Military

UK's largest ever warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, sets sail for the first time

HMS Queen Elizabeth set out to sea today for the first time
HMS Queen Elizabeth set out to sea today for the first time
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One of the control panels on HMS Queen Elizabeth
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One of the control panels on HMS Queen Elizabeth
HMS Queen Elizabeth was assembled and fitted out at Rosyth, Scotland
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HMS Queen Elizabeth was assembled and fitted out at Rosyth, Scotland
HMS Queen Elizabeth at dock
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HMS Queen Elizabeth at dock
The bridge of HMS Queen Elizabeth
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The bridge of HMS Queen Elizabeth
Walking the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth
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Walking the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth
studying HMS Queen Elizabeth's systems
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studying HMS Queen Elizabeth's systems
HMS Queen Elizabeth has a present complement of about 700 crew
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HMS Queen Elizabeth has a present complement of about 700 crew
HMS Queen Elizabeth showing the distinctive ski jump
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HMS Queen Elizabeth showing the distinctive ski jump
HMS Queen Elizabeth infographic
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HMS Queen Elizabeth infographic
Below decks on HMS Queen Elizabeth
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Below decks on HMS Queen Elizabeth
HMS Queen Elizabeth relies on automated systems to keep down crew numbers
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HMS Queen Elizabeth relies on automated systems to keep down crew numbers
The helm of HMS Queen Elizabeth
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The helm of HMS Queen Elizabeth
HMS Queen Elizabeth has accommodations for women
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HMS Queen Elizabeth has accommodations for women
The steering wheel of HMS Queen Elizabeth
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The steering wheel of HMS Queen Elizabeth
Seeing off HMS Queen Elizabeth
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Seeing off HMS Queen Elizabeth
HMS Prince of Wales is still being outfitted
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HMS Prince of Wales is still being outfitted
HMS Queen Elizabeth will be berthed at Portsmouth
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HMS Queen Elizabeth will be berthed at Portsmouth
A deck view of HMS Queen Elizabeth
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A deck view of HMS Queen Elizabeth
HMS Queen Elizabeth is tended by specially commissioned super tugs
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HMS Queen Elizabeth is tended by specially commissioned super tugs
HMS Queen Elizabeth under tow
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HMS Queen Elizabeth under tow
HMS Queen Elizabeth on the first of two sea trials
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HMS Queen Elizabeth on the first of two sea trials
HMS Queen Elizabeth preparing to leave dock
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HMS Queen Elizabeth preparing to leave dock
HMS Queen Elizabeth dressing ship
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HMS Queen Elizabeth dressing ship
HMS Queen Elizabeth showing crew and Aircraft Alliance engineers
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HMS Queen Elizabeth showing crew and Aircraft Alliance engineers
HMS Queen Elizabeth set out to sea today for the first time
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HMS Queen Elizabeth set out to sea today for the first time
A Babcock employee watching HMS Queen Elizabeth depart
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A Babcock employee watching HMS Queen Elizabeth depart
HMS Queen Elizabeth 
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HMS Queen Elizabeth 
HMS Queen Elizabeth being eased from dock
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HMS Queen Elizabeth being eased from dock
HMS Queen Elizabeth being turned about
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HMS Queen Elizabeth being turned about
HMS Queen Elizabeth leaving the dockyard
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HMS Queen Elizabeth leaving the dockyard
HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy
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HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy
HMS Queen Elizabeth squeezing through
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HMS Queen Elizabeth squeezing through
Warping HMS Queen Elizabeth
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Warping HMS Queen Elizabeth
Lining up HMS Queen Elizabeth for departure
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Lining up HMS Queen Elizabeth for departure
HMS Queen Elizabeth will eventually carry F-35B fighter aircraft
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HMS Queen Elizabeth will eventually carry F-35B fighter aircraft

Another line was written in the history books today as the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy set sail for the first time. Under the guidance of a flotilla of super tugs, the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth set out from Rosyth, Scotland on her first six-week sea trial off the northeast coast of Scotland to carry out initial tests of the future flagship's fundamental systems.

Today's departure marks a major milestone for the Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, which is currently being fitted out. Each carrier is 280 m (920 ft) long, 70 m (230 ft) abeam, has a draught of 11 m (36 ft) with a flight deck big enough for three soccer fields and can manage a top speed of 25 knots (46 km/h, 29 mph). Though larger than the previous Invincible class carriers, they carry a smaller crew thanks to their heavily automated systems and networked design.

