HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier

Former name: HMS QE

HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier cruise ship

Cruise line

HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier last position

HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier last location was at Persian Gulf (coordinates 26.19326 N / 50.80920 E) cruising The AIS position was reported 2 days ago.

Current Position

Specifications of HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier

Year of build2014  /  Age: 53
Flag state United Kingdom
BuilderBabcock Marine Rosyth Dockyard (Rosyth, Fife-Scotland)
ClassCVF-QUEEN ELIZABETH-class aircraft supercarrier (unit R08)
Ferry route / homeportsHMNB Portsmouth (England UK)
Building costGBP 3,1 billion (EUR 3,72 billion / USD 5,25 billion)
Engines (power)Rolls-Royce & Wartsila (112.6 MW / 150999 hp)
Propulsion power109 MW / 146171 hp
Speed25 kn / 46 km/h / 29 mph
Length (LOA)284 m / 932 ft
Beam (width)73 m / 240 ft
Gross Tonnage65600 gt
Passengers921 - 1171
Decks with cabins2
Former namesHMS QE
Christened byHM Queen Elizabeth II (The Queen of UK)
OwnerUnited Kingdom (Britain)
OperatorBritish Royal Navy

HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier Review

Review of HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier

The 2014-built/2017-commissioned HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier is the first unit (ship pennant number/hull R08) from the UK's new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft supercarriers - Britain's largest battleships ever constructed. The sistership HMS Prince of Wales (hull R09) was completed in 2017 and commissioned in 2019.

The Combat Vessel (IMO number 4907892) is UK-flagged (MMSI 235107775) and registered in Portsmouth England. The military ship's namesake is Cunard Line's 2010-built MS Queen Elizabeth.

The UK's new aircraft carriers project was initially titled "CV Future", or simply "CVF" (Future Aircraft Carriers). The CVF project was for the design and construction of only two units (the UK's largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy). Eventually, the CVF project cost Britain GBP 6,2 billion (US$ 10,5B).

Each of the CVF ships has 2 large propellers which together are able to output ~80MW/ megawatts of power. This is enough energy to run ~1000 family cars, ~50 of the new highspeed trains, or to power ~5500 households.

HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier (UK)

Each of the CVF ships has an overall height 184 ft / 56 m (from keel to masthead, or 13 ft / 4 m taller than Niagara Falls), draught 36 ft / 11 m, overall width/flightdeck beam 240 ft / 73 m (128 ft / 39 m waterline beam). There are 9 decks beneath the flight deck, plus two "tower decks" positioned above. The ship's total deck space is ~170,000 ft2 (~16000 m2). The max range/endurance without refueling is 10,000 NM/nautical miles (11500 mi / 19000 km).

The cruising/service speed is 25 knots, while the tested max speed is 32 knots (37 mph / 59 kph). The expected lifespan/max service life for the vessel is 50 years (planned decommissioning in 2067).

Each of the two Queen Elizabeth-class warships is capable of carrying 40+ aircraft (surge capacity is 65x units, theoretical max is 72x units), with max load 36x F-35s (Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II) and 4x helicopters. The hangars are designed for storing military helicopters Boeing CH-47 Chinook (without blade folding) and Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey (tiltrotor).

The Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier was assembled from 9 huge hull sections. Construction works were conducted at 6 different British shipyards - Rosyth (Fife/Scotland), Portsmouth (Hampshire/England), Glasgow (Govan/Scotland), Appledore (Devon/England), Newcastle (Tyne and Wear/England), and Birkenhead (Merseyside/England). Then the preassembled parts/mini-sections were transported/ferried onto sea-going barges to Rosyth's Babcock Marine yard (drydock No1) to be welded together. A similar method is used to build the largest cruise liners.

At Rosyth (one of the cruise ports to Edinburgh), Babcock Marine yard's Drydock 1 was specially extended to fit the CVF warships. The dock's entrance was enlarged, and dredging was done at Portsmouth (their home base) to make the existing channel deeper and wider.

HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier (UK)

HMS QE aircraft carrier is the British Navy fleet's flagship (Britain's main warship). The Navy's previous operational aircraft carrier was HMS Ark Royal (hull number R07, Invincible-class, 1981-built/1985-commissioned/2011-decommissioned/2013-scrapped).

Vessel details, specifications, statistics

Builders: BAE Systems Surface Ships, Thales Group, Babcock Marine (see the ship's WIKI section for more details).

Cost to Build: GBP 3,5 billion (USD 5,520 billion), which is exactly GBP 7B for both QE-class units by the 2008 contract. The money went to (related to the construction of both ships): GBP 1,325B to BVT Surface Fleet/BAE & VT Group joint venture (for building the hull sections at Govan and Portsmouth), GBP 300M to BAE (for the sections at Barrow-in-Furness), GBP 675M to Babcock Marine (for the bow section/final assembly/completion at Rosyth), GBP 425M to Thales UK (design/engineering), GBP 275M to BAE (design and supply of Mission Systems (Insyte), plus spending on additional contracts for the steel, diesel generators, aircraft lifts, key electronics.

Jobs created: hull section (Portsmouth - 1200), hull sections (Govan/Clyde - 3000+), hull section (Barrow-in-Furness/400+), BAE Systems Insyte (Frimley, Surrey/145), Thales UK (Bristol and Crawley/250), for the assembly of both ships (Rosyth/1600). In the end of 2013, 10,000+ people were involved in the process of building and providing equipment for the UK's newest warships.

Size Comparison: QEC/Queen Elizabeth-class warships are 3 times the size of HMS Indomitable/Ark Royal (UK's last aircraft carrier of the Invincible-class) and are second only to the USA's nuclear-powered aircraft carriers of the Nimitz-class. In comparison to Nimitz, QEC are manned by ~80% less crew, partly due to automation provided by a computerized IPMS (Integrated Platform Management System) with CORE software and a dedicated SIF (Shore Integration Facility) ashore that receives and processes in real-time all the transmitted from the warship data.

The "food statistics" (fun facts regarding the catering and food supplies onboard the aircraft carrier) say that the dishes are prepared by 40 chefs (among the kitchen staff) and served by 67 catering staff. The ship's food storage rooms are loaded with 12000 tins of beans, 64800 eggs, 66000 sausages, 28800 bacon rashers. The ship's Bakery produces ~1000 loaves of bread daily. The ship has 6x galleys/kitchens. The biggest dining room is for Junior Ratings and has capacity of 960 seats.

HMS QE carrier's first Captain was Commodore Jerry Kyd - former Captain of the UK aircraft carriers Ark Royal (1981-2013/scrapped) and Illustrious (1978-in active service).

Draught/Draft: 36 ft (11 m). Including the Flight Deck, the hull is 9 decks deep. Due to budget restraints, a number of hull armor features were dropped form the original project design (the armored bulkheads and the side armorplates). The hull design allows a future upgrade/conversion to accommodate a catapult launch system.

Volume/Displacement: 65600 GT-tons (64600 long tons) at deep/full load. This is about 3 times the size of the Royal Navy's three Invincible-class boats (Invincible/1973, Illustrious/1976, Indomitable/1978). For the construction of both new warships were used a total of 80,000 tons of steel.

Deck area/facilities: 172,220 ft2 (or 16,000 m2, or by the words of one official "4 acres of sovereign territory" at sea), a huge hangar below deck (50,600 ft2 / 4,700 m2, volume 29000m3, max capacity 20x aircraft), flight deck (140,000 ft2 / 13,000 m2, with a ski jump/upward-curved ramp angled at 13 degrees), 2x aircraft lifts (capable of 70-ton loads, which means 2x F35s moving from the hangar to flightdeck in 60 sec), 2x engine rooms (forward and aft), Mission Control Center (war planning and coordination), various machinery rooms, water-treatment plant (producing fresh water from sea water daily), ammunition storage space, aviation fuel tanks, ballast water tanks, freshwater tanks (capacity 500 tonnes), weapons handling bay, a gym (fore-located, under the mooring deck and adjacent to the anchors), a room for the crew to play football (located in the passageways), accommodations for 1650 (berths).

