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.
the Manufacture Phase the Industrial Participants will be: the BAES/VT
planned Joint Venture, Thales, Babcock and BAES (Surface Ships &
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
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 family cars.
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 electric motors.
The ships’ anchors will be 3.1m in
height, each weighing 13 tonnes - almost as much as a double decker
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
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 Action Stations).
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
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 tonnes.
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 water daily.
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.
INVOLVED WITH THIS PROJECT