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Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers Amphibious/Royal Marine Capability

This is a discussion on Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers Amphibious/Royal Marine Capability within the Navy & Maritime forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Considering how valuable a carrier is to any Navy it seems only logical to have some form of Royal Marine ...


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Old July 12th, 2012   #1
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Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers Amphibious/Royal Marine Capability

Considering how valuable a carrier is to any Navy it seems only logical to have some form of Royal Marine minimal defence force and I understand the Type 45 has enough room for around 60 royal marines so I guess that is the case with the carrier.

A carrier has a HUGE deck and they are huge ships. Even taking into consideration all the aircraft and their crews I can imagine there is alot of spare space to fill. Does this mean the Queen Elizabeth class will have a reasonably large amount of soldiers? I have an image in my head of a deck full of troop transport helicopters with marines getting on!

Will they have an amphibious capability? How limited is it? Could it be improved? Should they have it?

Thoughts.
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Old July 12th, 2012   #2
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Originally Posted by BritishBandit View Post
Considering how valuable a carrier is to any Navy it seems only logical to have some form of Royal Marine minimal defence force and I understand the Type 45 has enough room for around 60 royal marines so I guess that is the case with the carrier.

A carrier has a HUGE deck and they are huge ships. Even taking into consideration all the aircraft and their crews I can imagine there is alot of spare space to fill. Does this mean the Queen Elizabeth class will have a reasonably large amount of soldiers? I have an image in my head of a deck full of troop transport helicopters with marines getting on!

Will they have an amphibious capability? How limited is it? Could it be improved? Should they have it?

Thoughts.
It will have an amphibious capability in the loosest terms, i.e using naval strategy to project military forces ashore but as to your later questions, it's all dependent on the situation.

The USN (AFAIK) generally uses an air wing with a regular format of what aircraft it will carry and this is standard (that's my understanding anyway), for the RN the FAA will use the TAG - Tailored Air Group - principle, which is that the type of embarked aircraft (be it fixed wing or rotary) will be highly influenced by the type of job the carrier will be expected to do. I'm not even sure if QE will even carry the Sea King M4, i'm sure they easily could, but off the top of my head I can't think of something official to reassure me but AFAIK they have the capacity to carry Chinooks (i think?) so that's something.

Therefore, as we do not know what particular air group will be embarked, we cannot (at least I cannot anyway) make an accurate guess as to what would be the potential troop capacity on a QE due to the fluctuating aircraft technician figures. I haven't seen many figures in terms of estimated capacity - but would welcome being pointed in the right direction.

Personally, I wouldn't like a QE to have too much of an amphibious capability. After all, we already have Albion/Bulwark + Ocean (+ Bay class) for any particular scenario that would require such a capability, I would much prefer the QE class to act as strike carriers with plenty of F-35B embarked.

That's not to say i don't think it should have it full stop, but I think it's primary focus should be fixed wing assets. But naturally, that too is situational.
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Old July 12th, 2012   #3
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IIRC the Sea King will be retired by the time Queen Elizabeth is in service. But the RAF Merlin fleet is being handed over to the RN, & is to be marinised, & as you say, QE will be able to operate Chinook.

Under currently announced plans Ocean will be retired by the end of the decade, & so far there's no plan for a replacement. Since Albion, Bulwark, & the Bays all lack hangars or the ability to support helicopters, we'll either need to build at least one new ship, or plan for the QEs to have an amphibious role, even if only providing the helicopters for heliborne assaults launched from the LPDs & LSDs.
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Old July 12th, 2012   #4
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IIRC the Sea King will be retired by the time Queen Elizabeth is in service. But the RAF Merlin fleet is being handed over to the RN, & is to be marinised, & as you say, QE will be able to operate Chinook.

Under currently announced plans Ocean will be retired by the end of the decade, & so far there's no plan for a replacement. Since Albion, Bulwark, & the Bays all lack hangars or the ability to support helicopters, we'll either need to build at least one new ship, or plan for the QEs to have an amphibious role, even if only providing the helicopters for heliborne assaults launched from the LPDs & LSDs.
I see, thank you for the information.

The figure i've got rattling around my noggin for Ocean to be decommissioned is 2022, IIRC it was projected at 2018 but it got extended to 2022 so I wouldn't really expect anything before the 2015 SDSR if this is the case.

Update on the troop capacity thing, this is what i pulled off of UKArmedForcesCommentary (who in the same article also mentions the date being 2022)

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It has been said that up to 800 air group personnel between pilots, engineers, deck crew and others might be required for wartime operations with 36 F35C on board. Wasn't it for the Higly Automated Weapons Handling system, at least one hundred more would be required. Generally, a CVF with full airwing on board is given a crew figure of 1450.

