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New Aircraft Carrier Does More with Less Crew

November 04, 2012

The Navy’s newest aircraft carrier costs $26.8 billion. It will add to a historically smaller U.S. fleet.

Our newest aircraft carrier requires a smaller crew but still takes big bucks to build. Its total cost, including personnel, is $26.8 billion.

Now under construction, the Gerald R. Ford-class carrier is due to enter service in 2015 with a crew of 4,660 – 500 fewer than older carriers thanks to technology improvements. She will be the nation’s 12th active aircraft carrier; at the height of the Cold War the Navy had as many as 26.

The U.S. Navy fleet in 2012 comprised 287 ships. During the Korean War (1950-53) it was 1,122 ships. See today’s infographic for more facts about the changing profile of the U.S. Navy. 

Budget constraints may complicate future additions to the carrier fleet. $26.8 billion is about half the total annual sequestration cut mandated for the Pentagon. 

Consider this question in today’s discussion thread: what role do you think aircraft carriers play in national defense today? Would you rather see the money spent on alternatives?