While alongside in Portsmouth recently HMS Prince of Wales suffered at least one major internal flood incident causing damage to the high voltage electrical system that propels the ship. The Sun newspaper has now gone public with the story and it appears the ship will not sail until Spring 2021 at the earliest.
HMS Prince of Wales returned to Portsmouth on 25th March after completing sea trials, a visit to Liverpool and a training period around the UK but has not put to sea since. She underwent the first of her planned Capability Insertion Periods (CIP) over the summer but was due to sail sometime in the autumn to conduct further helicopter trials and training. The ship was due to leave for the Westlant 2021 deployment to the coast of the US in the new year, where she was scheduled to conduct her first F-35 landing.
Internal flooding on ships is not a new phenomenon. Warships have a high-pressure saltwater main which is available for firefighting. There is also piping that carries water to cool engines and electronic equipment. The amount of damage caused by a burst pipe or valve failure very much depends on where in the ship it occurs and how long it takes the ship’s company to isolate the leak and pump out the compartments. HMS Queen Elizabeth suffered a fairly serious internal leak in July 2019 which required an immediate return to port but the damage was contained and repaired without significantly impacting her programme. QE also had a very minor issue with leaking shaft seals in December 2017 which many media outlets blew out of all proportion.
In the case of HMS Prince of Wales, it would appear that the flooding was much more serious because it affected the machinery spaces. Photos that emerged in October show compartments flooded quite deep in places. The QEC carriers are propelled by electric motors with high voltage power supplied from diesels and gas turbine generators through a complex system of converters, switchboards and cabling. As warships have increasingly come to rely on electric propulsion, the hazards of high voltages can make damage control more complex and dangerous. Fortunately, the flood did not occur at sea with the engines running and the HV system was probably not in use. However, if elements of the electrical system were submerged in saltwater then it will require stripping out and replacing which will be costly and time-consuming.
The immediate consequences to the ship’s programme are clear but the RN says the PoW is still on track to being declared fully operational in 2023. The benefit of having two aircraft carriers is immediately obvious, sod’s law always applies and the unexpected can happen. HMS Queen Elizabeth is unaffected and will become the RN flagship next year and lead the landmark first carrier strike deployment. HMS Prince of Wales’ training and work up programme may have to be more compressed in order to make up for the lost time. It is unclear if the RN will be liable for the costs of the repair but it would seem the contractor (The Aircraft Carrier Alliance) is likely to be responsible for making good if the cause was faulty pipework and not human error.
The RN cannot be expected to give a public running commentary on every breakdown, opdef or minor issue that occurs. These type of problems happen in every navy in the world, however, the aircraft carriers have a particularly high profile and there is no lack of official coverage of their successes. In this case, involving a more serious incident, the Ministry of Defence should perhaps have allowed the RN to admit the flood and provide some detail about the cause and their response. This would help build public trust in their messaging and reduce the embarrassment when it inevitably became public. It was obvious that eventually, journalists would notice the ship had not sailed for months and begin asking questions. Predictably the mainstream media are now reporting the situation in more sensationalist terms than if a calm official explanation had been provided at the time.
We were made aware that all was not well some time ago and asked for details from official sources but they refused to comment. When trying to promote the RN it is always a difficult line to tread between telling the good stories while being honest about serious problems. We are not in the business of publishing ‘scoops’ that might get us attention but cause repetitional damage to the RN and with no official confirmation, decided not to go public.
(Main image: HMS Prince of Wales alongside in Portsmouth, October 2020. Photo: Andy Amor)
Everytime I see those huge decks I think of the angled flight deck we could have had… But hey Atleast we will have italy, Japan, usmc, Korea f35bs to play with.
AmI’m right in saying only the US are getting f35cs… and the f35c looks badass with those larger wings ect..
Also if we stacked an f35b with weapons on pylons ect can they hold 10 tonnes, I’m sure I seen a usmc F35b guy say that or I’m sure I watched it….hmmm
The angled deck is there.
It just is not painted that way.
well Actually we would need to add some more structure. And that paint jobs shocking, brand new!! Looks a mess, yes yes I know about the heat shield paint, but Jesus there’s ten colour shades on that deck..l.
Is this all we need to talk about? The real issue is catapults and arresters isn’t it? Its the lack of these, and steam(?) to genetate them that limits tbe aircraft we can employ.
Yes it is, and we British weren’t going to use steam. We were using a British built and designed electronic launch that was looking great in testing.. Anyways these carriers will never see catapults unless We have say 4 side launchers On small meter wide or so extendable launchers Maybe compressed gas to launch The Largish drone, there good for all kinds of missions then recover them by landing on runway normally …
I didn’t know we had an EMALS in development, do you have a source?
It was the Converteam EMCAT System.
Beat me to it.
Thank you for posting this. Most interesting.
