At the end of last year, the builders started HMS Prince of Wales forward Gas Turbine Alternator for the first time, three years after it was first installed on the ship.

After months of preparation during static trials ensuring control and auxiliary systems were inspected and tested by a team of ACA engineers, made up of Royal Navy, Rolls Royce, General Electric and Babcock Commissioning, the turbine was signed off as ready to commence dynamic trial phase.

Image via the Aircraft Carrier Alliance.

People I spoke to at Rosyth on my last visit told me that building HMS Prince of Wales has been “20% to 25%” faster than building its sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth. When on HMS Queen Elizabeth two years ago, we were told that the build of HMS Prince of Wales was expected to be around 8 months quicker thanks to “lessons learned” in the build process.

The builders are already applying lessons from including improvements to the process of preparing its heat-resistant flight deck and installing an improved F-35 landing light systems earlier in the build process.

Recently, the Aircraft Carrier Alliance has successfully handed over the HMS Prince of Wales Navigation Bridge to the Royal Navy, a milestone originally planned for March 2019.

According to a release:

“Having been manufactured around 10 years ago, it was a big moment to start the engine for the first time! This was done in a controlled and methodical way and the team are now progressing through setting to work procedures to demonstrate that the GTA is performing as designed and ready to support the next phase of basin trials.

This is one of two engines that are fitted on board and can produce 36 Megawatts (around 50,000 horsepower) of power on to the High Voltage distribution system, this is enough to power an average of 36,000 homes or 450,000 eighty watt light bulbs. Based on the Rolls Royce Trent 800, which were used for the Boeing 777, the MT30 is the world’s most power-dense Marine Gas Turbine, a key feature for Naval Ships where high power occupying minimum space is essential.”

CPOET(ME)(ML) Horsepool said:

“This is one of the proudest moments of my career. It has been an enjoyable experience to be part of the team that has successfully achieved the first run of a GT on board after months of work.”

Simon Lister, ACA Managing Director, said:

“The first start of the Gas Turbine along with the recent Diesel Generator first starts is a major step forward towards sea trials later this year. It is fantastic to see the ship coming to life on her own systems and I thank the teams for their continued hard work.”

87 COMMENTS

  1. “… this is enough to power an average of 36,000 homes or 450,000 eighty watt light bulbs.”

    Were 80W lightbulbs ever a thing? Is it a common industrial/naval/military spec? In my years of buying light bulbs for my home, before everything went LED, I seem to remember that they went 20W, 40W, 60W, 100W. Perhaps I was never adventurous enough in exploring my light bulb choices.

  2. We don’t usually go off on a tangent this early in a thread Julian!

    Now that they have realised the QE class require a larger crew, (a frigate worth), I bet the team in charge of crewing up the Navy is sweating!

    Still, can’t wait to see her underway….

  3. No. See above. 🙂

    It is interesting to compare RN manning with USN manning. They have all the Gucci automation and still have jobs split between multiple bodies which in an RN ship would be done by one person. Multi-skill and multi-tasking or shallow knowledge and too much work…….?

      • Which ones behave captain any new ships or planes they are out in force moaning ..We’ve just announced the F35 battle ready the 2nd best combat plane on the planet only behind the F22_and yet they moan it’s the same ppl who only a few years ago said the F35 would never get of the ground plenty on this site .. The same ppl who said big Lizzie would never sail they really are pathetic obvious trolls the same trolls who said Asute would never enter service . The same trolls who basically moan about any good news

          • Theys Rusky Scrum Invades Of ower Cuntry wiv the biggy Deseption of Internals beeng heer for Peeples of Ukrane

        • “Behave”, Yes OK, but, Are you actually saying that anyone on here who Bemoans the lack of Ships, Aircraft, Equipment and everything else Is Russian and a Troll ? I’m not convinced mate. Who exactly are you calling out ? I’m Curious.

        • Since when has being opinionated, obtuse and irritating on line made someone a Russian troll…..that’s just how most people are in either large or small doses when given an unlimited, consequence free, anonymous way to say what they want, long may it last.

