Launching F4H's from the steam catapult equipped Essex class carriers was not a problem (the much heavier A3D's routinely operated from Essex class CVAs) but recovery was another matter. "Hitting the boat" in a Phantom when it was an Essex class ship was cutting it a bit close, safety-wise. With the availability of Midway, Forrestal and later carriers coupled to the numbers of F8U squadrons in the fleet it only made sense to operate the Phantoms from the bigger ships.
Although early F4H-1 deck trials successfully took place aboard the USS Intrepid (CVA-11) the decision was taken to operate Phantoms aboard the larger carriers of post war construction. On the other hand, the Royal Navy did operate it's Phantoms from the HMS Ark Royal, a ship about 8,000 tons larger but about 3 knots slower than than SCB-27C Essex class ships.