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No bigger challenge. No higher honour. It has been a huge privilege to be involved in this incredible engineering project. Delivering the first of the Nation’s Flagships is testament to the power of collaboration, commitment and common endeavour. We are delighted to have played our role in providing specialist systems and technical expertise, and designing and delivering complex infrastructure has enabled us to contribute to its success. It’s been a life-changing experience for the hundreds of highly skilled Babcock men and women who’ve played their part. A project delivered by this generation for the next.

Built by a nation Proud to be part of the team delivering the Royal Navy’s biggest and most powerful warships


A lighter load for the UK’s largest warships 390 tonnes of combined weight saved for the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers We support the Royal Navy by delivering FRP solutions for weight reduction, corrosion resistance, electrical and thermal insulation, and electromagnetic transparency. Our products include Bondstrand® GRE pipe systems, FRP handrails (MARRS®), stanchions, ladders, floor plates, grating, jalousies, and vents, supported by an expert team of in-house engineers that provides 3D laser surveys, technical services, design consultancy, and much more. Learn more about our advanced composite solutions at

© 2017 National Oilwell Varco | All Rights Reserved

Protecting the protectors: Tyco and the navy Naval shipping is undergoing a major change. Ships that 70 years ago would have required crews of thousands are now manned by a mere few hundred sailors. The sophistication and speed of technology is growing with every passing year, and it’s replacing crew members in a lot of areas, from the gunnery to on-board safety. In fire prevention and security in particular, we’re seeing the rise of a much more hands-off, tech-on approach in the navy. Smaller teams are now assigned to monitor automated protection and prevention systems. Smart technology holds the key to naval safety.

Smart technology - the pros and cons Such pieces of smart equipment are capable of everything from incident analysis designed to prevent false alarms through to intelligent entry management, using cards or biometrics to keep restricted areas safe. This has its ups and its downs. Although it increases efficiency on-board and helps to keep costs down, the reduced manpower means that if something does go wrong, there are many fewer bodies available to assist. Navy vessels are also increasingly being commissioned for tours measured in years

rather than months. Fire and security equipment must be able to go extremely long periods without returning to dock, and any repairs that need doing must be performed on-board, without assistance. To make this model sustainable, the navy must invest in futureproof solutions which can be updated as required and serviced at sea. New and innovative service models and component design mean that multiple fire and security systems can be integrated both for operation and for servicing, reducing the time and number of call-outs required for their maintenance, and increasing their effectiveness on-board. For example, if fire detection systems are integrated with the ship’s CCTV through a single software package, then security staff can use video imagery to improve the accuracy of fire detection and diagnosis. This in turn will allow them to provide a more accurate response, becoming aware much earlier if a fire is likely to become serious enough to endanger the ship, and responding in kind. Not only this, but such integration allows for joint servicing, so that one engineer can attend to both systems.

Enter Tyco - the world’s leading marine fire & security specialist For the navy to be successful in implementing a smart fire and security posture, it needs the right suppliers behind it. Tyco is perfectly placed to help equip naval vessels with the latest cutting edge technology, from water mist and deck foam to intelligent fire detection, gas dispersion and perimeter defence. With experience going back to 1854 and with over 80 per cent of the world’s naval and commercial fleets protected by Tyco, it has the expertise and the manpower to provide round-theclock cover for the navy. Tyco has worked on fire and security projects on board a wide range of naval vessels, from Type 45 D-class destroyers to RFA Bayclass landing ships, meeting the unique requirements of each type and ensuring they can operate successfully with a reduced crew and a more frontline role for technology. When the Royal Navy launched its Astute class nuclear submarines, for example, Tyco was commissioned to install an innovative, reliable networked fire detection and alarm system. The system had to interface seamlessly with the vessel’s numerous other systems. The Astute class can circumnavigate

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the globe without surfacing, so any fire detection system had to last for as long as possible without servicing. Tyco is also leading the way to the future of seagoing fire and security on board the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier. These ships represent the cutting edge of naval technology, and must be prepared for lengthy tours of duty in some of the most challenging hotspots in the world. The new vessels will be equipped with a wide range of essential systems from Tyco designed to protect crews and equipment no matter the situation. From foam spraying on the flight deck and rapid reaction mist in the magazine to fibreoptic fire detection and anti-chemical warfare spray, Tyco has the expertise to keep Britain’s defenders safe.

Innovative service

prevent mission interruptions and costly harbour visits. Operating out of bases at strategic locations around the world, Tyco’s technicians are able to attend ships in need wherever they are. An unattended fault on board a deployed ship could cost millions in damage, not to mention the expense and disruption of having to return to port. By operating a flexible and global service, the company plays its part in ensuring that the navy can run at full capacity at all times. A key example of this model is Tyco’s cylinder exchange programme, in which support ships meet a naval vessel at sea and replace its gas cylinders in situ, without the need for a home journey. With the ability to depressurise and refill essential canisters while on deployment, naval vessels have the flexibility to operate freely, whatever demands are placed upon them

Jason Pendlebury Director oil, gas & marine at Tyco

As personnel numbers drop and technology becomes ever more important in the safe operation of naval vessels, an innovative approach to both the operation and maintenance of fire and security systems is essential. In an uncertain world, a reliable, intelligent safety network is indispensable. Tyco’s futureproof, flexible product range and servicing models are helping the navy to meet these challenges head-on.

However, no matter how welldesigned a system is, it will always need servicing eventually. One of the hallmarks of the Tyco service model is at-ship maintenance, which helps to

Tyco’s evolution 1852


Mather & Platt Tyco Inc. founded established. as government Grows into global research lab fire protection company

1976 Mather & Platt acquired by Wormald

1980s Tyco acquires Wormald, becoming major player in fire protection

2011 Tyco International splits off fire protection arm, now one of the world’s largest fire and security companies




s a maritime nation Britain’s security and prosperity have long depended on our mastery of the seas.

In a darker and more dangerous era, we are strengthening our defence. We’ve already chosen to grow our defence budget year-on-year by at least 0.5 per cent above inflation and we’re using it to put £178bn into a formidable arsenal of high-end capability from our Apache helicopters and Armoured Vehicles to frigates and nuclear Dreadnought submarines. Today we welcome our fleet’s flagship – the biggest ship we have ever built and the beating heart of our maritime task force. HMS Queen Elizabeth is a sovereign capability for serious times and she gives us a serious cutting edge. First she gives Her Majesty’s Government a greater range of options in responding to the challenges of tomorrow. Below decks, her mighty propellers allow her to range more than 7,000 nautical miles from home while, above decks, up to 36 fifth-generation F-35 will spearhead our strike force. By the end of next year, we will have at least 14 of those fighters and we will have witnessed our first F-35 land on the deck for flight trials. Our carrier gives us supremacy at sea, in the air and on land where we will be able to disembark hundreds of amphibious forces.  Second, HMS Queen Elizabeth strengthens our industrial base. Making this masterpiece has required a truly nationwide effort involving 10,000 people and 700 businesses from Appledore to the Clyde. Yet the advanced manufacturing skills they’ve picked up in constructing this 4.5 acre, 65,000 tonne fifth generation carrier, will help power the shipbuilding sector for years to come.   Third, our carrier shows our national ambition. This is the most powerful ship ever built in Britain. We are one of only five nations in the world building carriers. With HMS Prince of Wales on its way we will have the capability to respond to the danger all year round.  The new carriers will also strengthen our international alliances especially with our great American allies. We’re looking forward to US fighters flying off our decks and vice versa. So our message couldn’t be clearer. As we look to life beyond the European Union, a global Britain won’t be stepping back: we’ll be stepping up to defend our shores and fight for the global good. With a lifespan of half a century and its final captain yet to be born, this is a giant commitment to future generations. From HMS Victory to HMS Warrior, famous names have sailed in and out of Portsmouth harbour for centuries. Today they are joined by a new name. And, as we look towards tomorrow, we can be sure HMS Queen Elizabeth will continue that fine naval tradition and write its own glorious chapter in the history of this proud maritime nation.

Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon MP Secretary of State for Defence

HMS Queen Elizabeth



ne hundred years ago this August, Squadron Commander Edwin Harris Dunning of the Royal Naval Air Service became the first pilot to land an aircraft on a moving ship. In the century that followed, the Royal Navy was at the forefront of many of the most significant developments in maritime aviation, from the flush deck to the jump jet. Now this legacy continues as we prepare to commission the world’s first aircraft carrier designed for, and dedicated to, the operation of fifth generation strike-fighter aircraft.

Building an aircraft carrier is one of the most complex and demanding tasks for any military-industrial power. The fact that HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in Portsmouth just eight years after construction commenced on the first of her blocks is testament to the UK’s engineering and technical ability. I congratulate the Aircraft Carrier Alliance and all those at Rosyth, and at shipyards around the country, for this achievement, along with the team in Portsmouth who have worked so hard to ready the Naval Base for her arrival. Now the baton passes to the men and women of the Royal Navy. In the coming months, we must learn the intricacies of operating a 65,000-tonne ship and, over the next few years, we will bring together a new generation of ships, submarines and aircraft to form an integrated Carrier Strike Group. The strategic significance of our endeavour should not be underestimated. Alongside the nuclear submarine, the aircraft carrier is the hallmark of a global maritime power. Carriers have played a significant, often decisive, role in almost all of the UK’s major military operations since the Second World War. But while the Queen Elizabeth-class are first and foremost fighting ships they will also support all arms of government in projecting British power and influence around the world. These ships, and our continued investment in a strong Royal Navy, therefore send an unmistakable message to friend and foe alike: the United Kingdom has both the intent and the means to protect our interests, shoulder our responsibilities and advance our ambitions in an uncertain world. So, this is indeed a portentous moment in the history of this City, the Royal Navy, and the Nation. With HMS Queen Elizabeth’s arrival in Portsmouth, a new era of British maritime power begins.

Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC - First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff

HMS Queen Elizabeth




am incredibly proud to see HMS Queen Elizabeth in her home port today. The arrival of our Future Flagship in Portsmouth is a momentous occasion for the Royal Navy, the City of Portsmouth and for the Nation.

For more than 10,000 people who have been involved in the Queen Elizabeth Class programme over the years, this moment also defines their hard work and dedication, delivered in a spirit of genuine partnership. HMS Queen Elizabeth, along with her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, reflects the very best in British design and ingenuity and the engineering skills that have grown, which includes more than 800 apprentices who have begun their career on this programme, will be part of her lasting legacy. Delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a unique partnering relationship between BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock and the Ministry of Defence, the Queen Elizabeth Class will be the centrepiece of Britain’s maritime capability. Each aircraft carrier will provide the armed forces with a four-acre military operating base, which can be deployed worldwide. The vessels will be versatile enough to be used for operations ranging from high intensity warfighting to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief. HMS Queen Elizabeth has undertaken her maiden sea trials and is an incredible sight on the waves. It will be a joy to see her complete the remainder of her test and commissioning programme from Portsmouth and to deliver her to the Royal Navy.

Sir Peter Gershon Chairman of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance KCB ADC

HMS Queen Elizabeth


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FOREWORD Welcoming HMS Queen Elizabeth to her home port of Portsmouth is the culmination of almost two decades of effort. So much has been achieved since the design of the replacement Queen Elizabeth-Class (QEC) aircraft carriers began in 1999. Portsmouth Dockyard has been revamped and reinvigorated to enable the carriers to join the daily drumbeat of the rest of the Royal Navy’s (RN’s) activities. New jetties have been built, the channel into the harbour widened and huge navigation lights to guide her in and out have been placed along the entrance pathway. Whilst this has been going on, HMS Queen Elizabeth has been built, manned and put under rigorous harbour-side and sea trials. Her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, has benefited from the experience gained in the first build and so her manufacture and trials programme has been somewhat easier, quicker and more efficient. Both ships’ main weapon system, the F-35 Lightning, has entered service with the US Marine Corps and is already operational. The UK squadrons will be raised next year in the US before transferring to the United Kingdom in the summer of 2018. The majority of the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) military helicopters will be certified to operate on the carriers including the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) huge Chinook transport helicopters and Army Air Corps Apache attack helicopters. Long-standing allies and partners, France and the United States of America, have rallied round to help the Royal Navy retain a seedcorn of carrier strike capability by embedding RN and RAF personnel on their own carriers. Once in service, the QEC capability will provide unparalleled options to the British Government in terms of projecting stability worldwide and facing down threats from overseas. With the closing of this capability gap, the UK now re-joins the carrier club that she temporarily left in the beginning of the decade. And, if everything goes to plan, HMS Queen Elizabeth will not make her final departure from Portsmouth for another 50 years. Simon Michell Editor

HMS Queen Elizabeth




Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0. Disclaimer: Use of U.K. MOD visual information does not imply or constitute MOD endorsement.

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Marine Systems UK

19 The Ship’s Crest

42 Made in Britain By Simon Michell

20 Inside HMS Queen Elizabeth 22 C  ommodore Jeremy Rigby Commander, HMNB Portsmouth By Simon Michell

24 HMNB Portsmouth (HMS Nelson)

46 From the Flight Deck to the Engine Room By David Hayhurst

51 Key Facts About the Queen Elizabeth-class Aircraft Carriers

By Simon Michell

52 At the Helm 28 C  arrier Enabled Preparing Portsmouth for HMS Queen Elizabeth By Simon Michell

32 T  he Carrier Club By Norman Friedman

36 The UK Carrier Strike Group By Simon Michell

By Mike Bryant

56 Flight Operations By Nick Cook

62 The Weapons Team By Richard Scott

66 B  reakfast, Lunch and Dinner By Anne Paylor



70 F -35B Lightning By Chris Pocock

76 Helicopters By Richard Scott

82 U  nmanned Plans – UAV Potential By Dr Alix Valenti

102 Generating the Carrier Crew By Chris Aaron

106 Sowing the Seedcorn By Chris Aaron

110 Namesakes By Chuck Oldham

86 Future Airborne Anti-Ship Missiles By Ross Tieman

112 Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

90 The Integrated Mission System

116 British Aircraft Carrier Battles

By Dr Lee Willett

94 S  eeing Is Believing By Alan Dron

98 Deter and Defend By Simon Michell

By Ian Goold

By Mark Daly

122 H  eritage Meets the Future 100 Years of Carrier Air Power By Sue Eagles

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HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH Commemorating First Entry Into Her Home Port Published by Faircount Media Group 4915 W. Cypress St. Tampa, FL 33607 Tel: 813.639.1900 EDITORIAL Editor in Chief: Chuck Oldham Consulting Editor: Simon Michell Managing Editor: Ana E. Lopez Editor: Rhonda Carpenter Contributing Writers: Chris Aaron, Mike Bryant, Nick Cook, Mark Daly, Alan Dron, Sue Eagles, Norman Friedman, Ian Goold, David Hayhurst, Simon Michell, Chuck Oldham, Anne Paylor, Chris Pocock, Richard Scott, Ross Tieman, Dr Alix Valenti, Dr Lee Willett

DESIGN AND PRODUCTION Art Director: Robin K. McDowall Designer: Daniel Mrgan Ad Traffic Manager: Rebecca Laborde ADVERTISING Ad Sales Manager: Steve Chidel Account Executive: Andrew Moss OPERATIONS AND ADMINISTRATION Chief Operating Officer: Lawrence Roberts VP, Business Development: Robin Jobson Business Development: Damion Harte Financial Controller: Robert John Thorne Chief Information Officer: John Madden Business Analytics Manager: Colin Davidson FAIRCOUNT MEDIA GROUP Publisher, North America: Ross Jobson

ŠCopyright Faircount LLC. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means: electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. Certain images and text were used with permission of the Ministry of Defence and Royal Navy, and in no way are used to imply an endorsement by the Royal Navy or any Ministry of Defence entity for any claims or representations therein. The reproduction of advertisements in this publication does not in any way imply endorsement by the Royal Navy. Faricount LLC does not assume responsibility for the advertisements, nor any representation made therein, nor the quality or deliverability of the products themselves.




HMS Queen Elizabeth



HMS Queen Elizabeth


JEREMY RIGBY COMMANDER, HMNB PORTSMOUTH For the last five years, Commodore Jeremy Rigby has spent every working hour preparing Her Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth for the day HMS Queen Elizabeth will gracefully glide through the narrow harbour entrance for the very first time. Simon Michell asks him what this has entailed.

here are only a handful of sailors in the Royal Navy (RN) who have been so closely connected to the port of Portsmouth for as long as Commodore (Cdre) Jeremy Rigby. “My earliest memories of Portsmouth are walking from the railway station through the town with my kitbag over my shoulder to board HMS Bulwark.” That was as a young midshipman back in 1980. Since then, Cdre Rigby has sailed on a range of different ships out of Portsmouth, including all three of the Invincible-class aircraft carriers that HM Ships Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales will replace. As a logistics expert, he has supplied front-line coalition forces with their daily food, fuel, and ammunition and now, as Naval Base Commander, he is in charge of transforming Portsmouth to become the home port of the largest ships the Royal Navy has ever operated. Rigby is keen to point out that this latest transformation – there has been one about every 100 years since Henry VIII – is not focused merely on preparing berths for the carriers. It is much more than that. “What we are doing is regenerating the naval base so that it can operate in the era of the Queen Elizabethclass (QEC) carriers and beyond. To do this, we will have to keep to the drumbeat of the frigates, destroyers, patrol boats, and mine-hunters that is constantly underway at the port whilst handling the significant surge in activity that will be incurred when the QEC aircraft carriers come alongside.” This is a project on a mammoth scale with deep complexity. “It is not just about the physical process of getting the carriers in and alongside. Equally as important as that is what we need to do with this Edwardian site in order to enable it to support all aspects of the 21st century fleet in the long term and indeed the future Royal Navy.” To reinforce this message, Rigby points out the introduction of the QEC carriers impacts on the whole of Royal Navy and Royal



HMS Queen Elizabeth

Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). “Everybody has a role to play and everybody throughout the RN and RFA is part of the process of ensuring the success of the new carriers – right down to the smallest units.” The regeneration process With the decision to base the carriers at Portsmouth delivered in 2011, the £100 million transformation programme began in 2012. “First, we had to work out what the flow of activity for all classes of vessel was going to be and at what tempo it was going to take place,” he explained. “From this we were able to work out how many jetties and dry docks we were going to need, including the frequency of ships wanting to come in and out of the non-tidal basin.” This then led to a calculation on the commercial support that was going to be required to support all this activity, and from that the flow of civilian

Cdre Jeremy Rigby and Simon Michell (Editor) in front of the model of Portsmouth naval base showing where the new carriers will be located.



personnel that was going to be part of this constantly changing dynamic flux. Having worked out all these complex calculations, the next step was to locate the new infrastructure in the best places to make the flow and tempo possible. “We moved the frigates and destroyers to the northern jetties. Deep maintenance was relocated back to where shipbuilding used to be. That released the western jetties for the carriers,” Rigby confirmed.


Supporting the carriers Having worked out where all the ships (some two-thirds of the RN’s surface fleet) were going to be berthed, the commodore and his team worked out how to support the carriers. “The Portsmouth Readiness Group examined every facet and activity within the naval base related to having carriers here. That goes from the tugs, pilots, and afloat security teams through to the people on the jetty and the equipment that they would all need,” said Rigby. This was extremely detailed planning – down to the types of shoreside connections required to who passes which lines for mooring, what types of cranes and fork lifts are needed to transfer stores, and crucially, how the onshore power supply is delivered on board ship. Having learned some vital lessons from the people at Heathrow who helped plan the Terminal 5

Cdre Jeremy Rigby has had to transform what many perceive as an historic site into a naval base fit for a 21st century navy.

and Terminal 2 projects, everything is being rehearsed to the minutest detail using ROC (rehearsal of concept) drills and practical training on a mock-up of the ship’s side. Other organisations have been keen to help out and pass on some of the valuable lessons they have learned in their own operations. Network Rail has discussed how it ensures that the Victorian infrastructure it has to integrate into its day-to-day business remains fit for purpose. The managers at Southampton docks have shared their experiences of surging in large numbers of workers to quickly turn around massive cruise liners. Likewise, other navies have also pitched in with their advice. The United States Navy invited Rigby’s team to see how they support not just carriers but large ships in general. The French have shared their experiences with their Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. Beyond the naval base During this dockyard transformation, Rigby and his team have witnessed and played a part in a transformation on a wider scale

than just the port. Conscious that the base will need to attract a steady stream of workers over the coming decades, the RN has been investing in future generations of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) students at the brand-new University Technical College (UTC) Portsmouth. The RN also supports the BAE Systems Apprenticeships scheme, much of which is based in Portsmouth and the environs. However, this wider transformation extends beyond the confines of the naval base far out into the Solent. More than 3.5 million tonnes of seabed have been cleared to ensure that the carriers can navigate safely to their berths. This improves not only the safety of all the warships but also the future prosperity of commercial vessels as they too have more room to manoeuvre and can rest assured that the dangers of unexploded Second World War munitions is further decreased. The Queen Elizabeth class is helping to regenerate this part of southern England as it continues its own strategic development into a marine and maritime hub by drawing together some of the nation’s most highly advanced maritime capabilities. In relatively close proximity you also have world-renowned research departments at Portsmouth and Southampton universities, the aforementioned UTC, naval/marine industries on the mainland and on the Isle of Wight, and the cuttingedge innovation of the Ben Ainslie Racing HQ, which has just been built at the Camber docks in Old Portsmouth. The RN has a vested interest in this wider development as the carriers have given the naval base stability and certainty that they will still be here in another hundred years, ready for the next transformation. n HMS Queen Elizabeth



HMNB PORTSMOUTH (HMS NELSON) Attacked, plundered, and razed to the ground by the French, Germans, Romans, Saxons, and even the Vikings, Portsmouth has grown through adversity and necessity into one of the world’s greatest naval ports. Simon Michell explains.


