Allow us to introduce the media to the phrase “sea trials”

The UK’s new £3.1 billion aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is leaking as a result of an issue with a shaft seal less than a month after the warship was accepted into the Royal Navy fleet by The Queen.

At 280m long and with an estimated half-a-century working life, the behemoth is the biggest and most powerful ever built by the UK.

However, it is understood the vessel has been leaking for some time.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: “An issue with a shaft seal has been identified during HMS Queen Elizabeth’s sea trials; this is scheduled for repair while she is alongside at Portsmouth.

“It does not prevent her from sailing again and her sea trials programme will not be affected.”

Warships are one off builds. Somewhat at the edge of technology. They’re, therefore, prototypes rather than something coming off a production line. OK, not entirely, but…..

So, when we get one, we stick it the water and try to work out what is still wrong with it. These are called “sea trials.”


22 thoughts on “Allow us to introduce the media to the phrase “sea trials””

  1. To be finicky, aircraft carriers may be one (or 2) offs, but shaft seals aren’t. Barring paddle steamers, every boat with an engine on the water has one or more. It is one of the bits you’d expect them to get right, first time.

  2. New shaft seals are more likely to leak. New shafts are more likely to put differential pressures on the seals. I’ve never been on quite as new a ship, but I was on one that had had a shaft section replaced – getting the seal right was work of months.

    It’s one of these things that beds down with time – your usual “bathtub” failure curve.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    What is remarkable is that this is the Telegraph. They used to know these things. Probably because any number of retired Naval officers had their number on speed dial if they made a mistake. But they have handed the paper over to feminists barely old enough to vote with media degrees. So, what can you expect?

    Of course the construction was also a problem:

    The assembly took place in the Firth of Forth at Rosyth Dockyard from nine blocks built in six UK shipyards: BAE Systems Surface Ships in Glasgow, Babcock at Appledore, Babcock at Rosyth, A&P Tyne in Hebburn, BAE at Portsmouth and Cammell Laird (flight decks) at Birkenhead.

    When a contract like this comes along every half century, everyone must have a slice of the pie. With the biggest piece going to BAE. You know, the people who used sub-standard materials in Britain’s nuclear submarines and got away with it.

  4. Gosh- the level of reporting on this one has been a shocker. R4 this morning was absolutely execrable.

    Once the Admiral being interviewed had pointed out for the fifth time that this was to be expected on sea trials, the lady interviewing switched tack and started making a song and dance that the ship had been commissioned ahead of sea trials.

    The mind boggles.

  5. So Much For Subtlety

    At 280m long and with an estimated half-a-century working life, the behemoth is the biggest and most powerful ever built by the UK.

    I am not sure that QEII (284 m) is the biggest ship built in Britain. I can’t think of a bigger one off hand. The Queen Mary 2 (345.03 m) was built in France. It is not the biggest British flagged ship though. Shell’s Prelude FNGP (488 m) was built in South Korea. For a while the Seawise Giant (458.45 m) was British-flagged I think. The Kerguelen was also built in France and is owned by a French company but it is flagged in London. That must p!ss the French government off no end.

    However I have just checked, the previous QE was 314.2 m. Which would make it longer. Tonnage: 83,673 GRT vs 70,600 tonnes. 4 × Parsons single-reduction geared steam turbines, 200,000 shp (150,000 kW) vs Two Rolls-Royce Marine 36MW MT30 gas turbine alternators and four 10MW diesel engines

    Hmmm. Perhaps they need someone with access to Wikipedia?

  6. I take issue with ‘issue’, a tedious fucking expression much favoured by morons.

    Anyhoo. Years ago a colleague of mine took a party of undergraduates to visit a seaside power station. One of the students asked a foreman what sorts of problems he faced. He said ‘the seals’. My colleague pompously announced to the students that he was referring not to the sea mammals but to the provision for precluding leaks along a rotating shaft. “No” said the aforesaid foremen, “I’m referring to the sea mammals.”

