New British aircraft carriers will be second largest afloat

New British aircraft carriers will be second largest afloat
View 3 Images
View gallery - 3 images

December 30, 2008 Britain's new generation of aircraft carriers are beginning to take shape with the first of two planned vessels - the HMS Queen Elizabeth - now expected to enter service around 2016. Though still middleweights when compared to the USA's 100,000t displacement Nimtz class, the new vessels will still be the second biggest carriers afloat, displacing 65,000t, carrying more than 8,600 tons of fuel, 1,200+ personnel, 36 F-35B Joint Strike Fighters and four EH-101 Merlin helicopters, with a 16,000sqm flight deck that, as one of the design team recently put it to the Daily Mail, "would be a par four" if you covered it in grass.

But there are some formidable engineering challenges ahead before the £3.9 billion project becomes a reality. Because the design is too large to be handled by a single shipyard, the plan is to undertake construction of different modules in different locations before transporting them to Rosyth where the pieces - some of which will weigh up to 10,000 tons - will be put together like a set of giant building blocks on a scale never before attempted in Britain. The construction of the lower bow section has already begun and the work on the remaining pieces is slated to begin during the first half of 2009.

Notably, the new vessels will not use nuclear power, instead using giant electrical motors powered by two Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbines backed by four diesel generators to drive the massive 30 ft wide five-blade propellers and reach speeds of 25 knots with a range of range of up to 10,000 nautical miles.

Other design innovations include the vessel's twin-island design, which separates control locations for navigation of the ship and management of the aircraft, and the use of a coarse, heat-resistant paint to cover the huge flight deck. By utilizing two 70-ton lifts the carriers will be able to deploy 24 planes into the air in 15 minutes.

Via Gizmodo, via Daily Mail (recommended reading). There's also a detailed run-down available at

View gallery - 3 images
This seems to be a hopelessly obsolete design for several reasons. First, fighter aircraft and bombers have been replaced by robot drones. Second, aircraft carriers have been vulnerable to missiles since Kamikaze days. Third, 25 knots?
...\"hopelessly obsolete\"... are you serious? Manned aircraft have certainly not been replaced by \"robot drones\". If they ever are, they will likely need to take off from something solid.. er.. like an aircraft carrier.
Everything is vulnerable to missile attack, not least aircraft carriers. That is why they operate in carrier groups where they are afforded a good deal of anti-missile protection from destroyers; An extraordinary coincidence then that the Royal Navy is to receive several Type 45 destroyers - the most capable ships of their class ever made.
As for your comment about the speed... 25 knots is more than adequate for a vessel of this size. It will rarely be pushed this fast. Nimitz class carriers are capable of over 30 knots but they rarely cruise at 25.