Kiev Class


Origin: Soviet Union.

Type: ASW aircraft carrier.

Number: 4 ships.

Displacement: 36,000 tons standard; 42,000 tons full load.

Dimensions: Length overall 899ft (274m); beam 157·5ft (48m); draught 33ft (10m).

Propulsion: Geared steam turbines, 180,000shp; 4 shafts; 32kt.

Armament: 8 SS-N-12 launchers; 2 twin SA-N-3 launchers; 2 twin SA-N-4 launchers; 2 twin 3in (76·2mm) DP guns; 8 30mm Gatling CIWS; 1 twin SUW-N-1 launcher; 2 RBU 6000 launchers; 2 quintuple 21 in (533mm) torpedoe tubes.

Aircraft: 12 Yak-36MP Forger; 18-21 Ka-25 Hormone-A/B.

Complement: 2,500.


Development: The primary role of these splendid warships is ASW, and for this they carry two squadrons of 15-18 Kamov Ka-25 Hormone-A helicopters, an SUW-N-1 launcher forward and the usual complement of ASW mortars and torpedo tubes. Principal shipborne ASW sensors are a low frequency sonar mounted in the bow, and a variable depth sonar streamed from the stern.

            The principal air defence system, the SA-N-3, is the same as on the Moskvas, but the layout of the Kievs’ launchers one forward and one aft of the bridge island is obviously more satisfactory. The other major air defence weapons are similarly deployed: a twin 76mm gun mounting on the forecastle and a second on the after end of the superstructure; an SA-N-4 ‘bin’ on the port side of the forecastle and another on the starboard side of the island; and groups of paired Gatling CIWS at each of the four quadrants. Modates the two squadrons of helicopters and a squadron of Yakovlev Yak-36 Forger VTOL aircraft. The flight deck is angled at 40 but does not have the ‘ski-jump’ which has made such a difference to the performance of the Sea Harriers on the British Invincible class ships, probably because the Forger cannot perform rolling short take-offs.

            Kiev and Novorosiiysk are deployed with the Northern Fleet and Minsk with the Pacific Fleet; the fourth of class, Kharkov, joined the latter when she completed her sea trials late in 1984. In the event of hostilities the Kievs would probably be employed in support of Soviet submarines in their respective areas, against NATO submarine and surface threats. This could involve the protection of the SSBN bastions in the Barents Sea in the west and in the Sea of Okhotsk in the east, and also offensive forays against NATO ASW barrier forces in such critical areas as the GIUK gap.

            The next class is already under construction at the Nikdayev yard on the Black Sea. The lead ship, Kremlin (75,000 tons), will enter service in about. 1994.

Above: Kiev on her first deployment to the Soviet Northern Fleet. A “Forger” and four “Hormones” are on deck.

Above: Along with a comprehensive array of ASW aircraft and weapons, Kiev carries four twin SS-N-12 launchers on the forecastle.

Below: Minsk’s profile is dominated by the massive island superstructure, which carries the air search and fire control.



Kitty Hawk Class


Origin: USA.

Type: Multi-role aircraft carrier.

Number: 4 ships.

Displacement: 60, 100-61,000 tons standard; 80,800-82,000 tons full load.

Dimensions: Length overall 1,048-1,073ft (319·4-327m); beam 250-268ft (76·2-81.7m); draught 36ft (11m).

Propulsion: Geared steam turbines, 280,000 shp; 4 shafts; 30kt.

Armament: 2 twin Terrier Mk 10 launchers in CV 64; 2 octuple NATO Sea Sparrow Mk 29 launchers in CV 63;3 octuple NATO Sea Sparrow Mk 29 launchers in CV 66-67;3 Phalanx CIWS.

Aircraft: 24 F-14A Tomcat; 24 A-7E Corsair; 10 A-6E Intruder + 4 KA-6D; 4 E-2C Hawkeye; 4 EA-6B Prowler; 10 S-3A Viking; 6 SH-3H Sea King.

