HMS Queen Elizabeth: Commemorating the naming of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Rosyth Dockyard, 4th July 2014

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HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH Commemorating the naming of HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH I Rosyth Dockyard I 4th July 2014

Semper Eadem

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Today, more than 99% of our world is still not connected to the internet. But we’re working on it.

Cisco is incredibly proud of its partnership with Telindus and the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) to design and deliver a world class Technology Architecture for the Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales carriers. The three primary challenges we addressed: • How to balance the long shipbuilding programme time scales vs short-term technology life cycles • Minimising the amount of IT equipment required to support the operational demands of the ship • Minimising the Risk of deploying “Everything over IP” including 1800 IP Phones Naval ships traditionally have 40+ separate communications networks throughout the ship, supporting everything from command and control to entertainment systems. Cisco took an innovative approach to the challenge of minimising the amount of IT by recommending a converged, virtualised IP network design which enabled a massive reduction in the amount of equipment required to support the ship’s operations. Cisco Services assured and continually evolved the high availability network design throughout

the ship’s development life cycle to reduce risk, avoid technology obsolescence and exploit new innovation. MOD benefits: • A state of the art, secure and future proof, resilient communications infrastructure • A reduced number of physical networks delivering better value for money • Through Life Capability Management (TLCM) enhancement - a scalable and modular approach • A best in class communications infrastructure, providing connectivity, unified communications, security and network management capability We are confident this will be considered the best practice technology design approach in the maritime environment.

For more information on Cisco’s C4ISR capabilities please email We wish them fair winds and following seas

Challenging times need reliable communications In today’s volatile world it is now more important than ever for members of all our Armed Forces to have the most up-to-date communications. Telindus is immensely proud to have partnered closely with BAE Systems and Cisco in the design, supply and installation of the voice, data and multi-media communications networks for the nations new flag ship HMS Queen Elizabeth.

“The long term relationship we have with Telindus has been built around trust and them having a vast array of experience and knowledge in their field.” James Cole, Business Manager, BAE systems

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Protecting our defence Who protects the vessels that protect us? When HMS Queen Elizabeth sets out from Rosyth Dockyard it will represent the very best that the United Kingdom can deliver. It needs to have a showroom finish to match its impressive capabilities and performance. Pyeroy Group, a Wood Group company, has been working with the Aircraft Carrier Alliance and its partners to apply the latest MoD specified paint coatings during the build programme to protect and preserve this world class carrier throughout its commission. Our defence under attack As soon as it leaves dry dock this enormous warship will come under attack from the same elements in which it is designed to operate. The oceans will test it with the harshest weather and seawater environment, and operational duties will be a constant threat to the fabric of this vessel causing wear and tear leading to degradation and possible corrosion. Pyeroy’s 25 years of marine protective coating experience has been fully employed in developing the surface preparation and application processes used to provide the highest quality finishes throughout the vessel. The external hull, decks and superstructure are all prepared to withstand the rigours of naval operations and protect the vessel in this most demanding environment, maintaining its reliability during a lifetime of service.

Checking the defences. Paint inspection by Pyeroy Group of a major hull module.

A military alliance Competition brings out the best in us, but there are times when we recognise the advantages of joining forces to successfully pull together. Pyeroy Group established a Ship Support Services partnership with Cape, normally one of our strongest competitors, to deliver the very best capability to the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, providing the entire scaffold, painting and cleaning services in support of this flagship project. Pushing the envelope To deliver the protective coating application requirements for the two aircraft carriers, Pyeroy has been co-ordinating its services across seven shipyards covering Govan, Scotstoun, Portsmouth, Appledore, Birkenhead and Jarrow as well as the integration yard at Rosyth. Our workforce has increased to nearly 1,000 operatives dedicated to the QEC project and we are involved in applying over 25 different MoD specified coating systems amounting to over 1.5 million square metres of paintwork; an area slightly larger than London’s Hyde Park. Plain sailing. The aft island of the HMS Queen Elizabeth passes under the iconic Forth Rail Bridge en route to Rosyth Dockyard. Built 125 years apart, both feats of British engineering have been protected by Pyeroy’s painting expertise.

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! ! ! ! !


As the Ship’s Sponsor, I am delighted to be here at Rosyth to

name the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier “QUEEN ELIZABETH”.


Ours is a proud maritime nation with a long seafaring tradition.

The Royal Navy is an integral part of this heritage and it has been a lynchpin in protecting our national interests, both close to home and around the globe. Indeed, the Naval Prayer beseeches that the Royal Navy “may be … a security for such as pass on the seas on their lawful occasions.” It therefore gives me great pleasure to name this ship, as she takes an important step towards fulfilling that solemn duty.


Prince Philip, the Lord High Admiral, joins me in sending our

warm wishes to everyone who has played a part in HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH reaching this important milestone. Today is an occasion for those of you who are here in Rosyth to feel proud of what you have achieved.

! !


FIRST SEA LORD AND CHIEF OF NAVAL STAFF The naming of HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH today will be a moment of national awakening. This event offers the public their first real glimpse of the scale and ambition of the nation’s future fast jet carrier strike capability. HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and her sister ship do not offer like-for-like replacements for the previous generation of carriers. Instead, they represent a return to the carrier strike capability last operated by the United Kingdom four decades ago. But HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH will not just be a platform to deliver credible carrier strike as part of a credible United Kingdom defence construct. She will also offer truly strategic conventional deterrence and the capability to support amphibious operations, disaster relief and a range of maritime security roles. HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH therefore provides ‘sea choice’ – in military, diplomatic and political options. HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH is also a catalyst for partnership. She will facilitate joint operations with the Royal Navy’s sister services, particularly the Royal Air Force which, alongside the Navy, will operate F35B Lightning II fast jets from her big deck. As the future centrepiece of the United Kingdom’s maritime task group and Joint Expeditionary Force, she will also bind us ever closer to our international partners across the globe. And in particular she will deepen the Royal Navy’s interoperability with the United States Navy and Marine Corps, and the French Navy. So the naming of this ship is also a moment of international awakening too.


NavigatiNg You SafelY Wherever You MaY Sail. Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine proudly congratulates the UK Royal Navy on the commissioning of the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

© 2014 Northrop Grumman Corporation


w w w . n o r t h r o p g r u m m a n . c o m /s p e r r y m a r i n e

IAN BOOTH Queen Elizabeth Class Programme Director Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) Today is an historic occasion for HMS Queen Elizabeth and a major milestone for the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier programme. The programme to deliver the nation’s new flagship is an engineering challenge of unprecedented scale and complexity, drawing on the wide breadth of skills that exist in this country and I want to congratulate everyone who has played an integral role in reaching this achievement today. More than 10,000 people are involved in the Queen Elizabeth Class programme, touching every region of the UK and all working together in a spirit of partnership. It is a truly national effort and the lasting legacy will not only be the largest and most powerful warships ever built for the Royal Navy, but the engineering skills that have grown and developed across the supply chain, which includes more than 800 apprentices who have begun their career on this programme. We are building on a proud tradition of pioneering naval engineering in this country and HMS Queen Elizabeth, along with her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, reflects the very best in British design and ingenuity. It is a tremendous honour for everyone involved to know that we are building a ship, and indeed a home, for the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who will deliver carrier strike capability to the UK for the next generation and beyond. Today’s naming ceremony is an immensely proud moment and we look forward to continuing our work alongside HMS Queen Elizabeth’s ship’s company as we prepare for the ship’s first arrival at her home port of Portsmouth in 2017.

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The future of carrier aviation is flying today. Through an unprecedented partnership, the F-35B Lightning II and the HMS Queen Elizabeth c arrier will deliver unmatc he d capabilities to the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. Together, they will ensure the U.K. remains a world leader in international maritime domain security for decades to come. Learn more at

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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 17

PUBLISHER’S FOREWORD It is a great privilege for Faircount Media Group to have been appointed by the Royal Navy to produce this prestigious publication, commemorating the naming of the aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth. Today marks the continuation of a great Royal Navy tradition of innovation and invention in shipbuilding and naval aviation. This publication provides a detailed look at the intense thought and years of planning that went into creating a new class of aircraft carriers, the process that envisioned them and their place in the nation’s defence – notwithstanding the massive industrial effort that is making them a reality. The publication summarises the distinguished history of the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers and Fleet Air Arm, and details how British invention and innovation made possible the aircraft carrying ships that serve in navies across the globe today. Most importantly, we focus on the people who serve in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, those people who are the heart and mind of any ship flying the White Ensign. Finally, the publication looks to the future of the Royal Navy. HMS Queen Elizabeth will be the flagship of a new era for the Royal Navy, the Fleet Air Arm, the RAF, and the Army Air Corps. It has been an honour to be associated with this occasion. The Publisher

CONTENT MESSAGES 10 Her Majesty The Queen 12 Prime Minister David Cameron 13 First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas 15 Aircraft Carrier Alliance Programme Director Ian Booth 17 Publisher’s Foreword

INTERVIEW 23 Senior Naval Officer and Commanding Officer Captain Simon Petitt, Royal Navy

STORIES 27 The Ship’s Crest

54 Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief Operations Case Study: Typhoon Haiyan, Philippines 58 Worldwide Aircraft Carriers Story by Charles Oldham 64 Carrier Enabled Power Projection: Delivering Joint and Combined Capability from Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers Story by Richard Scott 72 Lessons from the Falklands War

29 Key Facts About the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers

76 The Case for the Big Deck Carrier Experience Shows that Larger Carriers Are Well Worth Their Price Story by Norman Friedman

30 Inside HMS Queen Elizabeth

86 About the Aircraft Carrier Alliance

32 Namesakes The Earlier Queen Elizabeths Story by Charles Oldham

89 The Best of UK Design and Industry

34 Naval Strategy, the Aircraft Carrier, and the Strategic Defence Review Story by Simon Michell

100 The Sum of Its Parts

46 Why Aircraft Carriers? Story by Simon Michell

94 Putting It All Together

112 F-35B Lightning II: Stealthy, Supersonic, STOVL 122 HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Helicopters




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CONTENT 133 Join the Royal Navy and Royal Marines 134 Hearts of Oak The Ship’s Company 148 Training Getting Ready to Serve in HMS Queen Elizabeth 153 Training With the Americans WO1 Nick Downs Trains On Board USS Harry S Truman 156 Portsmouth 2030 Providing the Infrastructure for the New Carriers 160 The Royal Navy, the Aircraft Carrier and the Fleet Air Arm Story by Sue Eagles 168 Inventing the Modern Aircraft Carrier Story by Norman Friedman 176 Future Force 2020 The Task Force of the Future 189 Come On Board HMS Queen Elizabeth With the Maritime Reserves!

FOLLOW HMS Queen Elizabeth’s story: Follow Royal Navy


Published by Faircount LLC (USA) Represented in Europe by Faircount Media (UK) Ltd. 5 Ella Mews, Hampstead London, NW3 2NH EDITORIAL Editor in Chief: Charles Oldham Managing Editor: Ana E. Lopez Editors: Rhonda Carpenter, Iwalani Kahikina Editor/Photo Editor: Steven Hoarn Contributing Writers: Sue Eagles, Norman Friedman Simon Michell, Richard Scott, Jo Shipley DESIGN AND PRODUCTION Art Director: Robin K. McDowall Designers: Daniel Mrgan, Kenia Y. Perez-Ayala Ad Traffic Manager: Rebecca Laborde ADVERTISING Account Executives: Michael Blomberg, William Brown, Dara Clancy, Andrew Moss, Adrian Silva OPERATIONS AND ADMINISTRATION Chief Operating Officer: Lawrence Roberts VP, Business Development: Robin Jobson Business Development: Damion Harte, Kevin Higgins Financial Controller: Robert John Thorne Chief Information Officer: John Madden Business Analytics Manager: Colin Davidson Circulation: Alexis Vars Events Manager: Jim Huston FAIRCOUNT MEDIA GROUP Publisher, North America: Ross Jobson Publisher, Europe: Peter Antell Faircount Media Group would like to thank: The Ministry of Defence The Royal Navy The Royal Air Force The Aircraft Carrier Alliance

FOLLOW The Aircraft Carrier Alliance

© Faircount LLC 2014. 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 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. Faircount LLC does not assume responsibility for the advertisements, nor any representation made therein, nor the quality or deliverability of the products themselves.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 23

Capt Simon Petitt.


Royal Navy photo

Interview with Senior Naval Officer and Commanding Officer Captain Simon Petitt Royal Navy The senior naval officer currently in charge of HMS Queen Elizabeth is Capt Simon Petitt, Royal Navy. As the Royal Navy’s man in charge of the construction phase, he is the ‘commanding officer’ of the ship in build. Here he tells us of his pride watching HMS Queen Elizabeth come to life:

hen I was told that I would be the senior naval officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, standing by her during build and taking charge of the first ship’s company, it was difficult to express in words the honour, excitement and anticipation I felt at that moment. Having had two previous appointments in carriers, as a very junior officer and then as a commander, what struck me on both occasions was the colossal capability, both in terms of the impact aircraft carriers can have on the world stage and also their agility and flexibility on operations. This rather humbling sense of pride has continued to grow to this day, which is without doubt the most important day of my entire career, spanning nearly thirty years. Having now spent eighteen months watching the future flagship of the Royal Navy come together, I can report that HMS Queen Elizabeth is something very different; a step-change in the capability she can provide both to the Royal Navy and the United Kingdom as a whole. Behind me are an equally excited group of sailors, energized by the task of generating her for operations and also extremely proud to be part of such a fantastic ship with an iconic name; they feel privileged to be present at her birth, imagining what she will become in the future. They are fully aware of the significance of the ship for protecting the United Kingdom’s interests around the globe; they are also ready for the many challenges ahead, as she emerges from dock, sets sail and

Congratulations Lloyd’s Register would like to congratulate the UK’s Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) on the successful naming of Queen Elizabeth II. We have worked with the ACA since 2002 to design, approve and class the building of two supercarriers at six UK shipyards – working with at least 10,000 people, and bringing together parts, sections and equipment from a large network of manufacturers globally. Discover more at

Working together for a safer world 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 2014. A member of the Lloyd’s Register group.

Aircraft Carrier Alliance photo

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 25 starts to fly the F-35B Lightning II jets and the great variety of helicopters that will use her flight deck in the coming years. I am confident, as is the whole Royal Navy, that she will soon be at the centre of our highreadiness Task Group, ready, willing and able to do her duty. I also worked within the Aircraft Carrier Alliance in a previous appointment. With that experience behind me and with what I have witnessed over the past months, I understand firsthand the monumental engineering challenge of both designing the Queen Elizabeth class and the complexity of the build here in Rosyth. It represents a pinnacle of UK engineering and showcases military and industrial co-operation at its finest. There has never been any doubt in my mind about BAE Systems, Babcock International and Thales Group working together alongside the Ministry of Defence to ensure that the investment made by the United Kingdom in this programme will deliver the aircraft carrier Defence needs. The vast complexity of this programme demonstrates their stamina, ingenuity and engineering skills. ‘Best for Project’ is the Aircraft Carrier Alliance mantra, and they are delivering the best for the United Kingdom. To this day, when I step onto the four-acre flight deck, or when I walk through the hangar – which is large enough to house twenty F-35B Lightning II jets – I never fail to be astonished at the sheer scale and ambition that is visible everywhere on this ship. At sixty-five thousand tonnes, no Royal Navy ship has ever had a larger displacement, and certainly no warship has ever had the same level of automation built into her. From the revolutionary automated ammunition handling system, centrally controlled platform

HMS Queen Elizabeth in Rosyth Dockyard while being painted.

and machinery control system, to the intelligent and thoughtful design, everything is where you would want it to be. The sailors who will serve on the ship in the future will marvel at the way their jobs have been eased, freeing them to operate the ship. Indeed, day by day it becomes clearer that the goal of operating these ships with similar numbers of personnel to the previous generation of aircraft carriers (which were three times smaller) is not only achievable but epoch-defining. My team’s role is to work alongside the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, to help commission the ship and, just as importantly, train and prepare her for sea before moving on to operations. They are learning about the ship as they work and writing this down into a set of procedures and orders, so that we can unlock the abilities of HMS Queen Elizabeth, and subsequently her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, in the most efficient and effective manner possible. It is a task that they and I relish. The naming ceremony will be the first of countless

significant moments in this amazing ship’s projected fifty-year life. Above all, I like to say that, as men and women of the sea, we are breathing life into the equipment, drawing upon the accumulated knowledge of all who are working on this endeavour and infusing HMS Queen Elizabeth with our enthusiasm and dedication to the service. In this way, the ship’s motto Semper Eadem – ‘Ever the Same’ – evokes the continuity of tradition and heritage for which we are the torch bearers. Today sets the tone; I have no doubt that the name and ethos that we create now as the first ship’s company will subsequently draw volunteers like a magnet to serve in HMS Queen Elizabeth in the decades to come. This is a ship for the future, an aspirational statement of the strength of the United Kingdom. As Her Majesty names the ship today, it is important to look forward and remember that the last commanding officer of this ship has not yet been born! When the time comes to hand over command of the ship’s company to the first seagoing captain, Cdre Jerry Kyd, I am sure that I will be handing over the reigns of one of the most impressive and state-of-the-art ships in the world; a ship of which I, my ship’s company and the entire country can be justifiably proud.

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Congratulations and Good Luck to the Officers and Crew of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 27


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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 Lightning II 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 II, Merlin Crowsnest, Merlin Mk 2 ASW, Merlin Mk 3 Troop lift, Lynx Wildcat, Apache and/or Chinook helicopters.

Complement: 682 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.

More than £1.65 billion worth of sub contracts for work on the QEC carriers have now been placed with companies across most regions in the UK.

Forward Island facts The navigation bridge is positioned on Four Deck. It has deck-to-deckhead windows, which are up to two metres tall, ensuring a level of visibility far beyond previous aircraft carriers. There are 37 windows, which are over 40mm thick and weigh eight tonnes in total, enabling them to withstand a significant impact. The observation bridge is positioned one deck below. The fog horn will be installed on Six Deck. At 146 decibels, it is louder than a rock concert and can be heard over two 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 will be installed at the very top of the forward island. It will be the size of a large mobile home and able to track 1,000 targets up to 250 miles away. Alongside this will sit the satellite communication antenna.

The navigation radars are located one deck further 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.

INSIDE HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH insideHMS Q 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84

Aviation store F35 Lightning II Phalanx automated close-in weapons system Forward island bridge Navigation radar Long range radar Forward engine and gas turbine uptakes Forward aircraft lift Merlin helicopter After island emergency conning bridge Mainmast Medium range radar Communication outfit After engine room and gas turbine uptakes Flying control position After aircraft lift Chinook helicopter Automatic small calibre gun Inflatable life-raft stowage Forward mooring deck Junior rates’ six-berth cabins Junior rates’ showers and toilets Ship’s office complex Pyrolysis compartment Forward gas turbine space Forward engine down-takes Fire protection system Hangar forward bay Forward hangar doors Air squadron complex Mass evacuation system RN police office and cells After engine downtakes After gas turbine space After hangar doors Air filtration units Hangar mid bay Hangar aft bay Aft mooring deck Starboard mooring deck Port mooring deck Anchor (port and starboard) Water ballast compartment Chain locker trunk Gym Junior rates’ recreation space Mission systems office Mission systems complex Forward engine room uptakes Bakery Pipe passage Junior rates’ galley Junior rates’ dining hall NAAFI canteen spaces Low voltage distribution compartment After engine room uptakes Hospital area Ward area General medical area HQ1 and ship control centre Senior rates’ dining hall Officers’ and senior rates’ galley Wardroom Wardroom annexe Head of department cabins Flag and commanding officers’ galley Flag officer and commanding officers’ dining room Commanding officer’s suite Flag officer’s suite Rudder (port and starboard) Bulbous bow Auxiliary machinery space Naval stores complex Avcat tank Forward engine room Fresh water tanks Stabiliser compartment (port and starboard) Stabiliser (port and starboard) Heel correction tank (port and starboard) Bilge keel Void After engine room Officers’ baggage store Propeller (port and starboard)

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 31

32 I HMS Queen Elizabeth

NAMESAKES The Earlier Queen Elizabeths Story by Charles Oldham

The first HMS Queen Elizabeth was the name-ship of a class of five superdreadnought battleships. Launched in 1913, she entered service in January 1915. Other ships of the class were 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 over 100 tonnes and able to fire a 1,938-pound 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 exclusively rather than coal. This innovation decreased the thick black 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 aiming 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 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 so 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. Originally, four were planned, but the entire class was cancelled in February 1966, in the wake of the 1966 Defence White Paper.

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 33

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.

HMS Queen Elizabeth Battle Honours • Dardanelles 1915 • Crete 1941 • Sabang 1944 • Burma 1944-5 • East Indies 1945 What would have been the second HMS Queen Elizabeth, CVA-01, was a big-deck aircraft carrier cancelled in 1966.

Semper Eadem

Imperial War Museum photo

‘Ever the Same’

34 I HMS Queen Elizabeth


At the end of the Second World War, the Royal Navy had 900 major warships and more than 866,000 sailors. There was still an empire to defend, and the United Kingdom was one of three major powers that decided the fate of Europe and Asia. This was the high point of British naval power and UK influence in the 20th century. Since then, the UK has continuously sought ways to maintain a credible maritime presence sufficient to achieve strategic defence and political aims. Over successive ‘Statements on Defence Estimates’ and ‘Defence Reviews’ Great Britain has defined a naval policy that combines increasingly challenging financial realities with defence budget priorities.

In 1948, Clement Attlee’s Labour government produced what ‘A Brief Guide to Previous British Defence Reviews’ terms, ‘the first vestiges of a post WWII defence policy’. This was based on the three pillars of: defence of the UK; maintaining vital sea communications; and securing the Middle East as a defensive and striking base against the Soviet Union. The aircraft carrier remained a vital element of this doctrine. However, it was not until 1957

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that the first real forward-looking Strategic Defence Review was delivered to parliament. Known as the ‘Sandys’ Review, this document used the lens of the prevailing geopolitical environment to determine the direction of future UK defence policy. It combined a proposal for radical reductions in force structures and manpower together with a realignment of UK defence policy. Duncan Sandys, the Conservative Minister of Defence at the time, recognised the UK’s

HMS Illustrious (foreground) and HMS Bulwark are pictured near Harstad, Norway during Exercise Cold Response, March 14, 2012. Multipurpose vessels such as Illustrious and Bulwark are key to UK defence policy.

role within NATO and Britain’s growing reliance on the United States. Moreover the Sandys Review articulated the recurring theme that, ‘Britain’s influence

in the world depends first and foremost on the health of her internal economy and the success of her export trade. Without these, military power cannot in the long run be supported. It is therefore in the true interests of defence that the claims of military expenditure should be considered in conjunction with the need to maintain the country’s financial and economic strength.’ Although under a growing spotlight, the aircraft carrier remained a central

key to achieving the defence aims. In fact, during the 1960s, the Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier capability was second only to the United States. Fast forward to 1998 and another Labour government was faced with redefining the UK’s defence vision – this time in a post-Cold War environment. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the break-up of the Warsaw Pact was a doubleedged sword. On the one hand, it seemed that Britain and her allies could look forward to a peace dividend where defence structures and commitments could be further reduced. On the other hand, the collapse of the Soviet Union created a power vacuum that continues to throw up regional security

A digitally manipulated image of a Harrier pilot’s view as he prepares to take off from an Invincible-class aircraft carrier. The Invincible class were created for Cold War ASW missions, but developed over time to deliver multi role capabilities.

challenges not just in Europe, but also on a wider global scale. The 1998 Strategic Defence Review therefore called for the UK armed forces to be able to operate with more agility to confront situations on a worldwide basis, predominantly with the US but also alone – if required. Moving away

from the somewhat predictable land and sea defence postures of the Cold War would require a beefed up expeditionary capability that would enable the UK to send significant force deployments rapidly to practically anywhere in the world. The two Queen Elizabethclass aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, which are now being prepared for service, were born in this review. This George Robertson-led Strategic Defence Review also required the three armed services to further deepen their ability to operate together in what is often termed ‘jointery’ or joint operations. The subsequent creation of Joint Force Harrier in

UK Ministry of Defence photo

36 I HMS Queen Elizabeth

LEADING INTEGRATED MARITIME CAPABILITY Supporting the Aircraft Carrier Alliance and HMS Queen Elizabeth IFS has been supporting Babcock Marine and Technology Division, a strategic UK provider of engineering and support services to the Royal Navy, at its UK MOD dockyards in Clyde, Rosyth and Devonport for many years. The Babcock design and development work within the Aircraft Carrier Alliance was supported by IFS Applications in order to provide live, coherent information across the enterprise, to manage priorities, and to ensure processes and procedures were simplified and better understood. IFS has been supporting BAE Systems Maritime and the UK MOD dockyard at Portsmouth Naval Base since 2003, providing an enabler to Deep Repair of Naval and Commercial Vessels, Maintenance, Defect Rectification and Capability, Upgrades, Facilities Management, Logistics, Transport and Waterfront Support. IFS Applications will be used to support HMS Queen Elizabeth at its Portsmouth Naval Base home port.


© UK Crown copyright 2014. Reproduced under the OGL v 2.0”

2001, where both Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy (Fleet Air Arm – FAA) squadrons manned the three Invincible-class carriers – HM Ships Ark Royal, Illustrious and Invincible – is a core product of this concept. During the 1990s, these carriers had refocused their primary Cold War tasking as submarine and warship hunters in favour of a carrier strike capability with the FA2 Sea Harrier fighter/attack jump jet aircraft eventually being replaced with the RAF’s Harrier GR7/9, which had a more substantial land attack capability. The establishment of the Joint Helicopter Command in 1999 is another example of this concept – particularly as more helicopter types like the Army Air Corps (AAC) Apache and the RAF Chinook have been adapted so that they can operate from ships. This has huge potential as the JHC operates 239 Forward Fleet aircraft, including the Sea King

A Harrier GR9 takes off from HMS Ark Royal for the very last time, whilst a Sea King helicopter hovers in the background. While Harriers are gone from Royal Navy flight decks, the philosophy behind Joint Force Harrier lives on.

and Lynx helicopters of the Royal Navy’s Commando Helicopter Force, the Chinook, Puma and Merlin helicopters of the RAF and the Apache, Lynx, Gazelle and Bell 212 helicopters of the AAC, and somewhat paradoxically, the AAC fixed-wing Islander aircraft. The two new Queen Elizabethclass carriers, however, are not mere replacements for the Invincible class; they are a step change in capability. At 65,000 tonnes they eclipse the 20,000-tonne Invincible class and will be the largest ships the Royal Navy has ever put into service. Together,

they will underpin the expeditionary vision and, according to the latest Strategic Defence and Security Review, published in October 2010 by the current Conservative/ Liberal coalition, ‘A Queen Elizabeth-class carrier, operating the most modern combat jets, will give the UK the ability to project military power more than 700 miles over land, as well as sea, from anywhere in the world.’ The 2010 SDSR calls for a further reduction in force structures and manpower and delivers a set of assumptions detailing what the UK government expects the armed forces to be capable of undertaking. These assumptions recognise the continuing shrinkage of the three armed services and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), and therefore represent a scaling down of the scope of tasks. Consequently, the resulting Future Force 2020 (FF2020) will be smaller but more

UK Ministry of Defence photo

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agile, and by 2020 will be expected to be fully manned and trained to undertake: an enduring stabilisation operation at around brigade level (up to 6,500 personnel) with maritime and air support as required, whilst also conducting: one nonenduring complex intervention (up to 2,000 personnel), and one non-enduring simple intervention (up to 1,000 personnel); or, alternatively, three non-enduring operations if not already engaged in an enduring operation. Another scenario dictates that, given sufficient warning, the UK armed forces should be able to conduct a single all-UK effort to a one-off intervention of up to three brigades, with maritime and air support (around 30,000, two-thirds of the force deployed to Iraq in 2003).

Sea King helicopters from the Tailored Air Group (TAG) prepare to leave the flight deck of HMS Ocean after Operation VELA off West Africa in 2006. The establishment of Joint Helicopter Command in 1999 is another example of the concept of ‘jointery’.

To be able to do this the armed services will be held at the following levels of readiness: deployed, high, lower, and extended, with deployed referring to those elements that are on operations around the world, including ships, soldiers and aircraft. Due to the greater cost of maintaining high-readiness forces, those forces held at the high readiness level will be smaller than those held at lower levels. The lower readiness forces include those

that are essentially regenerating and training, while those held at the extended level are held back and, in some cases, mothballed. This extended readiness level is critical for the aircraft carrier programme as, according to the 2010 SDSR, ‘We will need to operate only one aircraft carrier. We cannot now foresee circumstances in which the UK would require the scale of strike capability previously planned. We are unlikely to face adversaries in large-scale air combat. We are far more likely to engage in precision operations, which may need to overcome sophisticated air defence capabilities. The single carrier will therefore routinely have 12 fast jets embarked for operations while retaining the capacity to deploy up to the 36 previously

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planned, providing combat and intelligence capability much greater than the existing Harriers. It will be able to carry a wide range of helicopters, including up to 12 Chinook or Merlin transports and eight Apache attack helicopters. The precise mix of aircraft will depend on the mission, allowing the carrier to support a broad range of operations including landing a Royal Marines Commando Group, or a Special Forces Squadron conducting a counterterrorism strike, assisting with humanitarian crises or the evacuation of UK nationals.’ Although changing requirements have superseded some of the proposals in the 2010 SDSR, the intention of holding one of the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers in extended readiness would allow two options. As a baseline it would

Royal Marines from 40 Commando on patrol in the Sangin area of Afghanistan.

enable a constant carrier capability by rotating the two vessels in and out of extended readiness. Beyond that, if there was a need to operate both at the same time, then this would be a possibility. This will be a decision for the next Defence Review in 2015. International Partnerships The steady reduction in the RN fleet, balanced by an exponential rise in technological advancement, has resulted in a need to strengthen international partnerships, not just in maritime operations but also in naval vessel programme development.

