Engineers constructing the Royal Navy’s largest ever warships have invented a mobile app to stop them getting lost inside the vessel.
BAE Systems staff working on the Queen Elizabeth (QE) Class aircraft carriers have created a system called Platform Navigation to help them navigate more than 3,000 compartments spread across the ship’s 12 decks, where even routine journeys can take up to 20 minutes.
Satellite navigation cannot penetrate the ships’ structure and there are very few windows to get your bearings from, so the encrypted mobile application allows employees to scan QR codes located at compartment entrances, before typing in their destination and having the application display the best route.
The device also has the potential to be used inside other large ships and structures, both during and after construction – its ability to record inspections and patrols making it ideally suited for complex environments like hospitals or underground transport networks.
Mick Ord, managing director at BAE Systems Naval Ships, said: “These are the largest and most powerful warships ever constructed for the Royal Navy so we need to keep finding smarter, safer and more efficient ways of working.
“Platform Navigation is a truly innovative device as it provides greater visibility within complex environments so that employees can concentrate on the task in hand, which for us means delivering the nation’s flagships.”
The first of the carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is now structurally complete at 56 metres tall, which is higher than the Niagara Falls, while its length of 280 metres is about three times the size of the UK's existing aircraft carriers.
The 65,000-tonne warship will be officially named by the Queen in a ceremony at Rosyth in Fife, where it is currently being fitted out, on Friday July 4, five years after the first metal was cut on the vessel and 33 months after the first section entered the drydock at Rosyth to begin being put together.
Sections of the second vessel in the class, the HMS Prince of Wales, are under-construction at sites across the UK, with assembly set to begin at Rosyth later this year. The £6.2bn project is being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) – a partnership of BAE Systems, Babcock, Thales and the Ministry of Defence.
Six shipyards around the UK have been involved in building various parts of HMS Queen Elizabeth and each ship, which has a life expectancy of around 50 years, will be fitted out with more than three million metres of cable, with enough power to light up a small town.
Project manager Steven Carroll, the systems delivery director for the Alliance, said: "It's a huge undertaking, a UK-wide national endeavour involving up to 10,000 people, including multiple companies within the alliance and the supply chain.
"It really has been a long journey, a fantastic journey, to get to this point and there is a lot more work to be done as we get ready for the second ship, Prince of Wales."