Sea Control Ship


The Sea Control Ship (SCS) was a small aircraft carrier developed and conceptualized by the United States Navy under Chief of Naval Operations Elmo Zumwalt during the 1970s. Currently the term refers to naval vessels that can perform similar duties.[1] The SCS was intended as an escort vessel, providing air support for convoys. It was canceled after budgetary cuts to the US Navy.

Sea Control Ship 1972.JPG
Artist conception (1972)
Class overview
NameSea Control Ship (SCS)
BuildersNever built
OperatorsUnited States Navy
Cost$100 Million USD 1973 dollars (est.) $626 Million USD 2022 dollars (est.)
General characteristics
TypeASW carrier
  • 9,773 tons (light)
  • 13,736 tons (full load)
Length620 ft (190 m)
Beam80 ft (24 m)
Draft21.62 ft (6.59 m)
  • 26 knots (48 km/h)
  • 24 knots (44 km/h) (sustained)
  • 76 officers
  • 624 enlisted
Armament2 x 20-mm Phalanx CIWS mounts
Aircraft carried
Aviation facilities
  • Flight deck: 545 x 105 ft. (166.1 x 32 m)
  • Enclosed hangar: 19 ft. (5.8m) high
  • Aircraft elevators: 60,000 lb. (27.2 mt) lift capacity
  • Centerline: 60 x 30 ft. (18.3 x 9.1 m)
  • Stern: 35 x 50 ft. (10.7 x 15.4 m)
  • JP-5 fuel capacity: 950 tons (861.8 mt)
  • Aviation ordance: 180 tons (163 mt)

The SCS was to be equipped with a mix of Rockwell XFV-12 fighter aircraft and anti-submarine warfare helicopters.[2] It was tasked with carrying out anti-submarine warfare operations.


In the late 1960s, studies by US Navy identified a potential requirement for large scale convoy operations in the event of a war with the Soviet Union. In order to compensate for a shortage of escort ships, it was suggested that helicopters operating from small helicopter carriers could fill the gap. When Elmo Zumwalt became Chief of Naval Operations in 1970, he seized on the idea of small helicopter carriers as part of his "High-Low" plan in which large numbers of cheaper lower capability ships would be built to supplement existing expensive high capability ships. The proposed small carrier, which was named the Sea Control Ship (SCS), was required to provide continuous airborne cover of two anti-submarine and one airborne early warning helicopters, as well as carrying VSTOL fighters to stop Soviet long-range aircraft (like the Tupolev Tu-95 "Bear") from shadowing convoys and directing submarines and surface ships against them. This resulted in a requirement to carry 14 helicopters and three VSTOL fighters such as the AV-8 Harrier. It was hoped that production SCSs could be built for $100 million each, an eighth of the price of a full sized aircraft carrier.[3][4]

The resultant design had a full load displacement of 13,736 long tons (13,956 t) and an overall length of 610 feet (190 m). It was to be powered by two General Electric LM2500 gas turbines generating 45,000 shaft horsepower (34,000 kW) and driving a single shaft, which would propel the ship to a speed of 26 knots (48 km/h; 30 mph). Weaponry was to be limited, consisting of two Phalanx Close-in weapon systems to defend against anti-ship missiles.[3]

Experimental Sea Control ShipEdit

In 1971 USS Guam was chosen as a test vessel. Testing began on 18 January 1972. In 1974 she was deployed to the Atlantic Ocean. The vessel was equipped with AV-8A Harrier STOVL fighters and SH-3 Sea King ASW helicopters. The tests were completed in July 1974; USS Guam resumed its role as an amphibious assault ship.

Related shipsEdit

The Spanish aircraft carrier Principe de Asturias was based on the original Sea Control Ship design

The SCSs were smaller than most fleet aircraft carriers, and the concept was seized upon by nations wanting inexpensive aircraft carriers. Spain's Príncipe de Asturias, and her smaller cousin ship, Thailand's HTMS Chakri Naruebet, were based on the final US Navy blueprints for a dedicated sea control ship, but with the addition of a ski-jump ramp and follow a similar mission profile.[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Sea Control Ship –
  2. ^ XFV-12 –
  3. ^ a b Gardiner and Chumbley 1995, p. 575.
  4. ^ Friedman 1985, p. 352.
  5. ^ GRESHAM, JOHN D. (29 March 2016). "The Sea Control Ship". Defence Media Network. Retrieved 4 August 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)


  • Friedman, Norman (1985). U.S. Aircraft Carriers: an Illustrated Design History. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-739-9.
  • Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen (1995). Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1947–1995. Annapolis, Maryland, US: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-132-7.

Further readingEdit

  • Mullane, USN, Lt. Cmdr. Paul N. (March 1973). "Sea Control" (PDF). Naval Aviation News: 42–43. Retrieved 30 August 2008.

External linksEdit

  • Sea Control Ship –