The 65,000 tonne ships, which are over three times the size of the Invincible Class aircraft carriers, are expected to arrive in their home port of Portsmouth in 2017. Before then, the North Corner of the Naval Base – an area of 70,000 square metres – is undergoing major infrastructure work to become a Queen Elizabeth Centre of Specialisation, ready to provide everything the Royal Navy ships and their staff need whilst they are in their base port and on operation.
To accommodate the size and sheer scale of the ships, large sections of the existing jetties are being replaced and the harbour is being dredged to make way for the 280m long ships. The hard standing facilities of the jetty are also being upgraded to include an engineering support area, a reception centre for visitors to the ship and a catering hall for the 500 strong workforce who will provide daily engineering support to the ships.
Powerful ships need strong power supplies and work is well underway to create a new high voltage substation at Portsmouth Naval Base to support the energy requirements of the ships whilst alongside. Each ship will host an independent distribution network capable of managing enough energy to power 5,500 family homes.
Supporting these huge ships will take the combined effort of more than 500 personnel (even with both ships it will be a combined workforce of BAE and sub-contractors probably around 600) but before they set foot on board for the first time, they will undergo familiarisation and more specific engineering training to get accustomed to the ship’s layout and systems. This is just one aspect of the support to people that will be provided as part of the overall Queen Elizabeth Class Support programme.
The base porting of the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth, along with other significant elements of the Surface Fleet, will sustain thousands of jobs providing direct support to the ships as well as infrastructure and engineering services at the Naval Base. These services include surface warship Fleet Time Engineering, waterfront and logistics support, estates management and management services.
Aircraft Carrier Overview
With an expected service life of up to 50 years, the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers will be highly versatile and effective joint defence assets, able to meet the widest range of tasks around the world, ranging from supporting war efforts to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief. As the most capable and powerful surface warships ever constructed in the UK, the carriers, along with their complement of embarked aircraft, will be the centre piece of Britain’s military capability.
Displacement: 65,000 tonnes
Length: 280 metres
Maximum beam: 70 metres
Top speed: 25 knots
Range: 10,000 miles
Embarked forces: up to 921
Source: BAE Systems