One mans view about the  naming of ships


 and salient  points about loosing touch with the pack on modern naval power units .

Keeping up with the Jones' whilst remaining superstitious ?


On this page I am going to show you some images and talk about topics which have a bearing on the naming of our two new AIRCRAFT CARRIERS.

Perhaps you yourself wander down on a morning to get your papers and like many, choose two or three publications hoping to achieve a "broad read" on what is going on the world. We all have our personal choices but I like the Times, the Guardian and either the Mail or the Express. Likewise BBC's 6pm News is a must with a lunch time peep at an on-line news, usually Sky News. That "catholic" approach {to all things} is healthy for it is synonymous with being broad minded and antonymous with being narrow minded.  My wife and I have a deep catholic appreciation of music enjoying equally, classical, pop, country, traditional jazz and R&B. Age-related we know, but we haven't yet caught up with our grandchildren with the likes of RAP and HipHop!

Wouldn't it be good [valuable] if we could  'read, watch, observe' both or all sides of the navy in the same way in order to achieve as broad a picture as possible so that we could free our minds of prejudices and attachments. This is particularly relevant to times before or after our own Service years, but especially of a time when things were demonstrably different both operationally and socially. There is a hint here and it points to the first line of this paragraph which says "both or all sides", because right up to the end of WW2, we had three decks which I will call upper, middle and lower. We know a great deal about the upper deck and much was written about the lower deck especially of the privations it suffered coupled with the harsh and almost penal attitudes towards discipline. However, and with few exceptions only, much of what is recorded for posterity about the lower deck was written by members of the upper deck who of course, also authored their own history. It could be argued that the history of the lower deck was largely objective, data which can be proved with fact and figures but not with personal experiences, whereas what was written about the upper deck was largely subjective: personal experience which cannot be proved by fact and figures alone. So what about the middle deck? Sadly, and mostly unknown, is a special  dispensation given to the warrant officer classes in which they were allowed to have their own Association, pension fund and mutual provident club, and a written diary, often quite near to the mark of questioning naval discipline, which became known pan-navy as the Warrant Officers Journal. The warrant officers were special in many ways leading to advantages which no other part of the navy had, chief of which was that a good quarter of the WO Association Members lived in the Wardroom [and before that occasionally in the Gun Room] as commissioned WO's with the other  three quarters living in the WO Mess both ashore and in big ships, at sea. When non-commissioned WO's served in small ships, they too lived in the Wardroom. With the blessings [often mixed] given to the "freedom of press" for their Journal  by the Admiralty, it is easy to see how they were advantaged, with WO's often well ahead of having a "feel for the ship" which wardroom mess members did not always have! The WO Journal  has survived to this day and is readily available in large reference libraries on demand. The monthly diaries were bound at the end of each year into a yearly journal   I own several years-worth of these Journals, and since they were written by and for WO's, they were 80 to 90 percent subjective. The journals were not only envied by the wardroom, but they were powerful often getting high profile admirals - Lord Fisher being one of them and on more than one occasion - on the side of the WO Association. In those days - pre 1947 when the WO Messes closed down and all WO notwithstanding became wardroom officers, the WO Association would act independently of the ship, the fleet, the geographical area, and one example, repeated time and time again in comparable ways, was to send their personal congratulations to the Sovereign for a birth, a marriage, a birthday, or to the bereaved King or Queen on the death of their partner, something unheard of today and of course something which would not be tolerated or allowed. The editorial power of the Journal was known to influence naval policies from the naval point of view - no other part of the navy had this privilege -  the almost omnipotent powerful Navy League kept the Admiralty on its toes from the civilian point of view. The WO Association exercised great power downwards to the senior personnel on the lower deck [CPO's] and upwards to junior members of the wardroom. By reading their Journals which are now historical documents, it gives balance to the navy of those years, allowing one to understand the interpretation of the naval modus operandi particularly in the WW2 years.

I have come to learn that the best and only way to study pragmatic royal naval history is to study and read [then compare with other written versions]  the RN Warrant Officers Monthly Journals which covers every aspect of naval life from the splendor of the admirals quarters and his entourage to the boys mess and the bullying tactics of their sea-dads and oft times cruel instructors. This copy comes from 1901 the year in which Her Majesty Queen Victoria died at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. It covers every month.  Every aspect of naval life was discussed at their meetings in Portsmouth and in Devonport, and at ad hoc meetings arranged when the fleet gathered for Reviews, Regattas, and war formations/games typical of which was at Scapa Flow but other places too. Much, though not all, was recorded and published in their monthly Journals. When not officially published, for example the Prince of Wales shooting down one of our own fighter aircraft, but the word got around, and there is anecdotal evidence that much was talked about concerning HMS Prince of Wales. The ship carried nine commissioned warrant officers {2 x Gunners, 1 x Tel, 1 x Shipwright, 1 x Engineer,  1 x Ordnance, 1 x Electrician, 1 x Schoolmaster and 1 x Supply} and six warrant officers {2 x Gunners, 1 x Boatswain, 2 x Engineers and 1 x Mechanician}, fifteen in all. Although wardroom officers, commissioned warrant officers and non-commissioned warrant officers joined the WO Journal Group and frequently met and socialised together, with many of them Members of the WO Pension Club, at a time when others in the navy were not so well looked after after retiring, or upon their deaths in Service, neither were their families. The Hood had a similar number of warrant officers borne and all perished. Although the Prince of Wales was engaged in two separate and unrelated engagements, out of her fifteen WO's, she lost just one, namely the commissioned electrician viz., Eric Marchant. In her first engagement, against the Bismarck and the Prinz Eugen, she lost thirteen men on the day and one died of his wounds the following day. In the second, against Japanese air forces {bomber <AIR FORCE> and torpedo attacks <NAVY AIR ARM>}, she lost three hundred and twenty seven men out of a war complement of 1521, thus approximately 22% of the crew.

To give my story strength, credence, and propriety, I have studied the media output from newspapers, the WO Journal and the video [more often than not with Admiralty and Imperial War Museum approval and cooperation] and collectively they show the case and reason for my page to be accurate, albeit 'gathered' piecemeal from the three sources mentioned. Whatever, the story I want to tell has to be "dug-out" rather than having it delivered to one on a plate as is the unfolding story about the new QE class aircraft carriers. You will have already gleaned that my story is not designed to follow the 'party line'.

I start of with my introduction covering many things already known about the news story.

 The names of the ships are of course HMS Queen Elizabeth R08{the former pennant number of HMS Bulwark}and HMS Prince of Wales R09{the former pennant number of HMS Ark Royal}. This lovely picture of the 1950's R09 was taken during her build. She is painted white and I have named her 'The White Ghost'. I propose to anybody who may read this page, that this would be a must-have picture to hang in the wardroom of the new R09, HMS Prince of Wales. The number is nearly as important as the name, so it is worth a go. On the one hand the pennant number reflecting unhappiness, many deaths and premature destruction and then the same pennant number juxtaposed, hoping and wishing for happiness, fulfillment and a long life. As we lament the fate of the first ship carrying this number in war time, let us all hope that the very existence of the second ship to carry it [and her sister], helps to stave off  war in the future altogether.

1.  Before I start, just a reminder about the class of vessels to which HMS Prince of Wales belonged.  The class consisted of five battleships named after the newly deceased Monarch King George V followed by the Ruling Monarch King Edward VIII and his brother the Duke of York {Queen Elizabeth the Second's father} with two famous admirals Howe and Anson. When King Edward VIII [not crowned] abdicated in 1936, the ship named after him was renamed after his former royal personage, namely to the Prince of Wales. The former Prince of Wales and the erstwhile King Edward VIII were one and the same person, and whilst as the Prince of Wales he was a very popular and charismatic prince, as embryonic King in his pre-Coronation year he became disliked more and more until he voluntarily stepped-down and abdicated in favour of a private life with a woman few in his Kingdom liked or respected.   In doing so, he abandoned his family, particularly his mother Queen Mary who died  in late March 1953 just a few weeks before the Coronation of her granddaughter as Queen Elizabeth 2nd. One of the most poignant images I can remember is that of the Dowager H.M. The Queen Mary, peeping out of the curtains in a room in Marlborough House which runs parallel to and overlooks the Mall, observing the Duke of Windsor walking with others behind the coffin on his brother King George VI, the very man {and his family} the Duke had forced into Kingship and who had died largely due to the stresses of that office in a period of total war without precedent. It would be remiss of me not to mention that the King was a heavy smoker and had had major lung problems. It is said that he died of a coronary thrombosis - a fatal blood clot to the heart - soon after falling asleep. He was also revealed to have been suffering from lung cancer.  Her face was all telling and partly reciprocated when the Duke senses his mothers presence for which he had little but an embarrassing glance, a glance to melt your heart, never mind that of his own and his dearest mothers! As well as abandoning his family, he abandoned his country, his King-folk, his purpose and his birthright: things few of us would do without first exercising introspection ! So, with that in mind, we can begin our story.

 2.  As I served in {R05} HMS Eagle with Captain Le Fanu - a happy ship - I had many friends who were serving in {R09} HMS ARK ROYAL, regularly commenting upon the happiness in that ship too. She had a history of one after the other of good Captains and good commissions making for a happy ship.  You will find much on this site about those days. Her name is legend and her association with HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was lovely to behold as was their tangible and often tactile affiliation with the City of Leeds and its Lord Mayor and citizens.  Her final decommissioning was lamented by all.  However, HMS Prince of Wales* was definitely NOT A HAPPY SHIP, leading as we all know to poor morale, disillusionment and dissatisfaction.

* The international callsign of the new POW I sourced from the ITU in April  2018 as GPWS

3.  Several things within and external to the ship caused these problems and I will mention just a few of them. However, please be aware that we Brit's in these pre-war times actually loved, yes, loved, our Royal Family and through them the country, in a far more caring sense than happens today or can be envisaged to happen.  Anything that happened to our Royal Family or to our country mattered to all, almost to the entire population , a population which was truly indigenous with very few immigrants. This "way" of living was not unique to Britain, for most countries, our enemies and our allies included, lived with a sense of belonging and loyalty, some even going overboard by becoming nationalistic {Germany for example} whilst others ran a closed-shop society with a totally homogenous attitude, forbidding entry into their country by any who might seek to dilute and pervert their customs and way of living, Japan for example. We Brit's took the moderate line/approach welcoming all who would be sympathetic to our customs, ways of live, but above all else, share our love and loyalty to our Royal Family.

4.  Can you for one moment understand or imagine the feeling in Britain, when in 1936, one of our own and the most important one at that, broke that golden rule of loyalty, fidelity and overt love of and for our country?    That man was the King himself, King that is in waiting, in accession awaiting his Coronation but King nevertheless. For the navy, those five ships had in effect to embrace a major change. First of all it was necessary to delete the name King Edward VIII and replace it with another name, preferably a Royal name. It couldn't be renamed King George VI for its near direct association with King George V, a bit like our two submarines whose names caused so much confusion, the Token and the Totem, which ended up in official-speak as Totem [T] and Token [K].  The original list had contained two living nominations and three deceased names, but now things would need to change unless suitable alternative names were forthcoming. Fittingly, I believe, they kept the name of Duke of York who overnight had become H.M. King George VI leaving just one name to replace namely HMS King Edward VIII. That man, very soon to be the Duke of Windsor was increasingly more and more despised for his ultra selfish act, and of course with the two names belonging to the same person, that of the Prince of Wales and King Edward VIII, "playing" with the two names seeking to placate the well-liked former POW and ostracise the not-so-well-liked erstwhile King Edward was impossible if their intention was to square the circle. The powers that be put virtually little or no effort into the name change and went for the easy option of HMS Prince of Wales.

