Special Report

Every Aircraft Carrier in US Navy History

Keystone / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Since their inception, aircraft carriers have been integral components of the U.S. Navy and have only increased in importance and firepower over the years. Their history has been distinct, demonstrating how the Navy has continually redefined nautical warfare since World War II. 

Using archives from the U.S. Navy and other sources, 24/7 Wall St. listed all aircraft carriers in the Navy’s history, including when they were commissioned and how long they remained in service. Carriers are listed in order of hull classification symbols.

The inception of aircraft carriers by the U.S. Navy can be traced back to 1910, with Eugene Ely’s historic flight from the USS Birmingham, a naval cruiser transformed into a makeshift carrier. It was not until 1922, however, that the U.S. commissioned its first official aircraft carrier, the USS Langley. Converted from a collier, the Langley was instrumental in establishing the basic principles of carrier operations.

The Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 halted the development and production of aircraft carriers.  Meant to prevent an arms race following the conclusion of World War I, cruisers, destroyers, and submarines were limited to a maximum of 10,000 tons displacement, which ruled out the production of aircraft carriers that were significantly bigger. However, in the years leading up to WWII, the agreement fell apart and an arms race began.

The importance of aircraft carriers became evident in WWII. In response to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the USS Enterprise played a pivotal role in the Pacific war as the most decorated ship in the U.S. Navy. The era also saw the introduction of the Essex-class carriers, which formed the backbone of the U.S. naval fleet in the Pacific. (See the most highly decorated U.S. Navy ships of WWII.)

There was a shift in aircraft carrier design after the war, with emphasis on larger vessels to accommodate the increasing size and capabilities of aircraft. The Midway-class carriers came into existence, and eventually, the first supercarrier, the USS Forrestal, was commissioned in 1955.

The nuclear age introduced the Nimitz-class carriers, marking a revolution in fuel sources. Today, these make up a majority of the aircraft carriers in the U.S. Navy. Some of this class are planned for retirement within the next decade, to be succeeded by Gerald R. Ford-class carriers, with its flagship entering the fleet in 2017. (Here are U.S. Navy ships that are being decommissioned and when.)

Click here to see every aircraft carrier in US Navy history.

Source: sdasmarchives / Flickr

1. CV-1 Langley
> Class: Langley
> Commissioned: March 20, 1922
> Service life: 19 years, 11 months, 7 days
> Status: Scuttled and sunk south of Java

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

2. CV-2 Lexington
> Class: Lexington
> Commissioned: December 14, 1927
> Service life: 14 years, 4 months, and 24 days
> Status: Sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea

Source: sdasmarchives / Flickr

3. CV-3 Saratoga
> Class: Lexington
> Commissioned: November 16, 1927
> Service life: 18 years, 8 months, and 12 days
> Status: Sunk in nuclear test target near Bikini Atoll

Source: sdasmarchives / Flickr

4. CV-4 Ranger
> Class: Ranger
> Commissioned: June 4, 1934
> Service life: 12 years, 4 months, and 14 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1947

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

5. CV-5 Yorktown
> Class: Yorktown
> Commissioned: September 30, 1937
> Service life: 4 years, 8 months, and 8 days
> Status: Sunk in the Battle of Midway

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

6. CV-6 Enterprise
> Class: Yorktown
> Commissioned: May 12, 1938
> Service life: 8 years, 9 months, and 5 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1960

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

7. CV-7 Wasp
> Class: Wasp
> Commissioned: April 25, 1940
> Service life: 2 years, 4 months, and 21 days
> Status: Sunk during the Guadalcanal campaign

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

8. CV-8 Hornet
> Class: Yorktown
> Commissioned: October 20, 1941
> Service life: 1 year and 6 days
> Status: Sunk in the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

9. CV-9 Essex
> Class: Essex
> Commissioned: December 31, 1942
> Service life: 26 years, 5 months, and 20 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1975

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

10. CV-10 Yorktown
> Class: Essex
> Commissioned: April 15, 1943
> Service life: 27 years, 2 months, and 12 days
> Status: Preserved at the Patriot’s Point Naval & Maritime Museum–Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

11. CV-11 Intrepid
> Class: Essex
> Commissioned: August 16, 1943
> Service life: 30 years, 6 months, and 27 days
> Status: Preserved at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum–New York, New York

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12. CV-12 Hornet
> Class: Essex
> Commissioned: November 20, 1943
> Service life: 26 years, 6 months, and 6 days
> Status: Preserved at USS Hornet Museum–Alameda, California

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

13. CV-13 Franklin
> Class: Essex
> Commissioned: January 31, 1944
> Service life: 2 years, 11 months and 17 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1966

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

14. CV-14 Ticonderoga
> Class: Essex (extended bow)
> Commissioned: May 8, 1944
> Service life: 29 years, 3 months, 24 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1975

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

15. CV-15 Randolph
> Class: Essex (extended bow)
> Commissioned: October 9, 1933
> Service life: 24 years, 4 months, and 4 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1975

