HMS Queen Elizabeth between her two refits

HMS Queen Elizabeth between her two refits

HMS Queen Elizabeth between her two refits

A picture of the British battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth, between her two major refits. At this point she still retained a number of her 6in guns, just visible in their battery above the small boat in the middle of the picture, but her two funnels have been gathered into one.


HMS Queen Elizabeth: All You Need To Know About The Aircraft Carrier

The aircraft carrier can be thought of as a base at sea and can carry up to 72 aircraft at maximum capacity.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the joint largest and most powerful vessel ever constructed for the Royal Navy.

F-35B: What You Need To Know About The Lightning Jet

The Carrier Strike Group was declared ready for operations in January ahead of Queen Elizabeth's first operational deployment.

The UK's Carrier Strike Group is expected to reach Full Operating Capability by December 2023, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said.

The £3.2bn aircraft carrier formed a UK Carrier Strike Group for the first time in the North Sea in October as part of NATO's Exercise Joint Warrior, and has now assumed the duty of fleet flagship from HMS Albion.

The Key Numbers:

  • The project to build HMS Queen Elizabeth and sister ship HMS Prince of Wales cost more than £6bn.
  • The aircraft carrier weighs 65,000 tonnes and has a top speed of 25 knots.
  • She can carry up to 72 aircraft, with a maximum capacity of 36 F-35B fighter jets. It is more likely the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers will have up to 24 Lightning jets on board for operations, however.
  • Her flight deck is 280m long and 70m wide – enough space for three football pitches.
  • The ship is the second in the Royal Navy to be named Queen Elizabeth.
  • The ship will have a crew of about 700, increasing to 1,600 when a full complement of F-35B jets and Crowsnest helicopters are embarked.
  • There are 364,000m of pipes inside the ship.
  • Both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales will keep 45 days' worth of food in their stores.
  • The entire ship's company of 700 can be served a meal within 90 minutes – 45 minutes when at action station.

What Makes Up A Carrier Strike Group?

The History Of British Aircraft Carriers

The Royal Navy has seen 16 different classes of aircraft carriers take to the sea since 1918, with between one and 10 ships commissioned for each class.

HMS Queen Elizabeth And HMS Prince Of Wales: 12 Key Facts On Britain's Aircraft Carriers

The engines of previous carriers were powered by boilers and geared turbines.

The first class of aircraft carrier was HMS Argus. It was laid down in 1914, and finally commissioned in 1918, and could carry 18 aircraft.

The Glorious class could carry 36 to 48 aircraft. Glorious, Courageous, and Furious, were commissioned between 1916 and 1917.

British carriers did not take on the modern look, with a control tower protruding above the flight deck, until HMS Eagle was commissioned as the only ship in her class in 1924.

Two squadrons of Lightning aircraft embarked on the ship last year – the largest group of aircraft on a Royal Navy carrier since HMS Hermes was in service.


HMS Queen Elizabeth And HMS Prince Of Wales: 12 Key Facts On Britain's Aircraft Carriers

The Queen Elizabeth-class vessels are the Royal Navy's first aircraft carriers to be built since HMS Ark Royal was scrapped in 2010.

HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are the largest and most powerful ships ever built for the Royal Navy.

The older of the two aircraft carriers, Queen Elizabeth, is to become the UK's next fleet flagship.

At the beginning of 2021, the UK's Carrier Strike Group was declared ready for operations, ahead of its first operational deployment later this year.

According to the Ministry of Defence (MOD), the Carrier Strike Group is expected to reach Full Operating Capability by December 2023.

HMS Queen Elizabeth: All You Need To Know About The Aircraft Carrier

In October, the aircraft carrier returned to base after forming a UK Carrier Strike Group for the first time during exercises in the North Sea.

Her sister ship and the second of the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers, HMS Prince of Wales, returned to Portsmouth Naval Base in March 2020, after visiting her affiliated city of Liverpool and conducting sea trials in the Irish Sea.

The Queen Elizabeth-class ships are the Royal Navy's first aircraft carriers to be built since HMS Ark Royal was scrapped in 2010.

Public Visit HMS Prince Of Wales In Liverpool

12 Key Facts On The Carriers

1) The project to build HMS Queen Elizabeth and sister ship HMS Prince of Wales cost more than £6bn.

2) Each aircraft carrier weighs 65,000 tonnes and has a top speed of 25 knots.

3) The flight deck of Queen Elizabeth is 280m long and 70m wide – enough space for nearly three football pitches.

What Makes Up A Carrier Strike Group?

4) The ship is the second in the Royal Navy to be named Queen Elizabeth. A ship of the same name was planned in the 1960s but was never constructed.

5) Prince of Wales is the seventh ship to carry the name, with the first being launched in 1765.

6) Each carrier will have a total crew of 679, increasing to around 1,600 when a full complement of F-35B jets and Crowsnest helicopters are embarked.

7) There are around 364,000m of pipes inside each ship.

8) Both Queen Elizabeth-class carriers have two 33-tonne propellers, designed to deliver around 50,000 horsepower each.

9) Both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales will keep 45 days' worth of food in their stores.

10) The entire Ship's Company of 700 can be served a meal within 90 minutes – 45 minutes when at action station.

What's It Like On Board HMS Queen Elizabeth?

11) Each Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier has a total of 16 decks, comprising nine decks from the hull to the flight deck and a further seven in each of the two islands.

12) There is more than 250,000km of electrical cable and more than 8,000km of fibre optic cable in each of the ships.


Contents

First World War [ edit | edit source ]

She was launched on 16 October 1913 at Portsmouth, Hampshire, and entered service in January 1915 during World War I.

