Key point: Carriers are the mainstay of American force overseas. But it wasn’t a certainty that Washington would build larger carriers instead of cheaper, more numerous, small carriers.
The United States Navy’s ten nuclear super-carriers are the largest warships on the high seas. Home to more than five thousand sailors and Marines, the Nimitz-class carriers are nuclear-powered and can carry nearly ninety combat aircraft. Still, it didn’t have to be this way: had the Navy taken a different tack several decades ago, the gigantic ships would have been supplemented with smaller, more cost-effective flattops—the Medium Aircraft Carriers.