Aircraft Carrier build strategy gets go ahead

03 Feb 2009

The Alliance Management Board of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) has approved a revision to the build strategy that will deliver the UK's two Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.

The ACA has adjusted its plans for the manufacture of the two 65,000 tonne ships in order to meet the MOD's budget requirements, reduce risk and protect core capability in the main UK shipyards. This adjustment is in keeping with the outcome of the MOD's Equipment Examination of late 2008 and the decision to re-schedule delivery of the two carriers.

The ACA has approved the following decisions under the developing build strategy:

  • Lower Block 1 (the bow section) will be built by Babcock's yards at Appledore and Rosyth;
  • Lower Block 2 will be built by BVT Surface Fleet in Portsmouth;
  • Lower Blocks 3 and 4 (the stern section) will be built by BVT on the Clyde;
  • The sponsons (the overhanging upper hull structure) will be manufactured by Babcock Marine;
  • The two superstructure Islands will be built by BVT in Portsmouth.

Final assembly and integration of the two warships will be undertaken by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance partners at Rosyth.

The previous build strategy had planned for Lower Block 3 to be constructed at BAE Systems Submarine Solutions in Barrow, but existing and future workloads on submarine programmes have led to a lack of capacity to take on the additional carrier work.  The team in Barrow will continue to provide engineering support to the build of Lower Block 3.

The ACA has also announced further shipbuilding orders worth up to £150M to UK shipyards.  A&P Tyne on Tyneside and Cammell Laird on Merseyside have both been named as preferred bidders for the build of the large central Upper Blocks.  This will secure further UK manufacturing jobs in addition to the £570M in equipment sub-contracts already placed with UK companies for the Queen Elizabeth class carriers.

Commenting on the revised build strategy, Geoff Searle, Programme Director for the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, said:

"The Aircraft Carrier Alliance has developed a cost effective and low risk build strategy that I am confident will deliver the two carriers in line with the MOD's requirements. It will also ensure that we retain the essential core skills in the UK maritime industry to deliver sovereign naval capability long into the future.

"I am delighted that we have also been able to announce that both the north-east and north-west regions, with their traditional shipbuilding heritage, will contribute to the build of these great ships".

Tony Graham, MOD's Head of Capital Ships, responsible for client oversight of the project, said:

"Alongside the developing build strategy, we are very pleased to announce additional shipbuilding work for the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers which further extends involvement across the UK.  This provides greater certainty for our supplier base and keeps the project on a sure footing as we enter full scale manufacture."


About the Aircraft Carrier Alliance

The innovative Aircraft Carrier Alliance is a single integrated team formed from BVT Surface Fleet, Babcock, BAE Systems, Thales UK and the MOD (which acts as both partner and client.) It is responsible for delivering the Queen Elizabeth Class ships to time and cost.

Alliancing allows for the collaborative delivery of the aircraft carriers by bringing together all interested parties with a vested financial interest to make decisions to achieve what is best for the project, as well as providing the most effective way of managing risk and reward.


About the Queen Elizabeth Class

The contract to build the two new Aircraft Carriers for the Royal Navy - HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, was signed on 3rd July 2008.  The in-service dates announced at the time of the Main Gate, 2014 and 2016, have been deferred by 1 to 2 years following MOD's Equipment Examination.

The carriers will be the biggest and most powerful surface warships ever constructed for the UK and represent a step change in Joint Capability.  They will enable the delivery of increased strategic effect and influence around the world, at a time and place of the UK's choosing, and will be a key component of the improved expeditionary capabilities needed to confront the diverse range of threats in today's security environment.


Key Facts

•        The carriers will each provide 4 acres of sovereign territory with global access.

•        The Flight deck will support an air wing capable of delivering significant offensive air power to support the battle ashore for prolonged periods of time.

•        They will be capable of carrying the widest possible range of aircraft in support of operations.

•        The carriers are being specifically developed to provide a well found base for the UK version of the future 5th generation of the US Joint Strike Fighter.

•        A versatile and adaptable design will provide for a range of roles and configurations, through life.

•        The carriers will each weigh 65,000 tonnes, be 280m long and 70m wide. A ship of this size is necessary to deliver the quantity of air power required.

•        The ships will be capable of 25 knots.

•        They will have a total complement (with air group) of approximately 1500 people

  • Dragon, the Royal Navy's new anti-war destroyer was also Clyde-built