|The file photo shows the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Enterprise CVN-65. (Photo: xinhuanet.com)
BEIJING, July 27 (Xinhua) -- Aircraft carriers are the largest type of warship ever built by mankind. Emerging during the First World War, aircraft carriers become a game-changing weapon during the Second World War.
There are currently nine countries operating a total of 21 active-service aircraft carriers in the world today.
The United States
The United States now operates 11 aircraft carriers, all nuclear-powered supercarriers with a displacement of more than 90,000 metric tons: the USS Enterprise, which was the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, and 10 other Nimitz-class carriers.
The USS George Washington is now forward-deployed at Yokosuka, Japan, which is close to China's territorial waters and far away from the U.S. mainland.
The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom now operates just one aircraft carrier, the HMS Illustrious, a 22,000-metric ton warship carrying short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft.
The French navy has one nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which is named after the country's late president, Charles de Gaulle.
Italy has two operational carriers: the 14,000-metric ton Giuseppe Garibaldi and the 27,000-metric ton Gavour. Both are STOVL-type carriers.
The 17,000-metric ton Principe de Asturias and the 27,000-metric ton Juan Carlos I are two aircraft carriers used by the Spanish Navy. Although the navy identifies the Juan Carlos I as an amphibious assault ship, it has a ski-jump for fixed-wing STOVL aircraft.
Receiving most of its military heritage from the former Soviet Union, Russia now operates the Admiral Kuznetsov, with a displacement of more than 67,000 metric tons.
The carrier Varyag, which was previously owned by the former Soviet Union, is being refitted by China after being purchased from Ukraine.
India's only aircraft carrier, the INS Viraat, is a warship that was purchased from the United Kingdom. It was formerly known as the HMS Hermes before being refitted by India.
The Royal Thai Navy's only aircraft carrier, the HTMS Chakri Naruebet is a STOVL carrier that was constructed by a Spanish shipbuilding company.
Thailand's purchase of the HTMS Chakri Naruebet, named after Thailand's current royal house, made Thailand the first country in southeast Asia to own and operate an aircraft carrier.
Sao Paulo is the Brazilian navy's flagship and only aircraft carrier. It was purchased from France in 2000.
Out of all of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, China is the only nation that does not have an operational aircraft carrier.
Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force currently has two 18,000-metric ton Hyuga-class helicopter carriers, although the warships are classified by Japan as "helicopter destroyers."