HMS Queen Elizabeth


Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory, was retired to Portsmouth Harbour in 1812 and moved to the dry dock in 1922.

Tudor transformation

Richard the Lionheart granted Portsmouth its earliest charter in 1194.


y the time the Norman Lord, Jean de Gisors, founded Portsmouth in 1180, Portsea Island, on which it stands, had been regularly ransacked and occupied by a succession of brutal invaders – first Romans, next Saxons, then Danes. Although the Romans built Portchester Castle on the mainland to defend that coastline, the advantages of Portsea’s more strategic location eventually became apparent. None other than Alfred the Great stationed ships in the waters off Portsea and used the nearby Solent as a massing point for his squadrons in his crucial victory over the Danes in 897.


Richard the Lionheart It was the Plantagenets in the 12th and 13th centuries who really understood the military significance of Portsmouth as a naval hub and a key line of communications between England and France. Richard the Lionheart recognised the need for a defendable harbour to ensure safe passage to and from his other territories on the Continent. In gratitude for this service, he granted Portsmouth its earliest charter in 1194, enabling the town to hold a two-week fair as well as a healthy tax exemption. His brother, the notorious King John, also understood its importance and consequently granted Portsmouth permanent naval status. Under his reign, a dockyard was established in 1212. From then on, not only could ships moor up at Portsmouth, they could also be serviced and built there. In order to defend the expanding base, King John decreed a protective wall be built around the yard, beginning a process of extension and enhancement that would continue right up to the present day. Over the following century, Portsmouth enjoyed relative tranquillity. However, that was brought to an abrupt end with the protracted 14th century conflict between England and France. In the run-up to, and during, the 100 Years War, French forces attacked Portsmouth, burning it to the ground no fewer than seven times between 1327 and 1380.

To guard against these continual attacks, bit by bit additional fortifications were erected to protect the port. Most notably, the Round Tower at the entrance to the harbour was built by the Lancastrian King Henry V in 1417. However, it was the Tudors who were responsible for transforming the port and the dockyard at Portsmouth into a formidable and technologically superior military base. In 1495, Henry VII paid a little over £190 for the world’s first-ever dry dock to be built on the site, irreversibly changing the way ships would be built, rebuilt, and repaired. This was just the first of many innovations that Portsmouth would introduce. The ill-fated flagship, the Mary Rose, for example, was built at Portsmouth and was the first ship to have gun ports put in the side of the hull. Contrary to popular belief, she served in Henry VIII’s navy for more than 30 years, seeing action in three wars against the French and the Scots before sinking in 1545 at the Battle of the Solent. Portsmouth and the Parliamentarians Portsmouth remained a pre-eminent English naval port, but gradually declined in relative importance as a shipbuilding centre with the emergence of new docks in London. The navy, on the other hand, began to assume ever-greater significance. During Oliver Cromwell’s stewardship of the Commonwealth, it doubled in size. Having dismissed the entire

HMS Queen Elizabeth


1860 miles of cable Copyright© Aircraft Carrier Alliance

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Industrial heyday



Above: HMS Dreadnought, built at Portsmouth dockyard in 1906, revolutionised warship design and armament technology. Right: The Round Tower, built by Henry VII in the 15th century, was repurposed to become an air raid observation post.

navy administration, which he considered inept and corrupt, Cromwell appointed the gifted and reliable Col William Willoughby as the port’s first Admiralty Commissioner in 1649. Whilst the navy was being strengthened to take on Dutch dominance of the seas, the port was extended and further fortified. Under Cromwell it served as a base for the first Anglo-Dutch War in 1652 and the Anglo-Spanish War of 1654. This enlargement and fortification work was taken further by the founder of the Royal Navy, Charles II, following the restoration of the monarchy, and by 1685 Portsmouth had become the most fortified naval port in the world. By 1722 Portsmouth became the largest dockyard in the newly established United Kingdom.

The converging advent of the Industrial Revolution, the rapid growth of the British empire, and the threat of invasion by Napoleon brought one of the busiest-ever eras to the port. Not only was there a steady stream of ships launched from the yards, but naval accessories, including barrels and beer, were also churned out in huge volumes. In fact, Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s father, Marc, masterminded the world’s first all-metal steam-powered mass production line for the millions of wooden blocks used in ships’ rigging. Once in service, the Block Mills furnished the Royal Navy with more than 130,000 blocks a year. Manufacturing at the dockyard expanded to meet the growing demands of the navy, becoming the most industrialised site in the world in 1850 with 8,000 workers on the payroll. The modern era A new threat to the dockyard emerged in the 20th century – that of aerial bombardment. During the night of Sept. 16, 1916, Zeppelin L31, commanded by Heinrich Mathy, dropped four bombs on the port, narrowly missing HMS Victory. Although there was little damage to the port or any ships, the raid served notice on a far greater threat to follow. The Blitz attacks on Portsmouth during the Second World War were far more devastating. Here the Tudors were to play one last part in the defence of the port. The Round Tower built by Henry VII in the 15th century was repurposed to become an air raid observation post. Following the Second World War, Portsmouth was repaired and played a key role during the Cold War. It has enjoyed mixed fortunes, with shipbuilding ceasing in 2013. However, the famous dockyard is now ready to take her place in the next phase of her proud history as home port to the two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. Once again, the infrastructure has been reconfigured with a brand-new jetty, power supply, a freshly dredged channel, and mammoth navigation lights to guide the new aircraft carrier through the narrow entrance to the harbour and preserve Portsmouth’s reputation for at least another 50 years as a world-class naval port. n

HMS Queen Elizabeth


The Queen’s Harbour Master, Steve Hopper, stands in front of the Boskalis Westminster backhoe dredger Manu Pekka, at work in Portsmouth harbour.

Preparing Portsmouth for HMS Queen Elizabeth The work to prepare Portsmouth for the two new aircraft carriers has taken years, but thankfully everything has been completed in time for HMS Queen Elizabeth’s arrival in her new home. Simon Michell talks to the Queen’s Harbour Master to find out what this work has entailed. 28

HMS Queen Elizabeth

Portsmouth is probably the second busiest port in the country after Dover. We manage about 200,000 movements a year, including the Royal Navy (RN) warships, the cross-channel and Isle of Wight ferries as well as a growing amount of commercial shipping. Portsmouth is where Fyffes bananas enter the country before ending up in your local supermarket,” explains the man who supervises all this activity, the Queen’s Harbour Master: Steve Hopper. Hopper is very proud of the new commercial enterprises the port has managed to attract. Portsmouth is now also a major national sport and leisure site. “We have seven large marinas,



Converting the National Grid’s 50Hz electricity supply to 60Hz requires a brand-new substation that could power a small town.

there are over 3,500 moorings – more than at the Hamble, which is the home of British yachting. Portsmouth even plays host to the world’s most famous yacht race – the America’s Cup.” Portsmouth has only managed to remain such a booming site thanks to its continual evolution and reinvention. The next phase of this process is now complete – the modifications to enable the Royal Navy’s largest-ever ships to make the port their home for the next 50 years. The refurbishment has covered a broad scope of activities – a new Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS), a lengthened jetty, dredging, new harbour navigation aids, a special power supply substation and last, but not least, giant gangways so people can get on and off the new Queen Elizabethclass (QEC) carriers.


The upgrade programme on land One of the early parts of the £100 million Portsmouth upgrade programme was the installation of a new £5.5 million VTMS. Although not strictly part of the Queen Elizabeth readiness programme, the old VTMS was becoming obsolescent and needed changing, having been originally installed in 1999. The

new VTMS provides Hopper and his Harbour Services team improved situational awareness so that they can keep a close eye on the bustling ships, ferries, yachts and naval vessels that are constantly criss-crossing the waters. “We have got more radars, better cameras, better computers. It makes everything more robust and easier to manage,” he explains. With two 65,000-tonne aircraft carriers sailing in and out of the harbour, the new system is an essential element for ensuring the safety of all harbour users and operators. A new jetty has been constructed by extending, strengthening, and widening the 90-year-old Middle Slip Jetty into what is now the Victory Jetty – soon to be renamed Princess Royal Jetty. After 18 months of work and £34 million of investment, this immense structure is capable of hosting both HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales simultaneously – something it will have to do for about 10 weeks each year. VolkerStevin, the company that built the ammunition storage facility for the Type 45 destroyers in 2012, was awarded the jetty contract back in April 2015, just two months ahead of BAE Systems and Kongsberg winning the VTMS contract. One of the most important carrier support systems, the power supply substation that converts the National Grid’s 50Hz power into the 60Hz used by all ships, is located between the Jetty and Old Portsmouth. Weighing in at a huge 100 tonnes, the new frequency converter and motor represent an impressive feat of engineering. Now hooked up to the National Grid via 2.6 miles of cabling, they produce enough electricity to power a small town. Getting onto and off the aircraft carriers will require two gangways on a scale never yet seen in a British naval port. Designed by the Dutch firm Verhoef, the brows, as they are known in maritime lingo, will be big enough to cater for 3,000 people coming and going per hour. They were delivered in September 2016 ready for an intensive training programme to make sure everyone knows how to operate them before HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives.

HMS Queen Elizabeth



From drawing board to the front line

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Giant solar-powered navigation lights on top of 22-tonne steel towers help the aircraft carriers sail safely into port.

myself that I am dealing with a really big bomb here, and there is a young RN diver swimming just a few yards away from it.” Entering the harbour


Modifications in the water Whilst all these enhancements have been in progress on land, there have been two major projects to make the waters of the harbour and its entrance ready for the leviathans to start using it. One of the United Kingdom’s leading dredging firms, the Hampshire-based Boskalis Westminster UK, won the £30 million contract to widen and deepen the five-mile approach channel in July 2015. In all, about 3 million cubic metres of clay, sand and gravel has been scooped out by suction hopper and backhoe dredgers over an eight-month period. Care was taken not only to ensure that damage to the environment was kept to an absolute minimum, but also that they did not get blown up by German bombs dropped by the Luftwaffe as part of their failed Second World War air campaign to put the dockyard out of commission. During the dredging, four major unexploded bombs have been unearthed. A massive 500kg bomb was found in November 2016. Such was the danger that Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Shopping Centre and the Historic Dockyard had to be evacuated whilst Royal Navy explosive ordnance teams carried out a controlled explosion. Of all the elements to the work, this is the one that makes Hopper most nervous. “I think to

Getting in and out of the harbour for a ship the size of HMS Queen Elizabeth will not be a simple manoeuvre, as at over 70 metres wide she is twice the width of the previous Invincible-class carriers. This means she has to be positioned precisely within the newly dredged channel. To help the crew do this, giant navigation aids have been placed along the route into and out of the narrow harbour entrance. These are no ordinary navigation lights. Powered by a combination of solar panels and batteries, they sit on top of 14 huge steel towers that rise some 30 metres above the seabed. Weighing in at over 22 tonnes, each tower had to be lifted into place by a 350-tonne crane barge. “The lights atop the towers will only be switched on when one of the carriers is moving, but because the dredging work has slightly altered the direction of the main channel, a beacon has been put in for the other port users which will be permanently switched on,” says Hopper. This is just one more facet to the refurbishment that will benefit others beyond the aircraft carriers and their crews. n

HMS Queen Elizabeth


THE CARRIER CLUB With the entry into Portsmouth of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy (RN) rejoins the carrier club it founded during World War I. Norman Friedman highlights the unique value carriers offer and why so many major navies have also decided to become members of this exclusive club.


HMS Queen Elizabeth


carrier is mobile air power. That air power can protect a fleet or a convoy at sea, and it can be used against an enemy ashore. Nothing other than a carrier offers the same capacity. The British government of the day learned as much during the strikes against Serbia in 1997. Various NATO countries had contributed large numbers of aircraft based ashore in Italy. Britain made a similar contribution, but in addition, the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal was operating in the Adriatic. During the strike campaign, bad weather often closed the Italian air bases down. However, Ark Royal was able to seek out areas of acceptable weather. She was also much closer to the targets than the airfields ashore. Even though she carried only a few aircraft, on many days she contributed more attack sorties – more of the point of the NATO air effort – than the entire land-based air force. This experience had a direct effect on United Kingdom (UK) government planning. The Strategic Defence Review (SDR) that was being conducted at the same time recommended that the UK build two large carriers, of which Queen Elizabeth is the first. During the Libyan revolution a few years later in 2011, the consequences of not having a carrier on the scene became evident. This time, NATO was supporting Libyan rebels fighting Col Gadaffi’s forces. Without a carrier, the main British air contribution consisted of UK-based strike aircraft.


INS Vikramaditya is a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier that entered into service with the Indian navy in 2013.



Right: The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. Bottom: Rafales and Super Etendards on the deck of the Charles de Gaulle en route to Libya.

On paper, this seemed like a reasonable option, as they could certainly fly to Libya, attack, and then return. However, a long flight from the UK would only have been acceptable if the war in Libya had involved attacks on pre-selected targets. The reality of supporting the Libyan rebels was the need for short-notice attacks on targets that suddenly popped up out of nowhere. The only way of being able to engage them would have been by loitering in the skies above, but to do this, they would have needed to be based quite close by. A fast-jet carrier in the Mediterranean would have solved this challenge, as aircraft could have been held on standby, plus they would have had the endurance to loiter as needed. Eventually, UK forces were provided a solution of sorts in the form of Army Air Corps Apache attack helicopters launched from the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean. However, these helicopters would not have been a viable option if the Libyan government forces had been able to get their hands on better anti-aircraft weapon systems. When the SDR was conducted in 1997, it seemed that international crises might well be unusual and infrequent. At the time, it was hard to imagine situations in which British troops fighting far from home would need air support. Since then,

HMS Queen Elizabeth


Air defence at sea The other side of carrier capability is the air defence of


HMS Queen Elizabeth


ships at sea. It takes a carrier to keep fighters aloft near a moving force of ships. The great lesson of the Falklands War, which was the last time that a British naval force found itself under air attack, was that missilearmed surface ships could provide an inner layer of defence, but that it took carrier aircraft to extend that defence out to the limit at which enemy aircraft could launch anti-ship missiles. It was fortunate that the Argentine forces had only a very limited stock of Exocet missiles, and therefore to make each missile count, the attacking aircraft had to come within range of RN shipboard defences. Even then, carrier fighters, in this case operating at the limit of their range, shot down most of the Argentine attackers. In any future opposed operation, the majority, if not all, of the attackers will be armed with stand-off anti-ship missiles. Shipboard missile defences will be predominantly directed at those incoming weapons – not the aircraft delivering them. Unless the attacking airplanes are shot down – by carrier fighters – they will simply fly back to base and return to attack again. Such attacks would exhaust the stocks of shipboard missiles. It takes a carrier and carrier-borne fighters to gain freedom of operation by eliminating the enemy’s anti-ship air arm. Finally, a large carrier can also accommodate, service, and control anti-submarine helicopters to an extent smaller surface warships cannot. In any future opposed operation against an enemy well-equipped with submarines, the carrier’s anti-submarine capacity would be invaluable. n


the world has become far less stable, and armed intervention far more common. American experience in Middle Eastern wars has been that local governments are relatively reluctant to welcome foreign combat aircraft. However, when US carriers have been deployed, so that combat air support has been available whether or not local governments have offered base rights, often those same governments have found it easier to grant such access. The reason is simple. In many cases a local government may see this level of cooperation as very much in its own interest, but the nuances of local politics can sometimes make it difficult to bring about. That said, those against offering access have to expend substantial political capital opposing it. Mustering this opposition becomes less appealing when it is obvious that air strikes can be delivered off nearby carriers. Thus, even when carriers do not provide the bulk of combat aircraft, they are useful both militarily and politically.


Right: The Cavour was launched in July 2004 and began sea trials in 2006. The aircraft carrier was delivered to the Italian navy in April 2008 and entered service in June 2009. Below: US Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys operating from Juan Carlos I. Juan Carlos I is a multi-purpose amphibious assault ship in the Spanish navy (Armada Española). Similar in role to many aircraft carriers, the ship has a ski jump for STOVL operations, and is equipped with the AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft.



Below: The Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning (CV 16). Bottom: The Brazilian navy aircraft carrier BNS Sao Paulo (A12), foreground, comes alongside USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

THE CARRIER CLUB IS IN CONSTANT ACTION Since the end of World War II, there has been an ongoing presence of US carriers abroad. Currently, these consist of both Nimitz-class carriers with F/A18 Hornet strike fighters and large-deck amphibious ships – the latter operating short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) AV-8B Harrier II jump jets. In the Arabian Gulf and elsewhere, the Western interests those ships support have been further backed by the Rafale jets from the French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, as well as by Italian and Spanish aircraft carriers that both embark AV-8B Harrier II STOVL aircraft. Closer to home, the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean in 2016 with its complement of Su-33 and MiG-29 fast jets in support of the Syrian Assad regime. Meanwhile, in 2017, the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning, which is a sister ship of the Admiral Kuznetsov, steamed around Taiwan to back up Chinese political claims on the breakaway republic. Once fully operational, it will host a complement of the J-15 fighter – a close relative of the Russian Su-33. Also in that region, India has deployed one MiG-29K-equipped carrier (a rebuilt Russian ship now known as INS Vikramaditya). India is building more carriers, as is China. Thailand operates a much smaller carrier equipped with S-70 and MH-60 helicopters. In the Western Hemisphere, Brazil up until spring 2017 operated the São Paulo, which is an ex-French vessel built in the late 1950s. Brazil’s fleet flagship was home to venerable A-4 Skyhawk fast jets. In light of prohibitive costs of refurbishment, the Brazilian government is set to retire the carrier after more than half a century at sea.

HMS Queen Elizabeth


THE UK CARRIER STRIKE GROUP Commodore Andrew Betton took command of the UK Carrier Strike Group in September 2016. Simon Michell asks him what it consists of, how it will operate and what it can achieve.

An aircraft carrier does exactly what it says on the tin. It takes aircraft to where you need to operate them – with the added benefit that the ship remains UK sovereign territory and that it can carry everything needed to sustain its aircraft for weeks or months on end,” explains Commodore (Cdre) Andrew Betton, the United Kingdom’s current Carrier Strike Group (CSG) Commander. Having relieved Cdre Kyd in September 2016, Cdre Betton confirms that the process of preparing for HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first operational deployment in 2021 is progressing according to plan. “Preparations are proceeding apace across a really broad front – everything from the physical preparation of Portsmouth naval base to receive the carriers to the various different elements of the air wing,” he says. However, getting the base and the equipment ready is only one side of the story. The other side is the people, the crew and then the glue that binds the sum of all these parts together: the CSG Staff.

Based in a relatively small set of offices in Victory Building at Portsmouth, the CSG Staff is taking shape. Betton clarifies what it does and what it is made up of: “It is a team of about 70 specialists – predominantly officers with a few senior ratings in the mix. Together they cover a broad spectrum of maritime expertise. We have fighter pilots, helicopter aircrew, logisticians, warfare officers, submariners, intelligence, cyber and communications specialists – all sorts.” He continues, “The Staff is built around three core functions – operations, information warfare and logistics – but what makes the Carrier Strike Group special is the addition of a strike warfare cell with fixed-wing, helicopter and submarine expertise. This cell generates the strike ‘DNA’


HMS Queen Elizabeth


The Carrier Strike Group Staff


Type 23 frigates HMS Sutherland (F81) and HMS Iron Duke (F234) escorted HMS Queen Elizabeth during the aircraft carrier’s maiden sea trials. Frigates are the primary antisubmarine escorts for the Carrier Strike Group (CSG), with Type 45 destroyers the primary anti-air warfare vessels. Submarines, support vessels, and various warships from allied nations, as well as the carrier’s own aircraft, comprise other elements of the CSG.