Complement: 2,879-2,990+2,500 (air wing).


Development: Although there are significant differences between the first pair completed and the last two vessels, these four carriers are generally grouped together because of their common propulsion system and flight deck layout.

            Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and Constellation (CV 64) were ordered as improved Forrestals, incorporating a number of important modifications. The flight deck showed a slight increase in area, and the layout of the lifts was revised to improve aircraft handling arrangements. The single port side lift, which on the Forrestals was located at the forward end of the flight deck and was therefore unusable during the landing operations was repositioned at the after end of the overhang, outside the line of the angled deck. The respective positions of the center lift on the starboard side and the island structure were reversed, so that two lifts were available to serve the forward catapults. A further improved feature of the lifts was that they were no longer strictly rectangular, but had an additional angled section at their forward end which enabled longer aircraft to be accommodated. The new arrangement proved so successful that it was adopted by all subsequent US carriers.


Below: Kitty Hawk underway in the Pacific, the four E-2Cs and an single A-7 dwarfed by the massive area of the flightdeck.

America (CV 66), the third ship of the class, was completed after a gap of four years and therefore incorporated a number of further modifications. She has a narrower smoke stack and is fitted with an SQS-23 sonar the only US carrier so equipped.

            The first three ships were all completed with two Mk 10 launchers for Terrier missiles. The need to accommodate SPG-55 missile guidance radars in addition to a growing number of air surveillance antennae led to the adoption of a separate lattice mast abaft the island in this and subsequent classes.

            In 1963 it was decided that the new carrier due to be laid down in FY 1964 would be nuclear powered, but Congress baulked at the cost, and the ship was finally laid down as a conventionally powered carrier of a modified Kitty Hawk design. John F. Kennedy (CV 67) can be distinguished externally from her near sisters by her canted stack designed to keep the corrosive exhaust gases clear of the flight deck and by the shape of the forward end of the angled deck. She also abandoned the Terrier missile system, which consumed valuable space and merely duplicated similar area defence systems aboard the carrier escorts in favour of the Basic point Defense Missile System (BPDMS). The earlier three vessels are at present being similarly modified, the Terrier launchers being removed and replaced by a combination of NATO Sea Sparrow and Gatling-type Phalanx CIWS guns.

            Kitty Hawk and Constellation have served since completion in the Pacific. America and John F. Kennedy serve in the Atlantic.


Above: America in the Indian Ocean with airpower on display: A-7Es line the foredeck, with F-14s and E-2Cs forward of the island facing a row of A-6Es.



Nimitz Class


Origin: USA.

Type: Multi role aircraft carrier.

Number: 3 ships + 1 building + 2 ordered.

Displacement: 81,600 tons standard; 91,400 tons full load.

Dimensions: Length overall, 1,092ft (332·8m); beam 251ft (76·5m); draught 37ft (11·3m).

Propulsion: Nuclear; 2A4W reactors 260,000 shp; 4 shafts; 30kt.

Armament: 3 octuple Sea Sparrow Mk 25 launchers in CVN 68-69; 3 octuple NATO Sea Sparrow Mk 29 launchers in CVN 70-71; 3 Phalanx CIWS in CVN 70-71.

Aircraft: 24 F-14A Tomcat; 24 A-7E Corsair; 10 A-6E Intruder + 4 KA-6D; 4 E-2C Hawkeye; 4 EA-6B Prowler; 10 S-3A Viking; 6 SH-3H Sea King.

Complement: 3,073-3,151+ 2,625 (air wing).


Development: The Nimitz class was originally envisaged as a replacement for the Midway class. The development of more advanced nuclear reactors made nuclear propulsion an increasingly attractive option , and the high initial cost associated with nuclear propulsion was accepted in return for the proven benefits of high endurance and reduced life cycle costs. The two A4W reactors which power the Nimitz class each produce approximately 130,000 shp compared with only 35,000 shp compared with only 35,000 shp for each of the eight A2W reactors installed in Enterprise. Moreover, the uranium cores need replacing less frequently than those originally used in Enterprise, giving a full 13 year period between refuellings.

