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How many carriers does China have?

How about Russia?


The UK?

The U.S.?

Actually how many countries even have aircraft carriers?

Your answers below:

Total number of carriers deployed: 31
Deployed by China: 1
Deployed by Russia: 1
Deployed by France: 1
Deployed by the U.K.: 2
Deployed by the U.S.: 20
Nations with aircraft carriers: 10

Carriers are the most powerful, and most expensive means of projecting military might into a region, and the U.S. has twice as many as the rest of the world combined, and ten times as many as our rivals.

Keep these numbers in mind when anyone brings up the canard that the U.S. Navy is somehow in decline.

8:06 AM PT: A lot of argument about the numbers and what counts as an "aircraft" carrier. For clarification see:

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Comment Preferences

  •  Facts, gotta love 'em! /nt (11+ / 0-)

    "If we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom" Samuel Adams

    by cRedd on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 06:25:48 AM PDT

  •  Now do the same with nuclear submarines (6+ / 0-)

    Seriously, if this was WWI era, we'd have the Royal Navy and the German navy combined fleet of BB's and everyone else would have maybe one dreadnaught class ship.

  •  According to Wikipedia, we have 11 carriers (7+ / 0-)

    in service, 1 in reserve, and 3 under construction.  


    Still, far more than other countries.  

    •  We have 11 nuclear carriers (10+ / 0-)

      1 Enterprise Class, 9 Nimitz Class, 1 Gerald Ford Class, 2 Gerald Ford Class under construction, and we have several helicopter carriers, of the Iwo Jima type, I am not sure of the Class.

      I expect the one in reserve is the recently retired Kitty Hawk, CV 63, which is conventionally powered.

      The Enterprise is due for retirement soon, as it is approaching 50 years old, and it is likely to be mothballed, given that it is nuclear powered.  The Iwo Jima type carriers can fly Marine Harriers, V-22 Ospreys and various helicopters of their decks, and are generally intended to support Marine aviation activities, including Marine ground assualt missions.

      I am an old former aviation sailor from the Vietnam War, and I observe this stuff from afar.

      Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

      by Ohiodem1 on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 06:46:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I doubt the Enterprise will be mothballed. (0+ / 0-)

        Because of her nuclear reactors, she will cut apart and her nuclear reactors buried at Hanford, just as they did with all of our nuclear cruisers and as they do for nuclear submarines.

        A lot of Navy buffs wanted the Enterprise to be turned into a museum ship, but to do so her reactors would have to be removed and the cost to do so would be astronomical.

        •  I wonder how feasible it would be (0+ / 0-)

          to turn her into a floating power plant? If I am reading the specs correctly she can produce over 200 MW of electricity.

          •  The problem with the "Big E"'s eight reactors is (5+ / 0-)

            that they are over 50 years old--past their useful service life. A reactor, over time, is bombarded with radiation and this tends to make metal brittle. Beyond a certain age, the only practical thing is to replace them entirely. It's just not possible to continue using these reactors.

            The newer carriers (Nimitz and Ford classes) use two larger reactors that equal or surpass the Big E's 8 reactors.

            It might be a sea story, but it was said that if the Big E turned all 8 of her reactors to propulsive power, she could do 65 knots. I have since read blogs by people quite versed in nuclear propulsion who said that this wasn't possible.

            Regardless, at her full speed, she was (is) one hell of an impressive ship.

            •  There have always been rumors about how (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ER Doc

              fast the Big E is.  I have heard it said that a reactor can be dedicated to each of the 4 engines, and that the maximum speed is classified.  All of this may be true, but who knows?

              I have always thought that the limiting factor on how fast the Enterprise can go is determined by when the screws cavitate, and can no longer push water any faster.  That's just my thought.  Just to put some kind of science or physics into the answer.

              Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

              by Ohiodem1 on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 10:09:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I was on the USS Long Beach (CGN-9), (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                which has two reactors and two screws. We could easily reach 30 knots, but beyond that we started to get severe vibration from the cavitation of the screws. The props were undersized, and were supposed to be replaced in the shipyard, but the new ones were damaged in-transit and the old ones had to be re-installed.

