Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS/LPH) (1980-2014) (RN)

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Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS/LPH) (1980-2014) (RN)

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Image
^ Invincible (foreground), Illustrious (centre) and Ark Royal (background). Photographed off Cornwall, 1989.

Introduction
The Invincible class had its origins in a sketch design for a 6,000 ton, guided-missile armed, helicopter carrying escort cruiser intended as a complement to the much larger planned CVA-01-class fleet aircraft carrier. The cancellation of CVA-01 in 1966 meant that the smaller cruiser would now have to provide the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) task force with command and control facilities. Two new designs were prepared for this requirement; a 12,500 ton cruiser with missiles forward, six Westland Sea King helicopters and a flight deck aft, and a larger 17,500 ton vessel with a "through-deck", nine Sea Kings and missiles right forward. By 1970, the "through-deck" design had advanced into a Naval Staff Requirement for an 18,750-ton Through-Deck Command Cruiser (TDCC).

History
In February 1963, the Hawker P.1127 VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft had landed and taken-off from the carrier 'Ark Royal' ('Audacious' class) and the subsequent Hawker-Siddeley Kestrel had undergone trials from the "Commando carrier" HMS Bulwark. It was therefore perfectly possible that the new "cruisers" could be used to operate VTOL aircraft. The new ships were called "through-deck cruisers" and not "aircraft carriers". This was in part because CVA-01's cancellation was so recent, but also because the ships were intended to serve in traditional cruiser roles and anti-submarine warfare, and were constructed like cruisers. The "aircraft carrier" name did not officially appear in association with the ships until the 1980 Defence Estimates referred to the Invincible class as such.

Economic problems in the UK in the early 1970s delayed progress on the new ships, but the design continued to evolve. The order for the first ship was given to Vickers (Shipbuilding) on 17 April 1973. By now, the design was for a 19,000 ton helicopter carrying heavy cruiser, with up to fourteen aircraft and a Sea Dart missile launcher on the bows.

The government decided that the carrier needed fixed-wing aircraft to defend against Soviet reconnaissance aircraft. In May 1975, it authorised the maritime version of the Hawker Siddeley Harrier, which was successfully developed into the Sea Harrier. This meant that the ship design was reworked again to include a small complement of these VTOL aircraft. In order to launch a heavily-laden Harrier more efficiently by STOVL (short take-off vertical landing) from the comparatively short - 170-metre (560 ft) - flight deck, a 'ski-jump' was developed. The slope was initially 7° when incorporated into the first ship 'Invincible' and second ship, 'Illustrious'. The ski-jump slope was increased to 12° for the third ship, 'Ark Royal'. The class also had a secondary role as an helicopter carrier, or LPH, in the reinforcement of NATO's Northern flank in Norway. In 1998, HMS Ocean, with a hull form based on that of the Invincible class, was commissioned specifically for this role.

After the 1982 Falklands War, CIWS guns were added to the design. Illustrious had them fitted at the last minute before commissioning, Ark Royal had them added as a normal part of the building process, and Invincible had them fitted during her first overhaul after the Falklands. Initially, Invincible and Illustrious were fitted with two Vulcan Phalanx units; these were replaced with three Goalkeeper systems. Ark Royal had the three Phalanx CIWS systems she was fitted with when built (she was easily distinguished from her sisters by the Phalanx's distinctive white "R2-D2" radome). Electronic countermeasures were provided by a Thales jamming system and ECM system. Seagnat launchers provided chaff or flare decoys. As part of upgrades during the mid-1990s, all three ships had the Sea Dart removed, with the forecastle filled in to increase the size of the flight deck.

The Sea Harrier was officially retired on 1 April 2006. The principal weapon of the Invincible-class carriers then became the Harrier GR9 flown by two Fleet Air Arm and two RAF squadrons until they were retired in 2010. Since then they only operated helicopters.

Retirement
Invincible was decommissioned in July 2005, and was mothballed until September 2010. She was put up for sale in November 2010. In early February 2011 it was announced that she had been sold to a Turkish scrapyard, Leyal Ship Recycling; Leyal has been involved in the scrapping of various Royal Navy ships, including HMS Cardiff, HMS Newcastle, HMS Glasgow, and RFA Oakleaf. Invincible left Portsmouth under tow for scrapping on 24 March 2011.

