100 facts about the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers

Here are 100 facts about the navy's new carriers.

Thursday, 19th May 2016, 12:04 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th May 2016, 1:05 pm
HMS Queen Elizabeth

HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales will be based in Portsmouth after they are commissioned into the fleet next year.

100. The first HMS Queen Elizabeth was completed 100 years before the launch of the new


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99. The design of the Queen Elizabeth Class began in 1999

98. The Queen Elizabeth Class have their own fitness suites and cinemas

97. Designing, building and delivering the Queen Elizabeth Class involved more than 800


96. The Queen Elizabeth Class displace 96 tonnes per crew member, which is the most of

any major warship class

95. As a maritime nation, 95% of the UK’s economic activity depends on the sea

94. The Long Range Radar above the forward island can track up to 1,000 contacts in the air

or on the sea in a 250 mile radius

93. The Artisan 3D radar above the aft island can track a tennis ball travelling at three times

the speed of sound

92. The take-off ramp is officially called the ‘ski-jump’

93. The UK pioneered the design of aircraft carriers from the first flat top warship in 1918 to

the first ‘island’ control tower, ski-jumps and optical landing system

92. The fog horn is 162 decibels and can be heard from more than two miles away

91. The Queen Elizabeth Class will fly the F35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, as well as any

type of helicopter used by the UK Armed Forces

90. Reflecting the strength and ingenuity of British industry, 90% of our suppliers are here in

the UK

89. The Queen Elizabeth Class are the first aircraft carriers in the world to incorporate a

twin-island design, which separates command of the ship from flying operations and

increases survivability

88. Both islands have floor-to-ceiling (or deck-to-deck) windows, offering unprecedented

visibility, while also designed to withstand a major impact

87. And these windows require windscreen wipers up to 2.4 metres long. We’re not aware

of any others in the world that are larger!

86. Such is the scale and complexity of the Queen Elizabeth Class that we had to develop our

own handheld indoor navigation device for employees

85. HMS Queen Elizabeth will make her first arrival into her own port of Portsmouth in early


84. The Queen Elizabeth Class are assembled in Britain’s largest dock by Britain’s largest


83. The Goliath Crane has a 1,000 tonne lifting capacity, which means it can lift an entire

Royal Navy mine hunter vessel

82. The F35B Lightning II can fly 1.6 mach

81. The Queen Elizabeth Class have a range of 10,000 nautical miles

80. The Queen Elizabeth Class generate 80MW of power in their propellers. That’s equal to

50 high speed trains

79. Each ship has two propellers weighing 33 tonnes each. Together, they are heavier than

entire patrol boats operated by the Royal Navy

78. The propellers are fitted underwater by divers so that the shaftline can first be tested

without generating thrust

77. The first sea-going Captain of HMS Queen Elizabeth will be Commodore Jerry Kyd, the

former Captain of HMS Ark Royal and HMS Illustrious

76. The Captain’s day cabin is located in the forward island, which also contains the ship’s

main bridge and observation deck

76. Shipyards in six cities across the UK have constructed sections of the aircraft carriers

75. …while the ‘brains’ of the ships, known as the mission systems, are designed, built and

developed in facilities across the UK ranging from a naval base to a field on the Isle of Wight

and even within an office block on a busy high street outside London

74. In fact, the design, build and development of the Queen Elizabeth Class has been a truly

national effort, involving every region in the UK

73. The masthead reaches 73 metres in height from the keel

72. The Queen Elizabeth Class can fly 72 fast jet sorties per day, which can be increased

further for limited periods

71. The ships have their own bakery, which can produce 1,000 loaves of bread per day, as

well as other items such as scones, donuts and éclairs

70. The flight deck is 70 metres wide and 280 metres long, which is enough space for three

football pitches

69. The Queen Elizabeth Class can operate on a crew of 679, which despite the ships’ size is

fewer crew members than for the Invincible Class aircraft carriers that they replace

68. The Queen Elizabeth Class can accommodate up to 1,600 personnel, which would

include a full air crew, but also provides space for embarked personnel such as Royal

Marines or refugees

67. 67 catering staff are needed to keep the galleys running around the clock for them

66. ..And each of the ships can keep 45 days worth of food in their stores. A typical

deployment would sail with 66,000 sausages, 28,800 rashers of bacon, 64,800 eggs and

12,000 tins of beans

65. The Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers each weigh 65,000 tonnes

64. Each of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers is made up of 17 million parts

63. There are more than 700 businesses involved in the programme across the whole supply


62. The Queen Elizabeth Class will bear the pennant numbers R08 and R09. The Royal Navy

always use R for aircraft carriers.

61. Every job onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, across industry and the Royal Navy, is open to

both men and women

60. It takes just 60 seconds to lift four aircraft from the hangar to the flight deck on each of

the two lifts

59. The name HMS Queen Elizabeth is both the continuation of an historic Royal Navy name

and a tribute to Her Majesty the Queen

58. The Queen Elizabeth Class programme has directly created 2,500 engineering jobs

57. While many parts of the carrier arrive by road, the major sections need to be

transported by barge around the coast of the UK

56. The barge is designed to sink on arrival so that the sections can be floated off into the


55. The F35B is a STVL aircraft designed for short take-off and vertical landing, but it can also

take off vertically with a light load, which is useful for repositioning the aircraft

54. The aircraft lifts are strong enough to carry the entire crew

53. 250,000 litres of paint is used to apply seven coats over an area the size of Hyde Park.

