Firing Up the New Queen of the Seas

Just one of the HMS Queen Elizabeth's four massive diesel power plants.

Just one of the HMS Queen Elizabeth’s four massive diesel power plants.


HMS Queen Elizabeth‘s huge diesel generators have been powered up for the first time at the home of the UK’s aircraft carrier programme in Rosyth.

The move brings the 65,000-tonne future flagship of the Royal Navy closer to becoming an operational warship.

The first of the ship’s four generators was officially started by defence procurement minister Philip Dunne.

The warship is due to be handed over to the Ministry of Defence in 2016 ahead of being put into service in 2020.

Although as S.R. Hadden says in Contact, “First rule in government spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price?” So of course the Brits are also hard at work on QE‘s sister ship, Prince Of Wales.

This new class of ship is really more akin to our Wasp– or America-class amphibious assault ships, operated by the Navy and embarked with some very tough Marines. The Royal Navy’s beasts displace about 20,000 more tons, but they all rely on V/STOL fighters rather than use costly and complicated launch systems and arrestor wires to launch and recover traditional jets. The QE can also carry a compliment of Royal Marines and put them ashore by helicopter. So make no mistake, these two ships represent more firepower and naval presence than the Royal Navy has enjoyed in a long time — probably in the entire postwar era.

The question is though, can Britain afford to actually operate them once completed?

On that, I’m not optimistic.

(Image courtesy UK Ministry of Defence)

(Image courtesy UK Ministry of Defence)

Still, she’s an awfully pretty ship.