The US Navy’s large nuclear carriers need to be refueled at an interval of about every ten to fifteen years. Since refueling is an involved process requiring the removal a significant amount of deck plating the ship typically undergoes a complete overhaul at the same time. This takes about a year and means that the ship and it’s crew are placed into living a different kind of life while the ship occupies the drydock.
On an aircraft carrier getting planes off the deck as quickly as possible can be life or death.
The developments that led to this catapult are the result of nearly a century of carrier operations.
Here’s two videos showing typical carrier operations during WW2.
And a longer movie about aircraft carriers and operations.
The development of jet aircraft in the 1950’s created some real problems for carrier operations.
Here are some scenes from the movie “The Bridges Of Toko Ri
Some more Korean War era footage.
The addition of the canted landing deck in the early 1950’s and the use of the catapults has greatly improved the ability of a carrier to maintain operations as it allows both landing and launching operations to operate simultaneously.
Here’s the Oriskany in the Vietnam era.
More Vietnam era.
Some modern carrier operations videos.
The carrier deck is a very dangerous place.
It’s easy to see why the navy invested in the electromagnetic catapult for the new carriers. It’s going to help eliminate soft launches and remove the steam from the deck. Both of which will make the deck safer. Which is always a good thing.