Queen Elizabeth at the Dardanelles 1915

While still undergoing testing in the Mediterranean, the Queen Elizabeth was sent to the Dardanelles for the Allied attempt to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war. The Queen Elizabeth was the only modern battleship to participate, though a number of battlecruisers and pre-dreadnought battleships were also involved. She became the flagship for the preliminary naval operations in the Dardanelles Campaign, leading the first line of British battleships in the battle of 18 March 1915. During the attempted military invasion of the Gallipoli on 25 April, the Queen Elizabeth was the flagship for General Sir Ian Hamilton, commander of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. However, after the sinking of HMS Goliath by a Turkish torpedo boat on 12 May, the Queen Elizabeth was immediately withdrawn to a safer position.

She joined Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas's 5th Battle Squadron (consisting of Queen Elizabeth-class battleships) of the Grand Fleet based at Scapa Flow, but she missed the Battle of Jutland due to being in dock for maintenance.

Inter war period [ edit | edit source ]

With trunked funnels, circa 1936

Between the wars she was the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet from 1919 to 1924. The future First Sea Lord John H. D. Cunningham served aboard her as Master of the Fleet, in 1922. From 1924 she was the flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet. Following a refit, she rejoined the Mediterranean Fleet in 1927, went to the Atlantic Fleet in 1929, and later that year returned to the Mediterranean, where she served until 1937. Ώ] During the 1930s she participated in the non-intervention blockade during the Spanish Civil War.

She was rebuilt twice between the world wars in 1926–1927 bulges were added, the funnels were trunked, four 4 inch guns were added, and a new foretop was installed. In her 1937–1941 rebuild she was fitted with a tower bridge in place of her old bridge her 6 inch (152 mm) guns were removed and in their place received 20 4.5 in (114 mm) guns and several smaller anti-aircraft guns horizontal armour was added engines and boilers were replaced and the elevation of her main battery was increased to 30 degrees. Deck armour was increased to 5 inches over the magazines, 2.5 inches over the machinery, while the new 4.5" guns had between 1 and 2 inches of armour. ΐ] She also received facilities for aircraft with a launching catapult amidships. Ώ] New fire control equipment was installed, including the HACS MkIV AA fire control system and the Admiralty Fire Control Table Mk VII for surface fire control of the main armament. This reconstruction was completed in January 1941, when Britain had been at war for over a year.

Second World War [ edit | edit source ]

HMS Queen Elizabeth in Alexandria harbour surrounded by anti-torpedo nets

When her reconstruction was complete, Queen Elizabeth rejoined the Mediterranean Fleet, covering the evacuation of Crete in June 1941. Ώ] She, along with HMS Valiant, was mined and seriously damaged by Italian frogmen (Antonio Marceglia and Spartaco Schergat), in an attack on 19 December 1941 in shallow water in the harbour at Alexandria, Egypt, with the loss of nine men of her complement.

Although grounded on the harbour bottom, her decks were clear and the Italian crews were captured. For this reason, the British maintained the illusion of full operational status, to conceal the weak British position in the Mediterranean during the period the two ships were patched and refloated. However, this concealing action lasted through a few days only, whereas the Valiant went back into service after many months and the Queen Elizabeth after more than a year and half. Following completion of temporary repairs in an Alexandria drydock in June 1942, she steamed through the Suez Canal and around Africa to the Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia in the United States. From September of that year until June 1943, she was comprehensively repaired.

Queen Elizabeth went to the Home Fleet in July 1943, and in December she left for the Eastern Fleet, which she joined in January 1945. She took part in raids on Japanese bases in Indonesia, and was placed in reserve in August 1945.


A very expensive but vulnerable asset. Perhaps just the one would have been a better use of the defence budget. Or seeing as the aircraft being used it may have been wiser to have gone down the design route and built similar to the 3 that the RN scrapped , Illustrious, Invincible & Ark Royal but just two of them. I do not know what the cost would have worked out at. Would it not have been possible to have modernised, just thrown a lot of new steel and re engine the 3 carriers they had?
What did the 2 new carriers cost, I suppose I could copy and paste but it seems other members are not happy when I do thatNo doubt someone will have the figures.
Senior Member Friend of this website

The HMS ‘Queen Elizabeth’ Was an Unlucky Battleship

Earlier this week HMS Queen Elizabeth, the largest aircraft carrier ever built for the Royal Navy, began sea trials. The Queen Elizabeth class represents a.

Earlier this week HMS Queen Elizabeth, the largest aircraft carrier ever built for the Royal Navy, began sea trials. The Queen Elizabeth class represents a massive leap forward for the Royal Navy, and the success or failure of the class will structure British seapower for the rest of the 21st century. Over a century ago, a different class of ships helped transform the Royal Navy: the Queen Elizabeth-class fast battleships.

The Queen Elizabeths represented a leap forward in battleship design almost equivalent in degree to that of HMS Dreadnought. After the construction of Iron Duke, the British Admiralty decided to pursue a class of ships that would be larger, more heavily armed and faster than any predecessor or any foreign competitor.

First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill pushed the development of the 15-inch gun, capable of outdistancing the weapons carried by American, Japanese and especially German battleships.

The bigger guns gave the QEs a broadside that was heavier and had more penetrative capability than the preceding Iron Dukes, in spite of carrying one less turret. The initial design provided for an armament of 10 15-inch guns in five twin turrets, but the Admiralty decided to sacrifice one turret in favor of a higher speed.

This decision would be critical for the future of the class.