The French, for example, cofinanced the development phase of the Queen Elizabeth class with an eventual view to manufacturing a sister ship to its existing aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle based on the British effort. The US Navy, US Marine Corps, and the French Navy are helping the Royal Navy train up its pilots and ground maintenance/flight control teams whilst the RN is temporarily without a fixed-wing carrier of its own. On the operations side, the Royal Navy has forged strong relationships with navies around the world, particularly in the fields of maritime security. The counter-terrorism Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR in the Mediterranean is a NATO activity, whereas the counter-narcotics effort in the Atlantic is undertaken primarily in cooperation with the US and Dutch navies, supervised

through the Florida-based JIATFSouth (Joint Inter-Agency Task Force-South) as well as Lisbon-based MAOC-N (Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics). The effort to contain piracy off the Horn of Africa contains both a coalition Combined Task Force and a European Union element under Operation Atalanta. Keeping the Sea Lanes Open Any government’s first priority is the safety and security of its people. For a maritime nation, this entails ensuring that the sea lanes remain open for the commerce that is essential for a growing economy and a population in need of food, raw materials, manufactured goods and above all else, energy. The Royal Navy has a long tradition of maintaining

Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose (bottom right) takes formation with other ships from Norway and Denmark as part of Operation RECSYR (REmoval of Chemical weapons from SYRia) near Cyprus in February 2014. The UK’s maritime security partnerships are continuing to increase in number and scope.

freedom of access to the sea and is one of only a few nations that have been able to muster the full panoply of capabilities that this can require. With the reintroduction of the carrier strike capability in 2020, the UK will once again be able to deploy a task group with its own air cover and aircraft able to strike targets on land. When the UK became a net importer of oil and gas in 2005, the

Arabian Sea and particularly the four-mile-wide Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world’s energy is transported, became of greater consequence to the nation. Fortunately, having an aircraft carrier the size of the Queen Elizabeth with four acres of sovereign real estate offers politicians and commanders an extremely broad range of options should any state attempt to cut off the oil and gas by closing the maritime access routes. Currently France, Italy, Spain and the US are the only NATO partner nations that can deploy a fixed-wing carrier group to these waters. The value of these huge ships and the air component should never be underestimated. When Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in December 2011 the presence of two US carriers – USS

UK Ministry of Defence photo

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SURFACE ENGINEERING IN EXTREME ENVIRONMENTS Proud to be part of the Team Surface Engineering is one of the 22 national competencies and enablers across all high value manufacturing sectors. In modern ‘High Value’ manufacturing it is impossible to design new products without modifying the surface to achieve performance. Monitor Coatings is part of the MEC Group which has provided patented state of the art surface engineering technology befitting the high value manufacturing achievements made in the building of the HMS Queen Elizabeth. The Need for Change

A Proud Heritage

In the case of STOVL (Short Take off Vertical Landing) aircraft, traditional paint systems are no longer capable of meeting the extreme environments experienced on the surface of the aircraft carrier deck. The flight deck of the QE Class Carriers is subjected to an extreme aero-thermal environment when the Joint Strike Fighter F-35C (CV) variant is conducting hover transition and vertical landing on the surface. A metallic nonskid coating with a unique sealing system and its large scale preparation and application, involving thermal metal spray (TMS) coating had to be developed to the technology readiness levels acceptable for application and long term support on HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

The North East of England, home to Monitor Coatings since 1927, has long been one of the unsung heroes of technological innovation. Continually proving itself as a worthy player in a global arena, Newcastle upon Tyne has a proud history of ship building and support services. Now part of a multi-billion euro organisation with more than 35 operations throughout the world, Monitor Coatings, stronger with Castolin Eutectic and the MEC Group, continues to pave the way for surface engineering innovation through inward investment and ground-breaking research and development.

Advanced coating system for deposition of complex alloys, courtesy of Castolin Eutectic.

Surface roughness profile at x100 magnification.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 45 Carl Vinson and USS Abraham Lincoln – caused the Iranian government to openly state that they did not want carriers in those waters, thereby exposing their concern of the firepower that these vessels can deliver. The Strait of Hormuz is not the only sea lane that could be a potential choke point. The Straits of Malacca off Sumatra and the southern entrance to the Suez Canal are two of the most important trade routes on the planet. Unfortunately, both are plagued by the presence of pirates that seize ships and hold them and their crews to ransom. A naval presence is essential to safeguard the shipping in both regions. The size and flexibility of an aircraft carrier offers options that smaller vessels are not always able to provide. Again, the Royal Navy plays a major role in both these waters. As part of the Five Powers Defence Arrangements, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, the UK and US hold regular combined exercises to help maintain stability where the Pacific and Indian Oceans meet each other. The Royal Navy also plays an integral role in the effort to counter the piracy threat off the Horn of Africa from its Northwood Command centre in North London, which commands the European mission and links in with the coordination of the many other naval forces from around the world who have become involved in the task. Power Projection The UK’s high profile as a founder member of NATO with a permanent seat on the United Nations’ Security Council, as well as its membership in the European Union, means that it is frequently called upon to come to the assistance of other nations in their time of need. The example

of the US carriers in the Arabian Gulf bears witness to the fact that aircraft carriers have both a psychological and military deterrent effect. Whereas a submarine, such as one of the Royal Navy’s brand new Astute-class boats, may have an onshore strike capability through its Tomahawk missiles, their hidden nature makes them quite a covert threat. Undoubtedly, submarines do deliver a deterrent threat, but sailing a 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier along the coastline of a state brings enormous influence to bear down in the minds of those who may be contemplating aggression. Added to their size, a mixed package of fixed- and rotarywing aircraft with devastating firepower and vast intelligencegathering capabilities and the ability to embark commando or special operations forces units can be the deciding factor that persuades a state to forgo a military adventure. It is, beyond doubt, one of the clearest and strongest messages a government can send to another regime. Naturally, if the errant state decides to engage militarily, a rapid intervention can be implemented that few countries could hope to counter effectively. Humanitarian Missions The onset of global warming has become generally accepted worldwide, not just as a result of the scientific analysis of the phenomenon, but also due, in many respects, to the increase in storms, hurricanes and typhoons that appear to be taking on an increasingly destructive nature. Earthquakes, and the possibility of a resultant tsunami, represent another danger to the countries that enjoy a coastal perspective – some 80 percent of all nations. Once a storm or earthquake has

hit a population, especially if it belongs to one of the 14 British Overseas Territories (BOTs), the first question the MoD asks is, ‘Where is our nearest ship?’ When the infrastructure of a region has been crippled, one of the most effective ways, if not the only way of delivering rapid aid, is via a ship that has its own planning team, ground vehicles, communications, airborne assets and manpower. Obviously, the bigger the ship, the more aid that can be embarked. The Royal Navy prides itself in having a highly developed Humanitarian Assistance capability that is put to use on a regular basis around the world. It could be argued that the aspirations of the 1957 Sandys Review have finally been achieved. In May 2012, the UK’s Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, revealed that the nation’s defence budget had been balanced, meaning that following the SDSR adjustments all equipment procurement programmes were adequately financially supported and the cost of maintaining the UK’s armed forces, at around 2 percent of GDP, was manageable, and therefore no longer an economic risk to the nation. When Future Force 2020 is achieved, the Royal Navy and its support arm, the RFA, will have 90 ships between them – crewed and managed by approximately 31,000 sailors and marines. By then, the two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers will be the flagships of one of the world’s most technologically advanced expeditionary navies, with a global presence, an enviable reputation for mission success and a highly credible capability to meet all tasks required of the service by the British government in protecting our nation’s interests.

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WHY AIRCRAFT CARRIERS? The early 21st century has become a boom-time for aircraft carrier construction, with several different types being built around the world. The reason is that the vast utility that aircraft carriers provide to a nation’s navy is unrivalled by any other type of warship.

The Evolution of Carrier Strike More than 200 years ago in 1806, Lord Thomas Cochrane became the first naval commander to engage in seaborne air power when he launched kites from his ship, HMS Pallas, in order to drop leaflets on the French during the Napoleonic War. These leaflets were designed to dissuade the French from supporting the war against Great Britain. It was a classic early example of what is now termed an ‘influence’ operation. It was also a clear indication that the Royal Navy had begun to recognise the value of combining the freedom of mobility of a ship with the extra reach of an airborne platform. When powered aircraft were bestowed with an ability to take off and land on water, it was the French who were the first to put aircraft to sea on their naval vessel, La Foudre, in 1911. This was not

strictly an aircraft carrier as we know it today, as the planes had to be winched into the water to take off. However, from that moment on the aircraft carrier concept was born, and on the other side of the Atlantic, the Americans had become convinced of the benefits of the aircraft carrier principle and were consequently experimenting with a range of seaborne aviation concepts. They can boast of being the first to actually fly an aircraft off a ship, when Eugene Burton Ely, an Iowa-born civilian pilot, sped off in his Curtiss pusher aircraft down an 80ft wooden decking erected on the US Navy light cruiser USS Birmingham. He then did the reverse two months later by landing on the armoured cruiser USS Pennsylvania as it was anchored in San Francisco Bay. The Royal Navy, however, took the concept a step further in 1912 when Lt Charles Samson flew his Shorts S27 plane off HMS London

Photo credit

Story by Simon Michell

UK Ministry of Defence photo

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Artist’s rendering of a future Royal Navy Task Group, with Type 45 destroyers, a MARS tanker, and Astute-class attack submarine in formation with a Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier.


Congratulations to the Royal Navy on the naming of the HMS Queen Elizabeth. L-3 is honoured to have provided our Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) and expertise to this outstanding addition to the Royal Navy fleet. We wish the HMS Queen Elizabeth and its crew great success in the many years ahead.

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 49 The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Courageous (built 1916) with aircraft carrier HMS Furious (built 1918) and what appears to be HMS Glorious in formation. The Royal Navy was quick to grasp the utility and effectiveness of the aircraft carrier.

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whilst it was actually moving. It was the struggle to land a plane on a moving ship that placed the Royal Navy at the forefront of this most complex military endeavour, with the design of the first-ever real aircraft carrier capable of both launching and retrieving aircraft on its deck – HMS Argus. By the start of the First World War (WWI) the aircraft carrier had come into its own and was put to use as an offensive weapon with raids on German Zeppelin bases in Cuxhaven – thus proving the concept of a carrier strike capability. From then on, the strike and reconnaissance capability of seaborne aircraft was put to further use in the hunt for German submarines, which were to pose an almost mortal threat to the United Kingdom in the next world war. It was during the Second World War (WWII), that the Royal Navy carrier strike capability came into its own with what has gone down in history as the first all-aircraft attack against enemy warships in the Battle of Taranto on 11 November 1940. Royal Navy pilots, dropping torpedoes, flares and bombs from their Fairey Swordfish biplanes, were able to deliver such a severe mauling to the Italian fleet that it was forced to leave a vital area of operations in the Mediterranean and seek refuge in the port of Naples. Once the attack had finished, the Commander-in-Chief of the

Mediterranean Fleet, Adm Andrew Browne Cunningham, observed that the Royal Navy aviators of the Fleet Air Arm had become the RN’s ’most devastating weapon’. Not only did these men bring about the end of the era of the ‘big gun ship’, the Japanese Imperial Navy also used the Battle of Taranto as a blueprint for their aircraft carrier assault on Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941. After the end of WWII the Royal Navy maintained its supremacy in the carrier strike field when Capt Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown landed a modified de Havilland Vampire jet aircraft on board HMS Ocean on 3 December 1945 – the first man to achieve this feat. He subsequently went on to become the first man to land a twin-engine jet aircraft onto a carrier as well. Flexibility Versus Specialisation Although most advanced navies now operate vessels that are designed to be flexible so that they can undertake a variety of roles

across maritime security, disaster relief and war-fighting tasks, each different type of surface ship, particularly in the Royal Navy, still has a core capability at the heart of its design. For example, the Royal Navy has a mix of ships in its fleet, including the Sandown- and Hunt-class mine hunters, which specialise in the complex mission of detecting and neutralising water-borne mines that are planted in the water to constrain ship manoeuvrability and/or destroy enemy shipping – be it combat or commercial. They often operate in coordination with survey ships like HM Ships Echo and Enterprise that are equipped with advanced oceanographic and bathymetric sensors to examine the water itself and the seabed and produce and update survey charts. This serves to guarantee that there are no unseen dangers beneath the waves and ensures the safety of shipping transiting shallow and deep waters. Their usefulness for other tasks was highlighted when HMS Echo joined the search for the

50 I HMS Queen Elizabeth Left: HMS Ocean shown with her Tailored Air Group on board. The shadow of a Chinook falls across Sea King helicopters on her flight deck. Below, left: Assault craft with Royal Marines embarked exit the stern of the HMS Albion during amphibious operations off North Carolina, USA, July 12, 2010.

UK Ministry of Defence photos

Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 flight recorder in April 2014. The RN also operates the red-painted ship HMS Protector for patrolling the waters of the Antarctic Territories as an ice breaker, hydrographic survey vessel and support for the British Antarctic Survey. Other environmental duties are pursued by the River-class patrol vessels Mersey, Severn and Tyne, which conduct maritime security operations around the British Economic Exclusion Zone to enforce the laws related to commercial fishing. The Royal Navy’s escort forces consist of six state-of-the-art Type 45 air defence destroyers built around the impressive Sampson radar system and the PAAMS missile system, and 13 Type 23 ASW and general purpose frigates. The Type 23s will be replaced from 2021 onwards with 13 Type 26 Global Combat Ships. The escorts are the workhorses of the RN, globally deployed protecting the nation’s interests on a range of tasks. All these ships can carry out warfighting, maritime security and influence tasks. The destroyers and frigates will also form up with task groups that are prosecuting expeditionary operations. These are known in military parlance as amphibious operations, meaning that the mission has both a seaborne and land element to it,

Photo by LA(Phot) Ray Jones

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with the land element being an assault onshore. To undertake these missions the RN has the bespoke assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, built with floodable internal docks allowing them to launch hovercraft and conventional landing craft full of Royal Marine Commandos. These expeditionary missions also require a range of fixed and rotary-wing aircraft. Although escorts have a flight deck at the stern that can launch a single helicopter – more in the case of the Albion and Bulwark – in order to get a lot of men and equipment onshore quickly you need larger landing decks, which are delivered by the flat-top aircraft carriers. To this end, the Royal Navy employs helicopter carriers HMS Ocean and HMS Illustrious. They focus on rotarywing operations with a range of helicopters designed to transport

Indian Navy aircraft carriers Vikramaditya (foreground) and Viraat. India, China, Brazil, Japan, and South Korea all have aircraft carrier or helicopter carrier programmes.

men and equipment, attack land targets, hunt submarines and undertake surveillance and reconnaissance tasks. As well as providing the deck for fixed wing operations, the Queen Elizabeth class will have all the air traffic management systems, specialised flight deck equipment and crewmembers necessary to operate fast jets. These ships represent the very pinnacle of maritime capability, as the technology, training and experience required to operate jets from ships has up until now been shared by a very small group of nations.

The UK can be proud of its pioneering role in this industry and its ability to remain a major player in this exclusive manufacturing fraternity. The RN has introduced many of the innovations that have made operating ships at sea safer and more efficient, such as the mirror landing system and the angled deck – two innovations that were eagerly adopted by the US Navy. HMS Queen Elizabeth is another example of the UK pushing out the boundaries of its technological innovation, as the QE-class ships will be the largest aircraft carriers the United Kingdom has ever put to sea. They will also contain very high levels of automation that will reduce crew numbers significantly – something that the US Navy is looking at with a great deal of interest. The number of nations now engaged in their own domestically designed and built fixed-wing

52 I HMS Queen Elizabeth A Sea King is pictured hovering over HMS Ark Royal during operations in 2003. Her hangar deck is crowded with BvS10 Vikings, part of the assault force during the opening stages of the second Gulf War.

carrier programmes is expanding. Brazil, China and India have all instigated their own fast-jet carrier programmes, with Japan and South Korea capable of building and currently planning helicopter carriers. As nations develop their technology and generate sufficient budgets to expand their military maritime reach, the aircraft carrier is seen as the most efficient way of projecting power overseas and engaging targets many hundreds of miles inland. RN Carrier Operations The quick answer to the question ‘Why Carriers?’ is the most simple. The aircraft carrier represents sovereign territory from which a nation can engage another without the need to get permission to fly through a third-party nation’s airspace. The aircraft carrier is also capable of transiting the globe, making almost every other nation accessible to its aircraft. This freedom of action and long-range

reach is essential for any state that wishes to project credible power globally. One could be forgiven for thinking that the aircraft carrier had its heyday by the end of WWII, and that since then it has gone the way of the big gun battleship. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth as, since 1945, the aircraft carrier has continued to prove its worth for the Royal Navy and the UK government on a regular and frequent basis. The most obvious and high profile occasion was Operation Corporate, to retake the Falkland Islands from the Argentineans. This decisive 1982 campaign not only provided numerous lessons for the current navy and other partner nations, it also re-instilled a confidence that Great Britain could meet its obligations to defend British citizens on British sovereign territory, no matter how far away they were. The carrier task force and its organic aircraft on board the veteran Centaur-class HMS Hermes

and newer HMS Invincible were essential to the success of the operation, as any other plan – such as an airborne assault – would have been far too risky to attempt even if a way could have been found to implement it. After Iraqi forces were ejected from Kuwait in 1991 by a US-led coalition, RN carriers participated in Operation SOUTHERN WATCH over Iraq to enforce no-fly zones. FA.2 Sea Harriers flying from RN carriers were instrumental in the effort to prevent the persecution of the Marsh Arabs in the Southern reaches of Iraq. The second Gulf War in 2003 would see a classic amphibious assault from HMS Ark Royal in an LPH role in which Royal Marines annexed the Al Faw peninsula, securing the flank for the land assault on the strategic port of Basra and its surrounding hinterland. During the Balkan wars of the 1990s, the three Invincible-class carriers Ark Royal, Illustrious and Invincible, all participated in enforcing the no-fly zones as part of the NATO/UN Operation DENY FLIGHT and the subsequent Operation DELIBERATE FORCE between 1993 and 1995. These were the first military engagements for NATO and proved that the Alliance had successfully refocused its posture from an ostensibly Cold War defensive force into one that could project power and bring sufficient influence to bear on warring groups to force them to seek alternative means

UK Ministry of Defence photo

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 53 A GR9 Harrier prepares to land on board the now retired HMS Ark Royal in wet weather. The Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers will represent a great leap forward in capability for the UK.

UK Ministry of Defence photo

of achieving their political aims through the Dayton Accords. This operation saw the introduction of the improved FA.2 Sea Harrier equipped with a more powerful engine, the Blue Vixen radar, the AIM-120 air-to-air missile and a range of land attack munitions, making it one of the most effective air-defence fighters in the British order of battle.

In an all-UK effort to support the government of Sierra Leone, a carrier task force consisting of the fixed-wing aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean and HMS Argyll was despatched to the West African State as part of Operation PALLISER to evacuate civilians from Lungi airport. Between them, the two carriers

transported a military force of around 600 Royal Marines together with their equipment to reinforce the soldiers from the British Army’s Parachute Regiment who had been flown in previously. This intervention later saw the rescue of British soldiers who had been captured by the notorious paramilitary group, the West Side Boys. The neutralisation of this group was a major factor in bringing peace to the war-torn country. In 2006, HMS Illustrious’ embarked helicopters participated in another massive evacuation of civilians from Lebanon. The RN task force, led by Illustrious, along with Chinooks from the RAF, rescued British and other entitled personnel (EPs). In what must go down as one of the largest evacuations since Dunkirk, more than 4,500 EPs were brought to safety in just six days. The fast-jet aircraft carrier is a complex defence system that not every nation can afford, let alone operate. However, for those countries with global responsibilities such as the United Kingdom, there is nothing that has a comparable broad utility. From warfighting through maritime security to humanitarian tasks, the carrier gives the government a range of military options. The United Kingdom has turned to the aircraft carrier on numerous occasions, and in such an uncertain and unstable world will doubtlessly do so again.

54 I HMS Queen Elizabeth



HMS Daring was midway through her global deployment when she was re-tasked to Cebu. She provided UK medical assistance, food aid and clean water to victims in the outlying islands stranded without assistance. HMS Daring’s Lynx helicopter spent three days surveying some of the smaller, more far-flung islands that had not yet been reached by humanitarian agencies. She was able to determine what aid was required – and it soon became clear more supplies were needed. HMS Illustrious, with her embarked helicopter force, greater manpower and huge hangar space, was sent to assist. She had been deployed in the Middle East as part of the UK’s Maritime Response Force Task Group (RFTG) – the UK’s high readiness maritime force ready to act at short notice to any task – and was ordered to sail the 4,500 miles in ten days to reach the stricken Philippines.

HMS Illustrious’ mobile airbase was key – it allowed the embarked helicopters to deliver vital provisions and tools to isolated areas that could not be reached by aircraft operating from the mainland. Royal Navy Sea King and Merlin and British Army Lynx helicopters operated from dawn until dusk delivering personnel and aid to the island clusters around the central Philippine island of Panay. By the beginning of December, HMS Illustrious’ seven embarked helicopters had collectively amassed more than 274 flying hours ferrying people, equipment and underslung loads to and from shore. This allowed island communities to begin to reconstruct their lives. En-route to the Philippines, the ship stopped in Singapore to load hundreds of pallets and boxes of food, rice and disaster relief packs into the huge aircraft hangar. Items included 12,000 blankets, 80 tonnes of roofing material and

tools (which provided shelter for up to 8,000 families), 100 tonnes of rice (half of all the rice available in Singapore), electrical generators, boat repair kits, and 12,000 jerry cans to fill with clean drinking water manufactured on board using the ship’s reverse osmosis plant. HMS Illustrious’ Commanding Officer, Capt Mike Utley, said: ‘Our capabilities perfectly matched what was required in the Philippines. We were able to get to where we were needed quickly and our size and flexibility meant that we could store and distribute extremely large volumes of emergency aid supplies. ‘Our embarked helicopters were essential in surveying large areas, including remote islands, and then in delivering aid to places that simply could not be accessed by any other means. ‘Most significantly, many members of the ship’s company and the 300 additional embarked sailors, Royal Marines, soldiers and

UK Ministry of Defence photo

Typhoon Haiyan hit Southeast Asia on 8 November 2013, and was the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record. The UK government’s and general public’s response was to provide more than £60 million in aid for the region. Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief Operations (HADRO) are key tasks for the Royal Navy, and a critical part of the UK’s support was to send two Royal Navy ships to the region.

A Merlin from 829 Naval Air Squadron delivering aid ashore, Igbon Island, Philippines.

56 I HMS Queen Elizabeth UK military support to the Philippines in the wake of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan demonstrated the rapid and agile response that naval power can bring to a crisis zone.

airmen were able to get ashore to assess needs, deliver food and repair key services and broken infrastructure.’ He added: ‘The people in the Philippines are extremely resilient, but it was clear to me that those in the worst hit areas had been through a lot. ‘Given the volume and type of aid and assistance that we were able to deliver to the more inaccessible islands, we believe that we set in excess of 40,000 people firmly on the road to recovery.’ HMS Illustrious also provided support to charities and other aid organisations operating in the area. 3,000 tarpaulins, enough to re-roof 1,500 homes, were delivered to a German charity working in Roxas City, north Panay, for onward distribution. In the earliest stages of the Philippine-led disaster relief operation, UK military support complemented the work of the Department for International Development (DFID) and the many aid agencies. The use of HMS Illustrious and HMS Daring embarked helicopters to reconnoitre the effect of the Typhoon on remote islands and provide assistance to isolated communities, together with the RAF C-17 and C-130 Hercules transport aircraft to deliver relief supplies, demonstrated the rapid and agile response the British military offers across the world.

UK Ministry of Defence photos

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58 I HMS Queen Elizabeth The Italian navy aircraft carrier ITS Cavour, (foreground), the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman and the French navy aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, conduct operations in the Gulf of Oman, Jan. 3, 2014.

Story by Charles Oldham


hen World War II (WWII) ended with the advent of nuclear weapons, many suggested the era of the aircraft carrier and amphibious warfare was over. Yet every single one of the nearly 50 aircraft-carrying ships described below was laid down after WWII. Today, at a time when criticism of the usefulness of aircraft carriers is particularly strident, seagoing nations across the globe are building or procuring air capable ships at a rate unseen for decades. Even the Chinese, who provoked much of the criticism of aircraft carriers when they announced their ‘carrier killer’ DF-21 ballistic missile, have commissioned one carrier and have announced they are building several others. They are doing so for the simple reason that no other naval vessel can perform the range of missions that the carrier can. From humanitarian operations to full-on conflict, none have the capacity to perform even a single mission with anything approaching an aircraft carrier’s effectiveness. The nations whose navies have aircraftcarrying ships as the centre pieces of their naval capabilities, whether they be multi-purpose amphibious warfare ships or conventional aircraft carriers, are described below.

Australia is building two Canberra-class LHDs to the same design as Spain’s Juan Carlos I, of almost 28,000 tonnes displacement and 231 metres overall length. The two ships are planned to embark up to 20 helicopters and have well decks that can hold four Landing Craft, Medium (LCM). Crew complement is expected to be 358 personnel, including aircrew, along with more than 1,000 troops. Up to 110 vehicles can be carried. Both ships are equipped to operate Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft, and might do so in the future.

BRAZIL Brazil’s sole aircraft carrier is the former French Clemenceau-class carrier Foch, now renamed São Paulo. São Paulo, 265 metres long and displacing 34,000 tonnes full load, was commissioned in 1963 by the French navy and was transferred in 2000 to Brazil. São Paulo was designed as a Catapult Launch But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR)

US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ethan M. Schumacher



HMS Queen Elizabeth I 59 ship, and has undergone a series of upgrades. She is rated at 30 knots and has a range of 7,000 nautical miles at 18 knots. São Paulo can embark an air group of up to 40 aircraft, including AF-1 Skyhawks (formerly of the Kuwaiti air force), and assorted helicopters. Her crew complement is approximately 1,600 including the air wing.

CHINA In 1998, China purchased the stripped hulk of the former Russian aircraft carrier Varyag and towed it to Dalian Shipyard, where it emerged after 13 years for commissioning, bearing the new name Liaoning. Designated a training carrier, the Short-Takeoff But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) configured ship is 304 metres overall in length, and presumably near the displacement of her sister Kuznetsov, at more than 59,000 tonnes. Refitted with Chinese radar, electronics, engines, and weapons, Liaoning went on sea trials in 2011, and was commissioned in September 2012. Deck landings and launches of J-15 aircraft, essentially copies of Sukhoi Su33s, took place in 2012 and 2013. Little is known about the air group, performance, range, or complement of the aircraft carrier. China has said it plans to build at least two more carriers of an indigenous design.

FRANCE France operates the nuclearpowered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, likely to be the only ship of its class. The CATOBAR-configured De Gaulle is 262 metres overall, and displaces 42,600 tonnes fully loaded. Her submarine-derived nuclear reactors give her a top speed of 27 knots, and her range is unlimited. The carrier embarks an air group of more than 40 Rafale M, Super Étendard, and

Hawkeye aeroplanes, and Caracal and Cougar helicopters. De Gaulle accommodates up to 1,950 crewmembers, including air group and flag staff. A programme to build a second aircraft carrier has been postponed. France also has three Mistral-class large deck amphibious assault ships – Mistral, Tonnerre, and Dixmude – each more than 21,000 tons displacement and 199 metres overall length. They have a top speed of 19 knots, and a range, at 15 knots, of 11,000 nautical miles. Each can embark between 16 and 35 helicopters, and boast well decks capable of handling two LCAC hovercraft or four landing craft. Crew is 177, plus 450 troops and up to 60 armoured vehicles.

INDIA India currently operates INS Viraat, the former British HMS Hermes. The 226-metre, 29,000-tonne full load Viraat carries India’s remaining Sea Harrier FRS.51s as well as Kamov and HAL Chetak helicopters. Viraat is slated to retire with the introduction of India’s newest aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, the former Russian Admiral Gorshkov, which has been heavily modified with a full flush deck. The modifications have been lengthy and expensive, but the 283-metre, 46,230-tonne (full load) carrier is expected to enter service this year, carrying an air group of more than 30 highly capable MiG-29K aircraft, along with Kamov and HAL helicopters. Vikramaditya is configured as a STOBAR aircraft carrier, is claimed to make 29 knots, and has a range of 13,800 nautical miles at 18 knots. Crew complement is 1,200, exclusive of air group. India’s next carrier, the indigenous aircraft carrier, or IAC, has also been delayed about five years, but is planned to be a

262-metre, 45,000-tonne STOBAR aircraft carrier, reportedly to be named Vikrant. The IAC is expected to carry an air group of more than 30 aircraft.

ITALY Italy’s navy has two ships that operate helicopters and its fleet of Harrier aircraft: the Giuseppe Garibaldi and Cavour. The 180-metre, 14,000-tonne full load Giuseppe Garibaldi was commissioned in 1985, and carries up to 15 AV-8B Harrier II aircraft and two helicopters; or 17 helicopters; or various mixes of aeroplanes and helicopters. Garibaldi can travel at up to 30 knots, with a range of 7,000 nautical miles at 20 knots. Crew is up to 825 with air group included. The 244-metre, 30,500-tonne full load Cavour was commissioned in 2008, and can accommodate up to 30 aircraft, including eight AV-8Bs and 12 EH-101 or other helicopters for various roles. The ship has accommodation for 1,210, including 528 ship’s crew, 168 air group personnel, 145 staff, and 325 Marines. Maximum speed is 28 knots, with a range of 7,000 nautical miles at 16 knots. The Italian navy plans to embark 15 FV-35B STOVL aircraft to replace the Harrier IIs. The navy also operates three large deck amphibious assault ships, the San Giorgio, San Marco, and San Giusto. Each is 137 metres long, displaces some 8,100 tonnes, and can embark up to five helicopters. A well deck for LCMs and LCVPs and accommodation for a battalion of marines and their vehicles means there is no space for a hangar deck.

