50 Majestic Facts about Aircraft Carriers

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26USS Midway

USS Midway

In 1975, a lot of Huey helicopters had to be pushed off the flight deck of the USS Midway into the sea to make way for the emergency landing of an aircraft with Vietnamese evacuees on board. Not just USA helicopters, every Vietnamese helicopter that landed was immediately pushed off for the next one to land. America’s evacuation effort consisted of sending helicopters to the embassy to pick people up. Anyone with a helicopter in the military ranking flew their family and loved ones away. They all headed out to sea to look for the nearest American ship. Lots of pilots said they were totally out of fuel, waiting to land.


27. In 1972, some of Aircraft Carrier USS Ranger's crew carried out two-dozen acts of sabotage to prevent the ship from returning to Vietnam.


28. In 1985, Australia decommissioned its only aircraft carrier (HMAS Melbourne) and sold it for scrap to a Chinese company. It was towed to China where, before scrapping, it was studied extensively by the military to help design China’s first aircraft carrier. The Chinese even asked the Australian government for the blueprints but this request was “politely rejected.” Apparently, the ship was not fully broken down until 2002.


29. Aircraft carrier USS Oriskany which was intentionally sunk after its decommissioning in the Gulf of Mexico is now known as the Great Carrier Reef. 70 feet down, the Oriskany’s navigation tower is teeming with prickly sea urchins and crusty barnacles. Giant barracuda prowl the tower’s empty windows. The wreck has attracted at least 38 species of fish, including goliath groupers, mako sharks, amberjacks, and red snappers. It is by far the largest vessel ever sunk to make a reef.


30. The French named one of their aircraft carriers after Ferdinand Foch, a man who said, “Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” French aircraft carrier Foch was decommissioned in 2000.


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31Submersible Aircraft Carriers

Submersible Aircraft Carriers

During World War 2, the Japanese navy had Submersible Aircraft Carriers. These carriers were able to carry aircraft underwater to their destinations, surface, launch their planes and then quickly dive again before they were discovered. They were able to carry 3 Aichi M6A Seiran aircrafts underwater to their destinations.


32. During a film sequence of Top Gun, an aircraft carrier captain changed the ship’s course and altered the lighting of a shot. Director Tony Scott was told it would cost $25,000 to change its course. He quickly wrote a check, the course was reverted, and he got 5 more minutes to get his shot.


33. During World War 2, the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown was heavily damaged after destroying a Japanese aircraft carrier during the first carrier battle in history. After 48 hours of emergency repairs, it ended up helping destroy two more carriers before being sunk and inadvertently saved the other US carriers.


34. US aircraft carriers are so large they each have their own designated zip code for mail and logistics purposes. Submarines and other surface ships too have their own Fleet Post Office.


35. In 1963, a series of tests proved that the Hercules C-130 transport aircraft could land on and take off from the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal. It was the largest plane to ever successfully land and take off from an aircraft carrier and was nicknamed “Look Ma, No Hook” to brag about how it needed neither an arresting hook nor a catapult assist.


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36Freshwater Aircraft Carriers

Freshwater Aircraft Carriers

During World War 2, the US Navy had two freshwater aircraft carriers on the Great Lakes to train its pilots. During training, aircraft losses were high. As such they often used older aircraft. The floor of the Great Lakes is littered with World War 2 aircrafts and lately, people have been recovering them.


37. Project Habbakuk was a plan by the British during World War 2 to construct an aircraft carrier out of pykrete (a mixture of wood pulp and ice) for use against German U-boats in the mid-Atlantic. They even made a 60 feet prototype that took three years to melt. The project was however shelved due to rising costs, added requirements, and the availability of longer-range aircraft and escort carriers which closed the Mid-Atlantic gap that the project was intended to address.


38. During World War 2, U.S. submarine Archerfish sank the Japanese aircraft carrier Shinano, but the U.S. Navy did not believe that a submarine could actually sink a carrier until the acting commander drew a picture of the carrier.


39. Germany built one aircraft carrier during World War 2. The wreck of Graf Zeppelin was discovered in 2006 by a Polish survey ship in July 2006, about 260 feet below sea level.


40. All poop generated by the troops aboard US Navy’s newest aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford will be vaporized by plasma.


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41ARA Veinticinco de Mayo

ARA Veinticinco de Mayo

Aircraft carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo of the Argentine navy was originally a British Colossus class Aircraft carrier from World War 2. She was sold to the Netherlands, who then sold it to the Argentine Navy where it ultimately participated in the Falklands war against her original builders, the British.


42. All aircraft carriers in history (save two) have their bridges on the starboard side due to a near-universal tendency of pilots to veer left during an emergency.


43. Pilots taking off from aircraft carriers must keep their hands off the stick until they are fully launched off the end of the ship and in the air. This is to prevent them from intentionally diving the plane into the water due to a form of disorientation called “somatogravic illusion.”


44. The first-ever US aircraft carrier the USS Langley (CV-1) originally came equipped with a pigeon house for messenger pigeons. Pigeons were still utilized on navy ships of the time and carried aboard seaplanes for message transport, this beginning about the time of World War I. The US Navy pigeons were “trained” at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard at the same time that USS Langley was being converted to CV-1.


45. In 1964, a destroyer strayed in front of Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne. The destroyer was cut in half and 82 personnel were killed. In 1969, US Navy destroyer USS Frank E. Evans strayed in front of her and was again cut in half, killing 74 personnel. Each time, Melbourne captain’s career was ruined by flawed inquiries and each was absolved by later investigations. These incidents, along with several minor collisions, shipboard accidents, and aircraft losses, led to the reputation that HMAS Melbourne was jinxed.


46HTMS Chakri Naruebet

HTMS Chakri Naruebet

Thailand's only aircraft carrier HTMS Chakri Naruebet doesn’t have any accompanying jet fleet since 2006. The ship is the smallest functioning aircraft carrier in the world.


47. Operation Cherry Blossom was a planned biological attack that was to be carried out in California by the Japanese during World War 2. Five submarine aircraft carriers were to launch planes that would then drop plague-infected fleas over southern California in hopes of crippling the civilian population. The operation only existed on paper and was never feasible. By the time the I-400 class submarines were built, the war was nearly over.


48. USS Card was a World War 2 era aircraft carrier which was sunk by the Viet Cong in 1964, killing 5 crewmen. Card settled in 20 feet of water. She was patched and pumped out, and raised in a couple of weeks, and towed to Japan for repairs. USS Card was eventually repaired and it returned to service 7 months later.


49. USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier is expected to be part of the navy fleet for 90 years until the year 2105. Gerald R. Ford is future-proof as it can be equipped with laser-directed energy weapons known as free-electron laser or FEL.


50. The U.S. Navy’s aircraft carrier fleet is unique in having a congressionally mandated minimum force level. U.S. Code § 5062 states “the naval combat forces of the Navy shall include not less than 11 operational aircraft carriers.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. Re #34: It’s not the size of the carrier that gives it ZIP codes, plural. Each deployable unit or overseas based unit in the United States military has its own ZIP code.

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