Forrestal-class aircraft carrier

The Forrestal-class aircraft carriers were a four-ship class designed and built for the United States Navy in the 1950s. It was the first class of so-called supercarriers, combining high tonnage, deck-edge elevators and an angled deck. The first ship was commissioned in 1955, the last decommissioned in 1998.


Forrestal-class aircraft carrier
Class Ship
Type Aircraft Carrier
Manufacturer Newport News Shipbuilding
Production Period 1951 - 1954
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1955
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
United States of America 1955 1998 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Newport News Shipbuilding 1951 1954 2 View
New York Shipbuilding Corporation 1952 1958 2 View

The Forrestal class was the first completed class of "supercarriers" of the Navy, so called because of their then-extraordinarily high tonnage (75,000 tons, 25% larger than the post-World War II-era Midway class), full integration of the angled deck (Forrestal and Saratoga were laid down as axial deck carriers and converted to angled deck ships while under construction; Ranger and Independence were laid down as angled deck ships and had various minor improvements compared to the first two), a very large island and most importantly their extremely strong air wing (80–100 jet aircraft, compared to 65–75 for the Midway class and fewer than 50 for the Essex class). Compared to the Midway class, the Forrestals were 100 feet (30 m) longer and nearly 20 feet (6 m) wider abeam, resulting in a far more stable and comfortable aircraft platform even in very rough weather. When commissioned, the Forrestal-class ships had the roomiest hangar decks and largest flight decks of any carrier ever built. Because of their immense size they were built to a new, deep-hulled design that incorporated the armored flight deck into the hull (previous American design practice was to design the flight deck as superstructure). This was a very similar structural design as used on British "armored" carriers, and grew out of the requirement for such a very large carrier, because carrying the strength deck at the flight deck level produced a stronger and lighter hull. The Midway-class ships sat very low in the water and were poor sea boats through their long careers; they were very wet forward and their aviation characteristics were poor. The deeper Forrestal hull allowed the ships more freeboard and better seakeeping. The Forrestal-class carriers, like the Midway class that preceded it, were designed with armored flight decks.

Ships in Class

Name Builder Ordered Laid Down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Fate
Forrestal Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News 12 July 1951 14 July 1952 11 December 1954 1 October 1955 11 September 1993 Broken up at Brownsville, 2014
Saratoga New York Naval Shipyard,New York City 23 July 1952 16 December 1952 8 October 1955 14 April 1956 20 August 1994 Broken up at Brownsville, 2014
Ranger Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News 1 February 1954 2 August 1954 29 September 1956 10 August 1957 10 July 1993 U.S. Navy paid 1 cent to International Shipbreaker's of Brownsville, TX to tow and scrap Ranger on 22 Dec. 2014
Independence New York Naval Shipyard,New York City 2 July 1954 1 July 1955 6 June 1958 10 January 1959 30 September 1998 Awaiting disposal

Name: Forrestal-class aircraft carrier
Builders: New York Navy Yard
Newport News Shipbuilding
Operators:  United States Navy
Preceded by: Midway class
Succeeded by: Kitty Hawk class
In commission: 1 October 1955 – 30 September 1998
Completed: 4
Laid up: 4
General characteristics
Displacement: 60,000 tons
Length: 1,070 ft (330 m) 990 ft (300 m) waterline
Beam: 129 ft 4 in (39.42 m) waterline
Draft: 35 ft 9 in (10.90 m)
Propulsion: Steam turbines
280,000 shp
Speed: 34 knots (63 km/h)
Complement: 4378
Armament: Original armament:
8 × 5 in/54 caliber Mark 42 guns
Refit armament:
3 × 8 cell NATO Sea SparrowMark 29 missile launcher launchers
3 × 20 mm Phalanx CIWS Mark 15 guns
Aircraft carried: Up to 90
Aviation facilities: 326 × 77 m flight deck

End notes