Something Is Wrong With Our Bloody Ships Today
To misappropriate Admiral Beatty’s remark at Jutland, one might be tempted to consider what he might have said about the sad saga of the Type 45’s and in particular the recent breakdown of HMS DUNCAN and return to harbour under tow ! She was repaired and back at sea in a couple of days but the further damage to their reputation had been done.
What C.O. or ally would now be confident to rely on a Type 45 for their AA defence ???
Still, it’s not just the RN that has problems. I note from the g.Captain website that the USS ZUMWALT – the lead ship of the US Navy’s futuristic destroyer concept, has encountered engineering difficulties and is marooned at the southern end of the Panama Canal with sea water in her lub oil piping.
And, to add insult to injury, USS MONTGOMERY, latest of the similarly futuristic Littoral Combat Ships, had a prang with a pier which has holed her near the waterline and bent several stringers/frames.
This is the EIGHTH incident with this new class of ship this year and has led the USN to re-assign two of them from operations to a training role, so that engineering staff can be re-trained in how to operate and maintain them.
MONTGOMERY was built by the US arm of AUSTAL, the Australian ship builder who specialises in fast aluminium-hulled craft. They also produced the ARMIDALE class of high-speed Coastal Patrol Ships for the RAN which have recently been downgraded on operations as being too fragile for the heavy seas encountered off Australia’s north east coast (see TON Talk 178, February 2016).
Our thanks to Peter Down, TCA Hon. Sec. & TT Editor for this article.
RN Ship Building Report by Sir John Parker
Work on warships should be shared among companies across the UK, a review of Royal Navy shipbuilding will recommend.
Sir John Parker, who carried out the review, says it would cut construction time and spread prosperity.
He wants to see a new fleet of Type 31 naval frigates built in a “competitive way” by distributing the building work across the UK.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the approach had been a success in building new aircraft carriers.
Sir John, chairman of mining giant Anglo American, was tasked with examining how the British naval shipbuilding industry could be kept sustainable while increasing exports.
Earlier this month, the defence secretary announced that eight larger Type 26 frigates would be built by BAE on Clydeside from next summer.
But he has not confirmed whether eight smaller, general purpose Type 31 frigates will be built there.
Sir John said his report recognised the engineering and technical skills that reside in BAE and has recommended that the Type 26 frigate be placed there.
However, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “On the Type 31, the new frigate, we want to see that built in the most competitive way, and I think our investigation shows that probably the lowest cost and the fastest time of build can be done by building it in a distributed way across the country and also, of course, distribute prosperity and highly skilled jobs.”
Sir John, a former chairman of Belfast-based Harland and Wolff shipbuilding group, said distributing work to several locations reduces the “cycle time of actual construction” which was a “very important part of competitiveness”.
Ahead of the publication of his report later on Tuesday, the defence secretary said Sir John had provided a “fundamental reappraisal of how we undertake shipbuilding in the UK”.
He said: “Taking lessons from our world-class automotive industry and other sectors, it sets the foundations for an innovative and competitive sector capable of meeting the country’s future defence and security needs.”
BAE’s modular construction of sections for the UK’s two new aircraft carriers “demonstrated the success of such an approach, with multiple shipyards and hundreds of companies across UK working together”, the defence secretary continued.
And he said that while there was already a “vibrant” shipbuilding sector in Scotland, there were significant export opportunities ripe for exploitation, especially after Brexit.
Last week a report from the defence select committee warned that Britain’s defences were at risk amid uncertainty over plans to replace the “woefully low” number of Royal Navy warships.
The Royal Navy currently has 19 frigates and destroyers but the MPs said that number could fall unless a clear timetable is set out for replacing older vessels.
The government will publish its formal response to Sir John’s report in the spring.
The new issue of Veterans World is now online, you can view the magazine as a standard PDF on GOV.UK or via ISSUU, a digital publishing platform that’s free to access. We hope that this option will give you a more enjoyable and accessible way to read the magazine.
