HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier
This HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier Wiki (“fan fun” page) is about the UK’s new R08 and R09 QE-class carriers – the Queen’s 21st century battleships.
Read here latest news on the construction progress, numerous facts, statistics and specifications, with a ton of photos, infographics and amazing videos. It’s all about the “pride and joy” of the British Royal Navy – the UK aircraft carriers of the future – being built now!
HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier Wiki
- Fact 1: The Future Aircraft Carriers (CVF) project is for the largest of UK warships ever built for the Royal Navy.
- Fact 2: Each of the new UK aircraft carriers has 2 huge propellers which together are able to output ~80 megawatt of power. This is enough energy to run ~1000 family cars, ~50 of the new highspeed trains, or to power ~5500 households.
- Fact 3: Each of the QE-class aircraft carriers will be 4 meters taller than the Niagara Falls.
- Fact 4: HMS QE aircraft carrier will be the Royal Navy fleet flagship (the UK’s main warship).
- Fact 5: The UK’s Navy is currently without an operational aircraft carrier, after HMS Ark Royal (R07, an Invincible-class carrier) was scrapped in 2013.
- Fact 6: The new UK aircraft carriers are very very very much expensive.
- Fact 7: HM The Queen Elizabeth II needs them both.
Note: Click on smaller images to enlarge, then Backspace (keyboard) or back-button (browser) to return to article.
QE-class aircraft carriers details, specifications, 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 and 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 and 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 and Crawley – 250), for the assembly of both ships (Rosyth – 1,600). In the end of 2013, a total of 10,000+ people were involved in the process of building and providing equipment for the new UK carriers.
- 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: the end of 2017, fully operational by the end of 2020 (with HMS Prince Of Wales 2 years behind). On HMS QE sea trials to begin 2017, flight trials – 2018.
- 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 and HMNB Devonport).
- Capacity/Crew: 1450 (1600 company+aircrew), complement 686+, max 40 aircraft (which is double the existing UK carriers capacity).
- (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). Including the Flight Deck, the QE hull is 9 decks deep. Due to budget restraints, a number of hull armor features were dropped form the original project design (the armored bulkheads and the side armorplates). QE’s hull design allows a future upgrade/conversion to accommodate a catapult launch system.
- 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, ski jump angled at 13°), 2 aircraft lifts (capable of 70t loads/ which means two F-35′s/ to flight deck from the hangar in 60 sec), 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. This is about 3 times the size of the Royal Navy’s current aircraft carriers of the Invincible class. For the construction of the two UK future aircraft carries a total of 80,000 t. of steel will be used.
- Top Speed: 25 kn (29 mph or 46 km/h).
- Range: up to 10,000 nautical ml (19,000 km).
The QE-class carriers former project name was “CV Future” (aircraft carriers) or simply “CVF”.
Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier engines, power, propulsion
The list of all engines and propulsion systems to be installed on the two new UK aircraft carriers QE-class includes:
- CODLAG (combined Diesel-Electric and Gas Turbine propulsion)
- two 36MW Rolls Royce turbines
- two “Wartsila 16V38″ diesels (with 11,6MW generators), and two “Wartsila 12V38″ diesels (with 8,7MW generators) – both models with a turbocharger at driving end
- one “Wartsila 12V200″ (“Wartsila 200″) 2MW emergency diesel generator set
- two propeller shafts (each with two Alstom 15-phase electric motors (150 rpm), 80MW total power consumption, output – 95,000 SHP.
QE aircraft carriers powered by Rolls Royce
Both QE-class UK aircraft carriers have the most powerful gas turbine in the world. HMS Queen Elizabeth power output is 109 MW (total). This absolutely stunning power generation capability features the two 120-tonne Rolls-Royce MT30 marine gas turbine engines (details and specs at Rolls-Royce.com).
Each of the HMS QE ship’s 2 gas turbines (the MT30 model was firstly produced in 2002) generates 36 MW – enough to power a small town. Both gas marine turbines will provide the power for the 2 propellers, weapons, sensors, command systems, the lower voltage requirements of the ship’s company. The MT30 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 – 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, with 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 model to the Royal navy for the CODLOG system in the RN’s Type 26 frigates (their construction to start in 2015). The MT30 engine design is based on Rolls-Royce Trent 800 aero engine, which achieved a 44% share of Boeing’s 777 program.