Ark Royal took over as the flagship, was planned to be decommissioned in 2016, but retired in 2010 following the Strategic Defence and Security Review. On 28 March 2011 the Ministry of Defence placed the decommissioned Ark Royal up for sale by auction, with 6 July as the final date for tenders. In June 2012, the MoD confirmed it had not reached a decision on the sale of the ship, following the submission of bids nearly a year previously. In September 2012, the announcement was made that the ship had been sold to Leyal Ship Recycling in Turkey for scrapping, for the sum of £2.9m. Ark Royal left Portsmouth on 20 May 2013 to be taken to Leyal Ship Recycling

Illustrious remained the only one of the class in service. Illustrious was briefly berthed at Rosyth in the first week of July 2014, in a dock adjacent to HMS Queen Elizabeth, for the naming ceremony of Queen Elizabeth on 4 July 2014; she left Rosyth the following day. She arrived back at HMNB Portsmouth on 22 July 2014 at the end of active service. She was decommissioned at HMNB Portsmouth on 28 August 2014. The Royal Navy hoped to preserve the ship. On 7 December 2016, Illustrious left Portsmouth for the final time and was towed to Leyal Ship Recycling in Turkey where she was scrapped during early 2017.

Royal Navy aircraft carrier usage has temporarily ceased. However, it will restart with the commissioning of the Royal Navy's new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, the first of which was launched in July 2014. Two much larger Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers are being built, with one expected to enter service in 2020. They are expected to displace around 70,000 tonnes each - more than three times the displacement of the Invincible class.


1. HMS Invincible (R05) Commissioned 11th July 1980. Decommissioned 3rd August 2005. Fate: Scrapped in Turkey, 2011.
2. HMS Illustrious (R06) Commissioned 20th June 1982. Decommissioned 28th August 2014. Fate: Scrapped in Turkey 2016-17
3. HMS Ark Royal (ex- 'Indomitable') (R07) Commissioned 1st November 1985. Decommissioned 11th March 2011. Fate: Scrapped in Turkey, 2014.

Class and type: Invincible-class aircraft carrier
Displacement: 22,000 tons
Length: 210 m (689 ft)
Beam: 36 m
Draught: 7.5 m
Propulsion: 4 × Rolls-Royce Olympus TM3B gas turbines providing 97,000 hp (75 MW)
8 Paxman Valenta diesel generators.
Speed: 30+ knots,
Range: 5,000 nautical miles at 18 knots (9,300 km at 33 km/h)
Crew Complement: 685 crew, 366 Fleet Air Arm
Armament: 3 × Mark 15 Phalanx CIWS, 2 × GAM-B01 20 mm guns
Aircraft carried: Until December 2010, 22 aircraft;
Multi Mission - Strike, ASuW and ASW
12 x Harrier GR.7/9
10 x Sea King ASaC, and Merlin HM Mk.1 helicopters
Multi Mission - Strike and ASuW
18 x Harrier GR.7/9
4 x Sea King ASaC, and Merlin HM Mk.1 helicopters
Aircraft Services: Hangar deck, two central aircraft lifts

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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (1980-2014)

Post by SKB »

Invincible Class promotional video:


HMS Invincible (Falklands, 1982)


HMS Illustrious (1982 Builders Yard Acceptance, Pt1)

Pt2 (Commissioning at sea, en-route to the Falklands, 1982)

Pt3 (HMS Illustrious relieves HMS Invincible off the Falklands, 1982)

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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by SKB »

The third Invincible class carrier was originally intended to be named 'HMS Indomitable', but when Ark Royal IV was scrapped in 1979, the public of the time demanded the name 'Ark Royal' should live on, so 'Indomitable' was renamed 'Ark Royal' (V) before it was launched in 1981.

Ark Royal Sea Trials, 1985


Ark Royal Arrives In Portsmouth, 1st July 1985 (Notice Ark's bottom and name are painted grey. ?)


