The date that HMS Queen Elizabeth will depart Rosyth for the first time on trials has been discovered.
Coinciding with the tides and the booking of various tugs, it’s estimated that HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail between the 21st and 24th of this month. This has not been confirmed by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance.
According to a source at Rosyth, the rumour mill supports this:
“Obviously most of us don’t know the exact time as that’ll depend on a multitude of factors but as far as I’m aware from what I’ve been told, Queen Elizabeth will sail in around two weeks.”
Another source tells us that the plan is for the vessel to depart on the 21st at noon and anchor in river. All going well, the supercarrier will sail under the bridges around 18:00, weather permitting.
The earlier news of the slippage in trials of HMS Queen Elizabeth is no secret, the ship was supposed to sail in Spring. In such complex engineering projects, this type of occurrence isn’t a cause for concern nor is it unusual. HMS Queen Elizabeth, after all, is essentially a prototype and the Ministry of Defence can’t afford to get it wrong.
Defence secretary Michael Fallon said:
“It has always been our intention that Queen Elizabeth should be accepted into the Royal Navy before the end of this year. We are not giving specific dates as to when the sea trials are likely to commence.”
Lt Gen. Mark Poffley, Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff for Military Capability, said:
“There have been a series of technical issues associated with bringing the vessel to the point where she can commence her sea trials.”
It is understood that this minor delay is ‘not outside the tolerance’ of the programme.
According to Bob Hawkins MBE, First Lieutenant of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth the plan was for the carrier to sail in March, he was quoted here (in mid 2016):
“The build process continues up here in Rosyth. Some of you may have experienced this from the RN side of the house, perhaps in a new class of ship, in a new build. The frustrations are many and varied. Add to this the sheer scale and complexity of the Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carriers and you can imagine that each day brings a new challenge in moving towards Ships Staff Move On Board (SSMOB) then its sequel, Ready For Sea Date (RFSD). SSMOB is planned for 9 January; RFSD 10 March. Using Andrew St George’s 12 principles of Leadership in the Royal Navy, I subscribe to his No.2, Cheerfulness. A glass half empty as opposed to a glass half full approach is a choice, and I choose to remain optimistic. Draw from that what you will.
Timing of First Entry Portsmouth (FEP) is dependent upon achieving RFSD and the subsequent success of Power and Propulsion Trials. This initial Contractor Sea Trials period we call euphemistically ‘5-1-5’, i.e. from RFSD, five weeks at sea, one week alongside (Invergordon), five weeks at sea, then FEP: a standard package that must be executed in full from whichever start date we achieve. Clearly, FEP will shift right if RFSD does, or indeed if ‘5-1-5’ needs to be extended to accommodate any set-backs thrown up during the trials.”
Ian Booth, managing director of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance said:
“Pretty much everything is now installed in the ship and working. We’ve had lots of prior factory testing before putting systems on board and so far, it’s all looking pretty good.”
Recently Merlin helicopters of 820 Naval Air Squadron wrapped up an exercise in Scotland to prepare them for operating from HMS Queen Elizabeth. Merlin helicopters will be the first aircraft to begin flying from HMS Queen Elizabeth later this year, soon followed by Apache, Wildcat, Chinook and F-35 next year.