Naval Air: July 10, 2004


The U.S. Navy expects to get the crew size of its new CVN-21 class carriers down from 5,000 to 2,000 sailors. The CVN-21 class ships will look, at a distance, like the current Nimitz class CVNs (about a 1,000 feet long and 100,000 tons displacement.) But inside, the differences will be striking. Lots of automation, low maintenance materials and robots. The reduced crew size means better living conditions for the sailors still on board. It means fewer, if any, sailors doing traditional scut work like swabbing the deck (wielding mops and buffers to make the floors clean and shiny.) There will be more sailors on board who can maintain and repair the automated cleaning gear. In fact, most of the sailors on board will be technicians of one kind or another. But a lot of the former crew space will go to storage space for additional weapons and aircraft fuel. CVN-21 is expected to generate sorties (get warplanes into the air) 15 percent faster than the Nimitz, and generate at least ten percent more sorties as well. Many of the aircraft on board will be robotic (UCAVs.) CVN-21, the first ship in the class, and not yet named, is expected to enter service in 2014, replacing the USS Enterprise (CVN-65), which has been in service since 1962. CVN-21 is being designed and built to last at least fifty years. 


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