Ark Royal Commissioning, Portsmouth, 1st November 1985

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Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by SKB »

HMS Ark Royal (R07) was featured in a nine-part Discovery channel TV series in 2013.
Some parts are missing or have been deleted from Youtube, so it's incomplete.

1/9
HMS Ark Royal embarks on a five month mission to lead an international task force across the Atlantic in the largest peacetime naval deployment for a decade. However, the volcanic eruption in Iceland causes havoc and soon there is a direct order from the Prime Minister to rescue stranded Britons. Can the Ark convert into a liner for 2000 passengers in just one day?
(Missing)

2/9
2000 people are expected in Ark’s hangar which has been converted into a ferry for Operation Cunningham. Supplies are delivered and the entire crew is trained to manage their new tourists, but have they done enough in time? To add to the Ark's troubles, she's in trouble herself. A leak in her hull is discovered – and repairs are undertaken while she’s at sea. Will the Ark Royal be forced to return to Portsmouth for repairs?


3/9
HMS Ark Royal is steaming towards Naval Station, Virginia in the United States. En route she needs to refuel and the only way to do it in the middle of the Atlantic is by hooking up for a RAS – replenishment at sea – with a naval tanker almost as big as she is. Once the USS Wall Schirra fills up the Ark she is greeted by the top brass of the US Navy. Will old rivalries be stirred between these two towering naval nations? Only time will tell!


4/9
After four weeks at sea, the Ark sails to Mayport in Florida. Not only that, two hundred US Marine Corps and their twelve Harrier jets are embarking with them. But it's not all hard work and no play: the crew crams in some much needed recreation time in the Florida sun before it’s back on deck for some major preparations. The Ark Royal is expecting a visitor... And they don't get any more VIP than the Queen...


5/9
HMS Ark Royal is two and a half months into her international deployment and is heading to Halifax in Nova Scotia for some important appointments – starting with a visit from the new Prime Minister, David Cameron. But as she approaches port, disaster strikes and the weather takes a turn for the worse. As the fog closes in, there’s no room for error. Will the Ark Royal make it in time?


6/9
HMS Ark Royal is halfway through an international deployment but before she leaves Nova Scotia for good, the ship’s company has one final appointment to keep. The International Fleet Review is the most important element of the Royal Canadian Navy’s centenary celebrations and the Queen is taking the salute. It's not all plain-sailing, however, and soon there is a serious flood on board. Will the crew stop it on time?
(Missing)

7/9
HMS Ark Royal takes to the world stage for one last time. She’s leading a flotilla of military might into large-scale war games with the US Navy. But as soon as the operation gets underway one of Ark Royal’s engines threatens to explode and has to be shut down. Is this one disaster too many for the Ark Royal to handle?
(Missing)

8/9
HMS Ark Royal’s final international deployment is drawing to a close. But the ship’s company cannot relax until she is safely alongside in Portsmouth. After nearly five months since she departed, HMS Ark Royal is welcomed back home where she is met by hundreds of the crew’s family members. It’s an emotional day for all concerned, not least Captain John Clink who leaves his ship for the very last time...


9/9
Captain Kyd leads the flagship of the Royal Navy, the Ark Royal, on her final voyage as she is stripped of munitions and docks in Portsmouth for the last time.

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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by SKB »

Hull's bid to win HMS Illustrious as a tourist attraction seems to have failed. (Read third paragraph) http://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/Cruise-t ... story.html
Personally, I hope she remains in her home port, Portsmouth.

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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by shark bait »

SKB wrote:Hull's bid to win HMS Illustrious as a tourist attraction seems to have failed. (Read third paragraph) http://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/Cruise-t ... story.html
Personally, I hope she remains in her home port, Portsmouth.
Its a shame IMO. Something like that would be good for hull. I hope she does end up some where in the country, much better than on a beach in Turkey
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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS/LPH) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by SKB »

HMS Invincible's Falklands Commander Dies
Image
There And Back With JJ Black.
http://forces.tv/58505491

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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by SKB »

HMS Invincible & 801 NAS 'Top Gun' Tribute. ;)

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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by Engaging Strategy »

I'm going to say a few things about the Invincibles that, no doubt, will be unpopular. They were truly iconic ships throughout their careers. From the Falklands to Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone and Iraq they seem to have been everywhere. If anything they were certainly a testament to the strategic mobility of aircraft carrying ships.

