2015-06-29 According to a story on the UK Ministry of Defence website published June 25, 2015, the next steps in bringing the HMS Queen Elizabeth to life have been taken.
The 65,000 tonne future flagship of the Royal Navy has undergone months of preparation work by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) to start the first of her four diesel engines, which are directly coupled to the generators.
Together, each power unit weighs approximately 200 tonnes – the weight of two medium size passenger jets.
Minister of State for Defence Procurement, Philip Dunne, officially started the first of the ship’s four diesel generators at the home of the UK’s aircraft carrier programme in Rosyth, Scotland today bringing the ship to life for the first time…..
The diesel generator sets will provide sufficient electrical power to drive the ship at cruise speeds, but when higher speed is required, two Gas Turbine Alternators will also be used.
Together they will produce 109MW of power, enough to power a medium-sized town…..
Following sea trials (from 2017) and First of Class Flying Trials for helicopters and the F-35B Lightning II (starting in 2018), HMS Queen Elizabeth will undertake a coherent build up towards achieving an Initial Carrier Strike Capability in 2020.
Second of class HMS Prince Of Wales is now almost half complete at 30,000 tonnes, the forward island was installed in May 2015 forming the iconic carrier shape of the vessel. Initial Operating Capability of HMS Prince Of Wales is expected in 2023.
The aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince Of Wales are being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a unique partnering relationship between BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock and the Ministry of Defence.
The Brits invented carrier warfare; and in many ways with their new 65,000 ton carrier they are reinventing the large deck carrier and providing something of a hybrid between the USS America and CVN-78. The flight deck is impressive and is about 90% of the size of the Nimitz class and has a very wide deck upon which operations can be generated.
When I stood at the end of the ski jump and looked down at the flight deck, its width was significant. And I learned that the flight deck was built by Laird Shipbuilding (unfortunately no relation!).
This ship is designed to operate F-35Bs, which means that the RAF and the RN will drive every bit of innovation out of the aircraft to provide C2, ISR and strike capabilities. And given the F-35B enabled USS America, it is no surprise to learn that their working relationship with the USN-USMC team is close. And the Brits will train with the Marines along with other international partners that will fly the F-35B at Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station in North Carolina.
Walking the ship takes time, but several innovations one sees aboard the Ford can be found aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth: significant energy generation, significant C2 capabilities, very large rooms for reconfigurable C2 suites for operations across the ROMO, as well as well designed work areas for the F-35B crews which will handle the operations and data generated by the F-35 to the fleet.
It is a ship designed to transform both the RAF and the RN for it will integrate significantly with the surface and subsurface fleet and the land-based air for the RAF.
To take an example, with RAF jets operating from Cyprus or in the Middle East, the HMS Queen Elizabeth can mesh its air assets with the land based assets and the command center directing the air operations could be on the ship, on land at an operating base, or in the air, even in the new tankers.
It is a ship designed to be part of the transformation not just of the Royal Navy but for the Royal Air Force as well as the Typhoons take over Tornado missions and the F-35 comes into the force concurrently. And it is a transformation where joint integration of land and sea based forces will be featured.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth in common with CVN-78 has a new way to load weapons and to configure the weapons loads to enhance the safety and speed of the weaponization process.
The weapons are brought to either end of the deck to be loaded onto the combat aircraft; and the mechanism for loading and moving the weapons can provide for a mix and match capacity to push the proper loads to the particular aircraft for the missions of the day. In fact, the system aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth can prepare those loads the night before the early morning missions.
Another aspect in common between these two carriers is innovations in the islands controlling the ship compared to the Nimitz class. For the Ford class, this means moving the island back on the flight deck and opening up more flight space and providing for a cleaner flight deck, a change which when working with the new launch system will provide the flight operations to work more effectively aboard the flight deck.
For HMS Queen Elizabeth, there are two islands onboard the ship.
This is due to the fact that it is not a nuclear carrier and the exhausts for the engines exit on two parts of the flight deck; and there is an island incorporating those exit points. One island is used to operate the ship; and the second runs flight deck operations.
And in a crisis, either island can perform both tasks, but visiting the two islands it is clear that the designers have focused on ways to enhance the work flow for the two different tasks, namely running the ship and operating the aircraft aboard the flight deck.
For earlier stories, including a visit to the ship see the following: