Later this year HMS Queen Elizabeth is coming to the United States for integration trials with the F-35.
We have visited the new carrier twice, most recently during a visit to Portsmouth in April 2018.
The ship provides the mobile base complementing the air bases on British soil or when forward deployed to allied bases.
We are taking a look at 21st century mobile basing approaches and concepts, which clearly includes a key role for integrated sea bases, like the HMS Queen Elizabeth carriers.
To build the carrier, the UK mobilized industry, and not just defense industry.
The ship was built in several major sections throughout the country and then final assembled in Scotland.
This is an approach which the United States might well look at to provide for a significant mobilization capability in the ship building sector.
This video was produced in 2012 and showed how the carrier came together with the various “lego” blocks built throughout the United Kingdom.
Construction of Queen Elizabeth began in 2009.
The assembly took place in the Firth of Forth at Rosyth Dockyard from nine blocks built in six UK shipyards: BAE Systems Surface Ships in Glasgow, Babcock at Appledore, Babcock at Rosyth, A&P Tyne in Hebburn, BAE at Portsmouth and Cammell Laird (flight decks) at Birkenhead.
Two of the lower main blocks, together weighing more than 6,000 tonnes and forming part of the base of the ship, were assembled and joined into one piece on 30 June 2011.
On 16 August 2011, the 8,000-tonne Lower Block 03 of Queen Elizabethleft BAE Systems Surface Ships’ Govan shipyard in Glasgow on a large ocean-going barge.
Travelling 600 miles (970 km) around the northern coast of Scotland, the block arrived at Rosyth on the evening of 20 August 2011.
On 28 October 2012, an 11,000-tonne section of the carrier began a lengthy journey around the south coast of England, avoiding bad weather from the shipbuilding hall at Govan to the Rosyth dockyard; it arrived on 21 November.
The forward island was constructed at BAE Portsmouth and attached on 14 March 2013; the aft island was attached in June 2013.
The ski jump was added in November 2013, leaving just the elevators and radar to be lifted into place.
By September 2013 Queen Elizabeth was 80% complete internally….
She is two and a half times the size of the Invincible-class, and has the ability to carry approximately three times as many aircraft.
Despite this, Queen Elizabeth has marginally fewer crew than the Invincible-class. She is approximately three times as large as HMS Ocean.
The ship has two superstructures, or islands, one for navigation and ship’s operations and the other for flight control and aerial operations.
The islands can take on each other’s function in an emergency.
And at the time of the commissioning of the first ship, this is what a senior defense industrial had to say about the ship:
The man overseeing the construction of the ship, Queen Elizabeth class programme director Ian Booth of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We now have very flexible warships which have been designed to meet the UK’s military maritime needs for the next 50 years. They are really flexible ships with massive capability built into them.
“They are effectively a floating military city that can deploy aircraft, that can act as a disaster relief centre. They have their own hospital with operating theatres. They can support land forces, all sorts of military interventions.
“There are many challenges in the programme. The first major challenge was to build the physical ship. We used six shipyards around the UK, ranging from Glasgow to Appledore, Portsmouth, the Mersey, the Tyne, and then finally we’ve integrated the ships here in Rosyth, in Scotland. So the major challenge was getting all those units made on schedule, and I’m proud to say that all of those items were shipped to Rosyth on time.
“The companies are all united around the common goal of delivering two warships to the Royal Navy of high capability and high flexibility. There’s a real spirit among the team of galvanising around that goal, and it’s an immensely proud moment for all of us that we’ve brought this first ship together in Rosyth.”
Booth said the ship was so big that a “plat-nav” GPS system had been developed to help workers find their way round its 3,000 compartments.
“I’m very proud today,” he said. “This is the culmination of a great amount of work to build this magnificent warship. Ten thousand people have worked on it across the UK, 1,000 youngsters have begun their careers on this programme.
“We are really feeling immensely proud to name the ship today and to have the Queen here to do that.”