However, in my opinion they were absolutely the wrong ships for the Royal Navy. A product of a demonstrably ineffective model of seaborne air power. The Invincibles, like most of the warships built after the 1966 defence review, were designed to fight in the North Atlantic against the Soviet navy. They weren't really designed as aircraft carriers, their real purpose was to carry and operate lots of Sea King antisubmarine helicopters as the lead ship in an ASW task group. Harrier was an option kept open by the navy, never a core requirement. The real air defence duty was intended to be left to land based RAF aircraft. The famous "ski jump" was probably the sole concession to fixed wing (STOVL) flight operations included in the design. Almost every other feature that made them good dedicated helicopter carriers ensured they would be abysmal strike carriers. From the twin centreline scissor lifts (the forward lift couldn't be used while operating STOVL aircraft) to the small magazines designed to carry only a few days ammunition during intensive operations and their pitiful sortie rates. These ships were not strike carriers, they weren't designed or built for it and they weren't good at it.

Fortunately during the Falklands much of the heavy lifting could be done by Hermes and the 18 Sea Harriers, 10 RAF GR.3s and 10 Sea King ASW helicopters she eventually carried. In comparison Invincible operated less than half the number of fixed wing aircraft. It's probably fair to say that if a second invincible class had been present instead of Hermes the FAA would probably have struggled to contest the airspace over the Falklands. The old Centaur class carrier, designed and built for another age, was probably the reason Britain could mount the operation with much hope of success.

In the years that followed the Cold War ended and the raison d'etre for the Invincibles abruptly disappeared. Operations over Yugoslavia once again proved their inadequacy as strike carriers, during which they struggled to sustain two sorties of two Sea Harrier FA2s per day.

In the early 2000s they underwent major refits to improve their fixed wing capabilities. The bow Sea Dart launcher was removed and replaced with additional deck space for aircraft. Its magazine and other spaces were also re-purposed for additional ammunition space for the aircraft. While these improvements certainly helped, they came late in the ships' lives and never really did overcome their shortcomings at operating fixed wing aircraft.

The one factor in the equation that cannot be faulted is the dedication the RN put in to make these ships work. They put in a valiant effort and the results are plain to see, they were made to work against the odds and the design of the ships themselves.

The Invincibles were absolutely iconic ships, but we should never allow their popular image get in the way of a sober assessment of their actual performance. In my opinion they were the wrong ships for the Royal Navy, a product of a brief period where the people in power lost sight of the need for robust power projection forces. Their limited success is a testament to the ingenuity and determination of the people charged with making them work in roles they were never designed for. We should learn from the Invincibles and our experience of operating them, not be taken in my a rose-tinted version of their service lives. Thankfully the Queen Elizabeths will be a real step change in capability.
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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by Ron5 »

No shit Sherlock. The RN were banned from having strike carriers (thanks RAF) so they sneaked through the Invincibles to keep some semblance of seaborne airpower. Of course they were bad at strike, why do you think the QE's are so different?

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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by donald_of_tokyo »

Engaging Strategy wrote: These ships were not strike carriers, they weren't designed or built for it and they weren't good at it.
....
The Invincibles were absolutely iconic ships, but we should never allow their popular image get in the way of a sober assessment of their actual performance. In my opinion they were the wrong ships for the Royal Navy, a product of a brief period where the people in power lost sight of the need for robust power projection forces.
On the Invinsible analysis, I totally agree. On the CVF, I do not.

Invinsible is designed for ASW agains USSR subs. It was clear and present danger at the time of built.
The desing was optimized for ASW:
- 9 (or more) SeaKing/Merling-level "heavy" ASW Heli is to support 24/7/365 opration, with ~5 SeaHarriers to ristrict long-range ASM air raids (Bajors and Backfires).
- with 3 vessels, RN could have 1 ASW TG on-task at any time
- with smaller resources required, RN was able to keep good numbers of escorts (If you had 2 CVA, cuts to escorts would have been much much severe).
With little use for power projection, they had a difficulty in the low-intensity power projection era UK "enjoyed" in late-1990s and 2000s.