  4. Good news I also can’t wait to see her on the high seas, 20-25% faster build time too, that is a nice increase. Hopefully the solid support ships will be assembled in Rosyth with blocks built around the U.K., the same as these carriers. Rolls Royce who makes the gas turbine (and aero engines) are a successful British company we should all be proud of and support too.

    • A contract for the SSS with a UK consortium could be done to reflect the expect efficiency improvements. Ship 2 15% cheaper Ship 3 25%, this is what I’d prefer to ensure the NSBS gives us a competitive industry long term. Same should be done for the T31s.

      I do wonder if we would had seen these improvements if the Government had not renegotiated the contract to split overruns 50-50.

  5. Good stuff. Great to see.

    But 10 years from the turbo alternator being manufactured to starting hot commissioing highlights that you really need to crack on with these type of projects or you find yourself managing obsolescence before it’s even in service. T26 programme should take heed (but won’t).

    Does that count as moaning?

  6. Looking back I see that QE build, from floating in the first blocks in May 2012, to departure for sea trials in June 2017, took 61 months. Compare this with PoW, where blocks arrived in October 2014 and sea trials are now set to commence by November 2019, which is 61 months. It was said that the PoW blocks arrived some 20% more complete, and coupled with lessons learned from the first build would lead to a shorter build time by around 8 months. This seems not to have been the case. Further I notice that not long ago PoW was scheduled to take over flying trials from QE in 2019, while QE was to go into dry dock. But with sea trials not starting until November I can’t see that happening. So I’d like to know why the PoW build schedule has slipped so badly.

    • John H, HMS Queen Elizabeth was laid down In July 2009 and Launched in July 2014. HMS Prince of Wales was Laid down in May 2011 and Launched In December 2017. As for being 20% more complete well OK, I’ll admit to not being In the Loop on that but, I’m really glad to hear It. To have Both of These Amazing Ships In the Water and Working Up Is absolutely Brilliant, Let’s just Suck It Up and Bask In the Glory. Rule Britannia.!

      • Yeah. Whenever I hear news of PoW, and this would even be the case if it were to be negative news such as some sort of slippage, I bask in the fact that she didn’t get the chop during the SDSR where it was muted as a possibility (Gordon Brown’s government?) and that we are getting 2 carriers.

        Had a previous government taken the decision to axe the second carrier we would be looking at a very different situation where the UK would be unable to continuously deploy a carrier. Having two carriers is such a step change from having only one, changing the situation from “let’s hope our only carrier isn’t in maintenance” to “we can deploy whenever needed” (unexpected major issues not withstanding).

        Are there any stages in the workup schedules when both QE and PoW will be doing stuff at sea at the same time (not necessarily in the same place), either both still at different stages of workup prior to going operational or with QE already operational and PoW at sea doing workup & testing? That would/will be quite something to have both carriers out there doing stuff; I’m wondering if and how soon that might happen. Presumably that might present some crew challenges with the increased crew levels.

        • I have to agree. The Labour governments oversaw a LOT of poor defence procurement, and the QECs definitely suffered from that a bit, but making the UK contractually obligated to finish the carriers was possibly the best decision they made.

          Interesting little tidbit: Tony Blair actually got us into an early EU combined navy. The plan was for a combined force based around 3 fleet carriers, 2 British and 1 French, with other nations providing most of the escorts. Suddenly the numerous cuts of relatively young frigates in ’99 and the lack of urgency in the T26 programme make sense…

          If memory serves, Lizzie is due in for her first refit over the summer, so it’s entirely possible both ships set sail in autumn. With the first Lightnings declared operational, everything looks on track for HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first deployment to the South China Sea in 2021.

          • Callum, One In, One Out, With a Fantastic historic Meeting somewhere In between. Where Ever It is, I’ll try to be there. Two Carriers, 6 Escorts, Two Astutes, A flightdeck full of F35’s, Merlin’s, Chinook’s, Wildcat’s. Wow, what a Sight that would be and what a message that would send. ( I know, I’m Dreaming.)

