Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers


The Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers are the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy. At 65,000 tonnes they are over three times larger than the Assault ships, HMS ALBION, HMS BULWARK and HMS OCEAN. They are capable of carrying forty combat aircraft, both rotary and fixed wing. It is predicted that the ships will routinely operate with 12 Joint Strike Fighters.  Unlike traditional aircraft carriers, the Queen Elizabeth class features twin “islands”, with the forward island for navigating the ship and the aft island for controlling flying operations.

The propulsion system is based on twin Rolls Royce Marine Trent MT30 gas turbines and four Wärtsilä diesel generators delivering electrical power to 20MW electrical induction motors that drive twin fixed-pitch propellers, each weighing 33 tonnes. Total power generated is over 80MW (roughly 108,000 hp) and will allow the ships to travel at over 25 knots.

A modular construction method has been employed with “blocks” manufactured across the UK (Portsmouth, Glasgow, Merseyside, Tyneside and Appledore) with final assembly in Rosyth.

Teams of engineers from around the country have been involved with the design and construction of the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, showcasing the combined talents of engineers, managers, skilled tradespeople and technologists from across the UK naval defence industry.

Assembling the aircraft carriers has posed a number of unique challenges; each block has been built in a different location around the United Kingdom. This means that they had to be built and then transported by barge to the Rosyth. Upon arrival and docking in the UK’s largest dry-dock, they are fitted with equipment and then joined to the other blocks. The sequential delivery of modules and their integration into the final assembly has required detailed planning and coordination across many UK engineering facilities, demonstrating the ability of UK NEST organisations working together to deliver the biggest construction programme in the history of the Royal Navy. The Rosyth dock also boasts one of the largest gantry cranes in the world that has been used to lift major structural modules into position.

The first vessel in the class, HMS Queen Elizabeth, was christened on the 4th July 2014 and floated out on 17th July 2014. The ship is currently being outfitted and is due for handover to the Royal Navy in mid-2016, ready for sea trials to begin. The second, HMS Prince of Wales, is due for handover later in the decade.

Number in class: 2

Names: Queen Elizabeth, Prince of Wales

UK NEST Members Involved: BAE Systems Naval Ships, Babcock Marine, Thales, BMT, GE Power Conversion, Rolls Royce, Cammell Laird, L3 Marine Systems, Lloyds Register