back to article HMS Queen Lizzie to carry American jets and sail in support of US foreign policy

Britain's new aircraft carrier will operate as a fully fledged offshoot of the US Marine Corps, the UK's ambassador to the US accidentally confirmed on Thursday. The 70,000-ton HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail through the South China Sea on her maiden deployment in the 2020s, Sir Kim Darroch told a Washington think tank. Reuters …


    1. Mark 85

      He's an interesting character for sure and in my head, a good choice for Sec of Defense. No nonsense. Practical. Understands modern warfare. Well educated in the things that matter to his position. His orders are well thought out as well as laid out to minimize collateral damage but also to win wars. I wish he'd been in command back when I was in the USMC. Things might have been different then and now.

      If's possible he'll kill the F35 once he has time to look at it. Maybe re-open the Harrier and A10 production. Not sure what he'll do for air superiority.. maybe the F22? He does believe in smart and educated leaders and policies. The most bang for the buck and extreme care in using that bang. I expect changes, some quite large, in the DoD and the equipment and philosophies as well as training of the troops. Might be pretty painful for some who play politics....

  1. Caustic Soda

    Awful lot of fuss about F35-B. The whole F-35B programme has slipped, and ours won't be built when QE comes into service. Thank God she's 4 years late or El Reg would have had a coronary about her having to fly helos only for 5 years.

    The Yanks are going to help us work up our deck crew - we have not had to manage a fleet carrier since Hermes was sold, arguably not since Ark IV - and we get to fly the flag in a part of the world where we have a stake but have taken no responsibility for decades.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      and we get to fly the flag in a part of the world where we have a stake but have taken no responsibility for decades.

      You don't think we gave up our stake when we surrendered HK?

      Why should the UK "take responsibility" for the posturing between China and other relatively wealthy south east Asian nations, any more than those countries should intervene to ease the fractious standoff between NATO and Russia in the Baltic and elsewhere. For the UK to get militarily embroiled in (for example) the South China Sea territorial disputes will be a bizarre piece of international vigilantism.

      1. fnj

        we surrendered HK

        The UK surrendered HK 9600 km away, but the US surrendered the Canal Zone 1900 km away, and many US ports are run by foreign organizations.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "many US ports are run by foreign organizations."

          As are at least one UK port. (Tilbury)

        2. Dave 15


          Nope, HK was leased, the lease ran out, we decided against renewal (even if that had been an option).

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So now they don't even need a dodgy "45 minutes" dossier before we're suckered into another unjust-ified war. Maybe the taxpayers should be consulted before someone makes these decisions? Forgot - we don't matter, the little people just fight the wars and pay for them.

  3. Crazy Operations Guy

    "The US Navy and its regional allies have been carrying out freedom-of-navigation exercises to reinforce the fact that international waters are not Chinese."

    I wonder if the Chinese are only doing those patrols to show that International Waters aren't American Waters...

    1. SkippyBing

      The tricky bit is where they're trying to make them Chinese waters by creating islands.

      It is incidentally the exact corollary of the Russian task group sailing through the English Channel. The right of free passage allows anyone to sail anything pretty much anywhere, including territorial waters. However in the case of territorial waters you're very limited in what you can do without committing an act of war, i.e. don't dawdle, don't exercise weapons systems, don't commit aviation etc.

  4. sysconfig


    That deployment will take place with half the air wing provided by US Marine Corps F-35Bs because Britain hasn't ordered enough of the jets for delivery in time to fully equip the air wing

    So let's build those bloody carriers, even though we don't have enough planes to utilise them?

    1. SkippyBing

      Re: Classic...

      The original timelines for both projects would have had the F-35s flying from the Invincible class carriers prior to the QE Class entering service. I seem to remember one of the design drivers was being able to fit the older ship's elevators. Makes you laugh really. If you're not crying.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Classic...

        The original timelines for both projects would have had the F-35s flying from the Invincible class carriers

        That may be true, but by the time the QE carriers were ordered, it was well understood that the F35B was a crock of shit that would take another decade to get working and into squadron service. The reason the carriers were ordered by Gordon Brown was simply to try and buy Labour party votes in the West end of Glasgow, when the Labour party were threatened with annihilation by the Scottish Nationalists.

        1. SkippyBing

          Re: Classic...

          That may be technically true but the programme had been going for almost a decade before the ships were ordered in the sense of committing to pay for actual steel. A lot had already been spent getting to that stage and I think we still should have got the jets before the ships at that point.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Classic...

          I think we're wandering away from the point here. Whether the carriers or the F-35s actually work - or what they are supposed to accomplish even if they do - is neither here nor there. The justification is simple: jobs, orders, PROFIT.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bad idea

    Expensive floating coffin. As sensible as building a Dreadnought in 1970. Sailors may well die as a result of Brown's anti-SNP job -creation scheme.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bad idea

      "As sensible as building a Dreadnought in 1970".