JAPAN Japan has two classes of ‘helicopter carrying destroyers’,

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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 61 The Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) ship JS Hyuga and the US Navy amphibious assault

US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mark El-Rayes

ship USS Boxer.

which are de facto small aircraft carriers. The Hyuga class ships, Hyuga and Ise, displace more than 14,000 tonnes full load and are 197 metres long overall, similar in size to the Invincible class. They can operate up to 11 helicopters. The second, and larger, Izumo class are 248 metres long overall, and displace 27,400 tonnes fully loaded. Izumo was launched in 2013, and is expected to enter service next year. The second ship of the class has not yet been named. The class can embark up to 14 helicopters, and with some modifications, such as a ski-jump, could operate F-35Bs, although at the moment the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) is constrained by the country’s constitution from operating any ‘offensive weapons’. The JMSDF also operates the Oosumi-class large deck helicopter carriers, officially designated Landing Ships, Tank (LST). The three

ships – Oosumi, Shimokita, and Kunisaki – can each operate six helicopters and contain a well deck for two LCAC hovercraft or other landing craft.

REPUBLIC OF KOREA The amphibious assault ship Dokdo, is 200 metres overall, and displaces 19,300 tonnes full load. Equipped with a well deck, the ship carries two LCAC hovercraft or other landing craft, along with AAV amphibious vehicles, trucks, and tanks for 720 embarked Marines. The typical air group of Dokdo is 10 helicopters, if the hangar deck space is not taken up by vehicles, and the ship is equipped for, although it does not carry, STOVL aircraft such as the F-35B or Harrier II. Maximum speed is 22-23 knots, and crew complement is 400. A sister ship is planned.

RUSSIA Russia’s sole big-deck aircraft carrier is the Admiral Kuznetsov, 305 metres long, with a maximum displacement of more than 59,400 tonnes full load. Kuznetsov is configured as a STOBAR aircraft carrier, with a 12-degree ski jump at the bow. She can carry up to 45 aircraft. These have included Su-33, MiG-29, and Su-25UTG jets and Kamov helicopters. Crew complement with air wing is approximately 2,600. Range at 18 knots is 8,500 nautical miles, and the ship is capable of 30 knots. Kuznetsov has made few deployments since the collapse of the Soviet Union, up until late 2013 when she led a task group to the Eastern Mediterranean. Russia is also procuring two flush deck Mistral-class amphibious assault ships from France, the Vladivostok and the Sevastopol, but the handover of the first ship is in

62 I HMS Queen Elizabeth Type 42 destroyer HMS York (background) escorts the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in international waters close to the UK. The 2011 encounter took place during one of Kuznetsov’s rare deployments. She is a near-sister ship

jeopardy due to the situation in the Ukraine.

SPAIN For a time Spain was operating two aircraft carriers – Juan Carlos I and Principe de Asturias – but economic considerations led to the decommissioning of Principe de Asturias in February 2013. The larger and more versatile Juan Carlos I was originally designated a Strategic Projection Vessel, and is a 231-metre, 27,400-tonne ship capable of carrying and landing an expeditionary assault force as well as an air group. Equipped with a ski-jump bow, Juan Carlos I carries

AV-8B Harrier II aeroplanes as well as Sea King, NH 90, and CH-47 Chinook helicopters. Her well deck accommodates four LCMs. She has a speed of 21 knots and a range of 9,000 nautical miles at 15 knots. Ship’s company is 243, with an air wing of 172 personnel.

THAILAND Thailand’s aircraft carrier, the 183-metre 12,200-tonne Chakri Naruebet, is officially designated an offshore patrol helicopter carrier. Built by the Spanish shipyard IZAR, she is essentially a smaller version of Spain’s Principe de Asturias, herself derived from a

U.S. Sea Control Ship design. She has a top speed of 26 knots, with a range of 10,000 nautical miles at 12 knots. Her complement is 455, plus an air group of 146. Originally carrying S-70 helicopters as well as first generation AV-8S Matadors (AV-8A Harriers) bought from Spain, today the ship rarely leaves port, and then without Harriers and with a maximum of 10 helicopters.

UNITED KINGDOM While the Royal Navy awaits the commissioning of HMS Queen Elizabeth, there are two flush deck aircraft-carrying ships

UK Ministry of Defence photo

of the Chinese Liaoning.

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 63

The Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers INS Vikramaditya and INS Viraat,

Indian Navy photo

Jan. 3, 2014.

remaining in the fleet. The first, HMS Illustrious, is the last of the three Invincible-class CVSs. She is 210 metres long, displacing 22,000 tonnes full load. With a top speed of 28 knots, Illustrious has a range of 7,000 nautical miles at 19 knots, and embarks 726 crew as well as 384 air group personnel. Originally embarking a mix of up to 19 Sea Harriers and helicopters, she is now the fleet’s high readiness helicopter carrier, alongside the Landing Platform Helicopter HMS Ocean. The 223-metre, 21,500-tonne Ocean is capable of 19 knots, with a range of 8,000 miles at 15 knots. Crew complement is 285, plus 206 aircrew, along with up to 830 Marines. HMS Ocean embarks a mixture of up to 18 Merlin, Sea King, Lynx, and Apache helicopters on board, as well as 4 Mk 5 LCVP.

UNITED STATES The United States might be said to have five classes of aircraft

carriers. The most well known are the 10 CATOBAR-configured and nuclear powered Nimitzclass aircraft carriers. More than 333 metres long, they displace between 81,600 and 90,700 tonnes. These ships can carry up to 90 aircraft, though a typical Carrier Air Wing numbers around 65 fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft. Complement including air wing is 5,700 sailors and marines. They can exceed 30 knots, and range is unlimited. The name ship of the new Gerald R. Ford class now under construction is of similar size and displacement, but has greatly revised electrical, launch and recovery, and networking equipment, as well as a new nuclear reactor plant. Automation of key systems promises a crew complement of fewer than 4,700 sailors and marines. Like the Nimitz class, nuclear power makes range unlimited. The US Navy also operates 10 large

deck amphibious assault ships of three different classes, each displacing approximately 36,000 tonnes. All three classes operate STOVL AV-8B Harriers as well as helicopters. The most numerous of them, the Wasp-class ships, are 258 metres long, carrying up to 40 helicopters and AV8B Harriers, and will operate the F-35B Lightning II when it enters service. Crew complement is more than 1,100 sailors and marines. Maximum speed is 22 knots, and range at 20 knots is 9,500 nautical miles. The first of class LHD (R), USS America, lacks a well deck in favour of more hangar space for aircraft, and can operate 40 aircraft. The single remaining Tarawa-class ship, Peleliu, is similar to the Wasp class but smaller, at 254 metres in length, embarking a mix of up to 35 aircraft, with a range of 10,000 nautical miles at 20 knots, and carrying a crew of less than 1,000.

64 I HMS Queen Elizabeth


Delivering Joint and Combined Capability from Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers Story by Richard Scott

Lockheed Martin photo by Todd R. McQueen

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 65

While the 1998 Strategic Defence Review enshrined carrier strike at the core of UK future power projection capability, it was the coalition government’s October 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) that introduced a new policy dimension characterised as Carrier-Enabled Power Projection (CEPP). At the heart of this subtle but nonetheless significant shift in emphasis is the understanding that the new Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) carriers will be agile and rapidly reconfigurable joint operating platforms able to contribute to the broadest spectrum of operations through the integration of, and interoperability with, all elements of joint and combined forces. This will include the operation and support of carrier-capable short takeoff and landing (STOVL) air elements from allies and partners, most notably the United States. Yet what should be recognised is that the concept of CEPP represents the culmination of a doctrinal evolution that can be traced back almost two decades. It was in the mid-1990s, as the UK re-assessed how best to project power in a post-Cold War era that emphasised the virtues of rapidly deployable expeditionary forces, that thinking on carrier aviation began to change. The RN sought to maximise the utility of its existing Invincible-class carriers (CVSs), but saw that the legacy carrier air group – then made up of Sea Harriers for air defence and ground attack, and Sea Kings

Opposite page: F-35B Lightning IIs carry out STOVL trials on board the USS Wasp. Right: Sea Harrier FA2s of 801 Naval Air Squadron on the flight deck of HMS Invincible after a flying exercise, as UK Ministry of Defence photo

they prepared to participate in Exercise Aurora off the coast of North Carolina USA in 2004. Harrier GR7s of 3 Fighter Squadron RAF were also aboard to take part in the multi-national exercise. With the end of the Cold War came the rise of composite air groups orientated towards a wider range of maritime air operations.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 67 for anti-submarine warfare and airborne early warning – imposed a number of constraints. Out of this emerged a new doctrine that avowed the concept of joint maritime air operations, as opposed to ‘naval aviation’ in its classic single-service sense. In practice, this meant re-casting the CVS as a joint power projection platform capable of embarking a Tailored Air Group (TAG) also incorporating appropriate Royal Air Force (RAF) and Army Air Corps (AAC) assets; this mixand-match ‘golf bag’ approach allowed for a composite air group to be assembled using any carrier-capable aircraft to meet a specific operation or campaign. The organisational threads of this increasingly joint maritime aviation force were subsequently bound tighter by the creation of Joint Force Harrier (bringing together RN Sea Harriers and RAF Harriers) and Joint Helicopter Command (which re-brigaded all UK air assault and support helicopters under a single tri-service command). Much work was done to establish ship/air interfaces and operating limits for aircraft that had previously not been operated in the maritime environment. Furthermore, conscious of the need to adapt the carriers for their new missions – be it as a fixed-wing heavy strike platform or as an all rotary-wing helicopter carrier (LPH) – the RN endeavoured to better configure its carriers for the embarked TAG. For example, air engineering sustainability, magazines and aircrew mission planning and preparation areas were modified so as to be sufficiently flexible to meet the specific needs of different air groups. Also, the GWS 30 Sea Dart area air defence missile system fitted forward was taken out; the missile magazine below was modified for air weapons, with the flight deck

An Army Air Corps Apache helicopter takes off from HMS Ocean during Operation ELLAMY, the UK’s contribution to UNSCR1973 in the Mediterranean Sea.

area extended forward to provide for one extra deck spot and additional deck parking. And thus, with some measure of pragmatism and not a little improvisation, the CVS was transformed from a Cold War ASW platform optimised for blue-water operations to a mobile, floating airfield to support joint power projection. The concept of a rotary-wing TAG was also extended to the LPH HMS Ocean. The flexibility afforded by such an approach was highlighted in 2011 when Ocean, operating in the Mediterranean as part of Operation ELLAMY, embarked an air group including AAC Apache attack helicopters and US Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk combat search and rescue helicopters alongside RN Lynx and Sea King aircraft. Strategic Change The SDSR reaffirmed the strategic requirement for a future carrier strike capability, pointing out that a QEC

carrier will give the UK ‘the ability to project military power more than 700 nautical miles over land, as well as sea, from anywhere in the world’. It continued: ‘This capability will give the UK long term political flexibility to act without depending, at times of regional tension, on agreement from other countries to use their bases for any mission we want to undertake. It will also give us inbuilt military flexibility to adapt our approach over the 50 years of the carrier’s working life.’ The QEC has been primarily designed to operate and support a fixed-wing air group of up to 36 F-35B Lightning II aircraft, and will routinely deploy with 12 jets. The STOVL variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter family, being procured to meet the UK’s Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) requirement, the F-35B is a fifth-generation fighter able to penetrate high threat environments and detect, identify, locate and attack targets using a combination of survivability, lethality and multispectral sensors. Alongside JCA, the new carriers will also routinely embark the Merlin HM Mk 2 helicopter. Merlin will provide the carrier group with its anti-submarine screen and, when configured with the Crowsnest

68 I HMS Queen Elizabeth Royal Marines from 40 Commando (D Coy) make pre-assault preparations in HMS Illustrious’ hangar. As part of Exercise Joint Warrior 14-1, Royal Marines were projected ashore by helicopter insertion to seize the initiative and remove power from the various militia groups in control. The aircraft used were Sea Kings from 845 Naval Air Squadron (Junglies) and RAF Chinooks.

system as a role-fit, airborne surveillance and control. Yet it should not be forgotten that the utility of the QEC platform extends beyond carrier strike. The carrier will also have the ability to support air manoeuvre in the littoral, and make an enduring contribution to prevention, coercion, deterrence, and defence diplomacy. Its onboard facilities and air group additionally lend themselves to humanitarian aid/ disaster relief missions. A Directorate of Naval Staff paper, written in December 1997 to support the case for a future carrier capability, concluded: ‘Perhaps no other weapons platform contains so much joint potential as that of the aircraft carrier. It is of the sea, in the sense that it operates upon it, yet its utility is fully within all three environments; it is a thoroughly joint asset which, if used to maximum advantage is capable of applying a wide range of attributes to an equally wide range of operational circumstances.’ It was a prescient thesis. Indeed, CEPP captures the very essence

of this argument, notably the realisation of a latent embedded LPH capability. ‘What CEPP will allow us to do is maximise the potential of the new carriers, be that as a strike carrier, as an LPH, or in a hybrid configuration,’ said Assistant Rear Adm Russ Harding, Chief of the Naval Staff (Aviation and Carriers) and Rear Adm Fleet Air Arm, adding: ‘Policy guidance is that the QEC configuration must be switchable while deployed, and there must be an opportunity to surge if required.’ Responsible for both carrier and expeditionary (amphibious) strike capability development within Navy Command, Harding holds the maritime power projection portfolio as well as being the operating duty holder for both maritime aviation and the aircraft carriers. He is also responsible for coordination and delivery of the QEC programme as part of the wider CEPP portfolio. ‘Being routinely forward deployed to areas of national interest or tension, with inherent ability for immediate re-tasking, and partnership with allies, the carrier provides operational agility

and political choice through four acres of assured sovereign territory,’ he observed. ‘And so CEPP seeks to capitalise on the intrinsic attributes of the high readiness carrier, and in doing so maximise the output we achieve.’ In terms of tasking, the CEPP concept is driven by the need to fully exploit the UK’s investment in both the carrier platforms themselves and the air assets they can operate and support. That extends from the ability to deliver carrier strike in simple or complex interventions through to the ability to conduct amphibious operations, with or without combat air support, and the ability to carry out non-combatant evacuation operations or combat search and rescue/hostage rescue. The SDSR noted that the QEC ‘will be able to carry a wide range of helicopters, including up to 12 Chinook or Merlin transports and eight Apache attack helicopters,’ adding: ‘The precise mix of aircraft will depend on the mission, allowing the carrier to support a broad range of operations including landing a Royal Marines Commando Group, or a Special Forces Squadron conducting a counter-terrorism strike, assisting with humanitarian crises or the evacuation of UK nationals.’ Studies to explore the greater utility of the QEC platform to deliver the outputs required under

Royal Navy photo by PO(PHOT) Ray Jones

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 69 United States Marine Corps (USMC) AV-8B Harriers conduct fixed wing operations on HMS Illustrious ahead of Operation Bold Step, July 19, 2007. At the rear of the flight deck, an Osprey MV-22 aircraft can just be seen.

UK Ministry of Defence photo

CEPP policy have been performed by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. For example, work has been undertaken to assess if the flight deck can operate safely with an additional number of flight deck spots. ‘There are six deck spots on the current QEC deck layout,’ said Harding. ‘The study work suggests we could safely increase this up to 10 spots for Merlinsize medium lift helicopters. That would allow for a company-sized air assault in a single group lift.’ He continued: ‘To employ the QEC in a littoral manoeuvre/amphibious support capability will also require SHOL [ship/helicopter operating limit] clearances for battlefield and support helicopters, stowage plans for the TAG, and munition clearances for the EMF [Embarked Military Force]. We are also looking to increase accommodation and supporting facilities for the EMF during the ship’s first docking.’ Firmly allied to the CEPP vision is the concept of a flexible Joint Air Manoeuvre Package, assembled from both fast jet and rotary-wing assets. ‘The fixedwing force package would comprise up to 24 F-35B Lightning II aircraft,’ Harding explained. ‘This might deploy alongside a Maritime Force Protection Package consisting of nine ASW Merlin HM Mk 2 helicopters, and a further four Merlins in Crowsnest configuration. ‘At the LPH end of the spectrum, an all rotary-wing Littoral Manoeuvre/Air Manoeuvre Package could combine three Chinooks, a dozen ‘green’ Merlin Mk 4s, eight Apache attack helicopters and six Army Wildcats.’ In between the poles of carrier strike and littoral manoeuvre, a ‘hybrid’ package is also being studied. This would see the embarkation of between six and 12 Lightning IIs together with aviation enablers to support a Royal Marines Commando. ‘CEPP policy is to exercise best effort in the respective carrier strike and littoral manoeuvre roles approximately every two years,’ Harding added. ‘The challenge will come in training, and maintaining high readiness in both roles.’ Combined Effort As well as cementing a new culture of ‘jointness’ with Air Command and Land Command components, the

RN also sees the QEC programme as an opportunity to re-establish long-standing and successful carrier interoperation with allies. The Invincible class CVSs periodically embarked Spanish and Italian AV-8B Harrier II aircraft for exercises and tactical development, demonstrating STOVL carrier interoperability with NATO partners. However, it was in 2007 that this process reached something of a pinnacle when HMS Illustrious embarked 14 US Marine Corps Harrier II aircraft for Joint Task Force Exercise 07-02. Known as Operation BOLD STEP, this allowed the ship to demonstrate its ability to deliver carrier strike in a major maritime exercise with the UK’s closest coalition partner. QEC will take interoperability with the US to an altogether new level, with the relationship underpinned by a high-level bilateral agreement signed in Washington, DC in January 2012. This Statement of Intent (SoI) on carrier cooperation and maritime power projection both formalises arrangements under which

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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 71 the US Navy will assist the RN in regenerating carrier strike, and establishes the basis for increased co-operation and interoperability on aircraft carrier employment over the longer term. The ultimate objective is for US aircraft to be able to operate from UK aircraft carriers, and vice versa. Chief of Naval Staff and First Sea Lord, Adm Sir George Zambellas has described the SoI as ‘a continuation of a deep seated strategic relationship with the US that goes back to the Second World War,’ continuing: ‘What the agreement does is provide us, in partnership with the United States, a chance to recover a strategic capability as quickly and efficiently as we can. It’s a continuation of a long-standing relationship, but also recognises how the US Navy regards us as a genuine strategic partner. And strategic partners need a degree of interoperability and capability alignment so that the transatlantic relationship can, should it wish to do so in the future, achieve a degree of synergy in the use of carriers. ‘That relationship extends to the US Marine Corps, because they will be operating the same type of jet in the shape of the F-35B. That offers a specific opportunity to develop fast jet capabilities on a big deck, and therefore again improve the opportunities I described at a strategic level. So it’s a synergistic and triangular relationship which is working well.’ The US Marine Corps in fact stood up its first operational F-35B squadron – Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA121) – at MCAS Yuma, Arizona, in November 2012. An initial operational capability (IOC) is anticipated by the end of 2015, by which time the unit will be up to its full strength of 16 aircraft.

VMFA-121 is planned to relocate to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, in the second half of 2017. A first shipborne embarkation, numbering six aircraft, is planned later that year on board USS Makin Island. Meanwhile, first of class flying trials of the F-35B from HMS Queen Elizabeth are due to begin off the eastern seaboard of the United States in the latter part of 2018. IOC (maritime), the milestone that marks the delivery of an initial carrier strike capability, is set for late 2020. Such is the level of cooperation planned under the bilateral SoI that work is already underway to understand how a US Marine Corps F-35B squadron could seamlessly integrate into the QEC platform. Accordingly, plans are being developed to provide the appropriate secure network architecture to allow embarked US and UK planning staffs to work side-by-side. Senior members of the US Navy and US Marine Corps visited Queen Elizabeth in build at Rosyth at the start of 2014 ahead of a round of SoI discussions with their UK counterparts. The team was led by Vice Adm Nora Tyson – the first woman to command a US Navy aircraft carrier task group, Vice Adm David Buss of the US

Naval Air Forces, and Lt Gen Robert Schmidle – the US Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Aviation. In conclusion, the SDSR put CEPP at the very heart of UK defence policy, and will ensure that the joint potential of the QEC carrier is leveraged to the maximum extent. Carrier strike will come first, re-establishing the UK’s ability to deliver offensive air power from the sea. Thereafter, it is planned to progressively deliver the other elements of CEPP – an amphibious capability as well as the ability to conduct noncombatant evacuations, special forces raids, and humanitarian aid and disaster relief – in order that full operating capability is achieved by 2026. Furthermore, the strategic relationship cemented with the US under the SoI serves as a robust framework for increased cooperation and interoperability on the use of aircraft carriers, as well as providing the basis for the US to help the RN regenerate its skills and knowledge in large deck carrier aviation. This cooperation is a cutting-edge example of close allies working together in a time of fiscal austerity to deliver a capability needed to maintain a decisive military edge at a global scale.

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FALKLANDS WAR Operation Corporate, the expeditionary campaign to retake the Falkland Islands from Argentinean forces, produced political, economic, strategic, and tactical insights. The most obvious lesson is that an expeditionary campaign that culminates in action more than 8,000 nautical miles from home bases requires a maritime task force that is self-sustaining and able to protect first itself, and then the disembarked forces used to mount the land-based operation. Without doubt, the operation could not have been contemplated without aircraft carriers. The amphibious assault on San Carlos Bay would have been nigh on impossible without the combat air patrols that disrupted the Argentineans’ counter attacks by air against the landing forces to prevent them from consolidating the beach head. An aircraft carrier group, however, needs escorts in the form of frigates and destroyers to prevent enemy attacks on the group, especially the carrier(s). Submarines operating at a greater distance from the task group played a vital role, destroying part of the enemy surface threat and deterring virtually the entire Argentine surface fleet and logistic support ships from deploying, ultimately severely damaging the land logistic chain. The Argentine air threat came from both air force and navy. The former had Skyhawk, Mirage III and Dagger fighters and the latter Skyhawks and Super Étendard aircraft. Together they had air combat, ground bombardment and anti-ship capabilities, particularly

the last aircraft with Exocet. The outer ring of defence against these attacking aircraft comprised two squadrons of STOVL Sea Harrier FRS.1s aboard HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible. The ‘Shars’ performed very well, shooting down more than 20 Argentinian aircraft, but they were simply too few. The maximum number of Sea Harriers the two aircraft carriers together embarked at any time was 28, meaning the outer combat air patrol never numbered more than four aircraft, each employing the short-ranged, although excellent, Blue Fox radar and armed with two Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles. By contrast, a single large deck aircraft carrier of the Queen Elizabeth class can embark an air group of up to 40 aircraft, including two squadrons of fighters, with a surge capacity of three, as well as anti-submarine and utility helicopters, and crucially, Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft. A key lesson learned was the need for a task force to have an effective AEW capability above a

ship’s radar horizon in order to give early warning of impending air attack. During the conflict, the task force’s Sea Harriers operated at a severe disadvantage due to the lack of any organic AEW aircraft aboard the carriers. The most immediate solution was to equip Sea King helicopters with Searchwater radars in a ‘dustbin’ fairing on the port side of the fuselage, which took place after the conflict was over. The Crowsnest Merlin is a 21st century development of the same idea. An undoubted aviation success of the Falklands war was the ability of an aircraft carrier to embark and operate the Royal Air Force’s No1 (F) Squadron of Harrier GR.3s for ground attack. This was an enormous success of joint integration, the existing ship’s air department and embarked Harrier squadron contributing to the rapid assimilation of the new squadron. Within the outer defence ring, the destroyers and frigates of the task force lacked ‘3-D’ radars that would supply range, bearing, and altitude of incoming targets, enabling Sea Harriers to be more

UK Ministry of Defence photo

accurately vectored against raids. Their radars also lacked movingtarget indicator (MTI) capability, which limited their ability to distinguish low-flying aircraft against ground clutter. The three missile systems employed by ships of the task force enjoyed varying degrees of success. The Sea Wolf SAM performed well, shooting down between three and six aircraft in only eight launches, but there were only three Sea Wolf-equipped frigates in the entire Task Force. The naval gun, thought obsolete by some, deleted from older ships and not even included as a part of the armament of the then-new Broadsword-class frigates, turned out to be vitally important to fire support ashore. It was rediscovered that destroyers and frigates had to be true multi-mission combatants, capable of carrying

HMS Invincible returns to massive celebrations following the Falklands War, Sept. 17, 1982. On deck are Sea King helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron and Sea Harrier FRS.1 aircraft from 800 Naval Air Squadron.

out a range of tasks, rather than single-mission assets within the framework of NATO commitments and responsibilities. Finally, the consequences of a lack of effective close-in or terminal defence systems such as the Goalkeeper or Phalanx weapon systems became evident. Today’s RN destroyers and frigates embody these lessons, with naval guns, state of the art 3-D radars and missiles as good as any in the world, and both RN and RFA ships are fitted with terminal defence weapon systems.

One of the clearest lessons of the Falklands was that smaller, cheaper, less well-armed, single purpose ships are much more vulnerable to attack and loss. Cost-saving measures on the sizes of ships, on weapons, or on other systems are a false economy when an entire ship, built at enormous cost, may be lost due to their failings. There was also a lot of combustible material used in the ship furnishings as well as in the electrical wiring and insulation demanded in modern ships. The fires caused by the burning fixtures and fittings poured out thick black smoke that not only posed a hazard to those on board, but also made it difficult to prosecute effective fire-fighting operations. The design of the fire-fighting systems on board the stricken ships was also found to be somewhat inefficient, as was the training


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US Department of Defence photos

HMS Broadsword underway. Her two sextuple

that the fire-fighting teams had received. Since 1982, the Royal Navy has incorporated the lessons, with vigorous damage control training and a range of adaptations made to contain fire and smoke and make the business of putting the fire out easier. Another critical lesson that was reinforced during the conflict was the importance of land-based airfields to an enemy having little or no seaborne aviation capability, and having an ability to put them out of action via a combination of long-range air assaults and attack from the task group aircraft as well as offshore bombardment. There were many important lessons learned in the Falklands War of 1982 on, under and above the sea. Perhaps the single most important was the vital importance of the aircraft carrier, not just to maritime operations but across the joint spectrum.

Sea Wolf launchers are mounted on the forecastle and above the helicopter hangar.

Royal Navy FRS.1 Sea Harrier aircraft landing on.

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With HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy is replacing three Invincible-class Harrier carriers with two ships, each of which is about three times as large as the earlier ships. Size always seems expensive. Why go up in size? What does a large carrier offer that a smaller one doesn’t? Experience shows that larger carriers are well worth their price. There are three parts to the argument. One is about how effectively the carrier can support a fleet, which largely means how effectively she can operate her aircraft. A second is about how the carrier functions at sea, particularly in bad weather. A third is economic: How much does Defence pay, not per carrier, but per aeroplane or per sortie? Each tells much the same story: A few big carriers buy a lot more than an equivalent number of smaller ones. That is as true now as it has been since the beginning of carrier aviation. The Invincible class accommodated about 12 Sea Harriers, although they were designed for five (plus five helicopters), and with that they were fairly crowded. The new Queen Elizabeth class (QEC) is designed for up to three times as many F-35B strike fighters. Experience with previous large carriers suggests that she can probably accommodate many more in much the way the Invincibles shoehorned in more Sea Harriers. On this basis, the two Queen Elizabeth class carriers can accommodate something like twice as many aircraft as the three Invincible class. Even that largely understates

A rendering of HMS Queen Elizabeth alongside HMS Illustrious at Rosyth. The difference in size between the two classes is readily apparent.

Aircraft Carrier Alliance image

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Proud to support the naming ceremony of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

MT30 gas turbine

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.

