Light aircraft carrier

A light aircraft carrier, or light fleet carrier, is an aircraft carrier that is smaller than the standard carriers of a navy. The precise definition of the type varies by country; light carriers typically have a complement of aircraft only one-half to two-thirds the size of a full-sized fleet carrier. A light carrier was similar in concept to an escort carrier in most respects, however light carriers were intended for higher speeds to be deployed alongside fleet carriers, while escort carriers usually defended convoys and provided air support during amphibious operations.

SNS Dedalo (R01) underway
The Spanish Navy's Dédalo, the former USS Cabot, an Independence-class light aircraft carrier


In World War II (WWII), the United States Navy produced a number of light carriers by converting cruiser hulls. These Independence-class aircraft carriers, converted from Cleveland-class light cruisers, were unsatisfactory ships for aviation with their narrow, short decks and slender, high-sheer hulls; in virtually all respects the escort carriers were superior aviation vessels. These issues were superseded by Independence-class ships' virtue of being available at a time when available carrier decks had been reduced to Enterprise and Saratoga in the Pacific and Ranger in the Atlantic. In addition, unlike escort carriers, they had enough speed to take part in fleet actions with the larger carriers. Late in the war, a follow on to the Independence class, the Saipan class, was designed. Two vessels in this class—Saipan and Wright—were completed after the war's end. After very brief lives as carriers, the Saipans were converted to command and communication ships.

The British 1942 design light fleet carrier, originally designated the Colossus class, was a scaled-down version of their Illustrious-class fleet carrier. The design could be built in a yard with little or no experience of warship construction. Although built to merchant standards, the design incorporated better watertight subdivision. Expected to have a lifetime of about three years, the last of the design was taken out of service in 2001. The first ten were built as the Colossus class, though two of these were modified whilst under construction into aircraft maintenance carriers. An additional five carriers, none of which were completed in time for service in WWII, were built with revisions upgrading the design to handle larger and heavier aircraft, receiving the designation Majestic class. In the post-war period, the Royal Navy operated a force of the ten Colossus carriers, while the five Majestic carriers were sold, during construction, to Australia, Canada and India.[1] By the start of WWII, HMS Hermes, the first purpose-built aircraft carrier (launched 1919, sunk 1942) was being considered as equivalent to a light aircraft carrier, due to her small size, small aircraft complement and lack of armour.

List of light carriers

United Kingdom
United States

See also


  1. ^ Chesneau (1998), pp. 129–134
  2. ^ Watts (1967), p. 49
  3. ^ Brown (1977), pp. 21–22
  4. ^ Watts (1967), pp. 54 & 56
  5. ^ Brown (1977), pp. 26–27
  6. ^ Watts (1967), p. 56
  7. ^ Brown (1977), pp. 27–28


  • Brown, David (1977). Aircraft Carriers. Arco Publishing. ISBN 0-668-04164-1.
  • Chesneau, Roger (1998). Aircraft Carriers of the World, 1914 to the Present. An Illustrated Encyclopedia (Rev Ed). London: Brockhampton Press. p. 288. ISBN 1-86019-875-9.
  • Watts, Anthony J. (1967). Japanese Warships of World War II. Doubleday & Company.
1942 Design Light Fleet Carrier

The 1942 Design Light Fleet Carrier, commonly referred to as the British Light Fleet Carrier, was a light aircraft carrier design created by the Royal Navy during the Second World War, and used by eight naval forces between 1944 and 2001. They were designed and constructed by civilian shipyards to serve as an intermediate step between the expensive, full-size fleet aircraft carriers and the less expensive but limited-capability escort carriers.

Sixteen Light Fleet carriers were ordered, and all were laid down to the Colossus class design during 1942 and 1943. However, only eight were completed to this design; of these, four entered service before the end of the war, and none saw front line operations. Two more were fitted with maintenance and repair facilities instead of aircraft catapults and arresting gear, and entered service as aircraft maintenance carriers. The final six were modified during construction to handle larger and faster aircraft, and were redesignated the Majestic class. The construction of the six ships was suspended at the end of the war. Five were eventually completed with the last commissioning in 1961; however, the sixth, Leviathan, was dismantled for spare parts and scrap.

