13 Largest Military Aircraft Carriers

aircraft carriers

Everybody knows that the Armed Forces across the world like to keep themselves up to date with the latest technology. But sometimes having the bigger ship (or gun) isn’t scary enough for these guys. Across the world, there are different navies with different ships to suit their needs. Here are some of the biggest aircraft carriers in the world that show that size is everything.

Nimitz Class

The Unites States Navy has a whole fleet of nuclear-powered carriers called the Nimitz class. After the battles between America and Japan, the Navy decided to upgrade its aircraft carriers. The plan was to have new carriers that could withstand up to four times more damage than the older ships. The first of the Nimitz ships was put into commission in 1975 and all ten are still being used by the navy. The ship has a range of weapons to help combat hostile aircraft and ships. It is rumoured that the ships carry nuclear weapons on board too but the navy is keeping its lips sealed over this question.

Ford Class

This class of supercarriers are being built for the US Navy to replace the old Nimitz carriers. The new carrier will have some of the original features of the Nimitz but with added technology and a new feature to help with efficiency. As well as an updated Sea Sparrow missile system the new carriers will have an electromagnetic aircraft launch system and the ability to carry up to 90 aircraft at one time. The nuclear reactor means that the carrier has unlimited range and a speed of up to 30 knots. Impressive for a ship that is 337 metres long.

Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers

These two aircraft carriers are currently being built for the Royal Navy and should be launched in 2017 and 2020. When the government reviewed the carriers that the navy had in 1997 they decided that the fleet needed upgrading. These new super carriers will be more like the American Nimitz carriers with extra spaces for the crew. It won’t all be work on the ship and the crew can take advantage of an onboard gym and cinema while at sea. The 280-metre ship will be powered by a series of engines with a range of 10,000 nautical miles.

USS America (LHA-6)

This ship is the first of the America-class amphibious assault ships that was launched in 2014. The ship was based around the design of the USS Makin Island but with more room for aviation facilities. Unlike other amphibious ships there is no well deck to launch boats, just a flight deck. The flight deck has been modified to help it withstand the heat from jet engines. There are plenty of weapons on board too including 2 rolling airframe missiles and 2 evolved sea sparrow missiles. Two marine gas turbines give the ship an impressive 70,000 horsepower.

Charles De Gaulle

The French have went above and beyond with this ship. Not only is this the biggest warship in Europe in commission, it is the only nuclear ship built outside of the US. The nuclear engine means that the ship has unlimited endurance for 25 years but is limited to 45 days without stopping because of the storage space for food. The ship is fitted with several different sensor systems and a decoy system. The deck and storage area can hold between 28-40 aircraft including a Hawkeye and Cougar helicopter. This 261-metre ship is still in commission for the French Navy.


This is the flagship of the Russian Navy and can hold a lot on her decks. The ship has been in commission since the 1990’s and is still in service after having some work done in 2015. One of the main purposes for the ship is to support and defend missile submarines and ships of the Russian Navy. The Kuznetsov has a massive amount of weapons on board including a surface to air missile system that can fire 1 missile every 3 seconds! There is also around 40-50 aircraft that can be carried at any time including 14 Sukhoi Su-33 fighter jets.

Sao Paulo

This ship is the flagship of the Brazilian Navy. It was originally designed to be part of the French Navy’s fleet but was sold to Brazil in 2000. The Brazilian Navy plan on getting their money’s worth out of this ship, they plan on using it until 2039. By this time the ship will be 80 years old and should be collecting a pension. The navy already has problems with the ship and has not been able to operate for more than 3 months at a time. When the ship is being repaired, it also gets upgrades to ensure that it is combat ready.


This ship is one of the newest arrivals to the Indian Navy after it had served with the Russian Navy for years. After the Cold War Russia couldn’t afford the upkeep of the ship on the budget they had. After years of negotiations they finally sold it to India and she was ready for commission in 2014. The ship was refitted and several systems were upgraded including removing the weapons from the foredeck to change liftoff capabilities for aircraft. The ship can hold up to 36 aircraft including 30 Mikoyan multirole fighters and 6 Kamov helicopters.


The Cavour is the newest arrival to the Italian Navy ranks. It was launched in 2004 and is the biggest ship of the Italian Navy. Although the ship was designed as an aircraft carrier it is capable of carrying up to 24 battle tanks and up to 50 other light vehicles. The Cavour will need to be modified in the next few years as the government plans to upgrade the aircraft that the Cavour carries. One of its first missions was to help provide relief to the victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake where it worked alongside American and French carriers.

Chakri Naruebet

This ship is not just the flagship of the Thai Navy, it is the one and only aircraft carrier that they have. The ship has been fitted with many different weapons and sensor systems but it has room to fit it with more if needed. The ship has not been involved in many activities apart from disaster relief. When Thailand was hit by Typhoon Gay in 1989 the navy found that most of its ships could not cope with the bad weather to help give relief. This is the smallest aircraft carrier in the world that is currently being used.


This was supposed to be the sister ship of the Russian Kuznetsov but she was never completed. Russia decided to sell the unfinished hull to China and was finished there. Officially the ship is classed as a training ship to let the Navy practice working and using an aircraft carrier. It might be listed as a training ship but it still has a serious amount of weaponry on board including several missile launching systems. At maximum load the ship weighs a massive 67,500 tons and can travel at up to 32 knots with nearly 2,000 crew members.

Juan Carlos I

This member of the Spanish Navy is not just an aircraft carrier, it is an amphibious assault vehicle too. It has a flight deck of 202 metres that includes a ski jump ramp for takeoff. The ship can hold up to 913 soldiers and 46 tanks within its hull. In the well-deck there is room for 4 landing craft for launching to the beach. One of the main functions of the ship will be to support the Marines and ground troops when they need to be deployed. At 230 metres long we hope the Marines weren’t hoping on using the element of surprise using this ship.

Giuseppe Garibaldi

This was the first Italian ship to be able to operate fixed wing aircraft. It is also equipped with vertical and short takeoff for aircraft. Since the ship was put into commission in 1985 it has seen several different combat missions over the years. Although it is fitted out for aircraft, the main purpose of the ship is to hunt and destroy submarines after the Cold War. Up until this point the ships that were available were slow and could not handle the hunt. The Giuseppe played an important part in the conflicts in Libya and Afghanistan.

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