Since entering service in the early 1970s, the ships of this class have
proved vital in projecting UK interests overseas from the Falklands
conflict of 1982 through to the amphibious assault on Iraq in the spring
HMS Illustrious has begun sea trials following the completion of a £40m
maintenance and upgrade programme.
The 22,000-ton ship, left Rosyth in Fife over the weekend after 16
months in the dockyard where she underwent modifications to turn her
into a helicopter and commando carrier, capable of carrying a force of
up to 20 helicopters and 600 fully kitted-out personnel.
Having already completed one week of initial sea safety training and
preliminary sea trials, the Portsmouth-based ship will now undergo a
further five weeks of sea trials before returning to the fleet at the
end of July 2011.
HMS Illustrious will then assume a helicopter and commando carrier role
while HMS Ocean undergoes a planned refit, which is due for completion
This will ensure that the UK retains the ability to deliver an
amphibious intervention force from the sea and maintain an experienced
crew to support the later introduction into service of the new Queen
Elizabeth Class carriers. Illustrious will then be withdrawn from
HMS Invincible was withdrawn from
the fleet in 2010. HMS Ark Royal has also been decommissioned. Carrier operations will
then be the responsibility of the Future Carrier (CVF) details of which
|| 28 knots
tonnes (full load)
4 x Rolls Royce Olympus TM3B gas turbines delivering 112,000 shp to two
at 19 knots
(60 officers) plus 366 (80 officers) air group plus up to 600 Marines
A typical embarked air group could consist of:
6 x Harrier GR7
6 x Merlin Mk 1 (Anti-Submarine)
3 x Sea King ASaC (Airborne Surveillance & Control).
3 x Close-in Weapon systems
(Goalkeeper or Vulcan Phalanx) anti-aircraft or anti-missile
|HMS Invincible (R05)
|HMS Illustrious (R06)
|HMS Ark Royal (R07)
Photo US Navy
THE FUTURE CARRIER (CVF)
- HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH - HMS PRINCE OF WALES
On 25 July 2007 the Secretary of State for
Defence announced to Parliament that the MOD will place the order for
two aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy - HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and HMS
PRINCE OF WALES.
The ships will be delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) – an
innovative alliance comprising industry participants and MOD – in which
CVF IPT represents the MOD as both client and participant. For the
Manufacture Phase the Industrial Participants will be: the BAES/VT
planned Joint Venture, Thales, Babcock and BAES (Surface Ships & Insyte).
In line with recommendations made following the 1998 Strategic Defence
Review, CVF will replace the Royal Navy's current three Invincible class
aircraft carriers with two larger, more capable vessels. The CVF or
Queen Elizabeth class of carriers will be the largest capital ships ever
constructed in the UK or operated by the Royal Navy and the most capable
carrier force outside the USA.
Britain's requirement for new Aircraft Carriers
Our three Invincible Class aircraft carriers were designed for Cold
War anti-submarine warfare operations in the North Atlantic.
Their limited air group means they would be unable to fulfil the
increasingly challenging demands of the new strategic environment and
they are, in any case, coming to the end of their expected life.
In 1998, the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) announced plans to replace
the current Invincible class of aircraft carrier with two larger, more
capable vessels that could operate a much more powerful air group.
Successive operations in the Gulf and Bosnia demonstrated that
aircraft carriers play a key role in force projection, contributing to
peace support and, when necessary, military action at a time and a
place of our choosing. Aircraft carriers offer both a coercive
presence worldwide that can help contribute to conflict prevention and
a flexible and rapidly deployable base during operations where
airfields are unavailable, or facilities ashore are still being
established. This analysis was further endorsed by the New Chapter
work of 2002 and re-enforced in the Defence White Paper in December
The Future Aircraft Carriers (CVF) will deploy offensive air power in
support of the full spectrum of future operations. This will be
provided by a Joint Force Air Group (JFAG) which primarily consists of
a combination of the Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) and the Maritime
Airborne Surveillance and Control (MASC) system. JCA/MASC will be
capable of operating in all weathers, day and night, to provide
carrier strike, as well as air defence for the carrier and offensive
support for ground forces ashore.
The JFAG will also operate helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
(UAVs) from all three Services in a variety of roles that could
include anti-submarine/anti-surface warfare, attack and support. The
Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the Lockheed
Martin F35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has been selected to fulfil the
JCA role. The carriers will also be able to operate GR9 Harriers.
Carrier design is an exceptionally complex three-dimensional puzzle in
which flight deck, hangar deck, stability and sea-keeping requirements
interact. Initial studies for CVF encompassed six different candidate
ships across a range of capabilities and aircraft types and led to the
adoption of the technologically advanced, innovative and highly
capable “Design Delta”, centred on MoD’s choice of the STOVL (short
take-off and vertical landing) Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA).
