Carrier battle group

A carrier battle group (CVBG) is a naval fleet consisting of an aircraft carrier capital ship and its large number of escorts, together defining the group. The CV in CVBG is the United States Navy hull classification code for an aircraft carrier.

The USS Abraham Lincoln carrier battle group during the 2000 RIMPAC exercise

The first naval task forces built around carriers appeared just prior to and during World War II. The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) was the first to assemble many carriers into a single task force, known as Kido Butai. This task force was used with devastating effect in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Kido Butai operated as the IJN's main carrier battle group until four of its carriers were sunk at the Battle of Midway. In contrast, the United States Navy deployed its large carriers in separate formations, with each carrier assigned its own cruiser and destroyer escorts. These single-carrier formations would often be paired or grouped together for certain assignments, most notably the Battle of the Coral Sea and Midway. By 1943, however, large numbers of fleet and light carriers became available, which required larger formations of three or four carriers. These groups eventually formed the Fast Carrier Task Force, which became the primary battle unit of the U.S. Third and Fifth Fleets.

With the construction of the large "supercarriers" of the Cold War era, the practice of operating each carrier in a single formation was revived. During the Cold War, the main role of the CVBG in case of conflict with the Soviet Union would have been to protect Atlantic supply routes between the United States and its NATO allies in Europe, while the role of the Soviet Navy would have been to interrupt these sea lanes, a fundamentally easier task. Because the Soviet Union had no large carriers of its own, a situation of dueling aircraft carriers would have been unlikely. However, a primary mission of the Soviet Navy's attack submarines was to track every allied battle group and, on the outbreak of hostilities, sink the carriers. Understanding this threat, the CVBG expended enormous resources in its own anti-submarine warfare mission.


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