Now, you have 2 CVFs. They are good at power projection, sure.

But, I feel they are too much so. I am afraid they are following the similar mistake as Invinsible-failer, but just in the other direction. It is not by chance that RN has a long gap in Invisibles CVS and LPH, just before you have CVFs. You put so much resources into CVF, so you are also facing big big problem in saving the number of escorts and amphibious forces.

Actually, without Putin's rescent actions, RN should have been lost the escort number or the 2nd CVF, or even both. It is just "lucky". Just image a case that in 2035, ~20 years from now, Russian (?) SSN/SSK becoming a severe threat again. You will need 4 Helicopter carriers for ASW (as we have in Japan), rather than 2 huge power-projection CVFs.

For me, CVF should have been the size of CDG of French, 40,000t FL or so, opening up resources to build 7th and 8th T45s, building all 13 T26s, as well as adding 1-2 LPHs (which could be used in borh assult and ASW).

But, now you have CVFs and shall think the best use of it. So my proposal is only a fantasy.

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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

I think ES put it spot on, for the headlined class and its design vs. use.

Instead of adding any more metrics, I would like to ask how many readers have seen the movie "Behind enemy lines"?
- in the long version, they have the TF steaming along, in the Adriatic, with both a US carrier and one of the CVSs
- come the time to mount the decisive (rescue) effort, the RN liaison officer onboard the flagship asks "Can we help?" and the punch line by the TF commander is "Yes, by staying out of the way"
- sadly, the TV version has had that edited away (For reducing the overall length to be more suitable, or may be the channel wanted to have it in a more suitable form for UK consumption?)
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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by WhiteWhale »

The Invincible class was a product of politics and the RN facing up to realities of a crumbling economy, a decade earlier they got kerb-stomped by the RAF at political games in Whitehall and they lost any chance of building any size of CVA although that win for the RAF was brief as they ultimately lost the TSR-2, F-111 and nuclear deterrent halo projects to a mix of the still failing economy, a government that had no interest in maintaining an 'east of Suez' presence and a weary public accepting the end of the empire.

At the time the RN got a lot of criticism for not having a fixed direction, they were perceived by many to not clearly stating what they wanted the CVA for, what roles they want ed to fill and for not making a great case for carriers in the post WW2 world.

In the face of more budget cuts; the drop to 7%GDP spending killed the CVA and big fleet hopes of the old school admiralty and now a drop to 6% on the horizon a more politically tuned RN won favour from the bean counters by dropping a number of high budget projects, this on top of *some* sympathy of the vastly diminished fleet gave them a bit of wiggle room to rebuild a more modern and specific fleet. In the face of uncertainty of Britain role in the world the Soviet fleet: specifically submarine fleet and protecting NATO's flank was a prevalent mission, so a mix of high end guided missile ships and the capability to carry heavy anti-sub helicopters was the course chosen.

So with a bit of good will from the government, a clearer direction of role and a mind for the budgetary restrains the RN still mindful of its bloody nose from the CVA political manoeuvrings got to work designing a Helo-carrier.

Had to be obviously not a carrier
Must not be called a carrier
Must not cost a carrier
Must under no circumstances be possibly considered a carrier by anyone.

Ultimately the term Cruiser was brought back, the name conjuring more of a 'efficient' work horse then flagship, a big deck was need obviously so Through-deck Cruiser. 10,000~ish tonnes, well 15 isn't much bigger... well ok 20 then that's still cruiser size, oh and big enough to fly that oddball VTOL thing off it's deck as well, that may be useful in the future.

@Donald of Tokyo, many studies on carrier size and effectiveness have been done and a 40kt CVF would just have not worked. For every 20% drop in mass you lose ~50% capability, steel is cheap and air is free so the very very minor savings would probably only have added enough to the purse to give the ships a proper paint job.

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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by shark bait »

donald_of_tokyo wrote:Now, you have 2 CVFs. They are good at power projection, sure. But, I feel they are too much so.
@Donald, that post isn’t going to be very popular :)

Whist I completely disagree the CVFs aren’t right for the royal navy, I do wonder if it is time to revisit the ASW Helicopter carriers operations like the Japanese, however working alongside CVF.