      Exactly, Or, come to think of it, as sensible as building HMS Hood in 1918. That cost just about as many lives as a sunk modern carrier, and with as little justification.

      Hood was the culmination of a series of fundamentally pointless ships, starting with Jackie Fisher's bright idea of a big cruiser fast enough to catch enemy cruisers and armed with battleship guns to sink them. (If it could hit them, which turned out to be very doubtful indeed). Fisher apparently didn't consider what would happen when the enemy (oh, what the hell, when Germany) started building its own battlecruisers which were better armoured and which (for whatever reasons) shot a lot more accurately.

      The main thing Fisher overlooked was that a Captain RN commanding what was always called a capital ship - and which was actually bigger than any battleship - could not, in practice, refuse battle against an enemy battleship. Unfortunately the enemy battleship could take a few hits from Hood, but not vice versa. It seems possible that Hood was actually sunk by the German cruiser Prinz Eugen - if true, the ultimate in black irony as cruisers were the one thing she was designed to defeat.

      There seem to be a few lessons there for the advocates of carriers today. Filling in the details is left as an exercise for the student.

      1. fnj

        Re: Bad idea

        [HMS Hood] cost just about as many lives as a sunk modern carrier

        When virtually the entire complement of HMS Hood went down with the ship, that was only about 1400, not much more than a US heavy cruiser. A Nimitz class aircraft carrier carries over 5000, and even a WW II Essex class carried over 3000.

        If we ever lose a Nimitz, that could more than equal the entire US death toll of the Normandy landings in the blink of an eye.

      2. Lapun Mankimasta

        Re: Bad idea

        "Hood was the culmination of a series of fundamentally pointless ships, starting with Jackie Fisher's bright idea of a big cruiser fast enough to catch enemy cruisers and armed with battleship guns to sink them."

        The thing that scotched the battlecruiser idea was that they had battleship guns on cruiser armour. And having battleship guns, the blessed admirals wanted them in battle line. Against other ships armed with battleship guns which coincidentally also boasted battleship armour. Nobody cared about using them to intercept commerce-raider cruisers any more. They should've been decommissioned en masse following the Battle of Jutland, which pointed out this rather painfully ...

        The German equivalent during the 1930s was the pocket battleship. As commerce raiders they made some sense, but the RN outmaneuvred the Graf Spee psychologically after the Battle of the River Plate.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bad idea

          "The German equivalent during the 1930s was the pocket battleship".

          That turns out not to be the case. The Panzerschiffe ("pocket battleships") though heavily armed with 6 x 11-inch guns had a top speed of a mere 28.5 knots - less than that of any reasonably up-to-date cruiser. Even the heavy cruiser HMS Exeter, which fought Graf Spee in the Battle of the River Plate, had a top speed of 32 knots - and light cruisers would usually have a knot or two more than that. So Panzerschiffe were not designed to chase and catch enemy cruisers; their purpose was as commerce raiders, and they weren't very well suited to regular naval warfare.

          Ironically, the ultimate "battlecruiser" turned out to be the American "Iowa" class of battleships, which combined armament and armour second to none with a published top speed of 33 knots - although they were rumoured to be able to go faster. Completed just in time for the battleship to become obsolete, the Iowas closed the loop by being faster than any battlecruiser ever built, while as heavily armed and armoured as any other battleship.

          1. Lotus79

            Re: Bad idea

            And mostly likely much design copied from the Roayal Navy's G3 battleship (fast battlship) that did all that only nearly 20 years earlier, ordered but cancelled as weaker nations sought naval treaties back then. By the time Iowa came about, the British new sloped armour was not a brilliant idea in reducing the waterplane area etc, and carrying a thining homogenous armour down to act as a torpedeo bulkhead ( not in G3 design) was poor design.

  6. Milton


    Harrier did us proud in '82 and no one should denigrate that service.

    But let's be clear, the only reason you make the performance sacrifices required of a VSTOL design is when you need a combat plane that can operate in the absence of runway. The late-50s Harrier concept assumed a European war with many air bases nuked and a plausible requirement to operate close behind the FEBA (Forward Edge of Battle Area). Sea Harrier was an obvious further opportunity, given the expense of big CATOBAR carriers. (The excellent Jaguar was another answer to the glowing-runway problem, being designed to operate from motorways if necessary.)

    But it turns out the need for land-based VSTOL was mostly illusory. And, unless you make a series of truly dreadful procurement decisions*, you don't need VSTOL for carrier ops either: just build decent CATOBAR ships and enjoy the versatility that that delivers.

    The USMC propagandises endlessly about the 'vital importance' of having VSTOL jets supposedly deployed close to the combat zone (and they'd NEED to be close, given the F-35B's very short range) but it doesn't hold water: the real reason they want a VSTOL is because it's the only way they can have a dog in the game.