Trusted to deliver excellence

UK Ministry of Defence photo

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the advantage of the larger ship, because each F-35B is considerably larger than a Sea Harrier, and has much better performance. This is the crudest measure of the advantage of a larger ship. In all kinds of warfare, numbers count. In naval air strike warfare, it may be sheer numbers of aircraft or it may be the number of separate targets a ship can strike each day, to achieve the desired effect. By both measures, the much larger air group on board a Queen Elizabeth offers much more than the air group on board the much smaller Invincible. The carrier exists to support fleet operations – to attack targets, mostly ashore, and to help protect the fleet against enemy attack, particularly air attack. One reason the British government bought the two new carriers was because it

An AEM of 801 NAS watches as a GR7 of IV (AC) Sqn RAF lands on the crowded deck of HMS Invincible as part of Exercise Magic Carpet 05 in 2005. The larger deck and hangar of the Queen Elizabeth class will provide a much higher sortie rate than a smaller aircraft carrier.

could envisage situations in which it would be essential for British aircraft to strike defended targets. Some of the targets are surely going to be important enough to be worth defending with the best available weapons. Dealing with them will require a combination of individual aircraft performance and numbers. In the past, attack aircraft generally struck a single target en masse, the idea being that

many aircraft arriving together could saturate even sophisticated defences. The more aircraft that arrived together, the better the chance that the defence could not handle all of them. ‘More’ generally meant more than twenty at a time. The U.S. Navy called a mass attack an ‘Alpha Strike’ and it sought to concentrate enough strike aircraft on board a single carrier to make such an attack effective. Current US tactics, and probably the tactics of the force on board HMS Queen Elizabeth, emphasise standoff attacks using precision weapons. If the attacker can strike from beyond the range of the target’s defences, then mass is unnecessary. Since the weapons are guided to specific points using GPS, a single aircraft can hit multiple targets per sortie. Thus one can reckon effectiveness

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in terms of how many separate targets a carrier and her aircraft can hit each day. The more targets struck, the greater the effect of the ship. Even with fewer aircraft on board, a ship with a large flight deck can rearm and refuel aircraft much more quickly, and thus can deal with the maximum possible number of targets. The more crowded the flight deck, the slower the turn-around of each aircraft. That is right now. The requirement for standoff range is set by the missiles the enemy’s air defences wield. Missiles currently on offer considerably extend current ranges. Against that, the F-35B is a stealthy aircraft. Its design should reduce the effective range of enemy defences. However, over time stealth is likely to lose some of its value as enemies

develop new radars and signal processors. The day of the Alpha Strike is probably not entirely over. The point of the Alpha Strike is that it sets a minimum number of strike aircraft to achieve some necessary results. The smaller the carrier, the fewer aircraft it supports, and the worse the chance that it can do what is needed, no matter the skill and professionalism of its crew and aviators. The smaller the carrier, the more her very size restricts the performance of the aircraft she supports. The three Invincibleclass light carriers, which the QEC will replace, operated small and relatively low-performance Sea Harriers. As fighters, the Sea Harriers could make up for much of their performance deficit by

carrying extremely effective airto-air missiles backed by excellent radar and fire control. None of that helped in the strike role; the Sea Harrier could make up for its relatively poor performance by using standoff weapons. It is not difficult to imagine a future in which that would not be enough. At the very least, aircraft performance includes the ability to lift weight, and that in turn sets the performance of whatever standoff weapons the aircraft carries. The F-35B planned for the new carriers is far more effective than the Sea Harrier, particularly in the attack role. It carries much more weight, and it flies much faster and much farther, among other advantages. It is also a much more complicated aircraft, which means that to keep it flying requires more equipment and more qualified personnel. Achieving the much better performance requires a much larger and heavier aircraft. A carrier accommodating as many F-35Bs as the Invincible accommodated Sea Harriers would be far larger, perhaps even twice as large. Unlike any other kind of warship, a carrier can strike again and again, as long as she can take on board weapons, fuel, and spare parts for her aircraft and as long as the aircraft themselves survive (her strike aircraft might be thought of as reusable missiles). The larger the carrier, the more easily she can be replenished at sea. Size also offers her greater capacity, so that she does not have to be resupplied as often. That affects both the effectiveness of the carrier and her vulnerability. Resupply takes time. Because a carrier is at her most vulnerable when she is taking on fuel and ammunition, she typically withdraws from her station for that function. Much of the time lost during resupply is time spent steaming

Aircraft Carrier Alliance renderings

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away and returning. The smaller the carrier, the more time she loses and the less she gets out of her aircraft. Moreover, resupply is when the carrier is most vulnerable to attack, for example by submarine. Of course, if a carrier is worth building and operating, she is also worth attacking. A larger welldesigned ship is likely to survive damage that will sink or disable a well-designed smaller one. Naval architects calculate survivability in terms of the size (mainly length) of the damage weapons will inflict. The smaller the proportion of a ship that length covers, the better the chance that the ship can survive the damage and, ideally, keep on fighting. It takes sheer size to provide enough protection against all the weapons likely to be used against a carrier, from bombs to cruise missiles to torpedoes. Experience suggests that large carriers can be remarkably tough. During the Cold War, the U.S. Navy argued successfully that it was better to build larger than

A rendering of flight deck operations aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth. The Queen Elizabeth class can not only carry a much larger air group, but can operate in more adverse weather due to sheer size.

smaller carriers because only the larger ones were likely to survive. The proofs of survivability were the survival of several carriers in the face of Kamikaze attacks (in effect, cruise missile hits) and the later survival of carriers despite flight deck and even hangar deck fires. Royal Navy experience both in war and in peacetime supports much the same conclusions. The larger the carrier, the better she can be designed to survive. The carrier does not act alone. She is the attacking core of a fleet, much of which is intended to support her. For example, Queen Elizabeth will be escorted by Type 45 destroyers and Type 23 frigates intended to beat off

air and submarine attacks. She will probably be supported by at least one attack submarine armed with, among other things, Tomahawk missiles. One important submarine role will be to use those missiles to reduce enemy air defences so that the carrier’s strike aircraft can operate more or less unimpeded. It is often forgotten that the size (and cost) of the attending force does not depend on the size of the carrier. If the striking force on board the carrier is split among several smaller carriers, then either each of them needs its own consorts, or the multiple carriers must operate together. It might be argued that splitting up a carrier force would make it more difficult for an enemy to deal with all of it at once – but the price paid in escorting ships would be high. Concentrating several smaller carriers in one group, with one set of escorts, raises issues of mutual interference. Each of the smaller carriers in the group is less survivable than

Imagery of HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea. The large, deck-edge lifts, each of which can lift two aircraft from hangar to flight deck, are both in the lowered position. The size of the wide flight deck, with ample aircraft parking area as well as plenty of room for flight operations, is very apparent in this image.

Photo credit

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Aircraft Carrier Alliance rendering

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a single larger ship. In the past, the issue of whether to operate carriers singly or in tight groups was often debated. Recent experience suggests that a solitary carrier with escorts works best, particularly if the ship is constantly launching and recovering aircraft. It was easier to group carriers when each one launched single massive air strikes (Alpha Strikes). Remember that every time a carrier launches aircraft she has to manoeuvre into the wind. A conventional carrier also needs wind to recover aircraft, but HMS Queen Elizabeth will recover hers vertically, a simpler proposition. Like any other warship, a carrier fights the sea. The rougher the sea, the more difficult it is for her to operate aircraft. The smaller the carrier, moreover, the more dangerous aircraft operation can be. When the U.S. Navy went from WWII-built carriers about a quarter larger than the Invincible to ships the size of HMS Queen Elizabeth, its aircraft operating accident rate fell dramatically. In addition,

The F-35B to be carried by the Queen Elizabeth class carries much more weight, flies faster, and offers stealth and improved situational awareness.

the rate at which the ships could operate their aircraft increased dramatically. The larger the ship, the less she moves in a given sea. The less she moves, the more easily, safely and reliably she can operate her aircraft. The difference was not only that the larger ships accommodated more aircraft, but also that they could fly them more frequently. More of them survived to do what the carrier was intended to do, operate aircraft against an enemy. Another way to say this is that a larger carrier can operate effectively over a greater percentage of the available sea space, both because she can operate aircraft in worse weather and because she can operate

larger, longer-range aircraft. An enemy will find it more difficult to guess where she is at any one time. Even in an age of satellite surveillance, it is not so very easy for a submarine to find a carrier in the vastness of the sea. That the larger carrier can run at higher speed in rough weather makes it much more difficult to use information collected by a satellite or aircraft at any one moment to mount an attack hours later. To see what the limitation imposed by aircraft range might mean, look back at the Argentinean submarine attacks on British carriers during the Falklands War. The British carriers were protecting vital invasion and support shipping in Falkland Sound by keeping their Sea Harriers overhead as much as possible. These aircraft repeatedly beat off Argentine air attacks. The price paid was that the carriers had to remain in a limited area to the east (the direction away from Argentina, to stay beyond the range of Argentine aircraft). The Argentinean submarine skipper

Lockheed Martin photo by Andy Wolfe

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Aircraft Carrier Alliance image

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who unsuccessfully attacked HMS Hermes knew where his target had to be. Very fortunately, his fire control system had been improperly installed. Had the carriers supporting the Falklands operation been larger, they would have been operating larger, longer-range aircraft – and they would have had much greater freedom of manoeuvre. The Argentinean submarine skipper could no longer have deduced where they had to be; he probably would not have had the slightest chance of attacking. It was very sad that, no more than seven years earlier, the Royal Navy had been operating larger carriers with longer-range aircraft that would have offered exactly this kind of advantage. In effect, the Royal Navy is now buying the sort of performance it lacked during the Falklands War. For that matter, when HMS Ark Royal was supporting the NATO operation in Kosovo, she benefitted from her mobility (she was able to keep moving into patches

A rendering of HMS Queen Elizabeth. Size does indeed matter, in terms of aircraft carriers, for a host of reasons.

of clearer weather that permitted air operations), but even so, the limited range of her aircraft limited her choice of position. The Serbians had submarines, but, unlike the Argentineans, they were unwilling (or perhaps unable) to use them. Had their submarines come out, the limitations size and aircraft performance imposed on the ship could have had very real consequences. Then there is cost itself. A larger ship is much less expensive per tonne than a smaller one, because a lot of the cost of the ship is in electronics and combat systems that would be about the same for a larger or a smaller ship. Steel itself is inexpensive, particularly when it is fabricated industrially, outside a traditional shipyard (as in the case of

HMS Queen Elizabeth). It was once estimated that steel accounted for only about 20 percent of the cost of the ship. People certainly are expensive, but the most expensive of the people on board the ship operate her systems and maintain her aircraft. More aircraft are certainly more expensive than fewer, but the cost of special people and special equipment (to maintain and handle aircraft) can be spread over that larger number. HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest warship the Royal Navy has ever built, but she is hardly the largest aircraft carrier in the world. She is probably the smallest and least expensive carrier the Royal Navy could build which would still accommodate enough aircraft with high enough performance, and with all the advantages that large carrier size offers.

*All opinions expressed are the author’s own, and should not necessarily be attributed to the U.S. Navy, or to any other organization with which he has been associated.

Construction continues on HMS Queen Elizabeth at Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland. The lower bow of HMS Prince of Wales is also visible alongside HMS Queen Elizabeth.

ABOUT THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER ALLIANCE (ACA) The Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) is an innovative alliance formed between industry and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to enable the delivery of the Queen Elizabeth (QE) class aircraft carriers – currently one of the largest engineering projects underway in the UK. collaboration, innovation and mutual support, with all decisions being taken on a ‘best for project’ basis. Alliancing Principles The vision of the ACA is to deliver the nation’s flagships through a high-performing alliance between industry and the MOD. To achieve this, each member of the ACA is fully committed to making decisions in the best interests of the entire programme rather than basing any decisions on their individual best interests alone.

Aircraft Carrier Alliance photo

The alliance was formed in such a way as to ensure that all partners take collective responsibility and ownership of the project, and are committed to ensuring the project delivers the best value for money and the best possible ships for the UK armed forces. The ACA has four members, three of which are industrial: Babcock, BAE Systems and Thales UK. The fourth, the UK Ministry of Defence, has a dual role, acting as a member of the alliance as well as the customer. Working together, the ACA’s collective culture is one of an uncompromising commitment to trust,

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ACA MEMBERS BAE Systems delivers a wide range of advanced defence, aerospace and security solutions that provide a performance edge to meet the needs of its customers. BAE Systems works together with local partners to develop, engineer, manufacture and support the innovations that increase defence sovereignty, sustain economies, and safeguard commercial interests. With some 84,600 employees in six continents, the company is committed to creating solutions that protect and strengthen nations, commerce, communities and people. Its UK Maritime sector designs and manufactures naval ships and submarines, including their state of the

art combat systems and equipment. It is the UK’s only provider of complex warships and the sole supplier and integrator of combat management systems for the UK Royal Navy’s surface and sub-surface fleet. It also provides an array of associated services, including training solutions, maintenance and modernisation programmes, to support ships and equipment in service around the world and the management of supporting infrastructure. The BAE Systems team is proud to play a central role in the design, manufacture, assembly and integration of the biggest ships ever built for the Royal Navy. In particular, the company has responsibility for the delivery of the largest sections of the hull, the two island structures, the mission system and the radar technology.

Babcock is the UK’s leading engineering support services organisation. Defence, energy, telecommunications, transport and education are all sectors where Babcock can be found working diligently behind the scenes, delivering critical support. Taking great pride in the considerable depth and breadth of our people’s expertise, our skilled workforce of around 26,000 design, build, manage, operate and maintain assets that are vital to the delivery of many key public services, both in the UK and overseas. In addition to our marine support business having one of the largest naval design capabilities in the country, we deliver a wide range of through-life engineering services to commercial and defence

markets. Working side by side with our customers, our proven track record as the UK’s leading naval support business provides surety and confidence in our ability to safely and securely manage and operate some of the country’s most critical assets, as well as supporting complex programmes of national significance. As the major support partner to the Royal Navy, undertaking around 75 percent of UK surface fleet refits and 50 percent of fleet maintenance, our workforce are immensely proud to be such an integral part in the delivery of these outstanding warships. Our key activities on the project include CAD-based modelling, design and development work, the manufacture of the bow section and a number of upper blocks and sponsons at both our Appledore and Rosyth facilities, with whole ship assembly taking place at Rosyth.

Thales is a global technology leader for the aerospace and space, defence, security and transportation markets. With its 25,000 engineers and researchers, Thales has a unique capability to design, develop and deploy equipment, systems and services that meet the most complex security requirements. Thales has an exceptional international footprint, with operations around the world working with customers as local partners. Thales UK is involved in the design of the QE class and leads the Power and Propulsion Sub-alliance on behalf of the ACA.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is the government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the strategic headquarters of the British armed forces. Its principal objectives are to defend the United Kingdom and its interests and to strengthen international peace and stability. The MOD also manages day to day running of the armed forces, contingency planning and defence procurement. Within the MOD, the Ship Acquisition Project Team (part of Defence Equipment and Support) is responsible for procuring and supporting the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. Upon their completion, responsibility for operating the QE class will be handed over to the Royal Navy.

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Some of the industry team involved in creating and lifting the HMS Queen Elizabeth’s forward island, March 14, 2013.

Aircraft Carrier Alliance photo

THE BEST OF UK DESIGN AND INDUSTRY As an island nation, the UK has a proud tradition of pioneering naval engineering. HMS Argus was arguably the first aircraft carrier with the introduction of a full length flat top for aircraft to take-off and land. This design evolved through the Royal Navy ships that followed, leading to the familiar image of modern aircraft carriers. British industry pioneered the first aircraft carriers with an island for a control tower, ski jumps to provide additional lift during take-off, and the first optical landing systems to guide aircraft down.

Teekay Axilock-FP

The permanent pipe connection with internal ďŹ re protection

Congratulations to the Aircraft Carrier Alliance!

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BEST OF BRITISH Tata Steel is supplying more than 80,000 tonnes of structural steel for the two QEC aircraft carriers, and more than 90 percent will come from its operations in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, Dalzell, near Motherwell, in Scotland, and Skinningrove in Teesside. The Scunthorpe and Dalzell facilities produce plate steel for the ships’ hulls, and the company’s employees in Skinningrove manufacture ‘bulb flats’ – steel used to stiffen the ship’s structure. GE Power Conversion employs approximately 1,000 people in Rugby and was awarded a £95 million contract to provide 20 generators and motors for the vessels. Its involvement has helped the company to develop more efficient equipment and win new orders, including an £80 million order from Petrobras in Brazil. Kempsafe, based in Hampshire, was awarded a £3.4 million contract to supply the catering equipment within the QEC aircraft carriers. The firm says its involvement provided stability through the economic downturn and enabled it to grow through the recovery. Salt Separation Services in Rochdale produces reverse osmosis plants for drinking water, and its three desalination plants allow the QEC aircraft carriers to purify fresh drinking water each day, either for the crew or to assist with humanitarian relief. The firm’s involvement in the programme has helped it secure further business using similar technology. Plymouth based Pipex has manufactured 10,000 water pipes for the ships. The pipes, subject to a £6 million contract, are made from an innovative special lightweight glass-reinforced plastic. Pipex says that its involvement in the QEC aircraft carrier programme has made it more innovative, and as a result the company has developed a wider capability in offshore engineering and hydraulic equipment.

The Queen Elizabeth class (QEC) aircraft carriers once again pioneer the best of British design with new innovations, such as the first-ever twin island configuration and the introduction of highly mechanised systems below deck, which together provide the Royal Navy with a sea change in capability. The design process began in 1999 with the formation of an industrial partnership to analyse

the requirements of the armed forces and produce the first concept designs for the programme. Computer aided design (CAD) technology was used to make alterations swiftly, effectively and precisely to a computer model that could be collaborated on across the supply chain. The QEC carriers are the first UK warships to be designed from the start using Lloyd’s naval ship rules for systems and structural design, as well as Lloyd’s

commercial rules for equipment procurement. Understanding that it would take several years for the ship to make its transition from a computer designed model into a fully operational warship, which would then sail the seas for 50 years, one of the key priorities for the engineers was to think about the future requirements of the armed forces. The design had to be futureproof and hold the capability for upgrades later in its service life. Such is the scale and complexity of the final assembly that a navigation device had to be invented for use indoors where satellite navigation cannot penetrate. Platform Navigation was invented by BAE Systems to provide a handheld device for new or infrequent visitors to find the fastest safe route through the ship. The device now has potential to be used in other complex indoor environments, from hospitals to underground transport networks. Representing the best of UK Industry The design, build and integration of the QEC aircraft carriers is a hugely significant national endeavour and a momentous engineering challenge for the British shipbuilding industry. The programme has directly supported between 7,000 and 8,000 jobs across six major shipyards nationwide at Glasgow, Appledore, Tyneside, Merseyside, Portsmouth and Rosyth, with a further 2,000 to 3,000 jobs supported across the supply chain. A quarter of these jobs belong to highly skilled engineers, while around 900 apprentices and hundreds more graduates have started their careers on the programme.

IDL Engineering and MKN cooking equipment manufacturers are proud to celebrate the



The galleys of this 65,000 ton vessel were supplied by the two companies, both of which specialise in quality marine appliances. Robust, reliable and dependable – just like the crew who will serve in her – their expertise ensuring years of trouble free service and peaceful sailing. IDL Engineering and MKN are key suppliers of catering and galley equipment to the Marine and Offshore sectors and work in partnership with The Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Compass Group A/S, Maersk FPSOs, Transocean, Chevron Angola & the Sole Pit Clipper for Shell Oil at Ravenna. As Marine and Offshore catering equipment specialists, IDL’s preferred supplier is MKN for galley or kitchen fittings because of their cutting edge technology and durability. MKN produces a wide range of marine and land based catering & cooking appliance designed with ease-of-use, professional application & quality in mind. From hand-built suites and combination ovens to modular cooking products and pressure vessels, MKN provides dependable equipment to feed our armed forces and general personnel, whether on land, sea or in the air. For further details or to contact the company, visit The IDL team of experts can deliver a complete galley and mess hall design or simply replace and service existing equipment. In addition to sourcing and supplying most leading brands IDL also offer 3D Render Design, Turnkey Project Management, Bespoke Fabrication, Fast Food Solutions, Refrigeration and Cold Room facilities, Mess Hall Furniture, Office and Leisure Equipment, Laundry Equipment and accessories. For further details or to contact the company, visit

We wish HMS Queen Elizabeth, the crew and all the members of our armed forces longevity, safe passage and good food well cooked!

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The upper bow section of the HMS Queen

Aircraft Carrier Alliance photo

Elizabeth is lifted into place, Feb. 8, 2013.

The British construction industry has also had an important part to play in the delivery of the programme. At Rosyth, Babcock appointed Halcrow Group Ltd and BAM Nuttall Ltd to design and construct the infrastructure required to support the assembly of the carriers. The exceptionally high level of expertise deployed was recognised when the work

received the Saltire Society Award for Civil Engineering 2011. In total, the Aircraft Carrier Alliance has placed more than 150 equipment sub-contracts totalling ÂŁ1.65 billion to more than 200 direct suppliers, 90 percent of which are in the UK. A further 700 companies are estimated to be involved as indirect suppliers.

This means that many thousands of people are proudly working together across every region of the UK as part of the massive team responsible for delivering the nation’s flagships. Many of the suppliers to the Aircraft Carrier Alliance are smalland medium-sized enterprises, which have been exposed to new skills and technology as a result of the contracts.

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PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER BAE SYSTEMS – GLASGOW, PORTSMOUTH BAE Systems has a central role in the design, manufacture, assembly and integration of the Queen Elizabeth class (QEC). The team is responsible for the construction and outfitting of four major sections of the hull, as well as the forward and aft island structures, which play a vital role in the ship’s navigation and air operations, at its sites in Glasgow and Portsmouth. BAE Systems is also responsible for the design, manufacture and integration of the ARTISAN radar and mission system for the ships, which enables all parties to operate cohesively within the battle space to deliver carrier strike capability. The largest single block of ship, weighing more than 11,000 tonnes, is known as Lower Block 04 (LB04) and was manufactured in Glasgow. This block makes up most of the aft end of the ship up to hangar level and comprises machinery spaces and all four propulsion motors. When in the build hall, the block was so large that it reached out of the facility’s door on to the foreground outside. Weighing in at more than 9,000 tonnes, Lower Block 03 (LB03) is another sizeable section of hull. This block was also constructed in Glasgow and houses 160 cabins, the ship’s bakery, junior ratings galley and dining hall. At the time of its transit to Rosyth, it had taken almost 1 million man hours to construct the block since first steel cut in July 2009. The 6,000-tonne section known as Lower Block 02 (LB02) forms the forward section of the carrier’s hull and was constructed in Portsmouth. The block is made up of

five ring sections and houses machinery spaces, stores and accommodation areas, including 85 cabins. Lower Block 05 (LB05), the 1,820-tonne aft section of the ship, was constructed in two parts and houses switchboards, air treatment units and the vessel’s steering gear, as well as some accommodation areas. LB05 was also constructed in Portsmouth. The aft island took just 90 weeks to construct in Glasgow and houses 110 compartments and more

Aircraft Carrier Alliance image

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than 44,000 metres of cable. Meanwhile, the forward island built at Portsmouth was the first block to depart with her final paint colours applied, all windows fitted and consoles installed, along with 43 kilometres of cables and 3,101 pipes.

CAMMELL LAIRD – MERSEYSIDE The huge flight decks for HMS Queen Elizabeth were built by Merseyside engineering firm Cammell Laird, and marked the re-emergence of ship building in the area. Work on

the flight deck modules, known as Centre Block 02, has given Cammell Laird’s 80-strong team of apprentices invaluable ship engineering experience and has been an important investment in the region’s workforce and skills.

THE NAVY’S BEST DEMANDS THE NATION'S BEST As with any major project, it’s the logistics that are at the heart of success. Whether it’s as the supplier of warehousing, transport and logistical services to the London 2012 Games or providing material management for the Queen Elizabeth-class carrier build, Wincanton are at the forefront, providing innovative solutions for complex projects. As one of the UK’s major logistics providers, employing over


16,000 people, Wincanton are ideally positioned to provide the innovative, yet cost effective supply chain solution requested by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance. Wincanton has worked as a true partner with the ACA and developed a radical new way of operating that has created a significant improvement in material visibility and supply for the ship building industry.


What they needed

How we did it

How we added value

Initial requirements included everything from designing ground-breaking packaging solutions for the materiels, to collecting and handling through a specifically designed central warehousing operation.

Wincanton worked closely with suppliers to create efficient processes to ensure full compliance and assured delivery.

The Wincanton team rapidly integrated into the hub of activity for the ship build programme seamlessly collaborating with the planning, operations and the account management functions.

Material and equipment was collected globally, ranging from 120 tonne gas turbine assemblies, to small consumable parts supplied from stock at the central warehouse.

As proven in our work alongside ACA, Wincanton can remove millions of pounds from the logistics cost base over the course of a project. By providing world class service and a track record for cost saving, all underpinned by an outstanding safety record.

If you’d like to find out more about how Wincanton can add value to your supply chain please contact 01536 454 357

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BABCOCK – APPLEDORE Babcock’s Appledore shipyard in Devon has produced the flight deck sponsons, bulbous bow, centre blocks and the catwalks – known as elevated walkways – for HMS Queen Elizabeth. The bow, larger than 33 double decker buses, was one of the first sections to leave Appledore by barge for Rosyth. The contract to build sections of HMS Queen Elizabeth secured more than 300 jobs in Appledore, which is currently one of the biggest employers in the North Devon area. A&P – TYNESIDE A&P Group’s Tyne yard has built section Centre Block 03, which forms part of the flight deck and hangar, as well as a portion of Lower Block 02. This block left Tyneside in September 2011 for its journey by barge to Rosyth.


Aircraft Carrier Alliance photos

The numerous sections of HMS Queen Elizabeth were transported to Rosyth by seagoing barge, with the assembly of the ship taking place in three key stages: Assembly Cycle A Assembly of Super Block 03 (SB03) comprising the mid-hull section (Lower Block 03) and four sections making up CB03 plus associated sponsons. This phase also involved the outfitting of the nine major upper blocks integrated with LB03, including installation of electrical cabling, mechanical pipe systems, ventilation and fittings and equipment.

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TIME LINE 1998 • The government’s Strategic Defence Review highlighted the country’s future requirement for aircraft carriers to replace the Invincible class. • Initial gate was agreed.

1999 • Design of initial concepts for the new class of aircraft carrier began.

2002 • The decision was taken that the new aircraft carriers would operate Joint Combat Aircraft using the short take-off & vertical landing (STOVL) option.

2003 • Delta design for a ship of 283 metres was agreed and the more detailed design process began. • The original Aircraft Carrier Team was formed, made up of BAE Systems, the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Thales UK.

2005 Assembly Cycle B This involved the combined docking of SB03 and Lower Block 02 (LB02). In order to move LB02 into the dock, the 12,000-tonne super block was floated out for the first time. Once LB02 was in place, SB03 was carefully manoeuvred in behind it and the alignment achieved between the centreline of the two blocks was approximately 1mm. The dock was then drained, signalling the start of the next phase of integration.

• The Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) was created and the original team was expanded to include Babcock and VT Group (shipbuilding interests subsequently acquired by BAE Systems). • The first of two main gate agreements was reached in December.

Assembly Cycle C This involved the assembly of the remaining blocks, including the stern sections and island structures, to fully complete assembly of the ship’s hull.


Construction of the second ship, HMS Prince of Wales, started in May 2011 and is well underway. At the time of the HMS Queen Elizabeth naming ceremony, all the lower and centre blocks of the second ship, as well as the ship’s islands and aircraft lifts, are in production across the UK. Indeed, the first section of hull for HMS Prince of Wales will move into the dry dock in Rosyth in August of this year, marking the beginning of the assembly phase for the second ship.

• The demonstration contract was placed and the Memorandum of Understanding for the project was signed.

• The second main gate agreement was signed.

2008 • The contract to build the QEC was signed between the MOD and BAE Systems on behalf of the ACA.

2009 • HRH the Princess Royal cut first steel on LB03 of the first aircraft carrier at BAE Systems in Glasgow. • The tier two shipyards, A&P Tyne and Cammell Laird, signed contracts for work on the programme, with the former beginning work on the hull of the first ship. • Rolls-Royce delivered the first set of stabilisers for HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Aircraft Carrier Alliance photo

HMS Prince of Wales progress


HMS Queen Elizabeth I 99 2012 2010 • £333 million worth of subcontracts awarded to companies across the UK for work on the programme. • Work to extend Babcock’s Number One Dock in Rosyth was completed, making it the largest dry dock in the UK. • The first steel was cut on LB04 at BAE Systems in Glasgow and construction also started on Lower Block 02 in Portsmouth. • The aircraft lifts, designed by MacTaggart Scott of Midlothian Scotland for ship one, were completed by Babcock at Rosyth. • Work began on the flight deck of the first ship on Tyneside. Wärtsilä delivered the first set of diesel generators to Portsmouth. • The first set of propellers were completed. • Babcock completed the first major unit, the bulbous bow for the first ship, and transported it by oceangoing barge from Appledore to Rosyth. • The contract for the storage facility is awarded to Wincanton. • Cammell Laird commenced its part of the build programme, signalling the return of ship building to Merseyside following a 10-year absence. • The MT30 engines were successfully tested. • The Advanced Radar Target Indication Situational Awareness and Navigation (ARTISAN) Medium Range Radar demonstrator antenna was successfully installed on the BAE Systems Coronet building at Cowes in readiness for the QEC mission systems radar and pole-mast trials. • The Goliath crane was delivered to Rosyth and its assembly began.

• LB02 and LB05 were transported to Rosyth from BAE Systems in Portsmouth. • Work began on the forward island in Portsmouth and aft island in Glasgow. • The first section of the flight deck being constructed at Cammell Laird in Merseyside arrived in Rosyth. • The largest section of hull, LB04, was transported from BAE Systems in Glasgow.

2013 • Babcock integrated HMS Queen Elizabeth’s forward section with LB04 in the dock at Rosyth. • CB04 flight deck sections were also integrated. • The forward and aft islands arrived in Rosyth from BAE Systems in Portsmouth and Glasgow and were installed on the ship. • The full extent of HMS Queen Elizabeth was revealed for the first time with integration of all hull and island sections complete.

2014 • HMS Queen Elizabeth naming ceremony. • The ship will float for the first time as she leaves the dry dock. • Final assembly begins for HMS Prince of Wales in the dry dock at Rosyth.

2015 • Integration work nears completion.

2016 • The ship’s company move on board and sea trials begin.

2011 • LB03 was completed at BAE Systems in Glasgow and transported by barge around the north of Scotland to Rosyth. • Work began on LB05 at BAE Systems in Portsmouth. • At Rosyth, the Goliath crane was fully assembled and commissioned. • The first sections of the flight deck arrived in Rosyth from Tyneside. • The Goliath crane made its first successful lift, lifting the flight deck sections CB03 onto LB03. • The first sponson units, constructed by Babcock, were also erected onto the block. • First steel was cut for the second carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, at BAE Systems in Glasgow.

2017 • HMS Queen Elizabeth enters her home port of Portsmouth for the first time. • The first of class will be handed over to the MOD on behalf of the Royal Navy and the UK armed forces. • The first rotary wing flights from HMS Queen Elizabeth will take place.

2018 • The first fast jet (F-35B) flights from HMS Queen Elizabeth will take place.

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THE SUM OF ITS PARTS An aerial view of HMS Queen Elizabeth, July 1, 2013. The twin islands can clearly be seen in place.

102 I HMS Queen Elizabeth One of the Queen Elizabeth’s two 16-cylinder Wärtsilä diesel generators is prepared for installation. Four diesel generators and two gas turbines will generate and distribute electricity throughout the ship.

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POWER AND PROPULSION Power and Propulsion Sub-Alliance The overall responsibility for delivery of the entire power and propulsion system is held by the Power and Propulsion Sub-Alliance that comprises Thales UK (acting on behalf of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance), RollsRoyce, GE Power Conversion and L3. Together, the sub-alliance is responsible for the design, procurement, manufacture, integration, test and delivery of the Integrated Electric Propulsion Systems. HMS Queen Elizabeth will be powered by two RollsRoyce Marine 36 megawatts (MW) MT30 gas turbine alternators providing more than 70MW, and four Wärtsilä diesel engines providing approximately 40MW, with the total installed power approaching 110MW.

Gas Turbine The gas turbines and diesels are the largest supplied to the Royal Navy. Their combined power feeds the low-voltage system and supplies two tandem electric propulsion motors that drive a conventional twin shaft arrangement, fitted with fixed-pitch propellers. Integrated as part of a gas turbine alternator (GTA), the power generated by the MT30s will meet the carriers’ energy demands for propulsion motors, weapons and navigation systems, as well as the entire low-voltage requirements for lighting and power sockets. Weighing a total of 120 tonnes, the GTA includes an alternator and gas turbine enclosure. The two 36MW generators, manufactured in Rugby, will supply four 20MW GE Power Conversion Advanced Induction Motors.

