The denial comes amid speculation in the media that one of the new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers will be mothballed.

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said:

“We are fully committed to operating both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales and to naval shipbuilding on the Clyde.

The Defence Secretary confirmed last year that steel will be cut on the first anti-submarine Type 26 Frigate this summer, providing warship building work on the Clyde until 2035.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth is planned to sail in Summer for 11 weeks of sea trials in the North Sea.

“HMS Queen Elizabeth, will sail from Rosyth, ready to conduct sea trials in summer and debut in Portsmouth later in the year.”

The Contractor Sea Trials period will consist of five weeks at sea, one week alongside and five weeks at sea and then if all goes well, she will head to Portsmouth.

According to Bob Hawkins MBE, First Lieutenant of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, quoted here:

“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.

Over the next few months we will finish compartment handovers, and complete work to coat the flight deck. We will also conduct harbour events and acceptance trials for virtually all systems – propulsion, steering, navigation, or communications – here [at Rosyth] before we go.”

Merlin helicopters will be the first aircraft to begin flying from HMS Queen Elizabeth, soon followed by Apache, Wildcat, Chinook and F-35.

18 COMMENTS

  1. it was probably fake news that kicked it all off,the mod are to far into the build on the POW to mothball it,and it would cost the taxpayer more as bae would still receive payment for it,like they did for hulls 7 +8 on the type 45 that never got built…

    • The problem is the MOD believe mothballing is a viable financial solution (Albion/Bulwark) forgetting the fact running the active one longer and harder takes it toll in the later years. So even a denial now means nothing, just because sane people think its too far along doesn’t mean the powers that be do.

  2. Would not surprise me if the MOD did this. Sounds standard practice to me. Spend billions on a ship then sell it on or mothball it. The RN probably does not have the manpower to run both QEs and definetly has not got enough warships to make up a carrier battle group with all the other commitments the RN has.
    RN needs 2000-3000 more personnel and a much bigger investment into building future warships asap.
    current ship building is cathartic and slow, forcing the tired worn out type 23 frigates to complete over 40 years service before being replaced.

  3. No surprise to learn that the Government is considering mothballing one of the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.

    The problems associated with letting uncontested, single-source contracts on strategically important platform programmes like the new QE class aircraft carriers are not only limited to the usual delays and cost overruns – they extend to the contractual support arrangements put in place to acquire and re-provision Support Assets to sustain the equipment in-service, for the full period of its service life.

    If past record is anything to go by, this aspect of defence procurement will only deliver further spiralling costs – and a headache for the Treasury.

    This is because the sustained spinning campaign mounted by the communications people at MoD HQ over the last 20 years or so has succeeded in making everyone believe that, it is acquiring Support Assets for its military equipment upfront, on a whole life sustainment basis when in fact, it has been quietly buying them separately from the prime equipment, on a piece-meal basis via a steady stream of Post Design Services contracts let during the in-service phase – thereby, fooling not only its own people at Abbey Wood Bristol and the wider MoD, but also the whole of industry and in so doing, diverting attention away from the Treasury’s exposure to whole-life sustainment costs which remain unquantified for lack of a firm Selling Price from the single main Contractor.

    What’s more, it is increasingly clear that the unrelenting spending cuts are putting such a strain on MoD’s equipment budget that, for some recently commissioned equipment into service, the military User can only afford to buy Support Assets for a very short period of the in-service phase, like one or two years at a time and on others, the User has no choice but to take drastic action like, de-activating equipment for those periods when there is no available funding for the acquisition of Support Assets – periods which are only likely to get longer and longer, thereby inadvertently creating capability gaps.

    There have also been instances where the User has refused flatly to accept new equipment into service, because he is unwilling to pay for the prohibitively high cost of sustainment, foisted on him by MoD Abbey Wood.
    @JagPatel3 on twitter

  4. We need two, to maintain continuous availability. Therefor if we can’t afford both, we possibly shouldn’t have purchased any. Completely moot at this point but, there’s a disturbing lack of long term thinking.

  5. Sadly, to sustain a long service life, the practise of ‘one on one off’ is highly likely. Bulwark and her sister have adopted this method and soon the swap will happen again.

    In regards to QE & PC substantial refits could compromise Admiralty flexibility. However, it’s unlikely QE will receive an extensive refit for at least five years after commissioning. The option of two carriers at sea simultaneously must be an operational requirement, especially in this rapidly changing planet.

    • Yes that was the “justification” for not replacing HMS Ocean, so they can’t (in theory) mothball one unless they replace HMS Ocean or give her a life extension. Either option costs more money, which the RN don’t have. The MoD have confirmed that the plan is still to operate both QE carriers though, as the article states. Let’s hope they are good for their word (for a change)

      • RN will never gut RM they are too involved in NATO and commitments there, every time RM cutbacks come up they always hide behind the fact that they are the only constant 48h artic warfare force the armed forces have and to lose that capability means political problems, thus RM funding in the most part is asured

  6. If these carriers with no launch catapults or arrester gear are to be deployed when can they expect to have fast jets to operate off their decks?
    The F35b is far from being mission capable and the cost of $400m per aircraft plus $600m for support & equipment makes these far too expensive to risk losing in combat.

  7. I suspect it will be a terminology thing. Mothballed vs extended readiness vs long term maintainance. The chances of both being in service together regularly seems slim.

    • The PoW will not be mothballed you can take that to the bank.

      The newly renamed HMS Eagle/Ark Royal on the other hand….

  8. Depressing as it is, I think it makes sense to only have one carrier operational. We haven’t got the people to crew them or the ships to escort two. Sad I know, but unless the Navy gets a dramatic increase in manpower, (unlikely after a wage cut), i can see us capable of manning two carriers. we’ve already stripped manpower from the fleet to man QE.

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