Aside from not needing fuel, there are other advantages.Stupid question: What is the real advantage of having a nuclear powerplant instead of burning bunker fuel besides range?
I have experience in commercial shipping and if taking the large commercial bulkers/tankers/containers as reference, a conventionally powered ship can perform voyages for 50-100 days after a single bunker stop depending on speed (50d at full speed and 100d on eco, that‘s about 3000nm or half the globe).
Now I would imagine that 3.5 months is pretty much stretching food provisions (ignoring the crew now, crew changes in commercial shipping happenevery 6 odd months) so a resupply will be needed in any case without which the combination of vessel+crew isn‘t able to function properly anymore. Open waters ship-to-ship transfers aren‘t exactly an exotic thing either and for what I guess the operational area to be, an MR tanker would be more than enough.
So in absence of having to sail halfway across the globe and still be able to fight battles at arrival, what would be the other operational benefits of being nuclear powered?
1. Nuclear reactors do not need to vent flu-gas, so the island construction is smaller and can be placed more optimally for runways. The location of the engine can now be more optimally placed for carrier operation.
2. diesel engines plus fuel take up a lot more internal space which now could be allocated for other things like more aircrafts and air fuel.
3. There is an upper limit to how much one can scale the engines to the size of the carrier, so conventional fuel engine carriers hit size limit earlier then nuclear ones. if you can increase the size by 50%, It adds 2x the power for a carrier. Nuclear power carriers can be larger.
4. Carriers typically need to travel at least at 30 knots. Due to the size of the engines, the amount of power in excess of requirement at top speed is limited for conventional power carriers. More excess power of the nuclear carriers allow the carrier to do more things.