The first of two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers has been named by the Queen at Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland. Photographs, CGI and video all courtesy of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance.

HMS Queen Elizabeth was officially named in the traditional way as a bottle of whisky was smashed on the hull of the 65,000 tonne warship, the biggest in the Royal Navy’s fleet.

Image © Aircraft Carrier Alliance

Image © Aircraft Carrier Alliance

In front of a 3,500 strong audience that included the Duke of Edinburgh, Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, as well as many of those involved in the design and construction of the ship, the Queen said:

“In sponsoring this new aircraft carrier, I believe the Queen Elizabeth will be a source of inspiration and pride for us all.

“May God bless her and all who sail in her.”

Image © Aircraft Carrier Alliance

Image © Aircraft Carrier Alliance

First Sea Lord, Admiral George Zambellas added that:

“HMS Queen Elizabeth will be a national instrument of power and a national symbol of authority.

“That means she will be a national icon too, all the while keeping the great in Great Britain and the royal in Royal Navy.”

Image © Aircraft Carrier Alliance

Image © Aircraft Carrier Alliance

The ceremony included a flypast by the Royal Air Force Red Arrows, a mixed formation of Lynx, Merlins, Sea Kings and Chinook, Royal Navy Hawks and the de Havilland Sea Vixen, but not of course the F-35B Lightning II that will operate from HMS Queen Elizabeth’s deck, with the aircraft currently remaining firmly grounded in the USA following an engine fire.

As this is the first time we have covered the new carriers in any depth on GAR, here are some key facts regarding the QE Class, construction on the second of which, HMS Prince of Wales, will commence later this year.

The QE Class Aircraft Carriers will be the largest surface warships ever constructed
for the UK and represent a step change in joint capability

The ships will be 65,000 tonnes at full displacement – over three times the size of the
Invincible Class aircraft carriers

Length: 280m – 90m longer than the existing aircraft carrier

Width: 70m – twice the width of the existing aircraft carrier

Range; 8,000 to 10,000 nautical miles

The first ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to enter service in 2020

Each ship has two propellers which together will output some 80MW of power – enough
to run 1,000 family cars or 50 high speed trains

56m from keel to masthead, which is four metres taller than Niagara Falls!

The distribution network on board will manage enough energy to power 300,000 kettles
or 5,500 family homes

Each ship requires 1.5 million m2 of paintwork, which is 370 acres or slightly more than the 
acreage of Hyde Park

Each ship’s two propellers will weigh 33 tonnes each – nearly two and half times as heavy
as a double decker bus and one and half times as high

Each of the two huge aircraft lifts can move two Joint Strike Fighters from the hangar to the
flight deck in 60 seconds. They’re so powerful that together they could lift the entire ship’s
crew

Each of the QE Class aircraft carriers can take up to 40 aircraft, both rotary and fixed wing.
It is predicted they will routinely operate with 12 Joint Strike Fighters

Weapons: Designed to receive the latest generation of the Phalanx close-in weapon system
for defence of the vessel. Each ship is also designed to receive 30mm guns and mini-guns
located to counter asymmetric threats

Power: 2 x Rolls-Royce MT30 Gas Turbines and 4 x Diesel Generator Sets giving total
installed power of 109MWe

110MW power station on board each ship – that’s enough to provide all of Portsea Island
with power

The anchors will be 3.1m high, each weighing 13 tonnes – almost as much as a double
decker bus

The ships’ on-board water treatment plant will produce over 500 tonnes of fresh water daily

£1.6BN worth of sub contracts for work on the QE Class have now been placed with
companies across most regions in the UK

Cdr Kieran O’Brien RN, Head of Maritime Aviation Systems Group, discusses the aviation element of the QE Class in this promotional video:


HMS Queen Elizabeth will now be fitted out and, later this month, floated, to make way for the assembly of its sister ship.

With thanks to the Aircraft Carrier Alliance.