HMS Prince of Wales Assembly Begins
Construction of HMS Prince of Wales, the second of two new aircraft carriers for the U.K. Royal Navy, has moved forward with the docking of two of the ship’s largest hull sections – Lower Block 02 and Lower Block 03.
The movement of the blocks into the dock at Rosyth marks the beginning of the ship’s assembly phase and comes only days after Prime Minister David Cameron announced that HMS Prince of Wales will enter into service, ensuring that the U.K. will always have one aircraft carrier available.
Ian Booth, Managing Director at the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, said, “Every milestone in the carrier program is hugely significant and the recent announcement that HMS Prince of Wales will enter service means there is a real sense of excitement as we start to bring the second ship together. Everyone working across the Alliance is incredibly proud of the work undertaken so far, in what is currently one of the biggest engineering projects in the country, and we remain focused on delivering both ships to the highest standards.”
The dry dock, vacated by HMS Queen Elizabeth in July, was filled with more than 80,000 metric tons of water in preparation for the blocks floating into position during a five hour operation yesterday. Lower Blocks 02 and 03, weighing in at 6,000 and 8,000 metric tons respectively, were manufactured by BAE Systems at the company’s Portsmouth and Glasgow facilities. Lower Block 02, the forward section of hull, houses machinery spaces, stores and switchboards, while the mid section, Lower Block 03, houses 160 cabins and the ship’s bakery.
Meanwhile, work continues on HMS Queen Elizabeth to outfit the ship and steadily bring her systems to life in preparation for sea trials in 2016. A significant plan of investment is also underway to prepare HM Naval Base Portsmouth as the home port of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers with HMS Queen Elizabeth due to arrive at the city in 2017. This includes dredging the approach and main channels inside the harbor, upgrades to navigational aids and the refurbishment of several jetties, along with wider infrastructure improvements.
The aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a partnering relationship between BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock and the Ministry of Defense.
The Queen Elizabeth Class will be the centerpiece of Britain’s defense capability for the 21st century. Each 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier will provide the armed forces with a four-acre military operating base, which can travel up to 500 miles per day to be deployed anywhere around the world. Operating the F35-Lightning II jets and a number of types of helicopter, the QE Class will be versatile enough to be used across the full spectrum of military activity from warfighting to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.