The QEC carriers will be the biggest surface warships ever constructed for the Royal Navy, with enhanced survivability.
The Frazer-Nash team of engineers, made up of Richard Lawrence, Lara Tulloch and James Speedy, developed, tested and modelled an aerothermal protection shield.
The shield protects the life rafts from F35 jet blasts during time spent hovering above the catwalks, before landing on the QEC carriers. It is designed to avoid creating any hindrances in their normal operation.
Frazer-Nash Marine Technology group leaderRichard Lawrence 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% successful, but because this was a high-profile issue for a safety-critical piece of equipment."
The technology earned the Frazer team the Chairman’s Award Business Leader from BAE Systems and a Customer Trust Award from Thales.
The Chairman award has been presented by BAE Systems for the contribution, ideas, actions, and behaviours of employees, colleagues, partners and customers.
The Frazer-Nash project team was nominated by Thales for a Customer Trust Award for Defense Mission Systems UK for their "practical and timely" solution to the complex aerothermal issue associated with the QEC’s ship-aircraft interface.
Thales director Eddie Awang said: "Your system will ensure that future generations of ship’s company on QEC can operate the most advanced 5th generation multi-role aircraft safely, in the knowledge that lifesaving equipment is protected and safe to use."
The life raft shield was trialled in the non-tidal basin at Rosyth Dockyard in the UK in 2015, following 18 months of design, evaluation and testing. It will undergo sea trials onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, one of the two QEC carriers.
Image: HMS Queen Elizabeth at Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland. Photo: courtesy of Royal Navy.