 5.  It didn't help the situation because of the ships motto which to most of the crew was a matter of ambivalence. However, when war broke-out and they were reminded of the ship's German motto used by  HRH The Prince of Wales of  'Ich Dien' which means 'I Serve'...many discontents on the messdecks changed it to...'I serve Germany'. The coining of this phrase was free of levity for the following reason. Even before the first piece of steel had been placed in the bottom of the building-dock for HMS Prince of Wales {1st January 1937}, Edward {proper name David} had been the Prince of Wales, the King but uncrowned and an abdicator, fully ostracised by family and country alike  His becoming self-deposed meant his persona non grata was a just reaction to a man considered as betraying and abandoning his country and his family, but things grew to be much worse when Edward visited Germany and was seen as being a willing and inter active guest of Hitler and his heinous Nazi Party. Reading between the lines and the many moots of that time, the authorities should have stepped in to give the ship a new motto {if no name change}, say, something to do with the Principality of Wales, and to hell with history/antiquity which associates Ich Dien with a Prince of Wales now, as it will do with HRH The Prince William when Prince Charles succeeds to the Throne. What better motto would have been appropriate than that of the Royal/Loyal Motto of the Royal Regiment of Wales which is Gwell angau na Chywilydd meaning "Death rather than Dishonour"?  German motto's, indeed any foreign motto with the exception of classical Latin on British warships, especially when fighting Germany as we did throughout much of the twentieth century, are outdated, irrelevant and potentially bad for morale.  Some even hinted at the parallel set during WW1 by HM King George V when he ordered a severance with the past where Royals were associated with Houses or Dynasties only, and particularly with German Houses/Dynasties, adopting the customs, motto's and regalia of such, to be replaced by a surname like all other subjects of His Majesty. He chose a British word, the word used for the quintessential ancient British palace at Windsor to be henceforth the surname of the Royal Family, in lieu of the time honoured name of the family with its overt connections in antiquity having a strong preponderance towards German culture, which until the 1917 adoption of a surname, was the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, a few "States" gathered together in Bavaria [Southern Germany] not far from Nuremberg famous for the WW2 War Crimes prosecutions, condemnation and subsequent death penalties/executions, not to mention the land of the BMW motorcar. Of interest, many years on from 1917, in 1960, The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh decided that they too wanted to start their own surname, leaving all but their issue with the 1917 surname, namely Windsor for the royal family at large.  They chose the surname Mountbatten-Windsor which when used [although rarely] is used for themselves, by Charles, Anne, Andrew, Edward, their partners, their children, and grandchildren.

6.  Whether or not you agree that the naming and/or motto's was relevant or irrelevant and one of the potential components leading to poor morale in HMS Prince of Wales [pennant number 53], the abdicator was an extremely unpopular man, and when compared with the new King and Queen and their delightful family unit, a comparison exercised almost continuously by all sections of the population, he was almost hated, so that anything the ex-King did was treated with contempt and derision. Having such a man associated with your ship when men were dying left right and centre [too many ship losses and dead men to mention here] was not always easy to bear!

7.  In this video clip, no real reason is suggested for the poor morale on the lower deck of the Prince of Wales. I have/will mention several reasons !  This is the original official Admiralty video. It is not good - copied I would image a thousand or more times. Below, entitled 'LOSS OF HMSD HOOD' I have reprocessed the Admiralty video into MP4 format, which still far from perfect, makes for better viewing that the actual original video. Take your pick!





Other pointers to the morale problem, in no particular order were:-

8.  Prince Edward was a very popular man and an even more popular Prince of Wales  from his investiture [1910] onwards, after whom, as a living former Prince of Wales, the ship was renamed after the abdication.. The popularity was nowhere better shown than in the navy with the spirit of Rule Britannia and the thought of having a new class of battleship with five ships,  three with  royal names  {father and two sons} King George 5, King Edward VIII, Duke of York, and two after  famous admirals Howe and the Anson.  The Royal family could do no wrong and they were hugely popular, loved and respected.  This continued into 1936 when the POW became King Edward VIII, when all earmarked to work on the ship looked upon his elevation and promotion as their [the ship's] promotion in patronage terms, thinking of Edward as their King.  As a single man now aged forty two, he was getting on in years for traditional marriage where both partners are of similar ages and the woman of child-bearing age, meaning that  there would be a longish wait, if at all,  for another Prince of Wales  to be invested.

9.  1936 was a horrible year for all in the UK especially in the navy, culminating with the Kings abdication [December] in favour of his brother the Duke of York who as a living patron, the sister-ship of the King Edward VIII, the Duke of York, had been named. The skeleton of the newly named Prince of Wales started to form [to be laid down] in January 1937, almost days after the Prince's abdication and it begs the question that given this intense disliking of the man post the abdication, that the name of the skeleton of the ship wasn't immediately changed to something pro-British, in keeping with the Royal connotation of the class of ship but NOT to the Prince of Wales or anything linked with the Prince in his younger days. The name "HMS Princess Royal" a Sovereigns daughter, would have been eminently suitable* see below. The stigma of this even meant that the drawing-board HMS Duke of York had trumped the drawing-board HMS Prince of Wales,  and since the abdication, for most people in the UK, perhaps in the vast British Empire, had made Edward a most unpopular man, henceforward considered persona non grata, just as much to the navy as to the population at large.  They were deflated as 'flesh' was added to the 'bones' of the embryonic vessel and their once proud ship-in-the-build was now merely an also-ran! If the pride of serving in a brand new all singing and dancing battleship can be dinted, then this was one occasion when it was, and to a marked affect. It was to be one in a chain of events which would slowly but surely erode the sense of belonging to what many considered to one of three ships forming a triumvirate, namely the Hood, the King Edward VIII and the equally new Ark Royal, a fleet carrier without a peer. Because of the new King's obvious influence, HMS Duke of York now supplanted the newly renamed HMS Prince of Wales. Sadly and early on in the war, the original triumvirate was destroyed, when two out of three ships were lost, namely the Ark Royal and the Hood.
* It was the declared intention that HM King Edward VIII, should be the patron of the ship {whatever the second in the class would be called at launch time} and therefore that he would launch the ship and attend her first commissioning ceremony. Come that launching, the now Duke of Windsor, vanquished from British society, was not able to perform these important duties, and in his place, Princess Mary, The Princess Royal and his sister performed the duties. Princess Mary was very popular especially to my parents, who lived quite close by to us in Harewood House not too far from the Lower Wharfedale market town of Otley. On the day of the launching [and indeed throughout many other times too] the Duke of Windsor must have felt very guilty, very isolated and full of remorse.  As for the crew of the ship and especially the senior officers, they must have felt terribly let down by their intended patron's selfish act. The first of the class and first to get her bottom wet, HMS King George V, was launched in February 1939 at Newcastle by his son, King George VI.

10.  In naval terms, the loss of position in the fleet was to continue,  for as we know, there was no issue from the marriage between Edward and his most unpopular American wife, and the country had to wait a long time for the next Prince of Wales who was to be Charles heir to the Throne of Queen Elizabeth The Second,  who was created such in 1969, fifty nine years after Edward's investiture, and that forty four years ago since this page was written. 

11.  Having to cope with and accept that their ship's patron was now widely accepted as a trouble maker for his brother, the British Government pointed Edward, now the Duke of Windsor. in the right direction so that he would not 'burn all his bridges', hopefully leaving him a way back to his people when all the dust had settled, if that were possible. The Prime Minister appointed him as Governor of the Bahamas and he was banished to Nassau for the war, out of harms way and the ability to embarrass the UK in the pursuance of fighting the war in Europe. Later Churchill attempted to promoted him to be the Governor of Bermuda but the Duke didn't see it as a promotion and refused, finally bowing out of Nassau in 1945.

12.  At the outbreak of WW2, Britain was caught on the hop with a great need for capital ships but with not enough fully ready for combat. HMS Prince of Wales was wanted but was not available. She was not completed until the end of March 1941 because of bomb damage, late delivery of equipment particularly of large guns, and yet nine short month later she lay at the bottom of the South China Sea as a war grave commemorating the souls of well over three hundred royal sailors. She was dragged out of her build/fitting-out basin with many important and essential tests/trails not yet completed, these affecting the efficiency of the ship and her ability to fight and repair herself of action damage. The Wardrooms' [much to be admired] stiff upper lip carried the day, but the more pragmatic crew members, particularly the artificers and artisans, knew that their job, should war damage come, would be difficult if not impossible with untried ventilation and pumping equipment/stations, further complicated by emergency power supplies in some cases not even fitted.

13.  The POW with others in the Class went to Scapa Flow for their work-up, and had that been allowed to develop , then many of the problems, the result of a war-build, would have been found, documented and rectified either with assistance e.g. DED [Docking for Essential Defects] or at AMP/SMP {Assisted Maintenance Periods/Self Maintenance Periods}, even going fully into Dockyard Hands, but here again, there wasn't time for that! Half way through the workup, the Admiralty got wind that the Bismarck was attempting to break-out into the Atlantic, and so, having only arrived in the Flow at the end of April 1941, she was ordered to sail  on the 10th May as an escort for the Hood, to search out Bismarck and her escort the Prinz Eugen. The Hood was fully worked-up but the Prince of Wales was not even half way in fulfilling the requirement of a 'new built/first of a class' work-up. She sailed largely unprepared although fully ammunitioned and miraculously escaped a thoroughly good hiding although she escaped with 'her tail between her legs'. 

14.  She never did complete a supervised class-work-up and got-by piecemeal so to speak, learning from the lessons learned by others in the class via the A&A system. Her short career almost on a self-help basis was as follows:-

June and July 1941 Under repair following damage caused by the Bismarck
August 1941 Took Churchill to Argentina for the Atlantic Charter
September 1941 Covered a major Malta Convoy
October 1941 Transferred to the East Indies Station as Flagship of Admiral Phillips
December 1941 At Colombo en route to Singapore
10th December 1941 Sunk by Japanese aircraft in company with Repulse

15.  In her brief time with us she saw a great deal of action, did a great deal of sea time, lost many men, and shot down a friendly aircraft with no survivors. A very sad one and only commission with a death knell dealt by a popular and much respected admiral who didn't think air cover was necessary for his flagship and escort [HMS Repulse] resulting in a dreadful loss of life including his own, measured at around 2330 deaths. If the sinking's can be mitigated in any form or fashion, we need to be grateful for the 2000 plus men who were rescued from these two vessels.

16.  I have previously mentioned the unlucky thirteen [in her May 1941 engagement with the Bismarck and the Prinz Eugen] and that occurs again in the present day records about the ship! Although far from being reliable and a million miles away from being authoritative, Wikipedia states that the new ship {R09] is the 9th ship to bear this name, whilst the more reliable 'Naval History Net' shows her to be the 13th ship with this name. If the latter is the case, then perhaps the re-use of the name at any time let alone now, is inappropriate, and a soothsayer might make much of this in the years ahead!

17.  The men of the Devonport Division and separately, the WO's, talked and wrote much about the hapless HMS Prince of Wales and its many misfortunes in their Plymouth WO's Journal.  They wrote much about the Repulse, also a Devonport manned vessel. 1941 saw much sadness along the south coast of England more than at any other time, with the two cities of Portsmouth and Plymouth lamenting the loss of major warships wherein, literally thousands of family members of the crews lived and cried for weeks on end. In that year, although there were many many more, believe me, the city of Portsmouth mourned the loss of their ship HMS Hood, and Plymouth mourned the loss of their ship HMS Prince of Wales both, on the same day in May, attacked by the Bismarck and the Prinz Eugen, as well as Plymouth mourning the loss of the Repulse. The King George 5 and the Prince of Wales had been allocated to the city of Edinburgh in recognition of their huge collection during warship week totaling a staggering twelve and a quarter million pounds Sterling. The city also made a pledge to collect for the replacement of the Repulse. Later on, in a situation in flux, the City of Liverpool got involved with our target ship and others as this article shows


19. It cannot be rocket science in the naming of warships, with some names popular and often repeated even over short time periods, Ark Royal for example when other names have been used just the once since naming became the norm. Generally, names have always been used for surface vessels but it wasn't all that long ago that other vessels had alphanumeric characters instead of names, for example the submarine service, coastal defence vessels and others. For example, one of my old submarines was known as the P419 until it was changed to HM S/M Auriga. The Admiralty must have treated the guarantee of having five brand new battleships as though it were Christmas time {even though with the war clouds gathering, of necessity}  and the scale and magnitude of their order has never been repeated. As ordered, they were the King George 5 {after whom the class was named but wrongly} King Edward VIII, Duke of York - in order, father and two sons - plus two named after admirals, namely the Howe and the Anson.