        • Julian – to my memory it certainly wasn’t Gordon Browns Government that flirted with the idea of losing one of the Carriers,it was the subsequent 2010 Coalition that swung the Axe on Defence (predictable as it was with the Financial situation at the time) through SDSR 2010,it wasn’t till SDSR 2015 that the future of HMS POW became clearer.

        • Cameron was going to cancel them. Heard that direct from a cabinet minister who nearly resigned when he changed his mind to keep them. Hammond & May don’t believe in the carrier project though. Will be interesting…

  7. Wasn’t there a story a few months ago that referenced LHA type upgrades being made to the PoW? Could that have set back the schedule a bit?

    Cheers!

    • With PoW, I believe there were some glitches with the design of the new quadruple 14″ turrets which took some time to sort out. (Sorry)

  8. Hate to have been those civilian chaps trying to get the turrets moving while the ship was fighting the Bismark… 😀 THAT’S what’s known as an “exciting” job… 😀

    Cheers!

  9. Why was there never an HMS KGVI? I understand he asked the KGV class to be named after his father instead of himself as was tradition for the newest capital ship to be named after the current monarch. Despite the fact the current (and past) QE is named after the Tudor first you would think that there would be one to honor Britain’s wartime king? I would think a QE and a KGVI would have been good names for the CVFs.

    “Why do we stay at Buckingham Palace? Because we wouldn’t be able to look the East End in the face if we didn’t”

    Elizabeth Queen Mother

    Cheers.

  10. It does then the question if the build is going 20-25% quicker does that equate to any savings off the cost? Also could we build a 3rd QEC and get same or even better efficiency?

    • Nah two is enough.

      We’d need to crew it and we lack the aircraft to put on two let alone 3.

      If money was spare I’d go for extra SSN, RFA, escorts in that order.

      • If we need more aircraft, then I believe Turkey and Taiwan were interested in our old Harriers. The US has already paid for their modernisation.

        The money that we’d save on fewer/slower F35 purchases could be spent on more ships.

      • I definitely agree with that Daniele. In the hugely hypothetical situation of HMG considering building a third QEC I’d also include a couple of LPH as preferable to a third carrier with maybe even a bit of cash to spare. I’m not saying that I’d prioritise it above anything in your list, just saying that it would be another thing that would be preferable to a third carrier in my view.

        Although PoW is getting mods to allow her to fulfil an LPH role I think it would be preferable if she never had to, at least vs a peer or near-peer adversary. Perhaps if the new RFA FSS are a good and flexible design they can play a useful role, together with the Bays, in such ship to shore scenarios to avoid a carrier needing to get too close.

  11. Interesting question. Sometimes its obvious, so I wouldn’t ever expect an HMS King Edward VIII, but the workings of the naming committee are obscure. For the CVs I would have liked to see Ark Royal + Eagle. I remember the original carrier project in the sixties but don’t recall what names were bandied about then. Type 26 naming i.e. following cruiser names makes sense to me.

  12. morning. I don’t think there was ever sny intention to build a third QE. A rumour was circulated regarding a third vessel for the French, however this came to nothing and was officially quashed in 2010. PoW is ahead of build schedule in comparison to QE, however the comparison is artificial as it is taken as if they were built side by side, The actual build schedule factored in a 20% time saving, so all the construction targets are as they were planned. If anything there has been an intentional slowing in certain areas, this is fun to QE trials and the resulting requirement to modify or change items on PoW. When one thinks about it, it makes perfect sense to test QE and implement the learning into PoW, otherwise you end up with two ships requiring modifications. PoW is approximately 2000 tonnes heavier than QE, this is partly due to minor design changes, some of which include changes to trooping accommodation, although she will not be amphibiously configured to the extend Hermes or Bulwark were. I’m delighted that she is coming along to schedule and from what I hear onboard the crew condider her the premier carrier ay QE is a prototype! Already there is much rivalry between ships companies. And before anyone says otherwise she has a fully alloted crew, of which a small percentage came from Ocean.