                That said: if we had to get somewhere fast we just said the hell with the vibration.

          •  It's a 50-year-old power plant... (0+ / 0-)

            Probably not going to be acceptable.

            -7.25, -6.26

            We are men of action; lies do not become us.

            by ER Doc on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 10:16:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, it's 11 (13+ / 0-)

      "aircraft carrier" generally refers to platforms to launch and recover large numbers of military fighters and similar aircraft. I suspect the inflated U.S. number in the diary tosses in all helicopter carriers and amphibious assault ships with minor air capacity (but, curiously, does not include such ships in the counts for countries other than the U.S.).

      That said, point taken.

      It is also worth noting that there are only 11 supercarriers in the world. Yep... the 11 U.S. carriers. Those carriers deployed by other nations are all significantly smaller, with less capacity.

      Of that 11, the Enterprise will be deactivated in December; she will be replaced by the Gerald R. Ford in 2015 or so.

      •  11 supercarriers and nine helicarriers/AAC (8+ / 0-)

        which technically handle aircraft. :)

        The point is, no one else is close.

      •  Actually, the count DOES appear to include ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the equivalent of our amphibious assault ships that are operated by other countries.  The link in the diary shows the ships that it counts as "carriers," and several of the "carriers" operated by other countries are smaller than our amphibious assault ships, and are capable of handling only helicopters or V/STOL aircraft such as Harriers.

        The U.S. Navy doesn't classify amphibious assault ships as carriers, but other countries tend to include anything capable of carrying more than a couple of helictopters as  carriers.  They're all listed in this Wikipedia article, which compares the capacity of our amphibious assault ships with the "carriers" of some other nations.

        Bin Laden is dead. GM and Chrysler are alive.

        by leevank on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 07:05:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think plan9pub should add that link. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          plan9pub, ER Doc

          Much better than the gif.  And it gives detail on something that evoked a WTF? from me;  Thailand has an aircraft carrier.  


          Yep.  From wiki:

          HTMS Chakri Naruebet: 11,400 tonne STOVL carrier based on Spanish Principe De Asturias design. Commissioned in 1997. The AV-8S Matador/Harrier STOVL fighter wing mostly inoperable by 1999  was retired from service without replacement in 2006. Ship now used for helicopter operations and as a disaster relief platform.

          I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

          by tle on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 07:14:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  helicopters are aircraft (0+ / 0-)

        They're not called "fixed wing carriers". I don't know why some folks are making a distinction and agree the number is not inflated.

    •  And 9 helicarriers/amphibious assault carriers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ER Doc, JVolvo

      so 20 total carriers deploying aircraft.

    •  Includes aircraft carriers and helicopter carriers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      US has 11 aircraft carriers and nine helicopter carriers.

      UK has one of each.

      All the other navies have one of either one or the other.  

      This is NOT an inflated number -- it's a perfectly valid comparison, and the ratio would be the same were it to be aircraft carriers only.  In fact, even more lopsided, because while other helicopter carriers such as the UK's HMS Ocean are not too far short of ours, our aircraft carriers are far bigger than those of other navies.

      •  WRONG! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        plan9pub, ER Doc

        The largest ship in the Royal Navy is now HMS Ocean which is technically an amphibious operations support vessel. It has helicopters for this purpose and these provided cover for the London Olympics when it was parked at Greenwich, within sight (AND SOUND!) of my windows.

        The last aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal, was decommissioned in 2011 and has been sold for scrap.

        In addition to HMS Ocean, there are two Albion class "landing platform docks", HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark which also carry helicopters and fulfill similar roles.

        Two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are under construction and are due to enter service in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

        Why doesn't Mitt Romney carry an iPhone? Because he has an Ann Droid.

        by Lib Dem FoP on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 08:17:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  True. (0+ / 0-)

      and the number of all of the rest of the world's carrier fleets combined?