Veterans World raises awareness of help, advice and support available to veterans and their families via organisations, government, the voluntary and charitable sectors, and is aimed at people who work in an advisory capacity with the public. Its distribution includes HM Prisons, NHS Primary Trusts, Local Authorities, Resettlement Officers, Mental Health care workers, Citizen Advice Bureaux and those who work with veterans organisations.
At Veterans UK we want to make sure that as many Serving Personnel, Veterans and their families are aware of the many kinds of support and advice available to them, when they need it, and that it is up to date. With that in mind please pass this email on to anyone else in your organisation or who you work with that advises or who may advise veterans and their families.
The Editorial Team with details:
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MCM1 Task Force (Gulf)
19 Dec 15 – MCM Force: Coalition in the Gulf
We are grateful to Commander Tim Davey RN, Commander of the Faslane-based First Mine Countermeasures Squadron, for this message and the accompanying article written by Lt Tim Foley RN which draws upon an original submission published in the Royal Navy Warfare Officer’s News Letter 2015:
Please find attached an article, with accompanying photographs, that was written by my Battle Watch Captain (Lt Tom Foley – now on his MCDO course, supervised by me(!)) as part of our COMUKMCMFOR deployment that completed earlier this year. I am content for it to be used on the TCA Website and it could also feature in the next edition of ‘Ton Talk’. Tom has given me his approval for it to go forward.
T J DAVEY
Commander Royal Navy
Commander First MCM Squadron
MCM Force: Coalition in the Gulf
Lt Tom Foley joined the RN in 2010 after completing a degree in Politics and Economics from the University of Nottingham. SFT was spent in HMS Clyde conducting maritime security patrols around the Falkland Islands along with an enjoyable time in HMS Mersey enforcing fishery protection in UK waters. Tom completed his first complement assignment in HMS Monmouth as an OOW and Intelligence Officer; this included an Op Kipion deployment along with a busy period of national tasking in home waters. A short teaching job followed at HMS Collingwood instructing IWO students before being appointed to join COMUKMCMFOR. He is now undertaking Mine Clearance Diving Officer training before re-joining the Fleet as an MCMV Operations Officer.
Having been appointed to RFA Cardigan Bay to join the Commander UK Mine Counter Measures Force (COMUKMCMFOR) Battlestaff my first two questions were ‘who are they’ and ‘what do they do’? Whilst most will be familiar with the MCMVs permanently stationed in Bahrain, few will be aware of the coalition air, surface and sub-surface MCM effort in the Operation Kipion Joint Operations Area (JOA).
RFA Cardigan Bay sails with multinational Task Group under COMUKMCMFOR Command
This article will outline the UK/US MCM coalition structure before explaining the range of MCM capabilities at its disposal. A typical Task Group will be examined to show how the adaptable force operates. Looking ahead, the future MCM force construct will be analysed showing the challenges and opportunities this will present.
Whilst remaining at R0 and very high readiness for tasking in support of national objectives under the direction of UKMCC, the RN MCM force in the Arabian Gulf works in coalition principally and regularly with US and French partners. Training and close liaison with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations is also maintained to support their respective MCM and diving capability. The mission of the coalition is simple; ensure the freedom of navigation throughout the JOA. This is achieved by re-assuring partner nations, deterring potential adversaries and working together to build and maintain our collective understanding of the maritime environment. The importance of the coalition’s work in safeguarding maritime security can not be overstated, global trade and elements of the UK’s energy security depend upon it. Three of the world’s major choke points sit within the KIPION JOA: the Suez Canal, Bab El Mandeb Strait and Strait of Hormuz; these waterways must remain safe and open.
