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A life on the ocean wave begins

All eyes are on Scotland this week where the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier is being readied for her naming ceremony on Friday.

The naming of HMS Queen Elizabeth comes just over six years since the ministry of defence announced the go-ahead for Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.


Comprising 3,000 compartments over 17 decks, the 280m long HMS Queen Elizabeth will be the largest ship to enter service with the Royal Navy but will have a relatively small crew of 679. Capacity exists on board for 1,600 people, reflecting the multiple roles – such as humanitarian relief – that she may be called to fulfil during her anticipated 50 years of service.

In London, the Royal United Services Institute hosts its inaugural Sea Power conference in London. The two-day event is themed around ‘National Power Projection from the Sea – Challenges and Opportunities’ and will see senior naval officers and government officials convene with representatives from industry, academia discuss key issues in naval and maritime affairs for the coming year.

The conference will also launch RUSI’s Sea Power Research Programme, a three year initiative in conjunction with Greenwich University and King’s College London.

The naming of HMS Queen Elizabeth comes a time of relative buoyancy for the Royal Navy and the companies that help to keep it afloat, with contracts being awarded last week for work on Type 45 destroyers and the Type 26 Global Combat Ship.

BAE Systems announced a week ago that it has been awarded a £70m contract to manage the support, maintenance and upgrade of the Type 45 Destroyers at Portsmouth Naval Base and on all their operations in the UK and globally. The contract – commencing in July and running until the end of November 2016 - is expected to sustain 100 roles at BAE Systems in Portsmouth.

The Type 26 programme – which is likely to see the ministry of defence placing an order for 13 vessels – has moved forward also with BAE Systems awarding design contracts with six key suppliers.

The Design Development Agreements have been awarded to Babcock for the ship’s air weapons handling system; DCNS for work on the vessel’s propulsion shaftlines; GE Energy Power Conversion for the electric propulsion motor and drive System; Imtech for HVAC and low voltage
electrical equipment; Raytheon to develop the integrated navigation and bridge systems; and finally Tyco Fire & Integrated Solutions for the ship’s fixed firefighting systems.

The Type 26 programme – designed to replace the Type 23 frigate – would take work at BAE’s Scotstoun site to at least the mid-2030s.

In the automotive sector SMMT is set to release its annual Sustainability Report, which will assess progress made on environmental, social and economic issues.

The organisation’s 2013 report – a look back to the sector’s performance in 2012 - found the sector in excellent health, with turnover increasing 2.8 per cent to £59.3bn, and a rise in production that saw 7.7 per cent more cars and CVs manufactured.

Further economic highlights from 2013 include a 9.2 per cent rise in automotive business R&D spend to £1.7bn, and a 1.7 per cent rise in car and CV registrations to 2.2 million.

Can automotive - or any form of materials-intensive manufacturing - make these gains whilst remaining environmentally benign?

The answer, according to SMMT’s 2013 report, is a resounding yes as the following figures demonstrate.

Environmental performance

  • Energy use in automotive production decreased – down 7.6 per cent in total and 4.8 per cent per vehicle produced.
  • Total water use in production increased 5.2 per cent in 2012, but fell 2.1 per cent per vehicle produced.
  • Output of CO2 decreased 11.2 per cent in total and 3.2 per cent per vehicle produced.
  • The amount of waste going to landfill from materials production dropped 21.1 per cent in total, 16.7 per cent per vehicle produced.
  • Average new car emissions dropped 3.6 per cent in 2012 to 133.1 g/km CO2.

Source SMMT

The automotive sector has of course remained resilient since the downturn, and just recently it received a further boost in the form of a new £24m government fund, plus investment into the UK from two manufacturers.

The Tooling Funding Programme will help component manufacturers design, develop and manufacture new tooling where they would otherwise fail to acquire funds; whilst Nissan has invested £20m in its Sunderland production plant, a move that will create 50 extra jobs.


The UK also remains an attractive place to set up facilities, as witnessed by the decision of Detroit Electric to build its all-new model, the SP:01 (pictured above) in the UK.

The new 155mph electric vehicle will be manufactured in a new Detroit Electric production facility in Leamington Spa, which is set to employ 80 staff by early 2015.

