The 355-ship Navy could become reality through a concept familiar to naval historians—the conventionally powered light aircraft carrier (CVL). The Navy operated escort and light carriers during World War II to make up for gaps in fleet carrier coverage and later to operate as independent naval air fleets. After the war, the Navy converted some to antisubmarine warfare carriers (CVSs) and built amphibious assault ships to meet the fleet’s needs for a smaller carrier platform. With ever- increasing numbers of adversaries spanning a wide range of technological and warfighting sophistication, the Navy should revisit its history of operating such carriers to supplement (but not replace) its nuclear-powered carrier force.
1. Norman Friedman, U.S. Aircraft Carriers: An Illustrated Design History (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1983), 177.
2. Friedman, Aircraft Carriers, 159.
3. Robert C. Rubel, “The Future of the Future of Aircraft Carriers,” Naval War College Review 64, no. 4 (Autumn 2011), 18.
4. Friedman, Aircraft Carriers, 340.
5. Douglass V. Smith, One Hundred Years of U.S. Navy Air Power (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2010), 338.
6. Friedman, Aircraft Carriers, 354.
7. Andrew B. Leatherwood, 90,000 Tons of Diplomacy: How the U.S. Navy Supports Naval Aviation (Monterey, CA: Naval Postgraduate School, 2014).
8. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense — Comptroller, Program Acquisition Cost by Weapon System FY2017, 5–13.
9. Jerry Hendrix, “At What Cost a Carrier?” Center for a New American Security, March 2013, 6.
10 Rubel, “Aircraft Carriers,” 24.
11. Robert C. Rubel, “A Theory of Naval Airpower,” Naval War College Review 67, no. 3 (Summer 2014), 66.