We’ve gone for ‘battleship grey’, in case you were wondering, which enables her to blend

into the horizon

52. …we’ve gone for grey in case you were wondering! In all seriousness, the colour is

chosen to best enable the ships to blend into the horizon.

51. The ships are designed for deployments typically lasting nine months

50. The Queen Elizabeth Class have a 50 year service life. That means the last Captain is

likely not yet born and there will be crew members whose parents are not yet born

49. Power generation machinery is separated and distributed across the ships, which

increases survivability

48. …which is another reason why we have two islands in order as they house the separated


47. There are over 250,000km of electrical cable & 8,000km of fibreoptic cable inside each

of the ships

46. Even while under construction, HMS Queen Elizabeth already has her first crew

members onboard

45. The aircraft carriers will sail with an escort vessel, such as a Type 45 destroyer, which

takes the lead in engaging threats

44. HMS Queen Elizabeth’s growing crew are led by Captain Simon Pettit who is responsible

for the ship during construction

43. The F35 Lightning II has a wing size of 43 square metres

42. The Final assembly of the Queen Elizabeth Class can be seen from another great feat of

British engineering, the Forth Bridge

41. The Queen Elizabeth Class are designed to accommodate upgrades during their service

lift as technology, requirements and threats evolve

40. The crew will have access to email and internet onboard (when communications are not

being used for operations!)

39. More than 500 UK companies, led by BAE Systems, are involved in the F35 Lightning II


38. The aircraft handlers are known as ‘chockheads’ in Royal Navy jackspeak

37. HMS Queen Elizabeth’s home berth, Sheer Jetty, has been in use since the 1600s

36. There are 364,000 metres of pipes inside each of the ships, which could stretch from

Rosyth to Wales

35. The F35 Lightning II has a wingspan of 35 feet

34. Each carrier has 30mm guns and mini-guns to help counter asymmetric threats

33. The Queen Elizabeth Class are taller than the Forth Bridge, which seperates the dock it is

assembled in from the sea. Fortunately, the mast is designed to lower into a horizontal

position for just such a scenario

32. The uniquely designed mast houses communication systems for flying operations and


31. The Phalanx Close-In Weapon System can fire 3,000 rounds per minute at incoming

enemy aircraft and missiles

30. There are also 30mm guns and mini-guns for asymmetric threats

29. …But as the aircraft carriers would travel in a task force, an escort vessel would take the

lead for engaging any threats to the ship

28. 28 million hours have been spent designing and building the Queen Elizabeth Class

27. In order to enter Portsmouth Harbour, 1.5 million tonnes will be dredged in order to

deepen the waters

26. The ships have their own police office and cells

25. The ships can travel in excess of 25 knots per hour. That’s an hour from Dover to Calais

24. There have been more than 20 ships in the Royal Navy named Elizabeth, but only one

other called Queen Elizabeth

23. HMS Queen Elizabeth inherits the crest and battle honours of the first HMS Queen


22. The surrender of the German Fleet in WW1 took place onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth in

Rosyth, close to where the new HMS Queen Elizabeth is being constructed

21. New navigational beacons are needed in Portsmouth Harbour to guide the Queen

Elizabeth Class in and out of their home port

20. The home jetty for HMS Queen Elizabeth sits opposite HMS Victory, the world’s oldest

commissioned warship

19. The Queen Elizabeth Class have a fully integrated waste management system

18. Flight trials with the F35B Lightning II will begin onboard in 2018

17. Each of the ships have 17 decks

16. The Queen Elizabeth Class have their own dentist, pharmacy, surgery and operating


15. Each ship has 15 lifts, which are for aircraft & munitions, as well as people

14. 2014 isn’t just a big year for HMS Queen Elizabeth, the F35 will make its first

international flight over the UK this year

13. The Queen Elizabeth Class are home to a network of ‘moles’, which travel around the

Highly Mechanised Weapons Handling System to retrieve munitions from the stores and

deliver them to the flight deck for operations

12. An F35 Lightning II squadron, which consists of 12 aircraft, will be routinely deployed

with the Queen Elizabeth Class

11. The Queen Elizabeth Class can convert sea water into more than 500 tonnes of drinking

water each day, which is for both the crew and providing humanitarian relief

10. There are 10,000 jobs across the UK supported by the Queen Elizabeth Class programme

9. There are 9 countries involved in the development of the F35 Lightning II

8. HMS Queen Elizabeth carriers the pennant number RO8, while HMS Prince of Wales will

be RO9

7. There are 7 departments in each of the ship’s companies

6. The ski-jumps are 6 metres high.

5. The F35 is the world’s first and only 5th generation fighter jet

4. 4 jumbo jets can fit on each of the #QECarriers’ 4 acre decks

3. The Queen Elizabeth Class will be used by all 3 branches of our Armed Forces

2. The first steel was cut in July 2009, exactly five years before the launch of HMS Queen


1. The Queen Elizabeth Class will be the largest & most powerful warships in UK history