As the ship has no catapult system/arrestor wires, its ski jump ramp aids jets' take-offs, thus reducing fuel usage and improving mission range.

The Brig/military prison has 1x police office and 3x cells and is managed by the Royal Navy Police Department (4x service policemen).

The crew/permanent personnel is 1600 and includes 679 (ship's company) plus 921 (air wing). In addition, the boat can accommodate 250x Royal Marines/troops.

A special mobile app was developed for the crew to find their way through the vessel's 3013 compartments. It was estimated that the app would save annually ~GBP 1,2 million from wasted manhours.

QE-class UK aircraft carrier armament (weapons, air arms)

Three Phalanx CIWS (automated Close-In Weapon System, against anti-aircraft/anti-ship missiles), 6 barrels (caliber 20x102mm), fire rate 4500 rounds/min (75 rounds/sec).

Four 30mm automated guns (DS30M Mark 2/small caliber, automated) plus six miniguns (for asymmetric threats).

The warship's weapons monitoring and handling-deployment system HMWHS ("Highly Mechanised Weapon Handling System") is about 6 times faster than the previous (Invincible-class) British aircraft carriers. HMWHS is operated with only 50 people (minimum of 12 personnel) and it moves munitions on pallets by remotely controlled electric vehicles/lifts.

(maximum) 40 Aircraft

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II (stealth capability) - a single-seat, single-engine, 5th generation fighter for ground attacks, reconnaissance, air defense. Unit cost (in millions USD, data 2012) is as follows: F-35A (US$107M), F-35B (US$238M), F-35C (US$239M).

new UK aircraft carriers (helicopters)

Boeing CH-47 Chinook (twin-engine, heavy-lift transport helicopter), average unit cost (US$35M), top speed (196 mph / 315 kph)

Agusta Westland AW101 Apache (med-lift attack helicopter) and Merlin Mk1 (submarine hunt helicopter), unit cos (U$21M).

Agusta Westland AW159 Wildcat (aka Future Lynx, Lynx Wildcat) - a military helicopter (serving as utility, search and rescue, anti-surface warfare), entered service with the British Army in 2014 and with the British Royal Navy in 2015.

new UK aircraft carriers (helicopters positioning on flightdeck)

"Maritime Airborne Surveillance and Control" (MASC), formerly known as FOAEW ("Future Organic Airborne Early Warning System"), to provide air and surface surveillance (detecting threat aircraft, missiles, sea surface targets (Over-the-Horizon-Targeting), also for Tactical Control and Networking (to direct intercepts of fighter aircraft, airspace management, air traffic control), speed 174 mph (280 kph), range 575 mi (925 km).

new UK aircraft carriers (jets positioning on flightdeck)

The ship has 4x PTBs/passenger transfer boats (by Alnmaritec), each with capacity 38 people (36x passengers plus 2 operational crew). Each boat has length 43 ft / 13 m and is davit-launched. The passenger boats are named Swordfish, Buccaneer, Sea Vixen, and Sea Harrier. There are also 24x RHIBs (rigid-hulled inflatable boats) plus inflatable liferafts (safety equipment).

QE-class UK aircraft carrier technology

The BAE Systems Insyte Artisan 3D Radar is the most sophisticated in the RN fleet (~5 times more efficient than any previous in service), with a range between 656 ft/200 m and 124 mi/200 km). BAE's Artisan radar is positioned on top of Aft Island, weights ~700 kg, and can detect 800+ targets moving up to 1 km/s (~3 times the speed of sound).

BAE's Long Range Radar (model S1850M) is the same as on the Type 45 destroyers. It weighs 8+ tons (the antenna alone is ~700 kg) and is positioned above the Wheelhouse (on the Forward Island's top). The radar can identify a tennis ball-sized target traveling at 2000+ mph/3220 kph at distance 16+ mi/26+ km away. It can track 900+ targets simultaneously and can operate in a densely signal-populated environment, cutting through interference equivalent to 10000 GSM signals directed its way.

