Naval Air: The Trap Kings


June 23, 2007: The American aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) recently carried out its 100,000th "trap" (landing aircraft, arrested, or "trapped", by a thick wire stretched across the deck). The Stennis entered service in 1996, and since then has had five overseas cruises ("deployments"), each lasting at least six months, and many more shorter training cruises. Stennis is currently off the coast of Pakistan, providing air support for troops in Afghanistan. Without the war on terror, it would have taken a few more years to reach 100,000th landing. In wartime, a lot more sorties are flown. The lead ship of the class, the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) , took 30 years to achieve 250,000 landings, in 2005.

During the Vietnam war, when carriers carried about 20 percent more (but smaller) aircraft, the 100,000th landing was achieved earlier. For example, the USS Constellation (CV 64) achieved that after only eight years of service. But most of this (1961-69) was during the Vietnam war, when U.S. carriers were very active. But it was the tempo of operations, more than capacity, that led to large numbers of landings. The USS Hornet (CV-12) entered service in 1944, and didn't achieve its 100,000th landing until 1967. Reaching the record was also delayed by time spent in the late 1950s as an Anti-Submarine Warfare carrier. But whatever the reason, any carrier that hits 100,000 landings, considers it a big deal.


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