You will note that the ships listed in the article above differ from mine in the paragraph before the article. You will note on the page why that should be.

Before continuing, think-on and ponder this question: if you do not understand the question or why it is asked, you will not pass the rest of the test!

In British history, custom, folk-law, heraldry, protocol etc etc, what do the figures behind the name of a monarch signify ?

For example, QUEEN MABLE VI Means:-
A. She lasted 6 years on the Throne! B. She was 6 years of age when she died! C. She was the 6th Queen to bear that Christian name!

If you answered C, then I think that you can safely continue with the story. If you got it wrong then why not apply for a job in the MOD naming warships?

20.   It would be nice to know who is responsible for naming new ships and for choosing their pennant numbers. Is it just me or do any of you think about names like BOUNTY, HOOD, QUEEN ELIZABETH ,MARY ROSE, HMS FLAT CALM [real for sure with a callsign of GFBV] and others too. For very obvious reasons HMS Bounty might not sound quite right for a British warship, but why no Mary Rose since the beginning of WW2, seventy long years ago?  With her fame, her name must be over due for re-use and since Mary Tudor [after whom the first ship was named] is buried in the Parish Church of my local town. I have a vested interest in seeing her afloat again with that proud name once again being saluted. Queen Elizabeth, last used in 1915 [first commissioning date] , virtually one hundred years ago is back, but why another Queen Elizabeth 1 [the first] when surely it should have been QE II? Arguing apart, and many will seek one, if there is no figure behind the name, then {WITH THIS NAME} it is automatically assumed to be the Tudor Monarch. I bet  that given the vote of the public, she would have been without doubt the QE II - it makes good sense and the name-choosers have made a gaffe on this naming, and not the only one I think. Of all ships names, the mighty Hood, who was christened that at her launch  [1915] ninety five years ago at the time of writing, is such an obvious choice, especially when the HM Queen Elizabeth II has no part to play in this new vessel. Moving this gaffe onwards, we are led to believe that the two ships will still be around in 2050, and that any mid-term smaller ship build will not be of the size or stature to be named after a Monarch, meaning that the name QE II will not be used until at least then, possibly for the replacement of the QE class!  Perhaps then [2050] we might get our QE2 class. The  'polite' gaffe is rapidly becoming a 'common' balls-up in my book. However, the day is not lost, and I say to you, come on matey, lower your pride and get that figure '2' or 'II' painted behind the word Elizabeth, otherwise get Lord Hood back on baseline .Hood I fear will never get another crack at carrying a Flag ? I'll wager that the chooser of ships names is a civilian, a MOD civil servant, or if not that, some crack-pot who doesn't understand what the navy would have chosen given the chance. Whoever the culprits are, it is manifest that they have not heard of the WW2 HMS Prince of Wales {recorded in print and on video} and how she was considered by the lower deck to be a jinxed ship and one to be avoided at all costs draft-wise if humanly possible.  The fear and detestation of the ship, was not shared by the upper deck, but officers were fully aware of the bad feeling towards pennant number 53 and the possibility of an adverse effect on morale. Her final demise as a virtually brand new battleship was brought about by a tactical error made by an admiral, but her deployments and her short time in the Royal Navy before her sinking, although of Service necessity and expediency, were unlucky, inopportune and frustrating in the extreme. Were the crew members of the seventh Prince of Wales {?} with us today, they I think, would be absolutely amazed that we have chosen to name a thirteenth vessel {?}  bearing the same name. The Devonport Port Division would also be shocked, for it was there that the gossip, the rumours, and factual accounts about the ship were the most engaging, damning, and finally devastating for hundreds of family members.   It is perhaps fitting that this time her home base port will be Portsmouth.  Whilst we all wish the new ships to be happy ships launched and commissioned at a time when we as a nation are back to our full love affair with our Royal's even though our Fleet is numerically and technically depleted.  Both ships are badly or wrongly named for the reasons given, and this, plus the down-market technology i.e. dirty old fashioned diesel oil, let us hope that the Prince of Wales in particular is free of voodoo's and if it is ever earmarked for an ORI, then we say good luck, God speed and let us hope that the MOD[N] are kinder to you than the Admiralty were to the WW2 ship of that name. 

21.  The picture below is of HMS Queen Elizabeth taken in WW1 in the Mediterranean at her normal berth in Egypt, at Alexandria in the North West Nile Basin. The animation runs continuously showing the name of the vessel and it is possible to click on the REPLAY button to refresh the photograph. Her berth in Egypt was just 39 km from Aboukir Bay where Nelson fought the Battle of the Nile. It was 260km to Cairo the Capital and 226 km to Port Said the entrance to the Suez Canal. She was damaged by Italian frogmen [human torpedoes] in December 1941, taken to the States for repairs, thereafter, serving on the East Indies Station, what we called 'East of Suez' although it could have also applied to the 'Far East Station' more often than not called the 'China Station' - confusing isn't it?


22.  Almost 'par for the course' the Prince of Wales continued to have heaped upon its name events which showed that the crew and their families, whether intended or not, that their vessel was not respected or held high by the Admiralty. The POW, which sank an hour after the Repulse [and incidentally, the RAF fighter squadrons turned up in the area of sinking one hour after the Japanese aircraft had departed but of course to no avail} sank on the 10th December 1941. Meanwhile back home, the Admiralty had approved the graphics for its 1941 Christmas Card and the Cards had been printed ready for mailing. In normal terms, this is judged to be good planning and something we all do, year in year out. However, the graphics included reference to HMS Prince of Wales in the August, four months before her demise, and for many it was considered bad style to go ahead with the celebratory use of the card. However, cost and cost alone ruled out a new card, for there was ample time to organise an emergency print run even coinciding with the mailing of the cards from the printers direct.  In view of the terrible losses sustained in 1941 the year of our greatest naval losses, it would have been better by far to cancel the card altogether and to put Christmas on hold as so many bereft family members did at Christmas 1941. Here is another snippet from the WO Journal, though of course through media links it was published in more than one newspaper etc. The greatest offence was the showing of aircraft high above the ship, the harbingers of death for the ship and her crew four months later, an act of insensitivity without parallel save for having a Christmas Card for 1941 showing the Bismarck delivering the death knell to the Hood in close-up.

23.  The Japanese attacked Singapore within a few weeks after Pearl Harbour {December 1941} in mid-February 1942. . The Prince of Wales and the Repulse were sunk on the 10th December 1941 two months before that event. Before WW2 reached the Far East [war had been prosecuted by the Japanese against the Chinese since 1932] British ex-pats lived and prospered in Singapore in their droves and virtually all of them were grossly affected by their good life-styles. Incidentally, that aloofness was not unique to the pre-war period, and I personally witnessed it in Singapore [and other places with British naval facilities] in the 1960's and 1970's. There are many records and stories of what the navy tolerated by their own kind when in foreign climes, and the hugely important WO's Journal has them in abundance whereas, to other sections of the navy, when they occurred they remained as anecdotal reminisces only and little was recorded for posterity. Here is another. Many hundreds of men from both ships [Prince of Wales and the Repulse] lost their lives but over 2000 survived to tell their story. These men were picked-up by destroyers in the vicinity, escorting the battleship and the battlecruiser, and they were taken to Singapore, still free from Japanese invasion. From there they were taken to Java/Indonesia and then repatriated. This story tells of how the resident Brit's in Singapore treated those survivors [fellow Brit's] although we know that some of them would have been treated infinitely worse by their Japanese captures a few weeks later.

Remember to use your on-screen magnifier to help ease your read of these documents.



25.  WONDERFUL HMS PRINCE OF WALES.htm  This newspaper article was published on the 25th April 1941. Almost two weeks later she was steaming out of the Flow astern of the Mighty Hood  It is clearly a morale booster for the nation and that is an understandable ploy. Nevertheless, in the balance of things it was a lie albeit an expedient. It is known that she was never finished in the accepted way, and the hand-over from the red ensign to the white ensign was premature. Reading the article, as was the intention, suggests a repeat of the those immortal words issued in 1912 by the White Star Line regarding the unsinkable construction of the Titanic. Obviously her modernity was in keeping with new weaponry and new technology across the board, and as such the Admiralty were really gilding the lily. 

 26.  Changing subjects now to the operational 'spec of the ship.

 27.  When these ships are finally in commission, they will be the icons of a very small fleet, whereas, the ships who last used these illustrious names, were iconic with many peers, in a massive fleet which covered both the world wars. To start with, there are direct comparison, the on-coming ships both aircraft carriers and the ships of yore, both battleships, with the former group serving at a time when battleships and carriers were deployed in fleet formations and the latter group when battleships are but mere Museum relic's; here I am thinking about a visit I made to the USS Alabama parked in Mobile Bay in the deep south of the USA. Battleships have long been out-of-fashion, although let's not forget the USS Missouri who was still pounding targets on terra firma in the first Gulf War [1990-1991] with her 16" guns and Tomahawk missiles. She was also famous as the point of surrender of the Japanese in August 1945 whilst anchored in Tokyo Bay.

 28.  To me, it is of great interest, that this ship [pennant number 00 and her sisters [Warspite, Valiant, Barnham and Malaya] built before WW1, was an OIL BURNER, the very first for this class and size of ship.  Just like the first of the Iron Clad's {the Warrior} was the envy of all navies particularly of our declared enemies, so too was the innovation of using FFO instead of coal as the fuel on such vast and heavy hull's. It gave her an independence and freedom from 'coaling-ship' and 'feeding boilers', which had a very obvious affect on the crew as a whole, but particularly on the engine-room Branch. The interest grows more and more with an ever  increasing incredulity when it comes to being aware that R08/R09are also oil burners just like their name sakes of 100 years ago and near-on 75 years ago respectively were, this despite that all other modern aircraft carriers are nuclear powered.  Why this should be is not immediately clear, although it has to be a step out of line with all other naval thinking. We alone cannot be right with our engineering concepts, and the path we have taken might have something to do with the "greens" and the anti-nuclear lobby which is prevalent in our 'political' system. The important feature here is the fuel and its sustainability, availability and durability, and not the mechanisms which propel the vessel from point A to B through the water. We have simply copied, modified and adapted systems which are already used both in naval vessels and in mercantile vessels, {I was shown around the system used by the Cunard liner QM2} namely the 'pods' in lieu of shafts and propellers, using them for propulsion and steering in lieu of a conventional rudder. The concept, once mastered is simple, involving diesel engines [ergo diesel fuel oil] generating electricity which in turn drives the propelling motors in the pods which instead of protruding out of the back of the ship as did shafts, now hang underneath the vessels at strategic points to maximise speed and manoeuvrability. However, these diesel generators takes much less fuel than diesel engines increasing the new carrier's range to approximately 10,000 miles, but that assumes diesel oil with be available?

29.  The argument [at least for naval vessels] of oil versus nuclear, is sometimes biased towards the proverbial and ever present need to RAS [Replenish At Sea]. Just about the only 'things' onboard a warship that doesn't need replenishing on a regular basis, are the rods in a nuclear reactor, although even they do, but usually after several years of use but of course, never at sea! In peacetime, when ammunition is not being spent, the need for replenishment is minimal although stocks are maintained at a high level. Some parts of the munitions-suite require more turn-over than do others [for example, a sophisticated missile vis-a-vis a 4" shell] but overall, a RAS-Bullets! is a low priority. In wartime, it is a high priority. Other durables are engine oil, lubricating oil, food, stores, water, wines and spirits courtesy of Messers Saccone and Speed, beer cigarettes and tobacco [these three commodities classed as NAAFI Stores on the White List, aircraft fuel [AVCAT, AVGAS etc], and not forgetting, especially after a particularly long sea deployment, rum by the jar loads. Nor must we forget the human dimension of body-toleration versus social and mental fatigue which have finite limits, we submariners understand more than do others. They have to be factored-in when deciding the length of a deployment. To deliver these goods on demand meant the rendezvousing with several types of RFA [Royal Fleet Auxiliaries]  some all at the same time, whilst on other occasions, the meet-up with a single ship. For the record, the ships are owned by the navy but manned and operated by civilians who are part of the MOD Civil Service. The simplification [or over simplification] is that if an RFA is delivering say lubricating oil, AVCAT, AVGAS, it is no irksome task to delivery fuel oil at the same meet. Whatever the argument, it is accepted that without the support of the RFA Service, the Fleet could not function.  Since the Service is already well funded and always fully operational, there is  no problem with supply, so the issue of nuclear versus non-nuclear, were there to be one, is a tactical problem only.