      It goes all the way up to 11.

      This includes all of the ones our allies have.

      Total number of carrier groups our greatest geo-political foe has? One. From what I have gathered, the one is almost in mothballs.

      In other words, if Russia tries to take us on in the sea, the best that they have to shoot at us is spitballs.

  •  I don't think that the UK deploys ONE (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quicklund, JeffW, jfromga, ER Doc, JVolvo

    at the mo; we scrapped some and are still building a couple.

    Yes, the cause of much angst here and all due to the bankers and the collapse of the public sector money pot

    but I think the US Navy is doing ok!

    •  We've got 1 flying helicopters only (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BOHICA, Quicklund, JeffW, ER Doc, JVolvo

      HMS Illustrious was docked at Greenwich during the olympics. It was weird seeing such a hunk of grey steel sitting in the Thames.

      Mitt Romney, wasn't good enough to beat the guy that wasn't good enough to beat George W. Bush .

      by ewan husarmee on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 06:38:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If the UK could figure out which (8+ / 0-)

      design they actually wanted and stick to it, they'd have one already.

      And I don't believe the Chinese have finished sea trials on their carrier yet.  But admittedly I haven't been riveted to the story.

      As for the US... uh... yeah.  Twenty is ...ahem... overstated.  I believe the previous comment giving that count as 11 is correct.  Still, that's 2 per (inhabited) continent if you include the reserve ship.  And once the three new ones are completed we can defend Antarctica as well!

      I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

      by mojo11 on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 06:39:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  11 nukes plus 9 helicarrier/amphibious assault (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW, JVolvo


        •  Ahh... yes, if you include the baby-flattops (0+ / 0-)

          I suppose that does raise the head count somewhat.  But those are more of a tactical platform than a strategic one.  Their mission is mainly close support, not establishing a base where we don't/can't have one.

          I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

          by mojo11 on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 07:06:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  When I was in the Navy, we were always told (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ER Doc, JVolvo

        that there are 7 or 8 "pinch points" where control of the seas were essential to both commerce and naval operations.  One that comes to mind is the Straits of Mallaca (not sure of spelling) which all of the oil going from the Persian Gulf to Austrialia, China, Japan, and the West coasts of North and South America must sail.  I believe this strait is as narrow as 4 miles in places.

        Suez, and Panama are important pinch points, and the Panama Canal has become or very shortly will become more important when the widening project is complete, as it will be able to accomodate larger ships, tankers and US aircraft carriers.

        We used to be very concerned about being able to bottle up the Soviet fleet coming into the Atlantic and Pacific in the northern regions.

        There are certain to be a couple of others I've missed, and perhaps a couple have been added due to changes in how the world does business.  American naval doctrine has always been to protect shipping because we are, and have always been a maritime nation.

        Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

        by Ohiodem1 on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 07:05:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Naval Doctrine post-Jefferson, anyway (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ER Doc

          American naval doctrine wasn't always about protecting shipping.  Thomas Jefferson figured we only needed light ships to guard the coast and harbors (which was proven to be a fallacy during the War of 1812) and  essentially dismantled the Navy (and the Army as well) in the early years of the 19th Century.  The resulting plunder of our shipping led Jefferson to embargo trade with Europe and pretty well wrecked the still largely agrarian economy.  It was a hard lesson.

          I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

          by mojo11 on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 07:26:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Chinese carrier is ex-Soviet... (0+ / 0-)

        Not only hasn't finished sea trials, but aging & doesn't have any effective aircraft they can deploy, except for army helicopters not adapted for sea use. They are rumored to be planning a new carrier of their own design; this one is mostly going to be a training platform waiting for that one.

        -7.25, -6.26

        We are men of action; lies do not become us.

        by ER Doc on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 10:24:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The UK ships are V/STOL ships with a ramp (5+ / 0-)

      I believe they are both amphibious assault ships not true aircraft carriers, but I'd have to refresh my memory on that detail.

