming warplanes and recovering planes that have been damaged.
An aircraft carrier is considered a capital ship, the most important ship. This is because the Navy can use it to extend its power anywhere in the world. Countries who want to exercise influence need to have aircraft carriers.
Aircraft carriers arose from cruisers that had been converted to carry aircraft in the early twentieth century. They were important during World War II, especially in the Pacific. Nowadays they are some of the largest ships on the water and carry all kinds of aircraft, including helicopters, fighters, reconnaissance planes and strike aircraft. They are, of course, enormously expensive to build. When on duty, and especially in war zones, they are protected by other ships.
In 2016, there are twelve navies who have aircraft carriers. Together they have 37 carriers on active duty. Of these, the United States has ten powered by nuclear energy. These carriers are the world’s biggest. If all the decks of the rest of the world’s carriers were put together, they would fit in only half the space of a nuclear carrier.
The U.S. Navy also has nine amphibious assault ships that carry helicopters. For this reason, they are sometimes called helicopter carriers. They can also carry up to 25 fighter jets. Some of these assault ships are as big as the fixed – wing carriers of other nations.
In this video, a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve and veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, Benarin Poulten, looks at five interesting facts about aircraft carriers.