Yeah it is really interesting
One wonders however if we could develop a short take off and landing radar picket aircraft? Probably not, but something of the sort is the major deficiency I believe. I suppose the radar equipment is too heavy… although one can be carried by helicopter. But my other question is how high can such helicopters fly? Presumably not as high as a jet and thus not the radar range of a conventional AWA.
Its not all so bad, as the ships will have 24 jet powered ‘AEW‘ aircraft. Otherwise known as F35B, each having an AESA radar, and probably armed with meteor as well….
You would need 3 F-35Bs up in the air at the same time, each flying at an angle of 120 degrees away from each other to give an 360 degree field of view of the airspace.
I don’t see why not. Radars come in all sizes. For example, Thales I-Master surveillance radar system (30kg) fits on drones as small as the Schiebel 1000, and has a ship detection range of 100km. Radar is becoming ever lighter and more sensitive. But what would a picket aircraft deliver over Crowsnest combined with the F-35B? Tiltrotors fly higher than standard helicopters if you need that, and I don’t think it’s a case of can we develop the ability, but is it worth it?
They used to say: “time is money”. But in the anti-ship missile game, time is everything. By placing you radar higher you extend the radar horizon. This means you can detect threats earlier, thus giving you more time to organise a response. This is especially pertinent against all types of anti-ship missile, but especially against supersonic and the newer hypersonic ones. By detecting them earlier and further away, also means you now have the option of sending more missiles in case the first one misses etc.
The Merlin/Crowsnest combination will be ok, but it is still a sticking plaster solution. The Merlin will be restricted to flying around at 10,000ft, unless the crew are on oxygen, as the cabin is not pressurised. The E3D is the pinnacle of ship based AEW, but it isn’t the end of the story, as we can’t use it, unless the QEs get the catapult and arresting system. So we are stuck with either V/STOL or STOL types of aircraft. Even with a deck length of nearly 300m, there isn’t a current manned fixed wing aircraft that could carry the radar and operating personnel and can take-off and land in that short a deck.
There are currently three V/STOL aircraft that could be used, all from the same company. Bell produce the V22 Osprey and the prototypes V247 Vigilant and the V280 Valor (I’m not including the AW609, as that is not allowed to be used for military purposes). All these aircraft use a tilt rotor design and can fly at least 10,000ft higher than a helicopter, although still not as high as the E3D. The Osprey is about the same size as a Merlin, it is fully marinised and has a folding wing and rotors to minimise it storage footprint, but is now a 40 year old design. The V247 was developed for the USMC MUX program, but got cancelled as the program was pilling to many requirements onto one airframe, i.e. close air support and air surveillance etc. It is also fully marinised, with a folding wing and rotors. It takes up a similar sized space to a Lynx/Wildcat. Then there’s the new V280, it has been designed as a direct replacement for the US Army’s UH60 Blackhawk. Some of the requirements were that the aircraft had to occupy the same footprint. It is considerably faster than its competitor the Sikorsky/Boeing Defiant and can fly higher for longer. It has however, been designed with the lessons learnt from operating the Osprey. So only the rotors tilt rather than the engine. As this means there is less FOD ingested by the engines and it won’t burn the deck. Bell have demonstrated a life size model of a marinised version for the USMC. This is designed to replace their Hueys.
For a ship based AEW aircraft, do you really require a manned aircraft? So long as you have a decent high bandwidth data-link. The majority of the radar’s signal processing can be done remotely. This also means as there’s no crew, the aircraft can stay up for longer, a lot longer. The V247 for example has a duration of some 17 hours on internal fuel at a height of over 25,000ft. Flying at this height would put the radar horizon at 360km compared to the Merlin’s at possibly 15,000ft some 280km or at 10,000 ft some 230km, along with a much shorter duration of 6 hours.
The USMC are still looking for an organic AEW aircraft that can operate from their LHA/Ds. The exercise where they used USS America as a Lightning Carrier highlighted a number of issues. The first was a lack of air to air refuelling (AAR) and the second was the lack of AEW. They did have some AEW provided by Hawkeyes flying from the Philippines. But this proved to be unworkable the further the ship ventured into the South China Sea. The outcome is that the V22s will be getting AAR kits and the second in the need for organic AEW. If the USMC do go with the V247 it would be a golden opportunity for the UK to join the program. As it has the potential to provide a excellent AEW platform that we can use not just from the carriers, but also from the T45s for example!
V247 would provide a very good answer.
Particularly if USMC are in on it too.
As we both are the main users of F35B & QEC there is a good commonality of kit developing.
DaveyB and I were debating this a few months ago on UKDJ and our debate was censored!
The short answer is that a small passive or active radar can be quite small and light.
However, something big enough to do what it needs to do is quite big and heavy.
Say take the radar that was in the English Electric lightening: that has a pulse power, from memory, of 100kW which was enormous for the time. And BTW it was the first all digital A->A radar.
