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Tour An Aircraft Carrier

aircraft-carrier-tour

Directory of Aircraft Carriers You Can Tour

Few classes of warship changed the way naval battles are fought more than the aircraft carrier. Touring an aircraft carrier is a thrilling experience that gives you a glimpse into life aboard one of these floating air bases and the history they made.

Here you will find information on aircraft carriers around the world that you can visit and tour.

Many aircraft carrier museums also include some of the aircraft that flew from them. These planes and helicopters are usually on display on the flight deck and/or the hangar deck.

Image is the USS Saratoga (CV-60) (Source: US Naval History & Heritage Command). To learn about the effort to convert CV-60 into a museum ship, visit the USS Saratoga Museum Foundation site.

What is an aircraft carrier?

An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations. They have evolved from wooden vessels, used to deploy balloons, into nuclear powered warships that carry dozens of fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

Read the rest of the Wikipedia Article.

HMS Illustrious (R 06), USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69)

HMS Illustrious (R 06), USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69)

USS Intrepid

USS Intrepid

USS Intrepid (CV-11)

Port: New York City, New York, USA

The USS Intrepid is an Essex class aircraft carrier commissioned in 1943. She served in World War II, the Vietnam War and was a recovery vessel for the Mercury 7 and Gemini 3 space missions. Intrepid was decommissioned in 1974 and opened as the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York in 1982. She is also home to the space shuttle Enterprise.

USS Midway

USS Midway

USS Midway (CV-41)

Port: San Diego, California, USA

The USS Midway was commissioned in 1945 after the end of World War II. She saw action in the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm before being decommissioned in 1992. The Midway is now open to the public as a museum ship in San Diego, California, that includes 25 restored aircraft on display.

USS Yorktown Ready Room

USS Yorktown Ready Room

USS Yorktown (CV-10)

Port: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, USA

The USS Yorktown was commissioned in 1943 and saw action in World War II and the Vietnam War. She also served as a recovery vessel for the Apollo 8 space mission. In 1975 the Yorktown began life as a museum ship just across the river from Charleston, South Carolina.

F14 on USS Hornet Flight Deck

F14 on USS Hornet Flight Deck

USS Hornet (CV-12)

Port: Alameda, California, USA

The USS Hornet was commissioned in November 1943 and saw heavy action in the forward areas of the Pacific theater in World War II. After modernization and reactivation in 1951, she served in the Vietnam War and was the primary recovery ship for the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 space missions. These were the first two lunar landing missions. The Hornet was decommissioned in 1970 and opened as a museum ship in 1998 in California.

USS Lexington

USS Lexington

USS Lexington (CV-16)

Port: Corpus Christi, Texas, USA

When finally decommissioned in 1991, the USS Lexington was the oldest working aircraft carrier in the US Navy. She survived torpedo and kamikaze attacks during World War II and the Japanese claimed to have sunk her four times. That reputation and her dark blue paint scheme earned her the nickname "The Blue Ghost". Lexington served primarily as a training carrier for naval aviators since 1962 based out of Pensacola. You can now tour the Lexington in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Aircraft Carriers For Kids

Help your kids (or grand kids) get interested in aircraft carriers and have fun at the same time. Introducing them to the ship with a book or toy before touring a real aircraft carrier will help them enjoy the experience aboard that much more.

USS Valley Forge (CVS-45)

USS Valley Forge (CVS-45)

Help Keep An Aircraft Carrier Afloat

Most aircraft carrier museums are owned and maintained by non-profit organizations. These ships require a lot of work and money to restore and keep afloat.

Please remember that your admission ticket only covers a portion of these costs. There is usually a donation box on site or you can find donor information on the ship's website.

These organizations also depend on volunteers to help perform maintenance and/or guide tours. If you have experience working on ships or just want to help keep history alive, then consider volunteering. Check the website of the carrier you're interested in or ask when you visit for more information.

INS Vikrant

INS Vikrant

INS Vikrant

Port: Colaba Naval Dockyard, Mumbai, India

Originally launched by Great Britain in 1945 as HMS Hercules, the INS Vikrant was later sold to India and joined the Indian Navy in 1961. She saw action in the 1971 India-Pakistan War. Vikrant was decommissioned in 1997 and now serves as a museum, the only British built aircraft carrier to do so.