There is the debate over an ocean replacement. I think we would be much better placed with an Invincible replacement, returning to an ASW carrier, and there is the opportunity for some austere fixed wing operations. However expecting an ocean or invincible replacement is wholly unreasonable.

The Invincible's did prove the excellent utility of big flat tops, inherent flexibility that allows them to meet requirements beyond their design. I would make the case that any future capitol ship of the Royal Navy should feature a big flat top for that exact reason.
WhiteWhale wrote: For every 20% drop in mass you lose ~50% capability, steel is cheap and air is free so the very very minor savings would probably only have added enough to the purse to give the ships a proper paint job.
Some interesting figures, I've never had it quantified so nicely.

Whilst it certainly corroborates the size requirement of Nimitz and CVF, it does make me think there must be a point of diminishing returns, and then where the inverse is true, where an increase in mass doesn't produce capability gains proportional to the economic drain of such a huge platform.

Bit of thread creep here but for the the ford class seems oversized, and must sit on the limit of diminishing returns. Of course I have no science to back that up, just a woolly gut feeling. Once you get bigger than a Nimitz, I feel it would be better to have an extra Nimitz rather than a bigger carrier.

I suppose this is reminiscent of the age "old economies of scale" VS "small and modular" argument.
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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

WhiteWhale wrote:10,000~ish tonnes, well 15 isn't much bigger... well ok 20 then that's still cruiser size, oh and big enough to fly that oddball VTOL thing off it's deck as well, that may be useful in the future.
There were others in the same game:
http://www.jeffhead.com/Russian-Carriers/Rus-cv-02.jpg
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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by Engaging Strategy »

For anyone who thinks that CVS would have been a good platform to fight Soviet submarines from, think again. These ships weren't designed to fight the cold war gone hot, they were designed to fight a nuclear war. Their magazines were so small because the presumption was that they'd only be operational for about a week (with only 2-3 days of intensive war fighting) by then they'd either have been sunk or balloon would have gone up and it wouldn't matter if they were still operational anyway.

Anyone who thinks a CVS was somehow a better platform than CVA-01 if it came down to a war with the Soviets must be mad. As I stated earlier CVS was a product of a demonstrably broken model of air power over the sea. Hell, Harrier was included precisely because the RAF couldn't provide adequate fleet air defence. The US Navy never went down the road of small ASW carriers during the Cold War because those ships couldn't defend themselves. To stand a snowball's chance in hell of surviving waves of (probably nuclear tipped) Soviet AShMs you needed a continuous BARCAP provided by long range aircraft like F-4 or F-14. That also needed to be supported with big magazines and fuel stores ship-side to conduct sustained combat operations.

The RN went with CVS because it was the only thing they were allowed because of politics and ruinous inter-service bickering in the mid 60s. Although the ship's were made to look good for the Cold War North Atlantic role in a real shooting war with the USSR they'd have been toast.

As for the "they allowed the RN to have more escorts" point, I don't think this is really important. As the Falklands war proved many of those escorts were hopelessly vulnerable to attack by old aircraft with free fall bombs operated in a slightly crafty way. Why do you think they'd have fared much better off the coast of Norway for example? There's also the matter of ammunition (again) with the Batch 1 and 2 Type 42s carrying a woefully small number of Sea Dart missiles. In sustained combat they'd have run out and with no time to RAS they'd have been lost.

I'm firmly of the opinion that two CVA's (the third was never a realistic proposition after the mid 60s) escorted by a smaller number of Type 82 (final build of around 10) and Type 22 would have been the best North Atlantic Cold War warfighting force Britain could have put together. Unsurprisingly it looks very much like what their US Navy counterparts continued to do. That force structure would have had the added benefit of being flexible enough to make itself useful post Cold War, as the USN proved time and again. Small carries like CVS were simply a blind alley for the RN, as we're many of the ships that emerged from the 1970s "cheap and numerous" philosophy.
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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by donald_of_tokyo »

WhiteWhale wrote: @Donald of Tokyo, many studies on carrier size and effectiveness have been done and a 40kt CVF would just have not worked. For every 20% drop in mass you lose ~50% capability, steel is cheap and air is free so the very very minor savings would probably only have added enough to the purse to give the ships a proper paint job.
Although I am not sure about the actual number, I well know that, especially in naval vessels, larger is more efficient.