The Wheelhouse is equipped with the latest INBS (Integrated Navigation & Bridge System) - a multifunction console system incorporating electronic navigation systems and a marine radar/satellite tracking.

The ship's 2 propellers weigh 33 tons each (it's 2 1/2 times heavier than a double-decker bus). Both propellers together generate 80 MW of power - enough to run 50x high-speed trains. Two rudders are used for steering.

The ship has 2 anchors (fore-positioned, under the mooring deck portside/below the sky-jump), each with height 3,1 m (10,2 ft) and weight 13 tons. The anchors' cables are of shackles. The portside chain has length ~400 m (~1300 ft) and weight ~90 tons. The starboard chain is shorter (343 m/1125 ft) and lighter (75 tons).

Flightdeck is 919 ft (280 m) long and 243 ft (74 m) wide. It is coated with a metallic compound of aluminum and titanium (melted together and sprayed onto the surface). The special coating allows the open deck to withstand extreme temperatures of up to 2730 F/1500 C.

The vessel requires 1,5 million m2 of paintwork (which is ~16,5 million ft2, or an area of ~370 acres/150 hectares).

The ship's main body is called "Super Block 03".

The countries that currently have aircraft carriers include the USA, Russia, Brazil, India, France, Italy, Spain, China, and Thailand. The US Navy also has Ford-class supercarriers (10x planned units) which are nuclear-powered.

In comparison to the old designs, the new warship has two islands (on flightdeck) rather than just one - 1x forward (for the Navigation Bridge/Control Tower 1) and 1x aft (for air-traffic control/Flight Tower 2). Two heavy lifts (positioned starboard) are used to bring planes up from the hangar, while the older carriers had their lifts placed in the middle of the flight deck). HMWHS (Weapon Handling System) selects and delivers ammunition from two large magazines to aircraft in the hangar (saving on crew numbers).

Bulbous bow - just like on all the largest cruise vessels, both new UK aircraft carriers feature a "bulbous nose". It is a strange-looking protruding bulb positioned at the bow, just below waterline. It modifies the way water flows around the hull, reduces drag and increases the speed and operational range. The bulb also makes the boat more fuel-efficient (10-13%) and more stable (increasing buoyancy of the hull's forward part, thus reducing pitching motion to a very small degree). The "ER" on the bow stands for "Elizabeth Regina" - this is the warship's coat of arms.

Decks and cabins

The aircraft carrier has a total of 470 cabins (prefabricated modular units) with 1600 bunks. Of a total of 302x crew cabins, 118x are for Junior Ratings (6-bed cabins) are fitted with bunk beds and a foldaway sofa that gives 8 berths if required (944 total for the officers and the sailors).

There are separate/larger-sized staterooms for the ship's Flag Officers and Commanding Officers, and two exclusive accommodations/suites - one for the Flag Officer (naval officer above captain/admiral, vice-admiral, rear admiral, commodore) and the other for the Commanding Officer/General (has ultimate authority over the ship).

Common crew areas also include conference/operation briefing rooms, office complex, restrooms (with toilets and showers), Junior Rates' exclusive recreational facilities (Messhall, Fitness, Dining Hall, Galley), Senior Rates' exclusive facilities (Wardroom, Dining Hall, Galley), Flag Officers' and Commanding Officers' exclusive facilities (Galley, Dining Room, Baggage Store), Bakery, Ward area, Shopping area (NAAFI's naval canteen services- retail, hospitality, wholesale).

The Infirmary/Hospital complex groups all medical facilities and is served by 11x med staff (military physicians and nurses). The area houses an isolation ward, a 12-bed general purpose ward, a dentist's surgery, an operating theatre/surgical operations.