30.  It seems rather odd that the issue of what to do with a decommissioned nuclear vessel awaiting scrapping, seems to have dictated the day in deciding that R08 and R09 are conventionally powered and not nuclear powered, ignoring the fact that the loss of an area-RFA carrying fuel oil {sunk by enemy action en-route to the RAS rendezvous for example} would be enough to see the carriers stranded. All other durables which would be denied the ship, yes, even including food, could be tolerated by strict rationing [as we in the UK did throughout the majority of the war years], even to the point of a nuclear powered vessel racing to rendezvous with another but out-of-area-RFA to replenish necessary stores to enable it to stay at sea to continue. Having copious amounts of propulsion power gives any vessel the edge over vessels that are conserving fuel  in case the tanks run dry. An empty gun, say, in a vessel which is still fully able to 'get around' and can still act as a reporting ship, a tracking ship, a radar guidance/surveillance ship etc etc, is still a valued asset, whereas a ship loaded to the gunnels with weapons and ammunition which is immobile and cannot make moves to her advantage [Bismarck for example although immobilised by weapons and not by fuel-starvation despite her having a leaking fuel tank] is dead in the water. Perhaps they haven't told us that part of the plot is that an escorting Type 45 will be able to refuel a carrier leaving it to do the reporting/tracking bits mentioned above, but also denying the carrier the desired protection of the 45's weaponry when it is totally immobile - by self sacrifice. I am sure that the carriers' designer has read the script about the 'A' Class hunter-killer sub and its abilities/capabilities, and if we have such expertise, it is highly likely that others too have it as time passes?  Having been a submariner, a periscope reader-offerer in the attack-team, aware of all that goes on, there is nothing better for the skipper to have a large target to acquire {torpedo or missile}, to set-up on the fruit-machine and to finesse his angles. The modern carrier group is the largest possible target, but since the use of nuclear power and the lack of the need to RAS Fuel,  they are no longer seen, except where the British are to be found and with second world nations driving second hand carriers..  In such a formation the carrier itself assisted by the RFA's flight and other smaller ships flights, can effect a Vertrep [Vertical Replenishment - using helicopters] from a RAS Stores/Food ship to the assembled ships. I dread to think it, but with an old fashioned carrier [by technology standards and not by date] running on electricity provided by diesel generators sucking thousands of tons of the smelly stuff, aren't we providing the skipper of a state-of-the-art nuclear submarine with the target of his dreams, last viewed with realism in the final days of the 20th century?

31.  It is now revealed [at a time when so much yet has to be revealed] that the use of the the Queen Elizabeth will be on a tri-Service platform in a multi-national carrier operating environment, even to the point eventually, when not only will women naval officers [and rightly too] vie with men naval officers to command the R08 but all will vie for command which will include the RAF and the Army inside its projected life span culminating around the 2050 mark. Note that I have said the R08 only for I don't think that the R09 will be treated the same after her build! First off, let us not kid ourselves that we are talking about new operational carriers <plural>. That would be folly in the extreme! So, let's compare like with like, the like being a carrier [singular] at sea in an operational commissioned environment. The only viable construction is the Queen Elizabeth, and more and more of the astute amongst us, now know that the Prince of Wales is nothing but a white elephant operationally, to serve only as a "rabbit hutch*" there to supply spares for the Queen Elizabeth, just the same as the erstwhile HMS Eagle was cannibalized to keep HMS Ark Royal at sea.  There are definite parallels here. Ark Royal was laid down in 1943 and commissioned twelve years later in 1955. Queen Elizabeth will also have a very long lead-in period before she is in the water fully commissioned as a ship and as a carrier, namely with her squadrons embarked, ready in all respects for her first ORI {Operational Readiness Inspection}.

* Rabbits, personal-wise, were things made up unofficially by dockyard mateys in return for a personal reward, usually duty free cigarettes, or, in one of my several cases, the mess bottle of "Queens" more often than not a full 28 ouncer {Imperial and not US fluid ounces} as it used to be known before the 75cl standard was adopted, of neat pusser rum. Jobs like getting a deck mounted piece of furniture re-sited as bulkhead mounted to save [or create] space not thought about by ship designers, who after all, never have to live in their creations, were typical.  Rabbits, dockyard-wise were official jobs and involved locally approved plans/intentions by the Admiral Superintendent of the Dockyard [AS Devonport, AS Portsmouth etc]  or approved by A and A action {Alterations and Amendments - or Additions} by MOD[N] to transfer serviceable equipments free from defects from one non-operational ship to an operational ship, which could not be procured from any other source. Just for the record, receiving kits from one ship to another under the FFBNW programme [Fitted For But Not With]  is not the same; for example the early days of satellite communications when the then SKYNET 5 kit was transferred between some carriers and the two LPD [Fearless and Intrepid] when deployed with the Flag [FOCAS] Flag Officer Carriers Assault Ships. Reason for this: we only had two operational kits.  See this page taken from my other naval site

32.  What we must first accept that despite all the fancy pictures coming out of the build-yard in Rosyth, and the rhetoric of the politicians who have so badly let the country down in defence terms since this century began, that we are so vulnerable at the moment and should be thankful, very thankful that Jorge Mario Bergoglio didn't listen to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner when the subject of the Falklands was once again raised. The new Argentinian Pope appears to have shunned the Argentine President in her demands for a new attempt to grab the Malvinas, even though the South American Republics are demonstrably more pro-Argentine than they were back in 1982.  Pray God that we can keep these hot-heads calm and collected for at least another five years or so, otherwise I fear the end result with be very different for 'Falklands 2'.  We don't have a strike carrier at sea, we haven't had one for many a long period, and we are not due to have one for another long period. That can be viewed as being convenient, almost tailor-made to suit our modus operandi, because we don't even have a single fixed wing aeroplane. Neither do we have the expertise in manning, training and deployment of such a vessel irrespective of the size, which until a couple of year or so ago, we had in abundance, a veritable feed-point for all our admirals where carrier-group-command was was a must-have for a well rounded flag officer, the type who would sit in the MOD and win battles against our pugilistic enemies and against our home-grown enemies, the politicians.  

33.  What has gone [the "baby" carriers, one of whom was the Ark Royal - R 07 - with her two sisters the Invincible and the Illustrious, ships of the 1970's] were adequate for their purpose, all the time we had operational fixed-wing fighter squadrons. Without those air assets, we have been forced into using these hulls for helicopter warfare and despite the aggression of air-frames like the Apache, this limits us to vertreps, troop movers, civil aid, search and rescue, anti piracy and, very limited, antisubmarine operations. Helicopter warfare does not win naval sea battles although they have a defined role for amphibious operations. We already have three ships purposely built for the amphibious 'ops in the Ocean, the Bulwark and the Albion. We shouldn't forget that the outgoing carriers were a compromise forced upon the navy when we wanted proper aircraft carriers and got in return through-deck-cruisers of small proportions and great limitations. This time around, we deserved proper carriers as compared to other major navies which is not all about size or displacement especially when the size created for air 'op might never be filled in one ship never mind in both! Oil burners run contrary to other 21st century warship builds other countries have and are building, which by their very nature circumvent the need to have a tanker just over the horizon.  We have had oil burning capital ships for over one hundred years now and they are somewhat outdated. The Queen Elizabeth {remember the Tudor Queen not the matriarch now over sixty years into her reign}, in this respect, is as vulnerable [if not more so given the escalation of submarine warfare technical expertise in recent years] than any British warship from the post WW2 period through to the early decades of the 21st century. I have already aired my views on the speeds of surface vessels not being able to keep up with nuclear submarines which is the prime reasons for having helicopters that can, and they can be viewed here ROYAL_NAVY_SHIPS_THE_UPS_AND_DOWNS_OF_CLASSES_AND_TYPES.htm [some nice pictures of models of our warships here] the fine detail being offered in the large table which covers new vessels as well as older vessels.

34.  Putting forward the merits of her modern propulsion system does not lessen the threat of being an oil burner. The 1950 Ark Royal got from A to B [in style] using the proverbial engines [first with FFO {Furnace Fuel Oil}] and then with Diesel Oil,  with shafts and propellers on the end. Having 'steerable pods' on the end of electric motors slung underneath the ship fed by electricity generated by her many huge diesel generators requiring reservoirs of diesel fuel, is a wonderful technology, for it addresses not just motion {speed} but the direction of motion {together - velocity}, the job performed by the traditional rudder and propeller.  This technology has been fitted to many of the world's mega-huge cruise liners and is not therefore a dedicated naval innovation.  If that umbilical cord [the RAS tanker] is metaphorically cut {delayed, destroyed or disabled}then the Queen Elizabeth is in trouble, big trouble.  Remember the pride of the Kriegsmarine#, the Bismarck? Brand new, packed full of mind blowing technology, but with a major oil leak {courtesy of the ill-fated Prince of Wales**} and a piece of metal lodged in her steering gear {courtesy of the Fleet Air Arm}, her guns and technology were for naught and she perished because she could not manoeuvre or steer, rendering her no better than a rowing boat without oars especially when her 8 x 14.96" guns were matched-gunned with the King George V's 10 x 14" guns and out-gunned by Rodney's 9 x 16" guns, and all three vessels being of new or newish built and technology.

# Unlike the Royal Navy which was and is time honoured under Our Sovereign, the Germans chopped and changed to suit their political intrigue. At the start of the 20th century, the Germans, still with a Royal Family, called their navy the "Kaiserlichemarine".  At the outbreak of WW1, the Kaiser was Wilhelm the Second.  After the war, the Kaiser was deposed and fled to Holland where he sought and received refuge.  He died there. The German navy was surrendered lock stock and barrel to the British and to Scapa Flow in the Orkney's. When Hitler came to power in the early 1930's he set-up the Third Reich [which he said, was to last for a 1000 years - he didn't reckon with the Royal Navy !]. At this point their navy became known as the "Reichsmarine". At the outbreak of WW2, Hitler changed the name to "Kriegsmarine". Once again their navy was disbanded and surrendered unconditionally to the Allied Forces. This saw the end of the Axis Forces. Germany was laid bare as West Germany under the control of the old non-communist Allies. The remaining part of defeated Germany became East Germany under the control of Russia who had broken away from the Allies to impose their rigid and authoritarian Communist discipline. In 1956 West Germany joined NATO and their small navy became known as the "Bundsmarine". In 1990 at the reunification of Germany, their navy became known as the "Deutschemarine" which is what it is called today in 2013.

**The last HMS Prince of Wales, a WW2 battleship of the KG5 Class, had many similarities with the Bismarck. Unlike the Bismarck which German sailors thought was a lucky ship [mind you they were told to think this way about every Nazi tool in the 3rd Reich's arsenal] HMS Prince of Wales was said to be by the lower deck, an unlucky ship and ill fated. Let us hope that that is not the case this time around although be warned these things have a habit of coming home to haunt. For those 'experts' amongst you, the speed of this teleprinter message is 120 wpm = 90 bauds. 1941 was an absolutely terrible year for the Royal Navy, a year in which our losses, personnel and materiel were so great that for a period of many months we stood a good chance of defeat from a sustained attacked, and  ran the risk of a complete and utter breakdown in fleet morale. Were it not for the magnificent leadership of our officer corps and the tried and trusted loyalties and commitment of the naval reserve officers, and that no sustained maritime surface attack was attempted, saved the day. This, plus the fact that the German surface fleet did not perform as did their sub-surface fleet and that their so called shrewd Third Reich maritime experts had misunderstood the air threat and with it the need for aircraft carriers, spelled the European Axis powers demise. In this context, measured in air destructive power at Taranto, against the Tirpitz and the Bismarck, and against the German naval ports and dockyards, undermined many of the gains made by the U-Boat fleets against mercantile targets. The Brits [chiefly] navy and air force, had destroyed the German surface fleet, leaving the concerted efforts of all Allied forces to finally destroy the U-Boat threat and scourge.