RIB carrying UUV getting craned off CRDG during Ops in the Gulf of Aden
When deployed, COMUKMCMFOR acts as the ‘adaptive’ MCM commander working under the Tactical Command (TACOM) of CTF 52 – the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet mine warfare command. This is a unique structure and sees a UK staff working directly for the USN with high levels of interoperability required to ensure efficient and rapid integration. Elements available to the UK led TG include four US Avenger class and four UK MCMV (two Hunt, two Sandown) permanently stationed in Bahrain. French units augment the force along with providing personnel to Battlestaff. US Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV), Mine Hunting Units (MHU), EOD teams and the UK Fleet Diving Unit 3 can be called upon to join the MCM effort making the force highly adaptable.
USN Mk 18 UUV deploying from 12 m RIB Gulf of Aden May 2015
RFA Cardigan Bay acts as the Afloat Forward Support Base (AFSB) for UKMCMFOR along with a permanently embarked 16 strong Battlestaff providing command and control to the TG. Expertise on the small staff includes Engineering, Communicators, Oceanography and Meteorology, Intelligence, Logistics, a Medical Officer and several Mine Warfare specialists. Whilst at sea, sustainability is achieved by rafting ships with the AFSB; it can efficiently supply fuel, water, stores and ammunition allowing the TG to operate independently for long periods at sea without requiring to go alongside or any specific host nation support. Although it doesn’t routinely operate with an embarked flight, the ship has a large flight deck and can lily-pad other helos or conduct stores or personnel transfers as required.
USS Dextrous rafts with CRDG during Ex Artemis Trident
(March 2015). Fuel and water transferred
When the TG assembles, the US UUV and MHU teams embark on RFA Cardigan Bay bringing with them all equipment including transportable command stations and teams of up to 50 people. UUVs operate using Mark 18 Mod 1 and 2 vehicles (the same as the RN’s REMUS 100 and 600 systems) deployed from 12 m RIBS operating autonomously searching the sea bed in pre-determined route patterns. The teams embark with a group of divers giving the ability to detect, identify and dispose of under water ordinance providing a complete organic MCM detect and engage capability. MHU operate by towing a side scan sonar behind a remote controlled RIB at range from the AFSB offering rapid mine hunting and intelligent preparation of the environment. This technology remains in the trials period at the urgent operational requirement stage and is yet to be fully commissioned by the USN. It does however offer a glimpse of what future capabilities may hold for the MCM community; remote unmanned systems operated at range from a manned host platform.
Sitting alongside the more familiar surface MCM TG (the ships) is the forward deployed US air MCM component comprising of four MH-53 Sea Dragon helicopters and a US underwater MCM element including full EOD diving teams, UUVs and Seabotix equipment. Seabotix is a small and easily deployable submersible remotely operated vehicle. Fitted with sonar, grabbing and cutting equipment along with a high resolution camera it is able to visually identify and dispose of ordnance without putting divers at risk. The UK doesn’t operate any Air MCM capabilities but can call upon the Fleet Diving Squadron, for Fleet Diving Unit 3, who are at high readiness in the UK to deploy to the JOA and utilise their forward deployed equipment (REMUS 100 and clearance diving sets).
MHU deploying from CRDG dock
The air and subsurface MCM units form two separate TGs that run in parallel to the UK led surface MCM component (CTG 52.1 – Underwater, CTG 52.2 – Surface, CTG 52.3 – Air). This provides maximum flexibility in tasking and allows operations to take place across a large area by splitting the force. However all of the commands are adaptable in that they have the capacity to task other elements of the force and are no longer stove-piped.
UK/US exercises involving air, surface and sub-surface MCM take place in the Arabian Gulf on a regular basis to develop interoperability and strengthen working relationships. ‘Squadex’ is a quarterly exercise between the UK/US and there are numerous others that lead up to the biennial International MCM Exercise (IMCMEX) a significant multinational exercise stretching across the whole JOA. All feature COMUKMCMFOR with Tactical Command of ships and assets from several coalition partners. Focusing on detecting and identifying exercise mines in a specified threat area, the aim is to build interoperability between units involved, operate safely together and find the mines to enable the delivery of military effect (choke point Freedom of Navigation, Amphibious Task Force routing, approaches to maritime critical national infrastructure etc.). National doctrinal differences, ROE profiles and differing MCM Risk Directives provide learning points following each exercise; this in turn strengthens the coalition into a more effective fighting force. Whilst mine hunting is the focus, force protection units (which would be essential when operating in a semi-permissive environment) are incorporated to defend the MCM force allowing further training and integration. Recent exercises have involved Type 45s, Type 23s and Arleigh Burke class ships patrolling the force providing force protection, threats assessments and a greater situational awareness to the MCMVs.
