Construction of the first Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier took a significant step forward today, as the final rings of the forward hull section came together for the first time at BAE Systems’ facility in Portsmouth Naval Base.
Two huge ring sections of Lower Block 02 were joined together in a 30 minute move involving 26 remote controlled hydraulic transporters. Workers carefully manoeuvred a 3,700 tonne slice of the block over 25 metres across the company’s production hall, where it was carefully lined up to join the rest of the hull. The hull block is made up of five rings in total, with the first rings joined in April, today’s move marks the end of the three month process.
Steven Carroll, Queen Elizabeth Class Project Director at BAE Systems’ Surface Ships division, said: “Bringing together Lower Block 02 marks the beginning of an exciting stage in the block’s life. The team will now begin the task of connecting the pipes, cabling, ventilation and machinery which runs throughout the block, before she is transported to Rosyth in April next year."
Housing machinery spaces, stores, and switchboards, Lower Block 02 will weigh over 6,000 tons on completion, with over 8,500 meters of pipes and 260,000 meters of cable installed - the equivalent distance from Portsmouth to Bristol and back. Standing over 70 meters long and 18 meters tall, the block will house 85 cabins, fit for over 500 junior crew members on board the HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Today’s move comes only four weeks after production commenced on the second aircraft carrier, the Prince of Wales, at the company’s Govan shipyard on the Clyde. Additionally, workers in Portsmouth are gearing up to begin work on the forward island, which will house the ship’s bridge and control vessel navigation, in the coming weeks.