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The Engineer Q&A: aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth

Your chance to question the engineers behind the UK’s largest ever warship.

One of the UK’s most challenging engineering projects is nearly at an end. In less than three months, HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s biggest ever warship and first new aircraft carrier in over 30 years, will be officially named by its namesake monarch.

Five years of construction at six shipyards across the UK has culminated in the assembly of the carrier’s various sections at Rosyth Royal  Dockyward in Scotland.

We’ve covered the design and building of the carrier for years and you can take a look back over its progress by reading our blog series. But you undoubtedly have questions of your own. 

To celebrate the culmination of this amazing show of British engineering, we’re offering you the chance to put your queries to the team behind HMS Queen Elizabeth, which includes engineers from BAE Systems, Babcock and Thales (as well as numerous supply chain firms).

Use the comments box below to submit your questions and we’ll print the answers in May’s print edition of The Engineer magazine, as well as here on the website.

Readers' comments (16)

  • Although there is nothing within any official internal company news, there is a whisper on the street that there was an initial miscalculation on the size of the Babcock owned dock, and that QEC will only be able to float out with "additional buoyancy", even though the caissons have been removed. Is this true and if so what method is being employed to provide the additional bupyancy to float her over the caisson bases ?

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  • How much of the time delay and cost increase for the carrier is due to MOD/Government changes/indecision and how much due to the manufacturers and its supply chain?

    How much more will be spent on the carrier in the next 5-10 years to bring the carrier up to the specification that the end-user wants rather than the version agreed by those who signed the contract?

    Will there be any aircraft available to fly from it, at the aircraft's maximum capacity, once the ship is fitted out and operational? When is this date?

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  • These are magnificent ships and all involved should be justifiably proud. In terms of possible future developments how easy would it be to fit the ships with arrestor gear for STOBAR operations.

    Thank you in advance.

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  • Now that those responsible have demonstrated their abilities in manufacturing such a vast vessel (get the artistic alliteration?) can we have their confirmation that these skills can be applied to manufacture similarly vast cargo-carriers?
    Presumably the new Carrier? will be operated only at a constant cost of several billions per annum: how nice if the same skills could be applied to create vessels that would earn the money to pay for these costs?

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  • British shipbuilding seems to be in a permanent state of panic.

    Have the business development and strategy teams of the partner companies worked out how to create a sustainable ship building business between such super-contracts, or will they continue to elicit work from the government on the threat of impending job losses across the UK?

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  • What made the proposed late design change for the installation of catapults & arrestor gear so difficult considering the operational advantage it would have brought & with such a change reversed how great an impact will this have on the potential interoperability of the ship.

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  • How will the new carrier's deck activity cope with the effects of powerful new space-based beam weapon strikes?

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  • What have you learned from QEII that can be applied to the Prince of Wales?

    Having developed some skill and experience in large shipbuilding, what can be done to make use of it after the carriers?

    To what degree do designs match the end result? Is the first ship slightly more experimental than the second?

    Are the suppliers to the carriers likely to find markets in other shipbuilding locations for their systems and components?

    Do you use a Digital Mockup like Airbus? i.e. one version-controlled cad model across all suppliers?

    Thanks! :-)

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  • What can you say about the ship's boats? Will the davits and boat areas be large and capable to take LCVP landing crafts, like on the old HMS Hermes?

    What has been done design-wise to enable the carrier to act as an amphibious assault unit carrying Royal Marines and their kit, perhaps including some light vehicles?

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  • Did any commercially worthwhile unique IP &/or skills come out of the design & construction of R08? In other words, is there a commercial ROI on the project or when all is finished will it have been 100% (or close to) a purely political/military project?

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