There's not much info available on touring INS Vikrant. From what I found she's only open to the public certain weeks of the year (November-December) and possibly on weekends. To get there you either have to enter the Naval Dockyard at the Tiger Gate or take a ferry from the Gateway of India.

SV Minsk

Port: Dapeng Bay, Shatoujiao, Shenzhen, China

The Soviet aircraft carrier Minsk was commissioned in 1978 but retired early in 1993 due to a "major accident". She was sold in 1995 and later became the centerpiece of a Chinese military theme park called Minsk World in Shenzhen, China.

USS Oriskany (CV-34)

Port: Pensacola, Florida, USA

The USS Oriskany was commissioned in 1950 and saw action in the Korean War and Vietnam War. US Senator and former presidential candidate, John McCain, was based on the Oriskany when he was shot down and held as a POW during the Vietnam War.

The "Mighty-O" was decommissioned in 1976 and was almost scrapped during the 1990s. In 2006 she was stripped of environmentally hazardous materials and purposely sunk in the Gulf of Mexico to become the world's largest artificial reef. She is now a memorial to the men who bravely served on her as well as a popular attraction for fish and recreational SCUBA divers.

The ship sits upright on the bottom with the top of her smokestack at 80' and most of her island above 130'. Check out the links below for underwater pictures and more info on diving Oriskany.

  • USS Oriskany on the Florida Panhandle Dive Trail
    Pictures and video of the Oriskany at her final resting place along with wreck coordinates and links to other shipwrecks on the dive trail.
  • USS Oriskany
    MBT Divers was involved in the sinking of USS Oriskany and their site has lots of info about the ship and diving her.

USS Saratoga (CV-3)

Port: Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands

Construction of the USS Saratoga began as a battle cruiser but was later re-ordered as an aircraft carrier. In 1927, she became the second ever commissioned aircraft carrier in the US Navy. Saratoga saw significant action in the Pacific during World War II including the Guadalcanal Campaign and was awarded seven battle stars for her service.

Her last action was as a target in the nuclear test fleet during 1946 where she was sunk by underwater atomic test Baker.

USS Saratoga sinking

USS Saratoga sinking

Saratoga sits upright on the floor of the lagoon with her bridge at 40 feet and flight deck at 90 feet. The hangar is accessible at 125 feet and still contains the Helldiver bombers and bombs on board during the test.

You can find more info on diving the Saratoga and other nuclear test ships at the Bikini Atoll Dive Tourism site.

More Museum Ships...

After visiting an aircraft carrier or two, take a tour of other historic ships in port. Below are lists of different types of museum ships that you can tour.

Tour A Tall Ship
Ahoy! Here you'll find information on tall ships around the world that are open for the public to tour. All ships are grouped by region of the world...

Tour A Battleship
Battleships were once the most fearsome warships that sailed the seas. Today there are none left in commission but a handful of battleships remain preserved ...

Tour A Submarine
Stealthy and deadly, submarines have become a key element of naval warfare since World War I. Sailing these underwater ninjas requires a unique breed of sailor...

Aircraft Carrier Photo Credits

Except where otherwise noted, all aircraft carrier photos are used under Creative Commons from their respective owners.

USS Saratoga (CV-60) in the public domain at the US Naval Historical Center.

HMS Illustrious (R 06), USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) in the public domain at the United States Navy.

USS Intrepid used under Creative Commons from thinboyfatter.

USS Midway used under Creative Commons from Peter Kaminski.

USS Yorktown Ready Room used under Creative Commons from Mr. T in DC.

F14 on USS Hornet Flight Deck used under Creative Commons from vixyao.

USS Lexington used under Creative Commons from cliff1066TM.

USS Valley Forge (CVS-45) in the public domain at the US Naval Historical Center.

USS Oriskany in the public domain at the US Naval Historical Center.

USS Saratoga in the public domain at the US Naval Historical Center.

USS Saratoga sinking in the public domain at the US Naval Historical Center.

