Aircraft carriers

Queen Elizabeth Class

The largest and most advanced warships ever built for the Royal Navy, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are the nation's future flagships.

At a glance

65,000 tonnes

Total displacement

280 metres

Total length

1,600

Sleeping bunks 

10,000 nautical miles

Total range

A revolution in shipbuilding

While work continues to bring HMS Prince of Wales to life at Rosyth, HMS Queen Elizabeth has been undergoing sea trials since leaving the Scottish dockyard in June and entered her new home in Portsmouth for the first time in August. Initially, the ships will carry helicopters from their own dedicated squadron.

The vast flight deck and hangar can accommodate any helicopter in Britain’s military inventory. From 2020, however, our punch will be delivered by the F35 Lightning II, the world’s most advanced stealth fighter-bomber.

Both ships have been constructed in numerous shipyards in one of the most demanding and revolutionary shipbuilding programmes ever undertaken, with the pieces being slotted together in a specially-extended dry dock at Rosyth on the Forth to create two 65,000-ton leviathans.

Weapons and capabilities

Guns

Phalanx close-in weapon

Phalanx is one of the deadly last lines of defence for Britain's warships. Capable of engaging targets around one mile away, it is a radar-controlled Gatling gun which fires 20mm shells, spewing out 3,000 rounds a minute.

Designed to engage incoming enemy aircraft and missiles if they penetrated a ship or task group's outer ring of defences such as Sea Viper or Sea Dart.

During Operation Telic, Phalanx guns were removed from ships and used to defend Basra airport, the hub of British operations. They saw extensive action against incoming rockets and mortars fired by insurgents.

Radar

Radar

Crowsnest uses high-power radar to provide long-range air, maritime and land-tracking capabilities and will be an integral part of future carrier operations. The Crowsnest system will be fitted to the Royal Navy's fleet of upgraded Merlin Mk2 helicopters.

Being a part of the Surface Fleet

Lt Jenkins, 25

Warfare officer

The job may be intense, but it’s incredibly rewarding. I also get to work on some of the most advanced warships on the planet.

Click on a location to explore our operations

Middle East

Kipion

Units of the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary have been on patrol in the Gulf since October 1980, after the Iran/Iraq conflict of that year, and more recently operations have extended further south with the increase in piracy off the Somalia coast. 

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Bay of Biscay

Standing NATO Maritime Group 2

Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 is a multinational, integrated maritime force - made up of vessels from various allied nations, training and operating together as a single team - that is permanently available to NATO to perform a wide range of tasks, from participating in exercises to crisis response and real world operational missions.

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Middle East

Kipion MCMV

In support of wider British efforts in the region, minehunters are providing the capability to conduct route survey, sea-bed clearance, and mine clearance operations all over the Gulf. 

The operation also aims to provide a visible naval presence in a region where stability and good relations with local nations is vital. Much of the UK’s oil and gas, as well as other products, come from the Gulf region and as such these efforts are of vital importance to our economy and lifestyle.

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Arctic

Nato MCMV Force

The RN has always supplied an MCMV to one of the two NATO Mine Counter-Measures Squadrons. These are six-month deployments as part of the NATO Standing MCM Groups and will generally be around the coasts of Northern Europe or the Mediterranean depending upon the squadron in which the RN ship is working. 

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The North Sea and Bay of Biscay

Standing Nato Maritime Group 1

Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 is a multinational, integrated maritime force - made up of vessels from various allied nations, training and operating together as a single team - that is permanently available to NATO to perform a wide range of tasks, from participating in exercises to crisis response and real world operational missions.

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Falkland Islands

Falkland Islands Patrol Vessel

Patrolling the waters around the Falkland Islands and South Georgia to reassure the people of UK overseas territories.

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United Kingdom

Fishery Protection Squadron

Protecting the British fishing industry and safeguarding the nation's fishing stocks. 

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Gibraltar

Gibraltar Squadron

Conducting security patrols within British Gibraltar territorial waters, and providing protection to warships.

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Antarctic

Antarctic patrol

To provide a UK sovereign presence in the British Antarctic Territory, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and their surrounding maritime areas, to underpin their security and good governance; and meet the UK treaty obligations and exercise rights under the Antarctic Treaty System through inspections, hydrographic charting and support to scientific research.

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Mediterranean

Operation Sophia

A European Union Naval Force operation to counter arms bound for Libya, in support of the UN arms embargo. 

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