HMS ‘Queen Elizabeth’ near Norfolk, Virginia. Royal Navy photo

Perhaps of greatest consequence, a study by Jackie Fisher suggested that oil propulsion would be both possible and desirable. Oil was less labor intensive as a fuel than coal, and did not require the employment of a large number of stokers to maintain speed.

While human endurance and difficulties associated with the transportation of coal around the ship had limited the duration at which a ship could maintain its highest speed, oil could be transported automatically and stored more efficiently. Oil produced less smoke, helping a ship avoid engagements and perform better during combat. Smoke tended to obscure firing positions.

Finally, oil burned more efficiently, allowing a higher speed. This higher speed put Queen Elizabeth in between battlecruisers and traditional battleships.

Queen Elizabeth entered service in January 1915. She displaced roughly 28,000 tons, carried eight 15-inch guns in four twin turrets, and could make 23 knots. The class, initially expected to include three ships and a battlecruiser counterpart, was eventually expanded to five by the cancellation of the battlecruiser and the offer of funds for an additional ship by the colony of Malaya. An offer of three more ships by Canada was narrowly rejected, due to Canada’s insistence on providing crews for the ships.

The British advantage over Germany in the North Sea was sufficiently great that Queen Elizabeth could be spared for other duties. Her first action was as part of an assault on the Dardanelles. Queen Elizabeth bombarded shore fortresses and supported the March 18, 1915 attempt to force the straits. Mines and shore defenses turned back the combined British and French attack, and Queen Elizabeth was withdrawn for fear of loss on May 12.

She joined the Fifth Battle Squadron, initially attached to the Grand Fleet and later to Adm. David Beatty’s battlecruiser squadron. Queen Elizabeth missed the Battle of Jutland while in dry dock for minor repairs and maintenance.

Bitter recrimination after the Battle of Jutland led to the “promotion” of Adm. John Jellicoe and the assignment of Adm. David Beatty to the command of the Grand Fleet. Beatty initially used HMS Iron Duke as his flagship, but the crew, which had quite liked Jellicoe, apparently demonstrated a sullen and resentful attitude towards Beatty.

In early 1917, Beatty transferred his flag to the newer, larger, and faster Queen Elizabeth. The only significant action that Queen Elizabeth engaged in was the escort of the German High Seas Fleet to Scapa Flow at the end of the war.

Queen Elizabeth served as the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet until 1924, and as flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet for several years after that. Although Queen Elizabeth remained an impressive ship, changes in naval warfare had revealed problems with the original design.

In the late 1930s, she underwent an extensive reconstruction that replaced her superstructure, improved her horizontal and underwater protection, and fit a more modern anti-aircraft armament. Designed to extend her service life by 15 years, the reconstruction helped remedy the ship’s most serious problems, while retaining the high design speed.

A cat on one of ‘Queen Elizabeth’s’ 15-inch guns in 1915. Photo via Australian War Memorial collection

This speed meant that she remained a more useful ship in World War II than the slow Revenge-class battleships or than any of the American “standard type” battleships. The reconstruction kept Queen Elizabeth out of World War II until May 1941.

Upon her return to service, Queen Elizabeth posted to the Mediterranean Fleet. The Italian fleet had essentially given up major operations by the time of Queen Elizabeth’s arrival, but in December 1941 a group of Italian frogmen infiltrated Alexandria harbor and attached mines to Queen Elizabeth and her sister Valiant. The mines exploded, sinking both ships in shallow water.

The British raised Queen Elizabeth and conducted spot repairs, but found it necessary to dispatch the ship to Norfolk, Virginia in September 1942. Repairs were completed there, and, as the impending surrender of Italy had made the Mediterranean Fleet irrelevant, Queen Elizabeth headed towards the Pacific.

In the Pacific, Queen Elizabeth helped escort carrier attack groups against Japanese targets in the Dutch East Indies. With Allied naval supremacy assured, she returned to Great Britain in July 1945, and was placed in reserve. Even after reconstruction, Queen Elizabeth could make little contribution to the postwar navy, and was scrapped in 1948.

Queen Elizabeth and her sisters were remarkably important battleships, staying relevant for a much longer period than most of her contemporaries. However, she was also unlucky, at least from the perspective of finding her way into action. Routine maintenance in 1916 kept her out of Jutland, and the timing of its reconstruction in 1937 meant that she would sit on the sidelines for first critical three years of World War II.

Still, very few combat ships could contribute decisively in 1915, and continue to fight usefully in 1945. Sadly, the reluctance of the Royal Navy to commit resources to the preservation of any of its warships means that we don’t have any extant examples of the Queen Elizabeth class to visit today.


HMS Queen Elizabeth: The impressive World War One and Two warship built in Portsmouth

The impressive HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed from Portsmouth on Saturday ahead of her first deployment.

The £3bn aircraft carrier is one of the biggest Royal Navy warships Britain has ever constructed.

She is now travelling to Scotland where she will be joined by HMS Diamond, HMS Defender and HMS Kent among others. They will take part in Exercise Strike Warrior 21, running from May 8 to May 20.

Many people believe this modern warship is named after Her Majesty the Queen, however the aircraft carrier is actually named after her impressive predecessor that fought in both World Wars.

The first HMS Queen Elizabeth first began construction at Portsmouth Dockyard in October 1912, before her launch a year later.

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She cost over £3m to build and was designed to operate against the leading ships of the opposing force. The warship had maximum offensive power and a speed several knots faster than other battleships.

HMS Queen Elizabeth was finally completed in January 1914 and was sent to the Dardanelles, Turkey, in March 1915 - a much contested area from the beginning of Word War One.

British and French forces launched an naval attack on Turkish forces hoping to take control of the strait separating Europe from Asia.

