Issue Briefs

Claims Of Aircraft Carrier Vulnerability Are False, But The Versatility Is Real

Loren B. Thompson

June 09th, 2020

There has been a persistent drumbeat of concern since the Cold War ended about the supposed vulnerability of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. The nature of the threat and the likely perpetrators change over time, but somehow the danger to the carriers is always there–at least in the minds of some pundits. It turns out, though, that the carriers aren’t really as doomed as some claim. In fact, Pentagon analysts who want to reorganize the Navy are turning away from the vulnerability thesis as a rationale for change. That’s progress, but it seems that many around Secretary of Defense Mark Esper still don’t grasp the versatility and value of large-deck, nuclear-powered carriers. So I have written a commentary on the subject for Forbes here.

The views and opinions expressed in this issue brief are those of the author.

Loren B. Thompson is a Senior Adviser at GPI, Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute and Chief Executive Officer of Source Associates, a for-profit consultancy. Prior to holding his present positions, he was Deputy Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University and taught graduate-level courses in strategy, technology and media affairs at Georgetown. He has also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Thompson holds doctoral and masters degrees in government from Georgetown University and a bachelor of science degree in political science from Northeastern University.