Next is HMS Queen Elizabeth's deck plan that shows the position of all main facilities and machinery - deck 1 (flight deck), as well as on decks 3, 5 & 8.

new UK aircraft carriers (deck plan) HMS Queen Elizabeth

Even nowadays, aircraft carriers remain the ultimate symbol of a nation's naval power. By the words of Geoff Searle, the program director for the ACA, battleships like HMS Queen Elizabeth "are a significant diplomatic tool - they can go anywhere and do anything" - one colossal mobile airfield that you can park anywhere.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier Wiki

HMS Queen Elizabeth was ordered on May 20, 2008, with the shipbuilding contract (for both units) signed in Portsmouth on July 3rd. The 2-ship order was publically announced on July 25, 2007, by Desmond Henry Browne (Baron Browne of Ladyton) the UK's Secretary of State for Defence in the period 2006-2008.

Initially, the project's budget was GBP 4,085 billion (~USD 8,4B / EUR 6B) for both units, the first of which was planned to enter service in July 2015. However, due to the 2008's financial crisis, the construction was slowed, the first ship's delivery was postponed (to May 2016) and GBP 1,56B was added to the budget.

  • By March 2010, the project's total budget increased to GBP 5,9B.
  • In November 2013, the 2-ship building contract was renegotiated to GBP 6,2B (USD 10,5B).
  • In May 2015, the UK's MOD/Ministry of Defence paid ~GBP 3,12B for the program, including ~GBP 1,925B to BAE Systems, and ~GBP 1,194B to Babcock International.

The project was supervised by Rear Admiral Henry Hardyman Parker (1963-born), MOD's DE&S/Defence Equipment & Support's Director of Ship Acquisition. In 2012-2013 he was the Controller of the Navy and in 2013 was appointed MOD's Director (Carrier Strike).

new UK aircraft carriers (Queen Elizabeth & Prince of Wales)

HMS Queen Elizabeth vessel's construction officially started with the keel-laying ceremony held on July 7, 2009. The aircraft carrier was christened on July 4th and officially launched/floated out from drydock on July 17, 2014.

The QE warship's motto is Semper Eadem (Always the Same) - a Latin phrase first used by Queen Anne Boleyn (1501-1536, the Queen of England between 1533-36) and later by Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603, the Queen of England and Ireland between 1558-1603).

The first sea trials (handling and speed tests) were conducted in June 2017. The first aircraft landed on the ship on July 3rd. The ship's first bunkering stop was in Invergordon (for fueling and provisioning) where were carried out also hull inspections. Queen Elizabeth arrived at homeport HMNB Portsmouth on August 16, berthing at Princess Royal Jetty. The second sea trials were conducted in the period October 30th - November 21. The official commissioning was on December 7th. The vessel was initially equipped with 14x F-35 jets and 120x British personnel.

All the largest sections were built in Portsmouth. Two of the main lower blocks (LB01 and LB02/combined wight 6000 tons) were assembled on June 30, 2011. Lower Block 02 is 66-ft/20-m high and 230-ft/70-m long. Lower Block 03 (weight 8000 tons) was completed in Glasgow (Govan shipyard) and barged (from Glasgow to Rosyth, a 600-mi / 970-km, 4-day voyage) in August 16-20, 2011. Block 04 (weight 11000 tons) left Govan Shipyard on October 28, 2012, and arrived at Rosyth Dockyard on November 21st.

Next YouTube video shows how the new UK aircraft carriers are being built (assembled, actually) by fitting blocks together to create both hull and superstructure. It also features an absolute silence, which I guess is intentionally done - to sharpen concentration ;)


HMS Queen Elizabeth construction milestones (2013)

The ship's forward and aft islands were constructed at BAE Portsmouth and attached to the flightdeck, respectively, in March and June 2013, while the frlightdeck's ski jump was mounted in November.

On January 29th, the first of two giant gas turbine engines was moved onto the ship.

On February 7th, the forward island bridge tower (fully fitted out and painted, weight 680 tons) left Portsmouth on a barge bound for Rosyth (600-ml voyage). This section alone has 37 mi/60 km of cables and 3101 pipes inside, and it took 16 months to build.

On April 15th, was lifted and fitted (at Rosyth) Block SP08 aft.