 35.  She, like the Bismarck, was a brand new ship and both were lost after just months from their commissioning day, the Bismarck under British guns mainly from the Rodney and the King George 5 in the Atlantic, and the Prince of Wales under the bombs and torpedoes of the Japanese Air Force off the Malayan coast line not far from Singapore. The Prince of Wales being a new class of ship and with war brewing and inevitable, was sent to Scapa Flow for a full work up before being declared operational, along with other in the KG5 Class. However, when only half way through her scheduled training and still far from being fully worked-up and operational, she was ordered to joined the HMS Hood group to sail from Scapa Flow to seek out the Bismarck known to have broken-out into the Atlantic north of Scotland. Within days, quite unprepared, she  engaged with the Bismarck and her escort cruiser Prinz Eugen and was badly damaged but with relatively few fatalities: however, thirteen were killed outright and the unlucky connotation was not missed on her crew. The next day, the fourteenth man died of his wounds.  She had fired several salvos at the Bismarck but had not herself recorded any hits of significance. The Prince of Wales broke off; the Prinz Eugen was ordered to proceed independently, with the Bismarck left to do her own thing! The Hood had been lost with over 1400 men sent to their deaths. Prince of Wales, now desperately short of fuel made for Iceland to re-fuel.  Later, it was learned that one of her salvo's had punctured one of the Bismarck's fuel tanks limiting her range and options.

36.  Size, didn't matter then, and nor does it matter today, unless of course the size means an insatiable supply of power [propulsion and electrical] and a ready platform of high performance combatant assets. Here, we assume that the QE will have the fixed wing aircraft in support of a Task Force/Group and that cannot be guaranteed either now or in the future. Ark Royal on the other hand did have the aircraft [and in the best days of the FAA, so too did the Eagle] and the FAA had "clout" exercised in the form of the Buccaneers right through to the proven and loyal VTOL Harriers.

37.  The Queen Elizabeth, vulnerable as explained, looks more and more likely to be without her aerial assets, not just to coincide with her commissioning, but for a few years beyond that event too. It is a farce, and any person who cannot see or accept that [despite this lovely shape the artisans are making out of former scrap metal] is either over patriotic, slow off the mark or just plain stupid - money, or rather the lack of it [so we are told] has forced the hands of the MOD[N], ergo the Government, into making bad decisions on the carrier procurement. You can bet your bottom dollar that come 2015, the election and yesterdays {26th June 2013} notification of a further 11-odd billion pound cuts to coincide with the election to be imposed by which ever side wins, that further cuts in the navy budget will be imposed for the years 2016/17 when she is due to complete, further wrecking the original plans. How people can just sit around impassively, prosaically without making comments beggars believe, but that may be down to the euphoria [even premature] of having something bigger than we have ever had before, but not necessarily better ! Add to that comment,  the ten years [and more in some cases] of  CAD re-takes, of changes imposed when not desirable inevitably altering things which were desirable, and the already declared policy that much of her technology was bought off the shelf to save money on R&D and costly first-build trials, and you can readily see that she will be outdated on many aspects on her commissioning day. It is really a 10 to 12 year old "new" ship with just one former owner, with all the makers trails, the acceptance trials, the commissioning trials, the HATS {Harbour Acceptance Trials} and SATS {Sea Acceptance Trials} and at least one years work up for the ship and separately for the squadrons embarked still to come.  An educated guess would be the signing of the ORI Certificate {Operational Readiness Inspection}  in the year 2020, just in time to have a major update to the CIS {Computer and Communications Systems}, NAV [Navigational Sysems}, C&C {Command and Control Systems} and FLYCO {Flying Control Systems} systems which were all designed using 2005 technology standards and platforms. UGH !  Shortly after that, she will be due an 18 month refit in the traditional manner for a ship of her age putting the navy back to square one on carrier availability!

38.  She is by her very nature a high profile target chiefly for submarines using either torpedoes or sub-surface launched missiles, and their numbers are growing with scalable levels of accuracy, speed, surprise and destructive power. No one-man-bands have ever carried the day in sea warfare. One carrier, despite its claims of excellence and omnipotence cannot begin to compete with say several smaller vessels each one adding to the destructive power of the group. She has many weak links in her defensive armament, the obvious being the loss of her attendant tanker and the other that there are not enough attendant plane-guards and escorts to keep her truly safe. Once again, the assumption, and it can only be that, and only that,  of a Type 45 being a panacea to the lack of fleet disposition numbers, is naive, for it fails to take onboard  that other nations too are developing modern fighting vessels which could be more than a match for our few, said to be world leaders in detection and destruction.

39.  It seems that somewhere along the line we Brit's have accepted that the primary fleet unit, carrying the Flag and staff and hence the planning of any operation covert/overt, defensive or attacking, is an oil burner, whilst virtually all other first world navies {whether perceived to be an ally or not} have opted for the nuclear option. Why should we, with all our proven ability with nuclear reactors in our submarines, opt for what is, no arguments please,  an outdated and cumbersome way of replenishing our warships. Remember that oil provides electrical power for everything onboard including the way the flight deck operates for take off's and landing's; the feeding of the crew and the maintenance of the food storage compartments to stop the food from rotting; the all important navigation and communication systems gathering, collating and disseminating intelligence, and many other major users engaged in fighting the vessels whilst supporting, with its aerial assets, all the other ships/vessels in the Task Force/Task Group. Fleet dispositions have always been drawn-up on a quid pro quo basis where, in this case, the escorts, the replenishing ships, hospital ships, capital ships, etc, have all protected and supported the Flag ship and in return, the Flag Ship - in this case the Queen Elizabeth - protects the fleet with her aerial assets. With those aerial assets unable to fly, what of the rest?

40.  Of course even if the carrier [and others] were nuclear powered,  tankers would still be required to refuel non-nuclear vessels as well for delivering lub oil and AVCAT/AVGAS for the aircraft, fixed wing and rotary wing.  Additionally food and ammunition would remain a high priority requirement, involving different types of replenishing ships [RFA's - Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels]. All replenishments could prove vital to the successful outcome of the operation, but here my point is that fuel of all types is number one priority, so why complicate the issues by not having a reduced requirement from the word go, circumventing the need  for diesel oil to as many units as possible, especially to those with huge tanks to fill with quick to empty characteristics. Once the enemy is sighted, visually or electronically and the chase is on hopefully to engagement and destruction, there is no latitude for conservation: the foot goes to the floor and stays there until the hour or the day is won. Ammunition, except in the most frenetic of fights, is, within reason, a more controllable asset, the rate of attrition controlled by good tactics, planning and timely execution brought about by limitless use of propulsion power and therefore fuel oil.  Food, closely aligned to morale and physical sustainability, can be reduced to rations which do not adversely affect morale as each person sees his ration is equitable and administered under enhanced leadership without favour.

41.  We used to dominate both sea-power and naval construction, vessels and materiel. For reasons which were never made public, we had a dabble at nuclear propulsion for surface vessels which we approached in a half hardy way after spending a great deal of money on conceptual  and feasibility studies. Although the Americans had mastered nuclear propulsion power for surface warships, for some inexplicable reason they didn't share it with the RN but they did share their expertise on nuclear propulsion and weapon power for submarines, helping us greatly with our first boat, HMS Dreadnought.  Our second boat, HMS Valiant was 100% British in every respect. The 'dabble' I have mentioned above, was not with a warship but with a nuclear powered RFA, and it appears that 'dabble' affected us so much, that we ditched the idea/concept of surface warships whilst every other major navy went hell-for-leather in their programmes both surface and sub-surface. At that point, it would appear that we lost the accolade of being the worlds naval leader in construction terms. We have gone off on our own and will probably pay the price for that eventually, influenced greatly by our misguided Greens and anti-nuclear lobby and our whimp'ish Government!


This is a model of the nuclear RFA made at the design stage in 1965.

It is a model by YARROW & Co Ltd of a twin screw ship for Admiralty purposes.

This is what the picture properties say of it:-

Object ID SLR3047
Description Scale: 1:96. This model was made as part a joint feasibility study by shipbuilders Yarrow & Company Ltd., the Admiralty Research Department and the Atomic Energy Authority Industrial Group, into a nuclear powered Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship (1965). The midship areas of both sides of the model and the midship deck and superstructure have all been exposed and ‘glazed’ over with transparent material, possibly thin perspex. The large cutaway section allows the internal compartments and machinery, including the nuclear plant, to be viewed. The forward of the two funnels, and other deck-mounted features, have also been partly made from a clear material. Where the midship section of the deck itself has been rendered transparent, fittings such as winches have been placed upon it in their correct positions. The more conventional features of a replenishment tanker, like the fuel booms, can be seen, too. The advantages are obvious of a fleet replenishment tanker that can remain at sea indefinitely. The label or sign on the model simply states that it is a Nuclear Powered Twin Screw Ship giving dimension details and other model details.


Finally and in summary, many hard decisions have to be taken if the navy is to re-invent itself and return to its true carrier days whilst keeping the status quo under the waves, and its prowess in amphibious warfare. That's three separate and distinct areas of operation and the only one that appears resolved and no longer contentious is the amphibious role. The submarine role is largely resolved in that the 'bombers' are built, at sea and fully operational with the 'hunter killers' hulls catered for with half of the 'A' class in the water although not all of these yet fully operational, with the other hulls 'real' and no longer 'drawing board embryos'. The carriers are a problem despite what the enthusiasts tell us, with targets moving right all the time, becoming more and more costly with an ever decreasing national coffer/defence budget to support the aspirations of the concept QE-Class. The danger of the Liberal Democrats is obvious but transient, for I would wager a months naval pension  {£900 or thereabouts} that come 2015 they will be a spent-force, voted out of office, of absolutely no consequence to the Nation. They are the protagonist in the endeavour to do-down the obvious requirement to replace the Trident Boats with like-for-like hulls, with enhanced and costly technology which should see us through to the 2056 time period. Despite their paper now written and released for public debate, it would be a fool-hardy choice not to keep a continuous sea patrol carrying our nuclear deterrent, and the pressure from the USA and to a lesser degree from NATO will I feel sure, win the day for the lobby seeking to keep the deterrent in place, spending more rather than less in real terms to keep us safe from the maniacs of the second world states as the fear of attack from the first world states has virtually disappeared.

Two issues out of three down, at least from the 2015 General Election for here's another wager that the Tories will win if they keep up this serious pruning of the Welfare System which most of us welcome and see the equitable justice in {BUT even when pruned, still a freebe of £26,000 pa for some immigrants, when nothing has been paid into the system -UGH!} At this budget,  a weeks OAP for me is £230 approx.  Oh!, I forgot to mention the SNP's [Scottish National Party] determination to get rid of Trident which I think will be their undoing when the level-headed and fiercely patriotic loyal Scots vote against independence for their country. In the week gone by 14-20 July 2013, I read and also listened to a debate about the likely cost of relocating the Faslane Base believed to be well in excess of 100 Billion GBP. According to the Chancellor, the UK's constitution* would demand that  Scotland would pay their share of the move thought to be 50 Billion GBP, and the truth of the matter is that neither of us could afford that money, so, notwithstanding the outcome of the Independence Vote, the Base stays intact. Fifteen Love, and with Andy Murray as their champion, Alec Salmond will certainly understand that one. With Faslane's geographical position assured, it only leaves paying for the base and the Tories will make sure that is a budgetary requirement which is not funded from the Defence Budget!

*Oh yes we have............... is the chorus I was seeking! Every country in the world has a constitution, all but three in written form, namely the UK, New Zealand and Israel. The UK has a written one but it is written into many documents and artefact [carvings etc] and it needs to be searched-out by academics. One part is the Act of Settlement, the same document which forbids a Catholic from getting to the Throne.  The Magna Carta, Parliamentary Acts, Bill of Rights are other documents, but rest assured that we do have one and the Scots are an integral part of it, like it or lump it.