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

16. CV-16 Lexington
> Class: Essex
> Commissioned: February 17, 1943
> Service life: 48 years, 8 months, and 22 days
> Status: Preserved at USS Lexington Museum On The Bay–Corpus Christi, Texas

Source: sdasmarchives / Flickr

17. CV-17 Bunker Hill
> Class: Essex
> Commissioned: May 25, 1953
> Service life: 4 years, 1 month, and 14 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1973

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

18. CV-18 Wasp
> Class: Essex
> Commissioned: November 24, 1943
> Service life: 28 years, 7 months, and 7 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1973

Source: sdasmarchives / Flickr

19. CV-19 Hancock
> Class: Essex (extended bow)
> Commissioned: April 15, 1944
> Service life: 31 years, 9 months, and 15 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1976

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

20. CV-20 Bennington
> Class: Essex
> Commissioned: August 6, 1944
> Service life: 25 years, 5 months, and 9 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1994

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr

21. CV-21 Boxer
> Class: Essex (extended bow)
> Commissioned: April 16, 1945
> Service life: 24 years, 7 months, and 15 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1971

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

22. CVL-22 Independence
> Class: Independence
> Commissioned: January 14, 1943
> Service life: 3 years, 7 months, and 14 days
> Status: Scuttled in 1951

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

23. CVL-23 Princeton
> Class: Independence
> Commissioned: February 25, 1943
> Service life: 1 year, 7 months, and 29 days
> Status: Sunk in the Battle of Leyte Gulf

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

24. CVL-24 Belleau Wood
> Class: Independence
> Commissioned: March 31, 1943
> Service life: 3 years, 9 months, and 13 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1960

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

25. CVL-25 Cowpens
> Class: Independence
> Commissioned: May 28, 1943
> Service life: 3 years, 7 months, and 16 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1960

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

26. CVL-26 Monterey
> Class: Independence
> Commissioned: June 17, 1943
> Service life: 12 years, 6 months, and 30 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1971

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

27. CVL-27 Langley
> Class: Independence
> Commissioned: August 31, 1943
> Service life: 3 years, 5 months, and 11 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1964

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

28. CVL-28 Cabot
> Class: Independence
> Commissioned: July 24, 1943
> Service life: 11 years, 5 months, and 28 days
> Status: Scrapped in 2002

Source: sdasmarchives / Flickr

29. CVL-29 Bataan
> Class: Independence
> Commissioned: November 17, 1943
> Service life: 10 years, 4 months, and 23 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1961

Source: Keystone / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

30. CVL-30 San Jacinto
> Class: Independence
> Commissioned: December 15, 1943
> Service life: 3 years, 2 months, and 14 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1972

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

31. CV-31 Bon Homme Richard
> Class: Essex
> Commissioned: November 26, 1944
> Service life: 26 years, 7 months, and 6 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1992

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

32. CV-32 Leyte
> Class: Essex (extended bow)
> Commissioned: April 11, 1946
> Service life: 13 years, 1 month, and 4 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1970

Source: sdasmarchives / Flickr

33. CV-33 Kearsarge
> Class: Essex (extended bow)
> Commissioned: May 2, 1946
> Service life: 23 years, 8 months, and 13 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1974

Source: sdasmarchives / Flickr

34. CV-34 Oriskany
> Class: Essex (extended bow)
> Commissioned: September 25, 1950
> Service life: 28 years, 11 months, and 26 days
> Status: Scuttled as an artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico in 2006

Source: Keystone / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

35. CV-36 Antietam
> Class: Essex (extended bow)
> Commissioned: January 28, 1945
> Service life: 18 years, 3 months, and 10 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1974

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr

36. CV-37 Princeton
> Class: Essex (extended bow)
> Commissioned: November 18, 1945
> Service life: 24 years, 2 months, and 12 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1971

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

37. CV-38 Shangri-la
> Class: Essex (extended bow)
> Commissioned: September 15, 1944
> Service life: 26 years, 10 months, and 15 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1988

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

38. CV-39 Lake Champlain
> Class: Essex (extended bow)
> Commissioned: July 3, 1945
> Service life: 20 years, 9 months, and 29 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1972

Source: sdasmarchives / Flickr

39. CV-40 Tarawa
> Class: Essex (extended bow)
> Commissioned: December 8, 1945
> Service life: 14 years, 5 months, and 5 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1968

Source: airandspace / Flickr

40. CVB-41 Midway
> Class: Midway
> Commissioned: September 10, 1945
> Service life: 46 years, 7 months, and 1 day
> Status: Preserved at the USS Midway Museum–San Diego, California

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

41. CVB-42 Franklin D. Roosevelt
> Class: Midway
> Commissioned: October 27, 1945
> Service life: 31 years, 11 months, and 4 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1978

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Source: national_museum_of_the_us_navy / Flickr

42. CVB-43 Coral Sea
> Class: Midway
> Commissioned: October 1, 1947
> Service life: 42 years, 6 months, and 25 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1993

