HMS Queen Elizabeth represents ‘best of UK engineering’

The UK's first new QE Class aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, has set sail from Rosyth to commence first stage sea trials off the coast of Scotland.

More than 200 cameras allow monitoring of engine and machinery spaces – image courtesy of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance

HMS Queen Elizabeth, the UK’s future flagship carrier, will reportedly spend around six weeks at sea to test the ship’s monitor speed, manoeuvrability, power and propulsion as well to undertake weapons trials and additional tests on her levels of readiness.

Following this trial period, the 65,000 tonne ship will return to Rosyth for further testing and maintenance before heading back to sea for a second stage which aims to test her mission systems which encompasses the combat system.

The ship’s company moved on board earlier this month, familiarising themselves with the 280m long vessel, the highly mechanised weapons handling system, the 220 cameras monitoring engine and machinery spaces, as well as undergoing training.

Admiral Sir Philip Jones, first sea lord and chief of naval staff, explained: “Already this ship represents the best of the UK’s industrial and engineering expertise, and once in service she will symbolise our military power and authority in the world for decades to come. There is still much work to do between now and then, but be in no doubt: a new era of British maritime power is about to begin.”

Thr sister ship of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Prince of Wales is structurally complete and is currently in the outfitting phase of her programme.

The Class will be the centrepiece of Britain’s maritime capability. Each aircraft carrier, coupled with the F-35B Lightning aircraft, will form an integral part of the UK’s carrier strike capability.

The vessels will transform the UK’s ability to project power around the world, whether independently or working closely with allies, on operations ranging from high intensity warfighting to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

A national endeavour, at its peak the programme directly employed 10,000 people across six build yards. While manufacturing and commissioning is now solely focused in Rosyth, the skilled and diverse workforce is sourced from across the country.

Key facts: each QE Class aircraft carrier – 

  • weighs 65,000 tonnes
  • 280m in length
  • Top speed is upwards of 25 knots
  • will have a crew complement of c.700, increasing to c.1,600 when a full complement of 36 F-35B aircraft and four Crowsnest helicopters are embarked
  • flight deck is 70m wide and 280m long – enough space for three football pitches
  • keeps 45 days’ worth of food in its stores
  • made up of 17 million parts
  • 364,000m of pipes inside
  • 51 million hours have been spent designing and building the Queen Elizabeth Class
  • The entire Ship’s Company can be served a meal within 90 minutes, 45 minutes when at action station
  • the first Royal Navy vessels to have piped oxygen within the medical complex