Carrier Alliance photo

Diesel Generators The selected prime movers of the generating sets are two 12-cylinder (12,000 horsepower [hp]) and two 16-cylinder (15,000hp) Wärtsilä 38 engines, which will supply nearly 40MW of the total installed power of 109MW, the rest coming from the two gas turbine alternators. The Wärtsilä generators, which have been supplied by power conversion company GE Power Conversion, were installed on Lower Block 02 while the section of hull was under construction in the shipbuild hall at Portsmouth. The diesel generators will generate and distribute electricity at various voltages throughout the vessel, including the electric propulsion system, shaft lines and the propellers.

104 I HMS Queen Elizabeth One of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s massive bronze propellers. Each propeller weighs 33 tonnes and

Rolls-Royce photo

measures 6.7 metres in diameter.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will be propelled through the sea by two bronze propellers, each 6.7 metres in diameter and weighing 33 tonnes. Made by Rolls-Royce, the propellers are manufactured from nickel aluminium bronze and feature five blades mounted on a central hub. RollsRoyce is also supplying shaft lines which will link each of the vessels’ two propellers with the power source. Each propeller will deliver around 50,000hp – the highest power Kamewa propeller ever developed by Rolls-Royce.

The installation of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first port shaft, Jan. 27, 2014. The shaft lines will link the propellers to the electric motors.

Aircraft Carrier Alliance photo


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An ARTISAN 3D medium range radar mounted at the top of a mock-up of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s aft island.


Aircraft Carrier Alliance photo

Medium Range Radar – ARTISAN 3D The BAE Systems ARTISAN 3D radar provides extensive air traffic control and medium-range tactical picture capability with groundbreaking features, which allow it to track more than 900 targets simultaneously and spot objects as small as a tennis ball travelling up to three times the speed of sound. ARTISAN 3D transmits the data to the Combat Management System, which then provides operators with both a medium-range tactical picture and the essential air traffic control picture that the ships rely on to operate effectively in a modern naval environment. The system also operates with the Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system, which can identify an aircraft as friendly and track its range from a potential threat.

Long Range Radar – S1850M Developed by BAE Systems, the S1850M is a longrange radar for wide area search. With fully automatic

detection and track initiation, it can track up to 1,000 air targets at a range of around 400 kilometres (250 miles). This means that from Rosyth the radar could track every aircraft in the UK skies as far south as Birmingham and Nottingham. The radar provides a three-dimensional, long-range picture, not just of the skies around HMS Queen Elizabeth, but also the waters. It sits 27 metres (88 feet) above the flight deck, 50 metres (164 feet) above the sea. The S1850M is the long-range radar (LRR) of the Principal Anti Air Missile System (PAAMS) used on the Type 45 destroyers.

Mission System BAE Systems has developed the highly integrated mission system, which is known as the brain or the central nervous system of the ship. It brings together tactical, navigation, command information and mission control data to support multiple aircraft operations and task force group command functions.

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The S1850M long range radar is fitted to the top of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s forward island, Nov. 22, 2013.

The mission system also enables the aircraft carrier to function as a workplace by supplying telephone networks, communications systems, cameras, computer networks, and software. HMS Queen Elizabeth is a home, an office, an airport, armoury, store and military base, and the mission system provides a key role in allowing the ship to achieve all these things simultaneously.

65,000 separate parts for the mission system will be installed on both aircraft carriers, and connecting these together will be almost 2,000 kilometres of fibre-optic cables. The mission system is tested at custom-designed facilities across the UK, where its key components are connected to advanced simulation technology, which allows engineers and future crew members to use them as if they have already been installed inside the ship.

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Rendering of operations in HMS Queen Elizabeth’s hangar. The 16,000 metres2 flight deck and 4,823 metres2 hangar deck are designed to accommodate a mix of helicopters and F-35Bs.


Aircraft Carrier Alliance renderings

Flight Deck HMS Queen Elizabeth’s enormous flight deck is 280 metres long and 70 metres wide. This equates to an area of 16,000 metres 2 – which is just a bit smaller than three football pitches. HMS Queen Elizabeth can operate the F-35B Lightning II, as well as any helicopter in the UK armed forces’ order of battle. UK-based Monitor Coatings are providing a special non-skid flight deck coating that can withstand the aero

thermal environment and gas wash exhaust of the F-35B when conducting a hover transition and vertical landing. The 4,823 metres2 hangar deck can easily accommodate 24 F-35Bs, with plenty of room for maintenance activities. The aircraft are transferred from the hangar to the flight deck by two large lifts, each of which is capable of lifting two aircraft up to the flight deck in 60 seconds. The ‘ski jump’, built at Rosyth by Babcock, is a uniquely British innovation, which will help the F-35B Lightning II get airborne with larger payloads. The finished ramp stands more than six metres high and weighs approximately 300 tonnes.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth is the first aircraft carrier to incorporate a twin island design, which separates the running of the ship from the flying, resulting in greater visibility of operations. There are live communication links between the two islands, however, to allow them to work together. The advantages of the unique design also include the more efficient use of space across the flight deck, hangar and lifts, as well as reduction in air turbulence over the flight deck. The twin island design also reflects design improvements further below deck, including the decision to separate power generation machinery in order to increase survivability. There are two sets of power propulsion systems (a gas turbine and two diesel engines), located in different areas of the ship separated

by watertight doors, which means there are also two exhaust stacks, one forward and one aft, and these are masked within the twin islands. Survivability is increased further by the islands being designed with the capability to assume each other’s role in an emergency.

Forward Island – Ship Control The forward island has a good view of the ship’s bow and is home to the navigation bridge, from whence the ship is controlled. The island will also be home to the commanding officer’s day cabin, chart room, navigator’s cabin, observation deck, bridge mess and around 100 vital mission systems compartments. The deck-to-deckhead windows of the main bridge are up to two metres high, providing an exceptional level of visibility, yet designed to withstand a significant impact. The LRR and other sensors are installed on top of the 680-tonne structure.

Aircraft Carrier Alliance photo


HMS Queen Elizabeth I 109 Workers continue construction on HMS Queen Elizabeth’s unique ‘ski jump,’ Rosyth, Scotland, Feb. 20, 2014. Constructed by Babcock, the ramp will help F-35B Lightning IIs get airborne carrying larger payloads.

The forward island is devoted to control and navigation of the ship while the aft island is dedicated to air group operations. Both have deck-to-deckhead windows for exceptional visibility.

Aircraft Carrier Alliance image

Aft Island – FLYCO The aft island will serve as the carrier’s equivalent of an airport control tower, effectively directing flight deck operations on board HMS Queen Elizabeth. The innovative FLYCO position provides operators with an unparalleled operational working space, with threemetre-tall specially glazed panels giving more than 290 degrees of view over the flight deck. Like the forward island’s windows, these are designed to withstand a significant impact. The FLYCO is also closely linked to the ship’s operations room, navigation bridge, flight deck and hangar operations centre.

Lifting the islands As both islands were built on opposite sides of the country, transporting them for final assembly was an engineering challenge in itself.

Before leaving the build yards for Babcock’s facilities at Rosyth, the islands had to pass a Ministry of Defence audit on all compartments and a full BAE Systems care and protection inspection to ensure the blocks were weatherproof and able to undertake the sea journey to Rosyth. Additionally, a transportation team spent four days ensuring the structures were fully secured to the barge before setting sail for the east coast of Scotland. The islands were lifted into position on HMS Queen Elizabeth’s flight deck by the massive Goliath crane, procured by Babcock, with special lifting frames attached for the purpose. After attaching the crane to the lifting frame, the predicted centre of gravity had to be confirmed by applying a small amount of lift. After some adjustments, the crane was able to take the full weight of the islands, lifting them over the carrier’s flight deck and locating them in their final position before they were welded onto the ship’s hull. Although far from the heaviest lift of the project, the geometry and shape of the islands presented significant challenges. The alignment of the gas turbine exhausts was particularly challenging as they were pre-fitted into the islands and below into the ship’s superstructure. The placements of the islands were significant and highly visible achievements in the assembly programme as the ship’s iconic design took shape for the first time.

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HIGHLY MECHANISED WEAPONS HANDLING SYSTEM (HMWHS) The Highly Mechanised Weapons Handling System (HMWHS), designed and manufactured by Babcock, is a game-changing innovation for the Queen Elizabeth class (QEC) aircraft carriers, providing the first naval application of a system based on the method for transporting luggage around an airport. The HMWHS moves palletised munitions from the magazines and weapon preparation areas along track ways and lifts. The magazines are unmanned and the movement of pallets is controlled from a central location. Manpower is only required when munitions are being initially stored or prepared for use, speeding up the delivery of munitions and improving the efficiency of the crew. As a result, the QEC aircraft carriers displace more tonnage per crew member than any other major warship class, allowing greater space for embarked forces, for example additional air crews and/or Royal Marine Commandos.

There will be four galleys on board and four large dining areas, which will be manned by 67 catering staff. The largest dining room has the capacity to serve 960 crew members in one hour. There will be an eight-bed medical suite, operating theatre and dental surgery, which will be managed by 11 medical staff. These facilities can also be augmented to suit the requirements of every individual mission. Facilities on board will include a cinema and fitness suites in order to provide the ship’s company, some of whom will be away from home for months at a time, with a range of recreational activities. Crew members will also have personal access to email and the Internet. Crew will share six-berth cabins with large and comfortable bunks and adjacent toilet and shower facilities.

Right: A galley, one of four on board, and a typical cabin (inset) are representative of some of the creature comforts found in HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Photo Aircraft creditCarrier Alliance photos


Photo credit

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Two F-35B Lightning IIs descend for a vertical landing on board the USS Wasp. The fifth-generation Lightning II adds sensor fusion, supersonic speed,


and stealth to STOVL capability.


Lockheed Martin photo

Under ‘Future Force 2020’, UK Defence has committed to buy 48 F-35B Lightning II fighter jets that will be operated jointly by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, on land and at sea. The MOD currently has three aircraft that are based in the US undertaking training with Royal Navy and Royal Air Force pilots. Orders for further aircraft will be placed over the next few years.

Ministry of Defence photo

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 113 There are three variants of the F-35: The F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant; the F-35B Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant; and the F-35C carrier variant (CV). UK Defence is procuring the STOVL F-35B variant, based in part upon many successful years of Harrier operations ashore and at sea. The ability to base the jets on land and at sea will give UK Defence a truly joint expeditionary combat air capability well into the 2030s. Like Joint Force Harrier before, personnel from both the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm will man the Lightning Force. The UK’s first Lightning II aircraft are stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Fleet Air Arm and RAF pilots have been training in the US since last year, while ground crews and engineers have spent several years gaining experience in maintaining the aircraft. In late 2014, some of the force will transition to Edwards Air Force Base, California, to begin Initial Operational Test and Evaluation, whilst other aircraft and personnel will continue training with the US Marine Corps at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina. The aircraft are due to be based in the UK in 2018, but British aviation enthusiasts may get a sneak preview in July 2014 when the F-35 makes its international debut at the Royal International Air Tattoo in Fairford. The F-35 is also scheduled to fly at the Farnborough International Air Show later in the same month. This will be the first time the F-35 has flown outside of the United States. The UK’s first operational Lightning II formation will be 617 Squadron – the reformed Dambusters squadron – with personnel drawn from the RAF

Two F-35B Lightning IIs at Eglin AFB, Florida, take-off on a training sortie. Personnel from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force are familiarising themselves with the F-35 processes and procedures both in the air and on the ground.

and Fleet Air Arm. They will begin training in the US before moving to RAF Marham in Norfolk in 2018, ready to begin flight trials with HMS Queen Elizabeth. The second Lightning squadron will be the Fleet Air Arm’s 809 NAS (Naval Air Squadron), and again will be a joint RAF-RN venture. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is one of the only two fifth generation (5th gen) aircraft currently in operation; the other is its more mature sister aircraft, the F-22 Raptor. No longer just an ‘aircraft’ – a 5th gen jet is a complete ‘air system’ able to operate across

the complete spectrum of warfare. Unlike its stealthy predecessors, who used specific capabilities against specific targets, the F-35 is the first truly multi-role 5th gen air system that can autonomously create and execute a full kill chain against a target (i.e. find, fix, target, track, engage and assess), without the need for off-board support. 5th gen air systems have been designed from scratch with advanced stealth technology that includes radar-absorbent materials, stealth ‘shaping’ and minimal infrared signature. The Lightning II design applies stealth technology manufacturing techniques and, to minimise its radar signature, the airframe has identical sweep angles for the leading and trailing edges of the wings and tail, and incorporates sloping sides for the fuselage and the canopy. The electronics for the communication, navigation and weapons systems are fully


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Lockheed Martin photo

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integrated and feed into helmetmounted displays – giving the pilot an exotic sounding ‘multi-sensor data fusion for situational awareness’. The F-35 was conceived as a 5th gen fighter from the inside out, building on lessons learned in development of the F-22; its stealthy features are ‘built-in’, not ‘added on’, hence the popular statement: ‘You cannot transform a 4th gen fighter into a 5th gen fighter, regardless of availability of finance or technology’. Moreover, the F-35 possesses onboard computing power that is a quantum leap ahead of its 4th gen counterparts, affording it the ability to manage its systems concurrently to allow for a smooth and integrated fused picture. Sensors, Signature, and Weaponry 5th gen aircraft have a new approach to air power. The

An F-35B undergoing flight refuelling trials at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

traditional fighter aircraft added separate mission systems that provided additional capabilities. The pilot managed each new system as it was fitted to the aircraft alongside its other sensors – for example when the Litening targeting pod was added to the Tornado GR4. Not so for the F-35. Data Fusion The F-35’s five major combat systems are fully integrated during the production phase and interact to provide an overall ‘joinedup’ capability. The information from each system – the APG-81 AESA (Advanced ElectronicallyScanned Array) radar, Distributed Aperture System (DAS), Electro Optical Targeting System (EOTS),

Electronic Warfare system and Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) – are all fused to present the pilot with a singular, unambiguous battlespace picture. Coupled with a very Low Observable (vLO) radar cross section, which is displayed to the pilot in the cockpit, the F-35 has high fidelity situational awareness whilst remaining ‘invisible’ to the threat. This offers an unprecedented ‘combat edge’, one that has not been experienced within the UK’s combat air domain before. The F-35 has been designed to counter some of the world’s greatest missile threats with the ultimate aim of de-escalating tension or eliminating a hostile environment – 5th gen platforms strive to earn the title ‘air dominance fighter’. APG-81 AESA radar The APG-81 AESA radar is key to the F-35’s superior capability.

116 I HMS Queen Elizabeth

LIGHTNING FORCE – 617 Sq and 809 NAS

Pilots from the Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Air Force will jointly operate the Lightning II aircraft. Two historic squadrons from the RAF and Fleet Air Arm have been reformed to accommodate the men and women of the Lightning Force. 617 Squadron, RAF Earlier this year, it was announced by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford, that the famous 617 squadron ‘The Dambusters’ would be the first Royal Air Force squadron to fly the aircraft. Both Royal Navy and Royal Air Force pilots are already training on the Lightning II aircraft alongside the US Marine Corps at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. In more recent times, 617 Squadron was a Royal Air Force aircraft squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. It operated the Tornado GR4 in the ground attack and reconnaissance role. 617 Squadron is known as the ‘Dambusters’, for its actions during Operation Chastise against German dams during the Second World War (WWII). In October 2013 it left for Afghanistan as part of the British deployment prior to its being disbanded in the Spring of 2014. It will reform prior to the Lightning II return to the UK in 2018 as the RAF’s first Lightning II squadron. 809 Naval Air Squadron (NAS), Fleet Air Arm 809 NAS, whose motto is simply ‘Immortal’, has been selected by the First Sea Lord, Adm Sir George Zambellas, to be the first naval air squadron to fly the Lightning II because of its history of striking at the enemy in operations across the globe. In previous incarnations, aircraft from 809 NAS supported an attack on Hitler’s flagship and the invasions of North Africa, Italy and southern France during the Second World War, and saw action in the Suez in 1956. It was last re-formed to support operations in the Falklands, flying from the decks of HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible. 809 NAS also flew the Navy’s last Buccaneer, a low level strike bomber flown in the 1960s and 1970s. The First Sea Lord, Adm Sir George Zambellas said: “This squadron number is chosen to link with and reflect the proud and distinguished history of embarked carrier strike, from the Second World War to the Falklands. “The early naming of 809 alongside the RAF’s 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron is a very visible demonstration of a joint ambition, spirit of collaboration and shared equity in the Lightning Force.” When not at sea as part of the UK’s carrier strike force, 809 will be based with 617 at RAF Marham in Norfolk. The joint nature of the squadrons means Royal Navy personnel will serve with The Dambusters, and their Royal Air Force counterparts will do likewise on 809 NAS.

It is one of the ‘good news stories’ of the F-35 programme, as this radar continues to impress in its air-ground (and air-air) roles, allowing the F-35 to identify tactical-sized targets from great distances, a capability that is unrivalled by any other tactical aircraft. The use of this and other target identification technology such as synthetic aperture radar (SAR) mapping, Ground Moving Target Indication (GMTI) technology and Automatic Target Recognition/Cueing (ATR/ATC) allows the pilot to find, fix, target and track targets from very long range, in all weathers, by day and by night. Electro Optical Targeting System The F-35 also features an internally mounted Electro Optical Targeting System, similar in use to a Litening targeting pod, allowing the aircraft to designate targets and guide its own laser-guided weapons. The Lightning II’s ‘laser pod’ and weapon load are housed inside the aircraft, allowing it to maintain its stealth characteristics throughout the mission. Alternatively, external pylons can be fitted, affording extra weapon carriage under the wings. Distributed Aperture System (DAS) Six Infrared (IR) cameras are mounted in the F-35’s fuselage and give a 360-degree field of view around the aircraft. The primary purpose of the DAS is to provide warning of a missile launch, but it is also highly effective at finding ‘hot spots’ in the battlespace and is particularly useful for spotting other aircraft that are beyond visual range. Moreover, the DAS images of the outside world can be projected into the pilot’s helmet display, making the aircraft’s fuselage look ‘invisible’ to the pilot and allow him to ‘virtually’ look through the floor. ISTAR and Networking The F-35’s array of integrated, crossspectrum sensors brings a unique surveillance and reconnaissance capability. The information and data gathered from the AESA radar, electronic warfare,

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 117 targeting systems and bomb damage assessments postattack give the pilot all the information he needs to assess the success of the mission. However, beyond this there is the possibility for much further growth in the F-35’s intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability, to the point where it could viably complement other airborne early warning and control aircraft such as a Rivet Joint or AWACS. Network Hub Among the primary attributes of a 5th gen air system is its ability to act as a network node, not only for the ‘air war’, but also for the whole three-dimensional battlespace. Future air combat will likely render contemporary fighter aircraft characteristics, such as power-toweight ratio, weapon load, and ‘stealthiness’ less relevant, since warfare will focus more on the joint networked battlespace and less on warplanes acting individually. The F-35’s ability to act as a central network node will enable data sharing and build situational awareness for all parties, from the senior commander in the HQ, to the basic soldier on the frontline.

A Royal Air Force test pilot takes off from the USS Wasp on Aug. 13, 2013. The flight marked the first time a UK military pilot flew an F-35B short take-off mission at sea.

Lockheed Martin photos

Weaponry The Lightning II has been designed from the outset to carry out a wide range of missions, able to use its stealth to penetrate enemy air defence systems and strike a number of types of targets. The aircraft is able to carry weapons on external pylons, as well as in the internal weapon bays, carry guided bombs, short and medium range air to air missiles and a fast-firing 25mm gun pod. In the

future the F-35B may carry Storm Shadow, SPEAR and Meteor, the latest high-tech missiles being developed for 5th gen fighters. Maximum weapon payload: 6 x Paveway IV 2 x AIM-120C AMRAAM 2 x AIM-132 ASRAAM 1 x 25mm gun pod.

At present more than 3,500 F-35s have been ordered by customers in the US and Europe, and from Israel to Japan. Having UK air, land and sea systems that are interoperable with the F-35 therefore not only ensures joint capability across UK Defence, but affords interoperability across the ‘world’ of F-35 and future international coalitions.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 119

THE F-35B – A Pilot’s Perspective So how does F-35B compare to the Harrier? The Harrier is a very simple jet; the pilot inputs directly into the flight controls, the puffers, and the thrust coming out of the exhaust nozzles. In the F-35B you don’t necessarily know what effect you’re having on any of those, all you know is that the aircraft is doing exactly what you want it to. And you don’t actually need to know. Even if the jet suffers battle damage it will compensate and work to Lightning II gathers a huge amount of information give you the effect you’ve asked for. If you were landing a and uses sensor fusion to display this in a coherent Harrier on a ship and you diverted your attention away from format. What does this mean to the pilot? the core task of flying for more than a few seconds, when Imagine a legacy aircraft with four sensors looking at you looked back it probably wouldn’t be where you’d left it. a target. Its pilot would be faced with interpreting four An F-35 will, almost always, be flying along just as before. versions of the same target information across multiple It will also decelerate to a hover at the displays; fusion uses very clever maths push of a button and remain in the to combine those inputs and tell you hover without pilot input. It really has what’s actually out there. ‘The capability this been made as easy and, therefore, The cockpit would look very familiar jet brings the UK is safe as possible. to someone used to, lets say, a modern staggering; people smart phone. It’s touch screen, and I joining the RAF and What’s your overall impression of think the modern generation of pilots flying the F-35? will pick it up seamlessly and very Royal Navy now should I was always very excited when quickly; some of us older chaps might be very excited about I strapped into an F-35. I’d been be a little slower! what the future holds’ flying tactical simulators for a while, looking at tactical development for Weapons systems and sensors fifth generation fighters. Seeing those apart, how does the F-35 perform? capabilities in a real aircraft, with all of the information that Fifth generation means having the stealth, sensors and the jet is gathering and presenting to me so that I can use it fusion of a fifth generation fighter – in addition to F-16 quickly and intuitively, makes it a very exciting place to be. like handling and performance. However, I’ve flown a The capability this jet brings the UK is staggering; people variety of modern fighters and F-35 handles much better joining the RAF and Royal Navy now should be very excited than any of them. For example, when you fly an F/A-18 about what the future holds. behind a tanker you think, ‘How could this be any easier?’ Then you get into F-35 and you find out very quickly how it could be easier – it flies incredibly well. This means that the pilot has more capacity and more situational awareness that can be directed towards fighting rather than just flying. It really becomes an extension of the pilot, with no need to compensate for any of the old school deficiencies that aircraft used to have. It also means that more training time can be spent on operational tasks rather than, say, worrying about landing. Nowhere is this more relevant than in STOVL [short take-off and vertical landing] mode, where the aircraft is similarly easy to fly. While a Harrier pilot would always have getting the aircraft back onto a pad in the woods, or onto a ship, at the end of the mission at the back of his mind, the pilots of the future won’t need to worry.

Ministry of Defence photo

RAF experimental test pilot Wing Cdr Jim ‘Skosh’ Schofield flew the F-35B Lightning II with the F-35 Integrated Test Force based at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland. Now the UK F-35 requirements manager, he gives us a pilot’s view of the aircraft’s systems, handling and performance.


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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 121 Squadron Leader HJ Nichols, RAF poses with an F-35B Lightning II before a training sortie at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, USA.

Ministry of Defence photo

Supporting the UK’s Aerospace Industry In addition to the combat attributes the Lightning II brings UK Defence, the programme boosts the UK economy. A host of British companies are playing their part in developing and building the F-35, supporting tens of thousands of UK jobs and enhancing the UK’s ability to compete in the global technology marketplace. With 15 percent of each aircraft to be built in this country, the UK is proud to be the only ‘Tier One’ programme partner in the project. With more than 3,000 F-35 aircraft of all three variants likely to be built over the next thirty years, the F-35 is expected to bring billions of pounds into the UK economy. The programme will also ensure that the UK retains vital engineering and manufacturing jobs and maintains irreplaceable engineering and technical skills that are needed to support the UK’s technological industry. Lockheed Martin, the global security and aerospace company based in America, is spearheading the F-35 project. BAE Systems is the UK’s primary contractor and has been working very closely with Lockheed Martin on the F-35 programme for well over ten years. BAE Systems are responsible for the aft fuselage, horizontal and vertical tails and structural components, fuel system, crew escape, life support, and Prognostics and Health Management System, together of course, with the integration of aircraft on to the Queen Elizabeth class carriers.

There are an estimated 500 UK-based companies supporting the F-35 programme, either directly through BAE Systems or individually. These include GKN, Martin Baker, Rolls-Royce, Chemring, Selex, QinetiQ, Survivtec, MBDA, Honeywell UK, Cobham, Ultra Electronics, GE Aviation, Cohort and Magellan Aerospace. Rolls-Royce remains a significant partner and are producing the aircraft propulsion lift system. F-35 production will soon begin to scale up. Last year, Lockheed Martin produced around 35 aircraft at a rate of approximately three units per month. From 2015 the programme ramps up and the UK economy can expect to benefit from an anticipated £1 billion per annum. Full rate production is expected in 2018 and the Lockheed Martin Dallas Fort Worth facility, with its onemile-long assembly line, could eventually turn out as many as two hundred F-35 aircraft per annum. The US is planning to take approximately 2,400 F-35s, and there are large F-35 order commitments from Japan, Israel, Australia, the Netherlands, Norway and Britain. The F-35 looks set to be the largest-ever fast jet military aircraft programme.

The relevance and importance of this massive programme for the UK cannot be underestimated. The potential benefits to UK gross domestic product (GDP), plus the hugely important aspect of skills retention and industry jobs over this long period will help to ensure that Britain remains at the forefront of the defence aerospace industry. Independent forecasts estimate that F-35 will potentially support 25,000 UK jobs through the programme lifetime. Britain’s decision back in 2002 to invest $2 billion in the Joint Strike Fighter and subsequent F-35 research and development programme has undoubtedly proved to be one of the best defence industrial decisions made over the past generation. Aircraft Specifications Engine: Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-600 Thrust: 38000 pounds Max speed: 1.6 Mach Length: 15.6 metres Max altitude: 50,000 feet Span: 10.7 metres Aircrew: 1 Armament: Paveway IV, AMRAAM, ASRAAM Future Armament: Storm Shadow, SPEAR, METEOR, 25mm Gun Pod

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HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH’S HELICOPTERS Wherever HMS Queen Elizabeth goes, the helicopters of the Joint Helicopter Command (JHC), Fleet Air Arm (FAA), Royal Air Force (RAF) and Army Air Corps (AAC) may go with her. Helicopters are a key element of Royal Navy aircraft carrier, destroyer and frigate operations, and they extend the range of UK military might beyond the horizon of a warship. Experiences in the Falklands, East of Suez, Iraq and Afghanistan have shown how important helicopters are in operations, both at sea and on land. HMS Queen Elizabeth’s embarked helicopters will allow her to conduct Carrier Enabled Power Projection (CEPP), a policy concept that uses a single multi-role platform to carry out different missions. This means HMS Queen Elizabeth can be configured to support carrier strike (using F-35B fighter jets), littoral manoeuvre (LitM) operations (using helicopters to launch a Royal Marine land assault), hybrid operations (a combination of carrier strike and LitM) and special forces operations. It is expected that on most routine deployments HMS Queen Elizabeth will carry an inherent hybrid air group. A mixed air group of fixedand rotary-wing aircraft will allow the ship to conduct a broad range of tasks in a changing environment, particularly where the main threat is uncertain or might change during the course of the deployment. These configurations give HMS Queen Elizabeth the flexibility to

deliver a number of missions in support of the UK government’s objectives. The mission could be a special forces operation, noncombatant evacuation operation (NEO), humanitarian aid and disaster relief operation (HADRO) or an international defence engagement task. JFAG The Joint Force Air Group (JFAG) will be responsible for delivering carrier strike, air defence for the carrier and offensive air support for ground forces ashore. Until the F-35Bs come into service in 2018, HMS Queen Elizabeth will carry only helicopters, but her huge flight deck and hangar space will be able to accommodate any helicopter in Britain’s military inventory. Once the Lightning IIs are operational, she will embark a Tailored Air Group (TAG) that

will be a combination of fighter jets and helicopters, depending on what’s needed for a particular operation. The JFAG will deploy helicopters from all three services in a variety of roles. This could be a mix of the Fleet Air Arm’s Merlin submarine hunters, Lynx and Wildcat multi-role helicopters, Sea King surveillance and Commando helicopters, Royal Air Force Chinook troop carriers and the Army Air Corps Apache attack helicopters. In the future, the JFAG could also operate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). HMS Queen Elizabeth has been designed to operate 40 aircraft in a carrier strike role, but routinely she would embark a TAG of 12 Lightning IIs and a number of Merlin helicopters. Alternatively, when only operating helicopters in a LitM role, she could carry more than 43 rotary-wing aircraft with various roles to support

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 123 a Royal Marine landing ashore, i.e. Commando Helicopter Force Merlin and Wildcat, RAF Chinooks, RN surveillance Merlins and Army attack Apaches. Helicopter Force on HMS Queen Elizabeth Helicopters are vital to carrier operations and they bring with them a wide range of capabilities: • air, surface, land and sub-surface warfare tasks • surveillance, command and control

intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance • troop lift • logistic lift • search and rescue • casualty evacuation HMS Queen Elizabeth’s TAG will be made up of a combination of different helicopters, all playing their important part in support of her task group mission.

The Lynx Mk 8 is an advanced highspeed multi-purpose twin-engined helicopter. It is highly effective in the anti-submarine role using Stingray torpedoes and using Sea Skua missiles in search and attack against surface vessels.


