Note: This list includes only RN ships built, or reconstructed, to modern angled-deck designs, and new-design postwar ships; i.e. the first-line postwar RN carrier force. War-era ships updated with minimal angled decks, and ships completed to modern designs for foreign navies, are not listed.
Concept/Program: A wartime design, but suspended at the close of hostilities and completed to an extensively modernized design. Was RN's first large, modern carrier of the postwar era. Her former sistership Eagle was completed and modernized to a different design.
Design: Completed to a completely modern design, with an angled deck, englarged island, new electronics fit, and all other changes needed to bring the ship fully up to date. This ship was a continual maintenance problem throughout her career.
Modifications: Refitted 1959 with armament reduced to 4 dual 4.5/50, 4 6-barrel, 2 dual 40 mm, 48 aircraft. Major refit 3/1967 to 1970 with all guns removed; provision for 4 Sea Cat SAM but missiles not installed, aircraft complement reduced to 36. Final displacement 53,060 tons full load.
Operational: Served in front-line roles throughout her career; was the last RN carrier operating conventional fighter and attack aircraft. A specially fitted stores ship was assigned to support the logistical requirements of the ship and her aircraft.
Departure from Service/Disposal: Was worn out by 1972 and scheduled for scrapping mid-1970's, but remained in service due to cancellation of her replacement. Finally decommissioned 4 Dec 1978. Preservation effort failed.
Refitted 21 July 1958 to 28 December 1959, major refit 4 October 1966 to 24 February 1970..
Decommissioned 4 Dec 1978. Preservation effort failed; sold 1980 and subsequently scrapped.
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Concept/Program: A WWII-era carrier completely rebuilt postwar to serve as an attack carrier. Plans to convert two sisterships were cancelled due to thier poor condition.
Design/Conversion: Complete reconstruction 1950-1958: totally gutted and stripped of all structure down to hangar floor, hull widened, deepened and lengthened, machinery replaced, hangar and angled flight deck rebuilt, new capapults fitted. Was an essentially new ship following reconstruction.
Modifications: Refitted 1962-63 with 2 dual 3/50 and all 40 mm removed, flight deck strengthened and enlarged.
Departure from Service/Disposal: Suffered minor fire while in refit 1968; it was decided not to repair the damage and the ship was decommissioned due to carrier force level cuts.
Served as a troopship postwar. Decommissioned to reserve 1/1947 due to lack of crew, but recommissioned as a harbor training ship 10/1947. Designation changed to R38 under NATO designation system. Extensively reconstructed starting 3/1950, at Portsmouth Dockyard, recommissioned 14 Jan 1958 as an attack carrier.
Minor fire while in refit 11/1967; it was decicded not to repair the damage and the ship was decommissioned 13 March 1968 due to carrier force level cuts. Sold 1969 and scrapped at Faslane starting 7/1969.
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Concept/Program: A wartime design, suspended at the close of hostilities and completed to slightly modifified design. Later reconstructed to a completely modernized design, bringing this ship up to the standard of Victorious. Her final design was different from that of her former sister Ark Royal.
Design/Conversion: Refitted to a completely modern design, with an angled deck, englarged island, new electronics fit, and all other changes needed to bring the ship fully up to date. This ship was a continual maintenance problem throughout her career.
Operational: Served in front-line roles throughout her career.
Departure from Service/Disposal: Decommissioned 1972 and nominally laid up in reserve, but stripped of parts to keep Ark Royal functional.
Decommissioned for refit 11 May 1959, recontructed at Devonport Dockyard 30 Oct 1959 to 14 May 1964 as an attack carrier.
Decommissioned to reserve early 1972, but stripped of parts to maintain Ark Royal. Sold 1978 and scrapped starting 10/1978.
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Concept/Program: Initially designed as an "intermediate" fleet carrier, but suspended at the close of hostilities and completed to an extensively modernized design.
Design: Completed to a completely modern design, with an angled deck, englarged island, new electronics fit, and all other changes needed to bring the ship fully up to date.
Modifications: Refitted 1964-1966 with 40mm removed and 2 quad Sea Cat SAM launchers fitted.
Departure from Service/Disposal: Obsolete by the late 1960's due to small size, so she was was converted to a commando carrier in 1971; she replaced Albion and had berths for 750 troops. After service in the commando, ASW and VSTOL roles, she was decommissioned post-Falklands.
Initially operated as a light fleet carrier. Refitted 24 Feb 1964-5/1966. Decommissioned to reserve 14 July 1970. Converted to a commando carrier at Devenport Dockyard 1 March 1971 to 18 Aug 1973. Converted to ASW carrier 10 May 1976 to 10 Dec 1976, then replaced in ASW role by Bulwark and converted to VSTOL (Harrier) carrier.
Had been scheduled for decommissioning, but retained for Falklands service. Decommissioned to reserve 12 April 1984, stricken for disposal 1 July 1985. Sold to India 19 April 1986, refitted prior to transfer, commissioned 12 May 1987 as INS Viraat (R22), formally recommissioned in India 15 Feb 1989. Has undergone minor armament modifications in Indian service. Will require replacement by 2005.
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Concept/Program: A completely new design intended to replace the various modernized WWII-era carrers remaining in service in the 1960's. The project was subject to extreme political pressures in the form of arbitrary displacement limits, and attempted to use a great deal of new or unusual technology, especially in terms of flight deck arrangement, armament and electronics outfit. Attempts to squeeze the design into the allowable displacement lead to still more innovative (and complex) technology and compromise of construction standards. In the end the project had to be cancelled, both because of the politcal climate and because the design was completely unworkable. The final cancellation took place 2/1966.
Note: There is considerable disagreement regarding the "final" specifications of the design. The specifications stated above were those dated 11-12/1965 and scheduled for issue to shipbuilders in 1/1966; their issue was delayed just prior to project cancellation in 2/1966. They are, therefore, the final and most accurate specifications for the proposed ships.
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Current plans call for construction of two carriers, each around 40,000 tons displacment and carring about 50 aircraft. The first ship is to be completed in 2012, and the second in 2015. Although no official decision has been made, it is generally thought that the CVFs will operate Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs) in a conventional takeoff/landing (CTOL) mode, or perhaps in a short takeoff/arrested landing (STOBAR) mode. These will be the largest warships ever constructed in the UK.
Two competing teams are currently engaged in initial conceptual studies for the CVF program. One team is lead by BAE Systems, with Rolls-Royce and Harland & Wolff as team members; the other team is lead by Thomson-CSF with Raytheon Systems Co. and BMT Defense Services, LTD. The final contractor choice will be made late in 2003, and the ships will be ordered early in 2004.
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