In December 2005, it was announced that the CVF would have 1800 berths on board, and while some of these might have been sacrificed in the meanwhile (current figure often is reported as 1650 accomodations being provided at built), it means that HMS Queen Elizabeth, without going into "overload" condition could host at least up to 200 more personnel, be it Royal Marines, specialists for humanitarian operations, Joint Forces Head Quarters team (this indicated in around 120 men) or civilians evacuated from a war zone. Space for further berths should be available, up to the original 1800 figure and perhaps past it.
UK Armed Forces Commentary: Carrier Vessel Future

I suppose i'm looking at the situation as an optimist, I just don't want to see a QE be hobbled in strike configuration to store a few helos aboard.

The following is an old segment of NavyMatters about the CVF potential airgroup which is something to mull over

Baseline TAG "Peacetime, minor exercises"
  • 9 - 12 F35B
  • 4 - MASC
  • 6 - Merlin - Various

Strike configured TAG "Crisis, major exercises"
  • 18 - 24 F35B
  • 4 - MASC
  • 6 - Merlin - Various

Surge TAG "Wartime"
  • 36 - F35B
  • 4 - MASC

"Forward Aviation Support Ship (ASS) or Amphibious Helicopter Platform (LPH)"
  • 18 - Merlin HC3
  • 6 - Chinook
  • 6 - Apache
  • 4 - MASC
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Old July 12th, 2012   #5
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I see, thank you for the information.

The figure i've got rattling around my noggin for Ocean to be decommissioned is 2022, IIRC it was projected at 2018 but it got extended to 2022 so I wouldn't really expect anything before the 2015 SDSR if this is the case.

Update on the troop capacity thing, this is what i pulled off of UKArmedForcesCommentary (who in the same article also mentions the date being 2022)



UK Armed Forces Commentary: Carrier Vessel Future

I suppose i'm looking at the situation as an optimist, I just don't want to see a QE be hobbled in strike configuration to store a few helos aboard.

The following is an old segment of NavyMatters about the CVF potential airgroup which is something to mull over

Baseline TAG "Peacetime, minor exercises"
  • 9 - 12 F35B
  • 4 - MASC
  • 6 - Merlin - Various

Strike configured TAG "Crisis, major exercises"
  • 18 - 24 F35B
  • 4 - MASC
  • 6 - Merlin - Various

Surge TAG "Wartime"
  • 36 - F35B
  • 4 - MASC

"Forward Aviation Support Ship (ASS) or Amphibious Helicopter Platform (LPH)"
  • 18 - Merlin HC3
  • 6 - Chinook
  • 6 - Apache
  • 4 - MASC
The RN is quite modest on stats. It is interesting their website says 40+ aircraft. In a surge situation, I think we could see them taking a few more.
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Old July 13th, 2012   #6
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Interesting discussion, if I recall correctly the original concept pre-Falklands was that the RN would operate 1 Invincible as a CVS, another as an LPH and the third in refit or reserve. Once Ocean retires it will be interesting to see what happens, will the QE's pick up the slack some of the time, or will there need to be a new ship of some type built to provide a base for those much needed helos when the QEs are unavailable.
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Old July 13th, 2012   #7
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I'd like to see a new ship. With proper scheduling (which they managed with Illustrious, Ark Royal & Ocean) there'd always be both QEs available (even if one is inactive) when the helicopter carrier is in refit, thus enabling us to field a carrier with a full fast jet contingent, if needed, as well as full amphibious assault capability, at fairly short notice. For anything not needing that we could just send one QE with a mixed air group & leave the other one dozing.

The third ship could be an Ocean style LPH, quite an austere ship.
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Old July 13th, 2012   #8
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The RN is quite modest on stats. It is interesting their website says 40+ aircraft. In a surge situation, I think we could see them taking a few more.
According to NavyMatters, the original official figure for the maximum aircraft available was 50 (in "surge" conditions) but the extra 10 were termed 'support aircraft', what would constitute that? MASC? Merlin?

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A driving force behind the whole CVF programme is the desire to get a much larger airgroup to sea than the current Invincible class carriers can embark. It was originally a fundamental requirement that the adopted CVF design be able to accommodate a permanent airgroup of up to 40 aircraft, and be able to temporarily accept an additional 10 support aircraft for a total of up to 50 in "surge" conditions, in 2002 this requirement was adjusted to a maximum of 48 aircraft and helicopters, in early 2003 to a maximum of 46 aircraft and helicopters (36 JCA, 4 MASC and 6 Merlin) and in early 2004 to a maximum of 40 aircraft and helicopters (36 JCA and 4 MASC) - although larger numbers may be carried dependent upon aircraft size.
So i'm sure she could fit in a couple more than 40 if the RN thought they needed it.

