The HMS Queen Elizabeth is a true flagship for the British Navy
Aircraft carriers are the true flagship of any powerful navy, with them acting as a home for both people, planes and helicopters, while being a portable runway. The British Navy recently took delivery of two all-new aircraft carriers, one being HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The Queen Elizabeth-class of aircraft carriers are the spiritual successors to HMS Ocean which was a helicopter carrier, but was tiny in comparison to the American Gerald R. Ford-class of aircraft carriers which are currently the largest in the world.
What can the Queen Elizabeth-class carry?
A lot of stuff, that’s how much it can carry. Seriously though, the Queen Elizabeth-class can hold up to 900 troops and a crew capacity of up to 1600. In total, the carrier can house 2500 people if needed. That’s the equivalent of a small countryside village.
Now, the aircraft numbers are the real reason you’re here. The Queen Elizabeth-class can hold up to 70 aircraft, ranging from the F35-B Lightning II jet fighters, Apache attack helicopters and Chinook multi-role helicopters. A few other helicopter types can also be held on these carriers too.
These are impressive numbers for a ship that weighs 65,000 tons.
What about performance?
Well, being an aircraft carrier, the Queen Elizabeth-class wasn’t designed with speed in mind. The vessel is powered by two Rolls-Royce Marine Trent MT30 gas turbine engines, producing 48,000bhp each. There are an additional four Wärtsilä 38 marine diesel engines producing an additional 15,600bhp each.
All that power is sent through four General Electric Power Conversion 20 MW Advanced Induction Motors and VDM25000 Drives, which also produce 27,000bhp each. These are fully intergrated electric propulsion drives. I’m not going to pretended I know what these things mean but this sounds like the Queen Elizabeth-class are hybrids...like a Toyota Prius but way cooler.
These engines are capable of propelling the carrier to 25 knots, or 29mph. Range is good too, with the Queen Elizabet-class capable of travelling 10,000 nautical miles between fill ups.
What if enemy fire occurs?
Well, if you’re on a Queen Elizabet-class carrier, you’re in good hands as there are a number of aircraft to defend the vessel but also a number of miniguns and 30mm big guns to defend yourself with.
However, the Queen Elizabeth-class also has an extensive radar suite which should be able to detect enemy boats or aircraft a while before they come into attack range.
This is great, now I want to buy one. How much does it cost?
Well, unlike a regular boat, you can’t just go and buy an aircraft carrier from the local marina. The two Queen Elizabeth-class carriers cost the British Government £6.2 billion to just build these vessels, with an estimated operational cost being £600 million for the two vessels.
These numbers don’t include the costs of running the various aircraft that get stationed on them either. In other words, you can’t get one unless you’re a world superpower.