HMS Queen Elizabeth


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The Queen Elizabeth-class carriers will host up to 36 F-35B Lightning strike fighters. The F-35B retains the STOVL capabilities of the Harrier and Sea Harrier, but adds stealth, supersonic speed, multi-sensor fusion and outstanding situational awareness.

that flows right through the Staff, giving it a focus on strike operations.”


The Carrier Strike Group Essentially, a CSG consists of the carrier, its escorts, support vessels and, when applicable, associated land-based aircraft. In terms of the UK carrier group, the exact configuration has not yet been decided and in all likelihood will change according to the mission. That said, whenever one of the carriers deploys, it is likely to be escorted by a number of frigates as part of the anti-submarine defence layer, destroyers for air defence and potentially an integrated submarine for the longer-range surveillance and protection. There are also a number of other supporting

elements that will play a part. “Support shipping is a key part of the group. Any future CSG may well be accompanied by one of the future fleet support ships as well as a Tide-class tanker to replenish stores of food and ammunition as well as fuel, water and all the other things that are required on a long deployment,” Betton explains. Since the UK is a key player in the NATO Alliance and a frequent contributor to coalition operations, it is a distinct possibility that the escorts and support shipping may on occasions belong to a partner nation. So, what can a CSG offer in terms of options to the government of the day? “It is important to remember HM Ships Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales have been built from the keel up to operate up to 36 fifth-generation F-35B Lightning strike fighters. That is their primary output. But, the beauty of their size and scale means you have got the ability to do so much more with them.” By this, Betton means that you can have various mixtures of aircraft on board to undertake a range of different roles. In fact, it could, if desired, operate solely with helicopters, and indeed by 2018, HMS Queen Elizabeth will have that capability. The on-board aircraft Alongside the F-35B, the new carriers can embark any aircraft that has been cleared for carrier operations. In terms of UK aircraft, this covers Royal Navy (RN) rotary-wing assets such as Merlin, Merlin CROWSNEST, and Wildcat. Added to that, you have the Royal

HMS Queen Elizabeth


THE BIGGEST IN THE ROYAL NAVY DEMANDED THE BEST IN LOGISTICS WHEN THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER ALLIANCE (ACA) NEEDED A LOGISTICS PROVIDER TO SUPPORT THE BUILD PROGRAMME FOR THE QUEEN ELIZABETH AND THE PRINCE OF WALES, THE LARGEST SHIPS THE ACA HAD EVER BUILT, IT WAS WINCANTON THAT PROVED TO BE THE BEST FIT. Wincanton is a market-leading 3PL providing supply chain consultancy and solutions to a number of the world’s most recognisable brands. From the company’s origins in 1925 delivering milk and dairy products, Wincanton has grown significantly and now employs more than 17,500 people across 200+ UK sites serviced with a fleet of 3,400 vehicles. Whether partnering with niche retailers or global brands, Wincanton adds value through extensive supply chain expertise and an innovative approach to tackling the logistics challenges of today and beyond. It was this innovative approach and extensive experience that Wincanton utilised to support the ACA project. The specifically-tailored solution provided an unprecedented level of material visibility and supply with the backing of a state-of-the-art IT platform. The carrier build was a substantial engineering exercise with the added complexity of multiple participating companies across a wide geographical spread. With assembly points at shipyards across the UK, the control and visibility of this considerable inventory was the responsibility of Wincanton who, since the beginning of the build, provided a virtually

100% service level for the vast majority of the equipment used in the build of the Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales. Wincanton have been in partnership with the ACA since 2009 and have provided an ever-increasing scope of service, an enviable track record of delivering under budget and impressive cost saving initiatives. A great combination. The introduction of Wincanton’s transport network capability into this sector has opened up tremendous cost saving opportunities by consolidating supplier deliveries across both the UK and the international supply base offering a true global reach. These logistical synergies provide competitive advantage to both the ACA as final user but also, crucially, the suppliers themselves. Combine these efficiency savings with Wincanton expertise for compliance across Defence sector and you have a true partnership delivering outstanding performance.

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The scale of the new carriers, with their massive hangar decks and 4-acre flight decks, gives the UK government a range of options for responding to international crises.


Air Force Chinook and Puma helicopters, and crucially the Army Air Corps Apache gunship, which add another element of carrier strike to the capability. Then you have partner-nation aircraft that have the appropriate certifications. Primarily, that means F-35Bs as well as some interesting aircraft like the V-22 tilt-rotor that the US Marine Corps use aboard their carriers. In fact, the USMC MV-22 is being converted as an air-to-air tanker able to refuel F-35Bs whilst airborne. The three core F-35B customers are the Americans, British and Italians. It is possible that this group may expand in the future. As well as embarked aircraft, there may well be times when the CSG is accompanied by land-based aircraft fulfilling specific roles – a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and/or an E-3D Sentry airborne early warning and control aircraft. Responding to crises According to Betton, “What the British government is getting with the procurement of the QE-class carriers is the ability to go to the crisis before it comes to us. In a high-end conflict, this

would probably be in the carrier strike role. But, if it is a response to an earthquake or tsunami or some sort of humanitarian crisis, you could adapt to conduct a non-combatant evacuation or a disaster relief operation.” The CSG Staff are already in training for any of these eventualities and in early 2017, Betton and his team conducted synthetic (computer-based) training with the US Navy as it was preparing to deploy a carrier to the Middle East. This was a thorough examination. “They tested us in a tough tactical environment to put us through our paces. They made sure that we understood the complexity and importantly that we were focusing on the right areas of tactical and doctrinal development,” Betton says. “It is going to be a complex journey to prepare for the first planned carrier strike deployment in 2021, but we expect to achieve initial capability in discrete areas before then,” Betton says. “In 2018 we will have initial operating capability for some of the rotary-wing assets, and with the jets on board by the autumn of 2018 for flight trials, the reality of bringing this fantastic capability to fruition is tantalisingly close.” n

HMS Queen Elizabeth


At over £6 billion, the programme to build the two Queen Elizabeth-class carriers is one of Europe’s largest defence projects, involving almost every region of the United Kingdom. Simon Michell explains who is responsible for delivering the Royal Navy’s largest-ever ships.


esigning and building aircraft carriers is one of the most complex processes any navy will ever undertake. The sums of money involved are considerable, and the political intricacies that have to be navigated can be correspondingly complex and time consuming. It is consequently not unusual for the period between a government calling for an aircraft carrier replacement


HMS Queen Elizabeth



and the vessel actually entering service to span well over 20 years. And, with a planned service lifetime of almost half a century, decisions made at the beginning of the process have to account for the vagaries of a changing geopolitical, technological, and industrial climate. Building an aircraft carrier is one thing, keeping it maintained and seaworthy for 50 years is yet another. Not many countries are in a position to build their own aircraft carrier. An industrial endeavour on this scale requires highly advanced technical expertise allied to the appropriate dockyard infrastructure. A huge number of associated skills and qualified engineers and technicians has to be brought into play via a complex and often confusing supply chain matrix. It is no surprise then that there are more than 10,000 personnel engaged in the Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) programme, with some 2,500 engineering jobs directly created in order to be able to fulfil the contract. This industrial footprint covers the length

Right: Building HMS Queen Elizabeth has involved more than 10,000 technicians and engineers. Middle: Two gigantic sections of hull are joined together at Rosyth. Bottom: The aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth’s aft island leaving BAE Systems Glasgow to head to Rosyth.

and breadth of the United Kingdom, with almost every region participating in the manufacture of the vessels. Not only is it creating jobs, it is also helping to train the next generation of engineers, as some 800 apprentices have been put to work on the project.


The hull and superstructure Having selected BAE Systems as prime contractor, together with Thales UK as the main supplier back in 2003, the programme began to take shape in earnest. Since then, a partnership to deliver the carriers has evolved in the form of the BAE Systems-led Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA), the other members including Babcock, the Ministry of Defence (MoD), and Thales UK. In their own words, “The ACA is an innovative alliance between industry and the Ministry of Defence that was founded to transform the way in which large-scale projects such as the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers are produced and ultimately delivered.” Right from the beginning, the ACA underlined the need for a partnership approach, declaring, “The QE class is one of the largest engineering projects currently being undertaken in the UK and as such it was going to take more than one organisation to deliver it.” Building aircraft carriers is all about partnerships – domestic and international. Each member of the ACA has a specific role to play. The MoD wears two hats as both an Alliance member and the customer who signs off all the cheques. As well as helping to build the ships at its dockyards, BAE Systems is also responsible for delivering the mission systems for both carriers. Thales UK was instrumental in the design of the ships, supplies electronic systems and software, and leads the Power and Propulsion Sub Alliance. Babcock, a supplier of engineering and support services, builds parts of the ships – including the bow section and some of the sponsons (structures that jut out from the side of the hull). The company also assembled HMS Queen Elizabeth at its Rosyth dockyard, where it is currently in the final stages of assembling her sister carrier, HMS Prince of Wales. The immense size of the ships dictated that they were constructed in modular sections at a number of different dockyards prior to final assembly at Babcock’s Rosyth facility on the Firth of Forth in Scotland. In

HMS Queen Elizabeth


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HMS Queen Elizabeth is so large that she was built in sections in six UK dockyards.

all, six dockyards built the modules: Appledore (Babcock in Devon), Birkenhead (Cammell Laird in Merseyside), Glasgow (BAE Systems at Govan and Scotstoun), Hebburn (A&P in Tyneside), Portsmouth (BAE Systems in Hampshire) and Rosyth (Babcock in Fife). Power and propulsion Another partnership was formed to deliver propulsion to move the ship forward, and supply power for the on-board electrical systems whilst the ships are at sea and at home in Portsmouth. Thales UK leads the Power and Propulsion Sub Alliance, whose members include GE, L3, and RollsRoyce. Locomotion and power supply are generated via two Rolls-Royce MT30 engines built in Bristol. These are derived from the highly popular Trent 800 aircraft power plant, as seen on the Boeing 777. The low voltage electrical power distribution system that supplies

power at various different voltages to the on-board systems was designed and manufactured at Rolls-Royce’s Portsmouth facility. The UK-sourced engines are supplemented by four Wärtsilä power packs from Finland. Among other things, GE supplied the shore-based rotary frequency converter that enables the National Grid to supply 60Hz power to the ships at berth, thus reducing noise, pollution, and costs. GE also designed, built, and installed the vital Electrical Power Control and Management System on board HMS Queen Elizabeth. For its part, L3 supplied the Integrated Platform Management System from its MAPPS facilities in Bristol, Burgess Hill and Barrow-in-Furness. This system is key for keeping the crew numbers down, as it helps watch-keeping and damage control teams to operate more efficiently. It goes without saying that the most critical component for building the two carriers is steel – 40,000 tonnes each. Tata produced the metal from UK mills to supply 94 percent of the required amounts. However, this is no ordinary alloy. Tata metallurgists developed three new grades of extra strong lightweight steel (FH35, EH46, and Install® Plus), resulting in a warship that is more agile in the water and cheaper to run. The entire process of building the two QEC carriers has touched almost every region in Britain. More than 200 direct suppliers have been involved from England, Scotland, and Wales. Many more companies have been subcontracted to supply products and services. Firms as far apart as William Johnston & Co in Inverness to Pipex Ltd in Plymouth have all contributed to this mammoth effort. Along the way innovations and new inventions have emerged that will enhance future build programmes. That said, the building of the ships is just one element of the project. The upgrade of Portsmouth harbour has involved another set of specialist firms and technicians. UK contractors are also heavily involved in the manufacture of the F-35 Lightning that the ships are being built to host. n

HMS Queen Elizabeth


FROM THE FLIGHT DECK TO THE ENGINE ROOM As the largest and most powerful surface warship ever built for the Royal Navy, and the first to be commissioned of what will be the second-largest carrier class in the world, HMS Queen Elizabeth’s dimensions are truly staggering. David Hayhurst reveals the immense scale and ingenuity of the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.


isplacing 65,000 tonnes – three times that of the Invincible-class carriers – and at 280 metres long and 70 metres wide, HM Ships Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales represent a major leap forward in terms of the UK’s joint military capability. Remarkably for its sheer scale, the Queen Elizabeth only has a total crew of 714 sailors, compared to around 3,200 for a Nimitz-class carrier of the US Navy. This will only rise to a full carrier complement of approximately 1,600 when all air elements are embarked (approximately 900 flight crew and Royal Marines). This dramatic reduction in crew numbers is made possible by the revolutionary innovations in weapons-handling automation, as well as other state-of-the art systems found throughout the carriers. Hangar deck The Queen Elizabeth’s cavernous hangar deck (155 by 35 metres and 6.7 to 10 metres high) is as large as 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools. At surge capacity, it can accommodate 40 aircraft: 36 F-35B Lightnings and four helicopters. A critical feature is the ship’s ability to operate a variety of helicopters in Britain’s military arsenal, from twin-rotor


HMS Queen Elizabeth

Chinooks to Merlins, Apaches, and Wildcats. In addition to a joint strike force of up to 36 Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy (RN) F-35Bs, an air wing will likely be composed of a maritime force-protection package of nine anti-submarine Merlin HM.2s, along with four or five Merlin CROWSNEST airborne early warning and control helicopters. Alternatively, a littoral manoeuvre (coastal) operation could include a mix of Army Air Corps Apaches and RAF Chinooks, as well as RN Merlin HC.4 and Wildcat helicopters, as required. Under such circumstances, the Queen Elizabeth would also likely carry at least one F-35B squadron of 12 aircraft to provide air defence and support to the helicopter assault activities. This ability to provide such a variety of aircraft packages clearly adds enormously to the range of tasks the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers will be able to fulfil. It will enable them to play a vital role in peacekeeping, humanitarian and disaster relief operations

The crew of HMS Queen Elizabeth could play three football matches simultaneously on the vast flight deck. The class has two islands: the forward one for navigation and ship operations, and the aft island for air operations.

anywhere in the world, in addition to amphibious warfare and other military operations. A boost for this diverse capability came in early 2017 when the Ministry of Defence awarded a £269 million contract to Lockheed Martin UK to develop, manufacture, and provide spares for 10 CROWSNEST maritime surveillance suites that can be fitted into any Merlin HM.2 helicopter. This new CROWSNEST system includes a development of the Thales Searchwater radar that equips the highly successful RN Sea King Mk7 helicopters that currently deliver the navy’s airborne surveillance and control role.


Flight deck Two large lifts from the hangars to the flight deck provide greatly improved manoeuvring space. Each lift can move two Lightning-sized aircraft from the hangar to the flight deck in only 60 seconds, and are

powerful enough to lift the entire ship’s crew. The Queen Elizabeth’s enormous flight deck covers over four acres, permitting re-arming and refuelling to be accomplished much faster than in earlier-generation carriers. This enables a much higher sortie generation rate – 110 per flying day – than ever possible with smaller carriers. The deck has been designed with optimal flexibility firmly in mind, and can be marked out for the operation of 10 medium-sized helicopters at once, permitting a singlegroup lift of up to 250 troops – the equivalent of a company. Another highly innovative feature is that, unlike most modern large carriers, she has

HMS Queen Elizabeth


Image copyright Aircraft Carrier Alliance

Welcome to the fleet

Lloyd’s Register would like to welcome HMS Queen Elizabeth to the Royal Navy fleet and Portsmouth Naval Base. We are proud to have worked with the UK’s Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) to design, approve, and class these new aircraft carriers. Through our team of multi-disciplined specialists, we provide in-depth support for military vessels by providing a range of services tailored to meet their needs. A holistic approach is taken for each project, whether it is at the concept stage, delivery during service or disposal and our support can be accessed anywhere in the world through our worldwide network of offices. With our advisors on your team, you have a solution for every challenge.

Lloyd’s Register and variants of it are trading names of Lloyd’s Register Group Limited, its subsidiaries and affiliates. Copyright © Lloyd’s Register Group Limited 2016. A member of the Lloyd’s Register group.

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Wärtsilä connects the dots Finding what you really need is only possible when you have the best marine offering on earth to choose from. Wärtsilä is the market leader in improving efficiency, electrical and automation solutions for naval vessels of all types. The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers are the largest all electric naval vessels in the world and Wärtsilä will provide the backbone of the on-board power generation including the diesel generating power (40MW out of a total of 100MW) = 2 x 16V38 DG Sets (11,000 kW/each), 2 x 12V38 DG sets (9,000kW/each) and 1 x 12V200 emergency genset (2MW).



Left: The two huge propellers weigh a combined 66 tonnes. Above: Wärtsilä generators can generate sufficient electrical power to drive the ship at cruise speeds, with the MT30 turbines employed when higher speeds are required.

not been fitted with catapults and arrestor wires and is instead designed to operate V/STOL (vertical/ short take-off and landing) aircraft such as the F-35B. Moreover, F-35Bs will be able to land in what is known as a shipborne rolling vertical landing (SRVL) procedure. The SRVL technique is presently under development for use with the F-35B when it enters service with the Royal Navy before the end of the decade. It permits what appear to be conventional horizontal rather than vertical descents onto the deck by combining vertical thrust from the jet engine and lift from the wings. This ingenious development will maximise the fuel supply and payload an aircraft can return with and will avoid any need to dump expensive weaponry into the sea as would be the case in a standard hover-type landing. There are other benefits to this innovative technique. For example, the wear and tear on the F-35B lift fans is decreased, as is the amount of damage done to the flight deck during a vertical landing where the hot jet exhaust is pointed directly onto the flight deck. Another major design innovation in the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers is the twin flight deck islands. Instead of a single-island superstructure containing both the ship’s navigation bridge and flying control (FLYCO) centres, these operations have been divided between two structures, with the forward island for navigation and other on-board operations, and with the aft island reserved for aerial operations.

Not only does this increase total flight deck area, the aft FLYCO island will also be optimally positioned to monitor aircraft approaches and deck landings. Having two islands also means airflow over the flight deck is more stable, boosting operational safety. Rolls-Royce engines In terms of propulsion, the Royal Navy has eschewed nuclear-powered engines in favour of a revolutionary integrated system, which will include the most powerful marine gas turbine system ever built. Two 48,000hp Rolls-Royce Marine MT30 gas turbine alternators provide more than 70MW of power, coupled with two 15,000hp and two 12,000hp Wärtsilä 38 marine diesel generators, providing an additional 40MW – enough combined energy to power a medium-sized town. The Wärtsilä generators generate sufficient electrical power to drive the ship at cruise speeds, with the MT30 turbines employed when higher speeds are required. Should they require replacing, the engines can be easily removed from the vessel, even on deployment, eliminating the need for extensive maintenance. Lastly, the Queen Elizabeth has two bronze propellers, each 3.1 metres high, 6.7 metres in diameter, and weighing 33 tonnes. Together, they can output some 80MW of power – enough to run 1,000 family cars or 50 high-speed trains. n

HMS Queen Elizabeth


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Key facts about the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers The Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) aircraft carriers will be the largest surface warships ever constructed for the Royal Navy. The ships will be 65,000 tonnes at full displacement • Length: 280 metres • Width: 70 metres QEC carriers are nearly as wide as the USS Nimitz-class supercarrier, and nearly as long as Canary Wharf.

Range: 8,000 to 10,000 nautical miles.

The ships measure 56 metres from keel to masthead, which is four metres taller than Niagara Falls!

Each ship’s two propellers weigh 33 tonnes each – nearly two and a half times as heavy as a double decker bus and one and a half times as high.

Each of the two huge aircraft lifts can move two F-35B aircraft from the hangar to the flight deck in 60 seconds. They’re so powerful that together they could lift the entire ship’s crew.

Aircraft: 12 F-35B Lightning aircraft will be routinely embarked for operations, with the capacity to deploy a Tailored Air Group of up to 40 aircraft: The aircraft the ship will operate include the F-35B Lightning, Merlin CROWSNEST, Merlin HM.2 ASW, Merlin Mk4 troop lift, Wildcat, Apache and/or Chinook helicopters.

Complement: 714 people (up to 1,600 with embarked air group). Weapons: Designed to receive the latest generation of the Phalanx close-in weapon system for defence of the vessel. Each ship is also designed to receive 30mm guns and mini-guns located to counter asymmetric threats. Power: 2 x Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbines and 4 x diesel generator sets giving a total installed power of 110MW.