Today's trials aren't that much of a change for the approximately 700 crew that make up the present complement of HMS Queen Elizabeth. They have been living aboard ship for the past two weeks while carrying out watches and dry runs as if the carrier was already at sea. According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), after completing the initial trials that will evaluate the carrier's speed, maneuverability, weapons, power and propulsion, the ship will return to Rosyth for testing and maintenance before heading south to her homeport at Portsmouth for formal transfer to the Navy later this year.

HMS Queen Elizabeth showing the distinctive ski jump
HMS Queen Elizabeth showing the distinctive ski jump

Though the Queen Elizabeth's main weapon during her 50 years of service will be an air arm of at least a dozen F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft, the first years of service will use only helicopters until the fixed-wing planes and their pilots are ready for deployment. When the air crews and Royal Marines are taken aboard, the ship's complement will swell to 1,600.

"This is a hugely significant moment for the Royal Navy, for all our Armed Forces and for our island nation," says Admiral Sir Philip Jones First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff. "Once in service HMS Queen Elizabeth will be the largest aircraft carrier in the world outside the United States, and the first designed from the outset to operate a fifth generation aircraft.

"Already this ship represents the best of the UK's industrial and engineering expertise, and once in service she will symbolize our military power and authority in the world for decades to come. There is still much work to do between now and then, but be in no doubt: a new era of British maritime power is about to begin."

The computer simulation video below from the Aircraft Carrier Alliance shows how HMS Queen put to sea.

Source: MoD

HMS Queen Elizabeth Departure Evolution

11 comments
possum1
God bless her and all who sail in her.
andy.capp
25 KTS top end seems a bit slow for a strike carrier. Then again, they don't have to re-position or achieve certain wind over the deck for fixed wing operations... I guess she's more akin to USN's LHA / LHD amphib fleet than it's CVNs.
James Donohue
Fair winds and following seas.
guzmanchinky
Why do some carriers have ski jumps and US carries do not?
Bob Flint
Will she still be able to get into port for maintenance and under bridges once the seas rise, or will they have to overload her to run lower in the water?
GeneMasters
Interesting that she doesn't have the angled flight flight deck design like the American CVA's have. It's my impression that the angled deck design permits simultaneous aircraft launch and recovery; in addition, I see no mention of propulsion power... is this carrier nuclear or conventionally powered? The twin island arrangement is certainly a novel idea, and makes a lot of sense: the forward tower to focus on the vessel's operations, and the aft tower handling aircraft management. Fair winds and following seas to the crew!
Craig Jennings
Diesel and gas. Probably electric propulsion. Why? Cheaper. Britain has it's own oil so has a secure supply. Can come and visit us in NZ as well without nukes.
Gregg Eshelman
It has the ski jump because its air wing will consist mainly of the F-35 STOVL version. Short Take-Off Vertical landing. Planes loaded with fuel and weapons will use the ramp as a booster to get airborne. They'll be lighter upon return due to burning fuel and less bombs and missiles expended in training or battle. So they'll land vertically. That's why carriers for STOVL aircraft and helicopters don't need the angled deck to handle simultaneous launch and landing. The UK has much experience with this with the Harrier jets. 25 knots is very likely understating the carrier's top speed, just like the USA doesn't publicly tell the maximum speed of their warships, especially the nuclear powered ones.
Nik
Its already obsolete and its a floating coffin! The Chinese have developed an unstoppable missile capable of destroying a whole aircraft carrier, in one hit, at a fraction of the cost of this monstrosity. The Navy has a history of building white elephants, and this one has to be the biggest! I feel for the poor sailors who have to man it, living under the threat of instant annihilation, is not nice. I lived on a 'V' bomber station, during the cold war, under the same threat.
JimFox
Reason for ski-ramp is COST. No angled deck possible, either. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/01/11/us_navy_emals_woes_uss_gerald_r_ford/ Now these ships are limited, even if/when the F35B is taken aboard; that is the VSTOL version which carries a much reduced payload & has shorter range than the F35 which must be catapult launched. Altogether QE2 & POW are compromised despite their high costs, the third vessel having been cancelled meaning at times there will be only ONE operational & even neither of them, in case of breakdown. As noted elsewhere these are extremely vulnerable, valuable & difficult to protect, much like the battleships of WW2. I don't think they are anything to crow about. Big mistake; the French had the sense to pull out of building one as a 'Concorde'- type collaboration.
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