USS Midway (CV 41) and USS Independence (CV 62) in Pearl Harbor in 1991

USS Midway (CV 41) and USS Independence (CV 62) in Pearl Harbor in 1991. Midway was decommissioned in 1992 and Independence in 1998.

Aircraft Carriers Are Crucial

Mackenzie Eaglen of the Heritage Foundation:

In an age of guerrilla warfare and counterinsurgency operations, many U.S. officials appear content to overlook the importance of conventional weapons such as the aircraft carrier. That’s a serious mistake.

There’s no doubt that an additional aircraft carrier today wouldn’t help the efforts in Iraq or Afghanistan as much as, say, a couple additional brigades of infantry or a few more battalions of Special Forces. But while it takes time to stand up more troops, particularly SF types, getting a retired carrier back into duty or building a new one is far more lengthy and expensive. And the problems that require an additional carrier are not they kind of problems that are likely to wait until we can get a new ship up to speed.

To maintain 11 carriers, the Navy will have to procure seven CVN-78 Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carriers between 2009 and 2038. Under current plans, however, a shortfall to 10 carriers is projected to occur between November 2012, when the Navy decommissions the Enterprise, and September 2015, when the Gerald R. Ford is expected to be commissioned.

In reality, this projected three-year gap will be longer, perhaps much longer. Not only will it take an additional 30 months for the Ford to become operationally ready to deploy after commissioning, but in all likelihood construction delays will push back the planned commissioning date even further. The result could be a five- or six-year period where the Navy has only 10 carriers.

Murdoc is worried that 11 is not enough. 10 is asking for trouble.


  1. Seems like the navy needs to start concentrating on using and updating current designs rather than developing futuristic designs that are unproven. This is evidenced by the Zumwalt destroyers, San Antonio class, and new designed carrier. Build more of what we know works to get the numbers up, while improving their designs and functions along the way. This seems better than hoping a new unproven design will solve all your problems.

  2. bob The navy has never had the numbers it wants. If they waited on that to build testbeds, we would still be building in wood and propelled by sails. They conned the congress out of money for r&d testbeds by claming larger programs than ever made sense when you check the planned ammo buys in parrallel. Congress would not have funded testbeds at that scale. The best testbed prototype scale is 12 inches to the foot… Note: The navy has been trying to run a couple of new technology testbeds thru congress for over two decades. The last test series was in the 60s.