On June 16th, the aft island tower left BAE Scotstoun shipyard bound for Rosyth. On June 25th, BAE Systems was contracted (GBP 5,5M) to deliver and install the VTMS (Vessel Traffic Management System).

On October 3rd, in Rosyth was completed the flight deck, with the two giant sponsons (500 tons each) fixed into place.

On November 11th, the ski ramp was completed. The ramp helps the F35 jets get airborne/off the flightdeck.

On November 28th, was added the main radar (weight 8,4 tons) on top of the forward island tower.

On January 2, 2014, at Pax River, a Navy test pilot tested a kit to be used for moving the F35B Lightning II stealth jets around the hangers. The new equipment (ESHA - "Electric Shipboard Handler") was tested at Naval Air Station Patuxent River (~60 mi outside Washington DC USA). The new GBP 120 million stealth fighter replaced the Harrier jets and is 3 times heavier than the British aircraft. At the time, the UK owned 3x F35Bs.

On January 23, 2014, US aircraft carrier senior personnel (US Navy and Marine Corps) visited HMS Queen Elizabeth at Rosyth, meeting representatives of ACA and touring the ship under construction. The list of Americans included VA Nora Tyson (aircraft carrier commander), VA David Buss (Naval Air Forces), LTG Robert Schmidle (Marine Corps Deputy, Aviation).

Next YouTube video shows the "ground view" perspective with all the "crane moving stuff" of the new UK aircraft carriers' construction process.


UK aircraft carriers builders

Both QE-class warships (Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales) were assembled at Rosyth Dockyard and built by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance - a 2003-founded joint venture between the UK's Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems, Babcock International, and Thales Group. The Ministry of Defence acted as both member and customer.

For the CVF project was created the website (now defunct) where were published general information plus regular updates (on the vessels' construction) and related news. Across the program's supply chain were involved 700+ different businesses.

Over 51 million manhours were spent in the vessels' design and construction, with involved ~17000 people. Each warship is assembled from ~17 million parts. Pipes' total length is 226 mi/364 km. Electrical cables' total length is 155,340 mi/250,000 km. Optic cables' total length is 4970 mi/8000 km. Around 11000 people worked at the construction sites, including ~3000 at Rosyth Shipyard.

Most of the construction works were done at Rosyth Dockyard (owned by Babcock Marine Ltd), Govan Shipyard (owned by BAE Systems plc), plus four other yards - Hebburn Shipyard (A&P Tyne Ltd), Appledore Shipbuilders, Cammell Laird (1828-founded) and HMNB Portsmouth (Her Majesty's Naval Base, one of the UK's 3x operating Royal Navy bases - together with HMNB Clyde and HMNB Devonport).

new UK aircraft carriers builders (block construction yards)

Babcock (, construction sites Appledore and Rosyth) is a UK-based company with 4 main divisions - three of which are for UK operations (Marine and Technology, Defence and Security, Support Services) and one is International (for the Middle East/Africa). Babcock's Marine division is the major support partner to the Royal Navy (with over 75% share in the annual ship maintenance/refit of the RN's surface ships).

BAE Systems (, construction sites Glasgow, Portsmouth, Cammell Laird, Birkenhead) is a global corporation and a provider of defense and security products (cyber services, military support, mission-critical electronic systems, protection equipment, and more), with way over 100,000 employees worldwide (the majority of them working in USA and UK). Reported sales of GBP 22,4B (US$ 36,2B).

Thales Group UK ( is a global company specializing on the technology markets for Aerospace, Space, Defence, Security and Ground Transportation. Thales Group has 67,000+ employees (in 56 countries) and global revenue ~GBP 11,5 billion.

Britain's Ministry of Defence ( is a ministerial department, supported by 30 agencies/public bodies, working on defense/armed forces, national security, and foreign affairs.

A&P Group, construction site Hebbum) is the UK's largest ship repair/conversion company, with 3 huge shipyards (Hebburn, Middlesbrough, Falmouth).

