Mid section of aircraft carrier leaves BAE Systems
Published by Anne Marie Hughes on Sat 09 Jun 12 @ 22:10
THE huge mid section of the UK's first Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier has left BAE Systems' Govan shipyard on a 600-mile sea journey to Rosyth for assembly.
Weighing a staggering 8000-tonnes, the massive steel structure took days to secure on the deck of one of the world's biggest barges.
Since moving the Lower Block 03 section out of the shipbuilding hall at Govan at the end of July, BAE Systems staff have worked tirelessly to complete final preparations, including sea fastening, to ensure the section was ready for departure from the Clyde.
The block, measuring 20 metres high, 60 metres long and 40 metres wide, is the first hull section of HMS Queen Elizabeth to be sent to Rosyth.
Around 350 Govan-based employees will follow the block to Rosyth at the end of August to help with the assembly phase of this section of the ship.
Both Clyde-based yards have been commissioned to build another three giant blocks - two for each of the aircraft carriers.
The construction of Lower Block 04, the biggest and most complex section of the hull, underway and production on the second aircraft carried, HMS Prince of Wales, started back in May this year.
Minister for International Security Strategy, Gerald Howarth, said: "This marks an important milestone - the start of the assembly phase of the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.
"Excellent progress is being made on this project and it will form the cornerstone of the Royal Navy's Future Force 2020.
"It is clear evidence that the UK shipbuilding industry has the expertise and experience to deliver a project of this size and complexity, delivering our next generation of Carrier Strike capability."
The sight of the giant mid-section being manoeuvred on the Clyde is a perfect illustration of shipbuilding in the 21st Century, with the two new aircraft carriers being assembled in a series of blocks at yards across the UK.
The £5.2-billion carrier programme will produce Britain's biggest ever warships.
Hundreds of workers at the BAE yards of Govan and Scotstoun have spent the past two years building the massive steel structure that will form part of the hull.
The mid section is as tall as a four-storey tenement and will house the sleeping quarters of 300 sailors.
Steven Carroll, Queen Elizabeth Class Project Director at BAE Systems, said: "There's a real sense of pride in the yard and across the Carrier Alliance today.
"Watching Lower Block 03 be towed down the Clyde gives us a chance to reflect on the huge achievements of the past two years since we cut the first steel on this first section."
More than 50 cyclists left the yard at the same time, tracing the section's path on land in an attempt to 'beat the block' to its final destination on the Forth and raise money for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.
The challenge hopes to raise more than £10,000 from the race.