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Aircraft carrier

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USS Enterprise (CVN-65)

USS Enterprise (CVN-65), a 20th century aircraft carrier

1944 San Fransisco Bay in an alternate timelime

Two aircraft carriers in San Fransisco Bay in an alternate 1944

An aircraft carrier was a type of naval warship in Earth's 20th and 21st century. Its design and size allowed for aircraft, including fighters, bombers, and helicopters, to be launched and retrieved at sea. It was characterized by a long, flat "flight deck" which served as a mobile air base, condensing apron, landing strip, and runway into a small space. Many aircraft carriers after World War II were powered by nuclear fission.

In an alternate 1944, during World War II, the San Francisco Bay was home to aircraft carriers. As Shuttlepod 1 flew into the bay, one aircraft carrier was entering the bay, while the other was anchored near Yerba Buena Island. Later, in New York City, Alicia Travers mistook a statement by Jonathan Archer, thinking he had served on the USS Enterprise (CV-6), which by that time had been sunk in the Pacific Ocean. (ENT: "Storm Front")

The very distinctive profile of the uppermost carrier in the scene, suggested it was a member of the pre-war Yorktown-class to which the USS Enterprise (CV-6) had belonged, and after which the original starship USS Enterprise was named by Gene Roddenberry. As she was declared sunk by Travers in "Storm Front", this only left her three class sisters as possible candidates, the USS Yorktown (CV-5) – after which Roddenberry had named his starship originally in his 1964 Star Trek is...-pitch – , USS Hornet (CV-8, and the penultimate American carrier to be destroyed in the war) or the scaled down version USS Wasp (CV-7), all of which by 1944 in actuality already sunk by the Japanese Navy , while the Enterprise ironically became the sole class survivor and one of history's most celebrated vessels, much like its fictional starship counterpart.

When the crew of the destroyed USS Enterprise traveled back in time to the year 1986, they collected nuclear radiation from the reactor of the USS Enterprise (CNV-65). This enabled them to recrystallize the dilithium of their captured Klingon Bird-of-Prey. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

In Star Trek IV, the "part" of USS Enterprise was actually filled by the conventionally-powered USS Ranger (CV-61, Forrestal-class), because Enterprise was on deployment at the time of the movie's filming.
According to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual (page 83), Earth-based aircraft carriers were phased out in 2051.
The shooting script for Star Trek: The Motion Picture described the length of the long range shuttle Surak to the USS Enterprise as, "about the size of a figher aircraft floating in over the vastness of an aircraft carrier".

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