INS Vikrant used under Creative Commons from swapnil gaikar.

SV Minsk in the public domain at the US Department of Defense.

Comments?

Have you toured or served on an aircraft carrier? What do you think of these mighty ships? Please leave a comment in the log book below.

Sign The Log Book

Don Roupp PO-3 on August 11, 2019:

I served on the USS Shangri La and the Enterprise with Air Squadron VF-62 as a plane capt. (maint.) Squadron is now history but would Love to take my son aboard a Carrier.

Don Roupp on August 11, 2019:

Was stationed with Air Squadron VF-62 out of Cecil Field Fla. I was what they called a plane capt. they assigned me to care for one of the planes in our squadron. "60 to "64, was on the USS Shangra La, out of Mayport Fla. and the USS Enterprise shake down#2. Made 2med cruises and I believe 11 trips to Cuba. Would Love to visit the Carrier again. Need info on how to make that possible. Thanks.

Roy Wires ADJ second class on January 23, 2018:

I served on the John F. Kennedy CV67 1969-1971 with VA-72. I was a final checker on the bow catapult for my squadron. I also attended the decommissioning ceremony in Jacksonville, a sad day.

John H Donk on April 02, 2015:

Served on the US Franklin D Roosevelt (CVA-42) from late 1972 - 1976. I was with VA-176 Thunderbolts (based in VA Beach, VA) & worked on the A6A, A6C & KA-6B (tankers). Would love to have my family tour a decommissioned carrier so they can see how a big part of my Navy experience was.

KFRaizor on January 12, 2014:

My brother was in a squadron that was assigned to the JFK (USS John F. Kennedy, CVA-67, now decommissioned). When I was stationed in Jacksonville the JFK pulled into Mayport (one of three Navy bases in the Jacksonville area) and a friend of his from his squadron gave me a tour of the boat. The things I remember most about the tour were the horrid taste of JP-5 in the drinking water and how good the meat loaf was; although, when I mentioned that to my brother's friend he shook his head and sighed, "But this is the sixth time this week we've had meat loaf!" And that was on a Wednesday.

Great lens!

NatureFan LM on July 30, 2013:

Great lens. I've visited the US Saratoga via a dive (it's underwater). Besides that, I've seen the Theodore Roosevelt from shore.

roby01 on July 03, 2013:

I visited the USS Intrepid in New York. Interesting visit.

chickie99 on February 11, 2013:

great historical lens!

many kudos to those who served on the early carriers during ww2!

hoverlover on January 27, 2013:

Cool lens.

Spent a week aboard "Hornet" as a Midshipman.

Cruised on "Independence" (6 months, the Med), and "Constellation" (10 months, WestPac). Landed on "Enterprise", "Kitty Hawk", "Midway", "Coral Sea", and "JFK".

salele on December 31, 2012:

Never toured any these but i will love to. great lens. wish you a happy 2013.

anonymous on October 30, 2012:

Was aboard the U.S.S. Ranger (CVA61) in 1960 as a Photomate 3rd Class.

I have toured the Lexington and support the restoration of the Ranger -- now in need of funds.

AustinReloGuide on October 01, 2012:

I had the opportunity to spend the night on the Lexington, last year with the cub scouts. It's a pretty cool experience. It's retired, but we were able to bunk in the same where the crew used to bunk and eat in the mess hall. It truly gives you a humbling perspective on what the crew had to work with back in WWII. Pretty neat experience.

anonymous on September 21, 2012:

is there a working aircraft carrier that you can visit,my partner is 50 yrs old next year and he would love to se one close up in action,i have been searching how to do it for two years i would love to surprise him,can anyone help.

WinWriter on September 08, 2012:

My father was a Captain on the Yorktown in the 1950s. I was so happy to discover a tribute lens to these mighty warships.

SellClean on April 29, 2012:

Beautiful lens! I visited the Midway but was not able to tour. Unbelievable ships. Thank you for sharing this information. Adding them all to my "to do" list!

GypsyPirate LM on April 03, 2012:

I can't believe that I haven't toured one of these yet. You know I'm going to have to fix that! Thanks for letting me have a look!!