Now if you stir in the EW requirements of CrowsNest, I have no idea what those might be but just assume they will exist, then potentially even higher power would be required.
That requires a lot of generating capacity and a lot of cooling as well as a big lump of solid state devices to amplify the pulses.
As DaveyB say below the processing etc can be done anywhere with a high bandwidth data link. And I think he is right about the potential platform.
The key advantage of crewed is that even if you platform and comms get hacked then the crew are able to mitigate by going back to old school coordinates/vectors over the radio.
I have been thinking about this for some time. Something like a Pilatus Porter on steroids or even a manned/ AI version; would just about fix it. In effect it would be a modern day version of the Swordfish.
It would be cheaper to run and maintain than any rotor craft and be a useful communications a/c.
Would need marinising.
A helicopter can generally get to about 20km altitude. The problem they have is the low aspect ratio (chord vs length) of the blades, where at altitude and thinner air they stop providing enough lift.
We had a decent radar picket in the 40’s, it had very good STOL performance and operated in some of the harshest conditions. I think the Navy still have flying, i.e. the Swordfish.
Yes, look it up..
Qinetiq have been using the EMALS system for the last 10 years to launch there target drones at sites, such as the one in Benbecular.
The Concerteam EMCAT is scalable, it was supposed to be able to handle a fully loaded F35 in theory.
This is the point… “in theory”. And no doubt in reality, but none of this was ready or full scale testing at the time of commissioning the QE. The USS Ford took years to do it… and that started of ‘in theory’. The comment in the article says 500kg. It must surely be much more problematical for a full scale warplane. And then arrest it on landing… that system had to be developed.
However it seems plausible at that it might be ready after a full mid life refit.
“The angled deck is there. It just is not painted that way.”
The painted grid lines seem to show no angled deck ( as the painted rectangles show) and of course they dont need one. The F35 can land on a number of places vertically not via a long arrested landed area with distance to take off again if the wire is missed.
OK you need to fill the ‘corner in’ by the ski jump.
What I never understood was where the ‘trough’ for the putative EMALS or EMCAT actually was.
Was it linear, down the keel line, or diagonal to the angled flight deck?
I think the F35B decision was the correct one and it actually got us two very capable carriers into operation with a minimum of fuss and bother.
I doubt it is worth revisiting as it is more than likely that other VSTOL solutions are generated to satisfy the needs of the GATOR navy and given that USMC are going to be visiting frequently with their toys it does give a good opportunity for try-before-you-buy.
Would it not be feasible to add the forward section of the angled deck and place a EMCAT along it, like the US carriers? Thereby keeping the ramp for the F35Bs, but also allowing other aircraft to use the deck.
There was a mock-up of that shown somewhere in all the optioneering!
And yes, I think the position of the ski jump was done with that in mind.
But I have zero idea if the below deck ‘trench’ for EMALS etc runs front to back or for the angled flight deck.
if the trench is not in the right place it would mean rebuilding a lot of the deck substructure which would mean it was impossibly expensive.
The other thing to bear in mind is that with improving EV tech, powering EMALS is a reducing problem as high discharge rate rechargeable batteries are becoming a commoditised thing.
What about adjacent to the ramp, starboard bow side?
I recall a report around the time Cameron was considering F35C ”clarifying’ that the oft repeated ‘fitted for but not with catapults’ would actually involve significant redesign of compartments immediately underneath – which I took to mean NOT fitted for, then. Seemed to come as a surprise to the Government as well.
The problem was more with where all the power cabinets were going to go. EMALS as on the Ford is one bulky system.
It is flywheel based energy storage. Very similar that used in the JET project at Culham. So you have big radius heavy flywheels that need a very strong substructure that can withstand the very large gyroscopic forces that they will create. As well as being able to contain the flywheel if it comes off its bearings due to shock. That is non trivial.
As with all things electronic GenII will get smaller. It can now essentially be done with EV truck tech. And EV trucks are getting pretty close to reality.
The trough is there. I just don’t know exactly where!
I am sure when someone get a guided tour of the hangar deck on a harbour open day they can look up and tell us! It should be pretty obvious and hardly secret as it is not used!
So the 1st cat trough should be near Portside to the ramp?
There’s a whole other Smaller deck below the flight deck though for the systems.
You are right: so there is.
Sounds like they should invest in a few more stop cocks. Let’s hope there are no more nasties in the closet. The sooner she is back at sea the sooner the loony press can move on.
The maxim of the press these days seems to be that bad news is good news and good news is no news
Maybe. I always relate these issues back to what would happen in a wartime damage control situation. Without wishing to come across as too negative, this significant damage apparently occurred when the PoW
was ‘switched off’ and obviously alongside. Don’t know how many crew were on duty then of course, but for the damage to be that extensive is a concern.