Production is set to begin later in 2014, before models begin rolling off the production line destined for markets across Europe and Asia.

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Readers' comments (15)

  • Dear Carrierfan2006,
    I believe you may be aware (our editor certainly is) that my career was in the special textile/textile machinery field.
    Just for the record, one of my clients for about 10 years was Bridport Aviation.
    I assisted in development(s) to their runway barrier system (to catch aircraft whose brake/drogue shutes fail) -this developing into work on similar last-ditch stopping systems on the very vessels/ carriers that appear to cause hackles and blood pressure to rise.

    Also I assisted (with colleagues at Exeter University) in their cargo-net/ heli-heavy lift efforts. Amongst other projects, one that gave me both intellectual stimulation and professional reward was assisting in attempts to reduce the effect of IEDs as used by the Taliban et al:(we used explosive reaction and chain-saw protection technology)
    Many years ago, whilst in the USA I worked on the machinery to process Kevlar before it had a name. I was also deeply involved in the technology to combat WMD -NBC protective fabrics.

    The gossip blog of our illustrious journal is not really the place for these exchanges: though I would be happy to discuss them further. My e-mail is Please be in touch if you wish.

    PS the NHS, social services argument is surely long surpassed -as another blogger did point out: we are rapidly leading the charge to be the best defended bankrupt country in the world.

    And unless you and I have been asleep since 2008 any comment about UK (or indeed any?) banks (tin-pot, tin-plated, concrete or otherwise) the digital economy we technologists have created...looks the same.

    Your serve, I will volley. Is that an analogy or a simile or a metaphor.
    Mike B

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  • Carrierfan - Carriers only become an effective deterrent of the type you eschew so strongly if they have aircraft aboard. That this seems not likely to happen for some time, and even then to harbour (sorry) some doubt about whether they will even be deployable on carriers or land as VTOL's makes your argument maybe more a discussion topic than an expectation of reality.

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  • So we waited at Farnborough to no avail. It seems the Wonderplanes can fly only in sight of base, when allowed to fly at all. Maybe in UK service they could be used to frighten Somali pirates? They don't venture far offshore either and would provide some sort of justification for all the money wasted so far on this carrier.

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  • I come from a military background. I have some insight into this subject. The F35 is actually a STOVL aircraft, not VTOL. While it can do VTOL, as with Harrier, it will not be able to lift any meaningful load off the deck/ground. Its. Own mass, plus some fuel, but no weapons. It does short take off, using the aerodynamic surfaces to provide most of the lift. As I indicated earlier, the landing arrangements, would generally mirror the take off, with the newly developed SRVL, allowing the return of expensive weapons such as JDAM, Meteor and Brimstone.

    There seems to be a desire to see them used now. QNLZ will not be in service for at least another 2 years, just as F35 starts to come in. There will be another 2 years of working up, training pilots, ground crew, ship's company, and development work. This is not a larger Invincible with some updated version of Harriers. This is a new ship, with unknown capabilities and potential, which is built round a new aircraft with unknown capabilities and potential. They will not be likely to be forward based in a field, just because that's what they did with Harriers. F35 has longer range and a larger payload by far than Harrier. It will fly off QNLZ, when both are ready.

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  • One of the 'anon' persons did comment about Carriers and the Argentine and the Falkland Islands. Just for the record, a close family member was chief design Engineer of the firm that made the engines for the carrier in the task force. He described (for many years before that event) trying to get the Navy to purchase a proper 'spares' regime for the engines. "We have no money..."

    Another neighbour [shot down on September 4th 1939 dropping leaflets over Hamburg, and a guest of the Reich for the duration, during which he studied before joining the FO, eventually becoming an Ambassador to Peru] was, in the mid-70s part of the FO group tasked with deciding what to do about our various very distant territories.

    "Do a deal with the nearest country and let them go in peace!" was their advice.

    How amazing that a totally different set of financial and political 'rules' suddenly came into being after the 'invasion'. My family member was given a blank cheque (including the leasing of Huntsman, then the largest tug in the world, to tow Hermes, has it broken down) and no longer considering giving up-what has been and continues to be a vast financial 'drain' on resources( with less than 2,000 inhabitants) for the sake of the political survival of...well. you can fill in the gaps.

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