Engines, power, propulsion

The vessel's powerplant includes CODLAG (combined Diesel-Electric and Gas Turbine propulsion), two 36MW Rolls Royce turbines, two "Wartsila 16V38" diesels (16-cylinder, with 11,6MW generators), two "Wartsila 12V38" diesels (12-cylinder, with 8,7MW generators) - both models are with a turbocharger, one "Wartsila 12V200" (2MW emergency diesel generator set), two propeller shafts (each with 2x Alstom 15-phase electric motors / 150 rpm, 80MW total power consumption, output - 95,000 SHP).

The ship's main diesel-generator sets (Wartsila 38) supply a total of 40 MW of all the 112,6 MW, with the remainder of the power output being from the two gas turbines. The ship is also fitted with a Wartsila MBR200N (Membrane BioReactor). This is an advanced wastewater (grey- and black-water) processing system based on biological degradation and membrane separation. Wartsila MBR200N produces a high-quality water discharge without adding or generating any hazardous chemicals.

Rolls Royce Marine gas turbines

Both QE-class UK aircraft carriers have the most powerful gas turbine in the world. HMS Queen Elizabeth's power output is 109 MW (total, without the emergency and auxiliary engines). This absolutely stunning power generation capability is based on two 120-ton Rolls-Royce marine engines - the MT30 gas turbines.

Rolls Royce MT30 marine gas turbine engine[/caption] Each of the warship's 2 gas turbines (the MT30 model was firstly produced in 2002) generates 36 MW - enough to power a small town. Both gas marine turbines provide the power for the 2 propellers, weapons, sensors, command systems, the lower voltage requirements of the ship's company. The MT30 turbine was engineered to meet the needs of both naval ships and commercial marine vessels. The list of its naval applications includes frigates, destroyers, and of course - aircraft carriers. The gas turbine's main features are:

  • compact size (15ft / 4,5m in length)
  • lightweight (total module weight as a set is 77 tons)
  • great flexibility to the ship design process, ideal for newbuilds and fast turnaround maintenance programs
  • full authority digital control
  • fully integrated alarm, monitoring and control, with its own integral fire protection system

In 2012, Rolls-Royce Marine repackaged the MT30 turbine so that it would fit into smaller ships. The company offered the MT30 model to the Royal Navy for the CODLOG system in the Type 26 frigates (their construction started in 2015) The MT30 engine design is based on Rolls-Royce Trent 800 aero engine, which achieved a 44% share of Boeing's 777 programs.

Wartsila 38 diesel engines

Both QE-class aircraft carriers' propulsion systems feature as prime movers Wartsila 38 marine diesel engine. This is a high technology level and revolutionary design (as both engine and powerplant around it) to achieve lowest possible kilowatt-hour/kWh production cost.

Wartsila 38 engine's best features, in comparison to other models, and general specifications are:

  • fewer parts (less maintenance)
  • lower fuel consumption, multi-fuel (reliably runs on various fuels)
  • reduced greenhouse gas emission levels, full compliance with IMO Tier II (new regulations regarding exhaust emissions level (for details you can search for NOx/Nitrogen Oxides Regulation 13/ at
  • durable, reliable, cost-efficient.

On both aircraft carriers (R08 and R09) was installed a modified 14-cylinder version with inline 6 cylinders.

  • cylinder bore 38 cm (15 inches)
  • piston stroke 47,5 cm (18,7 inches)
  • cylinder displacement 1820 liters (each cylinder). Total engine displacement for the 14-cylinder version is up to 25,480 liters.
  • power output per cylinder 725 kW.

The Finish company Wartsila has in its list of marine products also the world's most powerful diesel engine - the "Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C". This is a turbocharged 2-stroke engine generally designed to provide the propulsion force for the world's largest container ships and supertankers.

Rolls-Royce propulsion system

Both new UK aircraft carriers have an IFEP propulsion system ("Integrated Full Electric Propulsion") consisting of 4x 20MW (27000 HP) AIM electric motors ("Advanced Induction Motor") by Converteam UK. These motors are similar to those on the "Type 45" Royal Navy destroyers (only UK destroyers use 2 motors, 1 per shaft). The AIM motors are driven by a Converteam VDM 25000 modulated converter able to produce various frequencies, which allows controlling the shaft speed across the operating range and eliminates the gearbox unit in the propulsion system.

