Aircraft Carrier Build Progress
The last few weeks has seen the view from the programme office change considerably. Looking out to Babcock’s Number 1 Dock it is now clearer than ever that HMS Queen Elizabeth is really taking shape.
Recently a 6,000 tonne section - LB02 - arrived from BAE Systems in Portsmouth, and sections of the forward flight deck – CB02 - arrived from Cammell Laird in Merseyside, signalling the end of the first of three phases, or ‘Dock Cycles’, that will see HMS Queen Elizabeth’s hull put together.
LB02 arrived on board a specialist submersible barge, and in a carefully controlled operation, the barge sank right to the sea bed and the 6,000 tonne section was floated off. Tugs then maneuvered it to a berthing point just outside the entrance to the dock. The next step was to clear a space for it in the dock. For the first time in over a year dock was flooded and in a major engineering effort the 13,000 tonne SB03 was carefully floated out for the first time. LB02 was then carefully brought into the dock and SB03 was maneuvered back in behind it. Finally, both sections were moved precisely into place and the dock was drained, signaling the start of the next phase of integration.
You can see a time lapse video of the operation here:
Once both sections were back in the dock Goliath swung into action, moving the first section of flight deck into place on SB03.
The next step was to bring both blocks together. This meant using specialist hydraulic rams to skid the 13,000 tonne SB03 almost 90 metres along the bottom of the dock.
This massive operation was completed in one day and was a tremendous success. You can watch it taking place here:
Since then the heavy lift teams have been busy adding more sections of flight deck into place and the ship’s bulbous bow has also been lowered into the dock where it is currently being integrated with the rest of the ship.
Meanwhile work is moving ahead in other parts of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance on both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
In Govan more than 100km of cabling has been installed work on HMS Queen Elizabeth’s LB04 section. The largest single block of the ship, LB04 is due to move to Rosyth in November.
The Aft Island is complete up to five deck and work on LB03 for HMS Prince of Wales continues with the first sections now really taking shape.
the first steel for Lower Block 04 of HMS Prince of Wales was cut in Govan recently. Lindsay Gray, a third year apprentice, was watched by members of the workforce as she pressed the button on the plasma cutting machine commencing production of the aft section of the hull.
In Portsmouth, the Forward Island structure (which is responsible for air-traffic control on the ship) is complete with installation, outfit work and the paint programme continuing to plan. Over 1000 pipes, couplings and valves have already been fitted on the block.
LB02 construction for HMS Prince of Wales continues to progress well and to plan with preparation work underway ready for the diesel generator installation later in the year.
In Merseyside, the four rings that make up CB04 are all structurally complete and work continues on outfit and fabrication. CB04 is due to be delivered to Rosyth in November.