U.S Navy Aircraft Carrier Questions

So I figured that with the aircraft carriers of the navy being really cool and complex, it would be cool to make a topic where anyone can ask a question relevant to aircraft carriers and hopefully someone can find an answer. I’ll go first

What is the big hole at the back of the carrier used for?
This area:

P.S. I couldnt fina a good picture of one so i got it off a game.


Is that SimplePlanes? :)


Yep. It’s the only game I’ve got with a really good carrier that’s fully working.


Depends on the carrier, can just be an open area or an elevator to take planes to the flight deck

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That’s what i was thinking. The carrier in that game doesnt have a elevator there Thom and they made it as realistic as they could so idk. I thought maybe for helicopters but then I tried and now I dont have a helicopter so I was thinking maybe a Amphibious vehicle or boat LAUNCH/doc area

I think I have once seen a documentary about a niemitz class carrier where the mechanics did take out an F18 engine for maintenance reason and afterwards tested it on with full afterburner as well and I think they did point the nozzle out of this opening.

I didnt see that photo. But from the looks of it it’s a platform to stand on. Maybe a vehicle can be moved onto it and a helicopter can pick it up with a winch and looks like theres also some openings in the railing.

Which once I get the new helicopter controls down for sp ima be doing tons of naval rp.

Ok. Next Question. Who Wants It?

Heres an easy question.
What is currently the most famous and the most used multi role fighter which is capable of landing on a carrier?

I know someone who is in the navy. In real life that hole is where aircraft would be parked if it is not actively used and there would be an elevator.

Ok. Thanks. Theres no elevator their in my SP but it’s quite interesting.

So as far as the US Navy goes, they currently use the F/A-18 Super Hornet for Carrier Operations. Prior to the use of the Super Hornet, the US Navy primarily used the F-14 Tomcat as the multi role fighter on carriers, and I would argue this is the most famous carrier aircraft because of Top Gun. As far as the Royal Navy goes, I’m pretty sure they use the Harrier a lot in carrier operations, but they also use other aircraft.

Also: The navy does have plans to start phasing out the Super Hornet and replacing it with the F-35

Finally someone who answered. And you answered correctly.

The royal navy and royal air force retired the aircraft quite some time. The royal navy at the moment do not use any fighter jets but will start using the f35b with its 2 brand new aircraft carriers.

K. Who has next question?

I got to visit that area of a carrier when I was active duty. That is known as the jet engine shop located in the aft part of the airplane hanger 1 level below the flight deck. That is where aviation mechanics can remove engines from an airplane at sea and make repairs to them. Keep in mind at sea there are no place to buy parts. After they repair the engines they will actually test the engine while its on the engine stand up to full afterburner for a long period of time to make sure reliability before it’s installed back into the aircraft. The thrust/ exhaust of the engine goes out the back of the ship. The jet engine shop does vary a bit from carrier to carrier as the blue prints of each carrier is not 100% standard.

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To keep it going how do aircraft recover to the carrier and how does ATC work on the carrier?

They land at pretty much normal touchdown speeds and are stopped using one of 3 or 4 arrestor cables (depending on the carrier). Pilots increase to full military power once they hit the deck in case they miss the wires and have to immediately take off again (a bolter). ATC works pretty much the same as they approach the carrier, but they will then also communicate with a landing signal officer (LSO) standing on the deck that assists on final. You’ll also hear them say “call the ball” referencing the lighting system left of the deck often referred to as “the meatball” which is fairly similar to a VASI system at commercial airports


Just trying to keep it going, but the operations on deck with different colored shirts are pretty interesting too if someone else wants to touch on that


The hole in the back is for engine run-ups and testing as some have correctly surmised above. On the US carriers the lifts are ‘normally’ (depends upon the carrier obviously) two on the starboard side fore and aft of the superstructure and one, sometimes two on the port side.

The issue being that the angled deck is obviously on the port side and the operation of the port lift would affect launch and recovery slowing the deck rotation.

Aircraft are launched using one of up to 4 steam catapults, two on the waist and two on the foredeck. The foredeck cats are angled very slightly apart on the newer Carriers to launch the aircraft to the left and right of the ships track just in case of a cat shot failure, engine failure or ejection. This gives the flight crew a fighting chance of not being steam rollered by the ship after an ejection!

Recovery is normally done by pilots talking to area control when they are outside of the CCZ (carrier control zone) which is normally a 5nm radius circle centered on the ship to gain permission for entry to the CCZ and circuit placement or stack join.

Once inside they will be transferred to ‘flyco’ (not sure of the modern day callsign I’m afraid, it’s been a while!) for circuit position, landing number, parking position etc. You will also be in contact with ‘paddles’, a squadron pilot who is in the tower at all times during recovery in order to assist with any technical issues (it’s difficult to read the manual with a failure and land on a pitching, rolling, heaving deck!)

The aim is to fly a fixed AOA approach using pitch and power to control speed and height respectively. You use the Carrier Lineup Beacons on the port side to judge your glide path, keeping the central ‘ball’ between the green horizontals all the way to the deck, aiming for the 2nd to 3rd wire giving you about 20 feet over the rollback (the rounded edge of the flight deck over the stern). Keep a constant AOA (keeps the hook head and the mains in a level plane) over the stern and adjust height with power, once you hit the deck apply full power and re-heat in the event of a bolter. As you get the decel of the cable (and boy do you get the decel!) select idle and apply the brakes, look for the flight deck handler who will signal to release the brakes and the cable will pull you back and disengage from the hook.

Raise the hook, fold the wings and follow the marshallers signals to the shut down position.

Simples. ;)

Edited to add the shirts denote different roles on the flight deck. I can’t remember them all I’m afraid but a quick google lookup should suffice! Badgers, pinkies, greenies, loaders etc…