Although not completed in time to fight in the war, the carriers in Royal Navy service participated in the Korean War and the Suez Crisis. During the latter, two Colossus-class ships performed the first ship-based helicopter assault in history. Four Colossuses and all five completed Majestics were loaned or sold to seven foreign nations – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, India, and the Netherlands – with three ships serving in three different naval forces during their careers. Foreign-operated Light Fleets took part in the Korean War, the First Indochina War, the Vietnam War, the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, and the Falklands War.

Despite being intended as 'disposable warships', all of the completed Light Fleet carriers exceeded their planned three-year service life. The maintenance carriers were the first to be paid off in the 1950s, and by the 1960s, all of the Royal Navy carriers, (bar Triumph, which was later recommissioned as a repair ship) had been sold to other nations or for ship breaking. The carriers in other navies had longer service lives. At the time of her decommissioning in 2001, Minas Gerais was the oldest active aircraft carrier in the world. Despite attempts to preserve several of these carriers as museum ships, the last surviving example, Vikrant, was sold for scrapping in 2014.


CVL-22 may refer to the hull numbers of one of the following naval vessels:

USS Independence (CVL-22), a light aircraft carrier in service with the United States Navy from 1943 to 1946, after which she was sunk for weapons testing

HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22), a light aircraft carrier in service with the Royal Canadian Navy from 1957 to 1970, after which she was sold for scrap

Centaur-class aircraft carrier

The Centaur class of aircraft carriers of the Royal Navy was the last of the light fleet carrier designs started during the closing years of World War II. The first ship of the original four in the class was commissioned in 1953 and the final decommissioned in 1984. The first three ships lacked an angled flight deck and were therefore unsuitable for fast jet aircraft, and production of a second batch of four carriers was cancelled.

Chitose-class aircraft carrier

The Chitose-class aircraft carriers (千歳型航空母艦, Chitose-gata kōkūbokan) were a class of two seaplane tenders, later converted to light aircraft carriers, of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. Under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, the total tonnage of Japan's naval vessels was limited by class. The Chitose-class ships were built as seaplane tenders, designed to make the conversion to aircraft carriers relatively easy. They served as seaplane tenders during the early part of the Pacific War. After the Battle of Midway, they were converted into light aircraft carriers. Both ships participated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and both were sunk in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Chitose (千歳) underwent conversion at the Sasebo Naval Yard and was completed in New Years Day, 1944. Her sister ship Chiyoda (千代田) was completed approximately two months earlier at the Yokosuka Naval Yard. Both ships were outfitted with a single hangar and they were widened by an additional 6 feet 7 inches (2.0 m). The added flight deck was serviced by two lifts.

Chitose and Chiyoda were sunk at the Battle of Cape Engano, which occurred during the Imperial Japanese Navy's "Sho-Go" operation that produced the Battle of Leyte Gulf. In charge of the operation was Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, commander of the operation's northern force. Ozawa's was a desperate mission—provide an attractive target for U.S. Admiral William F. Halsey's Third Fleet, hopefully pulling the powerful American "fast carriers" north so that Japanese surface ships could slip in and attack U.S. invasion forces off Leyte. His ships were not expected to survive their diversionary employment. Together with two other carriers in the group, they carried only 116 planes, much less than their normal capacity and far less than the aircraft of Halsey's task forces.

Despite their role as "bait", the Japanese carriers sighted Halsey first and launched a strike in the late morning of 24 October. This accomplished nothing, and only a few planes returned to the carriers, leaving them with less than thirty. The Japanese ships tried hard to be conspicuous, and U.S. aircraft finally spotted them in mid-afternoon. Admiral Halsey, believing that his aviators had driven the other Japanese forces away, headed north to attack.

At about 08:00 on the morning of 25 October, American carrier planes began a series of attacks and sank Chitose. A second strike came in around 10:00 that damaged Chiyoda and slowed her down. She was later sunk by gunfire from four cruisers and nine destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral DuBose that had been detached from Halsey's Third Fleet to sail north and engage the Japanese.