Historical ordnance detonated by a diver-placed charge during Ex Artemis Trident
The ability to disrupt maritime security through mining or the credible threat of mining continues to shape the future coalition MCM force construct. Mines are relatively cheap, easily acquired and deployed; the need for a rapidly deployable and adaptable MCM capability is clearly evident. This was realised in April 2015 when COMUKMCMFOR deployed to the Gulf of Aden and Southern Red Sea as the afloat commander for a coalition TG comprising of four MCMVs (two US, one UK, one FR), UUV and MHU teams along with RFA Cardigan Bay. Deploying 2000nm from the Arabian Gulf for a 40 day period in response to a potential threat of sea mining in the area, proved the robust force construct of a UK led TG and high readiness assets in theatre with trained and effective crews. The adaptability of the TG allowed survey work to be carried out in areas from the Southern Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden in depths of water between 2m utilising divers down to 400m by employing the US variable depth sonar capability. Important work was also complete in the Bab el Mandeb strait reassuring the global shipping community, deterring potential aggressors and building a greater understanding of the maritime environment in the region.
An old exercise mine being recovered by HMS Shoreham, with divers watching on
Looking ahead the need to continue developing a stronger MCM coalition will become apparent as limited resources are called upon to meet demanding tasking across a large JOA. The existing coalition can be improved and expanded. Exercises will allow further integration between partners however opportunities to incorporate new nations into the force construct should encouraged, including those of the GCC.
As new MCM technology develops, the US have turned their attention towards developing the Littoral Combat Ships, which is planned to replace the Avenger class MCMV by 2022. The UK, alongside upgrading existing MCMVs (including the engine replacement programme in Hunt class and generator upgrades in Sandowns) has now started to develop a multi-purpose ship. The concept is to use a common hull and modular design that can be reconfigured for different roles to support MCM, hydrographical and patrol requirements. This will see the UK developing UUVs to facilitate rapid MCM Ops whilst removing the human element from the threat area. As developments are made both at home and abroad new opportunities and challenges are presented. The RN MCM community must continue to playing a leading role in MCM coalition operations looking at how new threats, technologies and partners nations will shape the future force construct. It is not entirely clear how a traditional MCMV can really be replaced and the next 10-20 years should see some exciting developments as technology delivers better unmanned systems – although they will routinely always require some form of ship and, of course, the highly trained people to prepare, launch, monitor, operate and maintain the equipment.
MHU team launch 12 m RIB from CRDG dock. The towed sonar can be seen at the back of the RIB
The highly adaptive UK-led MCM coalition TG operating under a US command has proven to operate as a successful model. Working with partner nations to achieve a common aim makes sense in the world today and future efforts must build on this foundation, ensuring the RN remains a leading force in the MCM community both in home waters and further afield as part of a NATO TG or in the Kipion JOA.
US UUV team prepares to launch from the dock of CRDG. The two Remus UUVs
can be seen on the back of the RIB
Reflecting on my time working for COMUKMCMFOR as the Battle Watch Captain, I have learnt a great deal about mine warfare and the coalition MCM effort in the Kipion JOA. I was part of a small but well-trained and motivated team (who we are) and was involved in everything from intensive training to operations and wider regional engagement plus the management and leadership of a diverse and capable force (what we do). The ability to assemble a TG comprising of UK, US and French assets at a moment’s notice and deploy it to operate effectively together was impressive. Sustaining it at sea with only minimal shore support and combining numerous MCM capabilities when needed has shown the adaptability, flexibility and clear benefits of the RN leading a successful coalition force. The future of MCM remains in the balance – with new technologies offering incredible capabilities to advance and speed up the detect to engage process but this must be measured against the increasing sophistication of the worldwide mine threats and the residual capability we have in our current array of MCM tools to deal with any potential mine dangers.
