HMS Queen Elizabeth – the Navy’s flagship of tomorrow – is now taller than Nelson’s Column with the addition of the ship’s main radar. The large long range radar was craned into place on top of the carrier’s forward island.
A large black slab now sits atop Britain’s biggest warship as the huge radar antenna was fitted to the superstructure of HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The nation’s future flagship now stands 56 metres (183ft) tall – higher than Nelson’s Column – after the enormous Goliath crane lifted the 8.4-tonne long-range radar into place on top of the carrier’s forward island.
The radar – similar to those fitted on the Type 45 destroyers – safely arrived in Rosyth with its support, the mast cap, from Hengelo in the eastern Netherlands back in September.
Since then feverish work has been going on around Queen Elizabeth to complete her hull (finished earlier this month [NOV] with the addition of her ski ramp).
With the addition of the mast cap and black slab – officially an antenna, despite its size (32m2 or 344ft2) – all of the ship’s main structure blocks are now in place.
The radar, which provides a three dimensional, long-range picture not just of the skies around Queen Elizabeth but also the waters, sits 27 metres (88ft) above the flight deck, 50 metres (164ft) above the sea.
And that’s still not the highest point on Queen Elizabeth. When the communications pole mast is fitted next year it will be 70 metres (230ft) from tip to keel – which is almost as long as a River-class patrol ship.
As for the radar, it can track up to 1,000 contacts up to a range of 400km (250 miles) from the ship.
So, if fired up in Rosyth it could track every aircraft in UK skies as far south as Birmingham and Nottingham.
Or from Queen Elizabeth’s home base of Portsmouth (arriving over the winter of 2016-17) the radar’s eyes can see as far north as the Lake District, as far south as Nantes and as far east as Brussels.
It now falls to the weapon engineering department and Aircraft Carrier Alliance technicians to mesh the radar and the data it will gather in with the rest of the systems aboard.
It’s the first time the civilian and RN engineers have worked side-by-side on a shipbuilding project; traditionally, shipwrights complete the installation of kit, then hand over the finished product to the Navy.
In a ship’s company of 50 at present, the WE department is 21-strong – and will slowly rise to a full strength of 94 by 2015.
Given the size of Queen Elizabeth and complexity of her systems – billed as the Navy’s ultimate engineer challenge – the engineers (marine and weapon) are keen to encourage their branch brothers and sisters to join them on the Forth.
Press Release, November 29, 2013; Image: Royal Navy