HMS Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier (R08)
News on HMS Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier (R08&R09 QE-class battleships). Latest news on the construction progress of the “pride and joy” of the British Royal Navy – the UK aircraft carriers of the future – being built now!
- The Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF) is the largest of UK warships ever built for the Royal Navy.
- Each of the UK’s new class aircraft carriers will be generating enough energy to power 5500 households and will be 4 meters taller than the Niagara Falls.
- HMS QE aircraft carrier will be the Royal Navy fleet flagship (the UK’s main ship).
HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier details/facts (Queen Elizabeth class battleships specifications and statistics)
- Country/Owner/Operator: UK
- Builders: BAE Systems Surface Ships, Thales Group, Babcock Marine (see below for more details).
- Cost to Build: £3,5 billion (US$5,520 billion), which is exactly £7 billion for the two carriers of the QE-class by the 2008 contract. And the money goes to (related to the construction of both ships): £1,325mill to BVT Surface Fleet (BAE and VT Group joint venture) for building the huge sections at Govan & Portsmouth, £300mill to BAE for the sections at Barrow-in-Furness, £675mill to Babcock Marine for the bow section/final assembly/completion at Rosyth, £425mill to Thales UK (design/engineering), £275mill to BAE (design & supply of Mission Systems (Insyte), additional contracts for the steel, diesel generators, aircraft lifts, key electronics.
- Jobs created: hull section (Portsmouth – 1200), hull sections (Govan/Clyde – 3000+), hull section (Barrow-in-Furness – 400+), BAE Systems Insyte (Frimley, Surrey – 145), Thales UK (Bristol & Crawley – 250), for the assembly of both ships (Rosyth – 1,600).
- Size Comparison: HMS Queen Elizabeth will be 3 times the size of the UK’s only one remaining carrier HMS Illustrious and will be 2nd only to the USA’s nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.
- Ordered May 2008, contracts signed by the UK’s MOD and industry (Portsmouth, July 3, 2008), laid down July 2009, year of service: early 2017, fully operational by 2020 (with HMS Prince Of Wales 2 years behind.), expected service life of up to 50 years.
- Homeport: (Her Majesty’s Naval Base) HMNB Portsmouth, one of three UK operating bases for the Royal Navy (along with HMNB Clyde & HMNB Devonport).
- Capacity/Crew: 1450 (1600 company+aircrew), complement 686+.
- (Royal Navy) Ship Class: Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers (2 ships-in-class – sister ship HMS Prince of Wales (R09).
- IMO number: 4907892.
- Length overall 932 ft (284 m).
- Width/Beam: overall/flight deck 239,4 ft (73 m), waterline 128 ft (39 m).
- Height: 184 ft (56 m) overall/from keel to masthead.
- Draught/Draft: 36 ft (11 m).
- Deck area/facilities: 172,220 ft2 (or 16,000 m2, or by the words of one official “4 acres of sovereign territory” at sea), a huge hangar below deck (50,600 ft2 / 4,700 m2, volume 29000m3), flight deck (140,000 ft2 / 13,000 m2), 2 aircraft lifts (capable of 70t loads (two F-35′s), machine rooms, water-treatment equipment, ammunition storage space, a weapons handling bay, a room for the crew to play football (located in the passageways), accommodations for 1650, no catapults/arrestor wires.
- Weight/Displacement: 65,600 tonnes (64,600 long t) at deep/full load.
- Top Speed: 25 kn (29 mph or 46 km/h)
- Engines/Propulsion/Power Output: 109 MW (total), 2×120-tonne Rolls-Royce MT30 marine gas turbine engines (based on Rolls-Royce Trent 800 aero engine, which achieved a 44% share of Boeing’s 777 program) to provide the power for the 2 propellers, weapons, sensors, command systems, the lower voltage requirements of the ship’s company. The list of all engines/propulsion systems includes: CODLAG (combined Diesel-Electric & Gas Turbine propulsion), the two 36MW Rolls Royce turbines, two Wartsila 16V38 diesels (with 11,6MW generators), two MW Wartsila 12V38 diesels (with 8,7MW generators), one “Wartsila 200″ 2MW emergency diesel generator, two propeller shafts (each with two Alstom 15-phase electric motors (150 rpm), 80MW total power consumption, output – 95,000 SHP.