QE aircraft carriers engines Wartsila 38
Both QE-class aircraft carriers’ propulsion systems feature as prime movers Wartsila 38 marine diesel engine . This is a high technology level and revolutionary design (as both engine and power plant around it) to achieve lowest possible kilowatt-hour production cost. This engine’s best features, in comparison to other models, and general specifications are:
- fewer parts (less maintenance)
- lower fuel consumption, multi-fuel (reliably runs on various fuels)
- reduced greenhouse gas emission levels, full compliance with IMO Tier II (new regulations regarding exhaust emissions level – for details you can see the NOx/Nitrogen Oxides Regulation 13 at IMO.org)
- durable, reliable, cost-efficient.
On both new UK aircraft carriers QE-class (R08 and R09) will be installed a modified 14-cylinder version with inline 6 cylinders:
- cylinder bore 38 cm (15″)
- piston stroke 47,5 cm (18,7″)
- cylinder displacement 1820 litres (each cylinder). Total engine displacement for the 14-cylinder version is up to 25,480 litres.
- power output per cylinder 725 kW.
The Finish company Wärtsilä (in 2014 celebrating its 180th anniversary, website Wartsila.com) has in its products list also the most powerful diesel engine the world has ever seen – the “Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C”. This is a turbocharged 2-stroke diesel engine generally designed to provide the propulsion force for the world’s largest container ships and supertankers.
QE aircraft carriers propulsion
Both new UK aircraft carriers have an IFEP propulsion system (“Integrated Full Electric Propulsion”) consisting of of 4 x 20MW (27000 HP) AIM electric motors (“Advanced Induction Motor”) by Converteam UK. These motors are similar to those on the “Type 45″ Royal Navy destroyers (only UK destroyers use 2 motors, 1 per shaft). The AIM motors are driven by a Converteam VDM 25000 modulated converter able to produce various frequencies, which allows controlling the shaft speed across the operating range and eliminates the gearbox unit in the propulsion system.
The mentioned above 2 x Wartsila 16V38 engines power the ConverTeam generators (positioned low in the ship for stability reasons), while the 2 MT30 turbines are installed higher in the structure (shortening air/exhausts down-uptakes). The all 4 propulsion motors (per aircraft carrier, 2 per shaft) are positioned in 3 separate compartments. This design is for better survivability and damage control. The US company L-3 Communications Holdings is the supplier of the command and control propulsion power system (controlling the turbo and diesel generator sets).
HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier armament (weapons, air arms)
- Phalanx CIWS (a automated Close-In Weapon System, against anti-aircraft/anti-ship missiles), 6 barrels (caliber 20x102mm), 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
- 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).
UK future aircraft carrier QE-class 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.
- Lower Block 02 is 66ft (20m) high and 230ft (70m) long. All the largest sections are built in Portsmouth.
- QE 3 ship’s 2 propellers weighs 33t each (it’s 2 1/2 times heavier than a double-decker bus), 2 rudders will be used for steering.
- HMS QE has 2 anchors, each is 3,1 m (10,2 ft) high and weighing 13 t.
- Flight deck is 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.
- QE3 ship will require 1,5 million m2 of paintwork (which is ~16,5 million ft2, or an area of ~370 acres).
- The ship’s main body is called “Super Block 03″.
- 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).
- Bulbous bow – just like on all the new cruise ships, both QE aircraft carriers feature a “bulbous nose”. It is a strangely looking protruding bulb located at the ship’s bow just below waterline. It modifies the way water flows around the ship (hull), reduces drag and increases the speed and operational range. The bulb also makes QE fuel efficient (10-13%) and more stable (increasing buoyancy of the hull’s forward part, thus reducing pitching motion to a very small degree). The “ER” on the bow stands for “Elizabeth Regina” – this is the QE ship’s coat of arms.
Follows an amazing CGI (computer generated) YouTube video (release by Sorenson Media). It features life on board the ship, armament, concise review of the whole QE-class aircraft carriers UK project, its participants and construction sites. You guys gonna love it!
