HMS Queen Elizabeth sailors prepare for new workboats

Sailors assigned to the recently commissioned Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will be using a new type of personnel transfer boats with improved maneuvering characteristics.

As the new workboats are powered by two water-jets, unlike the current fleet of small boats operated by the Royal Navy, four seaman specialists from the HMS Queen Elizabeth visited HMS Raleigh for a two-week training course, manoeuvering the craft on the River Lynher, Tamar and out in Plymouth Sound.

“These boats react very differently in the water compared to the Pacific 24 Ribs, which operate with a single jet,” Petty Officer ‘Smudge’ Smith, the lead instructor for the course, said. “One of the main differences is the way the boat is brought alongside.

“These need far less space as we can use a maneuver called crabbing, which is basically moving the boat side-ways through the water, so there is a lot more scope for going into smaller areas.”

The workboats will be used as passenger transfer boats (PTB) on HMS Queen Elizabeth, which will be essential, as due to her size many ports will not be able to accommodate her and she will be at anchor.

The PTB’s will be an essential lifeline to shore, transferring personnel and stores.

Therefore the normal navigation training package has been tweaked to include more in depth transit routes instruction in and out of ports. Each of the carriers will carry four PTBs on board.

HMS Raleigh will take delivery of a new class of workboat later this year and are currently using a boat from the Army for twin jet training.

The UK defense ministry awarded a contract for the design and construction of up to 38 workboats last year.

Ranging in length from 11 to 18 metres, the boats will perform other tasks including Officer training at Britannia Royal Naval College, diving tender and will also replace the current class of Survey motor boat.

The PTB variant assigned to the carriers will carry up to 36 passengers at one time.

The boats have been designed and built by Atlas Elecktronik Uk in Dorchester. Other companies involved in the supply chain include E P Barrus in Bicester, KPM-Marine in Birmingham and Mashfords in South East Cornwall.