RCGraphicsDesign on March 02, 2012:

I have toured a nuclear sub and several destroyers, but never a carrier. I would love to take a tour. Great lens - thanks.

kTerrain1 on February 29, 2012:

Cool lens. I toured and stayed aboard the Kittyhawk for a couple nights. Fantastic memory -- but then, I was just a visitor. Thanks for the great pictures, text, and links.

GenesisLabs on January 14, 2012:

My grandfather served on the Yorktown. I'll have to go and visit for sure. Really enjoyed your lens.

anonymous on November 13, 2011:

I served aboard USS Saratoga CV-60 from 1973 to 1977. She was my first ship. I worked in The Repair Division Pipe Shop, located over the port quarter and accessed from the port quarter.

HuntAndFishGuides on October 29, 2011:

I've seen the Yorktown in SC. That sucker is HUGE!

ScareYouDiva on October 19, 2011:

My dad is a big WWII buff, especially the war in the Pacific, so we toured carriers whenever we could.

LuckyLongShot on October 12, 2011:

Wow, I absolutely love this lens. I came across doing research for a movie about the Battle Off Samar which involved several escort carriers during WWII. If you're interested, you can check out my lens on the project at http://www.squidoo.com/the-battle-off-samar

Ronald Tucker from Louisville, Kentucky on September 10, 2011:

My only experience of seeing an aircraft carrier was from photos that my girlfriend's son sent home when he was aboard te Enterprise aircraft carrier.

My interpretation of a floating city...5,000 crew members, an infirmary, a jail, and post office is just a few of the amenities that makes the US Navy the greatest Navy in the world!

MacPharlain (author) on September 03, 2011:

@ClassyGals: Thanks!

Chardoo on May 29, 2011:

I haven't toured an aircraft carrier but I have toured a sub and a warship. Interesting and we had to keep ducking our heads--some low overhead spots at the stairwells.

Deb Kingsbury from Flagstaff, Arizona on February 24, 2011:

I've never toured an air craft carrier, but I used to see them from time to time docked in Port Everglades down in Florida when I lived in the area. Once, I was in a tiny boat and we came up alongside the carrier and, wow, did that make us feel small! I'd love to go aboard one someday.

Dianne Loomos on February 17, 2011:

A couple of years ago we toured the USS Nimitz when she hosted a Friends and Family Day Cruise. It included an awesome air show. Very interesting. We saw a big pod of dolphins too.

najem lm on January 20, 2011:

Good lens about aircraft carriers. I really like it"

lasertek lm on January 09, 2011:

I have toured an aircraft carrier. It was an unforgettable experience.

WorldVisionary on December 28, 2010:

Really great idea for a lens! This sounds like a lot of fun and it's very interesting.

rt8ca on December 01, 2010:

Well done!

We toured the Lexington a number of years ago in Corpus Christi, Texas. Really enjoyed it. My dad is a WWII Navy vet and it kind of brought him back in time.

Will drop back again!

rwoman on December 01, 2010:

We haven't had the opportunity to tour an aircraft carrier yet but have done battle ships and subs. We have lots of Navy vets in our family.

ezpostcard on November 30, 2010:

My friend's dad work on an aircraft carrier, she visited the ship couple of times but I never had a chance. Well done lens!

Senora M on November 18, 2010:

Very cool lens. Looks awesome. I would like to tour one sometime!

anonymous on November 16, 2010:

I have always been fascinated with the mighty aircraft carriers.

ShamanicShift on October 22, 2010:

What a great idea for a lens and activity!

anonymous on September 30, 2010:

Great lens-I Love It!!

FamilyVacationDestinations on August 06, 2010:

Enjoyed the lens, I see the history of these carriers on the Miliatary Channel, we toured the Intrepid last summer.

Kiwisoutback from Massachusetts on November 06, 2009:

I haven't been on an aircraft carrier since a kid, but it was really interesting! Nice work.

Dianne Loomos on July 28, 2009:

My son is serving on the USS Nimitz. We went on the Nimitz Friends and Family Day Cruise in March 2009. They are awesome war ships! Lensrolled to several of my aircraft carrier lenses.