US Aircraft Carriers

How come they dont fall over ?

They seem to be so incredibly top-heavy.

I appreciate there must be some ballast in the bottom, but just how close are those beasts to toppling over ?

The part above the water is hollow, consisting of hangars and repair areas.

About three months ago this topic came up and got quite a few useful responses in ships falling over. (Some of the responses got a bit testy and the specifics of aircraft carrier construction were, sadly, never displayed, but the general topic was thoroughly explored.)

Howstuffworks: “How Aircraft Carriers Work” has some photos that touch on the issue of construction that were brought up in the SDMB thread (although the photos are not “conclusive”).

brad: The part below the water is hollow, consisting of living spaces, working space, storage spaces, and ballast areas, to name just a few.

Tks tomndebb, didnt think this woulda been covered b4.

Second time I been caught out.

…just a novice here…


Hollow ballast areas? :eek:

Down below also has things like oh…nuclear reactors, steam plant, drivetrain for 3-4 huge screws, probably drinking water storage, and many other heavy things to keep that pesky keel where it should be.

Right… it’s actually more often smaller vessels (cruiser-destroyer-frigate-medium cutter) that have topweight or poor seakeeping problems. Large carriers (and battleships) are quite stable, in large measure due to their sheer mass and linear dimensions. It’s just an engineering question of center of buoyancy vs. center of gravity.

For one thing, the “island” is really a very lightweight metal building. For another, immediately below the flight deck there is a very wide and tall hangar. So the “bulk” of the weight of the carrier only starts stacking up a ways below the flight deck.

For contrasty, the original Lexington/Saratoga class carriers built between the world wars and that served in WW2, were converted “battlecruiser” hulls and the used as “island” the topside superstructure and armament of a heavy cruiser (8x8" guns), causing them according to HazeGray to have an inherent list PLUS you could not use the main battery AND conduct flight ops. Eventually the heavy guns were taken out. Check out the pictures at the site.

drax: I think Monty was making a point to brad that technically, the whole mother is hollow, not just the space above the waterline – “hollow” not meaning a big empty void, just that you are able to put something inside it.

Yes, drax. Hollow ballast areas. That way, one can move ballast from one area to another.