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FACTBOX: The world's active-service aircraft carriers

07-27-2011 17:42 BJT Special Report:China Refits Aircraft Carrier “Varyag” |

BEIJING, July 27 (Xinhua) -- Aircraft carriers are the largest type of warship ever built by mankind. Emerging during the First World War, aircraft carriers become a game-changing weapon during the Second World War.

There are currently nine countries operating a total of 21 active-service aircraft carriers in the world today.

The United States

The United States now operates 11 aircraft carriers, all nuclear-powered supercarriers with a displacement of more than 90,000 metric tons: the USS Enterprise, which was the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, and 10 other Nimitz-class carriers.

The file photo shows the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Enterprise CVN-65. (Photo:

The USS George Washington is now forward-deployed at Yokosuka, Japan, which is close to China's territorial waters and far away from the U.S. mainland.

The file photo shows the U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington.

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom now operates just one aircraft carrier, the HMS Illustrious, a 22,000-metric ton warship carrying short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft.

The file photo shows the UK aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious.


The French navy has one nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which is named after the country's late president, Charles de Gaulle.

The file photo shows the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.


Italy has two operational carriers: the 14,000-metric ton Giuseppe Garibaldi and the 27,000-metric ton Gavour. Both are STOVL-type carriers.

The file photo shows the Italy aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi.

The file photo shows the Italy aircraft carrier Gavour.


The 17,000-metric ton Principe de Asturias and the 27,000-metric ton Juan Carlos I are two aircraft carriers used by the Spanish Navy. Although the navy identifies the Juan Carlos I as an amphibious assault ship, it has a ski-jump for fixed-wing STOVL aircraft.

The file photo shows the Spain aircraft carrier Principe de Asturias.


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