Partnerships

U.K.'s Newest Aircraft Carrier Hosts Atlantic Future Forum

Nov. 22, 2019 | BY Terri Moon Cronk

Great Britain's newest and fifth generation of warship, the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, was at anchor near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Annapolis, Maryland, yesterday for the Atlantic Future Forum 2019.

Inside, U.S. and U.K. military members, industry members and senior Defense Department civilians sat in a vast room listening to forum panelists, who came to speak on strengthening the two nations' relationship and to encourage collaboration between public- and private-sector technology. 

Two “islands” tower over an aircraft carrier’s flight deck.
Flight-Deck Ops
The HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier has two “islands” – double towers for command centers of flight-deck operations. The ship was at anchor in the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, Md., to host senior military officials and civilian employees and contractors for the second Atlantic Future Forum, Nov. 21, 2019.
Photo By: Terri Moon Cronk, DOD
VIRIN: 191121-D-DE571-181

Dana Deasy, DOD's chief information officer, spoke on the need for such collaboration between the two sectors to help equip the war fighter.

Also inside was the ship's captain, British naval officer Capt. Steve Moorhouse, overseeing the aircraft carrier, anchored near the bay's ship channel.

Named for Queen Elizabeth and christened by England's Queen Elizabeth II, the carrier was launched July 17, 2014.

The ship is the Royal Navy's largest-ever and generation of warfighting ship, to be used for airborne early warning and anti-submarine warfare.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is both a new ship and a new class of aircraft carrier, and is expected to be joined by her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales next year.

Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth at anchor in the Chesapeake Bay.
HMS Queen Elizabeth
The HMS Queen Elizabeth,the United Kingdom’s first ships in its newest class of aircraft carrier, at anchor in the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, Md., Nov. 21, 2019. The ship hosted senior military and civilians and contractors for the second Atlantic Future Forum.
Photo By: Terri Moon Cronk, DOD
VIRIN: 191121-D-DE571-159

The carrier has two "islands" — double towers for command centers of flight-deck operations. 

Below on the flight deck, the ship has room for more than 70 various aircraft, from Merlin helicopters to the F-35B, the Lightning II joint strike fighter.

This class of aircraft carrier is Great Britain's most advanced warship. It comprises 4 acres, and could be used for work such as high-intensity warfighting or giving humanitarian aid and disaster relief, worldwide.

The ship's displacement is 65,000 tons and her working life is expected to be 50 years.

The ship has a top speed of 25 knots.

Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth at anchor in the Chesapeake Bay.
Atlantic Future
The HMS Queen Elizabeth,the United Kingdom’s first ships in its newest class of aircraft carrier, at anchor in the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, Md., Nov. 21, 2019. The ship hosted senior military and civilians and contractors for the second Atlantic Future Forum.
Photo By: Terri Moon Cronk, DOD
VIRIN: 191121-D-DE571-175

The ship is powered by Integrated Electric Propulsion by way of two Rolls-Royce marine 36 MW MT30 gas turbine alternators and four 10 MW diesel engines.

The flight deck is 280 meters long — more than 918 feet — and 70 meters wide — nearly 230 feet.

The crew numbers total 700 personnel, which can increase to 1,600 service members when the ship has its full complement of aircraft – mostly Merlin helicopters and F-35Bs.

There are 364,000 meters of pipes — more than 226 miles — inside the ship.

Three helicopters line up on ship.
Royal Trio
Three Royal Navy Merlin helicopters line up on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, Nov. 21, 2019. The carrier was at anchor in the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, Md., to host senior military officials and civilian employees and contractors for the second Atlantic Future Forum.
Photo By: Terri Moon Cronk, DOD
VIRIN: 191121-D-DE571-183

Defensive weapons include the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System for anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense. The ship has 30-mm automated small caliber guns and mini guns to use against fast-attack craft.  

The carrier would be escorted into high-risk environments by a type-45 destroyer, which was designed to do the job. In lower-risk situations, frigates or patrol vessels can be used. The ship carries four mini guns and eight machine guns. 

Before the fifth-generation of aircraft carriers, Britain relied on the Invincible class, which included HMS Invincible, HMS Illustrious and HMS Ark Royal, commissioned in 1980, 1982 and 1985 respectively. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is three times the size of the Invincible class, and carries three times the number of aircraft.