September 17, 2015

A strange configuration

I was just looking at some pictures of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the new carrier that the UK just launched. It isn't ready to go into service yet, in part because they can't get any F-35's for an airwing. For the next couple of years they'll be operating with a USMC F-35 squadron. Which is strange enough.

But what struck me was that the carrier has two islands. I don't remember any other carrier configured like that, and it made me wonder.

I found an answer: the forward island is for navigation; the rear island is air traffic control.

But why separate them, anyway? The rest of the world has done fine with both of those functions in a single tower (on different decks) ever since the 1930's.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 09:21 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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1 Quoting from an article here:
"Advantages of the two island configuration are increased flight deck area, reduced air turbulence over the flight deck and increased flexibility of space allocation in the lower decks. The flight control centre in the aft island is in the optimum position for control of the critical aircraft approach and deck landings."

We'll see if reality matches theory, I guess.

Posted by: David at September 17, 2015 11:47 PM (+TPAa)

2 It's hard for me to believe that it will make any operational difference, but it's possible that it made construction simpler. If so, that would be a legitimate reason.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at September 18, 2015 12:13 AM (+rSRq)


I find the twin island arrangement awkward and unpleasant to look at, but it has been part of the CVF design since the initial proposals.  The US Navy also examined it for the CVN-78 program (The GERALD FORD-class follow-ons to the NIMITZ-class.) but choose not to go with it - they just placed the entire island further back.

Then again, the reason why the British are procuring two, not three, CVF, is partly due to new and improved designs that aid maintenance in keeping the CVF available for longer periods of time and thus dispense with needing three carriers to keep one carrier on the line....So, one wonders about any other changes that they are giving them.  That they went back to the jump ramp instead of the original catapult and arresting wire proposal is also worrisome.

Posted by: cxt217 at September 18, 2015 05:30 AM (tG7TW)

4 It also allows a degree of redundancy. Additionally, it would probably make the exhaust and air intake lines much shorter and that would be a survivability feature as well as simplifying construction and freeing up internal space. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at September 18, 2015 07:02 AM (ohzj1)

5 Not sure about redundancy, since it appears that neither island has the facilities that the other one possesses.

Posted by: cxt217 at September 18, 2015 07:52 AM (tG7TW)

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