  13. Morning Basil, It wasn’t just a Rumour, The French were Active In the Design but pulled out. It would have been Interesting to see how the Program might have changed knowing the French Carrier would have (dare I mention this ? ) Cat’s and Trap’s. I also remember They would have probably gone the Nuclear Route. Might go and research this while my Hotpot’s Baking !

    An Edit Facility would be great too but at least we can understand what you are Typing, Unlike a certain Individual called Ivan.

    • Wiki has a section on the PA2, It shows some of the Design Requirements including a 90 metre Steam Catapult, Angled Deck, Sylver Launcher for 16 Aster Missiles and one 20mm Gun. Nuclear power was considered at least twice but It was all cancelled by 2013 due to Costs.

  14. Basil, Ron and I are talking about the original CVA project in the sixties to replace Ark Royal/Eagle/Victorious which was cancelled by the Wilson Government in 66 if I remember right. We at CL reckoned we were in with a chance although John Browns et al would probbly disagree. Designs finished up at around 60/65000 full load with cats & traps.

  15. Hello Trevor g, yes I understand, CVA01 would have been an interesting vessel, I’m quite sure the aft Sea Dart launcher would had been quickly deleted from the build as at the time they built Bristol they found the launcher and associated loading mechanism needed far more space than initially thought and they would have had enough area defence with the eight planned Bristol class. For different reasons the forward mounted Exocet were deleted from the Invincible class prior to completion. In the early stages of ship design and marketing, the designers often try to satisfy as many interested parties as possible. I was not aware of any plans for a third CVA01, I would be interested to know the source of that information. Certainly with an initial order for 144 F4k phantoms there would have been enough to go around.

    • The size of machinery needed for a magazine based missile system launcher was clearly visible in the B3 T42 when there was a flat starboard side where you could look up two decks right next to the Sea Dart magazine.

      • Interesting to read about the impact of the Sea Dart magazine on the designs. There were a number of studies around the time into double ended air defence destroyers which with associated guidance radars would have meant a pretty big ship even compared with Bristol and would certainly have beeb bigger than T45.

        • I’m sure as a result HMS Sheffield was shrunk if you like due to cost saving,it was the Smallest Hull-Form that could accommodate the Sea Dart System (rectified in Batch3) wasn’t it also installed back to front compared to HMS Bristol ?

          • Yes. The launcher was aft in the Bristol. But if you think about it this is the logical place for it not for’ard.

            There should have been 20 plus T42 all built to a design similar to B3. It was false economy to slice the bow off the design as the launcher for Sea Dart was liable to malfunction due to water and salt.

          • Further to below……….

            T42 represented the minimum need for AAW at the time for a navy centred on mid-ocean ASW work where the air threat was more than likely to be an MPA or ‘slowing moving’ jet bombers in penny packets looking for targets of opportunity. Taking an extra hull sonar and ASW helicopter to see was probably just as important as SeaDart itself as the RN sort to maximise hull numbers against its primary threat the Soviet submarine fleet. Britsol was designed to keep escort with a carrier and it would have depended on the carrier’s and frigate’s for ASW helicopter for targets it’s sonar discovered with the Ikara in back-up. Type 42 were good ASW platforms because the RN needed GENERAL PURPOSE escorts not single purpose ships; this factoid over flies some who think that the were just AAW and the difference between primary purpose not supplementing GP capability. We see it in discussions about T45 and their sonar fit and the discussion about T23 ASW and T23 GP. All surface escorts since WW2 have gone to sea with adequate ASW capability.

            Perhaps a slightly richer RN could have afforded to axe the hangar from T42, used Ikara or ASROC, and fitted more substantial AAW and ASuW armament. There were plans for a light weight version of Sea Wolf Mod 0, but the problem would be finding space for fire control radars and space to keep two radars for Sea Dart. The Argenitnes fitted Exocet to their T42. VLS gets around alot of these problems. A double ended Sea Dart ship (2 launchers, 2 fire control) plus helicopter and guns would have probably looked something like the USN Kidd-class. But that would have been to expensive for the RN.

