Author Topic: Queen christens aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth  (Read 264 times)

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Offline Chieftain

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Queen christens aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth
« on: July 04, 2014, 01:46:32 PM »

The Queen smashed a bottle of single malt whisky against the nation's new aircraft carrier as she officially named it HMS Queen Elizabeth. It was a key moment in the project to build two new carriers that has attracted criticism over its £6.2bn cost and its level of ambition.

Even on a windy summer's day in Rosyth dockyard in Fife, HMS Queen Elizabeth is unmistakeable.

The 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier - the UK's biggest ever warship - looms over the shipyard where it was assembled and fitted out, dwarfing its predecessor HMS Illustrious, berthed alongside her for comparison.

The new carrier and its sister ship are a £6.2bn project first conceived in the 1998 defence review at a third of the cost.

The estimate by the time the contract was signed in 2007 was just over £3bn.

Along the way, there have been U-turns and doubters galore. But at the naming ceremony, five years after the first metal was cut, the focus will be not on the cost but what the ship means for the UK, and the nation's place in the world.
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    HMS Elizabeth produces - and with luck, her sister ship will produce - a whole range of choices, which starts with the slightly ethereal business of offering governments a choice of how they play things on the world stage”

First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas Head of the Royal Navy

During the build, more than 10,000 people at shipyards and suppliers across the UK have been employed, and the pride felt by the workforce is tangible.

"It's amazing - it's something to be proud of," he said.

"It's the Queen Elizabeth, after all, and the build has all been amalgamated with the other yards and everyone's been working together. I think it's fantastic."

Although the carrier, with a flight deck, and another nine decks below, is much bigger than the Invincible class it replaces, the crew won't be - just 679 in total, similar to its predecessor. They will have a GPS system to help them find their way around.

"The ship is really impressive, and also very capable. Her highly mechanised weapon handling system is unique, and it allows us to operate the ship with a lean crew," Lieutenant Commander Harvie Montgomery said.

"It's a real privilege to be part of the first ship's company - I'll always be the ship's first training officer, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of my stint here."

'Strategic to tactical'

The glossy videos about the carrier that will be played at her naming ceremony also feature its sister ship the Prince of Wales, although it is not yet clear whether the government - in the next defence review - will find the money to run both carriers.

The head of the Royal Navy, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, has been a strong advocate for both, not least because running only one would leave the UK with lengthy gaps thanks to refits.

"HMS Elizabeth produces - and with luck, her sister ship will produce - a whole range of choices, which starts with the slightly ethereal business of offering governments a choice of how they play things on the world stage, alongside major partners in alliance, right down to producing force from her decks, or humanitarian support and it offers us a huge range of options from the strategic to the tactical," he said.

"It is also a sign to our strategic partners, from America to France and to Europe, that shows them that we are taking our responsibilities seriously, and that's a sign of our strategic leadership. And with leadership, we have responsibility - and the Royal Navy takes that very seriously indeed."

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Re: Queen christens aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2014, 02:13:20 PM »
Admiral Zambellas has it right.

Two carriers is not very much of a sea presence, but at least one is available while the other is in for refit/resupply.

I know I tease Navy as taxi drivers - it's a grunt's sacred duty - but I dislike insulting them. Yet the former most powerful navy on the planet is debating about a second carrier during a time when active combat is going to increase.

The HMS Ocean is an amazing bit of kit, but it's not enough for force projection, even with the Queen Elizabeth.
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