  7. A 24 hour start to finish permanent shutdown of the entire BBC.

    No sea trials needed there.

    A few treason trials possibly.

  8. Bloke in North Dorset

    What Noel says, the bilge pump on my little boat will cope with that amount without breaking sweat. I’d still want the problem fixing pdq though.

    I saw HMS Brenda off Weymouth when I was out sailing, pretty impressive even from a distance. However, nowhere near as impressive as some of the container ships you have to play dodgems with when crossing the channel.

  9. So Much For Subtlety

    dearieme – ““No” said the aforesaid foremen, “I’m referring to the sea mammals.””

    It is difficult to scrape them off the sea intake? They break turbine blades on impact?

  10. @SMFS

    The quote omits to mention that they are talking only about warships. Plenty bigger vessels in the merchant side of things.

  11. I missed the news this morning (good weather for sawing up logs) – so can I ask: did any of the critical commentators mention that the aircaft carriers were a pork-barrel deal set up to benefit Gordon Brown’s constituents so if there was incompetence by the workforce we know whom to blame?

  12. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    Dearieme, that made me laugh about the seals.

    I went to a seaside nuke station a couple of years back, taking an Austrian friend who was completely “Atomkraft? Nein danke!”.

    The seals get in through the water inlets, which lead to a big tank. There’s a big waterwheel thing that captures any incoming junk ( eg fish ) sucked in by the next valve. It’s like a big sushi conveyor belt for any seal that gets trapped in there. As long as the creature doesn’t get too close to the second inlet, it’s quite safe, but eventually they have to switch everything off and tempt the (by now ) fat sod out of the tank, primarily I suppose in case it dozes off and gets entangled in the wheel..

    p.s. my pal wasn’t impressed by the station and to be honest nor was I. It all looked a bit early 1970s Dr Who, I was rather hoping for a Ken Adam James Bind set.

  13. Rather pales in comparison to HMS Prince of Wales, where the chaps from Vickers were still trying to get the guns to work as she sailed to intercept the Bismark.

  14. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    I was surprised that the second a/c is called the PofW, it strikes me as an unlucky name for a ship. They could have called it King George VI or HMS Viciousbastard or something.

    I had a row with an American friend about the US’s naming of its aircraft carriers.I mean really USS Gerald Ford ? And USS Carl Vinson ? Tney’re not exactly names that are going to have Kim or Xi trembling in their Guccis, are they ?

    ( At the time, Private Eye took a very strong anti-Falklands War stance. It had a “those warships in full” spoof article.The only UK ship I remember was HMS Hermesetas – which dissolves in hot water. Two Argie ships were El Invincibili and El Fray Bentos Superbo )

  15. LMAO, MSM ignorance & “fake news” again.

    Thanks McRuin – no way to easily put the compromised design ship back into Rosyth dry dock for repairs.

    McRuin (aka Brown) – the idiot who pork-barreled QE class carriers be built at Rosyth – no capable dry-dock or cranes. QE class design was compromised to ensure they had shallow draught and low height to sail under Forth Bridges: two islands (with expensive, failure prone retractable masts) wastes deck space, no cross deck landing, no cat&trap.

    One UK shipyard with no height or draught issues and two more than large enough dry docks & cranes already existed – rejected, not located in Scotland.

  16. Surely the point is we don’t need the bloody things. WWII showed that surface vessels within range of aircraft are mere targets.

    It was Swordfish that caught the Bismarck and hammered the Italian Fleet, other torpedo bombers that sank the US fleet at Pearl Harbour, and the Repulse and the Prince of Wales, dive bombers that sank the Jap carriers at Midway, and Lancasters that sank the Tirpitz.

    The score might have been even greater had the US taken the radical step of having working torpedos when it was forced into the war.

  17. Dearieme-the Swordfish at Taranto and the Japanese planes at Pearl Harbour took off from -guess what- aircraft carriers. So basing planes at sea is a pretty good idea

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *