The second Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, will benefit from ‘lessons learned’ in the construction of HMS Queen Elizabeth.
People we spoke to on-board the vessel told us 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 in December last year, 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.
Captain Ian Groom said:
“We optimised systems and learned how things could be improved both in terms of the systems and also the order in which you build things to make it more efficient and we’re drawing those lessons into Prince of Wales so that we can build it as swiftly as possible to the highest quality.
The reason we need two ships is to make sure that one is always available at very high readiness to provide choice to the government. That choice ranges from hard military power, delivering carrier strike, right down to humanitarian aid or promoting UK trade and industry.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon earlier announced that HMS Prince of Wales will be officially named at a ceremony in Rosyth on the 8th of September 2017.
The announcement was made during a visit to HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea. According to an ACA press release:
“The Defence Secretary landed by Merlin helicopter on the deck of the new aircraft carrier HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, which is currently on sea trials off the coast of Scotland. He met with members of the crew and thanked them for their contribution to UK defence.”
While addressing the Ship’s Company, Sir Michael Fallon said:
“Our carrier programme is a clear demonstration of British power and commitment to our global standing. With two aircraft carriers we will have one available at all times, providing a world-class carrier strike capability. They offer a prodigious promise to future generations of our determination to continue fronting up to aggression for years to come.”
Captain Ian Groom also told media ahead of the naming ceremony that HMS Prince of Wales will need to be delivered during 2019 to allow flight trails to continue whilst Queen Elizabeth is undergoing inspection in dry dock.
Quoted in Janes, he said:
“There is a further set of fixed-wing flying trials needed and HMS Prince of Wales has to carry them out. HMS Queen Elizabeth’s re-certification period in 2019 means we need HMS Prince of Wales then.”
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.
As stated in the Strategic Defence and Security Review, the government plan to enhance a Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier to support amphibious capability, that ship will be HMS Prince of Wales.
When discussing these capabilities, we were told that modifications would include enhancing the vessels ability to host troops. This means that storage for additional marines and more equipment will be provided and some key corridors widened too.
HMS Prince of Wales will be first as she’s still in build and then HMS Queen Elizabeth will receive these modifications when in refit.