- Range: up to 10,000 nautical ml (19,000 km).
HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier weapons/air arms
- Phalanx CIWS (a automated Close-In Weapon System, against anti-aircraft/anti-ship missiles), 6 barrels (caliber 20×102mm), fire rate 4,500 rounds/min (75 rounds/sec).
- 30mm automated guns + miniguns for asymmetric threats.
- HMWHS (“Highly Mechanised Weapon Handling System”), about 6 times faster than any previous RN aircraft carrier, operated with only 50 people (could be operated with as few as 12), this system will move munitions on pallets by remotely controlled electric vehicles/lifts.
- (maximum) 40 Aircraft of the following types:
- Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II (stealth capability) - a single-seat, single-engine, 5th generation fighter for ground attacks, reconnaissance, air defence. Unit cost (in millions USD, data 2012): F-35A ($107 mill), F-35B ($238 mill), F-35C ($239 mill).
- Boeing CH-47 Chinook (a twin-engine transport helicopter), avrg unit cost (USD$35 million), top speed (196mph or 315km/h)
- AgustaWestland AW101 Apache/Merlin (a med-lift helicopter), unit cos (USD$21 million)
- AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat (aka Future Lynx, Lynx Wildcat) – a military helicopter (serving as utility, search and rescue, anti-surface warfare), to enter service with the British Army in 2014 and with the British Royal Navy in 2015.
- “Maritime Airborne Surveillance and Control” (MASC), formerly known as FOAEW (“Future Organic Airborne Early Warning System”), to provide air and surface surveillance (detecting threat aircraft, missiles, sea surface targets (Over-the-Horizon-Targeting), also for Tactical Control and Networking (to direct intercepts of fighter aircraft, airspace management, air traffic control), speed 174 mph (280 km/h), range 575 miles (925 km).
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QE UK future aircraft carrier technology
- The BAE Systems Insyte Artisan 3D Radar is the most sophisticated in the RN’s fleet (appr 5 times more efficient than any currently in service, range between 200m/656ft and 200km/124ml, its antenna weighs only about 700kg). It can identify a tennis ball sized target traveling at over 2000mph/3220kmh at distance greater than 16ml/26km away. It can track more than 900 targets simultaneously. It can operate in densely signal-populated environment and cut through interference equivalent of 10000 GSM signals directed its way.
- the Lower Block 02 is 66ft (20m) high and 230ft (70m) long. All the largest sections are built in Portsmouth.
- the QE 3 ship’s 2 propellers weighs 33t each (it’s 2 1/2 times heavier than a double-decker bus).
- the flight deck will be 919 ft (280 m) long and 243 ft (74 m) wide.
- both propellers together will generate 80 MW of power – enough to run 50 high speed trains.
- the QE3 ship will require 1,5 million m2 of paintwork.
- the ship’s main body is called “Super Block 03″.
- QE-class aircraft and the most powerful gas turbine in the world - Rolls-Royce MT30. Each of the ship’s 2 gas turbines (the MT30 model was firstly produced in 2002) generates 36 MW – enough to power a small town. The turbine was engineered to meet the needs of both naval ships and commercial marine vessels, the list of its naval applications includes frigates, destroyers, and of course – the aircraft carriers. The gas turbine main features are: compact size (15ft /4,5m in length), light weight (total module weight as a set 77t), great flexibility to the ship design process, ideal for new builds and fast turnaround maintenance programs, full authority digital control, fully integrated alarm, monitoring and control, it has its own integral fire protection system. In 2012 the Rolls-Royce company repackaged the MT30 turbine so that it would fit into smaller ships. The company will offer the MT30 engine to the Royal navy for the CODLOG system in the RN’s Type 26 frigates (their construction to start in 2015).