Back several years ago, I wrote this page for my site

It tells of the concept of these two carriers, yet a long way off from joining the fleet as a fully worked-up operational units, with sophisticated fixed-wing fighter aircraft 'littering' every part of the ships top-side as well as hangar-wise.  The concept CVF 01/02 [two ships] was an increase on the original concept CVA 01 [one ship] and that was enthusiastically received. CVA 01 and its cancellation caused men in high places to resign such was the feeling within the navy, but today, admirals have to accept what is given and not to complain at least publically, although I know not why?. Great strides have been made since that time, but equally many aspiration have been dashed and still frustrate the MOD, it not knowing for sure what it will get for the money allocated and what the true cost will be for whatever they are given eventually.  God knows what the cost would have been were the carriers [note, two] to be finished and made ready for sea as originally envisaged by those best placed to know all the answers namely the navy-fliers and strategists, and the naval constructor Branch, both, it could be argued, among the very best in the world. Instead of their expertise, we have to tolerate the number-crunchers, the bean-counters who are well known for calling the men with the navy's best interest at heart spendthrifts, when all the while their corner-cutting is in reality, a diminution of duty, for their completed vessel does not, and cannot, fight as well as a true Bath-designed vessel.  Were we to lose men and vessels in battle because the money-men got their way, then the system is nothing less than nefarious. 

However argued, we are not going to get what we really wanted and needed, namely two big carriers, each packed full of air assets [a mixture of rotary-wing and fixed-wing], each commissionable simultaneously having enough crew members to avoid stresses and strains, either both stationed in the same sea port served by one large RNARS [Royal Naval Air Station] or one stationed in the West Country served by say Culdrose and one based on Portsmouth served by say Yeovilton.  Access to shore facilities i,e,. dredging at more than one only dedicated port, and again with more than one port offering docking, craneage, refit and shore accommodation in dedicated refit yards. Aircraft purchased from European sources, Eurofighter, and from the USA, the F35. Full shore provision for all aspects of operating outside the North Atlantic areas.  Tall orders ?........... Unrealistic and ambitious requirements ?.............Impossible targets ?................absolutely not, for we did this all the time in the 60's, 70's and 80's to my certain knowledge.

Surely, we cannot be that weak, and given cross-operating with our allies, how will it be possible for one aircraft carrier to fulfill all of the UK requirements especially when fuel is always going to be an issue for us but not for all allies operating same-type vessels but nuclear powered ?

Like all of you, I am looking forward to seeing the QE and I am sure that first impression will be a wonderful and powerful sight. However, I will form an opinion of her when I have seen her limitation list, and get to know what she can and cannot do which we were all expecting her to be able to do!

One of many aspects I like is the ship's crest shown here below. If any proof were needed that the ship is named after Queen Elizabeth and has no connection with Queen Elizabeth II which I have previously stated quite forcibly, and that will forever puzzle me!

The ships crest is always an important part of a fleet unit, and at this stage, when we are swamped with "build information" about the vessel, there is a danger of missing out on the finer detail of some points. To circumvent that loss of information in these early days, what follows is a description of what the badge represents in our royal history.


The badge is of course the Tudor Rose, drawn rather differently from what we are used to, an amalgamation of the two sides of the family called the Plantagenet's.

The Plantagenet's were the most successful family ever in our history creating no fewer than fourteen Kings one after the other. Whilst all are famous [some would argue infamous] two in particular are relevant in understanding the ships crest. These are King Edward III {1312-1377} and King Edward IV {1442-1483}.Note the hundred odd years between them.

They say "nothing lasts for ever" and this is true of that family.

On the death of King Edward IV [see above] in 1483, he had two young sons, one 13 and one 10. The 13 year old was to be the next  Plantagenet to be called King Edward V.  His younger brother, Richard, 1st Duke of York, was second in line to the Throne. These boys are known in history as 'The Princes in the Tower'.

 King Edward IV also had a brother, Richard, an uncle to the young boys whose natural task would have been to nurture Edward, to be his mentor and teacher to prepare him for his rightful position to be crowned King Edward V.  It is said by those who do not like Yorkshiremen, specifically the bard Shakespeare, that Richard seized the two boys, had them incarcerated in the Tower of London and subsequently had them murdered, so that he, as King Richard III could take the Throne from his deceased brother and rule as a Plantagenet King. If you believe that nonsense you will believe any old rubbish, for much of what was written and recorded for posterity by wise and learned men, was and remains so to this very day, masked, perverted and supplanted by the pen of a playwright, which millions of thespians have had us believe was a true record even though he wrote his missives hundreds of years after the events are said to have occurred. 


Eventually after centuries of continuity and before much of part one above occurred, the family was separated by feuds into the House of York and the House of Lancaster. These were not literally houses [bricks and mortar] nor where they precise geographical areas like East and West of the Pennines as are present day York and Lancaster, but they were branches and titles taken by the warring protagonists. The feuds/war's became known as the War's of the Roses and there were several of them lasting a long time {part of the One Hundred Years War}, fought to gain access to the Throne. In short, it was a classic family fall-out with far reaching affects for them and for the nation as a whole, leading to a new family name taking centre-stage.

One side of the family, descendants from the Plantagenet King Edward III were at war [a vicious and deadly conflict] with another family, descendants of the Plantagenet King Edward IV. The House of York had a white rose for its emblem and the House of Lancaster had a red rose.

The wars were finally settled [albeit a covert war raged for many decades by the Yorkist to deposed this much hated man and family] when the 'Prince' of one house - Lancaster, who claimed to have a right to the Throne on his maternal side of his family from John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, son of King Edward III well nigh one hundred years before,  who defeated my hero and hero to all Yorkshiremen, that dear and kind man Richard III the last of a long line of Plantagenet's - married the 'Princess Elizabeth' of  the other House - York, daughter of King Edward IV and niece  of King Richard III  - thereafter ruling together as King Henry VII [born in Wales because his father just happened to own most of it but wasn't a Welshman] and Queen Elizabeth.   In actual fact, this Prince, Henry Tudor was nothing more than an interloper who usurped the Throne by bully-boy tactics when his own mother and wife had more right to it than himself, and apart from that, many of the now ostracised Yorkists had a better and more just claim to it than he. It was a clear case and recorded as such that his wife was a Lady in every respect brought up knowing and understanding her multi hundred year old pedigree, whilst he had no such breeding lacking in all the social grace and clearly a total embarrassment to his wife. We have a saying in our society which refers to 'marrying below oneself' or 'marrying beneath oneself and Elizabeth had to do that for the sake of peace and security in the realm'. Whilst both emanating from the Plantagenet's, Henry Tudor forced the issue and his family name upon British society and the Court of the Land.   For the early Tudors, the expression "like father, like son" was never more truer, for both Henry VII and VIII were history's undesireables! I could also include "eldest daughters" - Queen {Bloody} Mary here but I am a polite guy when it comes to ladies!  The picture below to the right is the established way of depicting the Tudor Rose. Incidentally, Mary Tudor, King Henry VIII sister is buried in my local Parish Church.


Although not regarded as a problem, names can sometimes be ambiguous, as is the case for QUEEN ELIZABETH except for one person, and that is our own dear Monarch of today. She is the only person having that illustrious name with a numerical suffix attached, viz, II or 2 [Roman or Arabic whichever].

a. Our first Queen Elizabeth was the consort previously mentioned above to Henry VII
b. The next was her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth defeater of the Spanish Armada and a lady with the heart and stomach of a King!
c.  Then comes our own Queen, Queen Elizabeth II
d.  and concurrent with c., above Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

Four in number, all by our standards called Her or Your Majesty.

In terms of presence, i.e., time from becoming Queen to her own death, they lived, respectively a to d above, 17 years : 45 years : 61 years to date {2013} : 65.

Using the age-old naval custom of everything to the left of the fore and aft line [longitudinal axis] is know as PORT and everything to the right as STARBOARD, it could be assumed that the Yorkists have the most sensitive part of the ship, the Islands and gangways when alongside plus the standard RAS [L] points {Replenish at Sea Oil}, and the Manchurians and Liverpudlians, Chesherites etc, part of the flight-deck and wide open windy and wet spaces. Just teasing but whoever has got what, I know that they will do their job well.

Finally in this part at least, I now that I cannot [indeed was not] be the only RN'er other than the ones I will now mention, ever to be at sea in a very large warship , and of course no RN'er has yet done that in a vessels with a cap tally saying HMS so and so!

I had a lot of experience with SOOTAXING [Staff Officers Taxi] from and onto ships at sea in choppers the size of Wasp's, Wessex MK5 and Sea Kings being firstly a Portland FOST Sea Rider and secondly a FOF Sea Rider, four years worth or thereabouts in all.  However, until this event I had never had a ride and a winch-drop from a Chinook chopper onto the back of a 'Brit destroyer, in this case HMS London whilst exercising crossing the Pond [Atlantic] en-route home from the States and a visit to Norfolk Virginia to Rosyth for a Pitreavie exercise wash-up! The occasion, returning [as the SFCRS {Staff Warrant Officer Radio Communications} from a high sea visit to the USS Nimitz to our Flagship in the company of our admiral Rear Admiral Martin La touche Wemyss FOF2, his SOO [Staff Officer Operations], his SWO[C] [Staff Warfare Officer Communications].  Sea State approx 2 WX [weather] fantastic time early afternoon. I would have had a photograph but the way the USN operated, or at least on this day, was first to drop down the wire was one of the chopper crew members who having briefed the flight deck crew of the London took over the disembarkation part of which, so we were told, was to clear the deck spaces right back to the waist of the ship on all decks, 1, 01,02,03 decks precluding photography. Now whether the skipper of the London, Captain D N O'sullivan RN., had organised photography from a bridge wing for the admiral to keep, that I don't know, but still!  As always in the navy, junior ranks come FIRST and the most senior LAST. That rule applies across the board whether signing a report where there are several signatures or getting out of a hovering giant helicopter ranged thwartships over a small vessel below. Thus, I was winched down first and the admiral the last.  In this case, imagine the destroyer steering 090 degrees at 10 knots with a beam [width] of 54 feet being closed by a Chinook chopper from the South heading 000 degrees at a hover-speed commensurate with the speed through the water of the destroyer, of length 98.5 feet and wingspan of 59 feet.  Drawn to scale with the chopper placed equidistant either side of the ships longitudinal axis {fore and aft line} it would look something like this:-


A British DLG [Destroyer Light Guided] is a pretty large vessel but it appeared very tiny from up above from the Chinook more so than from a normal naval chopper! On take-off however, the Nimitz seemed to us what it was, a massive chunk of deadly weaponry known in the USN as the "Old Salt"  and at a displacement of  well over 100,000 tons, 1100 feet long, 252 feet wide {beam}, 40 feet deep {draught} achieving speeds of 32 knots indefinitely with a crew to blow one's mind and understanding {something like 3500 ships company and 2500 aircrew/squadron men/women] a total of 6000 men/women. Remembering a launch time of the early 1970 not far from 45 years ago, and taking into account technology increases [although I am sure that they could exchanged all their air assets, fixed wing and rotary wing, for the air assets built for today so making it a relevant fighting machine again] it puts into perspective the new British carriers with rather less size-wise whose parameters are in comparison:-

Parameter Queen Elizabeth Nimitz
Displacement 65600 tons 110,000 tons
Length 932 feet 1100 feet
Beam 239 feet 252 feet
Draught 36 feet 40 feet
Speed 25 knots 31.5 knots
Re Fuelling interval operational 10,000 miles not a requirement
Crew overall 600 - a vast advantage achieved by technology! 6000

There will be other and more modern USN carriers but I have no experience of them - never seen them or been onboard. My issue is that we only have one platform with the Prince of Wales for the most part decommissioned or finished when the coffers have swelled somewhat, and that despite the way the propulsion is fitted and managed, no modern carrier should be reliant upon oil no matter how much better the frequency of refueling is compared to other oil burning carriers of old.


