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What is the hardest part in building aircraft carriers?

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posted on Oct, 24 2005 @ 06:09 PM
We have seen how long it takes to build an aircraft carrier that would take about 4 to 5 years. Not to mention the costs of building and maintaining it. We have seen on the dicussion board about China's intention on having an aicraft carreir to project their military power. So I was wondering which part of the carrier is the hardest to overcome and build, i heard the catapult is preventing countries like China from making a reliable carrier. So that was the question I am asking.

posted on Oct, 24 2005 @ 06:22 PM
I would think the hardest part would be the moment they smash the bottle over the bow and let it slip from drydock into the water. You can bet every person who worked on it is praying to god that it floats

Still, the Chinese are a pretty resourceful people when they're not being hamstrung by their centralized government. If they truly want an aircraft carrier I have no doubt they will find a way, regardless of the obstacles.

Thats my thoughts on it,


[edit on 24-10-2005 by mrwupy]

posted on Oct, 24 2005 @ 06:32 PM
The hardest part will be if the Chinese have to use the cheap, junky and inaccurate tools that they've been flooding the US market with.

Spoken from the point of view of an amateur - but well informed - machinist.

Surely they must have better tools for their own use than the stuff they sell to us.

(Edited for punctuation.)

[edit on 24-10-2005 by Desert Dawg]

posted on Oct, 24 2005 @ 08:45 PM
The electronics and computers, which the US and Russia do not sell to other countries. These include guidance and radar systems. They are the most difficult to develop and are required for any modern carrier.

They also need advanced carrier borne aircraft, to which the Chinese will have to buy from Russia.

posted on Oct, 24 2005 @ 08:58 PM
The answer to this question would probably be like the 3 blind men describing an elephant. Each part of an aircraft carrier, before integration, is made separately by separate contractors. There is no real 'hurdle' that China needs to overcome, since aircraft carriers have been around since before WW2 (no real technological secrets left in their design) and China certainly has the industrial base needed to build one (or five). How good they will be compared to American ones is unknown. I would ask which part of the aircraft carrier is China currentlyghaving the most difficulty with bringing up to a standard which rivals current American technology, to which I don't know, but as Raideur said it's probably the electronics.

posted on Oct, 24 2005 @ 10:30 PM
Drilling all the holes in the side for the oars to poke through if it's a Chinese aircraft carrier.

Serious answer - paying for it, they are horrendously expensive especially when you add in the cost of the air wing.

posted on Oct, 24 2005 @ 10:31 PM
What is the hardest part in building aircraft carriers?

Money and Priorities.
Applicable Carrier Technology and 'Know-how'.

Without me going into my own long-winded interpretation of what part of building an aircraft or simply building a US supersized aircraft carrier, I will simply link an informative article, undoubtedly, one that the Chinese and Russians are familiar with.
Build To Order: One Aircraft Carrier: Here's why it takes more than seven years to make the world's most complicated manufactured product

As for China in particular, the following article is indepth, well-written, and well-researched. Worthy of a read for it discusses the China's lack of carrier technology and how the Chinese seek to close the gap in this area, starting with the acquisition of the Melbourne and Varyag.

The Chinese have decided to advance their carrier program ambitions in two stages:

Phase 1 - Study Foreign Technology

During the first stage, China has bought several scrapped carriers from overseas in order to study the parts.

(More is mentioned in the article on Phase 1)

Phase 2 - New Construction

China appears to have chosen to build a Chinese aircraft carrier, rather than purchasing one off-the-shelf. Although China’s long-term goal is to acquire one or more aircraft carriers and it has an active program to develop a design, it remains unclear whether Beijing has reached a firm decision on the kind of carrier it will have, given budget constraints and naval funding priorities.

(Again, more is mentioned in the article on Phase 2)

Link to the source:
Aircraft Carrier Project: People's Liberation Army Navy

Other articles of interest:
Naval War College Review: China's aircraft carrier ambitions: seeking truth from rumors
Why China Chooses Not to Build Aircraft Carrier?


[edit on 24-10-2005 by Seekerof]

posted on Oct, 25 2005 @ 12:12 AM
The shear size, putting all the smaller sections together to make one large ship.