Controlling the strait would create quicker cooperation between Britain and Russia, plus it could persuade neutral states to join the Allies.

However, the missions was not successful thanks to support from Germany and heavy defences in the area. Three out of ten Allied battleships were sunk, with two more heavily damaged.

In April, the British and French attempted an invasion of Gallipoli in April 1915, but that failed in similar fashion with the sinking of HMS Goliath.

HMS Queen Elizabeth was quickly withdrawn to a safer position.

In the interwar period, she was rebuilt and modernised twice to make her more effective in battle.

The warship would serve Britain again in the Second Word War in Alexandria, Egypt.

In December 1941, HMS Queen Elizabeth was seriously damaged by Italian&aposs operating human torpedo craft but she was not grounded to the harbour bottom.

The Italians responsible for the damage were arrested, and while repairs were made the Royal Navy pretended the ship was fully functional to trick the German forces.

The temporary repairs allowed her to travel through the Suez canal in June 1942. She then went on to the USA to be properly repaired.

Following extensive repairs, she rejoined the war effort and took part in raids on Japanese bases in the Dutch East Indies.

In August 1945 HMS Queen Elizabeth was put in reserve and in July 1948 the ship was and scrapped.

A model of the former warship can be found at the National Maritime Museum in London.


HMS Queen Elizabeth joins up with HMS Artful

After a series of port visits, the UK Carrier Strike Group has reformed to resume our programme in the Mediterranean. #CSG21

Ready to operate at sea, in the air, over the land and under the waves… pic.twitter.com/qmyzGZZtOG

&mdash Commander UK Carrier Strike Group (@smrmoorhouse) June 15, 2021

HMS Artful is an Astute class nuclear submarine and recently visited Gibraltar. She is the third of the seven Astute-class submarines to be built for the Royal Navy. She began her naval career in 2015, and was commissioned in 2016.

The Astute class are the largest, most advanced and most powerful attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy, combining world leading sensors, design and weaponry in a versatile vessel. The class have provision for up-to 38 weapons in six 21-inch torpedo tubes. The submarines are capable of using Tomahawk Block IV land-attack missiles with a range of 1,000 miles and Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes.

What is the UK Carrier Strike Group doing?

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the deployed flag ship for Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21), a deployment that will see the ship and her escorts sail to the Asia-Pacific and back.

CSG21 will see the ship along with the Strike Group work with over 40 countries from around the world. The Strike Group will operate and exercise with other countries Navies and Air Forces during the 7 month deployment.

The Carrier Strike Group at sea

The Carrier Strike Group includes ships from the United States Navy, the Dutch Navy, and Marines from the US Marine Corps. As well as British frigates, destroyers, a submarine, two RFA supply ships and air assets from 617 Sqn, 820 NAS, 815 NAS and 845 NAS.

This is the largest deployment of Fifth Generation Fighter Jets at sea in history.


Contents

On the day RMS Queen Mary sailed on her maiden voyage, Cunard's chairman, Sir Percy Bates, informed his ship designers, headed by George Paterson, that it was time to start designing the planned second ship. [7] The official contract between Cunard and government financiers was signed on 6 October 1936. [8]

The new ship improved upon the design of Queen Mary [9] with sufficient changes, including a reduction in the number of boilers to twelve instead of Queen Mary 's twenty-four, that the designers could discard one funnel and increase deck, cargo and passenger space. The two funnels were self-supporting and braced internally to give a cleaner-looking appearance. With the forward well deck omitted, a more refined hull shape was achieved, and a sharper, raked bow was added for a third bow-anchor point. [9] She was to be eleven feet longer and 4,000 tons greater displacement than her older sister ship, Queen Mary. [10] [8]

Queen Elizabeth was built on slipway four at John Brown & Company in Clydebank, Scotland, Great Britain. During her construction she was more commonly known by her shipyard number, Hull 552. [11] The interiors were designed by a team of artists headed by the architect George Grey Wornum. [12] Cunard's plan was for the ship to be launched in September 1938, with fitting-out intended to be complete for the ship to enter service in the spring of 1940. [8] Queen Elizabeth herself performed the launching ceremony on 27 September 1938. [9] Supposedly, the liner started to slide into the water before the Queen could officially launch her, and acting sharply, she managed to smash a bottle of Australian red over the liner's bow just before it slid out of reach. [13] The ship was then sent for fitting out. [8] [9] It was announced that on 23 August 1939 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were to visit the ship and tour the engine room and that 24 April 1940 was to be the proposed date of her maiden voyage. Due to the outbreak of the Second World War, these two events were postponed and Cunard's plans were shattered. [8]

Queen Elizabeth sat at the fitting-out dock at the shipyard in her Cunard colours until 2 November 1939, when the Ministry of Shipping issued special licences to declare her seaworthy. On 29 December her engines were tested for the first time, running from 0900 to 1600 with the propellers disconnected to monitor her oil and steam operating temperatures and pressures. Two months later Cunard received a letter from Winston Churchill, [14] then First Lord of the Admiralty, ordering the ship to leave Clydeside as soon as possible and "to keep away from the British Isles as long as the order was in force". [ citation needed ]

At the start of the Second World War, it was decided that Queen Elizabeth was so vital to the war effort that she must not have her movements tracked by German spies operating in the Clydebank area. An elaborate ruse suggested to any German observers that she would sail to Southampton to complete her fitting-out. [14] Another factor prompting Queen Elizabeth ' s departure was the necessity to clear the fitting-out berth at the shipyard for the battleship HMS Duke of York, [14] which was in need of its final fitting-out. Only the berth at John Brown could accommodate the King George V-class battleships.

