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USS Boxer, a U.S. Navy Wasp class amphibious assault ship

A helicopter carrier is an aircraft carrier whose primary purpose is to operate helicopters. Helicopter carriers have been used as ASW carriers and amphibious assault ships.

Helicopter carriers can either have a full-length aircraft deck like HMS Ocean,[1] or have a large helicopter deck, usually aft, as in the Soviet Navy's Moskva class or RFA Argus. A full-length deck maximises deck space for helicopter landing spots. Such a design also allows for a hangar deck.

Pure helicopter carriers are difficult to define in the 21st century. The advent of STOVL aircraft such as the Harrier Jump Jet have complicated the classification; the United States Navy's Wasp class, for instance, carries six to eight Harriers as well as over 20 helicopters. Only smaller carriers unable to operate the Harrier and older pre-Harrier-era carriers can be regarded as true helicopter carriers. In many cases, other carriers, able to operate STOVL aircraft, are classified as "light aircraft carriers". Other vessels, such as the Wasp class, are also capable of embarking troops such as marines and landing them ashore; they are classified as amphibious assault ships.

HMS Hermes and two of her sisters were 22,000 ton fleet carriers converted to "commando carriers" only able to operate helicopters. Hermes was later converted to a STOVL carrier.

Helicopter carriers

Helicopter carriers currently in use

The Royal Navy's HMS Ocean

The JMSDF Hyūga class helicopter destroyer

Retired helicopter carriers

Helicopter carriers under construction

Dixmude a Mistral class helicopter carrier of the French Navy

Helicopter carriers by country

Country Navy In service In reserve Under construction
United States  United States Navy 9 4 0
 Japan  Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force 2 0 2
 South Korea  Republic of Korea Navy 1 0 1
 United Kingdom  Royal Navy 2 0 0
 France  French Navy 3 0 0
 Russia  Russian Navy 0 0 2
 Australia  Royal Australian Navy 0 0 2

See also


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