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Naval vessel equipped with a platform that allows airplanes to take off and land. Takeoffs are facilitated by the use of catapults or by a ramp at the end of the flight deck. For landing, aircraft are fitted with retractable hooks that engage arresting wires on the deck, or they are built with vectored-thrust engines that allow them to be landed vertically. Britain's Royal Navy developed the first true aircraft carrier near the end of World War I, and carriers played leading roles in World War II naval engagements such as the Pearl Harbor attack and the Battles of Midway and the Coral Sea. The largest modern carriers are 1,000-ft (300-m) nuclear-powered vessels of the U.S. Navy, which can carry 100 jet aircraft. Other types include the light carrier, equipped for anti-submarine warfare and ground attack, and the helicopter carrier, intended for conducting amphibious assault.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on aircraft carrier, visit Britannica.com.