It could have been worse, think “USS Bonhomme Richard”.
Lets not! This issue may have kyboshed the trip to US, though that was likely never essential.
“Light manning” is good in theory but…………
Interesting Photo, showing HMS M.33 and HMS Prince of Wales.
Looks tiny doesn’t it, but up close it’s not really that tiny. And I recently seen a RN opv and heck they are far bigger up close than in a picture… no wonders destroyers done a fine job around that size in ww2.
WW11 Destroyers were tiny in comparison to todays ships, the mission creep has been ever greater.
1400- 1750 tons for most part..
I like the reverse of that relativity when ‘folks’ are trying to find her at sea.
What would have happened if similar flooding had occured at sea while in combat?
The QEC carriers have arguably the most redundancy and survivable propulsion design of any RN carrier ever built. The ship has two entirely separated propulsion systems. Had this happened at sea, she would still have had propulsion on one shaft.
Both shafts and ~75% of total generating capacity.
That’s why all the Research and Design effort is worth it, this water ingress is big news here in peace time but nothing really worth noting in times of war.
Thanks for the info, funny how the Sun didn’t mention that…
Still, when reading The War for The Seas, Evan Mawdsley, I was struck by the fact that there was ‘damage control’ that led the likely loss of ships that should have been saved, & ‘damage control’ of ships that were saved but had no reasonable right to be. Excellent book for a personal Xmas pressy.
They have teams to battle to save the ship, well trained, actually we have trained lots of nations in this area and FOST….
Every ship prototype needs shock testing. Danes did it for what will become T31 Frigate. Maybe we forgot with carriers?
I looked in on here about an hour ago and saw quite a few people up voting comments yet now, they have all gone and been replaced. Seriously fellas, What’s going on here ?
Since the rebrand from StRN to Navy Lookout, up and downvoting has been removed, largely due to one or two individuals who have consistently downvoted anything positive about certain subjects. It has caused unnecessary agro in many a thread.
This is a rather trivial observation but whilst i always find QE & PoW striking (if not what you’d call beautiful) side on, from above i find them odd looking, ugly even!
That patchwork look of the deck with it’s different shades of grey doesn’t help
You are watching too many grand design type TV programmes.
Looks messy the deck, but hey it’s only the deck.
Perhaps the most of being alongside should be made. If there is any capability upgrades that are planned to happen 2021/2022 consideration could be given to bring them forward while she is alongside now which could free up time later in the programme and hopefully get her back on schedule.
Another black mark that the Treasury will use to stifle any ideas of progress.
They are still in the huff regarding the cost of the programme — file under middle class welfare / trebles all round the UK MIC — so now they have more evidence to put pressure on the MOD / RN regarding their abilities.
Progress has been glacial — where once it took years now it takes decades.
All involving a revolving door of characters blowing through the project relearning all the mistakes made by their predecessors.
Just what would James Lithgow make of all this?
Interesting view of the ship — highlights how inefficient and overly complex the powertrain is.
Even Lord Jellicoe would have struggled to justify a funnel that far forward.
And he had 5 x 2 12″ gun turrets to fit in along with all his pet boats.
Huge complexity and not enough oomph.
What is it with the RN and GT’s — have they got a loyalty card with RR?
With Maersk Triple E’s going for less that $200mill a pop — there must be a productivity gap somewhere?
The latest numbers have the next gen / even bigger boats going for around $160/180mill — Korea x 2.
Just what new tech did the QE team need to develop?
Thats because its different technology for propulsion. D
Dreadnoughts of Jellicoes era had a series of coal boilers followed by engines rooms with turbines, initially ungeared but later with gearing and then long propshafts to the 4 propellors. The boilers had to be placed to access the coal bunkers nearby. All that weight was best placed amidships for structural reasons and for the speed required often the length was derived first given the power available
QE class is totally different, gas turbines which can be located anywhere generate electricity for large podded electric motors. No long shafts or large boilers or turbine/gearing spaces.
The gas turbines with their funnels are below the island superstructure above the flight deck. Previous carriers had funnels in the single central island, but convoluted ducting to large boilers in lower hull. The choice for 2 islands allowed the GT to be separated too and no need for long ducting from the lower hull with the GT located higher up
With its 2 forward catapults the USS Ford has its island well back to provide more space for launching and arming and of course the nuclear reactors and turbines in their normal positions at the hull bottom and no need for funnels. QE class aircraft take off from the rear of flight deck not forward.
The comparison with super large container ships, is the sort of thing someone primary school age might do.
Interesting stuff but some way off my original comment.
My thoughts are that powertrain on the QE is overly complex and represents both poor value for money — like the whole programme itself @Владимир Темников north of £6bill for two small floating airfields — and a large degree of spacial inefficiency.
Just how much of the hull volume is given over to the powertrain and how does this compare with the alternatives that are available at the moment?