But, still the "balance as a fleet" is the top priority, I think.

For example, you can have 2 Nimits-like CVN (nuclear) with 100,000t FL, but that will give you almost no escorts left. This is why RN do not have it. My point is that, reflecting the optimism UK had with "the good economy era" of early 2000s, I think CVF is a bit too large. It was/is reducing RNs proper balance. With 2 40-50 kt CV, you should have had, 2-3 more escorts in addition to Ocean replacement.

Of course, the power projection this "a fleet with bit smaller CVs" will give to UK, is smaller than what you will have with current CVs in 2020s. But, here, many are complaining about escort number cut, making the light frigate more fighty and need for Ocean replacement. These would have been able with "smaller CVFs", this is my point.

As CVF is already there, it is too late to say so, and to make proper use of them will be important. However, it is the same for Invinsible-class. You need to wait for another 20 years before you know CVFs in 2020s is "much better" (as a whole = good balance) compared to the CVSs in 1990s.

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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by donald_of_tokyo »

Engaging Strategy wrote: (CVS)s weren't designed to fight the cold war gone hot, they were designed to fight a nuclear war. Their magazines were so small because the presumption was that they'd only be operational for about a week (with only 2-3 days of intensive war fighting)...
Very interesting. Magazines of what, are you talking about? SeaDart or torpedos? If it is torpedo, no you do not need much. SeaDart? I agree it is ill-suited SAM. But I understand the main issue was so slow reload rate, and because of that, having a big magazine may not change the situation.

I am not fan of Invinsible-class, do not take me wrong.
I'm firmly of the opinion that two CVA's (the third was never a realistic proposition after the mid 60s) escorted by a smaller number of Type 82 (final build of around 10) and Type 22 would have been the best North Atlantic Cold War warfighting force Britain could have put together.
The 1st CVA will eat resources more than those put into 3 CVSs. (Please do not forget the air-wings).
For escorts, you had finally 14x T42. It will be equivalent to, say ~8x T81? But then, you have no resourse to build the second CVA. If you get it from cutting escorts, it will cost as much as 7 T42 or 4 T81, I suspect (again including air wing).

I suspect either you would have 1 CVA and 1 LPH, with those escorts, or 3 CVS with similar escorts. Yes, again, I may be pessimisitc, but you are too optimistic I think.

On the other hand, "1 CVA and 1 LPH fleet" vs "3CVS fleet", which is better? is not clear, and diserve discussion.

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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by WhiteWhale »

donald_of_tokyo wrote:With 2 40-50 kt CV, you should have had, 2-3 more escorts in addition to Ocean replacement.

Of course, the power projection this "a fleet with bit smaller CVs" will give to UK, is smaller than what you will have with current CVs in 2020s. But, here, many are complaining about escort number cut, making the light frigate more fighty and need for Ocean replacement. These would have been able with "smaller CVFs", this is my point.
You wouldn't though, cutting the size of the ships to that would probably only free up enough money for maybe a River. The manning, equipment and R+D costs would still be the same.

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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by donald_of_tokyo »

WhiteWhale wrote:You wouldn't though, cutting the size of the ships to that would probably only free up enough money for maybe a River. The manning, equipment and R+D costs would still be the same.
I do not think so. If yes, the cost of GVF shall be "the same" as Invinsible-class. It is ONLY 3.4 times larger, with lesser armament, all the other is steel and air.

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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

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WhiteWhale wrote:The manning, equipment and R+D costs would still be the same.
Precisely. A ship that launches 50 F35's does not use five times more resources than a ship that launches 10 F35's.

The CVF is the correct size for the Royal Navy. Any bigger and we would require new shore facilities, and likely need to go nuclear and accept the horrendous costs associated with that. Any smaller and you have an ineffective vessel for the Carrier strike role, much like the CVS.

