When landing at a normal ground airport, the runway facing the compass point nearest to the heading of the wind is always operated, so that aircraft landing and taking off alway have to use the least distance of runway as necessary.

On an aircraft carrier the whole ship can rotate; so do they typically always face into the wind? How often do they rotate the ship if this is the case?


2 Answers 2


During flight operations, the aircraft carrier strives to maintain 30 knots of wind down the angle of the flight deck. Generally speaking, the carrier will adjust its speed and course through the ocean to maintain the desired winds. However, shifting winds and the sheer magnitude of the carrier may mean that the winds are generally down the angle, but may involve a crosswind component. Also, the structure of the carrier, because of its enormous size, actually influences the flow of the wind, and can create pockets of low pressure in the approach where high sink rates can develop.

  • $\begingroup$ Note as well that most if not all modern carriers are capable of making 30 knots or better through the water, which is where your baseline figure comes from. $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2015 at 23:15
  • $\begingroup$ @NathanTuggy 30kts isn't a baseline number, its the only number, and it's been this way for decades. Its irrespective of the carrier's max speed. Of interesting note, I believe there were WWII carriers capable of traveling 30kts. $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2015 at 23:48
  • $\begingroup$ Sure. Maybe I should have left out "modern", but most of what I know is USN-specific. (The first nuclear carrier in the early 50s could do well over 40 knots, and was limited more by escort speed and hull strength [!]) than by power.) $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2015 at 23:50
  • $\begingroup$ As I know minimum is 26kt, not30 $\endgroup$
    – Him
    Apr 9, 2015 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ Moreover many carrier has speed lower than it,from USA first carrier Langley to the latest assult ship America $\endgroup$
    – Him
    Apr 9, 2015 at 18:27

Not answered yet is this part of the question:

How often do they rotate the ship if this is the case?

First, just a nomenclature alert: ships don't rotate, they maneuver, steer, or change course. And the answer to your question is: whenever necessary. It is a big ocean and unless there is an island or something nearby, they always face the wind for air ops. Note that with the angle decks, they want the wind coming directly down the angled deck so the ship is actually heading a little off to the right of the wind to accomplish this.


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