Seperation and redundancy are issues to be looked at but I fear that it became an end in itself and generated complexity that is hard to manage.
The Triple E comment was made to highlight what is available in the real world and the gap that has developed between that and the capabilities and demands of the RN supply chain.
You can blame it — like many things — on 1930’s Appeasement and their need for news management. An aircraft carrier might be big but it is not and never was a capital ship. The supply chain see this kind of talk and bump up their costs.
We should have seen that with the Ark Royal but 85 byears later we have still not learned that lesson.
Thanks for the diagram — even more wasteful than I thought.
The captain gets a suite — does he think he is staying at Claridges?
More pub talk doesnt make any of it true
Even a frigate captain has a ‘suite’ – effectively a meeting area with a bunk and its own bathroom
Actually the QE F35s take of further forward than back… very short runway actually, look at the Portsmouth F35b taking off…
The take off run will depend on the aircraft’s all up weight and wind over the deck. I would expect to see when operating in Beast Mode, the aircraft starting from further back.
The powertrain is a result of the huge differences between the two types of ship.
A big box ship can get away with a big slow speed donk and single shaft, because all it has to do is go from A to B as efficiently as possible. The only electric power it needs is to support the 20-odd crew and their accommodation, power bow thrusters, capstans, winches etc for berthing, minor ER auxiliaries and potentially some reefer container slots. Probably less than 15% of the ships volume is actually intended to be habitable.
On QE, the propulsion plant must be capable of a variety of states – all sustainable for prolonged periods. Manoeuvrability and survivability requirements lead to multiple shafts. Rapid response also tends to point towards MS donks and GTs – the response time of a slow speed donk is several minutes.
In volume terms that proportion is reversed – essentially 85%+ of the ships volume is intended to be inhabited, be that ops spaces, accommodation, stores etc. All of which need lighting, HVAC, electrical power, hot and cold running water, internal comms, alarms and surveillance systems etc.
A big box ship ls largely an empty steel hull, the vast majority of which can be fabricated by automated lines. Only a very small proportion – the accommodation block and the machinery spaces need any outfit on any scale.
Outfit can’t be automated, which is where shipyard manpower comes in, which is a significant chunk of where the cost differential comes from.
Slightly behind the curve regarding big container liners — twin skegs are now in the mix and shaft motor / generators have made an appearance.
Consequently they are increasing their capabilities and becoming more flexible — 25 knots if required / 18 knots if slow sreaming is required due to the cost of oil. Rinse and repeat with the duty cycle of an aircraft carrier and you are 95% of the way there straight out the catalogue.
Plus how much space does the average sailor need now?
What is the crewing requirements of the QE — 600 or 1200 if it is on the Malta run / 1942 style?
Your comments would suggest that the RN / supply chain are reading the book on parametric design backwards.
The size of the QE is driven by the needs of its airgroup — starting with the deck area and then the hangar size. Just how big a hangar does the QE have?
540′ x 90′ imperial for a 48 plane airgroup?
Regarding the cost driver I fear that you are not up to speed with cruise liners.
Huge amount of inhabited space but costing a lot less that the QE.
The trick is to do the fit out on land and fit it in chunks.
The RN missed a trick with the QE — very industry friendly design that is too small / underpowered / over complex.
What could possibly go wrong — Portsmouth we have a problem.
Shaft genny’s don’t change the price of fish – nowhere near powerful enough and don’t change the basic difference between the configuration and power demands of the ships. You can use twin skegs / but at a cost in EEDI. Most efficient propulsion is still a single large slow-turning prop, allied with a bigger cargo capacity. When you start hitting draft limits, then you can go for twin screw / smaller props – but its a trade-off.
There are some differences in subdivision between DefStan and SOLAS that tend to make comparisons with cruise liners less valid than you might think. That’s before you get into the differences in philosophy for firefighting etc.
Fitting out of QEC was done in the unit / block stage and to a relatively high degree. Trouble is, there are limits to what you can do with cabling installation (power and data) and fluid system test and commissioning which are influenced by the subdivision and block configuration, which you don’t get to the same degree on a cruise liner. Which is partly why Meyer Werft and Fincantieri are able to knock them out for the price they do.
Shaft motor / generator = increased flexibility.
The price of fish stays the same just a case you can catch different types.
Flexibility has its value in a naval ship.
Big Auto viewpoint — series hybrid is better but parallel hybrids work as well.
Just a case of where you are regarding powertrain development and cost.
Big Auto — series hybrids are cheaper and simpler.
Not sure if UK naval shipbuilding is in this good place.
EEDI vs naval shipbuilding = Interesting analysis / apples vs pears.
Does the QE need economy above all else — don’t think so.
Twin skegs vs big box liners.
