Historic aircraft carriers in pictures

With America’s new state-of-the-art aircraft carriers in the spotlight, we take a look at the evolution of the modern aircraft carrier.

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    USS Birmingham

    Pilot Eugene Ely takes off from USS Birmingham, Hampton Roads, Virginia, on Nov. 14, 1910. This would be the first successful launch of an aircraft from a carrier deck (Photo: U.S. Navy)
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    USS Langley

    Commissioned in March 1922, Langley was the U.S. Navy's first aircraft carrier. Reclassified AV-3 following completion of this work in early 1937, Langley was employed in the Pacific until February 1942, when she was attacked by Japanese aircraft. Hit by several bombs and disabled, she was scuttled by her escorting destroyers. (Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives)
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    USS Lexington

    Nicknamed "Lady Lex" the USS Lexington (CV-2) was originally designed as a battlecruiser, she was converted into one of the Navy's first aircraft carriers during construction to comply with the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. (Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives)
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    USS Enterprise (CV-6)

    USS Enterprise (CV-6), the most decorated US ship of World War II. Colloquially referred to as the "Big E", she was engaged in action during the Battle of Midway, the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Battle of Leyte Gulf and various other air-sea engagements during the Guadalcanal Campaign. (Official U.S. Navy photo 19-N-89185 - photo from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives.)
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    USS Independence

    Converted from the hull of a cruiser the USS Independence (CVL-22) was the lead ship in the United States Navy light aircraft carrier class. Converted from the hull of a cruiser, she was built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation and commissioned in January 1943 and was intended to be deployed alongside fleet carriers. (Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives)
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    USS Enterprise (CVN-65)

    USS Enterprise (CVN-65) underway off Southern California, 11 Dec. 1978. The world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the eighth United States naval vessel to bear the name. (Photographed by PH3 Ted Kappler. Official U.S. Navy Photograph)
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    USS Nimitz

    An aerial view of the nuclear-power aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) underway in the Arabian Gulf on 23 March 1993. The carrier was enforcing the no-fly zone against Iraq on the first day of Operation Southern Watch. (Photographer: PH2 Tim Tow Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command).
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    USS Gerald R Ford

    The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) transits the James River during the ship's launch and transit to Newport News Shipyard pier three for the final stages of construction and testing. Ford was christened on 9 Nov. 2013, and was under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipyard, Virginia (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Second Class Aidan P. Campbell)
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    HMS Queen Elizabeth

    The aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth under construction at Rosyth Dockyard, Scotland. This is one of two ships in its class that will be used by all three sectors of the U.K. Armed Forces and will provide eight acres of sovereign territory which can be deployed around the world. Both ships will be versatile enough to be used for operations ranging from supporting war efforts to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief. (REUTERS/Russell Cheyne)
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