The adaptability of Design Delta is unique and has involved extensive
modelling, computer analysis and tank tests.
Some of the innovations in the design include:
First adaptable design that, while
configured to operate STOVL aircraft, can be altered later in its
projected 40-50 year service life to accommodate catapults and arrestor
gear to fly conventional CV (Carrier Variant) aircraft;
Location of main engines high in the ship,
reducing penetration of large downtakes and exhausts deep in the hull;
First full integrated waste management
system to meet projected future environmental standards;
First carrier with split “island”
superstructure - improving control of flight deck operations.
The Aircraft Carrier Alliance has worked
exhaustively to achieve value for money. The result is a design capable of
operating more than twice as many larger and heavier aircraft compared
with existing Invincible class – but carrying a similar sized crew – and
with increased strategic capability.
Design Delta also displaces about three times as much as an Invincible,
has four times the internal hull volume, carries 70 percent more ship and
aircraft fuel, has 75 percent more unrefuelled range and accommodation to
the very latest and highest standards.
CVF Specifications (Approx)
4 x Rolls Royce Olympus TM3B gas turbines delivering 112,000 shp to two
1500 (including air crew)
Total of 40 to include: Joint Combat Aircraft,
Maritime Airborne Surveillance and Control (MASC) Aircraft and Merlin
Facts and Figures
Each ship will be similar size and weight as
the ocean liner the QE2, The CVF dimensions are: 65,000 tonnes at full
displacement; 284m (931ft) length x 73m (239ft) width at flightdeck
level; 56m from keel to masthead – 6m taller than Nelson's Column; 11m
max draft (keel to waterline); 9 decks deep + Flight Deck; 40 aircraft.
Each ship weighs more than 32,500 average
The maximum expected Air Group to be
embarked is 36 Joint Strike Fighters and four Airborne Early Warning
aircraft, bringing the combined weight of embarked aircraft to over
CVF will carry over 8,600 tonnes of fuel to
support the Ship and her aircraft – enough for the average family car to
travel to the moon and back twelve times.
The ships can carry more than 1,000 tonnes
of food - enough to feed the crew for six weeks.
The Flight Deck area is nearly 13,000m2 -
the equivalent of 49 tennis courts or three football pitches.
The hangar is 29,000m3 - equivalent to 12
Olympic swimming pools.
The Ship's Long Range radar is the same size
to that of a large mobile home.
CVF has two propellers of 6.7m diameter,
weighing 33 tonnes each - Nearly two & half times as heavy as a double
decker bus and one & half times as high. Each is driven by a pair of
The ships’ anchors will be 3.1m in height,
each weighing 13 tonnes - almost as much as a double decker bus.
Each of the two huge lifts that move
aircraft from hangar to flightdeck can carry two fighter-bombers.
They're so big one of them could carry the weight of the entire ship's
Total crew numbers on HM Ships Queen
Elizabeth and Prince of Wales are only two fifths more than on the
Invincible class – even though they are three times the size.
Sixty-seven catering staff will cook the
Ship's Company of up to 1,450 personnel three meals a day
There will be four galleys on board, serving
four large dining areas, the largest of which can serve 960 crew in an
hour. The entire crew can be served in 90 minutes (45 minutes when at
The crew will have a range of recreational
facilities, when not on duty, such as cinema and fitness suites,
available 24 hours a day. As is currently the case in the Fleet, all
personnel have access to e-mail and the Internet, subject to satellite
communications equipment not being used for operational purposes.
In Britain's last big carrier, the Ark Royal
scrapped in the late 1970s, sailors lived 100 men to a mess deck. On the
new carriers they share six berth cabins with large and comfortable
bunks and adjacent toilet facilities and showers.
Using a combination of Diesel and Gas
Turbine driven Generators, CVF will produce 109MW, enough to run a town
the size of Swindon. The combined weight of the Diesel Generators is 800
There will be 11 full time medical staff,
managing an eight bed medical suite, operating theatre and dental
surgery, which can also be augmented as the mission demands (eg
humanitarian operations). • CVF will produce over 150 tonnes of fresh
In keeping with the most modern navy ships
the new carriers will still have a NAAFI shop stocking confectionary
items for private purchase that would not normally be supplied through
Government sources, and CVF will have a sizeable shop to cater for the
1,450 personnel on board.
Designing and building the ships is expected
to sustain and create some 10,000 jobs across the UK throughout its
design and manufacture. At the peak of assembly, over a thousand
personnel are expected to be engaged on CVF at each of the yards at
Govan, Barrow, Rosyth and Portsmouth.
Copyright BAe Systems