          • Yes, plus where does the helicopter go? At least one of the design projects (Type 43) has the helicopter pad amidships between the deckhouses/funnels, not sure if they consulted with the pilots on that one…

          • See my comment above……..somewhere……. 🙂

            Of course the other option is to do as the Russians / Soviet like to do and place the hangar below decks. That clears arcs but does nothing length because obviously magazine extend well below the ‘weather deck’……….
            Have a look at our Tribals where the hangar floor was an elevator. Another one, and a favourite of mine, are the USN Virginia class CGN’s.

  16. Your only seeing this sort of improvement because the contract was renegotiate to split overruns 50-50, if the MoD had to pick up 100% of the overrun then my bet is PoW would be delivered late.

  17. Basil and anyone Else who might be Interested/Able to post the link. There Is a Very Detailed and Interesting Link on Wiki, If you search CVA-01. Then, If you Scroll down, you will find “A comprehensive essay on the History of the CVA-01. Design and related Issues”.

    It’s well worth a look, You will see that 3 CVA’s were at one point proposed and a mention of 5 also.

    There Is a whole load of other stuff too, Including TSR2, The Supersonic Harrier and a scaled down TSR2.

    • Captain – posting a link is simply a matter of copying and pasting the text for the web address that you want to link to – no special formatting or tags in your post are required. Open the web page you want to link to in another browser tab, left-click in the address bar contents for that page, right-click and select “copy” to copy the text of the web address into the clipboard and then go back to your post and type control-v to paste that text into your post. That’s it.

      One thing though is to not post more than one link because if you do your post might not appear immediately because it gets flagged as potential spam and gets puts into a moderation queue for the UKDF people to check before allowing it to appear. (You might actually get away with two links in a post with three being the number that triggers the this-might-be-spam moderation procedures but for safety I tend to try to not exceed a single link in a post. You can always add a second link by immediately replying to your own post with the second link you want to add.

      Here’s the link to the CVA-01 article by the way…

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CVA-01

      And thanks 🙂

  18. Whatever anyone says about British industry, producing to brand new 80k ton carriers in 8 years for 6 billon pounds is better than any other nation in the carrier game has manged this century.

  19. Just been checking the David Brown book Rebuilding the Royal Navy re planned numbers for the CVA project. At inception of the requirement in 1960, 4 ships were intended (to replace I think 6) to be delivered between 1971/80. In 1963 this was reduced to 3 ships, primarily budgetary reasons. At one stage it was hoped that Australia would also order an additional 1.

    • The big shame was if we had the big carriers when the USSR collapsed we could have used RAFG’s budget as it were to equip the carriers with aircraft. After all it was toss up between having two ‘air forces abroad’ that caused CVA to be cancelled………..That’s why I think we should only purchase F35b……….

    • Yes-Urgently. These are huge investments & we can neither always rely on allies lending us escorts nor our own tiny escort fleet(which could quickly be depleted by enemy action). Our likely opponents are fielding hypersonic long range anti-ship missiles to be launched in numbers to overwhelm carrier defences. It’s negligent in the extreme to deploy our carriers so poorly armed.

  20. Thanks for the interesting link CPW, had the CVF program gone ahead, then 3 ships would certainly have been called for.

    As for TSR2, well, I have studied that fascinating program for 30 years, in some detail.

    It was an extremely advanced and supremely capable design, that, had it gone ahead, it would have given Soviet planners sleepless nights thinking of ways to counter it for decades.

    Back in the 1960’s, through to the late 80s, a TSR2 flying at Mach 1 at 200 ft would have been almost impossible to stop…

    The reality of the situation is that by the 1960’s, the UK was in a dire financial position and we started many projects we simply couldn’t afford to develop, never mind build and operate.

    Particularly as the Americans had stopped partially funding development costs by this point, with the Buccaneer being the last aircraft to benefit from US department funding.

    We have always led the way in ideas, engineering and development, just lacked the funds to carry it through….

    We tragically let others prosper from our inherent UK brilliance.

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