[edit on 25-10-2005 by NWguy83]

posted on Oct, 25 2005 @ 02:51 AM
Delta boy have asked a really tough question. Even in a conventional boiler fired carrier or gas turbine carrier is pretty tough. For example the shafting on a large carrier like a Nimitz class is put in place before the vertical bulkheads are put in place and the shaft compartments formed or built around the shafts....four of them. The compartments have to be aligned just hook up with the back of the gearing output...all precisely aligned. The steam engines hooked up ..mounted ..the hotwells under them etc ..all the support equipment. Quite a job to get all these parts in one place at one time and mounted to specification.
The catapults on a carrier like this are a huge job from begining to end...and are constantly being worked till the ship leaves. This is by itself a huge and difficult job. This is why many Navys opt for vertical launch aircraft or jump jet ramps. To difficult to build and maintain a catapult. Not to mention ..expensive for a catapult system.
Just try to imagine what it takes to install and maintain a Aircraft elevator ...and carriers usually have more than one. Nimitz class carriers have four of them. Not just aircraft elevators but they also have weapons elevators to get ordinance from the storage vaults to the decks.
Arresting gear itself is difficult to intstall and maintain. The arresting engines are huge for each wire strung across the deck.
Just stand back and look at the galleys ..and the number of people they must feed several times a day. Wow!!! How do you get all this put together and scheduled ..on time ..just galleys alone and a carrier has several. Where do you put all the food..?? have asked a difficult question...its all difficult. When you see the amount of planning going into one of these carriers.
I speak not only of the USA's Nimitz class carriers but any nations carriers. The whole economy of a nation goes into such a effort...right down to the paper clips used and I mean quite literally the whole of a nations economy. This is why not many nations have aircraft carriers or even many of them.
It is just a huge undertaking time, moneys, and planning/scheduling. Mindboggling that someone can figure it all out.
There isnt enough space to cover this on this blog.

Thanks for the difficult question,

posted on Oct, 25 2005 @ 04:06 AM
just my uninformed opinion - but historically creating an EFFECTIVE airwing was far harder than the shipbuilding

that and integrating carrier air doctrine into a navy / military that has no experience of such ops

just building a carrier doesnt make you a useable wapon

posted on Oct, 25 2005 @ 04:34 AM
Aircraft carriers are probably the biggest logistical challenge that faces any military, it's like an airbase on a ship big enough to carry an airbase in some cases. I'm pretty sure the RN has a new carrier in the works that's apparently going to be the biggest British warship to have put to sea, and I'm suprised that we need it really... unless we're planning to go on the offensive very far away at some point, and this hasn't really happened since the Falklands war. Since that we've always been able to project our force from friendly territory near the theatre of conflict.

So having said that I'd say justifying the cost of something you might never need is the biggest problem with making a carrier...that and bringing it all together. It's easy to just research and make radar, or turbines, or reactors, but bringing it all together into a working combat vessel is a magnificent feat of modern engineering.

posted on Oct, 25 2005 @ 10:12 AM
A few things I'm wondering about a Chinese carrier.

Will they build it with hull narrow enough to transit the Panama Canal?
Seems like they would, from what I read here on ATS they have a sizable contingent of troops at the Canal.

Does China have carrier capable aircraft?
There are probably some that could be strengthened and converted for catapult/arresting gear duty - mail & supply planes for example - but I'm not sure that could be accomplished in a modern day Chinese fighter with it's relatively light duty fuselage structure.

There's a reason you don't see F-16's on carrier decks.

Flight training could be a problem, but one that could be done in a reasonable amount of time with a "carrier deck" marked out to a carrier sized landing area complete with arresting gear at a land based airstrip.

Not to mention training of personnel who handle the airplanes above and below decks.
They don't have the history and the experienced people to bring the newbie's up to par that the US does.
So there's a time element there.

I would imagine they have sufficient 'normal' type ships to make up a battle group, but if not it could impinge on their naval capabilities in some areas.

And like OrangeTom1999 says, there's going to be a considerable amount of time involved.
They may have to build the drydock/building area just to have a place to build a carrier and that's going to figure into the time element as well.