Oh!....and by the way, have you been observing what the rest of the maritime nations around the world are doing?  Well every Tom, Dick and Harry are building submarines, true, many diesel-electrics, but not the dinosaurs I served in in the RN: there are really smart boats and can be found all around the Indian Ocean [what we called East of Suez], the Asiatic Seas [what we in our time called the Far East] and pan-Pacific, equipped to the gunnals with modern missiles of every types, long, middle and short range, and all of these can be seen in the sometimes daily naval bulletin but always the weekly naval bulletin. Even the Iranians, in my time buyers of our warships: INS LARAK for example when the Shah of Persia still sat on his Peacock Throne and places like HMS MERCURY, HMS EXCELLENT in the Portsmouth areas were choker-block with Iranian men undergoing classroom training followed by sea training [in my case at Portland in I.N.S. LARAK]  followed by OJT [on job training] as we headed to her home base at Bandar Abbas just inside the Persian Gulf  and the Straits of Hormuz. On arrival there, I and other 'Brit sea riders, decamped onto the ex Italian Super Liner the SS Michael Angelo before being repatriated.  Of particular note which should be our warning signal, is the growth of the competition between China and Japan, currently [2013] subdued technically, but growing daily, shows an array of aircraft carriers which one day soon will/may compete with the Western World. This file shows the current state of the Japanese Navy which although defined as a "defensive navy" and emphatically not an aggressive attacking navy forbidden because of her WW2 record, is nearly as big as our surface fleet-wise already Now both nations have carriers, or what demonstrably look like carriers [Japan has the brand new ship IZUMO and China and even bigger [and more proper] carrier as yet unnamed, plus her refurbished ex-USSR carrier. Other carriers in the news [2013] but not claiming to compete with the likes of HMS Queen Elizabeth except for the new India carrier VISHAL [said to be another 65,000 tonner] are:- 


Aviation Week, 05 July 2013

India’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) could be launched as early as August. The 45,000-ton, 284-metre INS Vikrant, currently under construction at the Cochin shipyard, is expected to enter sea trials ten months after

launch, and would be ready for operational service after another five years. The ship had originally been slated for full operations by 2014, though difficulties with steel supplies and the ship's gearbox have delayed this until 2018. India's

other aircraft carrier, the 45,000-ton, 262-meter-long INS Vikramaditya, formerly the Russian Kiev-class Admiral Gorshkov, is undergoing trials and will soon join the current sole carrier, the aging INS Viraat, which is approaching

retirement. Construction of the next ship in the IAC program, INS Vishal, plans suggest it will weigh-in at 65,000-tons.


Numerous countries have expressed an interest in buying the former Spanish Navy aircraft carrier Principe de Asturias, which was decommissioned in Feb due to financial constraints. Several Middle Eastern countries have apparently

expressed an interest, and the Philippines was also named as a possible purchasers



Xinhua, 27 February 2013

China's first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, was home-ported at Qingdao last Wednesday, indicating that carrier-related infrastructure at the naval base is fully operational after four years of construction. Liaoning's move to Qingdao came as

a small surprise to analysts, as there are carrier berthing facilities at Hainan Island, and China has been embroiled in maritime disputes in the South China Sea with its neighbours. Instead, Liaoning's basing with the North Sea

Fleet may mean that Beijing is looking to use the carrier as a tool in its dispute with Japan over East China Sea islets, and/or influence US Navy activity in Northeast Asian waters. Indications are, however, that the ship will be deployed

primarily as a training vessel, and sources suggest that the naval base at Qingdao is home to the navy's aviation school, as well as the bulk of the People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force's aircraft, and it is also close to the Naval Academy at

Dalian, where pilot training also occurs. The naval Base at QINGDAO doesn't appear to want to tell us anything, and its web page of August 2013, has one picture on it only and that posted two years ago. Obviously a very secretive place.base. 

Recommend that you keep a watch on the site which is at this URL


8th August 2013

It is common knowledge that when the Queen Elizabeth is commissioned,  the old carrier HMS Illustrious with be preserved for the Nation. It will have a small subsidy but largely the preservation is designed to be self-supporting.  To maximise the income which  it is hoped will be the main-stay for generating that self-support, it has to be on-show in an easily accessible port/place, and ideally that will be in a naval facility which is no longer required or used for operational ships. However, given that she is already 32 years old and will be "tarted-up" before given over to the Trust, it would be prudent  to have further "tarting-up" facilities near at hand say in another twenty or so years time, to keep her fit for purpose. If it costs just over £9M to put the submarine 'Alliance' into good order, what will it cost for a carrier?  Doesn't bear thinking about!.  Bristol's below water refurbishment not that long ago, cost a bob or too but the navy footed that bill.  It is conceivable that Chatham would win hands-down the accessibility requirement being so centrally placed and near to London, but of course, the system of locks in that yard have always precluded the use of the Port by carriers and like-sized ships. I understand that the hot favourite is Devonport, even though that Port is out on a limb being in popular west-country geographic territory but not in the fashionable holiday area or environs. Still other ex fleet units pull the crowds, submarine Conqueror being a good example,  and Devonport has done much to smarten itself up in the past three or four years. In any event, Plymouth is a very nice place and anything to increase its tourist through-put is worthwhile and a good reward for this most loyal of cities and people.

That said, haven't we ended up with the wrong ship to be preserved?  Many would have proposed 'Ark Royal' for wholly sentimental reasons based on her famous name, but the truth is that the last three at least bearing that illustrious name have seen very little and limited action and in my book are not in the running.  Mighten it to have been better  were we to have saved the 'Invincible' and none other, [for strictly pragmatic reasons chief of which was the age of 'Hermes' the Falklands Flagship], for it was she, 'Invincible' as a relatively younger ship, inter alia, that represented us in our last proper naval war, albeit a limited war, but nonetheless a war which we won against several odds, coupled with an unimaginably audacious logistic line of communications which is unprecedented.  We saved the correct ship from WW2, the criuser 'Belfast' [with powerful performances on several occasions {Scharnhorst and Bismarck} followed up by gun-line action in Korea 1950-53],  even though local groups tried to save other WW2 units and succeeded with the destroyer 'Cavalier'. Again we succeeded with saving a cold war vessel the submarine 'Alliance' laid down weeks before the end of WW2 in Europe so wasn't involved at all, but was throughout its life in the Cold War, then saving a late Cold War participant, the submarine 'Ocelot, two extremes of diesel electric submarines'. Saving the 'Conqueror' one of five nuclear submarines in that War, the star of the Falklands War {!}, was a wonderful coup, whilst others in that War didn't make the grade despite much effort by many devotees, 'Plymouth' for example and the 'Yarmouth'. Time will tell when the bills come rolling in and need to be subsidised!

Take care and more is to follows soon.

Before you leave have a look at this page . 53_YEARS_WILL_HAVE_PASSED. This page is also relevant, and although not known by the vast majority of people reading this story certain British international radio callsigns are an integral part of Britain's maritime history both naval and mercantile.   WHAT_IS_IN_A_SHIPS_NAME_AND_ITS_RADIO_CALLSIGN

P.S. This picture comes from the handbook for the portable Naval Type 30P transceiver. It dates from pre WW1 and WW1 times, and was an equipment based on the Army's Set A MkII which had a crew of three men plus one horse. The battery lasted for eight hours on a 20/80 split transmitting and receiving. When landed ashore it required six men - one to carry the TX, one the RX, one the operational battery, one the replacement battery, one the 'equipment bag' containing spare parts, Morse key, additional aerials etc, and one to carry the arms for the team. The men shown in the handbook, came from the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth, and were dressed in their tropical uniforms {No6's} wearing white topee caps with the ships cap tally and white gloves.

Finally things you might not know about the Queen Elizabeth Class!

Labour Party policy of using fixed wing aircraft on aircraft carriers finishing in at end of 1971

From Hansard Archives of the 1960’s Dr. Owen – Labour [Devonport] Minister of Defence answering questions posed by MP’s during a major Defence Debate.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman must know that I am not going to be led into a detailed discussion on strategy. I have given the House a more comprehensive account of potential maritime strategy than I might have done, and I cannot go further.

I had hoped that I would not have to cover again the case for not running on the aircraft carriers in their existing rôle of flying fixed-wing aircraft after 1971, but it seems that hon. Gentlemen opposite are quite incapable of doing the necessary arithmetic. As I stressed in Portsmouth in December, in terms of manpower alone it would pose an almost impossible burden, demanding sacrifices in the manning of the remainder of the Fleet—already a difficult problem—which would totally unbalance its carefully calculated structure and shape.

To run "Eagle", "Ark Royal" and "Hermes" through the 1970s would require between 9,000 and 10,000 uniformed men in the ships themselves, in their air groups, and on air stations ashore—or 8,000 if only "Eagle" and "Ark Royal" were run on. Of these, about 4,200 would be ships' company—enough to man about 8 County Class guided missile destroyers or about 16 Leander Class frigates. The question that the House will ask hon. Members opposite is: do they suggest that we should make these sacrifices in the planned shape of the Fleet—yes or no? Since they will not answer, what are the alternatives?


I assure the hon. Member, who takes a serious interest in these matters, that I will discuss naval manpower and will do so as honestly and frankly as I have done over the past year and a half that I have held office.

There were good reasons that persuaded the previous Tory Government continually to put off making a decision over building the new carrier CVA- 01 [Queen Elizabeth Class]. The right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) has honestly reiterated the position which he adopted as Tory Secretary of State for Air in saying last Wednesday that he fought a fierce and satisfactory battle to see that these carriers were not built."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1970; Vol. 797, c. 498.] That should dispose of the myths that it is only my right hon. Friend who had doubts about the cost-effectiveness of aircraft carriers.


If one were to bother reading copious amount of text [on the line and between lines] of the 1960’s and into post vacating East of Suez from 1971/2 Hansards Archives [plus of course head line stories published by Google, Broadsheets and available at The National Archives Kew and the British Library central London], one would readily see clear and unequivocal statements, surrounding the reasons why the Tory party prevaricated [over a lengthy period] resulting in the non-building of the 1963 super carrier CVA 01[of the Queen Elizabeth class] mentioned in several and various publications, Janes, The Warship Magazine, Wikipedia. At the 1964 general election which saw the Tories hounded out of office and coincided with the withdrawal of the Admiralty Board, supplanted by the Ministry of Defence [Navy], CVA 01 was still on the drawing board under the incoming Labour Party, Harold Wilson and his very able Minister of Defence Dennis Healey. In that year also Lord Louis Mountbatten was still the Chief of Defence Staff [CDS 1959-1965]. A very shrew and adroit Admiral of the Fleet,  he was pro aircraft carriers through and through and quite often took issue with the Tories for continuously refitting old carriers [Eagle, Ark Royal and Hermes] without building new technology carriers.  Other resplendent 4 and 5 star admirals became ever frustrated with the Tories and their lack of drive and accomplishment and publicly allowed their criticisms to be published into the public domain. The Admiralty [as was until 1964] were cash-strapped and very short of manpower in the navy. Moreover, the Air Force wanted air supremacy with new aircraft and weaponry including nuclear weapons,  and were conscious that with nuclear powered hunter killer submarines, Dreadnought inter alia built and commissioned with others following on, the navy were getting the very best, and apparently at their expense. The RAF lobby was overwhelming, and at all costs it had to get as many MP’s on its side to see off the naval requirement for a brand new carrier, and not just the one, for also mooted were CVA-02 and CVA-03! The government, any government of those times, could not afford two out of three powerful arms to take a disproportioned amount each from the Defence budgets/coffers, leaving. in this case, the Army as a very poor cousin. Nor could they afford the ship AND the aircraft together and simultaneously,  the crew to man the entire shebang whether ships company or air squadron crews! It had to be either or, and that was never going to work!  In practical terms the RAF got their way, for after all they had formed the UK’s SAF = Strategic Air Force from 1959 to 1965 with the Vulcan carrying the UK’s deterrent bomb, later on in 1968 until 1996 supplanted by the Polaris submarine deterrent, continuing to this very day as a submarine delivered deterrent now with Trident Missiles, and hopefully by an update of the Trident for a further period of thirty years until the 2050 times. Since the handshake had been enacted between the RAF and the RN there was no reason for a RN/RAF fall out,   nor for that matter to introduce a modern aircraft carrier which might usurp the modus operandi of the RAF.   Fixed-wing flying was the remit of the RAF whereas STOL/VTOL were appropriate skills necessary for mobile or sea-orientated aerial operations, well covered by the Harrier, and now many many years later [hopefully] by the F35 RN versions! In the mid-period, the navy were well endowed with sophisticated helicopters. It is strange, given our understanding of what the FAA is,  that the FAA became the very epitome  of rotary wing flying, ergo in the amphibious and ASW war-roles, the traditional SAR = Search and Rescue, the civil-aid role repeated a score of times each year  in very sad real-time situations  of volcanic eruptions, tsunami’s  and other humanitarian roles, but not skills well practiced in the art and deployment of aerial fighting forces, but of course are sorties directed against the ever increasing problem of submarines, where increasingly, Uncle Tom Cobley and all [nations] have them or have a want for them.