The distribution network on board will generate enough energy to power 300,000 kettles or 5,500 family homes (a town the size of Swindon).

110MW power station on board each ship – that’s enough to provide all of Portsea Island with power.

1.5 million metres2 of paintwork, which is 370 acres or slightly more than the acreage of Hyde Park.

The anchors are 3.1 metres high, each weighing 13 tonnes – almost as much as a double decker bus.

The water treatment plant on board will produce over 500 tonnes of fresh water daily.

Room for 250 Royal Marines.

Forward Island facts The navigation bridge is positioned on Four Deck. It has deck-to-deckhead windows, which are up to 2 metres tall, ensuring a level of visibility far beyond previous aircraft carriers. There are 37 windows, which are over 40mm thick and weigh 8 tonnes in total, enabling them to withstand a significant impact. The observation bridge is positioned one deck below. The fog horn is installed on Six Deck. At 146 decibels, it is louder than a rock concert and can be heard over 2 miles away. This means that if HMS Queen Elizabeth sounded her fog horn from her jetty in HM Naval Base Portsmouth, Pompey supporters in Fratton Park would be able to hear it.

The Aircraft Visual Landing Aid is located toward the rear of the forward island to assist aircraft locating the runway.

The long-range radar is installed at the very top of the forward island. It is the size of a large mobile home and able to track 1,000 targets up to 400km away. Alongside this will sit the satellite communication antenna.

The navigation radars are located one deck farther down, directly above the navigation bridge.

The three engine exhausts are up to 2.6 metres in diameter and are located at the top of the forward Island to expel exhaust from the diesel generator and gas turbines at the carrier’s highest point.

AT THE HELM Commodore Jerry Kyd took command of HMS Queen Elizabeth on May 24, 2016. Mike Bryant talks to the man at the helm of the nation’s future flagship.

She is the ‘totemic ship’ for the Royal Navy (RN) and for the United Kingdom (UK); in fact, both she and the secondin-class, HMS Prince of Wales, will be iconic ships,” says Commodore Jerry Kyd. While named after Queen Elizabeth the First, the ship will also bear the current sovereign’s name, of course, and will represent a strategic flagship not only for the Royal Navy but also for the nation as a whole, Capt Kyd considers proudly. “It will rejuvenate our maritime capability,” and, as he points out, for the UK, “a strong navy is not a discretionary option.” The vessel was launched in July 2014, and fitting out was completed at the end of 2015. The next major milestone was the sea trials, which were held primarily in the North Sea and north of Scotland, although some elements of those trials also took place in the English Channel. The first component of the ship’s air wing, its Merlin helicopters, operated to the vessel from ashore to support those sea trials. Subsequent to that, the first F-35B Lightnings of the carrier’s fixed-wing air element are expected to fly aboard when she sails to the eastern coast of the United

States of America (USA), with September 2018 set as the date for initial fixed-wing exercises in the Atlantic. Finally, initial operational capability for the fixed-wing force is expected to come at the back end of 2020, and the first operational deployment of the ship with an operational air wing embarked is planned for 2021. Operational excellence Careful co-ordination has been, and will continue to be, key to optimising the performance of the Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship, both onboard ship and in their missions as part of wider fleet operations, Kyd explains. And in that spirit of collaboration, from the start, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) formed part of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) responsible for delivering the Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) vessels to the MoD and RN.

Commodore Jerry Kyd became the first captain of HMS Queen Elizabeth on May 24, 2016.


HMS Queen Elizabeth



While no single British dockyard would have had the capability to build the two hugely complex ships by itself, the decision to apportion the work to six different dockyards helped to spread the load, the money invested and the jobs created (about 10,000 people have been directly employed in the building of the two ships). “That’s been very good news all round,” Kyd remarks. So too has been the conscious decision made by the RN, as well as by the MoD, to be so involved in the vessels’ design and development from the start. “The Royal Navy jumped in at a much earlier stage than for previous classes of new vessels,” thus allowing for collaboration on all elements of the ships’ development, he observes. One of the key results of that collaboration has been the design of the two vessels such that crew sizes can be kept to an optimised minimum, thereby keeping down the ships’ through-life costs. Not only will state-ofthe-art technologies mean that the Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales can provide the fleet with the highest possible levels of carrier capability, but digital and robotic technologies can also take the strain from what only very recently formed the workload of hard-pressed sailors. Thus, for example, Kyd points to the robotic technology that will automate the processes of moving bombs and missiles from magazines deep within the ships to aircraft awaiting ordnance for their next missions. He compares the ships’ capability in this sense to that of a modern Amazon warehouse, the complex logistic system automating the movement of items as programmed by crew members. Another example of the ships’ state-of-the art technologies lies in their future-proof, plug-and-play fibre-optic architecture that digitally networks all aspects of the ships and their operations, he explains.

Sea trials took place in the North Sea and English Channel during 2017.

Competence and confidence Such technologies all add to capability, while the intensive training the ships’ crew and future air wing pilots are already undertaking adds both to that competence as well as to confidence, the twin strands that go to make up an efficient, well-run ship, Kyd notes. The fact that the crew joined the Queen Elizabeth so early in its life will help greatly

HMS Queen Elizabeth


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in this regard, as will the ongoing training that will continue right up to the first operational deployment and then beyond. HMS Queen Elizabeth’s crew’s average age is no more than 25 or 26, Kyd reports, and perhaps their relative youth gives them that high degree of familiarity with modern technologies that sailors of the past might not have enjoyed. In fact, the crew is taking to the new systems that characterise the state-of-the-art QEC like ducks to water, he says, even though the naval service is now what he describes as a much subtler environment than it ever previously was, and calls for a whole new range of skills. Much of the training of the crew who will deal directly with air operations has involved postings to the US Navy and close liaison with the RN’s NATO ally. In particular, the F-35B Lightning pilots are training in the US in preparation for their carrier-based role. The regular ship’s complement will be around 700, although with a full air wing and perhaps Royal Marines or US Marines also embarked there might be as many as 1,600 or so people on board at any one time. It will be a “small city at sea,” Kyd remarks, and close co-ordination on board and effective leadership will be vital. But, as he points out, “We understand carrier operations,” and effectively managing complex ships and operations at sea is – for the RN – a “tried and tested pathway.”

Royal Air Force (RAF) Squadron Leader Hugh Nichols prepares his F-35B Lightning for take off from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina. Vital training for UK F-35B pilots has been taking place in the US.

HMNB Portsmouth It will be a proud day for all involved when HMS Queen Elizabeth sails into Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Portsmouth for the first time, Kyd enthuses. It has been the home of the Royal Navy for centuries and that much will be apparent just from the view from the ship’s flight deck when she berths in what will be her permanent base. Next to her will be the Mary Rose, then HMS Victory and beyond her will be HMS Warrior, representing centuries of history and RN tradition. “Being based at HMNB Portsmouth will further cement the longevity and connection the Royal Navy has to this great city,” Kyd continues, adding: “It’s going to be very special to bring her into Portsmouth. It will be very fitting, and both carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales, will form part of the landscape there for decades to come.” n

HMS Queen Elizabeth



MS Queen Elizabeth’s first Merlin HM.2 rotary- and F-35B fixed-wing combat aircraft are due to embark for first-ofclass flying trials next year, on schedule, in readiness for the carrier’s maiden operational Carrier Strike deployment in 2021. Ahead of this seminal event – the Merlins will commence initial flying trials in the first quarter of 2018, and the F-35Bs in the third – a whirl of activity is underway on land and sea, some of it highly visible, much of it less so, to ensure the smoothest of possible entries into service. Both flight deck training and air management planning in support of the rotary- and fixed-wing embarkations are progressing well, according to Commander (Cdr) Mark Deller RN, Commander (Air) of HMS Queen Elizabeth, who is responsible for delivering the platform’s aviation “output.” The Air Management Organisation, Cdr Deller explains, comprises three functional pillars: “Combat Plans – planning future aviation activity; Combat Operations – delivering the ‘here and now’ current operations integrated with the ship’s other activities; and then Flight Operations, which is essentially execution of the plan.” This latter pillar comprises air traffic management, the flight deck team, and FLYCO (Flying Control), which provides the command and control to manage the airborne assets, while providing the essential link to the bridge and operations room. The centrepiece of this activity is the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning. The United Kingdom’s (UK’s) 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) confirmed plans by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to buy 138 F-35Bs, the short


HMS Queen Elizabeth

take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the aircraft. This is likely, when the procurement is complete, to comprise a four-squadron Joint Lightning Force. 17(R), the UK’s Joint RN/RAF Test and Evaluation Squadron, was formed in 2013 specifically to bring the Lightning into UK service, and received its first aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base in California the following year. 17(R) Squadron will carry out the first-of-class trials from HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is the only bespoke purpose-built F-35 carrier in the world. The first operational UK unit, the RAF’s 617 Squadron, meanwhile, will transition from the USA, where training on the aircraft is currently underway, to RAF Marham – the main operating base for the aircraft – in mid-2018. In December 2016, UK Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, confirmed previously divulged plans for the US Marine Corps (USMC), the first F-35B operator to achieve initial operating capability (IOC), to embark some of its aircraft alongside UK F-35Bs on HMS Queen Elizabeth’s maiden operational deployment. The key milestone for this carrier deployment will be the delivery of IOC (Maritime) in 2020, after the jets have achieved their IOC (Land) during 2019. The joint experience and exposure alongside the USMC is proving vital in helping the UK de-risk, as far as possible, the Lightning’s entry into service, as well as ensuring that Queen Elizabeth deploys in 2021 with everything in place for the jets, thereby providing full integrity for the mission. The F-35B is “a huge and marked stepchange in combat capability and will deliver so much more than what we could achieve with the Joint Harrier Force,” Deller says.


Apaches, Chinooks, Lightnings, Merlins and Wildcats will all operate from HMS Queen Elizabeth. Nick Cook talks to Commander Mark Deller to reveal how this complex air tapestry will be woven together.

Plans are for Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers to embark 24 F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) strike fighters, as well as several types of helicopters.

HMS Queen Elizabeth


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Chinook and Apache helicopters operating aboard HMS Ocean. Along with her standard complement of Merlin and Wildcat helicopters, Queen Elizabeth will sometimes embark Chinook and Apache helicopters on operations.


Carrier-Enabled Power Projection The original designed ambition was for the ship to operate a fixed-wing “heavy profile,” embarking 36 F-35Bs with four supporting rotary-wing Merlin CROWSNEST platforms providing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) outputs. “Quite naturally, what has happened since the project has passed through the key procurement milestones is that defence policy has sought to achieve more value for our money from these high-value commodities,” Deller explains. “Consequently, we’re now running to a modified strategic policy called ‘Carrier-Enabled Power Projection (CEPP).’ Essentially we’re squeezing more capability out of the ships than was originally designed.” This translates into an embarked capability of 24 F-35Bs, nine Merlin HM.2 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and five CROWSNEST ISR platforms, the latter also based on the Merlin aircraft. There will also be on-board provision for RAF Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, Wildcat multirole helicopters and British Army Apache Longbow attack helicopters – all in all, a hugely complex certification and integration task, with almost all aspects of the programmed trials having to be very carefully de-conflicted. No one is underestimating the job of properly integrating the two non-maritime rotary-wing types – Chinook and Apache – both will now need to conduct very detailed and evidenced assessments

before they can be fully cleared to operate on board without presenting significant risk to the other embarked users. The task this year, Deller says, is to get the ship “off the wall and out to sea” so that she can carry out her trials on schedule. This will permit evaluation of critical factors such as the deck motion in heavy sea states and the platform’s “air flow air pattern” profiles around the deck, which, in turn, will yield essential data to de-risk the flying trials that will begin when the Merlin Test Team embarks at the beginning of 2018. “Once we’ve established a full (safe) rotary-wing operating capability, we’ll head off to America, embark the

HMS Queen Elizabeth


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We congratulate the Officers and Crew of HMS Queen Elizabeth on her first entry into her home port. At over 280 meters long and 65,000 tonnes in weight, the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers will be an inspiring sight. Ensuring these vessels efficiently reach their operating speed will be a formidable task, but one that Rolls-Royce is confidently taking on. We are also providing other vital equipment including the LV electrical systems, propellers and shaftline, steering gear and stabilisers. When the Royal Navy requires superlative support, Rolls-Royce is a powerful ally.

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Five Merlin CROWSNEST helicopters will deliver intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) duties.

fixed-wing trials team for their initial activity and really bring the deck to life,” Deller confirms. “It is a really important moment in the delivery of this capability.” The fixed-wing trials will comprise a two-part series of initial flight deck activity ahead of a further third trial in 2019 that will focus on delivery of the F-35B “operational outputs” (high sortie-generation rates, weapon loading, and other advanced deck activities). Mindful that this will be a joint (RN/RAF) force, “this capability will generate a most potent air combat effect over land and sea,” Deller says. One major change from the legacy Harrier operations will be the need to carefully manage the F-35B’s “aerothermal” signature: the impact of higher jet efflux outwash, very high deck temperatures, and increased noise levels are all significant

hazards to the personnel operating on the deck and, indeed, below them. Considerable attention will be focused during the trials on ensuring that there are no untoward physical effects from the new aerothermal hazards on ship’s company personnel – both on the deck and on other, adjacent air platforms. “As ever, safety is paramount,” Deller points out. “We have spent considerable time and effort to better understand the new risks we will be managing on deck – including the clever modification to an existing flight deck vehicle we currently have in service, now providing a much more robust crash fire rescue capability. This will now allow fire crews to contain any incident on deck far faster than we’ve ever achieved before at sea – which means the fire crews can start rescuing the aircrew much sooner, which is a major win.” n

HMS Queen Elizabeth


The UK’s F-35B Lightning jets will be fitted with an initial capability to launch Paveway IV air-to-ground precision guided munitions and the ASRAAM and AIM-120 air-to-air missiles. Here an F-35B carries two ASRAAM missiles on underwing pylons during flight testing in America.


arrier Strike combines the strengths of maritime and air power to provide a core, agile, and expeditionary capability. In physical terms, this translates to the delivery of offensive air power by the embarked Carrier Air Group, which can comprise F-35B Lightning aircraft and attack, surveillance and support helicopters operating from the flight deck of the Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) carriers. It should be remembered at the outset that, as Queen Elizabeth is a well-found aviation operating base, she is also a seaborne armaments depot. Given the ambitious sortie generation rates set at the start of the programme, significant work was undertaken during QEC design and development to identify a means to automate the transfer of air


HMS Queen Elizabeth

weapons and parts from deep magazines up to weapon preparation areas, the hangar deck, and the flight deck. This need to deliver large volumes of ordnance at the required tempo, coupled with the requirement to bear down on through-life costs and comply with stringent safety standards, has resulted in


Richard Scott reviews the range of weapons systems that HMS Queen Elizabeth carries to arm the aircraft and ship’s defenders.

the adoption of a novel Highly Mechanised Weapon Handling System (HMWHS). Developed by Babcock, the technology and techniques underpinning the HMWHS are founded upon the application of automated, all-electric commercial warehousing processes, albeit adapted for safe transport and munitions stowage in a warship environment. Importantly, it is estimated to yield a 65 percent reduction in manpower required for the movement, securing, and inventory management process. Air weapons


The F-35 has been designed from the outset to perform a wide range of missions, exploiting its very low observable characteristics to penetrate integrated air defence systems. In high threat – “first day of the war” – environments, weapons are carried internally to minimise radar cross section; in more permissive environments, the F-35 can carry additional weapons on external hardpoints, as well as in its internal weapon bays. A large number of US weapons are being integrated with the F-35 as part of the Joint Strike Fighter System Development and Demonstration (SDD) programme. As the sole Level 1 collaborative partner for the SDD phase, the UK has additionally negotiated the integration of the Raytheon Paveway IV precision-guided bomb and MBDA Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM). Paveway IV and ASRAAM, together with the Raytheon AIM-120C5 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), constitute the UK’s “threshold” weapons fit as part of the initial Block 3F aircraft release standard. This fit will be available to the aircraft at Initial Operating Capability (Maritime) in late 2020. Equipped with the latest Inertial Navigation and Global Positioning System technology and a 500lb warhead, Paveway IV is an advanced and highly accurate all-weather precision-guided bomb, effective against a wide range of targets. The weapon is cockpit-programmable and allows the pilot to select weapon impact angle, attack direction, and fuzing mode to detonate in airburst, impact or post-impact delay modes. The warhead is also designed to meet the latest requirements of NATO Insensitive Munition (IM) safety policy.

Paveway IV can be reprogrammed with target data by the aircrew while airborne by using data from on-board sensors or from Forward Air Controllers on the ground; Paveway IV also retains the legacy laser guidance capability of its predecessors. MBDA’s ASRAAM is an advanced imaging infrared (IIR)-guided air-to-air missile predominantly intended for within-visual-range engagements. In a typical engagement, the ASRAAM is slaved to the target either visually or by the launch aircraft’s on-board sensors. Following release, the missile accelerates to speeds in excess of Mach 3 whilst being guided to the target using its IIR seeker. Detonation of the high-explosive fragmentation warhead is achieved by either a laser proximity fuse or an impact fuse. In addition to its ability to image targets, the seeker also allows the missile to be fired at very high off-boresight angles, in either lock-before or lockafter-launch modes. To increase its speed and its operating range, ASRAAM adopts a low-drag design – only tail fins are provided for control purposes – and a highly energetic dual-burn, high-impulse solid rocket motor. Compared to other similar missiles, this

The BAE Systems Sting Ray Mod 1 is one of the world’s most advanced lightweight torpedoes and is carried on board Royal Navy Merlin ASW helicopters.

HMS Queen Elizabeth


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motor improves both the missile’s instantaneous acceleration and its maximum cruise velocity. Designed to engage targets at beyond visual range (BVR), the AIM-120C5 AMRAAM incorporates an active radar with an inertial reference unit and a datalink. In a typical BVR engagement, AMRAAM is launched at range, being initially guided by its own inertial navigation system while receiving command-guidance updates from the launch aircraft via datalink. In the terminal phase, the missile’s own monopulse radar seeker is activated to detect the target and home to a lethal radius. The F-35B can accommodate one Paveway IV precision-guided bomb and one AMRAAM air-to-air missile in each of its two internal weapon bays. When external hardpoints are utilised, the maximum weapon payload increases to up to six Paveway IV munitions, two AIM-120C5 AMRAAM missiles, and two rail-launched ASRAAMs. Additional anti-submarine air weapons will be carried on Queen Elizabeth to meet the needs of embarked Merlin helicopters. These comprise the BAE Systems Sting Ray Mod 1 lightweight torpedo and the Mk11 Mod 3 depth charge. Developed from the earlier Mod 0 torpedo, Sting Ray Mod 1 features a completely new acoustic homing system, an IM (insensitive munitions) warhead, a new tactical/navigation system and a new sea water battery system. The Mk11 Mod 3 depth charge is a tried and trusted quick-reaction weapon that provides an excellent shallow water capability against submarines on the surface or at periscope depth. It is also useful against possible submarine contacts (where it may provoke a reaction and thus an opportunity to detect and reclassify).

The Phalanx fires up to 4,200 armour piercing rounds per minute and is able to search out targets by itself.


Ship weapons Operating at the heart of a Carrier Strike Group construct, the QEC carriers will operate under the wide umbrella of anti-air warfare (AAW) protection provided by the Type 45 destroyer and its Sea Viper guided weapon system. However, given the need to provide an additional inner layer of protection against residual AAW threats, Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales will both be fitted with three Raytheon Phalanx Block 1B close-in weapon systems. Phalanx is an all-weather, day-and-night, fully automatic, self-contained weapon system using a 20mm Gatling gun capable of firing armour-piercing rounds at a rate of up to 4,200 rounds per minute. The system has its own radar to perform search, detection, threat evaluation, tracking, engagement, and kill assessment; the Block 1B variant adds a forward-looking infrared sensor to confer a capability against surface craft and slow-speed air threats. A second line of close-in defence, very much focused on defence against surface threats, is provided by four MSI-Defence Systems 30mm Automated Small Calibre Gun (ASCG) systems. The ASCG is an autonomous mount with off-mount electro-optical sight and a 30mm

ATK Mk44 Bushmaster gun. The system uses the latest PELE (penetrator with enhanced lateral effect) ammunition, which combines excellent penetration characteristics with enhanced fragmentation performance. Finally, Queen Elizabeth will be equipped with a number of crew-served small calibre weapon stations using either the Mk44 Minigun or M2HB heavy machine gun. These short-range weapons will contribute to force protection in harbour and at sea, particularly in waters closer to shore. n

HMS Queen Elizabeth



Scotland’s favourite chef, Tony Singh MBE, flips a pancake on board HMS Queen Elizabeth during a hotly contested pancake competition.


n December 2016, the forward galley of the new HMS Queen Elizabeth was fired up for the first time in an operational test run of the on-board galley equipment. The trial run involved creating a selection of meals to feed around 100 people – mainly Royal Navy personnel and construction workers. In January 2017, feeding on board began in earnest, with the forward galley providing three meals a day, seven days a week for some 600 people. Once the aft galley was commissioned, these two main galleys were fully operational, feeding the 714 people that make up the resident


HMS Queen Elizabeth

ship’s company. “When we are fully embarked, the number on board rises to 1,600,” explains Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Duncan Knibbs, the ship’s Galley Chief. “That includes the flight crews: pilots, handlers and everyone that comes to support flying activities.”


