Do you know the difference between a Nimitz class and a Gerald R. Ford class ship? Know how many men and women are needed to operate the world's biggest aircraft carriers, or how fast these mammoth ships can travel? Test your knowledge of American aircraft carriers with this quiz!
It's hard to believe that aircraft carriers are a relatively modern invention. At the dawn of the 20th century, the battleship ruled the seas. These ships were plated with iron and armed to the gills with firepower, resulting in some truly devastating naval battles. Yet just a century later, battleships are obsolete, replaced by aircraft carriers. As the events of World War I and II proved, the battles of the future will be fought -- and won -- in the air, rather than in the water. That means the most effective military ships these days must not only transport sailors and firepower, but also carry entire fleets of planes, including the pilots, maintenance crews and other support staff needed to care for the most cutting-edge planes ever built. This allows the U.S. to launch planes from international waters, eliminating the delays and political negotiations associated with taking off or landing a plane in a foreign nation. Think you know everything there is to know about America's aircraft carriers? Take our quiz to find out!
Roughly how many aircraft is a Nimitz class supercarrier designed to transport?
America owns 11 of the 41 nuclear-powered supercarriers operating in the world in 2018. Ten of the 11 belong to the Nimitz class, and are designed to carry around 100 aircraft and 6,000 crew members.
What year was the USS Nimitz -- the lead ship of the Nimitz class -- commissioned?
The USS Nimitz was one of the largest and most advanced aircraft carriers in the world when she was commissioned on May 3, 1975. She was still operating in 2019, and nine more ships have been built in this class using a similar design since the '70s.
Navy Admiral Chester Nimitz served as the Admiral for the Pacific Fleet during WWII. After he died in 1966, the Navy decided to honor his legacy and contributions by naming the Nimitz class of ships after him.
Built at at cost of a billion dollars in 1975 dollars, the USS Nimitz measures 1,092 feet long and has a displacement just over 100,000 tons. She's nicknamed Old Salt, and her motto is "Teamwork, a Tradition."
What class of aircraft carriers did the U.S. Navy approve to replace the Nimitz class?
Gerald R. Ford class
The USS Gerald R. Ford is a supercarrier commissioned in July 2017. Designed to replace the Nimitz class, it is the first ship in the Gerald R. Ford class and is named for 38th president -- and Navy vet -- Gerald Ford.
One of the biggest changes between Nimitz and Ford supercarriers is the switch from steam-powered catapult launchers to this type of plane launching technology.
Nimitz class ships rely on a steam-powered catapult system to launch aircraft. The introduction of the Gerald R. Ford class of ships brought the use of an electromagnetic launch system to replace the more dated technology. Swapping to this new technology means more control over planes as they make their way into the skies.
This second ship in the Gerald R. Ford class was named for the 35th U.S. President.
USS William Jefferson Clinton
USS Ronald Reagan
USS John F. Kennedy
Laid down in 2015, the USS John F. Kennedy is the second ship built in the Gerald R. Ford class, and features a similar design. Named after the 35th president, the ship shares its named with another aircraft carrier, CV-67, which was in operation from 1968 to 2007.
Which of these is NOT one of the three subclasses of Nimitz ships?
While Nimitz class ships all feature similar designs, they are divided into subclasses based on certain upgrades and features. These include the Nimitz, Roosevelt and Reagan subclasses, of which Roosevelt is the largest with five vessels.
Planes launched from this carrier were responsible for some of the first strikes in Operation Enduring Freedom.
USS Carl Vinson
The U.S. launched Operation Enduring Freedom against Afghanistan shortly after the 9/11 attacks. The USS Carl Vinson was sent to the Arabian Sea, and some of the first airstrikes in the operation were launched from the carrier.
Which American aircraft carrier was sent to the Gulf of Mexico to support rebuilding and rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina?
USS George Washington
USS Abraham Lincoln
USS Harry S. Truman
Nimitz class carrier USS Harry S. Truman was stationed at Norfolk when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. The Truman rushed to the New Orleans area so her crew could support the local citizens. In 2016, the vessel was deployed for eight months in a battle against ISIL.
This ship was the site of George W. Bush's infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech in 2003.
USS Abraham Lincoln
In 2003, then-President George W. Bush stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared that the U.S. had prevailed against its Iraqi enemies. At the time, a banner displayed behind Bush on the vessel declared "Mission Accomplished." Bush's speech and the banner have been the source of much criticism since that time, because 2003 was just the beginning of the warfare between the U.S. and insurgents in Iraq.
The USS Nimitz took part in Operation Eagle Claw, an attempt to rescue hostages in this nation.
In 1980, the U.S. launched Operation Eagle Claw/Operation Evening Light in an attempt to rescue dozens of Americans taken hostage at the Iranian embassy. Eight of the choppers used in the mission launched from the deck of the USS Nimitz.
What disaster was the USS George Washington involved in during May 2008?
On May 22, 2008 a fire broke out aboard the USS George Washington as the crew sailed from South America to San Diego. Three dozen sailors were injured and the boat suffered $70 million in damage. The cause of the fire? A sailor smoking in an off-limits area.
What is the CATOBAR system on a supercarrier used for?
CATOBAR, or catapult-assisted takeoff barrier arrested recovery is a technology used to launch aircraft on major carrier vessels. Standard on the Nimitz class ships, it includes a steam-powered launcher and a system of wires for "catching" the plane and slowing it as it lands.
The USS Wright was a light duty carrier from the '40s that belonged to this class of vessels.
George Washington class
The Saipen class of carriers was completed after WWII, and served as a light duty alternative to larger aircraft carriers of the period. The two ships in the class -- USS Saipen and USS Wright -- could each carry just over 40 aircraft.
The USS Enterprise, commissioned in 1961, was the first ship in the world with this feature.
The USS Enterprise supercarrier was the very first vessel on Earth to incorporate nuclear power. The ship was in service from the 1960s all the way through Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was the only ship built in her class.