An AV-8B Harrier II takes off from the flight deck of Spanish aircraft carrier SPS (Strategic Protection Ship) Principe de Asturias (R 11) during an air defense exercise as part of NATO Exercise Brilliant Midas 2006. Brilliant Midas is a multinational exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, where guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) is the flagship for Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG-2). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Leonardo Carrillo (RELEASED)
The Principe de Asturias’ design was based on that of the US Navy’s proposed Sea Control Ship, a late-60s proposal for, essentially, a light “Harrier carrier” that is a cheaper alternative for full-sized aircraft carriers. US LHD amphibious assault ships can fill this role if called on, especially if extra Harriers are utilized instead of helicopters. One drawback to Harrier operations on US ships is the lack of a “ski-jump” V/STOL ramp. This would allow the Harriers to carry additional fuel or ordnance, but would make a significant portion of the flight deck unusable by helicopters.
The Principe de Asturias’ usually carries about 20 aircraft, a dozen of them Harriers and the rest choppers.
UPDATE: Something I forgot to link to at the time is Brickmuppet’s Tiny Carriers….., which points out some designs that make this Spanish rowboat look like a super tanker.