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.

27 COMMENTS

  1. Fallon makes me yawn!

    This is a man who seems to convince himself of the power and capability of our military, whilst ignoring the severe cutbacks that have brought our military to a point where defeat at the hands of a capable adversary is now a real risk.

    • Agreed but in fairness it’s not just Fallon, it seems to be all ministers in all departments in all parties.

      Our government and opposition system seems to almost invariably create worst-case outcomes. If the government amazingly has a good and well thought out idea the role of the opposition seems to be to criticise it anyway because it wasn’t their idea. Conversely (and far more common) if the government is screwing up and creating damage to some part of our economy, services or infrastructure the government’s (any government’s) standard response to anyone from the opposition, media or public who points this out is to spout back some statistics or initiatives that are either irrelevant, out of context, misleading or relating to an extremely small part of the overall picture to demonstrate how well they are supposedly doing (essentially “la, la, la; I’m not listening”).

      Until we get some grown up debate where the government will even admit to there being issues we’re going to see more decay and decline.

    • I dont think he has much of a say on the budget. The BBC will not tolerate cuts to any other governmemt department other than defense. He should be able to drain every penny possible from the f aid budget for overseas deployments especially training in estonia, anti piracy off africa, anything that involves a british military asset outside the british isles. Maybe he already is.

  2. Agreed. Another Ark Royal would be a great asset. We need a better shipbuilding strategy to ensure BAE gives us a better deal on our ships. All future ships need to be modular where they can have compartments swapped depending on the mission.

    • Britain needs to reintroduce more competition into shipbuilding in the UK. Plus they need to build sufficient platforms so that the R&D costs are spread out over a greater range.

  3. I think having two large carriers adds up to a big enhancement for the RN.. There will not be a third carrier and where would the extra RN personnel come from to crew the ship ? No other nation in Europe will have two large multi-role carriers like the UK so it’s a real step up and great to see.

  4. When both ships are fully operational, I do hope they can be balanced against each other and cycled through more frequent but shorter refits, rather than have their arse flogged out over 5 years and have to disappear into dry dock for 18 month’s at a time.

    Its going to be imperative to have both concurrently operational as much as possible.

  5. These two new carriers ARE LPHs. However, they will have the ability to become strike carriers when needed at short notice. That is the genius of the design. If they had been CATOBAR it would have been necessary to have 36 x F-35C embarked most of the time in order for the aircrew to maintain the necessary skills. But at around £100M per aircraft that’s £3.6 billion of aircraft sitting on the deck for a capability that we don’t need 90% of the time, which is “unaffordable” for the UK. By choosing a STOVL solution our normally land based F-35B aircrew will be able to transition to the carrier at short notice without significant additional training. That’s genius!

    • I would have no problem with that argument John if we had LPHs as well. But we don’t. So instead of added flexibility what we have is a near irreplaceable £3bn carrier having to do the job of a £1bn LPH workhorse which closer to shore is a much greater risk.

      • The carrier will not get that close to shore. The LPDs and LSDs will be closer in and helos from the carrier can use them as lily pads. Its not ideal but we cant crew another flat top let alone afford one. Maybe one or two of the Points could be refitted as an auxiliary aviation platform for 6 Merlin with some modular berthing for troops.

    • Considering the disaster that the RAF imposed on the Fleet Air Arm, I believe that the RN should take sole control of the F-35B and let the RAF have the A version. Having an aircraft carrier without aircraft is a disaster.

    • I thought I was the only one who saw the logic behind this, given that we are not the U.S. Well said. We cannot afford all that we want but the fleet that is coming together is one that we can be proud of.

      • I completely see the logic of the flexibility John, only debating that to use it as such is Hobson’s choice not real flexibility.

  6. Agreed, the STVOL approach has always been the best option for us. It gives us two very flexible platforms.

    The French seem to struggle to operate their Carrier for any length of time, having to re qualify the air wing has to be part of this issue, plus the intensive operational tempo can’t be kept up for more than a few months at a time.

    I would imagine, despite regular refits, the Charles de Gaulle’s availability will only get worse as she ages too.

  7. To use the new carriers as LPH’s would appear to me to be a waste of money. If we cannot do the not properly ( which we can – treasury too tight ) should we be in this game at all?

  8. I am in agreement with Ron Martin, I cannot see how they can operate in a dual role of strike carrier and LPH, that is why the USN have separate carriers for their Marines, It is a case of penny pinching by this government yet again; so that the carriers will be mediocre at both roles

    David Lester

  9. “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.”

    Looking at the long midship section and being block built, with a very high beam to length ratio, surely a 20 year in life or midlife hull stretch (which may need a little change to power or propulsion, but a longer hull to lenght ratio is better) has been thought of in the QE’s design.

  10. Is this website going to ask people how we go about at the build plan for the Fleet Solid Support ships being built in the UK and give it’s own ideas too? Which Yards with all their indivdual abilities and attributes, process and planning of the use of certain yards and firms in the build plan etc… The UK National Shipbuilding Strategy, and ideas to expand on it. The pluses in using UK yards, with investment in people and facilities as a condition in the future, the tax claw back, and benifits to local and wider areas in keeping money like this within the UK economy. With the impetus and new belief in UK shipbuilding this will bring and so on. It’s just a thought for constructive ideas.

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