US Navy Conducts Alternative Carrier Study


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The United States Navy is looking for alternative means of transporting aircraft, as the current aircraft carriers may be unnecessarily bulky and costly to operate. One Nimitz-class carrier costs $14 billion to build, plus $7 million a day to operate. With costs so high, the branch is looking for more cost-efficient substitutes.

“We have been asked. We are following suit to conduct a study to look at alternatives to Nimitz size type of aircraft carriers and see if it makes sense,” said Sean Stackley, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition (RDA). “Is there a sweet spot, something different other than today’s 100,000-ton carrier that would make sense to provide the power projection that we need that we get today from our aircraft carriers but at the same time put us in a more affordable position to provide that capability?”

Some speculation as to what could replace the current carrier has arisen. The current services it provides could be split up among already existing ships, such as light amphibious carriers, Ohio-class guided missile submarines, and ships used for general transport.

“This study will reflect our continued commitment to reducing costs across all platforms by matching capabilities to projected threats and also seeks to identify acquisition strategies that promote competition in naval ship construction,” Stackley continued in a statement. “There is a historical precedent for these type of exploratory studies as we look for efficiencies and ways to improve our warfighting capabilities.”

There is a reason why the aircraft carrier costs so much (and was always the first one that would get sunk when one was playing Battleship) – the thing is huge:

  • Length: 1,092 feet (332.85 meters).
  • Beam: 134 feet (40.84 meters); Flight Deck Width: 252 feet (76.8 meters).
  • Displacement: Approximately 97,000 tons (87,996.9 metric tons) full load.
  • Speed: 30+ knots (34.5+ miles per hour).
  • Propulsion: Two nuclear reactors, four shafts.

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