When Was The First Aircraft Carrier Built?

HII Celebrates Centennial of U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers Seapower
HII Celebrates Centennial of U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers Seapower from seapowermagazine.org

When Was the First Aircraft Carrier Built?

The Birth of Aircraft Carriers

Aircraft carriers have played a crucial role in modern warfare, providing a mobile platform for launching and recovering aircraft. The first true aircraft carrier, however, was not built until the early 20th century. It was a significant technological advancement that revolutionized naval warfare.

HMS Hermes: The Pioneer

The honor of being the first aircraft carrier goes to HMS Hermes, a British ship that was commissioned in 1923. Although not purpose-built as an aircraft carrier, it was the first ship to be designed with a flight deck capable of launching and recovering aircraft. Hermes had a length of 600 feet and could carry around 15 aircraft.

Early Experimental Vessels

Before the development of HMS Hermes, several experimental vessels were constructed to test the feasibility of aircraft operations at sea. These included the USS Langley, which was converted from a collier ship and commissioned in 1922 as the US Navy’s first aircraft carrier. However, it was Hermes that set the blueprint for future aircraft carrier designs.

World War II: The Catalyst for Expansion

The outbreak of World War II spurred the rapid expansion of aircraft carrier fleets. Both the Allies and Axis powers recognized the strategic importance of these floating airfields. Throughout the war, numerous aircraft carriers were built by various nations, each incorporating advancements in technology and lessons learned from previous designs.

Post-War Developments

After World War II, aircraft carrier technology continued to evolve. The introduction of jet-powered aircraft necessitated larger and more capable carriers. The USS Forrestal, commissioned by the United States in 1955, was the first supercarrier, capable of carrying a significant number of aircraft and supporting extended deployments.

Modern Aircraft Carriers

Today, aircraft carriers are even more formidable and versatile. The United States operates the largest and most advanced carrier fleet, with ships like the Nimitz-class and Gerald R. Ford-class carriers. These vessels can carry a wide array of aircraft, including fighter jets, helicopters, and surveillance planes.


The first aircraft carrier, HMS Hermes, was commissioned in 1923, marking a significant milestone in naval history. Since then, aircraft carriers have become crucial assets for projecting air power and maintaining maritime superiority. With ongoing technological advancements, these floating airfields will continue to play a vital role in future conflicts.