UK Ministry of Defence photo


he Lynx Mk 8 Helicopter Maritime Attack (HMA) is the current backbone of the Fleet Air Arm and front-line operations for the Royal Navy. Its primary role is anti-surface warfare (ASuW), where it is capable of finding, tracking and attacking enemy ships with the Sea Skua anti-ship missile. The Lynx also carries a 0.5-inch heavy machine gun that has been used to great effect in anti-piracy and counter-narcotics operations. When conducting antisubmarine warfare (ASW), the Lynx

works together with the Merlin Mk 2 helicopter to locate enemy submarines and then attack them at range using Stingray torpedoes. Royal Marine boarding teams regularly use Lynx helicopters. They employ a fast-roping technique, which means the aircraft does not need a landing site to disembark the team. The Lynx can also carry out surveillance and reconnaissance missions, providing important information for the command using its comprehensive array of

sensors, cameras and recording equipment. The maritime Lynx Force comprises of 702 and 815 Naval Air Squadrons based at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset. The Lynx has been in service since the late 1970s, proving its potency during the Falklands, both Gulf wars, and to the present day, where it routinely operates worldwide in support of operations. The HMA is the final variant of the maritime Lynx, which will be replaced by the Wildcat HMA Mk 2.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 125

A Lynx Wildcat HMA Mk 2 conducts flying trials on board HMS Monmouth off the

UK Ministry of Defence photo by PO(Phot) Si Ethell

south coast of the UK.



ildcat is the latest generation of multi-role helicopter that will start to replace the Lynx Mk 8 in 2015. Wildcat is currently undergoing extensive testing and operational evaluation with 700(W) Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton and has recently finished her first embarkation in HMS Dragon and RFA Argus. Although looking like her predecessor and possessing many of its outstanding characteristics, the Wildcat is leaps ahead in many ways. The engines are considerably more powerful, providing much improved performance when operating in hot environments and at high altitudes. It has a completely redesigned tail, the greatest visual difference between old

and new, which allows for a more powerful tail rotor system as well as improving the aircraft’s strength and stealth qualities with its ‘diamond’ profile. Aircrew also enjoy a muchimproved cockpit, from state-ofthe-art instruments and hi-tech communications, to crashworthy armoured seats that improve survivability in the event of a crash landing. Cutting-edge targeting systems, similar to the Apache gunship, and a 360-degree fullcolour surveillance radar help the crew pick out their prey and if necessary engage them with its new missile systems currently being developed in an AngloFrench collaboration. The new Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (Heavy) (FASGW(H)) missiles use sophisticated

homing technology to attack small and medium sized targets, and FASGW (Light) will complete the weapons suite by taking on small fast moving contacts at closer range. Wildcat will, like its predecessor, be employed in a variety of roles – anti-ship, anti-submarine, ship protection, casualty evacuation, battlefield reconnaissance and general utility – and it will bear the suffix HMA, which stands for ‘Helicopter Maritime Attack’. The Wildcat Army Helicopter Mk 1, which has very similar capabilities to the HMA variant, will be flown by 847 Naval Air Squadron, part of the Commando Helicopter Force, in support of the Royal Marines on amphibious operations.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 127

A Royal Navy Merlin Mk 2 helicopter. The first of the UK’s fleet of next-generation anti-submarine maritime patrol Merlin helicopters have been

UK Ministry of Defence photo

handed over to the Royal Navy.



erlin Mk 2 is the world’s most potent submarinehunting helicopter. The helicopter’s job is to find, and if necessary destroy, enemy submarines using state-of-theart sonar buoys, which it drops into the ocean, and Stingray torpedoes. Beyond searching for submarines, it can carry out traditional maritime helicopter duties such as anti-piracy/drugrunning patrols, surveillance and reconnaissance, search and rescue, and passenger and load transfers. The Merlin Mk 2 entered service this year as part of a £750 million upgrade from

the Mk 1 version. The Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme provides the helicopters with a redesigned cockpit and aircraft management computer system, a total rewiring of the aircraft and a new tactical mission system. It also has powerful computer systems with touch screens that make it easy for the aircrew to operate. Aircrew have improved night vision goggles and enhanced fast-roping facilities for Royal Marine boarding teams – vital for anti-piracy and anti-drugrunning missions. Training on the helicopter takes place at the Merlin

Training Facility at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall. In preparation for their time on HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first Mk 2 front-line unit, 820 Naval Air Squadron, took part in Exercise Deep Blue, a major carrier-led submarine hunting exercise that tested their skills needed for carrier Task Group operations. Eight Merlin Mk 2s joined HMS Illustrious in the Western Approaches and became the largest concentration of submarinehunting helicopters in recent memory and the largest ever concentration of ASW Merlins at sea to date.



number of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Merlin Mk 2 helicopters will be fitted with the Crowsnest Airborne Surveillance and Control system due to come into operation by 2018. Crowsnest’s principal

role is airborne surveillance and control (ASaC) for the task group, providing force protection against air and surface attacks, ‘painting the picture’ of what is over the horizon to commanders within

the task group. Using advanced high-power radar and datalinks to provide long-range air, maritime and land tracking capabilities, Crowsnest will be an integral part of carrier operations.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 129 SEA KING MK 7

UK Ministry of Defence photos


ften referred to as the ‘Eyes of the Fleet’, the ASaC Sea King helicopters operate like ‘flying radar stations’, detecting enemy aircraft, ships and vehicle movements over land. Based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, the squadrons of the Sea King Airborne Surveillance and Control Force are 849, 854, and 857 NAS. They all fly the Sea King Mk 7 helicopter and, although the airframes date from the 1970s, they are fitted with the most technically advanced radar and communications equipment available, allowing for remarkably accurate detections of both air and surface targets from long distances. Their role was to provide Royal Navy warships with protection against low-flying enemy aircraft

A Royal Navy Mk 7 ASaC Sea King operating in Afghanistan.

and missiles, using radar to look down, detect and then feed the information back to the ship. However, with the changing role of UK forces, the squadrons are also involved in ground surveillance and tracking operations with a variety of landbased assets and ground forces. The helicopter is capable of operating in extreme

temperatures from minus 26°C to plus 45°C. The aircraft is fitted with a Defensive Aids Suite which offers a high standard of protection. It has been upgraded to enable it to operate in the hot and high conditions of Afghanistan and to enhance its capability to deliver effects on the battlefield.


A Royal Air Force Merlin helicopter soars over Jordan during Exercise Desert Vortex. RAF Merlins are being transferred to the Royal Navy for conversion to Mk 4 standard.


erlin Mk 4 is the next generation of mediumsupport helicopter for Joint Helicopter Command and the Royal Marines. Highly adaptable and flexible in its utility, it can carry up to 24 fully equipped

troops and will be the platform of choice with the Chinook for air manoeuvres and deploying troops ashore or into the battlefield. The Merlin can also be used in a resupply role, delivering everything from ammunition,

food and water to large artillery and vehicles using its under-slung capability. The Merlin is also a very capable casualty evacuation platform, with enough room to carry and treat 16 wounded on stretchers. The Merlin Mk 4 is operated by two pilots and two crewmen; it is able to fly both day and night in extreme weather and can defend itself with its two heavy machine guns operated by the crew. The Fleet Air Arm is due to receive 25 Mk 3 Merlins from the RAF in a £330 million project that will see them upgraded for operations with the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF). The Mk 4 Merlin will replace the venerable

130 I HMS Queen Elizabeth

‘Junglie’ Sea King Mk 4. To convert them for Fleet Air Arm purposes, the 25 helicopters will receive new glass cockpits and avionics, a folding main rotor head and tail, and an improved undercarriage.

The Merlin is currently based at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire where all training takes place. However, the Merlin will relocate to RNAS Yeovilton in 2015 to join the Commando Helicopter Force.

The Merlin has seen active service in both Iraq and Afghanistan whilst also taking part in deployed operations and exercises embarked on Royal Navy ships including HMS Ocean and HMS Illustrious.


A CH-47 Chinook helicopter from 27 Squadron, Royal Air Force, carrying Royal Marines departs the Royal Navy helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Lacordrick Wilson


he Chinook is used by Joint Helicopter Command and the RAF primarily for air manoeuvres, inserting and extracting troops, resupply and load carrying (both internal and under slung) and can carry up to 54 troops or 10 tonnes of freight. The cabin is large enough to accommodate two vehicles, while the three under-slung load hooks allow flexibility in the type and number of loads that can be carried, including artillery, armored vehicles and other helicopters if required. Secondary roles include search and rescue and casualty evacuation, where 24 stretchers can be carried on board. The Chinook can operate in all weathers, both day and night. It is operated by two pilots and two crewmen, and is capable of defending itself with an array of sophisticated countermeasures and two or three heavy machine guns operated by its crewmen from the side doors and ramp. The Chinook is operated by 7, 18 and 27 Squadrons of RAF Odiham in Hampshire. All training on the Chinook is also completed at RAF Odiham. The Chinook has seen active service in almost every conflict over the past 40 years. More recently the Chinook force has seen action in both Iraq and Afghanistan whilst also taking part in deployed operations and exercises embarked on Royal Navy ships, including HMS Ocean and HMS Illustrious.

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Army Apache helicopters practise taking off from and landing on the deck of HMS Illustrious.


UK Ministry of Defence photo


pache is Joint Helicopter Command and the Army Air Corp’s attack helicopter and is designed to hunt and destroy surface targets in support of ground troops. Operated by the regiments of the Attack Helicopter Force (AHF), the Apache is the offensive rotary capability within the British military. Equipped with the Apache helicopter, the AHF provides a formidable rotary capability in the support of ground troops and attack aviation able to operate from the battlefield or deck of a ship.

The Apache can operate in all weathers, day or night, and detect, classify and prioritise up to 256 potential targets in a matter of seconds. It carries a mix of weapons including rockets, missiles and a 30mm cannon, as well as a state-of-the-art fully integrated defensive aid suite. In addition to the distinctive Longbow radar located above the rotor blades, this aircraft is equipped with a day TV system, thermal imaging sight and direct view optics. The Apache is flown by a crew of two pilots/weapons operators.

Based at Wattisham in Suffolk, the AHF comprises 3 and 4 Regiment AAC. Both regiments are part of 16 Air Assault Brigade, bringing together the agility and reach of airborne forces with the potency of the attack helicopter. Training on the Apache is carried out at AAC Middle Wallop in Hampshire by 7 Regiment AAC. The Apache has demonstrated its formidable capability in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, where it conducted operations from Royal Navy ships for the first time with great success.

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The life-blood of HMS Queen Elizabeth will be her ship’s company of 682. This will expand up to 1,600 with an embarked air group and/or other embarked military forces; they will be by far her greatest assets. They will be made up of personnel from not only the Royal Navy but from all three services, in particular the RAF and Army Air Corps. Currently, there is a small ship’s company of dedicated Royal Navy sailors standing by the build who are busy learning how the ship works. They are preparing training packages for the oncoming company, writing operating procedures and developing ship’s routines so that they are ready to sail once the ship has been completed.

Royal Navy warship complements are made up of departments, each responsible for managing different aspects of the ship’s operations. Here we have a look inside HMS Queen Elizabeth’s departments and meet some of the Royal Navy sailors serving on board.

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Lt Cdr Nat Gillet (left) and WO1 David Smith


he Executive Department is responsible for organising the ship’s personnel and managing the ship’s programme. They manage the ‘Wholeship Damage Control and Fire Fighting Team’, who deal with any fires, floods or damage control incidents, and the ‘Regulating Team’, who are the ship’s police. The Executive Department are there to inject morale into the ship’s company and their motto is ‘a happy ship is an effective ship’! Executive Department personnel profiles:

Lieutenant Commander Nat Gillett, First Lieutenant My job on board is to manage the day-to-day running of the ship and look after the current ship’s company of 102. We have lots of visitors to host, especially as the ship assembly nears completion. It’s a real people job and I enjoy talking to people, finding out what their issues are and how we can address them. Being the first ‘first lieutenant’ on board is a real privilege. It’s amazing to be on board from the inception and be the one who looks after the first ship’s company – especially on a ship that is going to be around for the next 50 years.

Looking back, I first decided to join the Royal Navy in 1974 when I was 10 years old and I was finally accepted as a junior air engineering mechanic (2nd class) in 1981. I’ve been all over the world – to the Falklands, Indian Ocean and Far East – mostly with Naval Air Squadrons working on anti-submarine warfare, before serving on all three Invincible-class aircraft carriers. I gained a commission in 2001, and, amongst other things, I’ve been the aircraft control room officer in HMS Illustrious and the first lieutenant in HMS Bulwark. Becoming the first ‘first lieutenant’ on HMS Queen Elizabeth is one of the highlights of my career. Warrant Officer 1 David Smith, Executive Warrant Officer (EWO) My job on board is to look after the ship’s personnel, particularly the senior and junior rates, and run the department co-ordination meetings, where we work out who is needed to do what – a big job on a busy ship. I joined the Royal Navy in 1986 and, after completing my sonar training, joined my first ship, HMS Charybdis, for a deployment to the Gulf. I then was lucky enough to join the Royal Yacht Britannia, where I had the honour to meet members of the Royal Family and visit some superb foreign countries. I had the experience of a lifetime on a deployment to the Far East, as part of Ocean Wave 97, and then joined HMS St Albans whilst she was being built in Scotstoun.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 137 This was an extremely challenging but professionally rewarding assignment, as I helped generate a ship from build to operational sea training and deployment. I joined HMS York as her EWO and then after a few more postings in the executive field on HMS Bulwark,


FOST executive and then Portsmouth Flotilla EWO, I took up this prestigious posting on HMS Queen Elizabeth. It’s a privilege to be on board as the first EWO and be able to build a positive ethos right from the beginning.

Leading Seaman Craig Kilgour


he Warfare Department is responsible for the safety and protection of the ship. Warfare personnel man the operations room 24/7 and use state-of-the-art radar systems linked into the Combat Management System to maintain a tactical picture. They operate the ship’s self-defence systems, such as the Phalanx automated weapon system and the Automatic Small Calibre gun. A large sub-section of the Warfare Department is the Seamanship Team. They are responsible for navigating the ship from the bridge, conducting boat transfers, replenishment at sea (RAS), anchoring, and coming to a buoy – no mean feat in a ship this size. The Warfare Department also includes a team of Royal Navy meteorologists. They are necessary for carrier operations to provide accurate and up-to-date weather forecasts to allow the safe launch, operation, and recovery of aircraft from the deck of the ship.

Royal Navy photo

Warfare Department personnel profiles: Leading Seaman Craig Kilgour, Tactical Picture Director I work in the operations room using radar and other equipment to build up a picture of what’s happening on the sea and in the air. I joined the Royal Navy in 2002 at the age of 18 and have carried out counter-drug operations in the Caribbean, counter-smuggling and antiterrorism deployments in the Mediterranean, along with operational tours to the Persian Gulf and the Falklands. I joined the Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond while in build in Scotstoun, so have experience of building one of the newest types of ships in the Royal Navy. This has given me priceless experience of using new weapons and combat systems, which will prove extremely useful for my time on HMS Queen Elizabeth as the tactical picture director. The highlight of my career to date was my first ever deployment to the Caribbean in HMS Manchester, which included a £90 million drugs bust. My next

highlight will be sailing into Portsmouth for the first time on board HMS Queen Elizabeth. Petty Officer Clinton Barrett, Tactical Picture Director I work in the operations room using the ship’s radar and electronic sensors to keep an eye on what’s out there. I joined the Royal Navy in 2001, and my first sea job was on the Type 42 destroyer HMS Edinburgh. My last posting was to 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group as boarding team commander, managing approaches to other vessels on global deployments on RFAs Fort Rosalie, Wave Ruler and Cardigan Bay.

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Petty Officer Clinton Barrett Chief Petty Officer Craig MacLean

I’ve been on numerous deployments around the world, including NATO patrols, multinational exercises and operational tours. I received medals for service in both the Iraq and Libya campaigns. I look forward to the challenge of bringing a new class of ship out of build and training the Warfare Department as our numbers grow in order to get the ship operational.



he Weapons Engineering (WE) Department is responsible for the daily maintenance of weapons, sensors and networks to ensure they are ready and available for the ship to use. They look after essential equipment, such as radar and communication systems, and provide the ship with a war fighting capability when in hostile environments. At present, the majority of the WE Department are part of the Trials and Commissioning Team. They are working with industry to install and test the equipment that they will be responsible for when the ship is handed over to the Royal Navy.

I joined the Royal Navy in 2005 as a weapons engineer, and have spent most of my career on both Type 42 and new Type 45 destroyers, having recently served in HMS Diamond. During this time, I spent six months patrolling the Libyan coast. Now in HMS Queen Elizabeth, I am looking forward to working with our industrial partners to ensure that we are ready to do the job when the ship sails. It’s a privilege to watch the ship take shape and come to life over the coming months and years. Engineering Technician Jonathan Theobald, Combat Systems Junior Rating As one of the combat systems engineers, I’m responsible for ensuring that the equipment in the operations room used by the Warfare Department is fully functioning and will allow them to do their job of ‘fighting the ship’. I joined the Royal Navy in 2009 and trained as a weapons engineer. I’ve served in carriers before, the

Royal Navy photos

WE Department personnel profiles: Chief Petty Officer Craig MacLean, Aviation Facilities Maintainer My job is the aviation facilities maintainer. I am responsible for the maintenance of equipment that supports the safe launch and recovery of aircraft from the ship – such as visual landing aids and the glide path camera that assists the pilots when coming in to land.

Engineering Technician Jonathan Theobald

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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 141 last being HMS Ark Royal, that included a brilliant deployment to the United States. I’m looking forward to seeing how the development of HMS Queen Elizabeth will drive the Royal Navy forward. I’m excited to be involved in a ship in-build – which is a new experience for me. Petty Officer Engineering Technician (WE) Steph Simpson, Petty Officer Air Weapons My job on board is the petty officer in charge of the Highly Mechanised Weapon Handling System, a huge piece of equipment that moves air weapons between the magazines and the hangar – similar to moving luggage around an airport. I’ve been working as an integral part of the ACA team responsible for the installation and testing of this new equipment. I joined the Royal Navy in 2002 and switched branches to become a weapon engineer (WE) in 2006. I’ve previously served in HMS Manchester, HMS Edinburgh and HMS St. Albans as a maintainer for communication equipment and sensors. I wanted to become a WE as I enjoy the challenge this type of engineering brings and knowing that every day will be different. Being part of the installation team has given me real hands-on experience and it’s been a great opportunity to be part of such a momentous project. It was a real treat to return home to my native Scotland when I was posted to HMS Queen Elizabeth – I’ve really enjoyed being so close to home!



he Air Department provides the interface between the ship and the embarked air squadrons and provides all the flight deck services that enable aircraft to operate from the carrier. The Air Department conducts flight deck crash rescue, fire fighting, aircraft moves, scheduling of flying operations, aircrew preparation for combat and training missions and the direction of aviation operations on and around the flight deck, including flight safety and air traffic control of local aircraft. They are responsible for the flight deck ‘choreography’, the intricate inter-leaved activities that enable the carrier to deliver more than 100 operational missions per day, all which require careful practice to control operations in an environment of heat, noise, wind, weather, and darkness as well as the constant movement of the flight deck. Air Department personnel profiles: Lt Cdr Jonnie Barnes-Yallowley

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POET (WE) Steph Simpson

Lieutenant Commander Jonnie Barnes-Yallowley, ‘F’ On board I’m a deputy head of the Air Department and I’m responsible for getting the operating procedures

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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 143 ready, preparing the training packages and managing the incoming aircrew. Having been involved with the project for 10 years, I am excited to see the opportunities the carrier will bring to joint operations and UK defence. I trained as a Navy pilot and principal warfare officer and served in a variety of carriers, squadrons and ships. I first joined the UK carrier project as the user requirements manager at MOD Abbey Wood and was part of the team that achieved Main Gate Contract award in 2006. Since then I’ve been developing my carrier strike credentials, serving first as ‘F’ in HMS WO1 (AH) Nick Downs

Illustrious (operating UK, USMC and Spanish strike jets), then at Navy Command HQ as part of the Carrier Strike Capability Integration team. Most recently I’ve just returned from three years exchange with the US Navy [Naval Air Forces] Command gaining experience in carrier training. Warrant Officer 1 (AH) Nick Downs, Captain of the Flight Deck My job is ‘Captain of the Flight Deck’, which involves overseeing all aircraft operations up on the flight deck. I’m the man with the green flag who gives the pilot the final ‘green to go’ for launch. I joined the ship from HMS Illustrious where I was hangar control officer. I joined the Royal Navy back in 1987 and spent the majority of my career at sea in carriers, having served from naval airman to warrant officer. I have done all the core aircraft handling jobs, including Captain of the Flight Deck of HMS Ark Royal where I launched the last ever Harrier GR9 in 2010. In HMS Queen Elizabeth, I’m using my extensive experience to help with the ‘build up’ process, and develop procedures and routines for both the Air Department and the wider ship. I enjoy showing people around and love seeing their surprise and amazement when they see the sheer size of the ship.


UK Ministry of Defence photo


he Air Engineering (AE) Department is responsible for providing air engineering support to the Lightning IIs and helicopters of the embarked air squadrons. They run the mechanical and avionics workshops, and are responsible for the ‘air weapon supply’ - getting the weapons ready to be loaded onto the aircraft. The department looks after the many engineering workshops required to keep the aircraft in the air. These include the composite repair workshop, large enough to accommodate an F-35 tail fin or Merlin gearbox cowling, the survival equipment workshop, aircraft engine and gearbox workshop, F-35 maintenance compartment, and wheel and tyre workshop. The air engineers are examining the new equipment and procedures required to manage the aircraft on board. Examples include dealing with the heat and noise signatures associated with the F-35, necessitating specialist deck coatings, the use of ‘acoustic shelters’ and advanced hearing protection.

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 145 AE Department personnel profiles: Warrant Officer 1 (AET) Mick Davidson MBE, Air Engineering Department Warrant Officer I’m the Air Engineering Department’s warrant officer, and one of my many jobs is to control the movement of aircraft around the hangar and up on to the flight deck. Whilst on board I am writing operating procedures about how we move the fighter jets and helicopters around the hangar safely. The flight deck is one of the most dangerous places on the ship, so we need to make sure it is a safe working environment. HMS Queen Elizabeth is very different to any other ship in the Royal Navy – so we have lots to learn. I joined the Royal Navy back in 1982 as an air engineering artificer (weapons electrical) and have served with most Naval Air Stations and aircraft carriers. Highlights of my career include surviving arctic training in northern Norway and being awarded an MBE for service with the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Wittering as part of Joint Force Harrier (JFH).

Petty Officer (AET) Martin Curry, Mechanical Workshops Petty Officer I work in the mechanical workshops with the jets and the helicopters, fixing aircraft associated components such as engines, cranes and lifting gear. I joined the Royal Navy as an air engineering mechanic (AEM) in 1995 and served with 899 NAS at RNAS Yeovilton before being drafted to 800 NAS attached to HMS Invincible, which deployed to Iraq and the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. In my time, I’ve served in all three aircraft carriers and also deployed to Libya in HMS Ocean. Now in HMS Queen Elizabeth, I’m the first PO in the Mechanical Department and it’s my job to get the workshops ready for business. I love being part of a ship this size – it’s empowering to think that the decisions we make now will set the ship up for the rest of her working life.

Royal Navy photos

WO1 (AET) Mick Davidson MBE

PO (AET) Martin Curry

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he Marine Engineering (ME) Department is responsible for the operation and maintenance of all the systems and equipment on board that enable the ship to float, move and fight. The MEs look after the high-tech, modern engine room, with marinised Rolls-Royce Trent engines (similar to those on a Boeing 777 airliner) and Wärtsilä diesel engines that produce power for the electric propulsion system and all domestic services. They also look after the new integrated waste management system (which meets environmental legislation and allows the ship to remain on task for longer), heating and air-con, fire detection network (with smoke and heat detectors, visual surveillance systems and remotely operated firefighting systems), and an Integrated Platform Management system that allows remote operation and monitoring of equipment and systems.

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ME Department personnel profile: Warrant Officer 1 Ian Hazel, Marine Engineering Departmental Coordinator I’m the ME warrant officer and my job is to look at how the ME Department is going to manage and maintain all the different systems on board. I joined the Royal Navy in May 1988 as an artificer apprentice and shortly thereafter was selected to undertake training as a marine engineer. I joined HMS Invincible and saw operations in the former Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone. I then joined HMS Ark Royal as the power and propulsion lead before moving to the Carrier Strike and Aviation team in Navy Command with a focus on QEC manning, which led on to other carrier related roles. I was on board HMS Ark Royal when her White Ensign was lowered for the final time in 2011, so it is with a sense of pride and purpose that I am witnessing the rebirth of Royal Navy carrier operations with the naming WO1 Ian Hazel of HMS Queen Elizabeth.



he Logistics Department are responsible for sustaining the whole ship and the embarked aircraft at sea and alongside. This involves providing stores, catering and hotel services, human resources and personnel services, cash and accountancy services, secretarial and NAAFI facilities, as well as legal advice to the command. When HMS Queen Elizabeth goes into action, the Logistics Department act as the battle damage-control and first-aid teams. On board they are developing the new and innovative working practices required to sustain such a large ship with up to six months’ worth of supplies. They are also starting the significant process of ordering and sorting through the stocks of equipment that are needed to allow the ship’s company to move on board and make HMS Queen Elizabeth ready for sea. Logistics Department personnel profile: Commander Craig Mearns, Commander Logistics My job is to lead and manage all aspects of the ship’s Logistics Department. My current main task is to determine how we ‘store ship’ – how we do it and what stores we need. My previous job was as commander logistics in HMS Illustrious, and it involved bringing her out of refit, preparing her for operations and spending considerable time at sea operating aircraft. This was ideal preparation for coming to HMS Queen Elizabeth. Prior to that I’ve had various jobs as logistics officer on board carriers and destroyers, worked in MOD Whitehall, a tour to Afghanistan and two years in Gibraltar. I’ve been heavily involved with the planning of the naming ceremony – and this has been the highlight of my time with the ship so far.

Cdr Craig Mearns

Leading Hand Claire Butler, one of the first Royal Navy sailors to join HMS Queen Elizabeth during her construction, ties a cap tally, Oct. 2, 2012. The first sailors to join the Royal Navy’s brand-new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived in Rosyth to become the key members in the team building the country’s most powerful warship as well as developing training methods for the ship’s crew yet

UK Ministry of Defence photo

to arrive.

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Training in the military is key. It will be no surprise that HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Training Team have been busy ensuring that the ship’s company are suitably trained to sail, fight, fly, operate, maintain and fix the carrier when she sets sail. This has ranged from training individual sailors to do their core job, to ensuring the ship can embark and deploy air groups or land forces, to determining how the ship will train with our international partners in multi-national exercises. Within the training domain, as with many other aspects of her development, HMS Queen Elizabeth has been a catalyst for improving the way the Royal Navy does things. Training as You Go The first members of the ship’s company have been in Rosyth since 2012. Over this period, they have worked hand-in-hand with their industrial partners to learn how the systems work whilst they are installed, tested and commissioned. An example of this is the innovative Highly Mechanised Weapons Handling System that moves weapons between the magazines, hangar and flight deck. The Royal Navy maintainers have had to work extremely closely with the equipment manufacturers to help install the kit, learn its key features and functionality, and importantly, how to diagnose faults

and carry out subsequent repair. This knowledge is captured daily and is fed into future Royal Navy training solutions to make sure that subsequent crews, as well as the crew of HMS Prince of Wales, get the right training. International Partners Support has also been sought from our international partners, primarily the US, to hone and refresh carrier aviation skills. Royal Navy and RAF air and ground crew have been in America with the US Navy learning to fly and maintain the F-35B Lightning II jets. Pilots, aircrew, aircraft handlers and air traffic controllers have deployed on

US aircraft carriers to develop the skills they need to conduct modern fast jet operations. Point of Need New technology on HMS Queen Elizabeth has allowed the crew to train differently on board, and importantly at the point of need. A good example is the training on the ‘Platform Management System’ – a control system that manages all the power and propulsion, domestic and auxiliary systems on board the ship. This system has an on board training mode that allows the ship’s company to rehearse various drills and procedures without affecting the actual ‘real world’ operation of the equipment. Fire Fighting Fire fighting and damage control have always been a key part of every sailor’s training, regardless of their specialisation or trade. The sheer size and scale of HMS Queen Elizabeth means that sailors have to perform different roles to the ‘close up’ fire fighting situations experienced on smaller Royal Navy ships. HMS Queen Elizabeth has a greater reliance on automated fire/ heat and flood sensors and has a remotely operated fire fighting system. The ship’s ‘Damage Control’ team have had to write brand new

UK Ministry of Defence photo

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Above: After a month flying the F-35 Lightning II – the most advanced stealth fighter in the world – Lt Cdr Ian Tidball, who is from Weston-super-Mare, has given the aircraft a glowing testimonial. Left: The third of the UK’s F-35B Lightning II trials aircraft arrives at Eglin Air Force Base ready to commence further pilot training and trials. The 33rd Fighter Wing is a joint graduate flying and maintenance training wing that trains Air Force, Marine, Navy and international partner operators and maintainers of the F-35 Lightning II.

operating procedures for this new mode of naval fire fighting. The Future The Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) organisation is renowned for delivering world-class training for ships about to deploy on operations. The FOST team have been closely

U.S. Air Force photo by Maj Karen Roganov

UK Ministry of Defence photo

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Above: Sailors from HMS Illustrious tackle a fire as part of a disaster relief training mission, Nov. 25, 2011. Right: Members of HMS Ocean’s duty watch undertake training at HMS Raleigh’s HAVOC DRIU (Damage Repair Instructional Unit). Training includes lectures, dry drills and full wet runs on the unit. The sheer size and scale of HMS Queen Elizabeth, along with reduced manning, demand greater reliance on automated systems as well as increased crew expertise.

UK Ministry of Defence photo

involved with the development of HMS Queen Elizabeth, so when she is put through her FOST paces, they’ll be able to appreciate her capabilities and the different way in which she operates. Beyond this, there will be a ‘crawl, walk, run’ approach to integrating air groups onto the ship and an increased use of synthetic training (i.e. in a virtual environment). The use of synthetic training will also help interoperability with our international partners so that the ship can rehearse combined operations whilst being geographically separated.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Karl Anderson

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HMS Queen Elizabeth crew served on board the US Navy aircraft carrier Harry S Truman.



