Blog

Technology Fit for a Queen: A World-First Flagship Ready to Set Sail
Jul 07, 2014
GE Reports - Europe
0 comments

Supplying the power to move 65,000 tons of steel, men and equipment at high speed is no small task. For GE’s Power Conversion business, it’s a solution that is the result of nearly 10 years of development and over 30 years of prior expertise.

GE is supplying the electric power and propulsion systems for the Royal Navy’s new class of aircraft carriers – the Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC). Not only are they the Royal Navy’s largest warships, they are also the second largest aircraft carriers in the world. Supplying the power and propulsion is therefore a huge undertaking and required new technology. They are the world’s first fully electrically propelled aircraft carriers and GE’s technology will be at their heart.

An official naming ceremony attended by Her Majesty the Queen took place today in Rosyth, Scotland and is a key part of the process towards getting the vessels in service. Once the mechanics are in place, sea trials will begin from mid-2016. The aim of the project is to begin flying aircraft from the ship in 2018.

Mark Dannatt, naval director at GE’s Power Conversion business said: “We’re reaching a very exciting stage, because until now it has been like a jigsaw, with all the parts being made at different facilities all over the country. Now the picture is starting to come together, we can start setting the machinery to work. You can’t do that until the ship is afloat, because you need water around the hull to provide cooling. Once we get afloat, we can start the machinery, tune it and get it all working together. It’s going to be really busy over the next nine months.”

GE is supplying integrated full electric propulsion (IFEP) systems for this new class of aircraft carriers; HMS Queen Elizabeth and the HMS Prince of Wales. Accompanying the IFEP will be the required EPCAMS (electrical power control and management system) that integrates with other sub-alliance partners and subcontractors to form a complete power and propulsion system. It’s technology that provides a number of benefits over mechanical systems and enables the Royal Navy to operate efficiently and smoother than ever.

“With mechanical ships you usually have one engine driving the shaft and another driving the generator and neither would be running at full power or at their best. With the QEC carriers, we have engines that just produce electricity throughout the ship . What that enables us to do is run the ship at the most efficient operating point and only generate the power we need,” said Mark.

The technology allows the carriers to be greener, which also helps them operationally because they don’t have to be refuelled as often. In addition, because the engines are connected by electric cables, they can be located anywhere in the ship. Previously, with mechanical systems, the engines had to be lower down in the ship, in line with the propeller shaft. With this new system, however, the gas turbines which generate the electrical power are higher up on the starboard side. This is a better position to operate the turbines from because the intakes and exhausts are shorter. Having fewer inlet and exhaust ducts throughout the ship also frees up space.

Many of the world’s leading navies are now employing some form of electric propulsion somewhere in their fleets and GE is powering many of them. GE supplies the technology to the United States, South Korea, France and the Netherlands – a natural extension of a company heritage that also includes merchant ships, offshore platforms and oil production. Many of these use cases require similar technologies, so GE was able to lend ideas and expertise to be applied to aircraft carriers. Although the QEC class isn’t scheduled to go into full service for another few years, conversations are already taking place to roll out the leading edge technology to other corners of the world. 

An official naming ceremony attended by Her Majesty the Queen took place today in Rosyth, Scotland and is a key part of the process towards getting the vessels in service. Once the mechanics are in place, sea trials will begin from mid-2016. The aim of the project is to begin flying aircraft from the ship in 2018.

Supplying the power to move 65,000 tons of steel, men and equipment at high speed is no small task. For GE’s Power Conversion business, it’s a solution that is the result of nearly 10 years of development and over 30 years of prior expertise.

GE is supplying the electric power and propulsion systems for the Royal Navy’s new class of aircraft carriers – the Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC). Not only are they the Royal Navy’s largest warships, they are also the second largest aircraft carriers in the world. Supplying the power and propulsion is therefore a huge undertaking and required new technology. They are the world’s first fully electrically propelled aircraft carriers and GE’s technology will be at their heart.

Courtesy BAE Systems.

Leave a comment

Comments

Related Posts

GE Reports - Europe

GE Reports is a daily, award-winning online magazine published by GE. The website and its companion Twitter handle feature stories about innovation, science and technology, as well as viewpoints on important issues regarding GE and the world.