The two Wartsila 16V38 engines power the ConverTeam generators (positioned low in the ship for stability reasons), while the two MT30 turbines are installed higher in the structure (shortening air/exhausts down-uptakes).

The four propulsion motors (per aircraft carrier, 2 per shaft) are positioned in 3 separate compartments. This design is for better survivability and damage control. The US company L-3 Communications Holdings is the supplier of the command and control propulsion power system (controlling the turbo and diesel generator sets).

new UK aircraft carriers (engines and propulsion infographic)

Rolls-Royce produced and delivered the CPPs (5-blade controllable pitch propellers) which are bolted and adjustable to allow more efficient blade matching and more simple installation. The 5 blades are from nickel aluminum bronze and bolted from the inside. The hollow hub's slotted holes allow their pitch angles to be adjusted depending on hull design/water resistance. The units' weight was specifically reduced (for easier handling and mounting) and the blades can be replaced (if damaged) without dry docking. Each of the propellers has diameter 7 m (23 ft) and weight 33 tons

The steering gear (2x per ship) is also by Rolls-Royce Marine. The rotary vane steering system integrates 2x actuators (with lubricated rudder carrier bearings), hydraulic power units, control and alarm systems. Rotary vane steering gears allow full torque at all rudder angles, giving more flexibility: Rolls-Royce's RV2600-3 Vane Units are with max torque 1845 kNm (kilonewton meter) per unit. The ship's both rudders (by Rolls-Royce) are independent and with twisted blades to minimize cavitation.

The ship has two shaft lines (total weight ~240 tons) fitted with rope guards, water-lubricated bearings, plummer and thrust bearings, STL/Stop-Turn-Lock equipment.

The ship's four stabilizers with retractable fins (folding into slots in the hull) and are of the Neptune type (also used for large passenger vessels/cruise and ferries). The fins (total area size 11,5 m2) are 4x and mounted as pairs (2x forward + 2x aft). At speed 18 knots (21 mph/33 kph) their roll reduction is ~80%.

Rolls-Royce electrical system

Rolls-Royce also designed, manufactured, delivered and installed the ship's LV electrical power distribution equipment and the control system, including 13x switchboards (each with capacity over 4000 A)1x emergency switchboard, 34x distribution centres, 400x distribution panels, 27x starter boards (that control the low-voltage motors), 50x motor starters (that control the motors' electrical machines), 31x changeover switches, 104x auxiliary transformers, 10x UPS units (uninterruptible power supply/energy storage for all critical-mission and safety systems.

The company also supplied the Medical Power System (for the Infirmary's medical facilities) and 2x DG Panel Boards (diesel-gensets).

Ship christening (2014)

The QE aircraft carrier's naming ceremony was held on Friday (July 4th, 2014) and led by godmother Her Majesty Elizabeth II (Queen of the UK and Britain's 14 Commonwealths). The special event featured a prime Scotch whisky bottle smashed into the hull (instead of the traditional champagne), as well as fly acrobatics by Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft - making its first outside USA flight to honor the event.

After the July 4th naming ceremony, the F-35B Lightning II is also scheduled to perform some fly acrobatics at the Royal International Air Tattoo (or shortly RIAT, the largest military airshow in the world, held in RAF Fairford /Gloucestershire, England) and also at the Farnborough International Airshow (Farnborough Airport /Hampshire, England).

The naming was in Scotland (held at Rosyth Dockyard). The Scottish "Bowmore Distillery" (on Islay Island) was the first-ever distillery officially visited by HM The Queen (1926-2022).

The ship naming ceremony was attended by Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021/Lord High Admiral at the time), Admiral Sir George Michael Zambellas (First Sea Lord at the time), the British politicians David Cameron (Prime Minister/2010-2016) and James Gordon Brown (Prime Minister/2007-2010), Alexander Elliot Anderson Salmond (Scotland's First Minister/2007-2014), as well as by American and French senior naval officers.