Anne Paylor shows how the catering team on board HMS Queen Elizabeth is already making light of heavyweight requirements.


In normal operations, the forward galley is primarily for Junior Rates and can provide food for about 470 people when operating with a minimum ship’s company, rising to about 1,000 when fully embarked. The aft galley is configured with two counters – one for Senior Rates and one for the Wardroom. It caters for about 250 people, rising to about 450 when fully embarked. There is also a Flag Galley to support embarked flag officers and business/corporate functions; and an aircrew bar that provides a 24-hour feeding facility for aircrews when the ship is fully embarked. “This has been designed almost as a fast food outlet because flight crews work different hours to the ship’s company, conducting flying sorties and so on,” Knibbs points out. There is also a hot holding facility in the Bridge Mess for feeding on-duty officers and crew at sea. “This is primarily predicated by the sheer size of the ship,” Knibbs explains. “If they only get half an hour for dinner, it would probably take them all of that time to walk down to the main galleys and back again, let alone eat anything.” The team targets a ship’s endurance in excess of 60 days, limited primarily by the amount of storage space available and the functionality of those store rooms. “We have to evaluate what stores to take to achieve what is called our ship’s endurance. This, essentially, is how many man-days of food we need to carry to feed the ship’s company of 714 or 1,600 for in excess of 60 days. We work with three main commodity groups for our endurance calculations: proteins (meats, bone-in meats, pre-prepared meals and fish), carbohydrates (potatoes, pasta and rice) and vegetables (fresh, frozen and tinned),” says Knibbs. He continues, “We have to take into account what products we need

The catering team that prepared the first-ever meal on board HMS Queen Elizabeth relaxes after a successful test cook.

to sustain the ship’s personnel and where we can improve our endurance factors. For example, meat that has no bones in generates less wastage because it is more of a solid product. In a joint of pork with a bone in it, the bone is wastage. So, we use a lot less bone-in meat these days.” Fresh vegetables are used as long as supplies are available, but soft items such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and mushrooms will rarely last beyond 10 days so make up a very small part of the

HMS Queen Elizabeth


Some of the crew get stuck into the chocolate pudding and cake during the galley trials.

endurance prediction. Hard vegetables such as carrots, onions, potatoes and parsnips can be kept and stored for up to three or four weeks. The bulk of the vegetable stores for endurance calculation purposes will be tinned. “However, the bulk (80 percent) of protein endurance will be in the fridges and freezers – primarily freezers – so we need to minimise the amount of space taken up by things like frozen veg.”


£2.90 – per day, per person In terms of budget, the catering crew works to a Daily Messing Rate (DMR), which at the moment stands at about £2.90 per person per day for a hot breakfast, two-course lunch and two-course dinner. “It is quite testing because one of the things you have to get used to is the likes and dislikes of the particular ship’s company,” says Knibbs. “Every ship’s company is different. If it is full of people that like going to the gym, they tend to like lots of pasta, salad and fruit and more healthy stuff. Sometimes, you’ll get a ship’s company that particularly likes roast dinners or curries.” On the galley side, the catering team is made up of 12 Leading Hands and 26 Able Rates, supported by three Petty Officers and Knibbs as the whole ship galley manager, who reports to a Warrant Officer. On the catering side, responsible for ordering and the provision of stores, is a Chief caterer, a Petty Officer caterer, two Leading Hands, and four Able Rates. In addition, there is a Commander Logistics, supported by a Deputy Commander Logistics (DCL), and then Heads of Sections covering Sustenance, Personnel (human resources) and Operations. “The galley team as a whole is made up of 42 personnel and we make up just

a very small percentage of the ship’s company,” says Knibbs. In terms of technology, the main advances over galleys in other ships of the fleet are some of the firefighting elements. Most ships have basic fire extinguishers and for about the past decade have been fitted with a wet chemical suppression system fitted over the deep fat fryers, the highest point of fire risk in the galleys. HMS Queen Elizabeth has those fitted, but also features a controlled mist system, based on a quartz fibre bulb in a dry system. As soon as the system is activated, the dry system is flooded with 500 litres of water. When the quartz fibre bulb reaches a specific temperature, it breaks and starts to mist into the particular zonal region to dampen down any fire. HMS Queen Elizabeth also has a fully automated bakery capable of producing up to 1,000 loaves of bread a day, with baguette rolling machines, roll moulding machines and a pastry sheeter, the likes of which have not really been seen before on naval warships, says Knibbs. “But, otherwise, the galleys are relatively similar to most shipborne galleys … but about four or five times bigger!” n

HMS Queen Elizabeth



LIGHTNING A mixture of stealth and sensor fusion makes the F-35B an awesome multirole combat aircraft capable of strike, air-defence, and information-gathering missions. Chris Pocock highlights the aircraft’s potency and explains when it will enter service on board HMS Queen Elizabeth.


HMS Queen Elizabeth

tightly integrated with those of the US services. In particular, there is a close relationship with the USMC, which already has an operational F-35B squadron. USMC F-35Bs will deploy onto the British carriers at an early stage. No 617 Squadron will fly its aircraft from Beaufort to the UK F-35B base at RAF Marham in mid-2018. Construction of dedicated logistics and training centres, plus a new secondary runway and three hardened concrete pads for STOVL



ccording to Commodore (Cdre) Jerry Kyd, the true military potency of the UK’s new aircraft carriers will only be realised through complete integration. He is the commanding officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of the two 65,000-tonne vessels to enter service. And what he means is that although these ships have been designed specifically to operate the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning combat aircraft, their ability to function properly depends on how they operate with various other assets: helicopters, other ships, non-carrier aircraft, and so on. But the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) version of the F-35 is the centrepiece of the new carrier and the follow-on HMS Prince of Wales. Cdre Kyd does not underestimate the “great challenge” of meeting the late 2020 target date for achieving “Carrier Strike capability.” Before then, various milestones are scheduled. Contractor sea trials will be conducted this spring and summer, before the ship makes its first entry to its future home port of Portsmouth. F-35Bs will not embark on the carrier until the third quarter of 2018. Meanwhile, the first operational British F-35B squadron has formed at US Marine Corps (USMC) Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina, with five jets. Although this has a Royal Air Force (RAF) “number plate” – No 617 – it includes Royal Navy personnel. Three more British F-35Bs are at Edwards AFB in California, where No 17 Squadron works in the test and evaluation role as part of a Joint Operational Test Team (JOTT). In both locations, British activities are

The F-35B Lightning will place the UK at the forefront of fighter technology, giving the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy a true multirole all-weather, day-and-night capability, able to operate from well-established land bases, deployed locations, or the Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) aircraft carriers.

training, is underway there. Initial operating capability (IOC) for No 617 Squadron in a land-based strike role is set for the end of 2018. An Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) for the F-35B will form at Marham in mid-2019. Carrier trials will continue that year, leading to that late 2020 target for No 617 Squadron to be qualified to go to sea. Kyd says that HMS Queen Elizabeth will make its first long-range deployment in 2021. But it won’t be until mid-late 2023 that British F-35Bs achieve full operating capability (FOC). By that time, No 617 will have split into two squadrons. The second will have a Royal Navy number plate – No 809. The UK plans to have 24 aircraft in service with these two squadrons at that stage. Stealth and sensor fusion The F-35B is designed to penetrate airspace that is denied to other combat aircraft by sophisticated air defence systems. But details of the F-35B’s “stealth” capability remain closely guarded. A senior US Air Force (USAF) officer said recently that “in terms of lethality and survivability, the aircraft is absolutely head and shoulders above our legacy fleet of fighters.” But the F-35B is not just about stealth. Sensor fusion is also a key aspect. With no second crew member, and the traditional head-up display replaced by a sophisticated helmet-mounted display and a large single-screen main cockpit display, this combat jet is very different from all that have gone before. It has over 9 million lines of code. Five air system software releases precede the definitive one, which is designated Block 3F. The USAF officer who leads the program said

HMS Queen Elizabeth



recently that 3F was “twice as good” as the 2B and 3i software that is on most of the aircraft already delivered. Feeding the displays are sensors, notably an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar; electro-optical targeting system (EOTS); distributed aperture system (DAS); and a radar warning receiver (RWR). The APG-81 AESA radar is fully multimode, able to search, detect, and track air as well as ground targets. It provides high-resolution mapping previously found only on dedicated reconnaissance radars. The EOTS provides longrange, high-resolution infrared imagery plus laser rangefinding, designation, and spot tracking. The DAS enables the pilot to virtually see through the structure of the aircraft, for superior situational awareness. The RWR provides 360-degree location of emitters. The F-35B achieves true stealth by carrying its weapons internally. In the case of the F-35Bs for the UK, this initially means two AIM-120 long-range air-to-air missiles and two Paveway IV “smart” 500lb bombs. This is a smaller load than that carried by the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A version, because of the space needed to accommodate the STOVL version’s shaft-driven lift fan (SDLF). But all F-35 versions also have seven external weapons stations that may be used on missions into less well-defended airspace. A total of nine weapons are being qualified on the Lightning, and more will likely be integrated in a follow-on contract for Block 4 software and capabilities that has not

Top: The first of the UK’s F-35B Lightning jets flown to the UK lands at RAF Fairford. The Lightning will provide UK defence with a fifth-generation (low-observable, supersonic, enhanced data fusion), multirole, all-weather, day-and-night aircraft. The RAF is the lead service for the operation of the Lightning and, like the Harrier before, the Joint Lightning Force will be manned by both RAF and RN personnel. Above: Current plans are for 24 F-35B aircraft in two squadrons – one Royal Air Force, one Royal Navy – to be embarked aboard the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

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The first British F-35B takes flight in 2012. The Lightning represents a step-change in capability for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.

yet been finalised. The UK’s ASRAAM short-range air-to-air missile will initially be carried externally, but may later also be carried internally. The UK wants to add MBDA’s very-long-range Meteor air-to-air missile and SPEAR mini-cruise attack missile in Block 4.

All this capability has come at a significant price. Early production F-35B aircraft have cost as much as $150 million each. However, various cost-reducing initiatives have brought the unit cost of the F-35B down to $112.8 million in the latest, 10th, block of production aircraft to be ordered. n

HMS Queen Elizabeth



HMS Queen Elizabeth


Royal Air Force Chinooks (background) will operate from the deck of the new Queen Elizabethclass carriers alongside Merlins and Army Air Corps Apaches (foreground), as they are here aboard HMS Illustrious in 2011.

HELICOPTERS The first aircraft to operate from HMS Queen Elizabeth will be helicopters and the trials to enable this are planned to take place in the first quarter of 2018. Richard Scott reports.



hile the raison d’être for the Queen Elizabeth class (QEC) is Carrier Strike – the delivery of offensive air power from the sea – it was recognised from the outset of the programme that rotary-wing aircraft would have a vital force protection role to play as part of the carrier air wing. Furthermore, the broader concept of Carrier Enabled Power Projection promotes the flight deck and aviation support facilities available on Queen Elizabeth and sister ship Prince of Wales as an operating base for rotorcraft from all three services, and indeed allies. This intent was reaffirmed in the Joint Force 2025 vision set out in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). The responsibility for delivering underwater and above-surface force protection to the Carrier Strike Group will be shouldered by the Royal Navy’s (RN) Merlin Helicopter Force, based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall. That force today comprises 30 Merlin HM.2 aircraft, of which 25 are maintained in the forward fleet. Merlin is a true multi-mission helicopter, but it is the aircraft’s anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability that sets it apart. The upgrade to HM.2 standard has included a package of sonics upgrades; further ASW enhancements, including the introduction of multistatic active processing, are in the pipeline. From 2019, the Merlin Force will add airborne surveillance and control (ASaC) to its repertoire. This capability, replacing that currently delivered by the venerable Sea King ASaC Mk7, is being enabled

through the introduction of the CROWSNEST radar and mission system role fit. Lockheed Martin UK was awarded a £269 million contract to deliver the CROWSNEST programme in late 2016. The company will work in partnership with Thales (supplying a development of its Cerberus mission system and Searchwater radar) and Leonardo Helicopters (responsible for the production of 10 CROWSNEST role fit kits, and fixed fittings for all 30 Merlin helicopters). In advance of the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth in the fleet, the Merlin Force is being re-purposed and re-brigaded to focus on carrier air group (CAG) operations in support of maritime task group operations. Current planning assumptions assume a CAG including 14 Merlins, typically a mix of nine for ASW plus five CROWSNEST-configured aircraft for the ASaC mission. Exercise Deep Blue in 2014 signalled the start of the process of building up the Merlin Force to once again undertake high-tempo task group ASW operations. A total of nine aircraft were embarked on board HMS Illustrious for Deep Blue, with one more operating from the Type 23 frigate HMS Westminster. A follow-on Deep Blue exercise was conducted from HMS Ocean in the Mediterranean during July 2016. Whereas the 2014 exercise was all about relearning the arts of sustained ASW operations from a carrier, Deep Blue II was more orientated towards maritime force protection, involving a tailored air group comprising Merlin, Sea King and Wildcat helicopters.

HMS Queen Elizabeth




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A pair of Merlin helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron carry out the first deck landings aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth. Merlin HM.2 variants will form the core of the ship’s rotary-wing air assets.

Imbuing the CAG mindset will continue as the Merlin Force builds towards the introduction to service of Queen Elizabeth. In parallel, plans to re-brigade the Merlin Force have been adjusted to reflect the decision to maintain one QEC carrier at high readiness at all times and so deliver a continuous carrier capability. 824 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) will retain its operation conversion unit status, while 814 NAS, 820 NAS and 849 NAS (the latter to be the ASaC-specialist CROWSNEST squadron) will be the three carrier-based frontline units.

An outcome of SDSR 2010, the concept of Carrier Enabled Power Projection goes beyond fast jet Carrier Strike to embrace the wider utility of the QEC carriers as mobile joint air operating platforms with the ability to embark a rotary-wing air group of at least 40 aircraft. This reflects the inherent flexibility and adaptability of the two ships to conduct a broad spectrum of tasks, such as humanitarian relief, capacity building and support to amphibious operations. Accordingly, QEC offers the potential to operate in support of air manoeuvres in the littoral (near the coastline). It is for this mission that the Commando Helicopter Force will later this year begin to receive the Merlin HC.4/4A helicopter as the long-term replacement for the now-retired Sea King HC.4. The Merlin HC.4/4A is the ultimate product of the Merlin Life Sustainment Programme (MLSP), under which ex-RAF Merlin HC.3/3A battlefield support helicopters are being re-roled and “ship-optimised” to serve the lift needs of 3 Commando Brigade. MLSP is in fact delivering in two phases: the first stage, now complete, has modified seven existing HC.3/3A aircraft for ship operations, including the fitting of folding tails and rotor heads. Phase 2 aircraft – receiving the HC.4/4A designation – will be fully optimised for ship operations, and cleared for ship operations at 15,600kg maximum all-up weight. This programme, including the conversion of the seven interim Merlins, will bring the legacy HC.3 and HC.3A aircraft up to an almost identical standard, so enabling both aircraft to operate within either of the two front-line squadrons. A key part of the MLSP ship optimisation is the introduction of main rotor head fold motors, the associated fold management unit, and the automatic tail fold. Accordingly, the aircraft mission management

HMS Queen Elizabeth


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computer software will be modified to include the head and tail fold capability. The HC.4/4A aircraft will also be fitted with the same cockpit as the Merlin HM.2. What should not be forgotten is that QEC carriers will be joint operating platforms. In this capacity, the intent is to achieve the appropriate flight deck clearances in order to be able to operate a range of helicopters from the sister services. These will include Royal Air Force Chinook HC.6 heavy-lifters, and Army Air Corps’ Wildcat AH.1 and Apache AH.1 helicopters more usually seen on or over the battlefield. Operating attack helicopters from a carrier deck is not altogether new: The embarkation and operation of Apaches from HMS Ocean in 2011 in support of Operation Ellamy provided the RN with a first opportunity to project a rotary-wing precision strike capability. It was also the first time that Army Air Corps attack helicopters had operated from a maritime platform in an operational setting; in this instance, it was a more flexible and far lower risk alternative to basing the Apaches on land. Ocean also embarked US Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk combat search and rescue helicopters during Ellamy, exemplifying the navy’s ability to conduct combined operations with allied nations. Of course, the use of QEC carriers in an air manoeuvre/amphibious support capability will demand appropriate ship/helicopter operating limit clearances for battlefield and support helicopters, stowage plans for the

The helicopter carrier HMS Ocean during Exercise Trident Juncture. She has Wildcat (foreground), Merlin (middle) and Chinook (background) helicopters on her flight deck.

air group, and munition clearances for the embarked military force. It may also result in modifications to flight deck markings: While there are six spots marked on the current QEC deck layout, study work, led by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, has indicated that this could be safely increased to up to 10 spots for Merlin-size medium-lift helicopters (allowing a company-sized air assault in a single group lift). n

HMS Queen Elizabeth


The Royal Navy operates the Insitu ScanEagle UAV under a four-year UOR contract with Boeing.


or the past four years, the Royal Navy’s (RN’s) 700X Naval Air Squadron, formed in 2014 as a centre of excellence for maritime unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations, has been flying the ScanEagle UAV in every theatre of operations where it has been deployed to provide much needed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). The end of 2017, however, will see the expiration of the Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) contract the RN signed with Boeing to operate the platform. Based


HMS Queen Elizabeth

on the lessons learnt in the past four years, and in view of the future deployment of the new HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, the RN is now exploring different options to continue operating UAVs from its ships.


Dr Alix Valenti highlights the added value unmanned aerial vehicles can bring to the maritime domain.

Four years of scanning the skies

Having operated the ScanEagle for so long, there is widespread recognition within the RN that UAVs are key capabilities for the missions it carries out around the world. This interest was reinforced during the Unmanned Warrior 16 (UW16) exercise the UK hosted in October 2016 off the West Coast of Scotland. Run by the RN with the involvement of other services, The Royal Navy learned some interesting lessons about the future of maritime UAV operations at the Unmanned Warrior 16 exercise in Scotland.


Since it began operating the ScanEagle from RN ships, the 700X Naval Air Squadron has deployed the UAV from Type 23 frigates in a wide number of missions. On board HM Ships Somerset, Northumberland, and Richmond, the ScanEagle has significantly contributed to maritime security operations designed to deter and disrupt illegal use of the sea, such as piracy and drug smuggling in the Mediterranean Sea as well as in the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean. During its deployment with HMS Richmond, the RN’s UAV has also contributed to European-led operations in the Mediterranean Sea against people smuggling. It was even operational on board HMS St Albans while she worked alongside the French aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle conducting air strikes into Syria and Iraq. The RN is unequivocal regarding the ScanEagle’s added value to its operations worldwide. With an endurance of 24 hours, it vastly extended the area these ships could keep under surveillance by relaying key information back to the UAV operator in real time. Moreover, the electro-optical and infrared sensors housed in the nose section of the UAV allow for quality, reliable, and real-time ISR during nighttime as well. The RN, however, has lamented one drawback in the ScanEagle: the lack of search and find capabilities. While the UAV could accommodate a wide range of sensors, such as biological and chemical weapons sensors, laser designators, and a magnetometer, used to identify and locate magnetic anomalies, it did not have a target-finding capability.

