Construction on the forward island structure for the first Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier began today at BAE Systems’ facility in Portsmouth Naval Base. Employees and guests watched as Second Sea Lord and Commander in Chief Naval Home Command, Vice Admiral Charles Montgomery CBE ADC cut the first steel, formally marking the start of production on the island structure. Housing the bridge and navigation systems for the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, the forward island is fundamental to the effective command and control of the vessel. The island also includes the vessel’s long range radar, providing wide area surveillance up to 400 kilometres.
Vice Admiral Montgomery said: “I am pleased to start official construction for HMS Queen Elizabeth’s forward island. The Queen Elizabeth Class will be joint assets for defence and, as such, will be a fundamental component of the UK’s joint capability over the coming decades.
“By routinely carrying a Joint Force Air Group they will deliver air power from the sea wherever and whenever required and in a stronger and more decisive form than ever before. They will undoubtedly prove a tremendous asset for promoting and protecting Britain’s national and global interests. Real progress is being made on this project and I look forward to seeing the next major block, Lower Block 03, arrive in Rosyth in August.”
Geoff Searle, Queen Elizabeth Class Programme Director for the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, said: “Today's steel cut demonstrates the huge amount of momentum behind the Queen Elizabeth Class programme. With all but one section of the ship now in production, we are seeing significant progress, with thousands of people across the country working to deliver the nation’s flagships to our armed forces.”
Designed with a twin island configuration, the Queen Elizabeth Class will benefit from its flying operations being separated from the running of the vessels, resulting in maximum flexibility and greater control of flight deck operations. BAE Systems will also undertake the build of the aft island, which will be responsible for all air operations and air traffic control, with production expected to start in the autumn.
This steel cut is the latest achievement in the programme and comes just two weeks after all of the rings of Lower Block 02, the forward hull section being built at Portsmouth, came together for the first time. Meanwhile, workers at the company’s Govan shipyard are gearing up for the departure of Lower Block 03 for transportation to Rosyth in August.
As a member of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, BAE Systems is working in partnership with Babcock, Thales and the Ministry of Defence to deliver the biggest and most powerful surface warships ever constructed in the UK. The company provides overall leadership and programme management to the QE Class programme, as well as playing a central role in the design and build of the ships. BAE Systems is also responsible for the design, manufacture and integration of the complex mission systems for the aircraft carriers.
Each 65,000 tonne carrier will provide a four acre military operating base that can be deployed worldwide and will be versatile enough to be used for operations ranging from supporting war efforts to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief. The QE Class will be the centre piece of Britain’s military capability and will operate at least 12 of the carrier variant Joint Strike Fighter jets, allowing for unparalleled interoperability with allied forces.