America's nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, especially in today's irregular, asymmetric warfare climate, could be little more than slow-moving targets.
The recently renewed debate over aircraft carrier requirements has focused mainly on the factors of cost and utility. These issues notwithstanding, analysts often overlook or understate the carriers' inherent vulnerabilities. Regardless of the number of carriers national leadership decides to maintain, because they remain the U.S. Navy's preeminent capital ship and a symbol of American global power and prestige, they are a potential key target for both unconventional and conventional adversaries. Carrier proponents, however, universally seem to accept on faith alone the premise that a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (CVN) is essentially invulnerable.