- the list of countries which currently have aircraft carriers includes USA, Russia, Brazil, India, France, Italy, Spain, China and even Thailand. The US has 11 of them and will have the 1st of its new Ford-class super-carriers by 2016. Just to be among the “aircraft carrier nations”, China has bought a former USSR vessel from Ukraine to refit and use it as a warship.
- R08-class ship comparison to the old designs: 2 islands on the flight deck rather than just 1 (1 forward for the ship’s navigation control/bridge and 1 aft for air-traffic control/flight operations), 2 heavy lifts to the ship’s side (to bring aircraft up from the hangar, while the older carriers had their lifts placed in the middle of the flight deck), a HMWHS (see armament below) to select and deliver ammunition from the 2 large magazines to aircraft in the hangar (saving on crew numbers).
Concise review and links to the ship builders websites
- The Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) has 4 members: 3 industrial (Babcock, BAE Systems, Thales UK) and the 4th is the UK’s Ministry of Defence (acting as both member and customer).
- Babcock (sites Appledore, Rosyth) is an UK based company with 4 main divisions – 3 of which for UK operations (Marine & Technology, Defence & Security, Support Services) and 1 International (for the Middle East/Africa). Its Marine division is the major support partner to the Royal Navy (with over 75% share in the annual ship maintenance/refit of the RN’s surface ships).
- BAE Systems (sites Glasgow, Portsmouth, Cammell Laird, Birkenhead) is a global corporation and a provider of defence and security products (cyber services, military support, mission critical electronic systems, protection equipment, and more), with way over 100,000 employees worldwide (the majority of them working in USA and UK). Reported sales of £22,4 bill (US$ 36,2 bill).
- Thales Group UK - a global leading company on the technology markets for Aerospace, Space, Defence, Security and Ground Transportation, with over 67,000 employees in 56 countries, global revenue £11,5 bill.
- Ministry of Defence (UK) - a ministerial department, supported by 30 agencies/public bodies, working on defence/armed forces, national security, foreign affairs.
- A&P Group (site Hebbum) – the UK’s largest ship repair/conversion company, with 3 huge shipyards (Hebburn, Middlesbrough, Falmouth).
- (soon to be added) our internal link to the new HMS Queen Elizabeth cruise ship (specs/stats/fun facts).
HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier construction progress (2013 news)
The newest Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier is being built in (or rather assembled from) 9 huge sections (construction work is done at 6 different shipbuilding yards around the UK – Rosyth, Portsmouth, Govan, Devon, Tyne and Wear, Birkenhead), then parts are transported onto sea-going barges to the Rosyth’s shipyard Babcock (dry-dock No1) to be welded together. Similar method is being used to build the newest largest cruise ships as well. Rosyth is located north of Edinburgh, it’s dry-dock 1 was specially-extended to fit the Royal Navy Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF) – the dock’s entrance was enlarged, dredging is also under way at Portsmouth (their home base) to make the existing channel deeper and wider.
- the first steel was cut in Feb 2010, QE is due to be launched 2014.
- (milestone) January 29, 2013 - the 1st of 2 giant gas turbine engines has been moved on to the ship – it’s simply the most powerful gas turbine installed on a ship ever.
- (milestone) February 7, 2013 - the HMS QE ship’s forward island bridge tower (fully fitted out&painted, weight 680 tonnes) left Portsmouth on a barge bound for Rosyth, Scotland (a 600-ml voyage). This section alone has 37ml/60km of cables and 3101 pipes inside, and it took 16 months to build.
- (April 15, 2013) Block SP08 aft lifted & fitted (Rosyth).
Even nowadays, aircraft carriers remain the ultimate symbol of a nation’s naval power. By the words of Geoff Searle, the program director for the ACA, battleships like HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier “are a significant diplomatic tool – they can go anywhere and do anything” – one colossal mobile airfield that you can park anywhere. Visit us again soon for updates and the latest news on HMS QE aircraft carrier. If you guys like our survey on the UK’s largest ship ever, you can share it via the social buttons below. Or simply to “like” it – we will always appreciate your support!