U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Brooks B. Patton Jr.
Since the inception of the first purpose-built aircraft carrier nearly 100 years ago, few other types of naval warship have been so polarizing. Aircraft carriers are often viewed in the United States as the impervious capital ships of the modern fleet and are capable of bringing terrible firepower to bear. Often hulking, these naval platforms typically require escorts and the support of their embarked air wing. During World War II, carriers saw extensive combat, delivering waves of aircraft to the Pacific theater. Their flexible nature as an airfield at sea lends to their role as the eyes of the fleet. This also makes them capable modern nuclear strike platforms.