Unmanned Warrior

HMS Queen Elizabeth


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3D printing to scan the skies


Southampton University has developed the SULSA 3D-printed UAV, which the RN has trialled off two of its ships.

approximately 40 participants from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), industry, and academia, as well as the US Navy (USN), were invited to, as the RN put it, “safely experiment and demonstrate the potential offered by maritime autonomous systems within the Joint Warrior operational environment.” During the event, some 50 unmanned/autonomous UAVs, UUVs (unmanned underwater vehicles) and USVs (unmanned surface vehicles) were showcased in the context of a number of challenging scenarios. The high level of participation in UW16 provided an excellent opportunity to review available options. Amongst those, Insitu presented the latest version of the ScanEagle equipped with a Wide Area Motion Imagery (WAMI) automated detection system for the maritime domain. The Visual Detection and Ranging (ViDAR), developed by Insitu in collaboration with Australian-based Sentient Vision Systems, can detect objects through changing environmental conditions, such as rain, wind, and fog. Also present at UW16 was Thales, who showcased the Watchkeeper UAV, presently in service with the British Army, with a new maritime mode on its I-Master radar that allows the UAV to detect surface targets.

Although absent from the UW16 exercise, 3D (three dimensional) printed UAVs represent another interesting option for the RN’s replacement of the ScanEagle. In fact, the RN has already invited a team from the Computational Engineering and Design Group of the University of Southampton to carry out the maritime flight trials of the world’s first 3D-printed UAV, the Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft (SULSA), on board HM Ships Mersey and Protector. The SULSA is an all-laser sintered, battery-powered 4kg UAV with an on-board GPS enabled autopilot, which can be operated in manual, assisted or autopilot modes. All the structural parts are in 3D printed nylon and snap together without the need for bolts, screws, nuts or tools. The SULSA flew for the first time on land in 2011. Some four years later in 2015, the team, led by professors Andy Keane and Jim Scanlan, began maritime flight trials. When deployed on board a ship, the SULSA is launched from the deck with its own catapult. On completion of its mission it returns and lands on water so that it can be retrieved by one of the ship’s small boats. During the maritime flight trials, the SULSA proved that it was waterproof, and while it has so far only been used with a simple camera, in future versions it may be equipped with a maximum payload of approximately 350 grams, which would enable it to carry high definition video radio downlinks to feed live data to the operator. At around £5,000 a unit (excluding payloads) the SULSA is, according to Keane, very competitively priced. He points out that for ships deployed in conflict zones where capabilities can easily get destroyed by adversary forces, being able to do ISR with less costly materiel would be a key advantage. The RN is interested in the 3D-printing concept but has not, as yet, made any decisions as per potential procurement options. n

HMS Queen Elizabeth


Ross Tieman highlights the anti-ship missile inventory that will be available to the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers once they enter service.


he capacity of HMS Queen Elizabeth to attack and defend herself against other ships will largely be embodied in two missiles carried by her aircraft. Mounting the weapons on helicopters and fast jets offers all the advantages that make the carrier queen of the seas: the ability to strike at faraway targets that are out of range – or to neutralise them before they are within range – of the parent ship. The capacity to create a vast defensive umbrella over and around a carrier is especially important in an age when a single aircraft or a highspeed launch can cripple or sink a capital ship costing hundreds of times as much. For nearly 40 years, the Royal Navy (RN) has relied upon a tried and tested aircraft/missile combination that proved its worth in the Falklands and the First Gulf War. RN Lynx helicopters equipped with Sea Skua missiles have proven highly successful at sinking or disabling fast attack craft, minesweepers, landing craft, and other vessels. The British-designed Sea Skua is a lightweight, short-range air-to-surface missile that went into full production in 1981. Because it weighs only 150kg, the Leonardo Helicopters AW159 Wildcat helicopter, operated from RN frigates, can carry four of them at once. The missile, with an official range of 15km that is said to be often exceeded, is guided to its target by a homing system. After skimming the sea, it climbs shortly before impact and “acquires” the target, which is “lit up” by the radar of the launching helicopter.


HMS Queen Elizabeth

Wildcat and Sea Venom The missile’s success has won it considerable export sales. The manufacturer, pan-European company MBDA, has sold around 1,000 to seven customers worldwide, including Germany, India, Kuwait, Malaysia, and Turkey. However, Sea Skua will be withdrawn from Royal Navy service later this year, to be replaced by another MBDA missile mounted upon the Wildcat. Queen Elizabeth-class carriers will normally each be equipped with four Wildcat helicopters as well as up to 36 F-35B Lightning jets. The Wildcats will have a range of 520 nautical miles and an endurance of up to 4 hours 30 minutes, enabling them to range far from their mother ship. The helicopters can be equipped with depth charges, torpedoes, or the new Sea Venom missile. The Sea Venom, like the souped-up helicopter, promises to be a considerable advance on its well-proven predecessor. Developed by MBDA to equip the British and French navies, it can also be carried by the Panther and NH90 helicopters of the French navy, as well as on helicopters equipped to launch Sea Skua. Like its predecessor, the new missile is designed to attack vessels ranging from 50 to 500 tonnes in size, and will be able to inflict significant damage to larger ships. Though weighing in at 110kg, much lighter than its predecessor, the new missile will have a range of at least 20km, enabling the launch helicopter to stay beyond the

© MBDA UK LTD / 2014


The Leonardo Helicopters AW159 Wildcat will be fitted with Sea Venom missiles to replace the venerable Sea Skua.

HMS Queen Elizabeth


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new platforms will be able to fire salvoes of missiles to take out multiple targets simultaneously. MBDA believes these highly capable missiles could also be launched from aboard ships or shore batteries if desired.


F-35B and SPEAR 3

reach of most modern air-defence systems. The sea-skimming missile can either engage the target automatically using its inbuilt infrared seeker, or be guided by the launching helicopter, which sees information from the “seeker” via a data link. These features will make the Sea Venom much more capable, says MBDA, in attacking targets on or near the seashore. It is designed to hit coastal targets such as radar stations and missile batteries, as well as ships at anchor or in dock. It should even be possible to select the level of damage inflicted, sinking targets when necessary but merely immobilising them when appropriate. And though the payload of four missiles is unchanged, the

But, for the ability to attack surface targets at much greater range, the Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship, the Prince of Wales, will also be able to call upon missiles carried by their F-35B jets. These are expected to carry a new missile, SPEAR 3, which is being developed by MBDA under a £411 million contract awarded in May 2016. The Select Precision Effects at Range (SPEAR) 3 is expected to be a potent anti-ship missile that will also be effective against buildings and armoured vehicles. It is expected to be a stand-off MBDA is developing the weapon with a range of more SPEAR 3 anti-ship missile for than 100km that will fly at high use on the F-35 Lightning. subsonic speed and be capable of either guiding itself to the target or being guided by an operator via a datalink. The missiles are expected to be small enough for four to fit within the weapons bay of an F-35, and the missile will also be available for the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Typhoon fighter jets. Confidence in the capabilities of the SPEAR 3 is high, because the weapon will be developed using technologies proven on the RAF’s existing Brimstone and Brimstone 2 missiles. The Brimstone 2, which entered service on RAF Tornados in July 2016, will be fitted to Typhoons in 2018, and offers twice the range of its predecessor. These are modern weapons that have been used in the Middle East, Libya, and more recently against ISIS, to great effect. Brimstone was conceived as a fire-and-forget missile for use against massed formations of enemy armour. Germany likes the Brimstone 2 so much that it plans to procure the missile, and the American military is reported to be impressed by its performance. MBDA is tight lipped about the likely capabilities of SPEAR 3, but its potential targets will include ships and swarms of attack craft. What is clear is that HMS Queen Elizabeth and her consort will be well-equipped with airborne anti-ship missiles to both protect them against attack and to ensure a long-range offensive capability. n

HMS Queen Elizabeth


THE INTEGRATED MISSION SYSTEM HMS Queen Elizabeth’s innovative Integrated Mission System delivers information, communications, and real-time operational management tasks to enable the ship to navigate, operate, and fight. Former Editor of Jane’s Navy International, Dr Lee Willett, asks the Aircraft Carrier Alliance’s Peter Jewson how it works.


ne of the primary challenges for HMS Queen Elizabeth and her crew is to manage the information flowing into, around, and from the ship, and to integrate it with its aircraft, platforms in the UK Carrier Strike Group (UKCSG) and other joint and combined force elements. With a ship’s company of around 700 and overall manning of between 1,200 and 1,600 (when including air group and other embarked personnel) spread throughout a large ship, the difficulties in managing this flow are even more acute. With an emphasis on rapid decision-making within a crew that is optimised to deliver the carrier’s mission, there is a high reliance on the effective use and sharing of information via a robust, straightforward and effective networked information infrastructure. At the core of this complicated capability lies the Integrated Mission System (IMS). The three IMS strands The mission system is best described as being the integration of three capabilities. The first area is known as the “real-time systems area.” This covers: command management; management of sensors; and meteorological and navigational systems. Together, the capabilities within this area resemble the combat system on other ships. However, as the carrier’s job is to manage and deploy aircraft rather than deliver specific offensive capability (the aircraft, rather than the carrier, deliver this), the system is


HMS Queen Elizabeth

not referred to as a combat system, the Aircraft Carrier Alliance’s Queen Elizabeth-class IMS design authority Peter Jewson explains. The real-time systems area has at its core the combat management system, and includes meteorological and navigational systems, radar systems, including for detection and air traffic control, the Identification Friend or Foe and direction-finding systems, the TACAN tactical navigation system that enables aircraft to locate the carrier, visual surveillance systems within the ship and on the flight deck, and small weapons. Second, the mission system incorporates the ship’s communication systems. “This is every form of communication on and offboard,” Jewson points out. Internal communications cover everything from desk phones to intercoms to wireless communications. External communications cover systems and assets sending information off the ship; this embraces data, video, and voice – everything from HF upwards to satellite frequencies. Equipment here includes broadcast and alarm systems, tactical communications, and other systems required to connect the command team as well as the wireless communications that allow freedom of movement for the crew on board. The third element is the ship’s information systems. As well as individual systems, this third element includes the networked infrastructure that integrates all the sensors, communications, and other elements, and also brings together the


mission planning and data exploitation applications that enable the carrier to conduct its missions. The information systems are connected by a fibre-optic network based upon commercial technologies. This network includes the Defence Information Infrastructure (DII), which enables the crew to interact on anything from personnel and medical records through to logistics and stores. There is also an air group management application (AGMA), which manages aircraft movement within and between the hangar and flight deck spaces and integrates data such as aircraft serviceability, pilot availability, and weapons status. The information systems also include planning tools, decision aids, imagery exploitation systems, and specialist applications that enable the embarked aircraft to conduct their missions. In terms of meeting these missions, the IMS, “is ultimately there to allow the crew to achieve a mission purpose with an optimum number of people, and brings together the information to achieve the desired need,” explains Jewson. This covers receiving and disseminating the mission requirement, which arrives in the form of the air tasking order (ATO), through to the application of the required aircraft, weapons, and systems. It also covers the launch and recovery of aircraft as well as the capture, dissemination, and analysis of data retrieved from those aircraft. It then helps with the decision-making based on that retrieved data. Finally, all this must happen alongside the

Top: Members of the ship’s company and the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) workforce monitor systems in the Ship’s Control Centre (SCC) during HMS Queen Elizabeth’s basin trial. The Integrated Mission System (IMS) integrates the ship’s “real-time systems,” including radars and other sensors, all the ship’s communications, and the ship’s information systems. Above: A display from the ARTISAN 3D radar aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth. The real-time systems area of the IMS has at its core the combat management system, including meteorological and navigational systems and the ship’s radar systems, both for detection and air traffic control.

HMS Queen Elizabeth



safe navigation of the ship. “All of those threads are supported by mission system capabilities,” Jewson affirms. By way of example, the ATO is received through the communications system and is presented via the information system to the planners. The planners then use IMS decision tools to understand what is required to achieve the ATO. These tools (including AGMA) enable the planners to work out how many aircraft will be required, the timing and scheduling of sorties and whether the required weapons are available. They also assist with pilot and other manning preparation, aircraft serviceability as well as hangar and flight deck aircraft movements. The process also involves navigating the ship into the right area to deliver the sorties. Once in the air, the aircraft are picked up by the tactical team, tracked by radar and told where to go to conduct their mission. Throughout the mission, there is continual communication with the aircraft, before they are shepherded back to the carrier’s airspace and recovered on board. With the size of the ship, the optimised crew, and the need to move information rapidly to support timely decision-making, the IMS is designed so that the right people receive the right information at the right time to enable them to effectively support the

Aircraft are directed onto their targets and brought safely home with help from the IMS.

mission at the appropriate level. The mission requirement and the way in which the mission system supports this require a shift in thinking, however. “This ability to pass the information quickly around to all the departments via the network distribution in a form that conveys the information that they need to know … to the departments that then consume and use that information has required quite a lot of a change in conceptual thinking,” Jewson reveals. “As opposed to using voice, pipes, and paper trails (as has been the norm on ships previously), managing your life via an electronic means and doing what it says and contributing to a plan as it is formed does require a slightly different mindset.” Yet this new approach, coupled with the high reliance on information-sharing to enable rapid decision-making, is facilitated by the IMS’ tools and processes to enable the carrier to achieve its mission, “with the minimum number of interactions from the crew,” Jewson concludes. n

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SEEING IS BELIEVING HMS Queen Elizabeth is equipped with two of the world’s most sophisticated radar systems. Alan Dron explains why.

n war, the side that sees the other side first has traditionally had the advantage. With that in mind, HMS Queen Elizabeth will have radars that can detect aircraft 400km away – in other words, the distance from Portsmouth to Kendal, in the Lake District. And, even what is officially classed as the vessel’s “medium-range” surveillance radar will be able to detect aircraft out to 200km. The radar that will give the crew that 400km vision is the S1850M, provided by BAE Systems Integrated Systems Technologies. The S1850M is based on Thales’ SMART-L radar, which already has a pedigree of being installed on some of the world’s most advanced air defence warships. It provides the main search sensor for the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers, as well as the Horizon-class vessels of the French and Italian navies. The S1850M – the large black rectangle that rotates on top of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s forward superstructure island – is the visible face of one of the world’s most sophisticated air defence systems. It can handle up to 1,000 tracks simultaneously and its operators can guide the ship’s own F-35B fighters on to any hostile or unidentified aircraft. It has the capability to detect stealth targets, such as incoming missiles, at 65km, even when they are approaching against a background of ground clutter. It can also be used to provide air traffic control services for civilian aircraft, a potentially vital role if the ships are stationed offshore from a country whose airport infrastructure has been severely damaged by a natural disaster such as an earthquake. As well as its primary air defence function, the S1850M can also act in a surface surveillance role out to the radar horizon. There are few major differences between the SMART-L and the S1850M; the equipment on HMS Queen Elizabeth rotates slightly faster than that on the SMART-L. In the heart of the system, the algorithms of the S1850M differ from those of the SMART-L, but the manufacturers understandably decline to provide details.


HMS Queen Elizabeth

Further improvements to the S1850M’s capabilities may be on the horizon. Currently being considered by the Ministry of Defence is a study that would look at the radar’s abilities to track incoming ballistic missiles and vector interceptor missiles on to them, but if that goes ahead, it would be more likely to be applied to the radars on the Type 45 air-defence destroyers rather than the aircraft carriers. Thales are happy to confirm that, since entering service,



HMS Queen Elizabeth departs on her maiden sea trials. The aircraft carrier hosts the S1850M radar on the fore island and the ARTISAN 3D radar on the aft island, giving her 360-degree visibility out to 400km.

feedback on the performance of the S1850M has been positive, with users particularly commenting on its very high reliability rate, which eases the burden on maintenance crews. To further ease the radar’s maintenance requirements, some of its components are COTS, or “commercial off the shelf” parts that can be easily swapped out, while others will periodically be subject to a technical “refresh” throughout the life of the radar.

The S1850M is designed to have preventative maintenance after five years in service, with some major maintenance at around the 10-year stage in its life. The ARTISAN 3D The most complex aspect of creating a modern warship is integrating all the vessel’s systems, particularly those used for combat. An indication of this comes in the effort to install the new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers’ ARTISAN 3D radar. Preparations to install the radar on the carriers took two-and-a-half years. Part of this time was spent in creating a life-size mock-up of the carrier’s aft island at Cowes, on the Isle of Wight. This was used to hone the radar’s interaction with the on-board combat systems to ensure that, when it was installed “for real,” it would slot smoothly into the network of other systems on the vessel.

HMS Queen Elizabeth


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HMS Queen Elizabeth 2017

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The ARTISAN 3D medium-range radar display. Already proven on board the Royal Navy’s helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, the ARTISAN 3D medium-range radar provides air and surface search as well as air traffic management capability to HMS Queen Elizabeth.

ARTISAN, which stands for Advanced Radar Target Indication Situational Awareness and Navigation, is classed as a medium-range 3D surveillance radar. It replaces the earlier Type 996 surveillance and target indication radar and is formally known as the Type 997. It is installed atop the aft superstructure block and is designed to detect other vessels and aircraft, as well as allowing HMS Queen Elizabeth’s crew to manage aircraft traffic. Much smaller than the S1850M system, ARTISAN 3D nevertheless weighs in at 700kg. It can monitor 800 objects simultaneously

from as close as 200 metres out to 200km and is able to operate in a dense electronic environment – it has been tested to successfully pierce the interference created by 10,000 mobile phone signals. This ability to cut through electronic interference is vital, as jamming is expected to be one of the biggest problems faced by armed forces in a future conflict. “Its world-leading electronic protection measure ensures that even the most complex of jammers will not reduce its effectiveness,” said Les Gregory, director for products and training services at BAE Systems, ARTISAN 3D’s manufacturer. “We have already seen the radar perform excellently on the Type 23 frigates and are proud to be able to bring this advanced technology to the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers, utilising its air traffic management capability for the first time.” The radar has already been retrofitted to 11 of the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates during major refits, as well as to amphibious assault ships Albion and Bulwark and HMS Ocean, a helicopter carrier. In November 2016, it successfully completed three years of sea trials on the frigates, which has allowed the Royal Navy to gain experience of using it and to work through any teething problems. Compared to the earlier Type 996 radar, ARTISAN 3D is designed to provide the Queen Elizabeth class and its crews with improved situational awareness, rapid classification of threats, small-boat detection, resistance to jamming, and the ability to operate in the electronic “clutter” found in coastal areas. ARTISAN 3D has been designed to operate with the latest surfaceto-air missile systems, such as the Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM), specifically the Sea Ceptor weapon system, which will start to appear on Royal Navy warships in the next few years. Like the S1850M, ARTISAN 3D can be used to conduct air traffic control services for both military and civilian aircraft. It is already qualified to carry out air traffic control duties on the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates. n

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DETER AND DEFEND Captain Nick Walker of the Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike and Aviation team explains to Simon Michell how a Carrier Strike Group is able to defend itself on operations.


aval warships are designed from the outset to be able to sail to a problem and deliver a solution, offering a range of responses from armed intervention to diplomatic influence. The ultimate expression of this power projection is the flexible, versatile and globally deployable Carrier Strike Group (CSG). Nothing has the ability to concentrate an adversary’s mind more than the imminent arrival of a flotilla of heavily armed ships with, at its core, an aircraft carrier: a well-found aviation operating base capable of projecting power through its air group consisting of fast jets and attack, surveillance and support helicopters.


HMS Queen Elizabeth

In times of tension or conflict, an adversary may try to counter the potency of the CSG through direct attack. As a result, a CSG has to defend itself against a wide spectrum of threats. Capt Nick Walker, who has flown from and sailed in all three of the UK’s previous Invincibleclass carriers and has held the position of Commander (Air) explains, “There is no primary threat, but a range of dangers depending on where you are operating and what type of opposing force you are likely to encounter.” According to Walker, at least for the time being, the potential for a CSG squaring up to another large fleet on the high seas is remote. That does, however, leave a raft of other dangers to consider. Walker goes on, “Potential adversaries could employ a combination of submarines, surface ships and aircraft against the CSG.” Added to that, depending on how close



Anti-submarine warfare weapon systems and sensors enable Type 23 frigates to defend against torpedo attack.