One major factor that limited the ship's departure date was that there were only two spring tides that year that would see the water level high enough for Queen Elizabeth to leave the Clydebank shipyard, [14] and German intelligence were aware of this fact. A minimal crew of four hundred were assigned for the trip most were transferred from Aquitania and told that this would be a short coastal voyage to Southampton. [14] Parts were shipped to Southampton, and preparations were made to move the ship into the King George V Graving Dock when she arrived. [14] The names of Brown's shipyard employees were booked to local hotels in Southampton to give a false trail of information, and Captain John Townley was appointed as her first master. Townley had previously commanded Aquitania on one voyage, and several of Cunard's smaller vessels before that. Townley and his hastily signed-on crew of four hundred Cunard personnel were told by a company representative before they left to pack for a voyage where they could be away from home for up to six months. [15]

By the beginning of March 1940, Queen Elizabeth was ready for her secret voyage. The Cunard colours were painted over with battleship grey, and on the morning of 3 March, the ship quietly left her moorings in the Clyde and proceeded out of the river to sail further down the coast, where she was met by a King's Messenger, [14] who presented sealed orders directly to the captain. While waiting for the messenger, the ship was refuelled adjustments to the compass and some final testing of equipment were also carried out before she sailed to her secret destination. [ citation needed ]

Captain Townley discovered that he was to take the ship directly to New York in the then neutral United States without stopping, or even slowing to drop off the Southampton harbour pilot who had embarked on at Clydebank, and to maintain strict radio silence. Later that day, at the time when she was due to arrive at Southampton, the city was bombed by the Luftwaffe. [14] Queen Elizabeth zigzagged across the Atlantic to elude German U-boats and took six days to reach New York at an average speed of 26 knots. In New York she found herself moored alongside both Queen Mary and the French Line's Normandie, the only time all three of the world's largest ocean liners were ever berthed together. [14] Captain Townley received two telegrams on his arrival, one from his wife congratulating him, and the other from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth thanking him for the vessel's safe delivery. The ship was then secured so that no one could board her without prior permission, including port officials. [14]

Queen Elizabeth left the port of New York on 13 November 1940 for Singapore to receive her troopship conversion. [8] After two stops to refuel and replenish her stores in Trinidad and Cape Town, she arrived in Singapore's naval docks, where she was fitted with anti-aircraft guns, and her hull repainted grey. [ citation needed ]

As a troopship, Queen Elizabeth left Singapore on 11 February, and on 23 February 1942 Queen Elizabeth secretly arrived in Esquimalt, British Columbia, Canada. She underwent refit work in drydock adding accommodation and armaments, and three hundred naval ratings quickly painted the hull. [16] In mid-March, carrying 8,000 American soldiers, Queen Elizabeth began a 7,700-mile voyage from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia. [17] Initially she carried Australian troops to theatres of operation in Asia and Africa. [18] After 1942, the two Queens were relocated to the North Atlantic for the transportation of American troops to Europe. [18]

Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary were both used as troop transports [19] during the war. Their high speeds allowed them to outrun hazards, principally German U-boats, usually allowing them to travel outside a convoy. [15] During her war service as a troopship, Queen Elizabeth carried more than 750,000 troops, and she also sailed some 500,000 miles (800,000 km). [8]

Following the end of the Second World War, Queen Elizabeth was refitted and furnished as an ocean liner, [8] while her running mate Queen Mary remained in her wartime role and grey appearance except for her funnels, which were repainted in the company's colours. For another year, her sibling did military service, returning troops and G.I. brides to the United States while Queen Elizabeth was overhauled at the Firth of Clyde Drydock, in Greenock, by the John Brown Shipyard.

Six years of war service had never permitted the formal sea trials to take place, so they were now finally undertaken. Under the command of Commodore Sir James Bisset, the ship travelled to the Isle of Arran and her trials were carried out. On board was the ship's namesake, Queen Elizabeth, and her two daughters, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. [8] During the trials, Queen Elizabeth took the wheel for a brief time, and the two young princesses recorded the two measured runs with stopwatches that they had been given for the occasion. Bisset was under strict instructions from Sir Percy Bates, who was also aboard the trials, that all that was required from the ship was two measured runs of no more than 30 knots and that she was not permitted to attempt to attain a higher speed record than Queen Mary. [20] Queen Elizabeth ' s engines were capable of driving her to speeds of over 32 knots. [20] After her trials Queen Elizabeth finally entered passenger service, allowing Cunard White Star to launch the long-planned two-ship weekly service to New York. [21] Despite specifications similar to those of Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth never held the Blue Riband, for Cunard White Star chairman Sir Percy Bates asked that the two ships do not try to compete against each other. [20]

The ship ran aground on a sandbank off Southampton on 14 April 1947, and was re-floated the following day. [8] In 1955, during an annual overhaul at Southampton, England, Queen Elizabeth was fitted with underwater fin stabilisers to smooth the ride in rough seas. Two fins were fitted on each side of the hull. The fins were retractable into the hull to save fuel in smooth seas and for docking. [22] On 29 July 1959, she was in a collision with the American freighter American Hunter in foggy conditions in New York Harbor and was holed above the waterline. [23]

Together with Queen Mary and in competition with the American liners SS United States and SS America, Queen Elizabeth dominated the transatlantic passenger trade until their fortunes began to decline with the advent of the faster and more economical jet airliner in the late 1950s. [15] As passenger numbers declined, the liners became uneconomic to operate in the face of rising fuel and labour costs. For a short time the Queen Elizabeth, now under the command of Commodore Geoffrey Trippleton Marr attempted a dual role in order to become more profitable when not plying her usual transatlantic route, which she now alternated in her sailings with the French Line's SS France, the ship cruised between New York and Nassau. [8] For this new tropical purpose, the ship received a major refit in 1965, with a new Lido deck added to her aft section, enhanced air conditioning, and an outdoor swimming pool. With these improvements, Cunard intended to keep the ship in operation until at least the mid-1970s. [24] However, the strategy did not prove successful, owing to the ship's deep draught, which prevented her from entering various island ports, her width, which preventing her from using the Panama Canal, and also her high fuel costs.