            The reduction in the number of reactors from eight to two also allowed for major improvements in the internal arrangements below hangar deck level. Whereas in Enterprise the entire center section of the ship is occupied by machinery rooms, with the aviation fuel compartments and the missile magazines pushed out towards the end of the ship, in Nimitz the propulsion machinery is divided into two separate units, with the magazines between them and forward of them. The improved layout has resulted in an increase of 20 percent in aviation fuel capacity and a similar increase in the volume available for munitions and stores.

            Flight deck layout is almost identical to that of John F. Kennedy. At hangar deck level, however, there has been a significant increase in the provision of maintenance workshops and spare parts stowage. Maintenance shops have all but taken over the large sponson which supports the flight deck, and at the after end of the hangar there is a large bay for aero engine maintenance and testing. The increased competition for internal volume even in a ship of this size is illustrated by the need to accommodate some 6,300 men (including air group) the original Forrestal dsign on which Nimitz and her sisters are based provided for 3,800!

            Sensor provision and defensive weapons are on a par with John F. Kennedy, although the third ship, Carl Vinson, has NATO Sea Sparrow and Phalanx in place of the BPDMS launchers of the earliest ships, which will be similarly fitted in the near future. Vinson is also fitted with an ASW control center and specialized maintenance facilities for the S-3 Viking; these will also be installed in Nimitz and Eisenhower at future refits.

            Delays in construction caused by shipyard problems resulted in rocketing costs, and in the late 1970s the Carter administration attempted, unsuccessfully, to block authorization of funds for the construction of a fourth carrier in a favour of the smaller, conventionally powered CVV design. The CVV was never popular with the US Navy, however, and the Reagan administration is now committed to the continuation of the CVN programme, and two ships beyond Theodore Roosevelt are currently projected. Nimitz and Eisenhower serve in the Atlantic and Vinson in the Pacific; Theodore Roosevelt will join the fleet in 1987.


Below: The huge dimensions of the Nimitz class are clearly shown here; flightdeck width is no less than 252ft (76.8m).

Below: Nimitz at sea. US planning goal is 15 deployable carrier battle groups by 1990.



Principe de Asturias


Origin: Spain.

Type: ASW carrier.

Number: 1 ship.

Displacement: 14,700 tons full load.

Dimensions: Length overall 640ft (195·1m); beam 81ft (24·7m); draught 29-8ft (9·1m).

Propulsion: COGAG; 2 LM2500 gas turbines; 46,600shp; 1 shaft; 26kt.

Armament: 4 Meroka CIWS.

Aircraft: 17 mixed V/STOL and helicopters.

Complement: 793 (inc. air group).


Development: Principe de Asturias has been built to replace the elderly, ex-US Dédalo. The design is based on that of the ill fated US Navy Sea Control Ship of the early 1970to provide ASW and air superiority missions in low threat areas. A simple design with single shaft propulsion and an austere electronic fit, Principe de Asturias is built around har aviation facilities, which include a full width hangar occupying the after two thirds of the ship. A feature no in the original SCS design is the full 120 ski jump which will enable the AV-8S Matadors to take off with maximum payload. The only fixed armament is four Spanish designed Meroka 20mm close in weapons systems. Principe de Asturias was laid down in 1979 and launched on 22 May 1982.

            The air wing will comprise 6-8 AV-8S Matadors, 6-8 SH-3 Sea Kings for the ASW role, and 4-8 troop carrying helicopters. As with Dédalo, the Spanish Navy has shown what can be done on a limited budget if sufficient thought and sound judgment is applied. The new ship may be unsophisticated by the standards of the larger navies, but the fact is that she will give the Spanish Navy a seaborne air capability which it would otherwise lack.


Below: Launch of the Spanish Navy’s Principe de Asturias, highlighting the ski jump for AV-8S operations.

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