      Each American carrier displaces 90,000-100,00 tons and has steam launch catapults that allow heavy planes to take off. The French have one carrier about 45,000 tons that also has the steam cats. No other nation has these full-capability carriers.

      All the other nation's "aircraft carriers" are in the 25,000 ton displacement range or smaller. The world's smallest belongs to Thailand and comes in at about 8,000 tons, IIRC.

      Anyway, the point is counting hulls does not count the actual difference in capability.

      •  Almost right (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ER Doc, Quicklund

        The only aircraft platforms at the moment are designed for close support for amphibious operations using helicopters. The two new Royal Navy carriers will use "ski jump" take off ramps and VSTOL aircraft rather than the longer catapult systems used by the US Navy.

        Why doesn't Mitt Romney carry an iPhone? Because he has an Ann Droid.

        by Lib Dem FoP on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 08:22:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Carriers also are expensive to protect... (8+ / 0-)

    It is not enough to have a carrier, you need a task force to protect it.  When all the planes fly off to attack a target, the Carrier is one really big sitting target with limited means of defence.

    The U.S. also has that capability locked down.  In a global sea battle, the U.S. would rule the waves virtually unchallenged.

    Tax and Spend I can understand. I can even understand Borrow and Spend. But Borrow and give Billionaires tax cuts? That I have a problem with.

    by LiberalCanuck on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 06:31:57 AM PDT

  •  Deployed yes, but... (6+ / 0-)
    But China does not yet have a fleet of aircraft or pilots ready for carrier operations. So the Liaoning will be used to test and train them, a task that will probably take several years, our correspondent adds.
    BBC - China's first aircraft carrier enters service

    White-collar conservatives flashing down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me..

    by BOHICA on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 06:33:47 AM PDT

  •  The US leads not only in numbers (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quicklund, bear83, JeffW, ER Doc, JVolvo

    but in size.  The French have the most advanced carrier outside the US fleet, and it is noticeably smaller.  The UK is building two large carriers, but while larger than the French, are also smaller than US carriers and will carry smaller numbers of aircraft.

    The list left out some carriers:  2 for Italy, 2 for Spain, several for Japan, and a couple building for Australia.  These are all comparable to the smaller US Wasp class.

    It is not that the USN is so large, its that most NATO allies really went for the peace dividend after the fall of the Iron Curtain.  Britain's Royal Navy has never been so weak as it is now.

    •  Japan has no carriers IIRC (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ER Doc, JVolvo

      Her fleet is built around a half-dozen AEGIS destroyers currently being modified to have anti-missile capability. And at least a rudimentary anti-satelite capability.

      India has two V/STOL carriers of USSR make and is now building her own. China is in the same boat but a decade behind. Brazil has an old French carrier and some old USN planes, but it is considered a training ship. All three of these nations are basically learning how to run carriers with their current ships.

      Thailand has the world's smallest carrier. But I have heard it rarely leaves dock.

      Russia has one "cruiser-carrier" IIRC. It is a bastardized design with guns and aircraft. It's probably not very good in either role.

      The rest are NATO: Italy, Spain, France. The UK has amphibious ships capable of launching V/STOL aircraft. But they recently grounded their entire fleet of Harrier jump-jets. So I do not know if Britain can currently fly anything other than helicopters from their ships today.

      (Also, virtually every warship afloat these days carries at least one helicopter.)

    •  The complete list was at the the link I provided (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I just posted a few countries as an example.

  •  Deployed as in at sea in operations? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Or not mothballed?

    Also are you differentiating between carriers that can service jet aircraft and the ones limited to prop planes and rotary aircraft-including Harrier variants?

    "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 06:35:44 AM PDT

  •  Where did you get this list? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quicklund, bear83, JeffW

    My list sats the US has 11 carriers presently operational with 1 in reserve. We have another 55 decommissioned carriers.

    The UK has only 1 aircraft carrier deployed and it is not a full size carrier.