The web-master of the MCDOA site, Rob Hoole, has allowed me to copy a large percentage of the above article from www.mcdoa.org.uk
First Sea Lord
AUDIENCE: All Royal Navy and Civilian Personnel
PERSONAL FROM ADMIRAL SIR GEORGE ZAMBELLAS KCB DSC ADC DL
FIRST SEA LORD’S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE
As we approach Christmas, it’s worth reflecting on all that we’ve achieved this year and
the future that awaits us. The publication of the Strategic Defence and Security Review
in November charts a confident and bright future for the Royal Navy, with the
confirmation of new ships, more people and the welcome return of Carrier Strike.
But the realisation of our long held ambitions for the Royal Navy didn’t come about by
chance. It was hard-won through your belief, commitment and endeavour. Time-and again
in 2015 you have shown our Government and our Nation what the Royal Navy can do.
Together, we’ve helped reduce the number of Ebola cases in Sierra Leone down to
zero. We’ve rescued thousands of lives in the Mediterranean, led the largest NATO
exercise in a decade and we’ve sailed alongside our two closest allies on operations
against Daesh. We’ve done all these things, and more – above and below the waves –
alongside our routine commitments at home, in the Gulf, Caribbean, South Atlantic and beyond.
A great Navy relies on a great team. All of us – Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Reserve
Forces, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Civil Service – can and should take pride in our
achievements. But the biggest thank you is due to our families. Their strength and support underpins all that we do.
And, of course, the Royal Navy never sleeps. Our commitment to operations will continue over the festive period.
In total, 17 ships and submarines and over 1700 personnel will be away from the UK this
Christmas and somewhere unseen in the vast greyness of the ocean, men and women
will be on patrol, taking the Continuous At Sea Deterrent into its 47th year of protecting
our Nation’s freedom. All of them deserve our thanks, and will be in our thoughts and prayers.
When we return in the New Year, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We believe in our Service. So, I know the challenge ahead will be met with unrelenting purpose and optimism, as we set about making the plans for the future Royal Navy a reality.
May I thank all of you, and your families, for what you’ve achieved in this momentous year, and all that we will do together to keep building our Navy in the coming year. Most importantly, I wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
Click here to view the official video showing the inside of the new RN Aircraft Carriers
Limbang Day Dinner with Lima Co, 42 Cdo
Lima Company, who did the business of releasing hostages held by an estimated 300+ members of the TNKU (North Kalimantan Liberation Army) held at Limbang in Sarawak on 12th December 1962, recognise the incident as a “Memorable Day” in their calendar. The eleven hostages were released relatively unharmed but four policemen of the Royal Sarawak Constabulary and five Royal Marines were killed in the action.
It has become a tradition, when the Company is in Britain, to hold an All Ranks Regimental Dinner close to the 12th to which survivors of the action are invited. We were told that Limbang has now become an official battle honour for the Company. Battle honours are normally only awarded to major units such as regiments, ships and RAF squadrons and it is understood that Lima is the only Company/small military formation to have one.
The Royals certainly made a great fuss of us; we hardly bought a beer all weekend and a lot was consumed! The young Booties were brilliant. It was a great pleasure and a privilege to be in their company. They were quite respectful of us vets but rapidly inducted us into their sense of humour and shared dits about hot action during their recent exercise with American and Dutch Marines in the Mojave desert and of even hotter action during RnR in Las Vegas; plus a certain amount of joshing for the newly promoted and others who had distinguished themselves by comms failures and appearing on TV. Most of them are off to Belize for another exercise/border patrol in January and some are returning to ship protection duties in the Gulf before 42 Cdo takes up the Lead Commando (rapid reaction) role in mid-2016.
