Supercarrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, the future flagship of the Royal Navy and the largest warship ever built in the UK will sail today.

It is expected that the vessel will depart the basin around 5:30 this evening and sail under the bridges before midnight.

The Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers will be the largest surface warships ever constructed for the Royal Navy and will represent a significant increase in capability. The vessels will be utilised by all three branches of the UK Armed Forces and will provide eight acres of sovereign territory. Both ships will be versatile enough to be used for operations ranging from high intensity conflict to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

The class will have increased survivability as a result of the separation and distribution of power generation machinery throughout each ship. The class has been designed with twin islands, which separates the running of the ship from the flying operations resulting in greater visibility of flying operations.

Instead of a traditional single island, the has two smaller islands. The forward island is for ship control functions and the aft (FLYCO) island is for flying control.

The reason for two bridges is, simply put, due to the gas turbine exhausts. The design would have either had two small islands or one large, long island. The two smaller islands were chosen. The location and alignment of the islands are based around the 2.4 metre diameter gas turbine exhausts which were pre-fitted in the island and below in the ship superstructure.

Advantages of the two island configuration are primarily increased flight deck area and reduced air turbulence. Flight control in the aft island is positioned perfectly for aircraft approaches and deck landings.

Surprisingly for their sheer scale, each ship will only have a total crew of 679, only increasing to the full complement of 1,600 when the air elements are embarked. This is made possible by extensive automation of many systems.

Queen Elizabeth is due to be handed over to the RN in 2017. She’ll begin flying training with F-35B Lightning II jets from 2018.


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Bloke down the pub

Probably wanted to leave on the 05.05 high tide, but couldn’t get Jack out of his pit early enough.

Bloke down the pub

If , as I hear, they intend to shut the bridges across the Forth while QE sails below, the choice of the later tide may have been influenced by a desire to limit traffic disruption.

Rob Collinson

Is there anywhere online that we can watch the process happening?


Bloke down the pub
Unfortunately, this webcam gives a limited view. The other views on the associated website will be better for when she heads downstream, but as this is now being done in the dark, that won’t help much.

Bloke down the pub

At least the Navy have now turned on the QEs ship tracker.

Mr Bell

Excellent news cannot wait to seeing a news broadcast from the ship at sea. Hope the RN guards this new £3billiin strike carrier well and therein is the problem. There are 6 glaring problems with reinvigorating carrier strike at this time. All due to successive governments ignorance and stupidity, yes i include the current government in this assessment. 1) we have inadequate numbers and capabilities of warships to escort the QE class. Where is the type 45 destroyer improvement programme to resolve power issues and equip them with either mk41 vl systems or as a minimum an anti ship missile… Read more »


Most of the things you rightly complain about are the result of decisions made by the current and last tory governments.


Hi HF Your comment is not strictly true, many of the decisions made by the last 2 tory governments are based upon tight fiscal constraints, many of the actual decisions to delay were implemented by Messrs Brown and Blair, including the decision to delay and alter the carriers design that has cost circa £2bn more, this has the knock on effect to the T26 budget and the rest is history. Additionally the MOD themselves are a basket case who waste money on a scale even the NHS would be hard pushed to match. Yes all governments of the last 40… Read more »


‘who waste money on a scale even the NHS would be hard pushed to match’

I find this a rather strange comment – the NHS is woefully underfunded, particularly in comparison to the health systems of most of Western Europe. It’s amazing that it is able to deliver the current levels of care that it does. If it had anywhere near the money spent in the US ‘system’ it would perform wonders.


HF – With respect if you want to go to a ‘US system’ all that money you mention is spent on those that can afford it either through fat credit cards, fatter bank balances or expensive insurance policies that have pages of ‘Priors’, ‘Deferments’, ‘Limits to liability’ and a hundred other payment get outs. I have worked there. And people die for want of money not the ability to care. Sorry That pile of poo can stay on the other side of the Pond. As to the NHS the fact it is ‘underfunded’ can actually indicate inefficiency and wastefulness. Basically… Read more »



‘With respect if you want to go to a ‘US system’ – sorry if I gave that impression. That’s something I certainly don’t want.


Past is just that and politicians are just that. Q is how do we ensure proper investment going forwards?


I would add lack of missile CIWS Sea Ceptor and Martlett to that list


“This is made possible by extensive automation of many systems.”

We’ll probably be reading about the unreliability and break downs of these systems for years to come.

Peter Crisp

Surely one of the easiest things to do is run what is essentially the same system as used in warehouses while it’s being built and work out what the most likely parts to break are and just have spares on board.
It may be new on a ship like this but the technology itself is decades old and been tested to destruction in warehouses all over the world and doesn’t take a genius to repair.
I have no idea why so many people are so insistent it’s going to be a disaster.

Steven Jones

Peter, they said the same about the baggage system at Heathrow.

Peter Crisp

Heathrow has a much much more complex system and they have the benefit of knowing about how it fails so they can avoid a similar fate. The Heathrow system most likely will do more in a single week than the system aboard the carrier will in the next 50 years in total.

Jon Clark

Forth Road Bridge is closed to pedestrians and cyclists, just driven over , police are present at both North and South access points

Mr Bell

Have some faith I think HMS QE will be superb. The automatic weapons handling will be fine. It is tried and tested technology. My 6 previous points though mean HMS QE is the right ship but due to governmental decisions she has come along at the wrong time. Usually you build the supporting assets for a carrier battle group before the actual carrier. Call me stupid but we now have the carrier but no air wing or CBG. Just daft!

David Stephen

From a purley logical standpoint I have to disagree. There is now much more chance of getting all the bells & whistles because the carriers are here. If they where not, we would never build up the required fleet to go ahead with building them now. Better to have a carrier and not enough escorts (with the possiblity of more especially after politicians see the benifit of the carriers) than a whole raft of escorts with nothing to protect (if we had 30 escorts we would never get 2 carriers).


Good point


Have just seen this online is this the start of just six a/c on board in peace time like we did with Invincible The RAF wants to scale back a plan to buy supersonic fighter jets for the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers by pushing for a variation that flies only from land. The Ministry of Defence is committed to buying 138 F-35B jump-jets, which operate at sea, but The Times has learnt that a review has been opened to consider taking fewer F-35Bs and freeing up cash for F-35As. Some in the RAF are pushing for the government to… Read more »