The greatest development of the 20th Century in the Naval Service is the aircraft carrier's rapid response capability.
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The greatest development of the 20th Century in the Naval Service is the aircraft carrier's rapid response capability. The development of the aircraft carrier is in itself, a profound accomplishment, but beyond the scope of this discussion. Supporting the thesis statement in this paper, however, is not based on the engineering feat or technological advancement achieved by the development of the aircraft carrier, but rather on the response capability delivered in combat. More specifically, the focus of this paper will be on the two main elements of rapid response; mobility and power. First, the mobility of the aircraft carrier provided throughout the 20th Century was unsurpassed. A major aspect of mobility is speed. In WWII, Vietnam and the Gulf War, the carrier demonstrated the ability to move at superior speeds to all other ships in the fleet. Their capability to travel at speeds in excess of 30 knots makes this asset extremely mobile in response to any attack. VADM John Nathman points out that the sustainability and survivability of the aircraft carrier is also an overwhelming advantage over any smaller ship [Association of Naval Aviation, article by VADM John Nathman].
[Popular Mechanics article, Show of Force; VADM Ed. Martin] Sustainment is also a large part of what makes the aircraft carrier mobile. When deployed, the carrier is able to conduct sustained operations at sea with an endurance load of up to 75 days without replenishment. With sustained air operations, the endurance load is decreased due to refueling, however, a carrier can stay at sea in an operating area for over 100 days with combat logistic support ships readily available. This makes the aircraft carrier a particularly useful asset that can bring a devastating arsenal to the fight. Power is another important aspect of rapid response. Aside from the SSBN, the vessel that can deliver the most powerful blow to an enemy is the aircraft carrier. Its ability to launch aircrafts carrying numerous guided missiles, responding with power to a surface or land based targets is not available from any other ship. Since World War II, the U.S. Navy has centered its battle groups around the aircraft carrier, with surface vessels playing a supporting role.
That fact stated, by looking at just the number of times the carrier was used by the U.S. as a rapid response weapon, it is evident the aircraft carrier is the greater development. Indeed, the vast capabilities the nuclear submarine has delivered throughout the 20th century to U.S. Naval forces significantly advanced our Navy. The submarine, however, simply does not offer the wide range of capabilities the aircraft carrier delivers. In conclusion, there have been many technological, engineering and other human developments which have provided major contributions to our Navy's ability to respond to crisis quickly. Surface ships, submarines and weapons advancements have all been well documented. The greatest of all developments in the naval service in the 20th century is the rapid response capability of the aircraft carrier. RESOURCES 1. VADM John Nathman - Newsletter article; Association of Naval Aviation 2. Carl Conetta and Charles Knight - "Alleged Carrier Gap is Out To Sea" Project on Defense Alternatives, Briefing memo 15,April 1999. 3. VADM Ed Martin "Show of Force"; Popular Mechanics internet article] 4. Article, www.Wikipedia.com, 15 July 2004, no author given. WRITING ASSIGNMENT Prepared for Dr. Cuny by LCDR TODD CHIPMAN Submitted 22 July 2004
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