TCA was represented by myself and Cdr Nobby Hall, son in law of Corporal Bill Lester, who won the Military Medal at Limbang and sadly Crossed the Bar a couple of years ago. Other sailors involved at Limbang with whom we are still in contact include Pincher Martin and Tony Standish of FISKERTON and Laurie Johnson of CHAWTON. Regrettably they were not able to get to Bickleigh this year. Does anyone know of any others?
Highlight for some was an excursion to the rifle range. We old and bold can now claim to have fired the modern SA80 rifle.We were given a quick familiarisation with the weapon and a couple of goes on the Digital Close Combat Trainer, a computer-controlled electronic range. No bullets, but the rifle is wired to a bank of pc’s and you shoot at a large screen showing video clips of ambushes in woodlands, Afghan compounds and street scenes. The pc tracks where your shot may have gone and a green cross shows when your shot is calculated to have hit. Inevitably some of the scenarios include the lady with the baby and friendly forces, who might be deemed to be inappropriate targets …
MUCH more fun than a video game!
Then we were let loose (VERY closely supervised) on the 30 m range with live ammo!!
Geriatrics, some of whom had failing eyesight, with loaded weapons – Scary or what?
I did not let down the RN. Some of my shots made holes in the right part of the right target, but I was not in the same league as other vets who had been snipers and marksmen – and that’s my excuse for not being in the top half of the score sheet.
Report courtesy of Peter Down TCA Hon Sec
First Sea Lord
All Royal Navy and Civilian Personnel
PERSONAL FROM ADMIRAL SIR GEORGE ZAMBELLAS KCB DSC ADC DL
SDSR 15 – “DELIVERING THE MOST MODERN NAVY IN THE WORLD”
Following the Prime Minister’s statement today on the Government’s 2015 Defence and Security Review, I wanted to let you and your families know what the future now holds for the Royal Navy.
There is more detail to come – but what is already very clear is that the Government has substantially reset the Defence and Security agenda, with a significant investment, commitment and responsibility that now puts the Royal Navy absolutely at the heart of our Nation’s security. The Prime Minister said today this Review will deliver “a bigger Navy with more ships”.
This is enormously welcome. The Government has reversed past trends and will grow the Navy for the first time since the Second World War. In particular, the cancellation of proper carriers in the 1966 Defence Review, almost exactly fifty years ago, and the paying off of the Invincible Class and the Harriers, has been entirely revisited.
The Chancellor has said, twice, that the Government “wants to deliver the most modern Navy in the world.” Yesterday he said “We are going to step up the aircraft carrier punch of the United Kingdom. We are going to make sure that when these aircraft carriers are available, they are going to have planes that can fly from them in force. By 2023, we will be able to have 24 of these jets – some of the most powerful in the world – the F35, on the decks of these carriers, and Britain, second only to the United States, will be able to project power abroad in order to defend ourselves at home.”
Because carriers are at the heart of Defence, in practical terms this resets the whole Navy, our equipment and our operational programme, authorising more naval manpower which, alongside our own adjustments and redistribution, confirms the Government’s expansion agenda for the Navy. We will ensure the revised operational programme, in particular, will bring very welcome extra stability, to help to further alleviate gapping and to allow you and your families to plan.
This puts us ‘under orders’, giving us the mandate and a good deal of the resources to
Protecting our Nation’s interests
Protecting our Nation’s interests
deliver the global Royal Navy. This fits into the key Defence outcome of Joint Force 2025 – an expeditionary force based on a land division, a maritime task group and an expeditionary air group. This force will be drawn from a wide range of cutting-edge capabilities, Navy included. But we will benefit too from the wider shared Defence resources, such as new intelligence and reconnaissance platforms.