Royal Navy photo

WO1 Nick Downs trains on board USS Harry S Truman

One of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s most senior crew members spent two weeks in a US Navy carrier on operations in the Gulf in preparation for his role in HMS Queen Elizabeth. WO1 Nick Downs flew out to join six other members of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s crew on board the USS Harry S Truman to get practice at moving jets and helicopters around the sprawling flight deck.

he USS Harry S Truman was on operations launching air strikes over Afghanistan in support of Allied forces on the ground. WO1 Downs’ role on board is ‘Captain of the Flight Deck’ and he’s in charge of all HMS Queen Elizabeth’s aircraft handlers – the men and women who marshal the ship’s F-35 Lightning II jets and Merlin helicopters around a flight deck more than twice the size of Wembley Stadium’s pitch. He joined the Truman as part of a long-term link-up with the US Navy to train Royal Navy personnel due to serve on HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister HMS Prince of Wales. A succession of flight deck teams have been serving in US flat-tops to gain an insight into operations in an aircraft carrier – the latest of them spending eight months in the Truman on her front-line deployment in the Middle East. WO1 Downs was impressed by the way those half dozen Brits – led by CPO(AH) Nathan Milner and labelled ‘awesome’ by the Truman’s aircraft handling officer – had settled in to life on a big deck carrier. He takes up the story: ‘It quickly became apparent how well respected the British aircraft handlers were by their US

Winner of the 3rd Photo FORAN Award. Babcock AF_PagFORANV70-Marine Log(178x126)eng.indd 1

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FORAN was selected in 2006 as the CAD tool for BAE Systems. The first challenge was to develop an early 3D model of the Hull Structure for the QEC Stage 1 design. Based on the success of this phase, BAE Submarines (Barrow), BAE Naval Ships (Glasgow) and later on Babcock (Rosyth) decided to carry out the QEC design (Stages 2 & 3) using FORAN. For SENER, the most important challenge was derived from the size and the complexity of the vessel together with the requirement to work in a multi-CAD and multi-site environment. Scalability, for both number of users and amount of data, and performance were also critical for the project. An additional challenge was to train a huge number of users (1000+) as well as to provide SENER on-site support to the main QEC design centres, as for BAE and for Babcock it was the first project developed with FORAN. As part of the implementation process, SENER was required to develop additional capabilities in FORAN like more powerful access control functionalities or specific manufacturing links (e.g. for NC profile cutting robots). The use of FORAN in the QEC has represented a step forward in the use of digital mock-up techniques in all disciplines and stages of the QEC design, with satisfactory results in both cost and schedule. FORAN is the shipbuilding CAD/CAM system developed by SENER, a multidisciplinary engineering company with presence in 14 countries, including UK, and we are proud of our contribution to the biggest, and most powerful, surface warship ever to join the Royal Navy.

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 155 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).

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyler Caswell

counterparts: the British chief petty officer and leading aircraft handlers were in charge of their respective areas (known as Fly 1,2, etc), and by this stage were teaching some of the American deck crews how to do their job.’ ‘I was struck by the tempo, the sheer noise and speed of operations on a large carrier which hasn’t been seen on a UK ship for over 30 years – but will be brought to life again on HMS Queen Elizabeth.’ ‘Apart from the scale of the operation, I was struck by the long hours US sailors are expected to work – on average 16 hour days on deck, further exacerbated by the Gulf sun and the size of the flight deck.’ ‘The large number of airframes – some 67 aircraft spread across eight different squadrons – was dwarfed by the number of personnel aboard. To put it into context, a Queen Elizabeth-class carrier has a total ship’s company of 679; the USS Harry S Truman has an air department of 711 alone, and a total complement – including the air group – of 4,500. This large number of personnel moved around the flight deck with a nonchalant air, ducking under F-18 jet exhausts and avoiding live weapons without a thought.’ ‘The majority of aircraft worked with live ordnance as the Truman was still supporting operations in Afghanistan. The careful choreography of the launch and recovery sequences was impressive, but the noise and violence

of conventional operations is breathtaking.’ During Operation Enduring Freedom (the American codename for the war in Afghanistan) and up to the point of WO1 Downs’ departure from the ship, USS Harry S Truman had dropped bombs totalling 16,500lb (nearly 7,500kg), a fraction compared with previous deployments but a poignant reminder that operations are ongoing – and a real demonstration of how, even in a landlocked country, power projection from the sea can have a major influence on land operations. ‘One area in particular was a real hive of activity: the hangar, which is roughly the same size as on the Queen Elizabeth. The usual aircraft maintenance was going on while around the large airframes personnel took part in recreational physical training circuits.’ ‘Every Wednesday the ship would replenish at sea to take on supplies, which was done straight into the hangar – as it will be on HMS Queen Elizabeth – where the stores party used forklifts and multiple stores lifts on the hangar deck to stow supplies. This drastically reduced the manpower burden. It took 100 people two to three days to “store ship” on our Invincible-class carriers. Current estimates are that it will take 20 people about half a day on HMS Queen Elizabeth because of the

efficient design of storing points, lifts and stores.’ ‘With the emphasis on work, the flight deck crews work long days – there isn’t much down time, and so little thought is given to mess decks on US carriers. The majority of the accommodation was very bare with little or no recreation spaces; by comparison Queen Elizabeth has large recreation spaces for all ranks and rates, and the majority of accommodation has been placed well below the noise of the flight deck down on Six and Seven decks, increasing the chance of a good night’s sleep.’ ‘After two weeks on the Truman I left with an admiration for the hard work and commitment her crew showed. The hospitality given was warm and generous, demonstrated by an air department clear lower deck.’ Achievement citations and medals were awarded to the Royal Navy airmen by the Truman’s Commanding Officer, Capt Bob Roth. ‘The Long Lead Specialist Skills programme gives a fantastic opportunity to get an insight into the workings of the US Navy’s largest warships and their way of doing business, which has proved to be a real boost to maintaining the required skills and experience for our people to enable us to develop our new generation of aircraft carriers.’

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The decision to base the two new Queen Elizabeth Class carriers at Portsmouth was a critical turning point for the naval base. A £500 million infrastructure investment programme will benefit not only the naval base but the city and its people. With HMS Queen Elizabeth due to arrive in her base port in early 2017, she will join other highly complex warships – six Type 45 destroyers and the six Portsmouth Flotilla Type 23 frigates (to be replaced by the Type 26 from 2019). Furthermore, plans are evolving for the next generation of mine hunter patrol vessels (MHPC) and offshore patrol vessels that will replace the current small ship fleet base-ported at Portsmouth. With Future Force 2020 now taking shape, the challenge is to create a modern base for the modern navy. The naval base faces its greatest challenge since the Victorians adapted the Georgian base, built for sail and wood, to make it fit for the steam and steel era. Modern Royal Navy ships and their operating patterns and tempos are radically different from those ships for which the dockyard was designed. Each new class of ship is at least 150 percent larger than the one it replaces. Today we have 90,000 tonnes of warship based in Portsmouth. By the end of the decade this will have more than doubled to 230,000 tonnes, potentially growing to almost 260,000 tonnes

by 2030; the last time the base had to support more than 200,000 tonnes was in the 1950s. High tech advances mean that manning is increasingly lean and the QEC carriers have a similar ship’s company to HMS Illustrious. A lot of basic maintenance and husbandry cannot be done at sea, thereby increasing the scale of activity to be completed when the ship is alongside in port. Each new platform also demands almost 300 percent more shore power than its predecessor. In parallel to the evolution of the naval base, the city itself is undergoing its own regeneration with equally ambitious plans and associated demands for supporting infrastructure. These certainties have been transposed into a naval base development programme under the working title ‘Portsmouth 2030’. Facilities for the Carriers The carriers will be berthed at Middle Slip and Victory jetties so that they have a straight run in from the harbour entrance. The channel approaching the

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entrance is being modified to allow a longer run on a steady course before transiting the narrow harbour entrance by straightening the current dog-leg just before the Round Tower. The first phase, relocating the BT cables to the Isle of Wight, is already underway. The remaining work is to establish new navigation marks and transits, strengthen the jetties and equip them for high voltage links, and build new catamarans, brows and cranes. Facilities for the Destroyers and Frigates The frigates and destroyers will now be displaced to North West Wall, Fountain Lake Jetty and 3 Basin for non-tidal berths. A programme

HMS Queen Elizabeth passes the Round Tower as she departs Portsmouth Harbour in this computer generated image.

of jetty strengthening, power, data and other alongside services installation is already underway. Clearing the clutter from this area, creating more parking and storage facilities and improving the support to personnel through sports facilities and catering/social outlets are all on the agenda. A major part of this work will be the decontamination of 3 Basin (60 years of anti fouling, oils and other pollution has taken its toll) such that it can be opened to the tideway much more easily, allowing more underwater engineering to be

conducted in still water, avoiding the hazards of passing traffic and offering greater security. Deeper maintenance and upkeep activity will return to the Fleet Maintenance and Repair Organisation facilities around the two very large 14 and 15 dry docks within the basin. Hinterland Support (Power, Roads and Parking) The new ships will require a significant increase in electrical power and the intention is establish a power station within the naval base. The work for this is being pursued in conjunction with Portsmouth City Council, who are facing their own power challenges as they regenerate Portsea Island. The road system

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Royal Navy photo

was laid down in Edwardian days and while the Trafalgar Gate link direct onto the M275 has significantly eased the access to the base, the size of the modern ships and increasingly complex contractor support networks will result in considerable surges of ‘white vans’. The lay down will be revised and enable a one flow system to and from the key activity areas. Parking will be addressed with multi storey car parks and enhanced shuttle bus services. Accommodation Replacement of all the junior rates’ single living accommodation

Computer imagery of HMS Queen Elizabeth alongside Victory Jetty at Portsmouth Naval Base.

is nearly complete. The warrant officers’ and senior rates’ mess and the wardroom are in urgent need of modernisation and the solution for this lies with the concentration of 18th century buildings around the Old Naval Academy, Rope Walk and South Terrace. These historic buildings require significant investment to meet statutory

conservation standards and there are complications in selling them for civilian and commercial uses. As there is considerable interest from the university to take on the current wardroom site, the business case stacks up to relocate the wardroom from Queen Street to the Royal Naval Academy building, modernising it to give 21st century facilities while retaining a key part of our naval heritage. There are also plans to convert some other heritage buildings, such as the Rope Walk, into a warrant officers’ and senior rates’ mess, so over the next decade life will be breathed back into this corner of the base.

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THE ROYAL NAVY, THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER AND THE FLEET AIR ARM The Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm have been at the forefront of technical and doctrinal invention of naval and carrier aviation for more than a hundred years, pioneering and developing not only the ships and embarked aircraft, but establishing a reputation of British technological innovation, professionalism and engineering excellence that leads the world.

Fleet Air Arm Museum photo

Story by Sue Eagles

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s aircraft became heavier and faster, new challenges arose and the Royal Navy blazed a unique trail, leading the way in the development of innovative and revolutionary new technologies including the steam catapult, angled flight deck, mirror landing site and ‘ski jump’, all British inventions that were swiftly standardised in navies worldwide. Naval aviation was proved extensively during both wars and has been used in many conflicts since, but in historical terms it is still a relatively recent addition to naval power. From the middle ages to the dawn of the twentieth century, the fighting effectiveness of the Royal Navy was dominated by the gun. In the early 1900s, however, the development of the aeroplane ushered in a dramatic new military advantage – the ability to fly above the fleet and see over the horizon.

Opposite page: A Sopwith Camel takes off from HMS Ark Royal. In 1935 this vessel was renamed HMS Pegasus, the name being given over to the new fleet carrier HMS Ark Royal. Above: What appears to be a Curtiss H12 flying boat on a lighter being towed behind a destroyer, 19181919. The idea behind towing the large flying boats behind the destroyers was to take them far out into the North Sea before launching them, in order to extend the range of their patrols.

Aircraft became the eyes and ears of the fleet, extending the striking range of maritime forces far beyond the reach of naval guns. The radical and transformational capability of naval aviation also led to the total replacement of the battleship by an entirely new type of warship –

the aircraft carrier – as the most powerful capital ship afloat. Able to move at will, sustain themselves for long periods without reliance on other nations, and act as ‘mobile airbases’ from which to mount the widest range of operations, from the offensive punch of ‘carrier strike’, to global disaster and humanitarian relief operations; aircraft carriers have proved their worth time and time again. The importance of air power, particularly as a means by which strategic effect could be brought to bear ashore, was first recognised by the Royal Navy from the earliest use of aircraft at sea. The first four naval pilots completed their flying training in 1911 and the first launch of an aircraft from a Royal Navy battleship was achieved the same year. The early naval aviators were intrepid and courageous pioneers. They faced many hazardous

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Ministry of Defence photo

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unknowns but were always experimenting, fearlessly pushing the boundaries and breaking new ground. Flying wood and fabric biplanes, they launched themselves from temporary structures on the upper decks of warships, attached floats to aircraft, attacked airships with explosives, fired guns from aircraft, dropped torpedoes, sent radio messages to report their findings and even built the first armoured car – to pick up downed pilots behind enemy lines. Their qualities of resourcefulness, finding ingenious ways to overcome difficulties and pioneering new ideas, left a legacy of maritime technical innovation that still gives naval aviation the innovative edge today. Britain declared war on Germany in August 1914, and within weeks the Royal Naval Air Service had pioneered the first strategic air raids against Zeppelins in their bases many miles from the sea – outstanding achievements in navigation and daring. The then First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, saw the potential of

The Royal Navy Historic Flight’s Fairey Swordfish Mk II. Obsolescent at the outbreak of World War II, the Swordfish nevertheless served throughout. Its accomplishments, such as the sinking of Italian capital ships at Taranto, the crippling of the Bismarck, and blunting the U-boat threat during the Arctic convoys, came more through the skill and bravery of its crews than the qualities of the aircraft itself.

naval aviation from the outset, and the Royal Naval Air Service raid on Cuxhaven in December 1914 was a defining moment in naval history. It was the first attempt to exert sea power upon land by means of the air – ‘projection’ as it is known today. This was the birth of what would become the ‘carrier strike’ concept, being the first time seaplanes flown off ships at sea achieved effects ashore. The Royal Navy developed the first experimental seaplane carrier in 1913. The aeroplanes had floats, and although they could take off

from the ship using trolleys, they could not land back on. They had to land on the sea in the lee of the ship, and be craned back on board. This was a laborious business. Seaplane tenders were also used, but seaplanes were hostages to sea and weather conditions, and losses were high. What was required was a ship capable of launching wheeled aircraft and recovering them again without stopping. The first use of aircraft in a sea battle was at the battle of Jutland in 1916, and the first successful landing of an aircraft onto the flight deck of a moving ship was made by Cdr EH Dunning RN in HMS Furious in 1917. The impetus of war had advanced the aircraft of 1918 to a weapon of potency – the drawback was the lack of suitable decks to operate from. Most early aircraft carriers were conversions of merchant ships or warships with a ‘flat top’ erected over the superstructure, either on the fore or aft-deck. HMS Ark Royal was the first ship in history designed and built as a seaplane carrier. Launched in 1914, she served in the

Dardanelles campaign. HMS Furious followed, taking part in one of the most successful carrier operations of the First World War (WWI) when seven Sopwith Camels launched from her attacked the Zeppelin base at Tondern. The first true aircraft carrier to have a full length flat deck and a large compartment below to act as a hangar was HMS Argus, completed in 1918. The Royal Naval Air Service fought with great distinction and valour on all fronts during WWI, winning two Victoria Crosses and numerous awards for gallantry and unsurpassed heroism. In four short years, the zeal, ingenuity and endeavour of the early naval aviators had built the Royal Naval Air Service into the finest naval air arm in the world. By the end of the war, the Royal Naval Air Service had 55,000 personnel, 3,000 aeroplanes and 103 airships. Just as naval aircraft were beginning to prove their effectiveness, the Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Flying Corps were combined under one command – to form the

The Ruler-class escort carrier HMS Searcher covering a convoy in heavy seas. Two Grumman Martlets, later known as Wildcats, are ranged on deck.

Royal Air Force – in April 1918. This pooling of resources was frustrating for the Royal Navy, because the Admiralty had been at the cutting edge of aircraft development during WWI and, while the development of aircraft carriers continued throughout the inter-war years, the specific requirements of embarked naval aircraft fell behind. As a result, at the beginning of the Second World War (WWII) in 1939, despite its impressive history of innovation and achievement, the Fleet Air Arm faced going into combat with old and barely adequate aircraft, or new inadequate ones. The term, Fleet Air Arm, came in to being in 1924, and the first ship to be purpose designed and built as an aircraft carrier, HMS Hermes,

was commissioned in the same year. She was the first aircraft carrier to display the two distinctive features of a modern aircraft carrier, the full length flight deck and starboardside bridge and control tower. During WWII, aircraft carriers and carrier-borne aircraft revolutionised naval tactics and enabled the Royal Navy to play its leading part in the Allied victory at sea. They also fulfilled a vital role in the protection of convoys, without which the successful conclusions of the land battles could not have been achieved. Despite initially lacking suitable aircraft, the Fleet Air Arm, true to its ethos of regularly overcoming material deficiencies by bold tactics and professional training, was at the forefront of many courageous actions in all theatres of the war. The pressing need to provide long range air cover in the Atlantic to protect convoys against attack by German U-boats was met by Royal Navy Swordfish crews operating from the pitching, rolling, decks of converted merchant ships. These ‘Merchant

Fleet Air Arm Museum photo

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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 165 Top right: Seafire IIIs of 794 Naval Air Squadron and Firefly FR.1s on board HMS Implacable, February 1947. Bottom right: Sea Furies and Firefly Mk.4s prepare to launch on board HMS Theseus during the Korean War.

Fleet Air Arm Museum photos

Aircraft Carriers’ served as a stopgap measure until escort carriers could be built in the US. More than 40 Naval Air Squadrons took part in the Battle of the Atlantic, flying some of the most hazardous missions imaginable during the arduous six-year campaign. As well as protecting Atlantic and Arctic convoys, the Fleet Air Arm also played a major role in hunting and disabling the heavily armed German Battleships Bismarck and Tirpitz which, had they been allowed to roam the Atlantic, could have done more damage to the vital Atlantic supply line than twenty U-boats. In the Mediterranean too, the Fleet Air Arm proved a formidably tenacious offensive force, relentlessly taking the battle to the enemy, attacking and destroying enemy shipping, harbours, fuel installations and airfields. At the Battle of Taranto in 1940, 20 Royal Navy Swordfish flying from HMS Illustrious crippled the Italian fleet – the first time an enemy fleet had been defeated from the air. At a single stroke, the Royal Navy had seized the balance of power in the Mediterranean. In the closing stages of the war carrier-borne aircraft also ensured the successes of the British Far East Fleet against the Japanese. At its height in 1945, the Fleet Air Arm comprised 78,000 people, 3,700 aircraft, 59 aircraft carriers and 56 Naval Air Squadrons around the world. In the same year, on 3

December 1945, the world’s first deck landing by jet was made by a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm, Capt Eric Brown RN, in a specially modified de Havilland Vampire. During the Korean War in the 1950s, no less than five Royal Navy carriers delivered formidable fighter airpower, their aircraft flying thousands of missions. The rigorous demands of flying from decks of ships require naval aircraft to be robust as well as light to handle and manoeuvre, and the Sea Fury proved particularly successful in high intensity carrier operations. She was designed specifically for service in carriers, with strong points for a

catapult strop, an arrester hook, folding wings and high energy absorbing undercarriage – all naval engineering innovations. Over the next 30 years the pace of development in carrier aviation was rapid. The first jet to enter service with the Royal Navy was the Supermarine Attacker, followed quickly by the Hawker Sea Hawk and de Havilland Sea Venom. Both the Sea Hawk and Sea Venom were involved in the Suez Campaign in 1956, where they more than proved the effectiveness of carrier aviation, being able to remain on station for considerably longer than land based aircraft operating from Cyprus. With the introduction of the high

166 I HMS Queen Elizabeth The potent Blackburn (Hawker Siddeley) Buccaneer marked a peak in aircraft and conventional aircraft carrier development for the Royal Navy during the Cold War. By the end of the seventies, the Royal Navy no longer had a big deck aircraft carrier fleet.

speed strike aircraft of the 60s and 70s – the Supermarine Scimitar, de Havilland Sea Vixen, McDonnell Douglas Phantom and Blackburn Buccaneer – came many pioneering new technologies that were to make an enormous contribution to the safety and effectiveness of carrier aviation. Among these the outstanding attributes of the angled flight deck, mirror landing sight and hydraulic arrester wires assisted landing, and the steam catapult, powered by steam from the ship’s boilers, launched aircraft with far greater efficiency than hydraulic or explosive catapults. A significant part of the 100 year history of naval aviation was during the Cold War, which lasted from the late 1940s to the 1980s. It was an important time for the Fleet Air Arm, for in addition to maintaining a constant front line readiness to engage the massive forces of the Warsaw Pact in what could be a full scale nuclear war, it was a period of huge and demanding transition in carrier aviation capability. This was the period that took naval aviation from the operation of the last of the propeller aircraft

through to the peak of fixed wing carrier operations, when the Royal Navy eventually acquired the large, purpose built fighter and strike jet aircraft and fixed wing anti-submarine and airborne early warning aircraft that were needed. The day and night operations of these aircraft, in all weathers, from relatively small carrier decks was undoubtedly one of the most demanding periods of peacetime flying in the history of the Fleet Air Arm. Driven by Cold War tensions and the need to penetrate Soviet naval groups and if necessary deliver a nuclear payload, it was the Royal Navy jets of the 60s and 70s that really quickened the pace. The long range strike aircraft, the Buccaneer, built to fly fast and low to avoid detection by enemy radar and the impressively versatile fighter, the Phantom, which had formidable range and performance and was capable of carrying air to air missiles and nuclear bombs, saw naval aviation come of age. The complexity and performance of these aircraft greatly increased the noise levels on a congested

flight deck, leading to the invention of the flight deck induction loop communication system, again developed by naval and Admiralty engineers. Probably one of the Royal Navy’s greatest carrier aviation successes, however, was that of the short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) Sea Harrier, which made its first flight from HMS Hermes in 1978. So unique were the innovative vertical take-off capabilities of the ‘jump jet’ that they were matched only by the capability of the Harrier to take on and outmanoeuvre far faster jets. Less than four years later HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible, with their embarked Sea Harriers, played a major role in the Falklands conflict, securing the territorial integrity of the Falkland Islands. When the British task force set out on its 8,000 mile journey to retake the Falkland Islands in 1982, it not only faced enormous logistical challenges but was totally reliant on carrier and ship borne aviation, unlike the Argentineans who possessed a land-based air force of more than 200 aircraft. Despite these awesome odds the Fleet Air Arm played a pivotal role, winning the crucial battle for air superiority and so contributing greatly to the successful outcome of the campaign. During the 1990s, Royal Navy aircraft carriers participated in air

Fleet Air Arm Museum photo

Ministry of Defence photo

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strikes against Iraq, Kosovo and Serbia. They were in the front line again in 2001, delivering UK forces into Afghanistan and in 2003, delivering spearhead forces onto the Al Faw peninsula. The enduring capability of carrier aviation remains central to Britain’s ability to deter enemies and protect UK interests anywhere in the world. What makes aircraft carriers unique is that they are independent, formidably powerful, and infinitely flexible, and able to provide a wide range of tailored responses to unfolding crises and potential threats many thousands of miles from the UK’s shores. Their unassailable strength and versatility and the deterrent effect they have on arrival remains unmatched by any other weapon system. The great significance of carrier aviation is that a carrier takes its aircraft, fuel, spare parts and aviation workshops with it. It does not

HMS Illustrious, in Valletta Harbour, Malta, 2005. One of the Royal Navy’s greatest aviation successes was the development of the STOVL Sea Harrier.

have to wait many weeks for these support facilities to be established ashore. Furthermore the deck space can be used to operate everything from jet fighters, helicopters and unmanned aircraft, to amphibious and land forces with the logistic, communications and support systems to sustain them during operations. The ability to land troops ashore and continue to support them many hundreds of miles inland is a key role of the Fleet Air Arm. As the Royal Navy looks forward, it is once again in the vanguard of an extraordinary quantum leap in maritime air capability with the Queen Elizabeth class

(QEC) carriers, together with their squadrons of F-35 fighter jets and Merlin helicopters, providing a high readiness joint force capability to meet any contingency anywhere in the world for the next 50 years. The first Naval Air Squadron to operate the F-35 Lightning II from the QEC aircraft carriers will be the Fleet Air Arm’s historic 809 Naval Air Squadron, which flew the Buccaneer in the 1960s and 1970s. ‘This squadron number is the golden thread which weaves its way through the proud history of carrier aviation’, said First Sea Lord Adm Sir George Zambellas KCB DSC ADC, ‘telling the Fleet Air Arm jet story from World War II, through to the Buccaneers flying from the post war HMS Ark Royal, to the iconic Sea Harrier which served with such distinction in the Falklands in 1982. It could not be a more fitting squadron to deliver the new era of UK carrier strike.’

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HMS Queen Elizabeth is the latest in a long line of extremely innovative British carrier designs. The Royal Navy invented the aircraft carrier during the First World War (WWI). After the Second World War (WWII), when it seemed that no carrier could operate the new jet aircraft, the Royal Navy produced the three inventions that made modern fast-jet carriers possible: the steam catapult, the angled deck, and the mirror landing sight. In the 1970s, when it seemed that carriers had grown unaffordable, the Royal Navy showed that the navy could still take modern aircraft to sea in the form of the Sea Harriers, which performed so well from the Falklands War onwards. They are the ancestors, in effect, of the F-35Bs HMS Queen Elizabeth will operate. No other navy can begin to match this record. British technical innovation was parallelled by tactical innovation. The first true carrier, HMS Argus, was designed largely to launch a torpedo bomber strike against the German High Seas Fleet and thus to seize full control of the North Sea at one stroke. WWI ended before that attack could be carried out, but the idea was revived in the mid-1930s when war against Italy seemed likely. The Royal Navy executed it very successfully at Taranto in November 1940. After WWII, the Royal Navy was determined to keep operating carriers, which it and other navies recognised as the only true capital ships. To that end, it flew the first jet fighter onto and off a carrier.

The key question was whether the aircraft operating from a carrier could keep up with enemy aircraft that might attack the fleet. At the end of WWII, that was by no means certain. The jets that were beginning to replace propeller-driven aircraft seemed ill-suited for carrier operation. Their engines did not power up (or down) nearly as quickly as piston engines. The same low drag designs that offered high speed also made for high stall speed – the aircraft had to accelerate much more before they could take off. High stall speed also meant high landing speed, and landing aboard a carrier was no simple matter. Pilots were guided back to the deck by landing control officers (‘batsmen’) who judged whether

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HMS Hermes on operations off Malaya in the early 1960s; a Sea Vixen FAW.1 of 890 Naval Air Squadron prepares for take-off. In the foreground is Supermarine Scimitar F.1 XD326 of 804 Naval Air Squadron. Without the British inventions of the steam catapult, angled deck and mirror landing sight, operation of the second generation of jet fighters, such as the Sea

Imperial War Museum photo

Vixen and Scimitar shown here, would have been impossible.

they were approaching correctly, and who signalled them to cut their engines at the appropriate moment. If anything went wrong, the aircraft would not catch an arresting wire, and it might bounce into aircraft already parked on deck. The Royal Navy solved both problems. In retrospect, it must seem remarkable that it, rather than its much larger US cousin, succeeded, where the US Navy felt

an equally urgent need to adapt to jets and also wanted to operate much larger aircraft at sea. The US approaches to the problem – the explosive catapult and the flush deck – both failed. In effect, the British inventions of the steam catapult and the angled deck saved the US heavy carrier program of the 1950s. Take-off was the most obvious issue. Propeller-driven aircraft

accelerated rapidly and had relatively low take-off speeds, so that they normally simply rolled down a carrier’s flight deck, assisted to some extent by the wind flowing over the ship’s deck. The earliest jet aircraft needed the full length of the deck in which to take off. That was impractical; a carrier normally massed her aircraft at the after end of the flight deck before any were launched. That was not a matter

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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 171 The British invention of the mirror landing sight kept carrier landings safe and practicable in the jet age, allowing aircraft carriers to operate aircraft that matched the performance of land-based counterparts.

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of convenience; aircraft had to be massed to be effective. Even in 1945, it was obvious that jet aircraft would soon need even more runway in order to reach take-off speed. No one was offering carriers twice as long as existing ones. If you are riding in a jet airliner, you have the impression that it takes off very quickly. What you don’t realise is how much runway it needs before it lifts. A 3,000-metre runway is entirely acceptable at a big airport, but a carrier is usually considerably less than a tenth of that length. By late in WWII, heavily laden aircraft were being fired off flight decks by catapults, but there seemed to be a limit to what catapult technology could do. Existing catapults were powered by hydraulic pistons. The piston deep in a ship drove the shuttle of a catapult (to which the aircraft was hooked) through wire ropes pulled over sheaves (pulleys). The greater the power exerted by the catapult, the greater the strain on the wire. Well before 1950, it was obvious that high-performance jets were at or beyond what a wire could handle. There was some interest in using rocket boosters to blast aircraft off a flight deck, but they were dangerous. They might make sense in a one-shot emergency operation, such as launching a heavy bomber on a one-way mission, but not as a routine measure. Yet for a carrier to survive in the face of enemy land-based attackers, she had to operate the highest-performance fighters.