EDIT: Here's the link to the page

http://navy-matters.beedall.com/cvf1-23.htm
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Old July 13th, 2012   #9
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Interesting discussion, if I recall correctly the original concept pre-Falklands was that the RN would operate 1 Invincible as a CVS, another as an LPH and the third in refit or reserve. Once Ocean retires it will be interesting to see what happens, will the QE's pick up the slack some of the time, or will there need to be a new ship of some type built to provide a base for those much needed helos when the QEs are unavailable.
As it stands, it looks like the QEs will be picking up the slack as there is currently no plans to replace Ocean.

I don't expect much to happen to at least the 2015 SDSR in that respect. Even then that probably won't produce a ship in time to pick up from Ocean anyway (i think)
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Old July 14th, 2012   #10
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A helicopter carrier or assualt ship has to get in close and hang around. I don't think that doing that with a 65,000 tonner is a good idea, or that it would be popular with the crew. A good part of a carrier's protection is being hard to find. Helicopter/ assualt ships can always be found where the landings are taking place. Use the carriers for what they were designed.
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Originally Posted by BritishBandit View Post
Considering how valuable a carrier is to any Navy it seems only logical to have some form of Royal Marine minimal defence force and I understand the Type 45 has enough room for around 60 royal marines so I guess that is the case with the carrier.

A carrier has a HUGE deck and they are huge ships. Even taking into consideration all the aircraft and their crews I can imagine there is alot of spare space to fill. Does this mean the Queen Elizabeth class will have a reasonably large amount of soldiers? I have an image in my head of a deck full of troop transport helicopters with marines getting on!

Will they have an amphibious capability? How limited is it? Could it be improved? Should they have it?

Thoughts.
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Old July 14th, 2012   #11
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A helicopter carrier or assualt ship has to get in close and hang around. I don't think that doing that with a 65,000 tonner is a good idea, or that it would be popular with the crew. A good part of a carrier's protection is being hard to find. Helicopter/ assualt ships can always be found where the landings are taking place. Use the carriers for what they were designed.
I can't see them coming to close in shore. Although I think the use of Apache's in Libya probably was restricted by range/payload. I can't see these having a very long life, they have proved so useful, they are being worked to death; which is good to see we are getting value for money. It would be great to see a much heavier verson (more payload/range/protection) maybe develop from the Merlin flying from CVFs, a useful support to the F35b.
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Old July 14th, 2012   #12
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Use the carriers for what they were designed.
Carrying helicopters for amphibious assaults is one of the things they were designed for. These aren't US navy CVNs.
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Old July 14th, 2012   #13
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Carrying helicopters for amphibious assaults is one of the things they were designed for. These aren't US navy CVNs.
I could not agree more, people are getting the whole F35 b v c debate confused with their role. The fact the hangers were designed to handle Chinooks from the outset clearly confirms the assault capability.
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Old July 14th, 2012   #14
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I can't see them coming to close in shore. Although I think the use of Apache's in Libya probably was restricted by range/payload. I can't see these having a very long life, they have proved so useful, they are being worked to death; which is good to see we are getting value for money. It would be great to see a much heavier verson (more payload/range/protection) maybe develop from the Merlin flying from CVFs, a useful support to the F35b.
The WAH-64 fleet has traditionally had about a third of it either parked derelict for spares or in mothballs - the individual cabs were rotated through to spread the hours across the fleet and there's no reason they can't (with refurbishment and upgrades) carry on for decades to come.

The US is just reworking their entire fleet to Block III capability right now I believe - if the UK finds money to work some of those changes into the UK fleet, they could be around for a long time yet.
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Old July 14th, 2012   #15
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The WAH-64 fleet has traditionally had about a third of it either parked derelict for spares or in mothballs - the individual cabs were rotated through to spread the hours across the fleet and there's no reason they can't (with refurbishment and upgrades) carry on for decades to come.

The US is just reworking their entire fleet to Block III capability right now I believe - if the UK finds money to work some of those changes into the UK fleet, they could be around for a long time yet.
They're at least planning on them being around for the next decade or I wouldn't expect they would comment the way they did on the following

Quote:
Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when he plans that the Apache helicopter will be upgraded to utilise the Brimstone missile system; [116028]

Peter Luff:


The Apache is currently armed with variants of the Hellfire missile which are due to go out of service in 2021-22. The MOD will look at various options as a replacement to this capability. The successor to Brimstone, the 50kg class Spear Capability 2 Block 3 missile, will be one of the options considered as a replacement.
House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 10 July 2012 (pt 0003)

I could see a QE acting (if an Ocean-like vessel is available) as like "extra storage", where the Chinooks or whatever are just transported from CVF to LPH then they actually do the assaulting. Of course, if an LPH is there.
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