Key point: These giants of the sea and American power require years of planning.
One hundred years since the construction of the world’s first aircraft carrier, HMS Hermes, aircraft carriers are still going strong. From Newport News to Shanghai, several of the world’s major naval powers have carriers currently construction. The ability to adapt and absorb new aviation technologies, such as stealth, standoff weapons and unmanned aerial vehicles to the carrier platform helps keep them relevant and timely platforms for a variety of missions, from disaster relief to sea control. Here are five aircraft carriers currently under construction worldwide.
United States of America: USS John F. Kennedy and USS Enterprise. The second of the new Gerald R. Ford class, USS John F. Kennedy will be the second aircraft carrier to bear the name of the thirty-fifth president of the United States. Kennedy, currently under construction, will be 1,092 feet long with a flight deck width of 256 feet. The ship will displace one hundred thousand long tons fully loaded and has a total crew, including ship’s crew, air wing and embarked Marines, of 4,450 personnel. Once complete, Kennedy will be capable of carrying more than seventy-five fixed wing manned aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and helicopters.
USS Kennedy was laid down in August 2015 and is currently fifty percent complete. The ship is expected to be christened in 2019 and commissioned into service sometime around 2020. A third Ford-class ship, USS Enterprise, will enter service in 2027, and the navy is expected to ultimately order twelve Ford-class carriers over the next thirty years.
Issues with USS Ford’s electromagnetic aircraft launch system, or EMALS, drove navy officials to briefly consider bringing back time-tested steam catapults for Kennedy and Enterprise. The idea was ultimately abandoned, and both ships will sport EMALS for launching aircraft.