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

43. CV-45 Valley Forge
> Class: Essex
> Commissioned: November 3, 1946
> Service life: 23 years, 2 months, and 12 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1971

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

44. CV-47 Philippine Sea
> Class: Essex (extended bow)
> Commissioned: May 11, 1946
> Service life: 12 years, 7 months, and 17 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1971

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

45. CV-48 Saipan
> Class: Saipan
> Commissioned: July 14, 1946
> Service life: 23 years and 6 months
> Status: Scrapped in 1976

46. CVL-49 Wright
> Class: Saipan
> Commissioned: February 9, 1947
> Service life: 9 years, 1 month, and 6 days
> Status: Scrapped in 1980

47. CV-59 Forrestal
> Class: Forrestal
> Commissioned: October 1, 1955
> Service life: 37 years, 11 months, and 29 days
> Status: Scrapped in 2014

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48. CV-60 Saratoga
> Class: Forrestal
> Commissioned: April 14, 1956
> Service life: 38 years, 4 months, and 6 days
> Status: Scrapped in 2015

Source: sdasmarchives / Flickr

49. CV-61 Ranger
> Class: Forrestal
> Commissioned: August 10, 1957
> Service life: 35 years and 11 months
> Status: Scrapped in 2017

50. CV-62 Independence
> Class: Forrestal
> Commissioned: January 10, 1959
> Service life: 39 years, 8 months, and 20 days
> Status: Scrapped in 2018

Source: Stocktrek Images / Stocktrek Images via Getty Images

51. CV-63 Kitty Hawk
> Class: Kitty Hawk
> Commissioned: April 29, 1961
> Service life: 48 years and 13 days
> Status: Designated for scrapping

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52. CV-64 Constellation
> Class: Kitty Hawk
> Commissioned: October 27, 1961
> Service life: 41 years, 9 months, and 11 days
> Status: Scrapped in 2015

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr

53. CVN-65 Enterprise
> Class: Enterprise
> Commissioned: November 25, 1961
> Service life: 55 years, 2 months, and 9 days
> Status: Scrapped in 2017

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

54. CV-66 America
> Class: Kitty Hawk
> Commissioned: January 23, 1965
> Service life: 31 years, 6 months, and 17 days
> Status: Sunk as a target in 2005

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr

55. CV-67 John F. Kennedy
> Class: John F. Kennedy
> Commissioned: September 7, 1968
> Service life: 38 years, 6 months, and 16 days
> Status: Designated for scrapping

56. CVN-68 Nimitz
> Class: Nimitz
> Commissioned: May 3, 1975
> Service life: 48 years, 2 months, and 15 days
> Status: Stationed at Naval Base Kitsap, Bremerton, Washington

Source: Stocktrek Images / Stocktrek Images via Getty Images

57. CVN-69 Dwight D. Eisenhower
> Class: Nimitz
> Commissioned: October 18, 1977
> Service life: 45 years, 9 months, and 1 day
> Status: Stationed at Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk, Virginia

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Source: viper-zero / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

58. CVN-70 Carl Vinson
> Class: Nimitz
> Commissioned: March 13, 1982
> Service life: 41 years, 4 months, and 5 days
> Status: Stationed at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, California

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr

59. CVN-71 Theodore Roosevelt
> Class: Nimitz
> Commissioned: October 25, 1986
> Service life: 36 years, 8 months, and 25 days
> Status: Stationed at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, California

Source: viper-zero / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

60. CVN-72 Abraham Lincoln
> Class: Nimitz
> Commissioned: November 11, 1989
> Service life: 33 years, 8 months, and 9 days
> Status: Stationed at Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk, Virginia

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

61. CVN-73 George Washington
> Class: Nimitz
> Commissioned: July 4, 1992
> Service life: 31 years and 16 days
> Status: Stationed at Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk, Virginia

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62. CVN-74 John C. Stennis
> Class: Nimitz
> Commissioned: December 9, 1995
> Service life: 27 years, 7 months, and 11 days
> Status: Stationed at Naval Base Kitsap, Bremerton, Washington

Source: Sven Eckelkamp / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

63. CVN-75 Harry S. Truman
> Class: Nimitz
> Commissioned: July 25, 1998
> Service life: 24 years, 11 months, and 25 days
> Status: Stationed at Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk, Virginia

Source: Stocktrek Images / Stocktrek Images via Getty Images

64. CVN-76 Ronald Reagan
> Class: Nimitz
> Commissioned: July 12, 2003
> Service life: 20 years and 8 days
> Status: Stationed at Yokosuka Naval Base, Yokosuka, Japan

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Source: Stocktrek Images / Stocktrek Images via Getty Images

65. CVN-77 George H.W. Bush
> Class: Nimitz
> Commissioned: January 10, 2009
> Service life: 14 years, 6 months, and 10 days
> Status: Stationed at Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk, Virginia

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

66. CVN-78 Gerald R. Ford
> Class: Gerald R. Ford
> Commissioned: July 22, 2017
> Service life: 5 years, 11 months, and 28 days
> Status: Stationed at Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk, Virginia

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