Naval Air: December 12, 2003


The French carrier "de Gaulle" has been taking a lot of flack over the last few years because of design and construction flaws. But the ship has some innovative and practical design features that are quite useful and work well. American naval officers who have visited the ship and witnessed it in operation noted several nice things. First, there is the smoothness of the "ride" as the carrier moves through heavy weather. This is because of a very effective stabilizer system. There is also a system of counter-weights built into the hull that enables the ship to keep the deck level even while making sharp turns. This allows the ship to maneuver at high speed and continue to launch aircraft. French naval aviators also complained of one feature that was in the original design, but was then changed for reasons they can't understand. The original design had the island much farther forward. This made landings easier, for the normal position of the island, in the middle, sometimes creates wind eddies that can be felt during landings. Not many accidents are caused by these wind conditions, but the aviators are acutely aware of them and thought they had convinced the ship designers to deal with it by moving the island. One thing American naval officers noted had remained in the original design was several bars on the ship, serving a large variety of alcoholic beverages. Booze has been banned from U.S. warships since 1914. 


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