Aircraft Carrier
The aircraft carrier is the centerpiece of the Battle Group. During any international crisis, the Navy first assesses where its carriers are, a testament to this massive ship's strategic importance. The carrier's mission is to provide a strong presence in times of peace, and to operate and support aircraft attacks on enemies, protect friendly forces and engage in sustained operations in war. The Nimitz-class carriers, of which there are seven in operation and two under construction, are the largest warships in the world.

Aircraft carrier

Their specifications are staggering:

Power Plant: Two nuclear reactors, four shafts
Length, overall: 1,092 feet (332.85 meters)
Flight Deck Width: 252 feet (76.8 meters)
Beam: 134 feet (40.84 meters)
Displacement: Approx. 97,000 tons full load
Speed: 30+ knots (34.5+ miles per hour)
Aircraft: 85
Cost: about $4.5 billion each
Crew: Ship's Company: 3,200 - Air Wing: 2,480
Armament: Four NATO Sea Sparrow launchers, 20mm Phalanx CIWS mounts: (3 on Nimitz and Dwight D. Eisenhower and 4 on Vinson and later ships of the class.)
Date Deployed: May 3, 1975 (USS Nimitz)

Carrier Landing See QuickTime movie of an EA6B landing aboard USS Independence from the point of view of the pilot (2.7MB).

Get QuickTime software


Support provided by

For new content
visit the redesigned
NOVA site