A couple of years back, History Channel I think it was had a great one hour documentary on building a carrier.
Some aspects of it used a speeded up film to show the shafts going in and the individual sections placed.
A very interesting documentary and if you like carriers I recommend it highly.

I think in the same group of documentaries they focused on the catapult mechanism and how it worked along with how the arresting gear system worked.

posted on Oct, 25 2005 @ 01:58 PM
Thats a good catch you made there in your post.
Depending on the size of the carrier does the nation even have a drydock big enough to handle the ship in repairs.

The picture shown of the USS Ronald Reagan necessitated the modification of the drydock to accomodate the bulbous bow as it is the first carrier to have this feature. The ship takes up almost all of the drydock.
Good catch olde man.


posted on Oct, 25 2005 @ 03:05 PM
"What is the hardest part in building aircraft carriers?"

The metal parts? Metal is quite hard....

posted on Oct, 26 2005 @ 03:32 AM
A CGB is more than the planes and the carriers thmselves, but a multittude of ships and the supporting cast needed for such a venture.

posted on Oct, 26 2005 @ 03:46 AM
This question is particularly pertinent to those of us in the UK.

It would seem that the hardest part of building an aircraft carrier is getting it approved and laid down in the first place.

A scandal is about to break.
The UK is "building" 2 new super-carriers to replace our aging contingent of Invincible class through deck cruisers. The project is already years behind schedule and 1 billion over budget before the contracts have even been signed.
To top it all, one of the government's ministers is trying to block an inquiry into just what exactly is going on.

Once the project gets started, the actual physical creation of the carrier should not be a problem by comparison.

posted on Oct, 26 2005 @ 04:53 AM
Hate to burst the bubble but China is a major shipbuilding nation (they may even be the largest shipbuilding nation by now, i havent seen recent figures). They have a number of drydocks that are easily large enough. They have to date never been used to build anything but civilian vessels but in China that would not be hard to change. Until the early 90's all china built were 'box' ships (simple ships like oil tankers and container vessels - essentuly just a big box) in the last 15 years however they have been building ever more sophisticated ships. Their building facilities are first rate and as advanced as anything in the west. They would have no problem building up the bulkheads around the shaft as was suggested earlier in this thread. It is more the political will and expense of building a carrier that is preventing them, not their construction capability.

posted on Oct, 26 2005 @ 09:02 AM
Are Hong Kong's facilities able to easily accomodate and build aircraft carriers? After all the British Royal Navy use to own Hong Kong and able to build up the facilities for their ships.

posted on Oct, 26 2005 @ 08:53 PM
I'm no expert on shipbuilding and can only go on what I have ready casually and the discovery channel haha..

The actual ship itself as far as basic design (Materials, hydrodynamics and basic structure) are IMO doable by the chinese.

I think the most difficult aspects would revolve around cutting edge ship based electronics and the frontline aircraft associated with the carrier. Nuclear propulsion would also pose challenges in regards to present state of the art ... so it really depends on size, sophistication and general capabilities of the said aircraft carrier.


posted on Oct, 26 2005 @ 09:01 PM
Leveller posted:

"It would seem that the hardest part of building an aircraft carrier is getting it approved and laid down in the first place. "

Well said olde man..well said. This is the case for most nations..including the United States.
The costs to any nation of building a Aircraft Carrier are immense. Highly political. A very partisan issue among partys struggling for funds for anything.

As I stated in a earlier post about England and her ships/aircraft carriers.
Back before the time of Winston Churchill the Brits got caught with their pants down. Up to the time of WW2 they spent so much time and moneys on anything but thier military and new equipment. When the time came when they despirately needed thier Armed Forces their equipment was so outdated by the passage of time. They barely had people who could shoot and it took alot of time to train people with a rifle from scratch. It seems that so few Brits had ever worked a rifle in thier entire lives. They got caught with to few Hurricanes and to few Spitfires and never enough pilots.
England is a Island is natural for her to invest in the ocean and the ability to protect their access to it. What could the British politicians possibly be thinking????
Us Yanks too..will find ourselves in this same position when our politicians turn to maintaining their political power by giveaways from the coffers of the public breast.....breastfeeding!! Anything but our military.


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