Images obtained by the UK Defence Journal show the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth just about finished with the vessel planned to sail on sea trials next month.
The cover image of this article shows the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth after a ‘FOD Plod’. FOD or Foreign Object Damage, is where small items left on the deck could damage an aircraft or a person once the carrier starts flying operations. A FOD Plod is where the personnel line out on the flight deck, and slowly work from one end to the other, picking up everything that they can find.
This was just an exercise as HMS Queen Elizabeth has not gone to sea yet, but in a very short amount of time she will be operating out at sea with rotary wing aircraft.
Other images show the ships company starting to move their belongings on to the ship in advance of Ships Staff Move On Board (SSMOB). SSMOB is a key milestone in the ships generation. The ship is nearly ready to go to sea for the first time. The images were provided courtesy of BAE.
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 at the start of 2017:
“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.”
There has been a small slip in the timing of the vessel leaving Rosyth for trials, this really isn’t something to worry about as the vessel remains on track to enter service with the Royal Navy on time.