The Daring-class Type 45 destroyers specialise in protecting maritime task groups from air attack.

you are to an adversary’s coastline, there is also a threat from land-based missile and coastal defence systems as well as small fast attack craft. Most recent attacks on warships have been from a mixture of conventional and asymmetric assaults. The attack on the American guided-missile destroyer USS Cole in 2000 was prosecuted by a small fibreglass boat filled to the brim with explosives. Some 16 years later, another US guided-missile destroyer, USS Mason, launched countermeasures as it was sailing near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait to fend off a putative missile attack. In February 2017, the Saudi Arabian frigate Al Madinah was hit by an unmanned speedboat that exploded on impact. Integrated defence A proven way to counter the gamut of possible threats is to use an integrated, or layered, defence consisting of submarines, frigates, destroyers and their embarked helicopters, together with the carrier air group, supported by land-based aircraft where access permission has been granted by a host nation. These elements operate both defensively and offensively at varying distances to create outer, medium and inner cordons. “Ideally, we will

engage or negate threats at range, and because the threats can be diverse you need different capabilities to counteract them,” explains Walker. For example, Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers can both neutralise threats from surface vessels, but the frigates specialise in anti-submarine warfare and the destroyers in air defence. Submarines can also target a surface vessel, and as Walker points out, “an enemy submarine may best be neutralised by one of our own submarines.” The CSG associated aircraft, based on the carrier and her escorts, also have specialities. The Queen Elizabeth-class carriers’ F-35B fast jets represent the very apex of air-to-air and air-to-surface capability. This fifth-generation aircraft also has a suite of incredibly advanced sensors able to search for potential threats. Merlin HM.2 helicopters have the world’s most modern equipment designed specifically to seek out and destroy submarines. This is true of the Royal Air Force’s recently acquired P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, which can be added as an additional layer if necessary. Wildcat HMA.2 helicopters have anti-surface vessel and ASW weaponry and are particularly adept at chasing down the sort of fast attack craft that attacked USS Mason and the Royal Saudi Arabian Navy frigate.

HMS Queen Elizabeth


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Wildcat helicopters are able to chase down fast attack craft and neutralise them before they can reach their target.

The innermost layer consists of smaller calibre armaments, and in the case of HMS Queen Elizabeth include the Phalanx close-in weapon system, Miniguns, and general purpose machine guns (GPMGs). Phalanx, an automatically controlled anti-missile cannon, can also down a fast jet if it manages to get through the outer cordons. The Miniguns and GPMGs are shorter-range guns invaluable for keeping smaller boats and fast attack craft at bay. Cyber defence As well as physical threats, any CSG also has to factor in cyber warfare. This is a relatively new discipline and not as well understood as more traditional methods of attack.

As Walker points out, “The totality of a concerted cyberattack against a maritime task group is challenging to quantify.” However, military systems have an advantage over commercial or civilian systems as they are designed to be able to sustain damage through redundancy and continue to operate in contested cyber environments through agility and the application of advanced technology. If a part of a system or network is neutralised there is an alternative way of completing the task at hand. “We design and build in as much redundancy as possible. For example, we build into communication and control systems the ability to be agile – hopefully more agile than the cyber attacker,” says Walker. Equally, the CSG may employ its own technology to disrupt enemy capabilities, rendering them ineffective. Intelligence-led defence The most ubiquitous element in the defence network is the Royal Navy’s intelligence-led threat analysis. “The preparation for every deployment – even routine peacetime deployments – involves thorough intelligence analysis to understand potential threats before we deploy,” explains Walker. This highly detailed assessment informs the planners as to the optimum protective formation required. Threat levels are different depending on where the deployment will operate. Therefore, if a particular threat is more prominent, the protective layers are tailored accordingly. There is not a single formation that applies to each deployment. Sometimes it may not be possible to deploy one of the protective layers, particularly if it requires overseas host-nation support, but this does not mean the deployment can’t take place. What is true though, is that there is an irreducible minimum level of protection. As Walker confirms, “We don’t tie the carrier to a set level of defence, but we will always make sure the CSG has the right level of protection and the right capabilities for where it is going and how it is going to be used.” n

HMS Queen Elizabeth 101 101

GENERATING THE CARRIER CREW Honing the skills to man such a large ship as HMS Queen Elizabeth has been a complex task. Chris Aaron looks at how carrier crew training has been delivered in the UK.


he first eight crew members of HMS Queen Elizabeth joined the vessel in October 2012, led by Capt Simon Petitt RN. Five years later, over 730 crew members are now on board under the command of Cdre Jerry Kyd. The crew generation process – the selection and development of personnel – has been rather different to that normally followed in the Royal Navy (RN), when typically, a new vessel would be handed over when complete, and a crew would be generated around that time. In the case of HMS Queen Elizabeth, over the past five years, naval personnel have worked alongside civilian contractors from the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) installing and commissioning the ship´s systems, learning how to run and maintain the systems as they have been brought online. As the first compartments of the vessel were handed over to the ship’s crew, training in damage control and firefighting got underway, even as other compartments were being completed. Deck handlers, weapons loaders, refuellers, meteorologists, flight controllers, battle staff, and pilots have all been embedded with French and US carriers in order to learn the skills and gain the experience of working in a Carrier Strike Group, and F-35B maintenance and operations teams have been working in a joint programme with the US Marine Corps at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina. Cdr Darren Houston of HMS Queen Elizabeth describes these strands of crew development in more detail. “From 2012 to 2016, the priority was to have marine and weapons engineers available to work alongside civilian contractors from the Aircraft Carrier Alliance while the ship’s systems were being installed and commissioned. At that time, there were about 74 engineers, roughly 50/50 weapons and marine engineers, as part of the RN crew, working with civilian engineers in a way that has not been done before.”

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The recruitment challenge Recruiting suitably qualified and experienced personnel for this first cadre of engineers was one of the earliest crew generation challenges. Fortunately, some of the technologies and systems used in the new carriers are similar to those deployed on Type 45 destroyers. So to some extent, the Type 45 has provided a reservoir of personnel with skills and experience that can be adapted to the larger scale of the carriers. While RN technicians and engineers in the UK developed their knowledge of the power plant and weapons systems, “in the USA and in France, UK personnel, of all ranks and rates, were placed in the Long Lead Skills programme, working with our closest allies to retain and develop skills,” explains Houston. So, for the past five years, British sailors have been working and receiving training on board US and French carriers. There is an evolution in the technical skills happening with the crewing of the new carriers. Houston draws attention to the “highly automated firefighting systems with detectors and cameras distributed throughout the carrier that feed data to the Ship Control Centre, where it is monitored by crew members using touch screens,” and the Highly Mechanised Weapons Handling System that automates parts of the weapons loading process. So, on the one hand there is an increasing level of technical competence required, but at the same time,


the crew must still be trained in the basics: berthing and unberthing, firefighting and damage control, throwing ropes, taking axes and wedges to emergency situations as they have always done. The Highly Mechanised Weapons Handling system is a great example of how technology can improve performance and reduce crew numbers. The weapon loads are stored in the unmanned magazine spaces, moved onto trolleys to be prepped, and then raised up to the flight deck. A US carrier requires hundreds of personnel for this task, whereas HMS Queen Elizabeth uses 36. This is a system that is unique to the Queen Elizabeth class (QEC), and Houston notes that the Royal Navy has had to develop the training programme, though the ideas behind it actually stem from practices developed in the magazine and weapon section aboard the Invincible-class aircraft carriers that the QEC replaces.

Members of the ship’s company attach lines from the tug boats allocated to aid the safe exit of the ship from the basin as HMS Queen Elizabeth departs for her builder’s sea trials. HMS Queen Elizabeth’s crew have been learning how to throw ropes and wield axes as well as operate some of the most technologically advanced equipment ever installed on a warship.

HMS Queen Elizabeth




Left: HMS Queen Elizabeth ship’s company in firefighting equipment simulate the actions of fighting a galley fire. This was another Fleet Operational Sea Training (FOST)run exercise in which the whole ship’s company are involved in to ready them for any scenario and to practice and prepare for all manner of events and tasks that could occur when at sea.


Bottom left: Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC, the First Sea Lord (centre-left), with Royal Navy commanders in front of an F-35B Lightning aircraft during a visit to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, USA. Along with pilots, F-35B operations and maintenance teams have been working in a joint programme with the US Marine Corps at MCAS Beaufort.

Houston points out that the steady state training solution is still in its infancy for many of the systems and much of the equipment. There is a dynamic process of working out training requirements, and feeding this through to training staff and schools, so training management is itself an important aspect of the process. A similar situation was faced with the Type 45 destroyers, and as more experience is gained with HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, a training programme will become established for replacement crew members throughout the 50-year life of the vessels. Preparing for sea trials Once the crew were all on board, the next step was to prepare for sea trials. That training focused on gaining confidence and competence in damage control, including firefighting, flood and medical emergencies, and CBRN drills. Such training actually started when the first compartments were handed over in 2016, another example of how the crew training has been integrated with the ACA completion schedule. The established RN training programme for ratings and officers continues as normal, having been found fit for purpose for the QE

class: Phase 1 training takes place at HMS Raleigh (ratings) and the Britannia Royal Naval College (officers); Phase 2 general trade training is completed on ship and ashore; and Phase 3 training for a specific role is carried out by the Maritime Warfare School at HMS Collingwood. Specialist stations, such as the Royal Naval School of Flight Deck Operations at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Culdrose, with its dummy deck, have also been involved in training aircraft handlers and in giving deck crews a sense of the noise and activity of a “live deck.” As HMS Queen Elizabeth prepares to enter her home port of Portsmouth, all those intense and hard hours of preparation will bear witness to the professionalism of the Royal Navy’s training ethos, one that is based on centuries of experience, rigour, and tenacity. n

HMS Queen Elizabeth



Royal Navy Leading Airman (Aircraft Handler) Wayne Bowring stands on the flight deck of USS Kearsarge as an MV-22 Osprey takes off. Royal Navy sailors have maintained a seedcorn of carrier skills whilst embedded on board US ships.


n Nov. 24, 2010, the last UK Harrier GR9 lifted off from HMS Ark Royal to return to land, heralding a 10-year gap in the UK’s fixed-wing carrier strike capability. In 2020, this capability will return when F-35B Lightnings of the UK Lightning Force achieve operational readiness from HMS Queen Elizabeth. In the intervening decade, one of the challenges for the Royal Navy (RN) has been how to retain and, indeed, advance the skills required to operate the carriers and their strike aircraft once they are ready.

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These “seedcorn” skills range from operating the power plants for the carriers’ electric propulsion systems, through deck handling and flying, to the strategic level of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group battle staff.


With the withdrawal of fast jet carriers, the UK has been working with its American and French allies to ensure that a “seedcorn” capability is maintained. Chris Aaron talks to Captain Mark Blackmore to find out what this has entailed.

Capt Mark Blackmore describes the overall approach: “Where the systems were bespoke to us such as the Wärtsilä diesel power plants and the radar systems, we have grown the seedcorn. For other systems, and operational experience, we have grown our capability with partners.” These partners have been, in grand part, the USA and France. Embedding with the US


The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force have had personnel embedded with the US Marine Corps since early in the F-35B programme, when a pooling implementation agreement was signed among the three services to share the resources, data and lessons learned in bringing the aircraft to operational readiness. “We have over 50 families out at MCAS [Marine Corps Air Station] Beaufort, the US Marine Corps aviation training centre in South Carolina, and this number is growing. These include pilots, maintenance crew and engineers.” UK teams have worked alongside their US counterparts both onshore at Beaufort and at sea on trials aboard the USS Wasp and USS America, a level of co-operation which Blackmore sees as likely to continue throughout the life of the F-35B and the UK’s new carriers. In fact, the experience of Carrier Strike operations that the USA has afforded the Royal Navy goes much further than the F-35B programme. Blackmore notes that Royal Navy pilots have been flying F/A-18 Super Hornets off US carriers for years, including in operations against ISIS in Iraq. As he puts it, “Landing and taking off from a carrier is only one part of the skillset – our pilots are getting experience in going through briefings, understanding missions as part of a Carrier Strike Group, and all the wider aspects of Carrier Strike operations and other missions.” UK engineers, deck handlers, weapons handlers and refuellers have also been embedded in US carriers over the past decade, maintaining the skills and experience of working on board an operational carrier.

“A carrier landing deck is a very dangerous environment,” observes Blackmore, “and it takes a long time to develop the skills of flight deck handlers, of bomb loaders, and refuellers, and they need the experience of a ‘live’ flight deck.” Air traffic control staff, meteorology specialists, and even intelligence officers have been deeply embedded in US carrier operations, says Blackmore, which “has been extremely helpful, and generous of the US Navy.” Having the skills to operate the most advanced carriers and strike aircraft in the world is clearly of some importance. But it is imperative to be able to use them effectively. In 2015, the UK Carrier Strike Group Command (COMUKCSG) was created under the leadership of Commodore (Cdre) Jerry Kyd, and over the past two years, its steadily growing Battle Staff have been closely involved with the US Navy, taking part in planning and operations on board US carriers. “Given the size of the US Navy and the carriers they have, they have done a lot of strategy planning and exercises, and being a part of that has been good for our Command staff,” says Blackmore. Now that Cdre Kyd has taken command of HMS Queen Elizabeth, leadership of the

Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Andrew “Gary” Edgell, UK test pilot, meticulously inspects his F-35B Lightning aircraft during pre-flight checks.

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CSG has passed to Cdre Andy Betton, and the next phase of the COMUKCSG will be certification as a deployable 1-star Battle Staff capable of commanding a Joint and Combined Maritime Task Group in warfighting or humanitarian/disaster relief operations. Working with the US Navy and Marine Corps will continue as an essential part of this development. On board with Charles de Gaulle While embedding with the US Navy has given COMUKCSG access to a scale of carrier operations otherwise impossible to experience, the UK’s long-standing defence cooperation agreement with France means the two navies have routine exchanges of personnel, permanent deployments on respective staffs and crews, and regularly exercise and operate together. This naval co-operation goes back to the Letter of Intent signed in 1997, was strengthened by the Lancaster House treaties of 2010, and will grow with the Combined Joint Expeditionary Task Force already in training for a planned-for maritime capability in 2020. As a result, the UK has a permanent fighter controller on board the Charles de Gaulle as well as an officer on the French Battle Staff. While there are major differences between the cat-and-trap Charles de Gaulle and the V/STOL (vertical/short take-off and landing) Queen Elizabeth class and their aircraft, the experience of working aboard an operational carrier has been invaluable. Royal Navy

An F/A-18E Super Hornet, assigned to the “Gunslingers” of Strike Fighter Squadron 105, launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).

Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers have also been deployed as escorts to the Charles de Gaulle, providing experience of operations as part of a CSG. Taking root While the lack of carriers and fixed-wing naval aviation for many years presented a major challenge for the Royal Navy, generous help from its allies and partners has enabled core skills to be maintained and developed. These skills will now take root among the full complement of crew that is now on board, among the Battle Staff that have joined, among the pilots that will join, and throughout the CSG that will form around HMS Queen Elizabeth. Arguably, interoperability among the three navies and the US Marine Corps has been improved over the past seven years. Certainly, the close working relationship between the UK, the USA and France will continue, and as the UK learns lessons from operating its new carriers, it will be able to share these with its partners as they develop their next generation of carrier. n

HMS Queen Elizabeth


The first HMS Queen Elizabeth was a Queen Elizabeth-class battleship armed with eight 15-inch guns. This photo depicts the battleship in 1943, after her modernisation.


he first HMS Queen Elizabeth was the name-ship of a class of five 34,000-tonne super-dreadnought battleships. Launched in 1913, she entered service in January 1915. Other ships of the class included HMS Warspite, HMS Barham, HMS Malaya, and HMS Valiant. They were armed with eight 15-inch guns, then the largest naval guns in existence, each weighing 100 tonnes and able to fire a 1,938-pound (879kg) shell nearly 20 miles. Secondary armament included 16 6-inch guns as built. These were later deleted during subsequent refits in favour of 4.5-inch dual-purpose guns. Queen Elizabeth was also a pioneer in being the first Royal Navy battleship to burn oil rather than coal. This innovation decreased the thick black

110 HMS Queen Elizabeth

smoke from the ship’s stacks that was a hallmark of coal firing, and made the ships more difficult for the enemy to spot. The reduction in smoke also aided in laying the ship’s own guns. Because oil has a much greater energy density than coal, it also gave the ships longer range, and in addition cut down on manning requirements, as


Chuck Oldham describes the earlier ships named Queen Elizabeth.


stokers were not required to continuously shovel coal into the boilers. Further, refuelling became a much less burdensome activity. HMS Queen Elizabeth served in both world wars. She participated in the ill-fated Dardanelles campaign, firing her 15-inch guns in anger for the first time during the Gallipoli landings. She was undergoing maintenance at the time of the Battle of Jutland, however, and missed that action in which her sisters so distinguished themselves. However, in November 1918, as flagship of the Grand Fleet, it was from Queen Elizabeth’s deck that Admiral of the Fleet Sir David Beatty dictated armistice terms to the German High Seas Fleet. Modernised and reconstructed twice between the wars, the battleship didn’t come out of her second reconstruction until 1941. Joining the Mediterranean Fleet, she escorted convoys to Malta and covered the evacuation of British troops from Crete in June 1941. In December, she was damaged badly enough by an Italian human torpedo attack in Alexandria Harbour that she was out of action for 18 months. Returning to action in July 1943, she joined the Home Fleet. In December, she left to join the Eastern Fleet, supporting operations off Burma and the Malay Peninsula. She was placed in reserve in August 1945, and scrapped in 1948. The other namesake of today’s HMS Queen Elizabeth was actually never built, but was, interestingly, also an aircraft carrier. HMS Queen Elizabeth (CVA-01) was the product of a 1960 study that found that a large aircraft carrier of approximately 53,000 tonnes represented the best option for the nation’s needs.

What would have been the second HMS Queen Elizabeth, CVA-01, was a big-deck aircraft carrier cancelled in 1966.

CVA-01 was expected to embark an air group of 36 strike aircraft and fighters, four AEW aircraft, and eight helicopters – six for anti-submarine warfare and two for plane guard/search and rescue duties. The large hangar deck was meant to have enough space for another squadron in “surge” situations. Originally, four were planned, but the entire class was cancelled in February 1966, in the wake of the 1966 Defence White Paper. n

HMS Queen Elizabeth


Ian Goold shines a spotlight on some of the historic ships HMS Queen Elizabeth will be sharing her home port with.


s HMS Queen Elizabeth enters Her Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth following sea trials, she will berth for the first time at the home port from which she will deploy over the next five decades. That affords the prospect of a half-century’s service set in the context of a very much longer maritime story preserved in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. The base has been an integral part of Portsmouth city for more than 820 years, more than 500 of which are represented by four grand old ladies waiting to greet HMS Queen Elizabeth: Mary Rose, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, and HMS M.33.

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Mary Rose

Built in 1510, and the only 16th century warship on display, King Henry VIII’s flagship Mary Rose is preserved in a museum that captures the moment she sank in the Solent in 1545. Her story covers 30 years of British battles against the French, her re-discovery in 1971, her subsequent resurrection from the seabed in 1982, and her conservation by the Mary Rose Trust. Mary Rose is displayed in a £27 million museum in No. 3 Dock, where floor-to-ceiling glazing on the lower and main decks enables visitors to view the Tudor vessel. Almost 20,000 artefacts, including many weapons (from longbows to two-tonne guns) and personal effects (leather footwear, musical instruments,




Opposite page: Henry VIII’s flagship, Mary Rose, saw action against the French before sinking in the battle of the Solent in 1545. Inset photo: A model of Mary Rose. Above: Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson’s flagship during the Battle of Trafalgar, Victory, is preserved at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and visited by 400,000 people every year.

nit combs, and wooden bowls), provide a unique insight into the ship and the lives of her crew. In the 1512-14 First French War, Mary Rose had taken part in the Battle of Saint-Mathieu. Between 1522 and 1536, when she was held in reserve, the ship was re-caulked and refitted. Reports of the circumstances that preceded her sinking at the Battle of the Solent conflict, but it is clear that many hundreds of sailors died when Mary Rose sank. Early attempts to raise her were abandoned and she remained undisturbed until divers discovered the vessel in 1836. HMS Victory Some 250 years younger than Mary Rose, HMS Victory is the Royal Navy’s most famous warship, best known for her part in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. She currently serves as the flagship of the First Sea Lord and as a living museum to the Georgian navy. From 1778 to 1812, HMS Victory participated in

five naval battles: the First and Second Battles of Ushant, the Battle of Cape Spartel, the Battle of Cape St Vincent (where she was Admiral Sir John Jervis’ flagship), and finally, against a combined Franco/Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar, where she suffered the highest British casualties with 51 of the 800-plus crew killed aboard, including Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, who was shot at the height of the battle and died after receiving news of victory, as well as a further 11 seamen who later died of their wounds. A national appeal saved Victory for posterity some 95 years ago, after which she was placed into dry dock at Portsmouth. Annually, 400,000 people visit her to see the spot – marked by a brass plaque on the quarterdeck – where Nelson fell. The ship is undergoing a 13-year, £35 million conservation programme to repair and maintain her structure and improve the system of supports within her dry dock, overseen by conservation, engineering, heritage, rigging, shipbuilding, and timber-preservation experts. This work has included a £2 million conservation project in 2013-14 for routine maintenance, painting, surveys, and a thorough overhaul of the ship’s boats. HMS Warrior The world’s fastest, largest, most powerful warship when launched in 1860, the steam- and

HMS Queen Elizabeth


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sail-powered HMS Warrior never fired a shot in anger. Rather, her reputation and obvious supremacy intimidated enemy fleets and deterred them from attacking. HMS Warrior was the pride of Queen Victoria’s fleet, Britain’s first iron-hulled, armoured warship sporting iron sides for protection against exploding shells and large guns – a combination that changed marine warfare. The Royal Navy had been determined to design an invincible ship and her armament, size, and speed had a profound effect on naval architecture. Nevertheless, Warrior’s warship career was short-lived: Within a few years she was obsolete, replaced by faster designs with bigger guns and thicker armour. By 1871, she was downgraded to coast guard and reserve services, put up for sale as scrap in 1924, then converted into a floating oil pontoon at Pembroke Dock. After the oil depot closed in 1978, Warrior became the world’s largest-ever maritime-restoration project under the Maritime Trust before returning in 1987 to Portsmouth Harbour, where she now occupies a gateway position as a ship museum and monument. In 2017, she came under new ownership on April 1, 2017 following the Warrior Preservation Trust’s merger with the National Museum of the Royal Navy, which owns HMS Victory and First World War monitor HMS M.33. A £4.2 million upper-deck conservation programme is scheduled for completion in spring 2018. HMS M.33 Youngest of the four maritime ladies welcoming HMS Queen Elizabeth to Portsmouth is HMS M.33, the sole British survivor of the 1915-16 Dardanelles Campaign (and Russian Civil War that followed). M.33 is one of just three existing British First World War warships, and the only one open to visitors. She was a floating gun platform, whose first operation was at the Battle of Gallipoli in August 1915, the year in which her keel was laid down. Her shallow draft permitted her to approach close inshore and fire her two powerful 6-inch guns. The rest of the war was spent in the Mediterranean, where M.33 was involved in seizure of the Greek fleet at Salamis Bay in 1916.

