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HMS Queen Elizabeth

Discussion in 'Photographic Locations' started by MJB, Aug 9, 2017.

  1. MJB

    MJB Well-Known Member

    For those that like that sort of thing, HMS Queen Elizabeth is scheduled to arrive in Portsmouth on Friday 18th August at around 0930 hrs.
  2. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    Pity it doesn't have any aeroplanes to fly to and from it, or seaworthy frigates with working turbines to protect it. However as white hefalumps go, it is rather magnificent. I don't know why I missed this post earlier.
    Fishboy likes this.
  3. Fishboy

    Fishboy Well-Known Member

    She's currently undergoing sea trials.

    I know that the rotary wing aircraft are already on board (Merlin helicopters from memory) and fixed wing deployment is due to start later this year in October when the first of our F-35s will join the ship.

    A lot of people are pointing out that HMS Queen Elizabeth doesn't currently have fixed wing aircraft - and in as far as that statement goes they're right. I think it's just a bit disingenuous to make this point without acknowledging that the ship is still carrying out her sea trials and that from the very day construction started the timetable for fixed wing aircraft joining the ship was a matter of public record. I understand that the space between the launch of this ship and its accepting the first fixed wing aircraft is shorter than that used as standard for sea trials in the US Navy.

    There are lots of aspects of this government's handling of our armed forces that are deplorable and, quite rightly, should be challenged. This statement, however, comes across to me as nothing more than a dig intended to inflame the outrage of the uninformed and those who quite simply can't be bothered to look for the freely-available facts.

    Cheers, Jeff
  4. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    There's a whole series of questions about the Elizabeth class carriers. If we need a fleet carrier why on earth isn't it nuclear powered? Their range is given as 10,000 miles which means that they can't quite get from London to Sydney on a single bunkering. Again: if we don't want to build nuclear powered carriers and we're stocking them with VTOL aircraft anyway why not stick with Invincible sized ships which would seem to match our current commitments better? It's all very odd in my opinion.
  5. Fishboy

    Fishboy Well-Known Member

    Andrew - I'm by no means an expert in this field and only commented because I don't like to see things like Learning's "it doesn't have any aeroplanes" statement go unchallenged.

    I will, however, try to answer your questions based on the knowledge that I do have!

    Firstly, why isn't she nuclear powered? Well, I'll leave aside the issues with the potential protests against a nuclear powered carrier and the additional costs of having to build a 'Z Berth' to fit one (these are required for our Astute Class submarines and are special berths that have to be certified as safe and secure for nuclear vessels and must go hand in hand with the local authority in which the berth is located having contingency plans set up for a potential nuclear accident).

    The two main reasons for her not being nuclear powered are to do with the initial development (and of course cost) and operational reality.

    The UK's only company making power plants for nuclear powered vessels is BAE Systems in Barrow who are flat-out making the Astute Class submarine and gearing-up for the four new Dreadnought Class ballistic missile subs that are next on their books. They use reactor cores that are built by Rolls Royce in Derby. The cost of completely redesigning the power plants to be used in aircraft carriers with all of the associated re-tooling and the potential suspension of BAE's work on the submarine fleet was deemed too time consuming and too costly. The French carrier Charles de Gaulle was also a cautionary tale when considering nuclear power - it was powered with a plant adapted from the one used by the French submarine fleet and has been beset by problems ranging from radiation leaks, being somewhat underpowered and having spent a greater percentage of its operating time in dock for repairs than out at sea!

    The second consideration - operational reality - is based on the fact that operational carriers go through a lot of aviation fuel and need replenishment at sea (RAS). It was considered that in normal operations the Navy might as well be topping up the diesel tanks at the same time as the av. fuel. The new Tide Class auxiliary tankers that will form part of the carrier group are designed to replenish Av. fuel and diesel simultaneously and the Queen Elizabeth has been designed to receive its RAS in this way. You can talk about the range of the US nuclear-powered carriers but must bear in mind that their primary theatre of operations is the Pacific where the distances that need to be travelled in order to enter engagement range are greater and, that because of the necessity for aviation fuel replenishment, a conventionally-powered auxiliary vessel full of aviation fuel always forms part of the carrier group! While the USS George W Bush can potentially travel for further, faster and without the need to refuel than the Queen Elizabeth it's never going to because operational carriers never leave the rest of the carrier group!

    Your last question about Invincible Class ships is an interesting one. A lot has been made about the Queen Elizabeth Class being a completely new design rather than being adapted from anything built in the past. I imagine that it would have been possible to re-hash the 1960s design and try to retrofit it with modern electronic warfare systems but the result would always have been a bodge at best. I can't find any information to back up this, but I also believe that the ability for a carrier to carry out air operations in poor weather conditions improves with the size of the ship, and the Queen Elizabeth Class is a full third again longer than the Invincible.

    As I say, I'm no expert on the subject (but as you can probably tell, I do have an interest in it!) so I've done my best to answer your questions.

    Cheers, Jeff
  6. MickLL

    MickLL In the Stop Bath

    I know next to nothing about military affairs and so my question may be really dumb.

    I watched the recent TV series about HMS QE with great interest and I 'get' the need to protect such a valuable asset with the carrier group.

    However in these days of highly accurate guided bombs delivered from high altitude (and maybe other weapons that I've never heard of) can the carrier group give any realistic protection?

  7. Fishboy

    Fishboy Well-Known Member

    That's really the idea of having the group - a couple of Daring Class (Type 45) destroyers will provide a specialist defense against all airbourne threats, a couple of Duke Class (Type 23) frigates coupled with a couple of Astute Class submarines will defend against underwater threats and it's possible that even the Sandown or Hunt Class minesweepers will be attached if needed.

    The bare minimum that the Queen Elizabeth will travel with is one Destroyer, one frigate, one RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) vessel and one submarine.

    Cheers, Jeff
  8. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Definitely not an expert here either but I'm fascinated by naval air power and have crunched through a fair selection of books on the subject and spend time following developments in that world.

    The commercial argument is a non-starter. When the project started around 2000 the navy was split on what form the new carrier fleet should take. One side argued very strongly for 3 new "Super Invincibles" and the other equally hard for something like the Nimitz class. The Elizabeth class was a compromise imposed by the politicians who seem not to have understood any of the arguments. The Blair / Brown cabinets decided to build oil powered Nimitzes - a compromise that made no real sense. At the time BAE were all for expanding their portfolio by licencing Westinghouse's A4W and taking over one of the dockyards then under threat to construct and service the ships.

    If you look at the US Navy's strategy on this it's all about keeping the planes flying. They spent a lot of time and money on building completely nuclear task forces but the benefits were outweighed by the sheer cost of commissioning and maintaining the smaller ships. That's why the carriers have steadily grown in size while the support vessels have been kept as small as possible. The idea is that supply ships can carry far less bunker oil (because the greediest user has been eliminated) and a lot more Aircraft fuel and ammunition.

    As I wrote above there was a great deal of "discussion" within the navy on the "nimble" versus "powerfull" question and the Elizabeths are the outcome - which I suspect will end up as a compromise too far.

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