One British engineer, CC Mitchell, saw a solution. As early as 1936, he imagined a slotted-cylinder catapult whose piston would be hooked directly to an aircraft (it would project through the slot). At the time, the Royal Navy did not need to launch heavy aircraft, so the idea languished. Mitchell revived it when he saw German slotted-cylinder catapults (intended to launch V-1 ‘buzz bombs’) in France in 1944. Given the prospect of jet aircraft, the admiralty formally approved Mitchell’s idea in 1946. Mitchell was not alone; about 1945, the US Navy also became interested in slotted cylinders. The difference was that Mitchell planned to use steam to drive his piston, whereas the US Navy expected to use explosives (it saw the catapult as a gun). Mitchell

had the much better idea, because steam was much more controllable. It could be throttled so that the piston and the aircraft accelerated at a controllable pace. The power of the catapult was limited only by its length, because the aircraft could be accelerated only within limits. The Royal Navy tested a prototype steam catapult on board the maintenance carrier Perseus in 1950. The steam catapult in effect converted the relatively short deck of a carrier into the equivalent of thousands of metres of concrete runway ashore. The other half of the jet problem was landing back on board. British aeronautical engineers became interested in the fact that a jet aircraft had no propeller, hence could (at least in theory) land on its belly, dispensing with landing

Imperial War Museum photo

172 I HMS Queen Elizabeth

gear. Every pound saved on an aircraft would add performance; a carrier fighter without any undercarriage might outperform land-based aircraft. The wheelless aircraft could not, of course, land on a steel deck. The British engineers devised an inflated rubber deck. For a few years, the rubber deck was so attractive an idea that aircraft were designed to use it. The flat belly of a preserved Supermarine Scimitar naval fighter is a relic of this idea: This aircraft (which certainly has an undercarriage) was derived from a Supermarine project for an undercarriage-less fighter. The rubber-bag landing strip entailed problems that led directly to a much more fruitful idea. It turned out that an aircraft could certainly land on the deck, but how was it to be moved off to be serviced and then launched again? At an August 1951 meeting regarding

Two Blackburn (Hawker Siddeley) Buccaneers flying over HMS Eagle. The aircraft carrier’s angled deck, catapult tracks, and lifts are easily distinguished in this photo. Unlike HMS Queen Elizabeth’s deck-edge lifts, the fixed size of the lifts, sited in the middle of the flight deck on carriers of the era, imposed size constraints on aircraft. The Buccaneers shown had hinging nosecones and split airbrakes that pivoted forward in order to reduce aircraft length.

such rubber decks, Assistant Chief of Naval Requirements Capt Dennis Cambell RN suggested mounting the rubber deck at an angle, so that a landed aircraft could be pulled off to one side rather than block the deck for the next aircraft. A colleague from Farnborough suggested the next step: Why not angle a conventional deck?

During WWII, the Royal Navy had adopted the US practice of parking aircraft at the fore end of the flight deck as they landed. That made for quick landings. Once all the aircraft were on board, they were wheeled back aft to be serviced and prepared for another mission. Of course, landing an aeroplane into a mass of parked aircraft was dangerous. The US solution, adopted by the Royal Navy, was to erect a wire barrier to protect the parked aircraft. At least in theory, an aircraft that missed the arresting gear wires in landing would be stopped by the wire, which would wrap itself around the propeller. In reality, that often did not work. Royal Navy pilots suffered particularly badly late in WWII in the Pacific, when their high-performance aircraft often jumped the barrier or crashed through it. Jets were an even worse proposition, since they

National Museum of Naval Aviation photo

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 173

lacked propellers to engage the barrier. The smooth streamlined nose of a jet would pass under the wire, which might well then decapitate the pilot. Cambell and his colleague had good reason to look for something better. Placing the landing part of the flight deck at an angle would solve the problem, because a landing aircraft would never be heading directly for the aircraft parked forward. If the aircraft missed the wires, the pilot could accelerate, remain in the air, and come around again. The Royal Navy offered both of its key innovations to its close ally, the US Navy. Initially the US attitude seems to have been that the baton of carrier innovation had passed to it. In 1949, the US Navy was

A Phantom FG.1 of 892 Naval Air Squadron about to be catapulted from HMS Ark Royal (R09) in 1972. The steam catapult allowed the Royal Navy to fly heavy, powerful aircraft like the Phantom and Buccaneer from its rather smaller aircraft carriers right through to the rundown of the RN’s carrier fleet. The omega on the Phantom’s tail symbolised what was then thought would be the last RN fixed-wing squadron.

planning a huge carrier capable of operating heavy long-range bombers, far beyond what the Royal Navy contemplated. To do that it was working on its gun catapult, and it was planning to eliminate all obstructions on the flight deck of a

new carrier. Neither of these ideas was particularly good. The failure of the US Navy’s own catapult project made it rather more receptive of the British ideas. It adopted the steam catapult – which it still uses – after HMS Perseus demonstrated it in the United States. As for the flush deck, it was never advertised as the solution to deck crashes. It did entail elimination of the usual carrier island and construction of tilting funnels, neither of them a very happy proposition. It is no surprise that, upon learning of the angled deck, the US Navy redesigned its new carrier Forrestal at considerable cost. The angled deck turned out to be only part of the solution to the landing-on problem. The combination of deck landing control officer and pilot made

174 I HMS Queen Elizabeth for corrections that were far too slow. Cambell’s assistant, Lt Cdr Nick Goodhart RN, realised that a pilot had to be able to judge his approach for himself, because only then could he react quickly enough. He imagined a stabilized mirror lit by a remote light. A pilot could judge his approach by the appearance of the spot on the mirror, because the spot would move as the aircraft flew above or below the desired approach path. Goodhart proved the idea by borrowing his secretary’s mirror and pointing a lipstick at it. He found that by keeping the image of the lipstick in the right place, he could always bring his chin down onto a desk in the desired spot. Cambell formally proposed the idea in January 1952, and it was tested at sea in November 1953. The mirror sight fitted particularly well with the angled deck. A pilot who missed the wires had to be able to bolt and go around again. Jet engines changed power slowly, so he needed full power as he landed. That contrasted with earlier practice, when the final command by the deck landing control officer was to cut power so that the aircraft would sink onto the deck (the last thing anyone wanted was a powered-up aircraft jumping a barrier into parked aircraft). The greater the power on the aircraft, the faster the pilot had to react. All modern carriers have Goodhart’s landing sight, although his mirror has been replaced by a Fresnel lens with a light source behind it. The three British inventions made it possible for the Royal Navy (and, for that matter, the US Navy) to modernise carriers built or designed during WWII to operate jets that could match aircraft ashore. By about 1960, the Royal Navy had to face the need to

replace its existing carriers. A new carrier, CVA-01, was designed, but it was cancelled in 1966 as unaffordable. Cancellation was connected with the idea that Britain no longer had global commitments. Surely, it was said, a navy operating only in the eastern North Atlantic could rely for its air support on air bases ashore, mainly in Scotland. The reality, it turned out, was that British responsibilities were much more global than might have been imagined, and that even in a corner of the North Atlantic, ships at sea needed air power they could take with them. Even aircraft only a few hundred miles from ships often cannot react quickly enough to calls from sea. Initially the Royal Navy was told to abandon carriers altogether, though it was allowed a helicopter carrier for anti-submarine warfare. Within a few years the reality, that the fleet needed high-performance aircraft, was obvious. For example, the Russians used anti-ship missile submarines that could fire from a considerable distance using radar data from ‘snooping’ bombers. Unless the fleet could deal with the ‘snoopers’, its anti-submarine efforts would be pointless. Similarly, a fleet had to be able to deal with the emerging Soviet surface fleet of missile shooters. Both the antisnooper role and the anti-ship role demanded sea-based aircraft. Once again the Royal Navy had to find an innovative way to solve its air problem. This time the question was whether it could build a carrier much smaller and hence much less expensive than CVA-01. The ideal was certainly a large carrier, but the minimum length of a conventional carrier was set by the length of catapults (to accelerate an aircraft to flying speed at an acceptable rate) and by the pull-out of the arrester gear. A carrier with

neither catapults nor arresting gear could be considerably smaller. It would accommodate many fewer aircraft, but that might have to be accepted. The Royal Navy was fortunate that another British innovation was at hand. For some years, the Hawker aircraft company had been experimenting with a form of vertical take-off using a single engine and swiveling exhaust ports. Every major air power was working on vertical takeoff of one kind or another, but Hawker’s approach was particularly attractive because it was so simple. The main selling point of the new aircraft was that it did not need a conventional airfield – and therefore one vulnerable to bombing – but the Royal Navy became interested in the Harrier because it could operate from a small carrier, otherwise unsuited to jet aircraft. The Royal Air Force bought the aircraft (as the Harrier), and the Royal Navy tested it on board the carrier HMS Hermes. Adopting a vertical take-off aircraft gave the Royal Navy back some of the capability it had lost with the big carriers, the last of which was retired in 1978. Without the Sea Harrier, the successful Falklands operation would have been impossible. The Royal Navy would have preferred larger carriers and a larger Sea Harrier force, but that was not an option. What it could do, however, was make the most of the Sea Harrier. The Harrier was designed so that it could take off vertically, blasting itself directly into the air. It was remarkable that its engine could overcome its weight, but a Harrier taking off vertically could not carry much. It could boost its payload by making a short rolling take-off, but from a carrier point of view that brought back the problem that

UK Ministry of Defence photo by LA (PHOT) Billy Bunting

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 175

steam catapults had solved in the 1950s – a carrier, particularly a small one, did not have much deck space. Again, the solution was innovative. Someone remembered that this was not a new problem. In 1944, the old (and catapult-less) carrier HMS Furious had been assigned to attack German forces in Norway. She had to launch heavily laden strike aircraft from her short flight deck. To do that, she was given a short ramp. It turned out that an aircraft gained considerably by being forced to run up the ramp. The same idea was applied to the new small carriers in a more elegant form, as a ‘ski-jump’ forward. By the time the Royal Navy retired its Sea Harriers, they could accommodate the most advanced air-to-air missile system in Europe, an extra weight bearable because of the ski-jump. The Harrier made it possible for several navies to operate small

HMS Illustrious shown during Exercise Neptune Warrior, with 801 NAS Sea Harrier FA.2s, 849 NAS A Flight Sea King Mk 7s, a Sea King Mk 6 of 771 NAS, and RAF Harrier GR.7s of RAF 1(F) Squadron aboard.

carriers successfully. Small did not necessarily mean satisfactory; in carrier air operations, more is generally better. However, a carrier, even a small one, can move around to make the best possible use of weather and other factors. When NATO was operating aircraft over Kosovo, the small British carrier HMS Ark Royal flew many more sorties than the massive bases ashore, because she could move to areas of clear weather. Fixed bases ashore were not so fortunate. The carrier’s mobility convinced the British government to buy

large new carriers, of which HMS Queen Elizabeth is the first. She is to operate F-35B fighters. They considerably outperform the earlier aircraft, and they require more space and more support, but they are similar in operating concept: short take-off over a ski-jump and vertical landing. The ski-jump innovation, which made the Sea Harrier fully effective, made it possible for the Royal Navy to continue to meet increasingly global British requirements. The ski-jump, incidentally, has turned out to be a viable (if less satisfactory) alternative to a catapult in Russian, Chinese, and Indian service.

*All opinions expressed are the author’s own, and should not necessarily be attributed to the Royal Navy or US Navy or to any other organization with which he has been associated.

176 I HMS Queen Elizabeth

FUTURE FORCE 2020 The Task Force of the Future

The future Royal Navy is being equipped to operate in a fast changing and uncertain world. Threats to stability, security and prosperity of the UK and our citizens may come from a number of different areas. Being able to adapt to meet these future threats and challenges is essential. The future force of the Royal Navy must be ready to respond to emerging international crises and be able to work together with the Army, RAF, allies and international partners to provide a presence at sea wherever our national interests need our help. To meet these future challenges the Royal Navy is being equipped with highly sophisticated ships above and below the waves. HMS Queen Elizabeth joins the new, highly advanced Type 45 destroyers and the state-of-the-art Astute class nuclear submarines

already in service. These new ships mark the progress of a multi-billion pound investment programme for the Royal Navy, which will employ thousands of people in the UK and will make the Royal Navy one of the most advanced in the world.


HMS Victorious is pictured near


Faslane in Scotland.

A computer generated image of a Successor programme submarine. BAE Systems image

he new Successor submarines will carry the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent, the Trident ballistic missiles, and they will be the largest and most advanced boats operated by the Royal Navy. Due to replace the Vanguard class submarines from 2028, their design and construction will be the most technologically complex in the history of the country. Initial contracts worth £79 million have been awarded to BAE Systems MaritimeSubmarines in Barrow-in-Furness to lead on the design. The investment will allow BAES, and their thousand employees working on the Successor programme, to begin initial work on the submarines.

UK Ministry of Defence photo

The Trident nuclear submarine

Aircraft Carrier Alliance image

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 177



he Queen Elizabeth class carriers are the centrepiece of the Royal Navy’s Future Force concept – Carrier Enabled Power Projection (CEPP). This concept uses a single platform for mixed deck operations – i.e. using both fast jets and helicopters. Command has the option of

deploying carrier strike, littoral manoeuvre (e.g. land/sea operations close to the shore) and/or special forces operations, allowing the carrier task group to conduct operations at sea or deep inland, whilst still being able to undertake non-combatant evacuation

operations (NEO), combat search and rescue, and amphibious operations. HMS Queen Elizabeth will be operational by 2020. Work has already commenced on HMS Prince of Wales, and the major blocks will start to be assembled in Rosyth in September 2014.



he Royal Navy will be equipped with 19 frigates and destroyers to protect a naval task group and meet our standing commitments both at home and overseas. These include six new Type 45 destroyers and new Type 26 frigates to replace the Type 23 force. This force will provide military flexibility and choice across a variety of operations, from full-scale warfare to maritime security (in particular protecting trade and energy supplies).

Type 45 Daring Class Destroyers The Type 45 Daring class are sophisticated and effective air defence destroyers armed with the world-leading Sea Viper missile defence system, which can neutralise threats up to 35 miles away, and equipped with the Sampson air tracking radar and state-of-the-art stealth technology. One of their key roles will be to orchestrate the protection of the Queen Elizabeth class carriers. Now operational, the Type 45s are busy around the world on maritime security tasks, counter-piracy and counter-narcotics missions, hunting submarines and defending the Fleet from air attack. At the end of last year, HMS Daring provided vital aid and support to the people of the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. HMS Duncan was the final Type 45 to enter service, and her handover to the Fleet at the end of 2013 marked the culmination


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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 179 A Royal Navy officer is pictured on the

UK Ministry of Defence photos

bridge of Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond.

Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan sails into Portsmouth for the first time, March 22, 2013.

BAE Systems photo

of a 13-year build programme with BAE Systems to deliver the six ships – Daring, Dauntless, Diamond, Dragon, Defender and Duncan. The Type 26 Global Combat Ships The Type 26 global combat ships will be the future workhorses of the Royal Navy, replacing the existing Type 23 frigates by the mid-2030s. Thirteen Type 26s will conduct anti-submarine warfare, air defence and general purpose duties such as counter-piracy, naval gunfire support, or providing humanitarian aid in the wake of a natural disaster. The Type 26 will be 148 metres long and displace 5,400 tonnes, slightly larger than the Duke class they replace. They will be armed with Sea Ceptor air defence missiles, a mediumcalibre main gun, the latest radar and sonar sensors, and a Merlin or Wildcat helicopter,

Type 26 global combat ship.

plus a ‘flexible mission space’ which houses equipment for specific missions: sea boats or remotely piloted aircraft, boats or underwater systems. The design incorporates many of the features of the similarly futuristic-looking Type 45 destroyers – angled sides and an enclosed upper deck for increased stealth. As with the Type 45

destroyers, the new vessels are being designed with the future in mind so it will be easier to adapt them to new technology introduced to the Fleet during the course of their lifespans. Work is expected to begin on the first – as yet unnamed – ship in the class in 2015, with that same vessel due to be in service as soon as possible after 2020.

Proud to play our part Portakabin are proud to support this prestigious naval engineering project with the provision of the

Queen Elizabeth Class Project Office Providing a modern working environment for the 300 project workers at Babcock’s Rosyth facility where the aircraft carriers are assembled.

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UK Ministry of Defence photos

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 181

The commanding officer of HMS Diamond at a console in the operations room on board the destroyer during action stations.



he seven Astute class are the largest, most advanced and most powerful attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy, replacing the Trafalgar class submarines. They combine world-leading sensors, design and weaponry in a versatile, potent vessel. Their greater firepower, stateof-the-art communications equipment and advanced stealth technology make them quieter and harder to detect than their predecessors as well as more deadly. HMS Astute has been described as ‘more complex than the space shuttle’ and is arguably the finest attack submarine in the world today.

HMS Astute in the foreground with sister submarine HMS Ambush off the west coast of Scotland.

182 I HMS Queen Elizabeth

The first two of the seven Astute class submarines, HMS Astute and HMS Ambush, have finished their extensive sea trials and are now on their first operational deployments.

Artful, Audacious, Anson, Agamemnon and boat 7 are all in various stages of build and development at BAE Systems shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness.



our new 37,000-tonne Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) tankers will be in service from 2016 to replace the aging single-hulled Rover and Leaf class. The new 200-metre-long vessels will support the Royal Navy at sea with replenishment of stores, fuel, water and ammunition. Highly versatile vessels, they will be able to simultaneously refuel HMS Queen Elizabeth and a destroyer whilst undertaking helicopter resupply of other vessels. The four tankers will be named RFA Tidespring, Tiderace, Tidesurge and Tideforce and will be

double-hulled to prevent or reduce environmental pollution from oil spills if damage is sustained to the outer hull. The ships are being built by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering to a design provided by UK company BMT Defence Services. UK companies will benefit from up to ÂŁ150 million of associated spending on key equipment, systems, design and support services, and on the customisation and trials package that will take place in the UK once the ships have been built.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker operating with the RFA Argus.

BMT Defence Services

A rendering of a Tide class

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 183

UK Ministry of Defence photo by LA(PHOT) Nicky Wilson

ROYAL NAVY HELICOPTER FORCE The future fleet will have a potent mix of state-of-the-art helicopters operating from the flight deck of the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, as well as its amphibious assault ships, destroyers, and frigates. The Lynx Wildcat HMA (Helicopter Maritime Attack) will begin replacing the Lynx Mk 8 beginning in 2015. This next-generation multi-role helicopter will be employed in a variety of roles like its predecessor, but is much improved in everything from more powerful engines to advanced targeting systems. The Merlin Mk 2 began entering service this year, product of an upgrade programme to equip the aircraft with new cockpit and mission systems, among other improvements. While its primary role is to destroy enemy submarines, it also carries out anti-piracy and anti-narcotics patrols, surveillance and reconnaissance, search and rescue, and passenger and load transfers. Some Merlin Mk 2 helicopters will take over the role of the Sea King Mk 7 ASaC helicopters. The Merlin Crowsnest helicopters will be fitted with the Crowsnest Airborne Surveillance and Control system due to come into operation by 2018, providing a picture of what is over the horizon to commanders within the task group. The Fleet Air Arm will also convert 25 former RAF Mk 3 Merlins to Merlin Mk 4 standard. They will be upgraded for operations with the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF), receiving new glass cockpits and avionics, a folding main rotor head and tail, and an improved undercarriage. To learn more about the helicopters of the future fleet, please see ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Helicopters’ on p.122.

A Lynx Wildcat HMA Mk 2 helicopter takes off from RFA Argus during trials, Oct. 11, 2011.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth I 185 ROYAL MARINES

Elements of the Lead Commando Group, embarked on LPD, HMS

UK Ministry of Defence photo

Bulwark, head for their objective.


he Royal Marines will continue to deliver a Lead Commando Group trained, equipped and optimised to deliver land effect from the sea in addition to providing specialist maritime skills such as force protection and boarding as an integral part of the Royal Navy. The Lead Commando Group is one element of a range of Royal Navy capabilities optimised to deliver effect within the littoral seam

– the heavily populated and strategically significant land/sea boundary. The ability to operate effectively in the littoral will continue to demand specialist training and equipment including the Future All Terrain Vehicle and Future Landing Craft, although wherever possible equipment will be procured with the broadest utility, able to operate across the maritime domain as part of a joint force.

HigH performance floor coverings for use on all seafaring vessels. proud supplier of floor coverings to tHe Hms Queen elizabetH aircraft carrier.



esigns for new mine countermeasures vessels (MCMVs) are in development to replace the existing Sandown and Hunt classes. Future MCMVs will have a common hull and a modular design which will allow them to support modern counter-mine systems, hydrography and patrols, depending on mission requirements. The Mine Countermeasures, Hydrography and Patrol Capability programme (MHPC) is currently in the design phase.

HMS Brocklesby is a Hunt class mine sweeper.


BAE Systems photo


hree new offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) are being built to support the Royal Navy with maritime security, counter-terrorism and antismuggling operations. They are expected to be larger than the current River class ships, with more storage and accommodation facilities and a larger flight deck capable of supporting a Merlin helicopter. The Royal Navy’s OPVs are set to be built later in 2014 by BAE Systems at their Clyde shipyards, which currently employs approximately 3,000 people. The first OPV is expected to be delivered in 2017.

A new BAE Systems offshore patrol vessel (OPV) built for the Brazilian navy. The UK has ordered three similar OPVs from BAE Systems.

Rohde & Schwarz UK supply VHF/UHF Emergency Radio System for the new QEC aircraft Carriers Rohde & Schwarz UK are very proud to have been contracted by the Carrier Alliance to supply the QEC VHF/UHF Emergency Radio (VUER) subsystem which will provide a stand-alone emergency voice communications at key fixed positions in the Operations Complex and FLYCO should the primary VHF/UHF communications from the ship become unavailable for any reason. These will permit the controlled recovery of aircraft in an emergency situation. The VUER subsystem will include stand-alone voice-recording equipment, to record all communications through these radios. Each recorder will be co-located in both radio locations to ensure a fully redundant system. Rohde & Schwarz are very excited to have our very latest ¸M3SR Series 4400 radios on board these prestigious platforms, and look forward to ensuring high availability of service of many years to come.

HMS Queen Elizabeth I 189

A Royal Naval Reservist diver from Royal Navy Reserve Unit Dalriada conducting continuation training at the Defence Diving School, Horsea Island, Portsmouth.

UK Ministry of Defence photo

COME ON BOARD HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH WITH THE MARITIME RESERVES! Do you know someone who would be excited about serving on board HMS Queen Elizabeth? Have you ever thought of encouraging young people to join the Reserves? If so, then maybe the Royal Navy Reserves (RNR) or Royal Marine Reserves (RMR) is for them. The Maritime Reserves is a great way to make the most of the opportunities available in the military whilst pursuing a civilian career or adult further education. You could easily find yourself

serving in HMS Queen Elizabeth, a state-of-the-art Type 45 destroyer, flying in Merlin helicopters, or if you think you can hack it, joining the cream of the nation’s high readiness military forces, the Royal Marines.

The RNR and RMR open up a wide range of opportunities and give young people a great start to both work and social life. They will very quickly integrate into a disciplined yet relaxed

190 I HMS Queen Elizabeth

Royal Marine Reservists (RMR) conduct part two of their Cold Weather Warfare Course (CWWC) on Exercise Hairspring in Norway, May 16, 2013.

ages, experience and walks of life – and the majority have no previous military experience.

What Does the Maritime Reserves Do? The Maritime Reserves supplements the full-time regular Royal Navy and Royal Marines with extra manpower and can be called upon to support the front line in a number of ways – conflict, humanitarian, national emergencies and/or ceremonial occasions.

UK Ministry of Defence photo

environment, become part of a high achieving, motivated team, learn professional skills and have experiences that will broaden their outlook on life. You can join the Maritime Reserves from the age of 16, although the joining process can begin at 15 years and 9 months. The Reserves are made up of men and women from all backgrounds,

Adcam Fabrications Ltd have been heavily involved in the manufacture of some key internal components for the QE class Aircraft carrier. Sub-contracting primarily for Rolls-Royce Marine Portsmouth, Adcam have produced the Low Voltage switchboards (including ‘shock rated boards), Electrical Distribution centres, ACOs units and Individual motor starters.

PAINT AND FINISHING • Fully enclosed 2400 sq ft in-house painting facility • Water-backed environmentally friendly spray booth supports a wet paint system and powder coating system • Strong relationships with suppliers to purchase at competitive rates and offer quick delivery • Wet Paint - Stoving enamel, Epoxy, Two pack epoxy, Low smoke (primarily used on M.O.D. Contracts) • Powder Coating - Polyester powders, Polyurethane powders, Epoxy polyester powders, Epoxy powders, Anti graffiti, Anti condensation

SHEET METAL WORK • We manufacture high quality close tolerance products in a wide range of materials • Fully equipped to produce specialised (1 off) systems as well as mass produced items • Work from .5mm to 16mm thick materials in both mild steel, aluminium and copper sheet, as well as 8.0mm stainless steel • Facilities: Amada 2.5KW Laser, Range of 25 tonne CNC turret shape machines (multi-tool), guillotine, range of Amada press brakes 100 tonne, Serta-bush machinery, Amada single shot punch, various bandsaws, pedestal drilling and tapping machines

Adcam Fabrications Ltd has over forty years of experience in the production of high quality metalwork and finishing for a wide variety of markets. These include defence ministries throughout the world, various rail networks, renewable energy companies, marine and the shop-fitting/retail industry. We operate from a 15.000sq ft facility in Rugeley, Staffordshire. This includes our punching, laser cutting and forming section, specialised welding and fabrication unit and in-house painting facility. Adcam has a highly skilled workforce and have a policy of recruiting and training apprentices to maintain our very high standards. We hold ISO 9002 accreditation and are fully compliant with the latest environmental regulations. We specialise in manufacturing to our client’s specific needs. We offer a ‘build to print’ service including a willingness to build prototypes. Adcam can also provide assistance with ‘design for manufacture allowing the customer to develop a product in the most cost-effective way. Adcam Fabrications has a proven performance as a recognised centre of excellence.

WELDING AND FABRICATION • 4000 sq ft welding section • Fully equipped to produce high quality fine tolerance welded assemblies • Punched and formed sheet, round or square tube, angle or channel section in mild steel, stainless steel, and aluminium • All welders are fully coded and undertake yearly certification to BS EN287-1 and BS ISO 9606-2.

To whom it may concern, My first contact with personnel from Adcam was prior to the management buyout by their eventual directors, of the Ultra Electronics Limited fabrication facility at Rugeley, whilst investigating potential sources for Marine close tolerance sheet metal work. Subsequently my business, Rolls-Royce Marine Electrical Systems based in Portsmouth, carried out a full evaluation of the new company, Adcam Fabrication Limited culminating in the first of many orders placed with the business. In 2008 Rolls-Royce Marine Electrical Systems down selected Adcam to provide the fabricated steelwork for the Low Voltage Distribution System for the two Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers. In addition they were also awarded the fabricated steelwork for the switchboards on Astute Class Submarine vessels 5,6 & 7. I would have no hesitation in recommending this business to supply close tolerance sheet metal work. Regards, Terry Andrews Procurement Lead / LTPA Section, BAE Systems Maritime Services Building 2/261 D-Lock Offices (PP106) HM Naval Base, Portsmouth, Hampshire, United Kingdom, PO1 3NJ T: +44 (0) 2392-720158, E-Mail: BAE Systems Surface Ships Limited Registered Office: Warwick House, P.O Box 87, Farnborough Aerospace Centre, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14-6YU Registered in England & Wales, Registration Number:06160534

Units 2-5, Kimberley Business Park, Redbrook Lane, Brereton, Rugeley, Staffordshire, WS15 1RE Tel +44 (0) 1889 57169 Contact Tony Taylor Email Web

192 I HMS Queen Elizabeth The RNR support the Royal Navy at sea and on land in delivering success on operations. After initial training in basic seamanship and leadership, you could serve in a headquarters or warship at sea, helping catch drug runners, hunt pirates, deliver humanitarian aid or a host of other unusual operations, from flood disaster relief to Olympic security. The RMR undertake the same initial training as full-time marines to earn the coveted green beret. Just like regular Royal Marine Commandos, you learn to deploy skills in any location, environment, and terrain, getting the chance to specialise in the critical skills that make the marines a selfcontained fighting force. That could be anything from assault engineering to anti-tank warfare and signals. Under the Future Reserve 2020 (FR20) programme the size of the UK’s Reserve Forces is being increased. This initiative has enhanced the Reserves package of benefits, which includes improved pay and conditions, better access to training, academic qualifications, investment in Reserve unit infrastructure, improved welfare packages and greater support all round. Now is the time to join! What’s the Commitment? The general annual commitment is 24 days. Half of this time is spent carrying out the job you have been trained to do. The other half is spent training, completing courses such as sea survival, fire-fighting, and leadership, or taking part in sport or adventurous training expeditions. Training tends to take place in local Reserves units and

naval bases during the evening and at weekends. Training which you undertake at sea means there are many opportunities for adventures around the world. Maritime Reserves support operational deployments all round the world. Reservists can be mobilised once every three years, although mobilised Reserves are normally over 18 years of age and not in full-time education. There is a procedure to appeal if exceptional circumstances make it difficult to mobilise at a particular time. Get Paid! One of the appealing things about the Reserves is that you will get paid. You’ll be paid at the same rate as your full-time colleagues in the regulars – for every drill night, training weekend and longer deployment. When you’ve successfully completed your annual training you get a yearly tax-free bonus called a ‘bounty’. This is just over £400 for your first year, rising to over £1,700 a year after five years. What Do I Need to Join? You can join the Maritime Reserves as a junior rating or as a direct entry officer, depending on your experience and qualifications. Those with no previous military experience normally join as a rating or marine, trained to do specific jobs within the team. You will be expected to maintain the same professional standards and level of physical fitness as full-time sailors or marines. To join as an officer, you must be 17 years of age and require 180 UCAS points and a minimum of 5 GCSE (A to C which must include English and maths). After

joining as a rating, those who possess or gain the necessary educational qualifications and have the ambition to become an officer can do so via the officer cadet scheme. The Maritime Reserves is not just for the youngsters. The maximum age to join is 40 (36 for the marines) … so if this interests you and you are looking for a new challenge, please come and find out more. We ensure all our Reservists are provided with the best training and divisional support throughout their time in the Maritime Reserves. Why don’t you join in the journey of young people’s potential second career in the Maritime Reserves? A great start in life for them – a life without limits. Get in Touch There are many ways to find out more about the exciting future ahead in the Maritime Reserves. Call 08456 07 3222 to start the enquiry process, or search for the RNR on If you have any questions, there is the website live chat facility and local Reserves unit open days (details on the web). Come and Meet Us The main RNR units are situated in: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff (Sully), Glasgow, Lisburn (NI), Liverpool, London, Northwood, Nottingham, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Rosyth, Tyneside and Yeovilton (RNR Air Branch). RMR main headquarters are located in Bristol, Glasgow, London, Merseyside and Tyneside, with many regional detachments all round the country allowing people to join from all over the UK.

BUILT BY INSPIRATION. BAE Systems is a proud partner in the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, working together on the UK’s largest engineering programme to deliver the nation’s flagships to the Royal Navy.