24 photos that show the synchronized chaos of America’s aircraft-carrier flight decks

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US Navy Photo

America’s aircraft carriers are the heart of the US Navy and serve as American territory floating around the world, allowing the US to project massive air and sea military might.

During flight operations, an aircraft carrier’s deck is an extremely dangerous place with expensive fighter jets and helicopters landing and taking off on a short runway. However, sailors and airmen mitigate risks by fine tuning the chaos with coordination and precision.

Here are 24 pictures to prove there is really nothing quite likeAmerica’s aircraft carriers.


Tiger cruise participants commemorate their voyage with a spell-out on the flight deck on the USS Carl Vinson.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans/Released

An MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron takes off from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard.

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US Navy Photo

An aircraft director guides an F/A-18C Hornet onto a catapult aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kilho Park/Released

An aircraft prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan J. Mayes/Released

An F/A-18F Super Hornet from the Black Aces of Strike Fighter Squadron 41 lands aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.

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US Navy Photo

Sailors stow an aircraft barricade after flight deck drills aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

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US Navy Photo

Sailors conduct a special patrol insertion/extraction exercise aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

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Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paolo Bayas/USN

Ship executive officer addresses Sailors on the flight deck during an all-hands call on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary Bell/Released

USS Bonhomme Richard conducts flight operations.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stacy M. Atkins Ricks/Released

A pilot confirms the weight of his jet prior to launch on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.

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US Navy

Airman position model aircraft on a planning board in the flight deck control center aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Sarah Murphy/Released

Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate signals a C-2A Greyhound on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

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US Navy Photo

USS Theodore Roosevelt conducts a replenishment.

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U.S. Navy photo by Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Christopher Harris/Released

SS Essex Sailors scrub the flight deck.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Adam M. Bennett/Released

A landing craft air cushion enters the well deck of USS Kearsarge in Gulf of Aden.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Corbin J. Shea/Released

USS Essex conducts deck landing qualifications.

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U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Bradley J. Gee/Released

USS John C. Stennis conducts helicopter operations.

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U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Ignacio D. Perez/Released

A jet launches from the deck of USS Enterprise.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott Pittman/Released

Sailor signals for Sailors to set up the aircraft barricade during a drill aboard USS George Washington.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jacob D. Moore/Released

MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter lands aboard USS Essex.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam M. Bennett/Released

A Harrier launches from USS Makin Island.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kory Alsberry/Released

Sailors conduct a chock and chain evolution with an SH-60 Sea Hawk aboard USS Wasp.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Rawad Madanat/Released

An Airman directs an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter on the flight deck of aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.

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US Navy Photo

Sailors prepare an F/A-18E Super Hornet on the USS Ronald Reagan.

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US Navy Photo