(From a Presidential Citation-May 1945) Lieutenant, Junior Grade Donald McCutcheon U.S. Navy (Reserve), from Elisabeth, NJ received the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier- based Navy Dive Bomber in Bombing Squadron Fifteen (VB-15), embarked from the U.S.S. Essex (CV-9). Fearlessly pressing home his attack to low altitude in the face of accurate and intense antiaircraft fire from the formidable enemy disposition, Lieutenant, Junior

Grade, McCutcheon succeeded in scoring a direct hit upon a Japanese aircraft carrier of Chitose class, causing certain damage to that enemy vessel. Undaunted in the face of relentless, devastating antiaircraft fire, he rendered gallant service during the bitterly fought engagement in which all carriers, a light cruiser and a destroyer of the enemy's task force were sunk and heavy bomb and torpedo damage inflicted on battleships and other important naval units. By his daring airmanship, exceptional courage and steadfast devotion to duty through a perilous assignment, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, McCutcheon contributed materially to the sinking of this valuable enemy fighting unit and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Cleveland-class cruiser

The Cleveland class was a group of light cruisers built for the U.S. Navy during World War II, and were the most numerous class of light cruisers ever built.

HMAS Melbourne

Three ships of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) have been named HMAS Melbourne, after Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria.

HMAS Melbourne (1912), a Town-class light cruiser launched in 1912

HMAS Melbourne (R21), a Majestic-class light aircraft carrier acquired by the RAN in 1947.

HMAS Melbourne (FFG 05), an Adelaide-class guided missile frigate launched in 1989

HMAS Sydney

Five ships of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) have been named HMAS Sydney, after Sydney, the capital city of New South Wales.

HMAS Sydney (1912), a Town-class light cruiser launched in 1912, decommissioned in 1928, and broken up for scrap

HMAS Sydney (D48), a Leander-class light cruiser launched in 1934, and sunk following a battle with the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran on 19 November 1941

HMAS Sydney (R17), a Majestic-class light aircraft carrier launched in 1944, decommissioned in 1973, and broken up for scrap

HMAS Sydney (FFG 03), an Adelaide-class guided missile frigate launched in 1980, and decommissioned in 2015

HMAS Sydney (DDG 42), a Hobart-class air warfare destroyer slated to enter service in 2020

HMS Bulwark (R08)

The sixth HMS Bulwark of the Royal Navy was a 22,000 tonne Centaur-class light fleet aircraft carrier. Initially commissioned as a light aircraft carrier in 1954, the ship was converted into a commando carrier in 1958 and recommissioned as such in 1960. Bulwark remained in this capacity until 1979 when following failed efforts to sell the ship, Bulwark re-entered service as an anti-submarine warfare carrier and remained as such until being decommissioned in 1981. The ship was scrapped in 1984.

Independence-class aircraft carrier

The Independence-class aircraft carriers were a class of light carriers built for the United States Navy that served during World War II.

Invincible-class aircraft carrier

The Invincible class was a class of light aircraft carrier operated by the Royal Navy. Three ships were constructed: HMS Invincible, HMS Illustrious and HMS Ark Royal. The vessels were built as aviation-capable anti-submarine warfare (ASW) platforms to counter the Cold War North Atlantic Soviet submarine threat, and initially embarked Sea Harrier aircraft and Sea King HAS.1 anti-submarine helicopters. With cancellation of the aircraft carriers renewal program in the 1960s, the three ships became the replacements for Ark Royal and Eagle fleet carriers and the Centaur-class light fleet carriers, and the Royal Navy's sole class of aircraft carrier.

The three vessels saw active service in a number of locations, including the South Atlantic during the Falklands War, the Adriatic during the Bosnian War, and in the Middle East for the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.

Invincible was decommissioned in 2005 and put in reserve in a low state of readiness. She was sold to a Turkish scrapyard in February 2011, and left Portsmouth under tow on 24 March 2011. Pursuant to the Strategic Defence and Security Review, 2010, Ark Royal followed, decommissioning on 13 March 2011. This left Illustrious as the sole remaining ship, serving as a helicopter carrier from 2011 to 2014 when it was decommissioned as well. The Royal Navy was without an aircraft carrier for the first time in nearly a century, until the commissioning of the first of two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers in December 2017.