Maersk produced some research for the original “E”‘s — single won out / seemingly 7% efficiency loss to go twin skeg. It looked a kitchen sink job to push the single skeg viewpoint with the 7% efficiency reduction being an overstatement.
Maersk then look into improving the “E”‘s with Triple “E”s — guess what twin skegs won out for some very good reasons.
Cargo efficiency improvements — twins are more efficient being smaller and easier to package / flow around the smaller propellors as in higher pressure / less draught issues as you note above.
Interesting that their view changed in 10 years but at least they were thinking.
Other more recent ships — now even bigger — for other operators are still single skeg but with a lower power Man / B+W unit rather than the Sulzer 14 cylinder monstrosity of yore.
Regarding your comments about cruise ships — yes you are right they are different just a case that they are much more complex than the QE. They are dealing with 5K humans rather than 1K.
The QE should have been a pretty simple ship.
Not a big job to keep 48 aircraft dry and supplied.
Especially if you have a voluminous hull to put stuff in.
Simple is cheap.
Simple at the start with extra complexity thrown in when required.
Not complex from the off with huge amounts of money wasted as in the QE.
Cunards QM2 has much the same drive train with diesels and gas turbines. However they have had initial problems with the fact she doesn’t have propellor shafts but drive modules.
I dont go along with your criticism of the drive train on the POW; the problem is the engineering of the salt water mains.
Basically you are wrong, any modern warship is hugely complex. Even in 1905 when Dreadnaught came out, warships were the engineering marvels of their age and prone to problems. But all was not well as 1 mine sank HMS Audacious due to leaking bulkheads. Simple?
You know something? I don’t think you have a clue what your talking about.
Tad harsh — just trying to respond to the story.
RN MOD / dockyard / builder’s booboo means big and expensive ship is out of commision.
Not a great advert for UK PLC.
The difference in Naval build standards to civil build standards is immense.
I agree QEC is a relatively simple design : it is compared to a Ford class.
But the battle damage resistance, fire fighting etc are just at a different level. If you have ever had anything to do with survivability on a fighting ship then it becomes clear.
Otherwise you are in the Max Hastings camp of trying to rerun Atlantic Conveyor with his ‘austere’ aircraft carriers burble.
if you look at the costs form those same yards for any of the Spanish or a Italian carrier/LPD’s you then understand that even they have higher costs.
Struggling to understand your point — the fire in the US would suggest that navy standards might have all the bits but they don’t work as advertised.
For real world stuff we have to go back to the Falklands and the small and complex Sheffield burned the same way as the big and simple AC did — in fact the AC had more chance of survival.
Obviously lessons were learned but hopefully they were learned by people without a Victorian attitude to boiler engineering — more of the same until the explosions stop. That didn’t end well.
Complexity brings its own risks — if all you have is a hammer then all your problems look like nails.
Hopefully the RN brains trust is a bit more diverse.
The work I did for the predecessor to DEIS and indirectly for RN was to make ships more survivable. It was my job and my passion for a good few years.
The whole reason for our team was to make sure that Sheffield and all the other unsurvivable problems of ’82 never happened again.
The problem in ’82 was that a lot of what had been done in ’39 was still being done because it had always been done that way and it was OK then.
EVERYTHING was looked at. Paint, rubber gaskets, flooring, wires, insulation the LOT. And then the fire, toxic smoke and vision impairing loads for each compartment were calculated and then groups of compartments. And how everything interacted.
It was for the time very advanced thinking and modelling.
There was a lot more wire and plastic in use in post war ships and this had outgrown the fire containment strategies. In older ships the comms wires were mostly in steel ducts with cotton insulation. That has its own problems but it generates little smoke or fire load. Then suddenly you had a lot of HF and bus cabling going all over the place all with its plastic insulation.
The whole point was to make anything that could happen containable and as ‘easy’ to continue fighting the ship.
It isn’t spilling the beans to say that it was driven down from the very top of the RN that this had to be sorted by gentlemen wearing a lot of egg.
“Obviously lessons were learned but hopefully they were learned by people without a Victorian attitude to boiler engineering — more of the same until the explosions stop. That didn’t end well.”
Yes, the lessons were absolutely learned the hard way.
And yes, this lead to ships being scrapped that could not be upgraded to reasonable survivable standards.
At the time I honestly believed that RN ships had the best built in survivability that could reasonably be done.
I have not had any involvement for over 20 years so I have no idea of the current state of things but from what I can see those lessons are still pretty engrained.
You cannot compare the sad event on Bonhome Richard, which was in a non fighting state in the hands of a contractor, without a full trained crew on board and more importantly without the ship being fully closed up: to a ship that is closed up, fully crewed and in a battle state.
Sorry for the rant.
Thanks for the response — I don’t think anyone would argue with need for greater robustness in the design of RN vessels just a case that it needs to be affordable and buildable.
Total quality management is probably a bit out of date now but it was very strong regarding understanding what quality was required but the second effort then became the cost of that quality.