Cunard retired Queen Mary in 1967 and Queen Elizabeth by 1969, and replaced them both with new more economical Queen Elizabeth 2.

In 1968, Queen Elizabeth was sold to a group of American businessmen from a company called The Queen Corporation (which was 85% owned by Cunard and 15% by them). The new company intended to operate the ship as a hotel and tourist attraction in Port Everglades, Florida, similar to the planned use of Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. [8] Elizabeth, as she was now called, opened to tourists before Queen Mary (which opened in 1971) but it was not to last. The climate of southern Florida was much harder on Queen Elizabeth than the climate of southern California was on Queen Mary. There was some talk of permanently flooding the bilge and allowing the Queen Elizabeth to rest on the bed of the Intracoastal Waterway in Ft. Lauderdale harbour (Port Everglades) and remain open, but the ship was forced to close after losing money and being declared a fire hazard. [25] The vessel was sold at auction in 1970 to Hong Kong tycoon Tung Chao Yung. [8]

Tung, the head of the Orient Overseas Line, intended to convert the vessel into a university for the World Campus Afloat program (later reformed and renamed as Semester at Sea). Following the tradition of the Orient Overseas Line, the ship was renamed Seawise University, [8] as a play on Tung's initials (C.Y.'s).

The ship was now under Hong Kong ownership, and it was decided to sail her to Hong Kong. This proved to be problematic, for the ship's engines and boilers were in poor condition after several years of neglect. The now retired Commodore Marr and a former chief engineer of the ship were hired by Tung as advisors for the journey to Hong Kong. Marr recommended that Seawise University be towed to the New Territories, but Tung and his crew were convinced that they could sail the ship there using just the aft engines and boilers. The planned several-week trip turned into months as the crew battled with boiler issues and a fire. An unplanned lengthy mid-voyage stopover allowed the new owners to fly spare parts out to the ship and carry out repairs before resuming the course to Hong Kong Harbour.

With the £5 million conversion nearing completion, the vessel caught fire on 9 January 1972. [8] There is some suspicion that the fires were set deliberately, as several blazes broke out simultaneously throughout the ship. [26] The fact that C.Y. Tung had acquired the vessel for $3.5 million, and had insured it for $8 million, led some to speculate that the inferno was part of a fraud to collect on the insurance claim. Others speculated that the fires were the result of a conflict between Tung, a Chinese Nationalist, and Communist-dominated ship construction unions. [27]

The ship was completely destroyed by the fire, and the water sprayed on her by fireboats caused the burnt wreck to sink in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour. [28] The vessel was finally declared a shipping hazard and dismantled for scrap between 1974 and 1975. Portions of the hull that were not salvaged were left at the bottom of the bay. The keel, boilers and engines remained at the bottom of the harbour, and the area was marked as "Foul" on local sea charts, warning ships not to try to anchor there. It is estimated that around 40–50% of the wreck was still on the seabed. In the late 1990s, the last remains of the wreck were buried during land reclamation for the construction of Container Terminal 9. [29] Position of the wreck: 22°19′43″N 114°06′44″E  /  22.32861°N 114.11222°E  / 22.32861 114.11222 . [30]

After the fire, Tung had one of the liner's anchors and the metal letters "Q" and "E" from the name on the bow placed in front of the office building at Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, California, which had been intended as the headquarters of the Seawise University venture [31] [32] they later went on display with commemorative plaques in the lobby of Wall Street Plaza, 88 Pine Street, New York City. Two of the ship's fire warning system brass plaques were recovered by a dredger, and were displayed at The Aberdeen Boat Club in Hong Kong in an exhibit about the ship. The charred remnants of her last ensign were cut from the flagpole and framed in 1972, and still adorn the wall of the officers' mess of marine police HQ in Hong Kong. Parker Pen Company produced a special edition of 5,000 pens made from material recovered from the wreck, each in a presentation box today these are highly collectible. [33]

Following the demise of Queen Elizabeth, the largest passenger ship in active service became the 66,343 GT SS France, which was longer but with less tonnage than the Cunard liner.

In 1959, the ship made an appearance in the British satirical comedy film The Mouse That Roared, starring Peter Sellers and Jean Seberg. While a troupe of invading men from "Grand Fenwick", a fictional European micro-nation, cross the Atlantic to 'war' with the United States, they meet and pass the far larger Queen Elizabeth, and learn that New York City is closed owing to an air raid drill. [34]

Ian Fleming set the climax to his 1956 James Bond novel Diamonds Are Forever on Queen Elizabeth. The 1971 film version starring Connery used the P&O liner SS Canberra for the sequence. [35]

The wreck was featured in the 1974 James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun, as a covert headquarters for MI6. [36] [37] Q's labs also are in the wreckage of this ship.


An Historical Look at Cunard Line’s RMS QUEEN ELIZABETH… The first in a line of QE liners.

(Left: Captain docks the great Cunard Liner in New York) The RMS Queen Elizabeth was an ocean liner operated by the Cunard Line and was contracted to carry Royal Mail as the second half of a two-ship weekly express service between Southampton and New York City via Cherbourg. She was followed by the QE 2 and the new Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth.