Japanese aircraft carrier Chitose

Chitose (千歳) was a light aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. First laid down as a seaplane tender in 1934 at Kure Navy yard, the ship originally carried Kawanishi E7K Type 94 "Alf" and Nakajima E8N Type 95 "Dave" floatplanes. Although it has been speculated that Chitose also carried Type A midget submarines, only her sister ship, Chiyoda had that capability. Chitose saw several naval actions, taking part in the Battle of Midway though seeing no combat there. She was bombed by B-17 Flying Fortresses off Davao, Philippines on 4 January 1942, sustaining negligible damage. She covered the Japanese landings in the East Indies and New Guinea from January–April 1942, and was damaged in the Eastern Solomons in August 1942.

Japanese aircraft carrier Chiyoda

Chiyoda (千代田, "Thousandth-Generation Field") was a light aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. Originally constructed as the second vessel of the Chitose-class seaplane tenders in 1934, she continued to operate in that capacity during the Second Sino-Japanese War and the early stages of the Pacific War until her conversion into a light aircraft carrier after the Battle of Midway. She was sunk during the Battle of Leyte Gulf by a combination of naval bombers, cruiser shellfire and destroyer-launched torpedoes.

Japanese aircraft carrier Ryūhō

Ryūhō (龍鳳, "Dragon phoenix") was a light aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy. She was converted from the submarine tender Taigei (大鯨, "Big Whale"), which had been used in the Second Sino-Japanese War. One of the least successful of the light aircraft carrier conversions due to its small size, slow speed and weak construction, during World War II, Ryūhō was used primarily as an aircraft transport and for training purposes, although she was also involved in a number of combat missions, including the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

Japanese cruiser Ibuki (1943)

The Japanese cruiser Ibuki (伊吹) was a heavy cruiser built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during World War II. The lead ship of her class of two ships, she was ordered to be converted into a light aircraft carrier in 1943 before completion to help replace the aircraft carriers sunk during the Battle of Midway in mid-1942. The conversion was delayed and finally stopped in March 1945 in order to concentrate on building small submarines. Ibuki was scrapped in the Sasebo Naval Arsenal beginning in 1946.

List of Japanese Navy ships and war vessels in World War II

This List of Japanese Navy ships and war vessels in World War II is a list of seafaring vessels of the Imperial Japanese Navy of World War II. It includes submarines, battleships, oilers, minelayers and other types of Japanese sea vessels of war and naval ships used during wartime.

List of aircraft carriers of World War II

This is a list of aircraft carriers of the Second World War.

Aircraft carriers serve as a seagoing airbases, equipped with a flight deck and facilities for carrying, arming, deploying and recovering aircraft. Typically, they are the capital ships of a fleet, as they project air power worldwide without depending on local bases for operational support. Aircraft carriers are expensive and are considered critical assets. By the Second World War aircraft carriers had evolved from converted cruisers, to purpose built vessels of many classes and roles. Fleet carriers were the largest type, operating with the main fleet to provided offensive capability. Light aircraft carriers were fast enough to operate with the fleet but smaller and with fewer aircraft.

Escort carriers were smaller and slower, with low numbers of aircraft, and provided defense for convoys. Most of the latter were built from mercantile hulls or, in the case of merchant aircraft carriers, were bulk cargo ships with a flight deck added on top. Catapult aircraft merchant ships, were cargo-carrying merchant ships that could launch (but not retrieve) a single fighter aircraft from a catapult to defend the convoy from long-range German aircraft.

The aircraft carrier dramatically changed naval combat in the war, as air power became a significant factor in warfare. The advent of aircraft as primary weapons was driven by the superior range, flexibility and effectiveness of carrier-launched aircraft. They had higher range and precision than naval guns, making them highly effective. The versatility of the carrier was demonstrated in November 1940 when HMS Illustrious launched a long-range strike on the Italian fleet at their base in Taranto, signalling the beginning of effective and highly mobile aircraft strikes. This operation incapacitated three of the six battleships at a cost of two torpedo bombers.