As for the WW2 / 1939 reference I don’t think the RN had a great war regarding bringing home damaged ships — for every Exeter and Warspite you had a Manchester and an Ark Royal with the last one being particularly shambolic. Shameful that it took 37 years and 4 written off ships to get things moving.
I have no inside knowledge regarding the Falklands just a case that a lot of cramped / lightly built / underarmed ships came a cropper in the face of some new tech and a lot of iron age bombs. At some point robustness and survivability became lost to those who designed the post war fleet.
We still face the same issues just a case of how we address them and any efforts at improved survivabilty have to credible in the face of usability / affordabilty / capability pressures that are getting stronger as the numbers decrease. To argue against that would put you in the position of being a one club golfer who pushes for their own speciality rather than the greater good of the whole.
Please note that this happens in all industries including Big Auto.
Regarding the unfortunate accident on the USN vessel — I fear that what you mention had an influence but the bigger issue must be the amount of combustable material that allowed the fire to burn and burn and the poor response to the initial “thermal event”.
Where do I start.
Hermes was started during the WWII and finished in the ‘50’s so no surprise there that she was built to WWII standards.
The Country class destroyers were designed in the 1940-50’s so unsurprisingly there were a lot of WWII designs repurposed.
The thing was more to do with the design build life cycle of ships.
You would sort of have a point with T21 but that was a commercial light design sent to do heavy duty.
T22 was fundamentally fine.
T42 BI was the real wake up call. BII and BIII were much improved.
If you really want to understand it all read the USN report that cites lessons learned about ship design in ‘82. It does get a few things wrong and has bits redacted but it is in the public domain due to US FOI.
Please do read those. They may help your understanding.
The Bonhome Richard was in the hands of a civilian contractor who was working on the ship with materials stores and no doubt welding kit all over the place. Bulkhead doors that might have been removed. Fire mains that were down. Hoses and extraction kit through doors. Where to stop….
Not sure I can get my head around the WW2 feedback — surely we learned a lot about ship robustness after 6 years of very hard lessons?
Surely we were in a better place in 1945 than we had been in 1939? Although in the single case of carrier survivability / armoured flight decks the Malta class seemed to be heading in the wrong / opposite direction.
The most pressing question about the Hermes was not what it brought from the 40’s but how did it stack up against the Invincible class of the 70’s?
Thinking about it — the newer ship would have been a regression against the standards of the Hermes — larger ship / armoured elements / simpler systems / more robust powertrain?
I think that most would agree trhat the T42 was a quart into a pint pot with little thought given to survivability or growth — pencil style hull and world class oil canning.
And yes the weaknesses of an export spec light frigate were laid bare with the performance of the T21 — a lesson that hopefully has not been forgotten.
Could it be that your workload was lessons being re-learned after a couple of decades of wimpy engineering / design — wimpy in the context of a diary not housebuilding or burgers.
Finally not up to speed with the USN experience but their ship would appear to be robustly built even if the strength comes from expensive complexity and not cheap simplicity.
In Big Auto parlance their most recent ships seemed to have been seam welded rather than spot welded.
Well I’m impressed if you read both those links in 41 minutes……
But you didn’t: did you?
You also don’t understand that for a substantial period of time the main threat to a fleet was viewed as being from high level air or nuclear.
This dictated the design of the Counties as this was at the zenith of the nuclear age.
A lot of things were the way they were for good reason **at the time**.
If you want to understand the weapons and radars of ‘82 we have debated those to death on other threads.
All I will say in closing is that by your own argument, which bracketed this, QEC is bigger, more compartmented, Better designed and better constructed and therefore more survivable than its predecessors.
I think that you highlight suggests that we were poorly equipped for the Falklands — just a case that opposition travelled in hope / were poor at logistics and were not expecting a fight.
The equipment gaps highlighted by the report are still with us.
Just a case that we are better at the PR and at the moment the forces are enjoying a high level of support in the media.
As for RN planning — the usual mix of hobby horsing / lack of imagination / chimney thinking was the order of the day in the 50’s and 60’s where we were happy to be the ASW arm of the USN / North Atlantic branch.
As for the QE — you are right she is a significant improvement on what has gone before — just a case that the Eagle class were a more balanced outfit back in the day.
The QE cost too much and has a number of schoolboy howlers in her design and current use.
She is far too industry friendly and the design process was badly managed — too slow and too small.
A Triple E with a roof is the future.
However too many make a good living blinding the RN / MOD with techno babble and froth.
The report USN report I included the link to suggest RN were rather good at logistics.
Re Hermes have a look at that.
How do you think the welding and other steel connections in Hermes differed from Invincible?
Logistics — I was talking about the opposition.
Hermes is / was a scale bigger than the Invincibles.
From memory I think the Centaur class carried a limited amount of armour.