    * "Truly terrible procurement decisions" i.e. the monumental stupidity and ignorance displayed by the last four UK governments.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like magic

    "HMS Queen Elizabeth under construction, being overflown by two F-35Bs".

    Well, at least the bloody things really are stealthy! I can only see one of them in the picture.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Like magic

      Look closer. There are two F-35s in the picture.

      That being said, the longer I look at them, the more they seem like something out of a Gerry Anderson production.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Like magic

        Stealth doesn't mean the aircraft is always absolutely invisible. It just means it is harder to see (with radar).

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Like magic

          "It just means it is harder to see (with radar)."

          in the case of the F35, that's only front on and a 30 degree offaxis cone.

          From all other angles it's not particularly stealthy and it's a big IR target.

          That's fine for its designed role (air support) but not for its trumpeted one (air superiority).

          It was _designed_to only work in areas where the F22 had already removed all aerial and groundbased opposition which would shoot it down.

          And - of course - it's only stealthy with the doors closed. Having to open the weapons bay every few minutes to toss out heat makes it quite easy for radar to see it. Ditto if any external stores/weapons are used. At that point you may as well have bought F16s for 1/5 the price.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh that's clever

    After Trump's little call with Taipei, the seas around China are going to be - interesting. Now the Americans can test the efficacy of China's anti-ship missiles without losing one of their carriers.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Oh that's clever

      Yeah, but not until 2020, or to put it another way, the end of Trump's turn.

      That's a long time to wait for test results.

  9. Lapun Mankimasta

    New Anthem?

    Time to make this official?

    Singing Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves

    And Britons never, never, never shall be married

    To a mermaid at the bottom of the deep blue sea

    Since the other one - something about "slaves" I believe? - doesn't seem to apply ... whereas you can verify the number of Britons married to mermaids any time you take a wander down the road ...

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    British Brainwashing Corporation .... v2.0 Rocket

    You just haven't cottoned on yet, have you, to the wonderfully weird and wacky nature of modern futurist war warefare. What is it exactly that you do not understand? Is ITs Power and NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActivity so difficult for you all to believe and realise is that which sustains and maintains and terrorises you? FFS ...... grow a pair and get mad as hell. It is practically all that you can do whenever it is the least you can do to change it ........

    This is the first step in creating Orwellian ministry of truth , unacceptable. No media should be censored,not even Russian. …. USAisfreedom ....

    Ministries delivering truths would be a Great Game Changer and a most welcome novelty, USAisfreedom. One does have to marvel at the lack of intelligence in media whenever it goes so far off piste to present a false picture for mass consumption.

    Does such then deliver a fake virtual reality which has everyone fooled into believing that which doesn't exist?

    Now that is very dangerous for corrupt hosts and purveyors whenever the ignorant unwashed and dispossessed get knowledge of it and be further educated and entertained in the many ways of their remote programming to server elite needs/feeds/seeds.

    I wonder if RT would be into that endorsing that operation? Who be at their Head of Creative Direction?

  11. Roj Blake Silver badge

    That Noise You Hear... Nelson spinning in his grave.

    1. Lapun Mankimasta

      Re: That Noise You Hear...

      " Nelson spinning in his grave."

      Any chance of gearing him up to the HMS QE's propellers? Just think, no radiation, no pollution!

  12. JJKing

    Reflag the carrier when on loan.

    How come nobody suggested plonking the Hawaiian State flag onto the Queen Lizzie? It's got the right bit in the top corner.

  13. Potemkine Silver badge

    Make it easier

    After Brexit, join the US as #51.

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Make it easier

      Peter Preston's Brexit-followed-by-joining-the-US-predicting novel 51st State was published in 1998. It was reviewed for the TLS by a young journalist called Michael Gove. He quite enjoyed it.

  14. RedCardinal

    >>Reuters reported Sir Kim as saying the deployment would take place in 2020, a year ahead of Queen Elizabeth's scheduled debut operational deployment with her F-35B fighter jets

    Good luck with those jets actually being in service by 2020. Remind me again how we apparently can't afford the NHS/State penions/etc etc but can afford an aircraft carrier with no aircraft on it...

    1. Dave 15

      History repeats

      Remember the tsr2, cancelled for an American plane that would be in service earlier...but the yank plane turned up decades late. Not sure how the timescale conclusion had ever been reached, the tsr2 was already in the air when it was cancelled,the jigs available etc. all that was worrying was a bit of wobble on the undercarriage which could hardly have taken more than a couple of weeks to fix.

      tsr2 was also capable of carrying more, faster and as manourverably as the eurofighter ... 50 years earlier.

  15. Lotus79

    It is probably more the case that the US navy is facing reduction in it's carrier force.


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