So what will SDSR 2015 mean for us? Here are the headlines for the Royal Navy:
✔ This is the first Defence Review that orders the Royal Navy to grow in capability and manpower
✔ We can’t do it without you: Our People. So we will see rising Navy personnel numbers (full time and Reserve), no repeat of the redundancy rounds of the last review and a continued commitment to recruiting and retaining the best, most diverse talent for our journey ahead
✔ We have approval to reset and stabilise the Navy operational programme, to allow us to further alleviate gapping and to help you and your families to plan ahead
✔ Tens of billions of pounds are being invested in a Big Navy future: Renewed Strategic Deterrent (with a final Commons vote soon), 100% Carrier availability from two, more F35B jets (24 embarked from 2023 or earlier)
✔ At least 19 Frigates and Destroyers – Type 45 AAW destroyers, Type 26 ASW frigates, and a new generation of credible general purpose frigates
✔ New OPVs, with greater emphasis on training and Reserves, homeland security and global use
✔ Building “the most modern Navy in the world” – through a steady drumbeat of construction under the National Shipbuilding Strategy which, by the 2030s, will further increase the numbers of frigates and destroyers
✔ 3 Commando Brigade: The Nation’s amphibious force – high impact and low footprint, staying strong, with a powerful Special Forces contribution to Counter Terrorism, smarter fighting, and better vehicles
✔ Global reach with RFA support: 3 new Solid Support ships to join our 4 new Tide Class tankers, and RFA manpower protected
✔ 9 new Maritime Patrol Aircraft – working alongside our SSNs and ASW frigates and helicopters to protect the Deterrent and the Carriers and to keep our seas safe
✔ Further additions to HMS PRINCE OF WALES so she can support Counter Terrorism operations, including Commando and Special Forces raids and amphibious operations
✔ Much more investment in unmanned systems, especially Mine Counter Measures, and technology upgrades to defensive capabilities
✔ Using technology and innovation to get much more from our kit, a sharper war-fighting edge, and to ease the pressure on our hard-worked technical specialists
Update from Rear Admiral Henry Parker, Director Ships Acquisition (MoD)
It has been a very busy 6 months in the history Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) carriers programme since I last sent you an update. I couldn’t possibly cover all the achievements but here are a few “highlights”.
HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH
At the beginning of June, smoke rose for the first time from the funnels of HMS Queen Elizabeth as the ship produced power from her onboard Diesel Generators (DG). The ship had undergone months of preparation work to start the first of her four Wärtsilä diesel engines, which are directly coupled to the General Electric (GE) generators. Together, each power unit weighs approximately 200 tonnes – the weight of two Boeing 757 aircraft.
The DG sets will be the main cruising engines for the ship, but when higher speed is required, two MT30 Gas Turbine Alternators (GTAs) will also be used. When both the DG and GTAs are deployed, the ship will produce 109MW. Each DG has an independent fuel system to supply 7600 & 10200 litres of diesel per hour at full power and the engines create around 95db of noise which is like being stood 5m away from a working chainsaw. At the end of the month I accompanied Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Procurement, as he officially switched on HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Diesel Generators.
Eyes Wide Open:
At the end of July a major milestone for the programme was achieved as the ship’s Long Range Radar (LRR) began transmitting and rotating and thus forming a picture of the air traffic around her. Once started up, the LRR immediately started tracking aircraft as they approached Glasgow airport as well as transatlantic traffic to and from the rest of the UK. When the ship is at sea the LRR will have a range of 400km.
The first parts of the Visual Surveillance System (VSS) were set to work in September, allowing live video of remote machinery spaces to be displayed in the operations room. When fully operational this system will allow video from any of hundreds of cameras around the ship to be displayed at key command centres and other compartments. These include internal cameras monitoring engine and machinery spaces; cameras covering the magazines; external cameras overseeing the area around the hull; and pan tilt and zoom cameras that will focus in on areas of concern. There are also cameras with audio feeds observing key spaces such as the bridge and operations room.