Royal sailors of those halcyon days enjoyed their many foreign appointments/drafts and in addition they had two defined favourites, one was the forces’ sweetheart [long since a past icon], Dame Vera Lynn, and the other much more important favourite was the Defence Correspondence of the Daily Telegraph, Chapman Pincher. It was said, and very believable too, that he knew more about defence than any person in Parliament [Government or Opposition] and his published matters on defence related subject’s  often caught ministers out presupposing that he had privileged accesses to highly sensitive information, nay, was beyond and not subjected to the OSA = Official Secret Act.  Be assured that in the fleet wardroom’s and the various chief’s messes, senior personnel were better informed by his writings than by edicts issued by AFO =Admiralty Fleet Orders, which organically became DCI’s = Defence Command Instructions, and were quite often received and actioned by a catch-up process.  Again, no such campion keeping the armed forces up to date today, thus no “friend in the media”  that is reliable and trustworthy!

After several periods of  prevarication within a Tory Cabinet, the Tories were rather hoping that they would win the 1964 election so allowing them to continue the ‘carrier problem’, but it wasn’t to be, albeit  a close run contest. In the next Parliament, the ‘carrier problem’ would be solved by the Labour Party, but by a turn of fate not factored in to Labours spin-doctor rhetoric or of the high street canvassing of prospective Labour MP’s.  The issue of the day was what to do with our East of Suez commitment, mainly to the far east and specifically to Malaysia, and separately to Singapore and Hong Kong, with of course our defence commitment as a Member of  CENTO and SEATO along with our allies Australia, New Zealand and the USA. 

Before I continue it would be of considerable interest to know of how Parliament was led in the period of October 1964 until May 1979; a 15 year period of some up’s and down’s!  The Tories were in power for just  3 years and 8 months of that 15 year period under Heath with Labour ruling the roost for 11 years bar 1 month under Wilson and Callaghan. The only interesting thing was the election of June 1970 when the Tories were returned under Ted Heath, when 18 years old were enfranchised under an Act passed in 1969. Majorities went crazy with Wilson having one of just 4 in 1964. Obviously he couldn’t progress so after just two years in office [1966] he called a new general election and won the day with a majority of 98. The Tories [Heath] after just 3years and 8 months of their five year stint collapsed and a general election was called. Labour [Wilson were returned to power BUT with a majority of MINUS 33.  He managed to form a government but it was a HUNG PARLIAMENT. Within eight months [Oct 1974] Wilson called another election and was returned with a Majority of +3, and soon afterwards passed the premiership to James Callaghan who finished off Labours five year stint, culminating with the May 1979 election which saw Thatcher in office.

Immediately after Labour took over in 1964 war broke out in the Far East between Indonesia and Malaysia which also involved Singapore; it was called the Indonesian Confrontation. For the UK it meant that a long standing UKSR [United Kingdom Strategic Reserve formed circa 1953] was mobilised, whose title was changed to FESR [Far East Strategic Reserve], commanded by C-in-C Far East, a rotating tri-service appointment, but during this period, by Admiral Sir Varyl Begg. This SR involved forces [land sea and air] from Australia. New Zealand, the UK, Malaysia and Singapore [the latter such as they were?] and a FESR Clasp to the Australian Defence Medal was awarded but strangely not to the New Zealand Defence Medal? The British had issued a GSM = General Service Medal with  Borneo Clasps which was awarded to all involved in operations against Indonesia i.e. not to Malaysia or Singapore forces  - ‘Brits did not get the FESR CLASP. Many RN vessels were involved in this two year Confrontation tying down 66,000 RN personnel in all, on the front line in Borneo, in Singapore and Malaysia and in the many vessels. Part of this FESR Task Force involved the use of RN aircraft carriers although they were never deployed against Indonesian Forces; the RAN HMAS Melbourne carrier was occasionally deployed! The Confrontation ended at the end of 1965, followed by a peace-keeping period involving British and ANZAC forces in Singapore and the Malaysia mainland, there to curtail the movement [and subsequent arrest] of Indonesian-inspired communist insurgents operating as a guerrilla force. The FESR was stood down and reverted to the UKSR in 1971, bringing home many vessels and RN personnel.

Running concurrently with the deployment of the FESR was the reduction of British forces East of Suez which was originally scheduled for the 1970’s [?]. However, the Labour Government set to work to expedite this requirement which for various reasons [all in Britain’s favour]  with CENTO, SEATO and all our allies in the far east, none too happy about the proposed withdrawal of British forces, was brought forward to be at the very beginning of the 1970’s, indeed concluded well before the middle of 1973. With this withdrawal came the realism that aircraft carriers were no longer a necessity, especially NEW ones, and Dennis Healey, the Labour Defence Minister, which history shows was one of the most able Minister ever in that appointment in post WW2 times. He, with his advisers started to run down the fixed wing aircraft carrier, cancelled at a stroke the need for CVA-01 of the Queen Elizabeth Class, and set in motion an alternative, a very much cheaper type of vessel to operate a new type of aircraft using STOL/VTOL technology with ski jump assistance to enhance range and armament payload. As we know,  the official wording did not mention the words “aircraft carrier” but instead it was a “cruiser”,  in this case a new concept called “a through deck cruiser”. For all practical purposes it was to do the same job of the proverbial aircraft carrier, and to be fair and honest, the three through-deck- cruisers we got, Ark Royal, Illustrious and Invincible, did just that and served the Royal Navy and the country very well indeed. There were a lot of wet eyes when these three ladies left the fleet!

So it was that the Labour Party was responsible for getting rid of the conventional aircraft carrier and what might have been,  viz the first HMS Queen Elizabeth CVA-01, although, then as now, WRONGLY called or named. The first ship named HMS Queen Elizabeth was correctly named for there had only been one monarch so named at the time of her build. She wasn’t Queen Elizabeth 1 and wouldn’t be for nigh on 350 years until  a new Elizabeth acceded to the same throne, and that,  only by a quirk of fate, in the same way that the 1914-18 war wasn’t the 1st  world war until the 1939-1945 war became the 2nd world war. Our new carrier CVF 01 [Queen Elizabeth Class] should have been named HMS Queen Elizabeth 2 [or II]…..FULL STOP! All those involved with her build, launch and naming ceremony kid themselves that our beloved  Queen Elizabeth the Second didn’t notice the gaffe, which the average nursery school pupil would have sussed? Pity that we have named  such a magnificence vessel AFTER the daughter of the beheaded Anne Boleyn – think about it? As for CVF -02 HMS Prince of Wales – let’s hope that the current POW, and all those to come during the next projected 50 years of service, is/are better  persons  than the POW at the time of the former ill-fated vessel,  and that it is not a jinxed and unhappy ship as was its predecessor.

Now finally as to why HMS Queen Elizabeth a.k.a. to savvy people, as HMS Queen Elizabeth 2 [or II] – and more importantly, to Her Majesty herself-  isn’t, like our allies operating  with carriers,  a nuclear powered vessel,  burning instead diesel oil of all things, widely believed that that, come half way through her projected life in 2043, diesel oil will be a banned substance and unavailable except at an astronomical cost irrespective of the user, added to which will be a crippling polluting premium/tax internationally imposed by the WHO =World Health Organisation. Moreover, in the final quarter of her projected life in 2055 + six months [she or they] will be laid-up or undergoing a prohibitively expensive propulsion change, almost certainly to a nuclear reactor. Worse still, even though we are regularly told that the two CVF carriers will be in service for 50 years, many wise and knowing heads, say that just like battleships disappeared, so too will aircraft carriers, of all nations for all times, replaced by an era centred on military ‘spec drones which ANY vessel [including submarines] can carry and deploy as defensive or offensive weapons, against all types of target. At that point a carrier will be a sitting target and a farcical white elephant. It is conceivable that such an evolution will occur well before the CVF’s are even only half way through their so-called useful life!  True of course that a nuclear carrier will also be obsolete sooner than later, but in their heyday’s they would function much better operationally and wouldn’t be reliant upon a replenishment tanker and its unbiblical cord for propulsion fuel, resulting in great pollution travelling in the atmosphere,  in weather fronts and jet streams around the globe, with China’s upper air pollution now adversely affecting the west coast of the USA.  All carriers of course need kerosene-type fuels [used for aircraft] but in relatively smaller amounts than for large vessel propulsion, and these fuels pollute far less than petrol or diesel. The controversy of the security and cost of neutralising spent nuclear fuel rods and decommissioned reactors, is a well understood science, albeit costly, and can only pollute our atmosphere through sabotage and security malfunctions and malpractices, which inherent in the science is hardly likely!  Juxtapose the use and control of nuclear power with that of the billions of fossil-burning vessels and vehicles around the world, and it can be shown that they are not in the same league, and like for like, nuclear power is NOT a pollutant, nor directly harmful to the human being or the planet!

The rationale of having a non-nuclear carrier force, comes from many years ago, in fact from 1962, first mooted in the House of Commons in a Defence Debate of July 30th 1963 when the then Tory Minister of Defence, Peter Thorneycroft, whilst answering a question raised by Mr Eric Lubbock MP for Orpington said this:-

 “We studied very carefully the question of whether to go for nuclear propulsion. No doubt there may well be a future for nuclear propulsion for surface ships, but I think that to embark on what would be largely an experimental venture in the case of a capital ship like an aircraft carrier would be to take a very considerable gamble. We might be wiser to make the first venture in a somewhat smaller ship. The cost would certainly be substantially increased if there were nuclear propulsion and, of course, the advantages of nuclear propulsion are much more if the whole fleet is nuclear-propelled and not just one element in it. In those circumstances, this is planned upon a conventional basis.”

It is manifest that when ordering the CVF Queen Elizabeth class, that the purport of the statement above was carried over into modern times,  notwithstanding the  types of technology developed, proven and in operation [despite cost] since 1963 by other allied navies [France, USA]. However, in a written answer, Mr Thorneycroft had stated that it was not Britain’s intention to build a super carrier like for example the USS Forrestal with a fully loaded displacement of 82500 tons, and yet modern aircraft [specifically the F35 navy version], had made the MOD think again to build vessels nigh on or nearing that displacement and comparability in other dimensions!   The much stated 50 year life of the carriers, must take into account that no more than 30 of those years will see the vessels operational, the rest of the time, cumulative, will be  refits [long and short], AMP’s/SMP’s, DED’s, configuration changes etc, in the normal sea/harbour-bound ratio that the Royal Navy has always used its vessels,  and that was when we had foreign bases and dockyards relatively near to hand. Major defects on planned deployments of just a few months, may cause severe embarrassment to the MOD [N] which ever way the cookie crumbles?

On the reduction of crew in a vessel over three times the size [displacement-wise] of a through-deck cruiser, suggests that each crew member is going to have to work much harder to keep the vessel clean [dust and dirty will not disappear just because new technology can be utilised with fewer people!] than did his counterpart in say the erstwhile  HMS Ark Royal, and that when faced, God forbid, with horrendous NBCD Floods/Fire problems, will HQ 1 [if that expression is still relevant?] and their deployed teams be able to cope before lapsing into severe fatigue through inappropriate manning?  

At that point I’ll leave you to ponder, whilst always extending my sincere best wishes and fraternal good luck to all who in serve in these fine vessels of the CVF Class.