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Old 08-15-2016, 03:12 PM
Velocity Velocity is online now
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The furthermost latitude than an aircraft carrier can still conduct flight ops

How far north - or south, for that matter - can an aircraft carrier still carry flight ops before it is too impeded by temperature?


Would freezing temperatures make the flight catapults too stuck to operate, or the flight deck too icy slick for jets to take off and land? I would imagine that US Navy carriers can't operate in the Arctic.
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Old 08-15-2016, 03:29 PM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is online now
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On the hot side of things, they operate in the Gulf and all around the equator, so that's not an issue (though they apparently do require more maintenance and break down more often at those high temps).

On the cold side of things, all I know is that carriers don't operate in seas where ice is present. How much of that is due to temperatures and equipment and how much is due to the risk of hull damage from ice I have no idea.
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Old 08-15-2016, 04:02 PM
Morgenstern Morgenstern is offline
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Apparently, they do operate in those areas.

https://www.quora.com/How-far-north-...groups-operate
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Old 08-15-2016, 10:33 PM
ssgenius ssgenius is online now
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During Operation Juno during WW2, the British Carrier Glorious was sunk NORTH of the Arctic Circle around the 69 degree latitude mark

http://www.scharnhorst-class.dk/scha...charnjuno.html

Another candidate for far north operations in WW2 would be the Murmansk run as the British Carrier Courageous was used on some of these convoys


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctic...f_World_War_II
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Old 08-16-2016, 12:56 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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There's a limit how far south they can go - they run out of ocean.

I imagine safety is an issue too - a crash into a sea of crushing ice pack could be a lot more hazardous than open water. Plus, a carrier is useless if it's a sitting duck caught in an pack. Also, carriers go nowhere without their entourage, so the question also should be how does thick ice affect the carrier task force members?

Question for the military buffs - is there a disadvantage in trying to detect submarines if there's an ice pack (broken ice) cover? Solid ice cover? (Obviously you can't drop sonar buoys or microphones through the ice.)

Last edited by md2000; 08-16-2016 at 12:57 AM.
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Old 08-16-2016, 02:31 AM
Kedikat Kedikat is offline
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Aside from the physical problems of ice.
I wonder what the operational temperature range of a nuclear powered carrier is?
Extremes of hot and cold would require extra energy for heating and cooling. Not only of crew, but for systems and aircraft. Hot planes often need external cooling once they land. And preheating before takeoff in arctic conditions.
The reactor to propulsion system must be a fairly self contained loop. But it is encapsulated in the overall internal temperature of the ship.
Does a nuclear carrier heat via hot water piped to radiators? If hot water, is there always enough excess to keep all systems running when 40 below? Or electric heaters? Cooling is going to be electric when needed.
I would guess that there is some temperature range +/- that allows maximum performance. But the range may be crazy over the top military demands.
Steam catapults in arctic cold?
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Old 08-16-2016, 04:34 AM
Blake Blake is offline
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Originally Posted by Kedikat View Post
Cooling is going to be electric when needed.
Why? If you're sitting in a literal ocean of freezing water, why wouldn't you use that water to cool yourself just as most buildings on land use evaporatively cooled water?
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Old 08-16-2016, 05:46 AM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
(Obviously you can't drop sonar buoys or microphones through the ice.)
Sure you can; you just have to drill a hole first.
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Old 08-16-2016, 09:52 AM
bump bump is offline
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I'd think the real issue wouldn't be where can the carriers actually sail, but rather where can they conduct flight operations. I'd imagine that ice accumulation on the decks and/or aircraft might be a deciding factor- if the arrestor wires don't work because they're iced up, or if the planes don't get any friction on landing, or if the catapults are having issues because of ice, or if the deck crew can't do their thing because of ice.

That said, I wouldn't be surprised if it's pretty far north; the North Atlantic was expected to be the primary naval theater during a hypothetical WWIII, so I'd bet carriers are designed to handle typical bad weather in that part of the world.
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Old 08-16-2016, 10:15 AM
Chihuahua Chihuahua is offline
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Originally Posted by Quartz View Post
Sure you can; you just have to drill a hole first.
Right, but that's not how anti-submarine warfare works. Most of the sonobuoys are dropped from aircraft. If they had to disembark the ship to cut a hole in the ice, the coverage area would be drastically reduced. This would also be redundant, since the ship itself has its own sonar.
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Old 08-16-2016, 05:41 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Velocity View Post
Would freezing temperatures make the flight catapults too stuck to operate, or the flight deck too icy slick for jets to take off and land? I would imagine that US Navy carriers can't operate in the Arctic.
Catapults are operated by steam, so even far north they could launch planes. And the extended daylight hours would help, carrier operations at night are much more dangerous (pre-WWII, and even during the early war, they just weren't done).

But landing might be harder. Icing on the deck could be fought with steam hoses, though it might take a lot of work. And the extreme cold might make arrester wires brittle & more prone to braking. (The new magnetic arrestors wouldn't be affected.)

But the main point of carriers is to 'carry the war to our enemies'. We don't have enemies living on Arctic ice or Antarctica. Nor does anybody else -- they aren't very hospitable for human habitation. Not much of a place to fight over.

The carriers in WWII were there only to provide escort for supply convoys to northern Russia, because the other routes were blocked. (Had the Russian railroad network across Siberia been adequate, supplies could have gone the short route from Alaska to Russia, but it wasn't. Stalin noted this problem; the Siberian railroad network was much improved after the war, with much of the labor coming from Gulag prisoners.)
  #12  
Old 08-17-2016, 12:17 AM
Ranchoth Ranchoth is online now
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Originally Posted by Chihuahua View Post
Right, but that's not how anti-submarine warfare works. Most of the sonobuoys are dropped from aircraft. If they had to disembark the ship to cut a hole in the ice, the coverage area would be drastically reduced.
Bah, nonsense—this is precisely why you have skis, dog sleds, and reindeer teams.

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Old 08-17-2016, 01:40 AM
coremelt coremelt is offline
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Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net View Post

But the main point of carriers is to 'carry the war to our enemies'. We don't have enemies living on Arctic ice or Antarctica. Nor does anybody else -- they aren't very hospitable for human habitation. Not much of a place to fight over.
Um, in case you missed it Russia has been trying to claim large swathes of the arctic waters on the justification that their continental shelf extends that far. They already have conflicts with Canada, Denmark, Norway over their claims. It's entirely possible in the future that a US Carrier might travel into the arctic to contest defend Canada's claims.
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