A cutting-edge radar system, capable of detecting objects as small as a tennis ball and travelling at three times the speed of sound more than 25Km away, was successfully installed on the Aft Island of HMS Queen Elizabeth in late September. The Artisan 3D radar system will be used to deliver air traffic management, providing the ship with unparalleled awareness and control of the skies around her. The installation marks a major milestone in the preparation for sea trials. The radar can monitor more than 800 objects simultaneously
from 200 to 200,000 metres away and cut through radio interference equal to 10,000 mobile phone signals. It will deliver uncompromising air defence and anti-ship operations.
Power & Propulsion (P&P) is another area where considerable progress is being made. On the 23rd of October the aft GTA started up for the first time with the forward GTA following soon after on the 4th November. The team worked through a number of challenges to achieve these significant milestones while not taking their collective eyes off the ball as they prepared to load test the four diesel generators (DGs). Having tested the modified fresh watercooling system on DG1 (forward), the team progressed to successfully trial that DG at 110% load for the first time. Elsewhere in the P&P programme, on the 29th October the first propulsion motor was turned (motor four on the port-side) for the first time using the ship’s own HV power. Slightly more visible for anyone walking around the starboard side of HMS Queen Elizabeth is that the forward aircraft lift has been moved half-way to the ‘maintenance position’. All these elements are strong reminders that the programme is rushing towards HMS Queen Elizabeth being ready to go to sea.
It was a hectic May for the Prince of Wales team in Rosyth. On Sunday 10 May the forward island, a crucial component of the ship, containing the main bridge and around 100 vital mission systems compartments was lifted on to HMS Prince of Wales. There then followed the demanding alignment of the 2.4 metre diameter gas turbine exhausts which were pre-fitted in the island and below in the ship superstructure. The forward island, already has all consoles installed, as well as 66,000m of cables, 2,622m of pipes and 500m ventilation. The very next week, on 15 May, the ship’s bow was attached.
This allowed the upper section –VB05/06 to be lifted into position on 29 May.
Big is Beautiful:
We welcomed the largest section of the second carrier to Rosyth on Friday 21st August following its voyage from Glasgow. Lower Block 04 contains the hangar, machinery space, mission systems compartments and accommodation. The massive hull section was an impressive sight as it sailed under the Forth Bridges. The block is not only the largest section of HMS Prince of Wales, it is also the largest section of carrier of all (weighing 11,200 tonnes) due to the more advanced level of outfitting with which it was delivered.
Farewell Cammell Laird – BZ:
The final sections of Centre Block 04 arrived in Rosyth at the beginning of September following its departure from the Cammell Laird yard on Merseyside on 29 August. Cammell Laird have, over the last five years, fabricated and outfitted nine flight deck units for HMS Queen Elizabeth, and six flight deck units for HMS Prince of Wales.
On the Skids:
On Friday 9 October more than 30,000 tonnes of the forward half of the ship was mechanically skidded back in the drydock to meet LB04. This feat of precision engineering saw the forward half of the ship moved back 17 metres on a specialised hydraulic skidding system. This resulted in a perfect joining of the two halves of the ship, with less than a 3mm tolerance down the centre line. The operation is believed to be a record within the UK in terms of the weight of ship being skidded. Welding the two sections of the ship together allows all of the pipework and the 3.2 million metres of electrical cable to be connected by the outfitting teams, ahead of commissioning.
Just a day earlier LB05, the last hull section to be completed by the build yards for QEC, began its journey to Rosyth from Govan. Only Govan and Rosyth remain part of the programme and UB14 (Aft Island), due to arrive Rosyth in early December, will complete the Govan participation in QEC programme.
On Friday 30 October the installation of the second MT30 GTA into HMS Prince of Wales took place. Generating 36 megawatts (around 50,000 horsepower), the Rolls-Royce MT30 is the world’s most power-dense Marine Gas Turbine, a key feature for naval ships where high power occupying minimum space is essential.
Moving forward, the coming year will see HMS Prince of Wales structurally complete and the arrival of the first of her ship’s company. On HMS Queen Elizabeth it will be all hands to action stations as we prepare for the first staff moving onboard and sea trials towards the end of the year. I will update you on all these activities in the new year