Saturday, 19 May 2012

HMS Queen Elizabeth

It is the second biggest engineering project in the United Kingdom behind the Olympics, generates enough energy to power every home in Swindon and has been a topic of political debate for years - the building of Britain’s new aircraft carriers is continuing apace.

Lower Block 02 will be an integral part of the front of the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.

 This week the aircraft carrier will take a key step towards completion, when Lower Block 02 is shipped 600 miles on a barge to Rosyth in Scotland, where the blocks of  Queen Elizabeth are being assembled in a dry dock. 

But, even on its own, Lower Block 02 is like nothing else in the Kingdom. It is 70 metres long and weighs 6,000 tons, making the giant Dauntless Building in which it is held look inadequate. From keel to masthead, Queen Elizabeth will be 19.5ft taller than Nelson’s Column. 

Alongside the giant section of the hull, the ship’s forward “island” is also taking shape. This will hold the Queen Elizabeth’s bridge, captain’s cabin and key navigation systems. 

Some 300 workers can be seen climbing over the blocks in these pictures taken over the last few months. The Queen Elizabeth is like a bee hive – its scale does no justice to the intricacy required to construct it, while inside the workers move between hundreds of compartments.

Construction is already so advanced that workers can walk through finished corridors and stand in the missile room, the engine room, and the crew’s accommodation. “It is a jigsaw puzzle coming together,” says Mr Bowsher.

The block was built in five parts around the ship’s engines and then welded together by highly skilled engineers over a 12-week period, often working upside down inside the vessel.

HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, will be three times larger than our Invincible Class Aircraft Carrier and, at 65,000 tons, will be the second biggest in the world behind America’s 90,000-ton Nimitz class.

10,000 British workers across six dockyards and three companies – BAE, the owner of the Portsmouth dockyard, Babcock International and the electronics group Thales – are building the ships.

The scale of the £7bn project means it has attracted significant political attention. The Government initially wanted to scrap the second ship to save money in the defence spending review and earlier this month made an about-turn on the type of aircraft that will be used by the carriers.

It decided to order the short take-off and vertical landing (Stovl) version of the F-35 joint strike fighter, rather than the carrier variant, which would have required costly electromagnetic equipment to help the planes launch and land – so-called “cats and traps” .


Gavin Bamford said...

Hi Tomothy, where can I find the rest of the pictures that are alluded to in the article? Gavin

Timothy Belmont said...


I got the piece here in the DT