50 Days To Go - HMS Queen Elizabeth


In 50 days time, on July 4, Her Majesty the Queen will formally name the U.K.’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth and of course, bless all those who sail in her.

There’s a great deal of quiet excitement at the Rosyth dockyard near Edinburgh.

In 50 days time, on July 4, Her Majesty the Queen will formally name the U.K.’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth and of course, bless all those who sail in her.

The activity is phrenetic, scaffolding currently covers many of the parts that give the 65,000 tonne ship its unique shape, with its distinctive two islands. As work continues on her haze grey paint job, inside, workers are getting on with the wiring and testing the many systems that will support its operation.

View from the Goliath Crane - All photos Tony Osborne (AW&ST)

I had been looking forward to a visit to the ship for some time, and regardless of where you view the ship from, whether it’s from the top of the tiny ski jump on the bow, from above on Rosyth’s vast Goliath crane, or perversely from underneath the stern, you really get a sense of the scale of the enterprise.

View from the top of the ski jump.

Large components for the Queen Elizabeth have been assembled at six sites around the country and then moved by barge to Rosyth, while the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, the consortium building the ship, say that companies in virtually every county of the U.K. have been involved in the supply of parts and equipment.

View from under the stern, showing one of two propeller shafts.

The paint job has to be completed by June 15, ready for engineers to be begin opening the sluices and put water into the dock on June 23. After the naming ceremony, some time later in July, the ship will move out of the dry dock and be berthed inside the yard for further fitting-out work. In September, the first major pieces of the second, sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, will arrive, and work will then begin on assembling that vessel. Indeed, some of the parts, including a significant part of the bow for the Prince of Wales, were already on site at Rosyth during Aviation Week’s visit.

Royal Navy personnel will begin training on the Queen Elizabeth in May 2016 with sea trials due to be undertaken in August that year. Acceptance should occur in May 2017, and the Navy hopes that the first F-35Bs Lightning IIs could be landing on the vast 4.5-acre flight deck somewhere off the east coast of the United States towards the end of 2018, with an interim operating capability expected in 2020 after training.

While the deadlines for having the ship ready are not tight, workers are reminded throughout the site that “Jets will fly from HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2018.”

Getting the jets onto the ships in 2018 and restoring the U.K.’s carrier strike capability is the top priority for Royal Navy commanders and the ship’s future capabilities, as a helicopter carrier will follow later.

Discuss this Blog Entry 6

on May 16, 2014

The JSF to date has has a miserable track record meeting deadlines and timelines (it hasn't).

It remains to be seen if the F-35B will be ready to deploy to the Queen Elizabeth in 2018 as predicted in the sign above.

on May 17, 2014

Do you have some data to share with us or are you just speculating?

on May 23, 2014

13+ years of not being able to stick to an SDD or projected IOC does not qualify as speculation, its called history and fact.

Attached is a link to the GAO F-35 report from March 2010. Please refer to page 11&12 and and review the well documented slipping of the JSF development schedule. Take note of the then projected IOC. :-)


on May 19, 2014

Sadly, the decision to build these vessels without cats and traps and to revert to the F-35B is going to haunt the Royal Navy. Our adversaries have had two decades to prepare for this 'stealth fighter', which has much higher infrared, visual, and emitter signatures than did the F-117; it is widely acknowledged that both China and Russia have VHF radar technology capable of tracking our new planes.

So what does the F-35B give us? A plane that has poor performance and range, can only sustain 4G turns and can carry a paucity of weapons. Oh - and here's the rub - there is little room for electronics to defeat radar tracking.

What this means is that, unlike an American carrier, with its mix of fighters, electronic warfare and AEW aircraft, Britain's new flagships won't be able to project force as their aircraft, and the ships themselves, will be so vulnerable to attack. The only airborne asset they can operate is the F-35B and helicopters. So, if they go to war they are toast.

Look at Bill Sweetman's recent article in The Daily Beast -

Look at the current issue of Air & Space Power Journal - article 'The Commanche & The Albatross' by Col. Michael Pietrucha. Download from http://www.au.af.mil/au/afri/aspj/digital/pdf/articles/2014-May-Jun/F-Pi...

on May 19, 2014

Two Islands? I suspect communication between two islands will turn out to be a nightmare. A true design flaw.

on May 19, 2014

The design is French, it is the THALES company that did the work

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