At the time of construction in the mid-1930s by John Brown and Company in Clydebank, Scotland, the RMS Queen Elizabeth was known as Hull 552, but she was later named in honor of Queen Elizabeth, Queen Consort at the time of her launch on 27 September 1938, and in 1952 became the Queen Mother. Queen Elizabeth was a slightly larger ship with an improved design over her running mate, Queen Mary, making her the largest passenger liner ever built at that time, which was a record that would not be exceeded for fifty-six years.

She first entered service in February 1940 as a troopship in the Second World War, and it was not until October 1946 that she served in her intended role as an ocean liner. Together with Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth maintained a two ship weekly transatlantic service from Southampton to New York for over twenty years. With the decline in the popularity of these routes, both ships were replaced by RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1969.

The Captain’s Table – 1950s…

She was retired from service in November 1968, and was sold to a succession of buyers, most of whom had adventurous and unsuccessful plans for her. Finally she was sold to a Hong Kong businessmen who intended to convert her into a floating University cruise ship. In 1972 whilst undergoing renovations in Hong Kong harbor, she set on fire and capsized. In 1973, her wreck was deemed an obstruction, and she was scrapped where she lay.

(Left: The Duke and Duchess of Windsor aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth – waving and being interviewed.)

On the day RMS Queen Mary set sail on her maiden voyage, Cunard’s chairman, Sir Percy Bates, informed his ship designers that it was time to start designing the planned second ship, which unlike Queen Mary, whose name was kept secret, was to be called Queen Elizabeth. The official contract between Cunard and government financiers was signed on 6 October 1936.

The new ship was to be an improved design of Queen Mary, with sufficient changes including a reduction in the number of boilers to twelve boilers instead of Mary’s twenty-four, which in turn meant that the designers could discard one funnel which would increase deck, cargo and passenger space. The two funnels would also be braced internally to give her a cleaner looking appearance than her sister, at the same time the forward well deck was omitted and a sharper raked bow was added for a third bow anchor point, which also gave the new vessel an extra ten feet in length over her sister. The ship also boasted a more refined hull shape.
Queen Elizabeth, growing on the stocks.

(Rex Harrison, Peggy Cummins and Mrs. David Niven aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth…)

Queen Elizabeth was built on Slipway Four at John Brown & Company in Clydebank, Scotland. During her construction she was more commonly known by her shipyard number, Hull 552. Cunard’s plan was for the ship to be launched in September 1938, with fitting out intended to be complete for the ship to enter service in the spring of 1940. The Queen herself for whom the ship was named, performed the christening ceremony on 27 September 1938, with the ship sent for fitting out. It was announced that on 23 August 1939 the King and Queen were to visit the ship and tour the engine room and 24 April 1940 was to be the proposed date of her maiden voyage. Due to the outbreak of the Second World War, these two dates were postponed.

(The Captain inspects the RMS Queen Elizabeth…)

Queen Elizabeth sat at the fitting out dock at the shipyard in her Cunard colors until 2 November 1939, when the Ministry of Shipping issued special licenses to make her seaworthy. On 29 December her engines were tested for the first time, when they were run from 0900 to 1600 with the propellers disconnected to monitor her oil and steam operating temperatures and pressures. Two months later Cunard received a letter from Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, ordering the ship to leave Clydeside as soon as possible and “to keep away from the British Isles as long as the order was in force”.

(Series of Photos… Joseph Cotten, Rosalind Russell, Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor,Vivien Leighand Lawrence Olivier aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth…)

At the start of World War II, it was decided that as Queen Elizabeth was so vital to the war effort that she could not have her movements tracked by German spies operating in the Clydebank area. Therefore, an elaborate ruse was fabricated involving her sailing to Southampton to complete her fitting out. Another factor prompting Queen Elizabeth’s departure was the necessity to clear the fitting out berth at the shipyard for the battleship HMS Duke of York,[6] which was in need of its final fitting-out. Only the berth at John Brown could accommodate the King George V-class battleship’s needs.

One major factor that limited the ship’s secret departure date was that there were only two spring tides that year that would see the water level high enough for Queen Elizabeth to leave the Clydebank shipyard, and German intelligence were aware of this fact. A minimal crew of four hundred were assigned for the trip most were signed up for a short voyage to Southampton from Aquitania. Parts were shipped to Southampton, and preparations were made to drydock the new liner when she arrived. The names of Brown’s shipyard employees were booked to local hotels in Southampton to give a false trail of information and Captain John Townley was appointed as her first captain. Townley had previously commanded Aquitania on one voyage, and several of Cunard’s smaller vessels before that. Townley and his hastily signed-on crew of four hundred Cunard personnel were told by a Cunard representative before they left to pack for a voyage where they could be away from home for up to six months.

(Left: James Mason sailing with his wife and dog)By the beginning of March 1940, Queen Elizabeth was ready for her secret voyage. Her Cunard colors were painted over with battleship grey, and on the morning of 3 March she quietly left her moorings in the Clyde where she proceeded out of the river and sailed further on down the coast where she was met by the King’s Messenger,[6] who presented sealed orders directly to the captain. Whilst waiting for the messenger the ship was refueled, adjustments to the ships compass and some final testing of the ship equipment was carried out before she sailed to her secret destination.

Captain Townley discovered that he was to take the untested vessel directly to New York without stopping, without dropping off the Southampton harbor pilot who had embarked on Queen Elizabeth from Clydebank and to maintain strict radio silence. Later that day at the time when she was due to arrive at Southampton, the city was bombed by the Luftwaffe. After a crossing taking six days, Queen Elizabeth had zigzagged her way across the Atlantic at an average speed of 26 knots avoiding Germany’s U-boats, where she arrived safely at New York and found herself moored alongside both Queen Mary and the French Line’s Normandie. This would be the only time all three of the world’s largest liners would be berthed together.