There is a need for balance and efficient usage of resources and the CVF's certainly hit that balance.
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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

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donald_of_tokyo wrote:Very interesting. Magazines of what, are you talking about? SeaDart or torpedos? If it is torpedo, no you do not need much. SeaDart? I agree it is ill-suited SAM. But I understand the main issue was so slow reload rate, and because of that, having a big magazine may not change the situation.
I'm talking about ammunition and fuel for the embarked aircraft. Ditching the Sea Dart and converting the magazine to carry extra ammunition for the air group helped, as did stacking it in vertical racks, but the space available was always very limited.
The 1st CVA will eat resources more than those put into 3 CVSs. (Please do not forget the air-wings).
The RN could and should have had one US style carrier battle group available at all times with a surge capacity of two with advance notice. A single CVA would have used the crew of two CVS for sure, but would have proved massively more useful and survivable than the smaller ships. Just look at the US reaction when the UK finally scrapped Ark Royal RO9, they had to "replace" her with one of their carriers in the NATO OOB. They understood that large aircraft carriers would be one of the decisive platforms if it came to war with the USSR.
For escorts, you had finally 14x T42. It will be equivalent to, say ~8x T81? But then, you have no resource to build the second CVA. If you get it from cutting escorts, it will cost as much as 7 T42 or 4 T81, I suspect (again including air wing).
The air wings already existed and would have been carried over from the Audacious class ships (Phantom, Buccaneer, Gannet and Sea King). I'd take 8-10 Type 82 (as originally designed, not in Bristols eventual outfit) over 14 Type 42 any day of the week. Not only would 10 Type 82 have carried a quarter more Sea Dart missiles than 14 Type 42s they would have had significantly better Type 988 "Broomstick" radar from the outset as well as Ikara for ASW. The issue with cost is that I think the RN should have won the argument, that long distance air power over the sea was best provided by carriers. In that environment a lot of RAF kit suddenly becomes surplus to needs and money can be freed up for the second CVA.
I suspect either you would have 1 CVA and 1 LPH, with those escorts, or 3 CVS with similar escorts. Yes, again, I may be pessimisitc, but you are too optimistic I think.

On the other hand, "1 CVA and 1 LPH fleet" vs "3CVS fleet", which is better? is not clear, and deserve discussion.
The RN of the 70s and 80s was large and well manned enough to support a CVA and the two Fearless class amphibs. As I said though I think the UK approach to warfighting vs the USSR in the North Atlantic was probably wrong and likely wouldn't have worked, thus demanding a different approach and a different allocation of resources.
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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by WhiteWhale »

donald_of_tokyo wrote:
WhiteWhale wrote:You wouldn't though, cutting the size of the ships to that would probably only free up enough money for maybe a River. The manning, equipment and R+D costs would still be the same.
I do not think so. If yes, the cost of GVF shall be "the same" as Invinsible-class. It is ONLY 3.4 times larger, with lesser armament, all the other is steel and air.
A good portion of the rest is a pair of massive nuclear reactors, steam generators, catapults and arresting systems. Not to mention an extra 3000 crew. You can't compare a CVF/invincible or any small or csa style derivative to a 100000t nuclear catobar carrier.

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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by donald_of_tokyo »

WhiteWhale wrote: A good portion of the rest is a pair of massive nuclear reactors, steam generators, catapults and arresting systems. Not to mention an extra 3000 crew. You can't compare a CVF/invincible or any small or csa style derivative to a 100000t nuclear catobar carrier.
Of course not. Im sorry, what I meant was CVF = Queen Elizabeth vs CVS Invinsible. Maybe Cabor will be OK. In Japan, our Izumo was 1200e8 yen = 930ME = 700 MGBP.

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Re: Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers (CVS) (1980-2014) (RN)

Post by Engaging Strategy »

People get very caught up in the large up front capital cost of CVF but forget that the construction cost is only the first part of a long term investment. These are ships that could, given the right care and investment, run for fifty years. Over that time scale the capital outlay amounts to only ~£62 million per year of operations. A drop in the ocean of public spending when all is said and done. Even factoring in operational costs I doubt it'll cost the UK more than around £100mn a year to run the carriers. For all the talk of their enormous expense almost all military equipment is a long term investment. I am sure that for what we spend on them the QEs will present excellent value for money in the grand scheme of things.
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