The Navy's carrier program, which had enjoyed relatively smooth seas for the past two decades appears to be sailing into troubled waters. Since 1979—when Congress overrode President Jimmy Carter's veto to authorize the supercarrier Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)—lawmakers have funded five additional carriers of the Nimitz (CVN-68) class with little debate or controversy.
But now serious questions are being raised. A number of events have triggered this increasing attention by congressional staffers, Department of Defense officials, and even some naval officers. These include: the rapid change in the road map of how the Navy will get to the CVX—the post-Nimitz carrier design; questions about the cost of the next carrier, CVN-77; the declining numbers of aircraft on board U.S. carriers; problems with the F/A-18 Hornet, the principal carrier-based aircraft; the loss of antisubmarine warfare capabilities on carriers; and the issue of a common support aircraft.