Captain Townley received two telegrams on his arrival in New York, one from his wife congratulating him and the other was from the ship’s namesake – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, who thanked him for safe delivery of the ship that was named for her. The ship was then moored for the first time along side Queen Mary and she was then secured so that no one could board her without prior permission. This included port officials. Cunard later issued a statement that it had been decided that due to the global circumstances, it was best that the new liner was moved to a neutral location and that during that voyage the ship had carried no passengers or cargo.

Queen Elizabeth left the port of New York on 13 November 1940 for Singapore for her troopship conversion after two stops to refuel and replenish her stores in Trinidad and Cape Town. She arrived in Singapore Naval Docks where she was fitted with anti aircraft guns and her hull was repainted black but her superstructure remained grey.

As a troopship, Queen Elizabeth left Singapore on February 11th and initially she carried Australian troops to operating theatres in Asia and Africa. After 1942, the two Queens were relocated to the North Atlantic for the transportation of American troops to Europe.

Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary were used as troop transports during the war. Their high speeds allowed them to outrun hazards, fore-mostly German U-boats, allowing them to typically travel without a convoy. During her war service as a troopship Queen Elizabeth carried more than 750,000 troops and also sailed some 500,000 miles.[3] Her captains during this period were the aforementioned John Townley, Ernest Fall, Cyril Gordon Illinsworth, Charles Ford, and James Bisset.

(The Wheelhouse – during the 1950s…)

Following the end of the second world war, her running mate Queen Mary, remained in her wartime role and grey appearance except for her funnels that were repainted in the company’s colours. For another year she did military service, returning troops and G.I brides to the United States. Queen Elizabeth, meanwhile, was refitted and furnished as an ocean liner at the Firth of Clyde Drydock in Greenock by the John Brown Shipyard. Six years of war service had never permitted the formal sea trials to take place, and these were now finally undertaken. Under the command of Commodore Sir James Bisset the ship travelled to the Isle of Arran and her trials were carried out. Onboard was the ship’s namesake Queen Elizabeth and her two daughters, the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.

During the trials, her majesty Queen Elizabeth took the wheel for a brief time and the two young princesses recorded the two measured runs with stopwatches that they had been given for the occasion. Bisset was under strict instructions from Sir Percy Bates, who was also aboard the trials, that all that was required from the ship was two measured runs of no more than thirty knots and that she was not permitted to attempt to attain a higher speed record than Queen Mary. After her trials Queen Elizabeth finally entered Cunard White Star’s two ship weekly service to New York. Despite similar specifications to her older sister Queen Mary, Elizabeth never held the Blue Riband, as Cunard White Star chairman Sir Percy Bates requested that the two ships not try to compete against one another.

(A turbulent crossings…)

The ship ran aground on a sandbank off Southampton on 14th April 1947, and was re-floated the following day.

Together with Queen Mary, and in competition with SS United States, Queen Elizabeth dominated the transatlantic passenger trade until their fortunes began to decline with the advent of the faster and more economical jet airliner in the late 1950s[7] Queens were becoming uneconomic to operate with rising fuel and labour costs. It was documented that on one transatlantic crossing the ship crew compliments of 1,200 outweighed the 200 passengers the ship was carrying. For a short time, Queen Elizabeth (now under the command of Commodore Geoffrey Trippleton Marr) attempted a new dual role to make the aging liner more profitable when not plying her usual transatlantic route, which she now alternated in her sailings with the French Line’s SS France, the ship cruised between New York and Nassau.

(Left: The Captain gets a haircut in the barber shop.)

For this new tropical purpose, the ship received a major refit, with a new lido deck added to her aft section, enhanced air conditioning, and an outdoor swimming pool. However, this did not prove successful due to her high fuel operating costs, deep draught (which had prevented her from entering various island ports) and being too wide to use the Panama Canal.

Cunard retired both ships by 1969 and replaced them with a new, single, smaller ship, the more economical RMS Queen Elizabeth 2.

In 1968, Queen Elizabeth was sold to a group of Philadelphia businessmen from a company called The Queen Corporation (which was 85% owned by Cunard and 15% by them), at the same time the ships name was also altered as Cunard removed the word “Queen” from the bows and stern. The new company intended to operate the ship as a hotel and tourist attraction in Port Everglades, Florida, similar to the use of Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. Losing money and forced to close after being declared a fire hazard, the ship was sold at auction in 1970 to Hong Kong tycoon C.Y. Tung.

(Sad end for a great liner.)

Tung, head of the Orient Overseas Line, intended to convert the vessel into a university for the World Campus Afloat program (later reformed and renamed as Semester at Sea). Following the tradition of the Orient Overseas Line, the ship was renamed Seawise University, as a play on Tung’s initials. 1972: The wreck of Seawise University, the former Queen Elizabeth.

Near the completion of the £5 million conversion, the vessel was destroyed by a massive fire on January 9, 1972.[3] There is some suspicion that the fires were set deliberately, as several blazes broke out simultaneously throughout the ship. The fact that C.Y. Tung had acquired the vessel for $3.5 million,and had insured it for $8 million, led some to speculate that the inferno was part of a fraud to collect on the insurance claim. Others speculated that the fires were the result of a conflict between Tung, a Chinese Nationalist, and Communist-dominated ship construction unions.

The ship capsized in shallow water in Hong Kong Victoria Harbor on 9 January 1972.