Aircraft Carrier – Large flat-topped vessel that can carry aircraft and is the centrepiece of a navy task group. With the decommissioning of HMS Illustrious, the RN has no aircraft carriers (only HMS Ocean a helicopter assault ship) until HMS Queen Elizabeth is operational.
After more than 10 years of prevarication work began on the 2 Queen Elizabeth class Aircraft Carriers in 2007. At 65,000 tons they will be the largest vessels the RN has ever operated. Under the 2010 SDSR plan both will be built but only one will be commissioned. In 2012 it was decided they would revert to VSTOL (Vertical/Short Take Off & Landing) carriers instead of conventional carriers with catapults and traps. Although some of their great potential has been lost by political meddling, ultimately if supported properly these vessels could serve the nation for 40+ years and represent great value for money.