In the Pacific Ocean clashes occurred between aircraft carrier fleets. The 1941 Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was a clear illustration of the power projection capability afforded by a large force of modern carriers. Concentrating six carriers in a single unit turned naval history about, as no other nation had fielded anything comparable. However, the vulnerability of carriers compared to traditional battleships when forced into a gun-range encounter was quickly illustrated by the sinking of HMS Glorious by German battleships during the Norwegian campaign in 1940.

This new-found importance of naval aviation forced nations to create a number of carriers, in an effort to provide air superiority for every major fleet. This extensive usage required the construction of several new 'light' carriers. Escort aircraft carriers, such as USS Bogue, were sometimes purpose-built, but most were converted from merchant ships as a stop-gap measure to provide anti-submarine air support for convoys and amphibious invasions. Following this concept, light aircraft carriers built by the US, such as USS Independence, represented a larger and more "militarized" version of the escort carrier. Although with complements similar to escort carriers, they had the advantage of speed from their converted cruiser hulls. The British 1942 Design Light Fleet Carrier was designed for quick construction by civilian shipyards and a short three-year service life. They served the Royal Navy during the war, and their hull design was chosen for nearly all aircraft carrier equipped navies after the war until the 1980s. Emergency situations during the war spurred the creation of highly unconventional aircraft carriers, such as the CAM ships.The List of ships of World War II contains major military vessels of the war, arranged alphabetically and by type. The list includes armed vessels that served during the war and in the immediate aftermath, inclusive of localized ongoing combat operations, garrison surrenders, post-surrender occupation, colony re-occupation, troop and prisoner repatriation, to the end of 1945. For smaller vessels, see also List of World War II ships of less than 1000 tons. Some uncompleted Axis ships are included, out of historic interest. Ships are designated to the country under which they operated for the longest period of World War II, regardless of where they were built or previous service history.

List of ship decommissionings in 1947

The list of ship decommissionings in 1947 includes a chronological list of all ships decommissioned in 1947.

Saipan-class aircraft carrier

The Saipan-class aircraft carriers were a class of two light carriers Saipan (CVL-48) and Wright (CVL-49) built for the United States Navy during World War II. Like the nine Independence-class light carriers, they were based on cruiser hulls. However, they differed from the earlier light carriers in that they were built from the keel up as carriers, and were based on heavy rather than light cruiser hulls. Completed too late for the war, they served as carriers until the mid-1950s, then were converted into a command ship (Wright) and a major communications relay ship (Saipan) in the late 1950s, and in those roles served until 1970. They were both scrapped in 1980.

TCG Anadolu

TCG Anadolu (L-408) is an amphibious assault ship (LHD) of the Turkish Navy that can be configured as a light aircraft carrier. It is named after the peninsula of Anatolia (Turkish: Anadolu) which forms the majority of the land mass of Turkey. The construction works began on 30 April 2016 at the shipyard of Sedef Shipbuilding Inc. in Istanbul, with the keel being laid 7 February 2018, and is expected to be completed in 2021. The vessel is intended to meet the various needs and requirements of the Turkish Armed Forces, such as sustaining long-endurance, long-distance military combat or humanitarian relief operations; while acting as a command center and flagship for the Turkish Navy.The Sedef–Navantia consortium won the tender for the LPD/LHD project of the Turkish Navy and TCG Anadolu (L-408) will use the same design as that of the Spanish ship SPS Juan Carlos I (L-61). All of the ship's weapons system will be procured by Turkish firms Aselsan and Havelsan. The ship will feature a Turkish combat management system, namely the GENESIS-ADVENT, which will be integrated by Aselsan and Havelsan. Aircraft Landing is assisted in all weather condition by Leonardo SPN-720 Precision Approach Radar.

Navantia will provide design, technology transfer, equipment and technical assistance to Sedef Shipyard of Turkey for the design and development of TCG Anadolu (L-408), which is classified as a Light Aircraft Carrier/LHD by Turkish Lloyd.It will be capable of operating the F-35B STOVL stealth multirole combat aircraft.

Aircraft carriers
Patrol craft
Fast attack craft
Mine warfare
Command and support


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