HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08)
The forward island superstructure being installed in Queen Elizabeth
|Career (United Kingdom)|
|Namesake:||Queen Elizabeth I|
|Ordered:||20 May 2008|
|Builder:||BAE Systems Surface Ships
|Laid down:||7 July 2009 |
|Launched:||July 2014 (planned)|
|Commissioned:||early 2017 (planned)|
|Identification:||Pennant number: R08
IMO number: 4907892
("Always the Same")
|Class & type:||Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier|
|Displacement:||70,600 tonnes (69,500 long tons)|
|Length:||280 m (920 ft)|
|Beam:||39 metres (waterline)
73 metres overall
|Decks:||16,000 square metres|
|Speed:||25 knots (46 km/h)|
|Range:||10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km)|
30 mm guns and mini-guns to counter asymmetric threats.
Tailored air group of up to 40 aircraft:
|Aviation facilities:||Hangar below deck and two aircraft lifts.|
HMS Queen Elizabeth will be the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth-class of aircraft carrier, the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy and capable of carrying up to forty aircraft. She is scheduled to be launched in July 2014 and to commission in early 2017, with full operational capability from 2020. Her first Commanding Officer is to be Commodore Jerry Kyd, the former captain of HMS Ark Royal and HMS Illustrious.
Unlike most large carriers she is not fitted with catapults and arrestor wires so she is restricted to operating V/STOL aircraft; her air wing will typically consist of F-35B Lightning II fighter-bombers and Merlin helicopters for airborne early warning and anti-submarine warfare. The design emphasises flexibility, with accommodation for 250 Royal Marines and the ability to support them with attack helicopters and troop transports up to Chinook size and larger. She will be the second Royal Navy vessel to bear the name HMS Queen Elizabeth and will be based at HMNB Portsmouth.
Design and construction
On 25 July 2007 the then Defence Secretary Des Browne, announced the order for two new carriers. At the time of approval the first carrier was expected to enter service in July 2015 and the budget was £4,085m for two ships. The financial crisis led to a political decision in December 2008 to slow production, delaying Queen Elizabeth until May 2016. This decision alone added £1,560m to the cost. By March 2010 the budget was estimated at £5,900m and in November 2013 the contract was renegotiated with a budget of £6,200m. The in-service date was further extended to 2020 in the Strategic Defence and Security Review in October 2010.
Construction of Queen Elizabeth began in 2009. Her assembly is taking place in the Firth of Forth at Rosyth Royal Dockyard from nine blocks built in six UK shipyards: BAE Systems Surface Ships in Glasgow, Babcock at Appledore, Babcock at Rosyth, A&P Tyne in Hebburn, BAE at Portsmouth and Cammell Laird (flight decks) at Birkenhead. Two of the lower main blocks, together weighing more than 6,000 tonnes and forming part of the base of the ship, were assembled and joined into one piece on 30 June 2011. On 16 August 2011, the 8,000-tonne Lower Block 03 of Queen Elizabeth left BAE Systems Surface Ships' Govan shipyard in Glasgow on a large ocean-going barge. Travelling 600 miles (970 km) around the northern coast of Scotland, the block arrived at Rosyth on the evening of 20 August 2011. On the 28 October 2012 an 11,000-tonne section of the carrier began a lengthy journey around the south coast of England (to avoid bad weather) from the shipbuilding hall at Govan, to the Rosyth dockyard; it arrived on 21 November. Her forward island was built at BAE Portsmouth and attached on 14 March 2013; the aft island was attached in June 2013. The ski jump was added in November 2013, leaving just the elevators and radar to be lifted into place.
As of September 2013[update] Queen Elizabeth was 80% complete internally and her launch is scheduled for July 2014. She will then be fitted out, with the crew moving aboard in May 2016, sea trials begin in October 2016 and she will be handed over to the Royal Navy in "early 2017". F-35 operations begin in 2018 ahead of an "operational military capability" in 2020.
The Queen Elizabeth class are expected to be capable of carrying forty aircraft, a maximum of thirty-six F-35s and four helicopters. The 2010 SDSR anticipated the routine deployment of twelve F-35Bs, but a typical warload will be 24 F-35Bs and some helicopters. These could be a Maritime Force Protection package of nine anti-submarine Merlin HM2 and four or five Merlin Crowsnest for airborne early warning; alternatively a Littoral Manoeuvre package could include a mix of RAF Chinooks, Army Apaches, Merlin HC4 and Wildcat HM2. As of September 2013[update] six landing spots are planned, but the deck could be marked out for the operation of ten medium helicopters at once, allowing the lift of a company of 250 troops. The hangars are designed for CH-47 Chinook operations without blade folding and the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, whilst the aircraft lifts can accommodate two Chinooks with unfolded blades.
Defensive weapons will include the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System for anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence; also 30mm Automated Small Calibre Guns and Miniguns for use against fast attack craft.
Highly Mechanised Weapon Handling System (HMWHS)
Incorporated into the first two blocks is a sophisticated handling and deployment system for air weapons, with the aim of achieving a sortie generation rate which is about six times faster than any previous Royal Navy aircraft carrier. The system will require only 50 people and could be operated with as few as 12 in an emergency; it is estimated that 160 would be needed to produce the same efficiency with conventional equipment. The system will move munitions on pallets by means of remotely controlled electric vehicles and lifts.
- As of November 2013 the official project cost for the two carriers is £6.2bn
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- Royal Navy - Queen Elizabeth Class - Facts and Figures
- The Engineer, Assembly phase reveals Queen Elizabeth scale by David Downs, 1 March 2012