More pundits are declaring the end of the aircraft carrier's relevance; it is fashionable to eulogize the centerpiece of our naval preeminence. These "experts" declare that advances in weapon technologies have made the big ships vulnerable, and that the capabilities of our own missiles and land-based aircraft render them unnecessary. Indeed, just two years ago in the pages of Proceedings, retired Admiral Stansfield Turner stated, "It is difficult, though, to expect any weapon system to dominate for as long as 65 years, especially when military technology has been changing markedly."
With this mindset Admiral Turner and other flattop critics would have given up on all sorts of military capabilities as counters to them were fielded. For instance, aviation would have been grounded with the advent of antiaircraft weapons. Fortunately, rather than giving up, our predecessors evolved aircraft systems to make them more survivable and effective. A more basic analogy addresses the surface warship itself. Rather than being left to rust at the pier as air power became ascendant, or as submarines proved to be formidable threats, they were improved and kept relevant.