What is the largest aircraft carrier

Aircraft carrier: Colossi on the high seas


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Aircraft carrier: Colossi on the high seas

The largest aircraft carriers in the world are about as long as three football fields, making them the most powerful warships in the world. Find out more about their size and history here.

In 1910, aircraft took off from a ship for the first time in the USA. However, it took a while for the technology to mature. At first the ships had to stop so that the machines could land on deck. The planes were caught with ropes that were laid across the deck and sandbags at the ends of the runway. Since the runways were in the way of the guns, the Navy was initially equipped with seaplanes.

Military operation

On April 26, 1914, the United States became the first country to use aircraft carriers for military purposes. In the conflict with Mexico, the United States dispatched two warships equipped with seaplanes to the port of the Mexican city of Vera Cruz.

The first modern aircraft carrier

For military use, however, it was a prerequisite that the aircraft could land on a moving ship. Research in this direction was mainly carried out in Great Britain. A British Navy cruiser (Furious) converted in 1917 had a flight deck almost 70 meters long on the front part of the ship. Airplanes could take off on this, but - because the aircraft could not be braked hard enough while driving - they could not land. They therefore had to touch the surface of the water and were largely lost in the process.

The first operational aircraft carrier on which aircraft could safely take off and land was the British Navy's Argus. It was created in 1918 by converting a half-finished passenger ship and was the first carrier with a smooth flight deck over the entire length of the ship.

Developments up to the Second World War

The first aircraft carrier designed as such from the start came from Japan in 1922. Great Britain and the USA did not follow until a few years later.
The Second World War showed how vulnerable ships were to aircraft armed with torpedoes. Aircraft carriers on which these machines were transported replaced the battleships as the most powerful units.

Development after the Second World War

After the Second World War, the aircraft carriers were significantly improved again. Once through the angled deck, on which aircraft landing can take off again if they miss the safety ropes. As well as with the use of steam catapults. These make it possible to let the increasingly heavy, modern jet aircraft, which require high speed for take-off, take off from the aircraft carrier. In addition, nuclear power was now used to generate energy. The first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was the US Navy's USS Enterprise. It was put into service in 1961 and is equipped with eight nuclear reactors.

The largest warships in the world

By far the largest aircraft carriers are the American Nimitz-class carriers. They are also the largest warships in the world.


These ships weigh 88,000 tons, the steel structure alone weighs 54,500 tons. A ship of this series is e.g. the George Washington. It is 332.8 m long, 78.3 m wide and 74 m high from the keel to the top of the mast. That's about the height of a 26-story building. The fuel tanks on board hold the unimaginable amount of 13.25 million liters of kerosene, over 1,700 tons of ammunition can be loaded. The deck of the carrier has 1.82 hectares (18,211mÂ) the area of ​​two soccer fields. There are four 360-meter elevators available to bring aircraft up and below deck. Two more, slightly smaller ones, carry the armament of the jets on deck.


The Nimitz-class girders are powered by two nuclear reactors, which turn four 33-ton screws via four steam turbines with 260,000 hp. One screw therefore weighs more than four trucks. In this way more than 33 knots (61 km / h) are reached.


The ship's crew is made up of around 3,200 people. An additional 2,300 soldiers are required to operate and support the 76 aircraft. The entire crew counts 5,500 people, 368 of them are women. Every day 18,000 meals have to be prepared for the crew.


Communication on board and with the outside world takes place via 16 computer networks, 1,400 PCs, 2,000 telephones and a radio network. Connections are made via satellite. The carrier also serves as a hospital. 80 beds, two of which are for intensive care, six doctors and five dentists are available for the sick and injured. Around 1.3 million liters of drinking water are produced on board every day, enough to supply 2,000 households per day. If you were to put all the technical manuals that are needed on board on top of each other, they would result in a tower that is 170m high. Lined up in a row, all of the ship's cables have a total length of 1.3 million kilometers, 32.5 times the circumference of the earth.


The cost of building such a colossus is approximately $ 5 billion. In addition, there are operating costs of approximately $ 13 million per month.

ma 04/22/2004 / Photos: www.airpower.at, www.soldat-und-technik.de

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