Plus RN design was not very robust in the 70’s — T42 for example.
Centaurs — Slow / Poundland versions of Illustrious ?!?
The light fleet designs were COT to the core so the next design was a move closer to earlier standards.
Either that or the move to 4 screws meant that UK PLC could not supply the required geared turbines and they had to live with 2 instead of the 3 or 4 of the earlier units.
The US report is very much of its time — Reagan the battleship years.
However our failures were glaring.
Even after the carnage of our destroyers in WW2 the AAW armament was pitiful — SeaCat or die too often.
“Hermes is / was a scale bigger than the Invincibles.”
Not correct when a detailed analysis was made.
According to DK Brown the internal volume of Centaur was 92,000 ft2 with full load displacement of 28,500 tons.
Invincible had 90,000 ft2 on full load 19,500 tons. The draught was 6.4m compared to Centaurs 8.5m. Complement was halved form 2000 to 1000 or so.
So much more space for the displacement than older designs
These were the ships that had the ski jump runupp ‘angled slightly’ to clear the Sea Dart launcher. The QE class have no angled run up.
Fat Bloke: Care to elaborate on the schoolboy howlers in the QE design?
Are You on Drugs?
I’ve given up.
Over to anyone else who wants to try and set the record straight.
Maybe we should send Fat Bloke to work with the French on the CGD replacement that they have announced? With his level of expertise what could possibly go wrong?
After all he is an expert on that – just like Daddy Pig was 🙂
Yes, I very much agree with You SB!
Reckon !!!!, I liked the Maersk comment, Pissed myself.
It is worth remembering that the US Navy experimented with turbo electric propulsion of several classes of battleships back in the 1920’s and dropped the concept because:
More to do with the state of the US gear cutting capabilities than anything else.
It was a strange time for ship design — the USN knew it was behind the curve and kissed a lot of frogs in its efforts to catch up.
Any details on the specifics of the flooding risk?
After the Audacious the RN had its own issues with flooding.
No different era and different technology.
FYI – currently USS Truxtun DDG-103 is the only ship in the class to have a hybrid-electric propulsion system. It’s been proven to be finicky and barely provides enough load margin to operate all systems to include its main Aegis system.
Thats because the electric drive for speeds under 13 kts were supplied from the existing electrical generators – normally 2 out 3 running. Slow and quiet.
That meant the electric supply was at mostly run at max and very close to a ship blackout if any issues. Sounds like the T45?
The answer was more generator sets, but wasnt practical in existing ships, the flight III will up uprated generators but thats for the higher ordinary loads.
The Zumwalt class had more elaborate full integrated power supply and electric drive system built in.
“the technology couldn’t generate sufficient power for really high speeds.”
The carriers Lexington and Saratoga, converted from fast battlecruisers while under construction were turbo electric propulsion and were capable of 33 kts
They started in 1910 with comparison of three 20,000 ton colliers , AC 4 Cyclops with steam reciprocating engines, AC 8 Neptune with steam turbine and the last AC 3 Jupiter with turbo electric and were impressed by the considerable improvement in fuel efficiency.
The AC 3 Jupiter was later converted to USS Langley the first USN carrier.
In practice, battleships and carriers steaming wasnt the slow plodding of a collier and the fuel saving wasnt there.
During WW2 a shortage of turbine manufacturing saw the DE51 Buckley class of escorts turbo electric
That’s not great news…
It seems like quite a long time to be alongside, although appreciate that there’s a lot of work to do beyond just replacing cabinets (which will likely be on lead times) and re-running a few cables. Might they also be deciding to run a capability insertion period into these works too, if they’re not going to be able to make Westlant 2021 in January anyway?
Will the French have another go at a carrier?
The CDG was just a poundland CVN designed by ticking a few boxes.
Consequently they are now also rans.
I tghink that the Italians will get into the 65K ton class with their next generation and then it comes down to Brazil or India getting into envy engineering.
Then you have Turkey / Thailand / Korea / Indonesia / Russia getting in on the act.
At some point someone is going to ask the $600mill question — how quickly can you put a roof on a Triple E?
I’d love to buy some of the Drugs you are on mate ! ….. you are a breath of fresh air here, Stick around.
No but Seriously chaps….. It makes a nice change to the usual Troll like behaviour…….
Short hyper-active French bloke talking big about the future.
Pushing a vapourwear concept that is nuclear powered and slightly bigger than the QE.
Sounds very formulaic to me.
Regarding the CDG — her first captain must have run over a herd of black cats as he drove to the dockyard to take up command. 20 years of bad luck must be unprecedented — at least since the mid 19th century and the Great Eastern.
Plus the poor thing looks like the poisoned dwarf of carrier avaiation.
Not a fan.
You found another way of Trolling Fat Dave!
I think this is quite bad. That is more than a half year stoppage.