News & Events-Frazer-Nash plays its part in successful QEC life raft demonstrator trials

Engineering consultancy Frazer-Nash has been recognised for its part in trials to protect vital ship equipment from jets passing above catwalks on the Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) carriers.

The aerothermal protection measures consist of a protective shielding for the ship's life rafts which could be subject to damage by the blast from F35 jets whilst hover transitioning to landing.

The protective shielding has been designed to withstand the jet blasts but not restrict the normal operation of the life rafts should the ship require evacuation, something that has never been done before. The successful trials were carried out in the non-tidal basin at Rosyth Dockyard following 18 months of rigorous design, evaluation and testing.

A team of engineers from Frazer-Nash (Richard Lawrence, Lara Tulloch and James Speedy), who were involved in the concept development, modelling, material testing and prototype development of the shields, has received special thanks from the QEC programme and Aircraft Carrier Alliance.

Eddie Trott, STOVL Reversion Lead,said: "The alternative to the catwalk shields was a very costly and time consuming redesign of the ship's structure and evacuation system, so to be able to deliver a more cost-effective solution in half the time is fantastic.

"Richard, Lara and James have been pivotal in providing this solution, providing well documented evidence, working closely with other industrial partners to deliver the programme on time and on budget. It's great to see all the hard work and creative thinking pay off."

Richard Lawrence, Group Leader, Marine Technology at Frazer-Nash, said: "When QEC reverted back to the STOVL variant aircraft (F35B) in 2012, it was recognised that equipment fitted in the catwalks could potentially be damaged by the jets passing over them.

"The decision to develop shielding for the catwalks and the subsequent testing of the equipment marks a significant milestone in the design and acceptance of alternative protection measures, not only because the trials were 100 per cent successful, but because this was a high profile issue for a safety critical piece of equipment."

The trials took place at Rosyth Dockyard in Fife, Scotland where QEC ship equipment was craned into the dock before a 100-man life raft erupted out of the water and successfully floated.

The Queen Elizabeth Class programme is one of the largest engineering projects currently being undertaken in the UK. It is being curated by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA), an innovative alliance formed between industry and the Ministry of Defence.

The system will now be installed onto HMS Queen Elizabeth ahead of its sea trials.