Left: HMS Warrior was Britain’s first iron-hulled ship and as such, the pride of Queen Victoria’s Royal Navy. Above: One of only three British surviving warships from the First World War, the floating gun platform HMS M.33 saw action at the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915.

Before returning to Portsmouth to become a minelaying training ship (renamed HMS Minerva), she had been sent to Murmansk in Russia after the war to relieve the North Russian Expeditionary Force. The Second World War saw the vessel serving as a floating staff office; after her boilers and engines were removed, she was converted to a boom defence workshop and later served as a floating workshop at Royal Clarence Yard in Gosport. Since 1997, M.33 has sat beside HMS Victory in No. 1 Dock in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where she is part of the Great War at Sea 1914-1918 programme, and where she was opened in 2015 in time for her centenary to be celebrated. n

HMS Queen Elizabeth




oyal Navy (RN) aircraft carriers have been constantly active since the end of the Second World War. In the Korean conflict of 1950 to 1953, RN aircraft carriers Glory, Ocean, Theseus, and Triumph mounted 23,000 aircraft sorties. In 1956, five carriers were deployed in the controversial Suez campaign. This was followed by carrier deployments off Oman in 1958, and Kuwait in 1961, and further deployments during the Indonesian confrontation (1963 to 1966). There were operations off Africa in 1964 and 1966. Long after the ending of Britain’s colonial attachments, carrier operations have continued, often as part of the NATO Alliance, in the Adriatic for operations over Bosnia and Kosovo during the 1990s, and later for deploying helicopters to Sierra Leone in 2000. They were also used to support forces in Afghanistan, enforce a no-fly zone over southern Iraq and prosecute an amphibious assault on the Iraqi Al Faw peninsula in 2003. The Falklands War Few imagined that Royal Navy carriers would ever be engaged in intensive warfare in the South Atlantic, but that is what happened after the Falkland Islands were invaded by Argentina on April 2, 1982. Just three days

116 HMS Queen Elizabeth

later, two very different aircraft carriers departed Portsmouth Naval Base: HMS Hermes, a converted Centaur class of 28,000 tonnes dating from 1959, and the modern light carrier HMS Invincible of 22,000 tonnes. They steamed south with a task force of surface warships. HMS Hermes was the flagship for the force and had embarked an air group of 12 Sea Harriers from 800 and 809 Squadrons, with Sea King HAS.5 helicopters from 826 Squadron, and carrying “A” Company, 40 Commando, Royal Marines. HMS Invincible’s air group was initially eight, later 10, Sea Harriers of 801 and 809 Squadrons and Sea King HAS.5s of 820 Squadron.


Aircraft carriers have proved the most versatile and effective Royal Navy warships, frequently deployed in peace-keeping and power-projection roles, and, most crucially, in combat operations at long range. Mark Daly reviews two of the most famous British aircraft carrier actions – the Falklands War and the Battle of Taranto.

The Falkland Islands, 8,100 nautical miles (nm) from the United Kingdom, are just 400nm off the coast of Argentina, from where aircraft could constantly be dispatched to attack the task force. The main role for the carriers was going to be establishing air superiority to enable a landing force to be disembarked, and to diminish the capabilities of the Argentinian occupying forces. HMS Hermes made its first move on May 1, launching 12 Sea Harriers to attack Argentinian-held airfields at Stanley and Goose Green. For six weeks until mid-June 1982, an intensive campaign was fought, with Hermes and Invincible positioned with a screen of escorting warships to the east of the Falkland Islands. The two carriers launched combat air patrols with Sea Harriers, amounting to more than 1,100 sorties. The Sea Harrier squadrons were reinforced with more aircraft and later joined by 10 Royal Air Force (RAF) Harriers based on HMS Hermes, and together these mounted more than 200 ground attack missions. At the same time, anti-submarine patrols were constantly maintained by the Sea Kings, and special forces parties inserted onshore. It was a hard-fought campaign, with four British warships, including the destroyers HMS Sheffield and HMS Coventry, sunk by air attacks. As the ships transporting the Amphibious Task Group of British Army and Royal Marines units started to assemble in San Carlos Water between

A rocket-armed Sea Fury FB.II is catapulted from HMS Glory during Korean War operations in 1951. The Korean War saw more than 23,000 aircraft sorties launched from Royal Navy aircraft carriers. HMS Queen Elizabeth


. g u t r o t o R By

East and West Falkland, the attacks by waves of Argentine aircraft intensified. Between the landing of forces, which started on May 21 and Argentine surrender June 14, a fierce air war continued. Sea Harrier fighters from the two carriers were credited with the destruction of 20 attacking Argentinian aircraft. It was the first time that vertical/short take off and landing (V/STOL) fighters had been operationally flown from ships in combat. HMS Hermes had served with distinction as task force headquarters, and HMS Invincible, which had only completed its trials shortly before the deployment, was to spend 166 days continuously at sea without putting into harbour. The Falklands campaign did much to revalidate the power of the aircraft carrier as the key component of expeditionary warfare. With V/STOL fighters launching from ski-jump-equipped decks, it continued the Royal Navy tradition of introducing new technology for operating aircraft at sea.


Battle of Taranto The RN and the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) have also been responsible for pioneering many of the original concepts of carrier operation, the most famous example dating back to the Second World War. The first time that warships in a defended home port were attacked by a force of strike aircraft launched from a carrier was the attack from HMS Illustrious on the Italian naval base at Taranto on Nov. 11, 1940. Taranto, on the southeast coast of Italy, was home port to a concentration of battleships, cruisers, and destroyers – posing a constant threat to Allied convoys crossing the Mediterranean to North Africa and Malta.

HMS Invincible returns to massive celebrations following the Falklands Conflict in 1982. HM Ships Hermes and Invincible gained air superiority over the Falkland Islands to enable the land campaign to proceed.

In order to disguise the forthcoming raid, a series of distinct movements was made by warships and merchant vessels to give the impression that standard convoy protection duties were being performed. Under this cover, HMS Illustrious launched a force of 21 Fairey Swordfish aircraft drawn from 813, 815, 819, and 824 Squadrons at 180nm range. Approaching Taranto at night in two waves, the Swordfish attacked with torpedoes and bombs after dropping flares to silhouette their targets. In

HMS Queen Elizabeth



Inspire & Remember

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“Defense in Depth”

NAVAL AIR POWER EVOLUTION • 1806: HMS Pallas deploys kites to drop leaflets on France • 1849: Austrian ship Vulcano launches bomb-laden balloons over Venice • 1908: Admiralty orders the Mayfly airship HMA 1 • 1910: American Eugene Ely becomes first man to fly an aircraft off a ship • 1911: French navy ship Foudre becomes first vessel to carry seaplanes • 1912: Lt Charles Samson (RN) becomes first Englishman to fly an aircraft off a ship


• 1913: HMS Hermes converted into a seaplane tender by the Royal Navy • 1914: Royal navy commissions first modern aircraft carrier – HMS Ark Royal • 1917: Sqn Cdr Edwin Dunning (RNAS) becomes first man to land wheeled aircraft on a ship • 1918: HMS Argus becomes first fulllength flat deck aircraft carrier • 1940: Royal Navy conducts first allaircraft raid against ships at Battle of Taranto • 1945: Lt Cdr Eric “Winkle” Brown (RN) makes first jet aircraft landing on ship • 1945: Cdr CC Mitchell, (FAA) invents aircraft steam catapult system for warships • 1951: Lt Cdr Nicholas Goodhart (RN) invents mirror landing system

HMS Queen Elizabeth • 1998: British government agrees to replace Invincible-class aircraft carriers • 1999: Design of Queen Elizabeth Class begins • 2003: Original Aircraft Carrier Team formed • 2005: Aircraft Carrier Alliance formed • 2008: Contract to build Queen Elizabeth Class signed • 2009: First steel cut by HRH Princess Anne • 2014: HMS Queen Elizabeth launched at Rosyth • 2017: HMS Queen Elizabeth enters home port of Portsmouth for the first time

Fleet Air Arm Fairey Swordfish pilots staged a devastating nighttime surprise attack using innovative techniques to launch torpedoes against the Italian fleet in their home port of Taranto.

the shallow waters of the enclosed harbour at Taranto, torpedo attacks were believed to be impossible, as weapons dropped from aircraft dove deeply, but a technique had been developed to allow Swordfish aircraft to launch the Mark XII aerial torpedo in a flat attitude at low level. Despite fierce anti-aircraft fire from hundreds of guns, a shield of barrage balloons, and anti-torpedo nets, 11 torpedoes were launched, sinking one battleship and heavily damaging two others while several cruisers and destroyers were damaged by bombs. Taranto was no longer a viable major base, and the Italian navy was forced to redeploy its ships to Naples, a shift of power in the Mediterranean. Royal Navy aircraft carriers went on to fight in a range of actions from the Atlantic to the Pacific, against the German battleships Bismarck and Tirpitz, from escort carriers on convoy protection, in Allied invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and southern France, in the Aegean, and towards the end of the war, in operations against Japan as part of the British Pacific Fleet. n

HMS Queen Elizabeth


HERITAGE MEETS THE FUTURE Commander Sue Eagles, communications director for the Fly Navy Heritage Trust, the nation’s naval aviation heritage charity, formally affiliated with HMS Queen Elizabeth, discusses this year’s centenary of carrier aviation and the golden thread that links Britain’s long and distinguished carrier aviation heritage with carrier aviation of the future.

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100 Years of Carrier Air Power


rom the time the guns fell silent at Trafalgar, few doubted that Britannia ruled the waves, but it was to be the arrival of the aircraft carrier that was to prove the “Queen of the Board.” These “mobile airbases,” able to move at will to strike enemy fleets in their bases; to counter the hated U-boat; and to engage an enemy at ranges hitherto impossible, rendered the “era of the big gun” merely another chapter in the age-old history of the sea. As HMS Queen Elizabeth sails into Portsmouth, her entry into service with the Royal Navy not only heralds a pivotal moment in world affairs and a new era in Britain’s long and distinguished history of aircraft carrier innovation, design, and development – it also marks the centenary of the UK’s remarkable carrier aviation heritage. The Royal Navy pioneered the aircraft carrier, particularly during the First World War, and HMS Argus, the first carrier with a full-length flight deck and large compartment below to act as a hangar, was launched 100 years ago in December 1917. She was designed to launch a torpedo bomber strike against the German High Seas Fleet and thus take control of the North Sea at one stroke. The First World War ended before that attack could be carried out, but the Royal Navy continued to develop the concept of carrier strike, and during the Second World War executed it with awe-inspiring success at Taranto in 1940 against the Italian battle fleet in the Mediterranean. RN aircraft carrier innovations After the Second World War, when it seemed that no carrier could operate the new jet aircraft, the legendary British naval test pilot, Capt Eric “Winkle” Brown CBE DSC AFC, landed the first jet, a Sea Vampire,


Converted from a battleship under construction, HMS Eagle was the first carrier to have a purpose-built island on the deck to help with aircraft operations.

The Royal Navy’s first aircraft carrier, HMS Argus was launched 100 years ago in December 1917, marking the beginning of 100 years of British carrier aviation. HMS Queen Elizabeth 123

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on an aircraft carrier (HMS Ocean) in 1945. Over the next decade, the Royal Navy produced the three inventions that made modern fast jet carrier operations possible: the angled deck, the steam catapult, and the mirror landing sight. The offensive power of the Royal Navy’s carrier force proved indispensable in the Pacific, Korea, Suez, and the Cold War, and in the 1970s, when it seemed that carriers were too costly, the Royal Navy showed that it could still take modern aircraft to sea using Invincible-class aircraft carriers and Sea Harriers. Without the Sea Harrier, and another British invention, the ski-jump, the successful Falklands operation in 1982, and others since, would not have been possible. No other nation can match this record of technical innovation paralleled by operational success or has such a distinguished carrier aviation heritage. But what is it about flying from aircraft carriers that has given Britain such a world-leading reputation? HMS Queen Elizabeth has been “Built by the Nation for the Nation,” but at the heart of this tremendous national achievement, the pioneering spirit of naval aviators and engineers and their ingenuity and tenacity in overcoming problems has been an enduring hallmark of carrier aviation.

A mere 21 Fairey Swordfish biplanes, attacking in two waves, sank or badly damaged half the Italian battle fleet at Taranto, effectively ending the era of the big-gun battleship. Pictured here is Fairey Swordfish II LS326, one of the last remaining Swordfish flying in the world. She is flown by the Royal Navy Historic Flight at air shows and commemorative events around the country as an enduring tribute to all those who have given their lives in the service of naval aviation.

The Royal Naval Air Service, the forerunner of today’s Fleet Air Arm, was formed in 1914, and by 1918 it had 3,000 aircraft. The first attempts to fly from a make-shift aircraft carrier were carried out from the converted cruiser HMS Furious in 1917. A hangar and flying-off deck 200 feet long was built and Squadron Commander EH Dunning, in a Sopwith Pup, became the first man to land on the “floating aerodrome” on Aug. 5, 1917. The early pioneers of flying from ships at sea constantly pushed the boundaries, and tragically attempting it a second time, Dunning was killed – but he had led the way. With the arrival of HMS Argus a few

HMS Queen Elizabeth 125

months later, the first carrier to have a flush deck, the concept of carrier aviation was a success from the start. The first carrier with an “island,” HMS Eagle, emerged in 1920 to be followed in 1924 by HMS Hermes, the first purpose-designed aircraft carrier. She had 15 aircraft and a speed of 25 knots, and in 1938 the cutting edge of carrier aviation began to bite when HMS Ark Royal entered service with 60 aircraft. When the Second World War broke out in September 1939, the Fairey Swordfish, the mainstay of Britain’s early carrier offensive operations, was used in all theatres of the war. It was in the Battle of the Atlantic, however, flying from the pitching and rolling decks of small escort carriers, that this venerable fabric and wood biplane really came into its own. The narrowness of our escape from defeat in the Battle of the Atlantic was due in no small part to the Swordfish crews of the Fleet Air Arm patrolling millions of square miles of sea, stemming U-boat attacks

A Phantom FG.1 of 892 Naval Air Squadron about to be catapulted from HMS Ark Royal in 1972. Though the Royal Navy (RN) developed the steam catapult, angled deck, and optical landing sight that had made operation of fast jets possible, when Ark Royal was decommissioned in 1979 she became the last RN carrier to use catapults and arrester gear. 892 NAS painted the omega symbol on the tails of their Phantoms in the belief that they would be the Fleet Air Arm’s last fixed-wing squadron.

The aircraft of the Royal Navy Historic Flight, together with the wider Navy Wings Collection, including two Fairey Swordfish and two Hawker Sea Furies, bring the remarkable story of carrier aviation, and the ground-breaking endeavours that shaped it, to life. The commanding officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Capt Jerry Kyd, Royal Navy, said, “We are immensely proud of our heritage and of our affiliation with the charity the Fly Navy Heritage Trust and the Navy Wings Collection. Our naval aviation heritage is a crucial part of the fabric of our country and keeping our historic carrier-borne aircraft flying at air shows and commemorative events around the UK provides the golden thread linking the past with the future. With their folding wings and characteristic tail-hook these aircraft have a tremendous inspirational effect in engaging young people, encouraging interest in science and engineering and the high-performance technologies of the future.” To find out more about the Fly Navy Heritage Trust and its work in keeping our historic naval aircraft flying, visit

126 HMS Queen Elizabeth



on merchant ships. Their desperate work continued for the entire six years of the war, securing eventual victory, with the true importance of their contribution only beginning to be recognised today.


Find, Fix, and Strike While putting aircraft above the fleet to provide defence and protect merchantmen was a vital role, defence alone was not enough. From its earliest beginnings, the strategic and conceptual philosophy of naval flying has always been Find, Fix, and Strike, as embodied in the Fleet Air Arm motto. It was the combined ability to be the eyes and ears of the Fleet, to “observe” and “locate” as well as to decisively “strike” with appropriate force that gave carrier aviation the battle-winning edge. Over the next 70 years the striking power of naval aircraft was to develop at such a pace, that later aircraft in the evolutionary story were hardly recognisable beside their forebears of 1939. The birth of the jet age in the 1960s and ’70s, and the radical new designs it

Following the decommissioning of Ark Royal, the Royal Navy once again developed an innovative solution in naval aviation, developing the vertical/short take-off and landing (V/STOL) Sea Harrier and the “skijump” for the Invincible class of light aircraft carriers. Here a Royal Navy Sea Harrier FRS.1 aircraft from 800 Naval Air Squadron takes off from the flight deck of HMS Invincible.

spawned, saw the top speed of naval fighters rise from a “sedate” 600 mph to a blistering 1,400 mph within a few years.

HMS Queen Elizabeth 127

128 HMS Queen Elizabeth

The Royal Navy has once again pioneered aircraft carrier design philosophy with the twin islands of the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, which also incorporate the ski-jump and a new generation of V/STOL aircraft in the shape of the F-35B Lightning.

development, and a cornerstone of our national air power capability. As we enter a second century of carrier air power, defence will depend as never before on our ability to find, fix, and finish whatever threatens us by sea. n


100 years after HMS Argus was commissioned, HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales not only reflect this unrivalled tradition of pioneering naval engineering, but with their revolutionary F-35B jets, they will be two of the most modern and powerful aircraft carriers in the world, providing the UK with a formidable and highly versatile defence capability to meet the uncertain demands of another century. No one can deny in the present age that air power is the predominant medium used to most effectively inflict a decisive blow on an enemy. The challenges and threats faced by our globalised world have never been greater. It will be carrier-borne aircraft, able to operate at sea for long periods, fully worked-up in the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, that will be critical to the United Kingdom and our allies in the decades ahead. Working with our existing international partners and expanding our partnership horizons, Britain will need to play her part showing again that our arm is long, with the fist at the end of it capable of striking with decisive force. With their great mobility and flexibility, HM Ships Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales and their embarked aircraft will unequivocally prove their value to our nation. The lessons of naval aviation history have demonstrated carrier aviation to be a driving force in technological change and

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HMS Queen Elizabeth: Commemorating First Entry into Her Home Port  

Queen Elizabeth is the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth-class of aircraft carriers, entering service ahead of her sister ship HMS Prince of...

HMS Queen Elizabeth: Commemorating First Entry into Her Home Port  

Queen Elizabeth is the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth-class of aircraft carriers, entering service ahead of her sister ship HMS Prince of...