The new UK aircraft carriers builders
Note: All links are to the companies’ official 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 and Technology, Defence and 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.
- AandP Group (site Hebbum) – the UK’s largest ship repair/conversion company, with 3 huge shipyards (Hebburn, Middlesbrough, Falmouth).
HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier construction 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 outandpainted, 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 and fitted (Rosyth).
- QE aircraft carrier progress – the Rosyth dockyard’s timeline for the rest of 2013:
- (at Rosyth) all aft sections to be lifted into place
- Forward island to be delivered to Rosyth from Portsmouth, and installed
- Aft island to be delivered to Rosyth from Scotstoun, and installed
- Full extent of HMS QE aircraft carrier to be revealed for the first time.
- All hull and island sections to be integrated.
- (June 16, 2013) The HMS QE aft island left the BAE Systems Scotstoun shipyard bound again for Rosyth in Fife.
- (October 3, Rosyth) QE flight deck was completed, with the 2 giant 500-tonne sponsons fixed into place.
- (November 11, 2013) the ski ramp was completed. The ramp will help the F35 Lightning II jets get airborne off the QE’s flight deck.
- (November 28, 2013) They added the the HMS QE ship’s main radar (weight 8,4 t) on top of her forward island. Now she is 183 ft / 56 m tall.
Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier progress 2014 news
- (January 2, 2014 – jump jet tested) At Pax River UK Navy’s test pilot tested a kit to be used for moving the F35B Lightning II stealth jets around the hangers of both new UK aircraft carriers of the QE-class. they test this new equipment (ESHA – “Electric Shipboard Handler”) at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River (~60 ml outside Washington DC, USA. The new £120 million stealth fighter (to replace the UK’s Harrier jets) is 3 times heavier than the British jet. UK currently owns 3x F35B jets.
- (January 13, 2014) ACA construction news release PDF link.
- (January 20, 2014) ACA construction progress release PDF link.
- (January 23) US carrier senior personnel (US Navy and Marine Corps) paid a visit to the HMS Queen Elizabeth ship at Rosyth, meeting there representatives of the ACA and the QE ship’s company, and toured of the ship under construction. The list of US guests included VA Nora Tyson (aircraft carrier commander), VA David Buss (Naval Air Forces), LTG Robert Schmidle (Marine Corps Deputy, Aviation).
- (January 27, 2014) ACA weekly release PDF link.
- The following links offer professional review of the QE aircraft construction progress in February 2014. They offer updates regarding thermal coating of the deck edge, LB04 block installation, Damage Control Zones (1/2, 3, 4 and 5 – welding, painting, Catwalks), Tanks (fresh water, Dieso, Ballast, Sullage, Waste Oil), Hull Valves. Both documents also have news on the HMS Prince of Wales construction progress:
- (February 3, 2014) ACA news PDF link.
- (February 10, 2014) ACA news PDF link.
HMS QE aircraft carrier construction process
This is an YouTube video showing how the new UK aircraft carriers are being built (the proper word is probably “assembled”) by fitting blocks together to create both hull and superstructure. It also features an absolute silence, which I guess is intentionally done – to sharpen concentration
An at the end – another “better concentration by silence” YouTube video (almost 11 minutes long). It will show you the “ground view” perspective with all the “crane moving stuff” features of the HMS QE construction process. For me it’s way too long, but still, those of you more “technology minded” probably will enjoy it. It’s a huge work, doing this simulation, so – here it is.
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. At the staggering cost of over 5,5 billion dollars each, the two new UK aircraft carriers of the QE-class cost as much as 10 big cruise ships – each! So the whole QE-class project is like building a really huge fleet for a brand new cruise line! For comparison, the largest companies in the industry – Carnival and Royal Caribbean, each have a fleet of, respectively, 24 and 23 cruise ships (data 2014). You can like and share our UK aircraft carriers survey on Her Majesty’s largest battleships ever via our social buttons. Visit us again soon for updates and the latest news on HMS QE aircraft carrier. Good luck to the UK’s mighty warships of the future!