    The 47% also "pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more" but when Romney does it he thinks it's a virtue, while when they do it, he thinks they are deadbeats.

    by jsfox on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 06:38:57 AM PDT

  •  The USA has 11 carriers not 20 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83, JeffW

    You are counting amphibious landing ships as aircraft carriers. Those do carry some VTOL aircraft, but they are not the same class of ship as the aircraft carrier.

    Of true full-capability aircraft carriers, ships with catapult-assisted takoffs that can launch full-size warplanes, there are only 12 in the world: 11 American and one French.

    The French have a plan to build one more and Britain has a plan to build two. But it is unclear when the 2nd French ship will be built. Britain has already said they will not sail the 2nd carrier. It will be built and put into mothballs right away. It was cheaper to finish building it than to scrap it.

  •  Number of Nations Equipped to Invade US (4+ / 0-)

    that our military is presently holding off.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 06:41:14 AM PDT

  •  As a Navy veteran, a smaller Navy will only (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    burn out those serving.  If assigned to a sea billet (usually 3-5 years per tour), you're deployed every 18 months or so for a minimum of 6 months at a time. This makes the Army's deployments look like a joke when you count up actual days away from home. I'm not arguing that we should throw money at the military blindly, rather to highlight that this isn't as black and white as it might appear.  

  •  Yes but how many saiboats do we have ???!!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, JVolvo

    and how much hardtack?

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 07:08:52 AM PDT

  •  The ridiculous thing about counting numbers ... (6+ / 0-)

    of ships is that combat power involves a lot more than mere numbers.  In 1917, the most powerful ships were battleships, which had armaments that could reach only about 20 miles from the ship.  And since they lacked radar, they couldn't have attacked anything beyond that distance, even if they'd had guns that could reach further than that.  

    Today, in addition to our carriers and amphibious assault ships that can project power hundreds or even thousands of miles beyond the ship, our cruisers and even destroyers carry cruise missiles with a range of many hundreds to over a thousand miles.  And that's saying nothing of our submarines, many of which also carry cruise missiles (in addition to the ones that carry ICBMs).

    Bin Laden is dead. GM and Chrysler are alive.

    by leevank on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 07:14:52 AM PDT

  •  I spent 4 1/2 yrs on the Dwight D Eisenhower (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    billmosby, Dude1701, ER Doc, JVolvo

    That's a lot of time on a carrier, and they truly are marvels to behold. There are towns with smaller populations than carriers have. It's hard to imagine the power a single carrier task force has all told. When you consider that they >cough< may or may not >cough< be carrying nuclear warheads as well...

  •  Can Anyone Say Military Industrial Complex? (0+ / 0-)
  •  The real comparison is 11 to zero (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    adrianrf, ER Doc

    That's the number of carriers able to project significant air, surface and shore power across an ocean.

    We have all 11. No other country can do what we can, period.

    And if we entered a conflict that required us to send all 11 carriers, with all their supporting ships, into battle together..... that would put nearly 1,000 aircraft aloft, thousands of cruise missiles on target, and a large marine force available for invasion.

    Simply put, our Navy is unparraleled in the history of warfare.

    And trying to compare it to the US Navy of 1916 is stupid.


    Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

    by databob on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 07:57:13 AM PDT

  •  Still too many (0+ / 0-)

    Naval carrier groups are for "Empire Building", more than "defense". Because the US has so many - why should otherwise wealthy allied nations build any? If not for the US navy, Japan would probably have 5 or more by now. While I understand the balance of power concept - why is the US the one with the global burden? Even the Roman Empire knew when to pull back.

    If not us ... who? If not here ... where? If not now ... when?

    by RUNDOWN on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 11:15:58 AM PDT

  •  Not to mention that.... (0+ / 0-)

    3 of those carriers belong to our allies.

    So US + UK + France = 23

    (depending on how we're defining carrier)

    Even if you only count angled-deck carriers capable of launching jets we're still looking at

    US 11 + France 1 = 12

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