USS United States (CVA-58), the third ship of the US Navy named for the nation, was to be the lead ship of a radical new design of aircraft carrier. On 29 July 1948 President Harry Truman approved construction of five "supercarriers", for which funds had been provided in the Naval Appropriations Act of 1949. The keel of the first of those five postwar carriers was laid down on 18 April 1949 at Newport News Drydock and Shipbuilding.
Early design discussions included debate on the aircraft carrier's mission. It could be built only for nuclear attack against Soviet
naval bases using heavy bombers with a small hangar deck for a limited fighter escort and a small magazine for a small number of heavy nuclear weapons, or it could be built with conventional attack capability with a large hangar deck for a large air wing and a large magazine. The nuclear attack supporters won in the initial design stage, but the design was modified to carry more fighters. The flush-deck United States
was designed to launch and recover the 100,000 pound (45 t) aircraft required to carry early-model nuclear weapons, which weighed as much as five tons. The ship would have no island (command tower structure). It would be equipped with four aircraft elevators located at the deck edges, and four catapults, two at the bow with the outer ones at the deck edges staggered back. The construction cost of the new ship alone was estimated at US$190 million.
was also designed to provide air support for amphibious forces and to conduct sea control operations, but its primary mission was long-range nuclear bombardment. That mission put the ship in harm's way long before construction began. The United States Air Force
viewed United States
as a challenge to their monopoly on strategic nuclear weapons delivery.
Keel laid and cancellation
Swayed by limited funds and bitter opposition from the United States Army
and Air Force, Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson
announced on 23 April 1949 — five days after the ship's keel was laid down — the cancellation of construction of the United States
. Secretary of the Navy
John Sullivan immediately resigned, and the subsequent "Revolt of the Admirals
cost Admiral Louis Denfeld
his position as Chief of Naval Operations
- though atomic bombs soon went to sea on the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt