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SP12, the penultimate sponson section, is added to HMS Queen Elizabeth
The final section of flightdeck, a 450 ton sponson, is moved into place
The final section of flightdeck, a 450 ton sponson, is moved into place

Carrier Alliance weekly news 2 October

Published: 02 Oct 2013

The flight deck of the first of the Navy’s new carriers is now finished with the last two sections added to HMS Queen Elizabeth. The sponsons, each weighing roughly the same as a Sandown-class minehunter, were carefully inched into place in Rosyth.

The flight deck of the Navy’s future flagship is now complete after two giant sections were fixed into place on HMS Queen Elizabeth. In a week of major milestones for the programme, teams lifted the final sections of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s flightdeck smoothly into place. On Tuesday 24 September teams manoeuvred the 490 tonne SP12 section. Then, just two days later, the mighty Goliath crane was back in action again, moving the final section of flightdeck to the ship. 

At just under 500 tonnes, the final sponsons weigh roughly the same as a Sandown-class minehunter – although by the standards of the Queen Elizabeth, the segments are relatively small; the larger sections weighed in at more than 10,000 tonnes (heavier than a Type 45 destroyer).

Now physically complete – the special paint to protect it from the rigours of the weather and blasts from the F35 Lightning II jets which will land and take off from it – the flight deck is the size of 60 tennis courts (and just a bit smaller than three football pitches).

For those F35 operations (trials are due to begin with the successor jump jet in 2018), a ski ramp will be installed next month – mirroring the feature which propelled the Harrier skywards on the Invincible class of carriers.

The Queen Elizabeth-class project is probably at the peak of effort right now with around 10,000 people involved in building the two leviathans, or providing equipment and systems to be installed on them.

While almost all the media attention is focused on the future flagship, there’s also an all-out effort across the land to build her younger sister Prince of Wales, which is around two years behind Queen Elizabeth.

Sections of three quarters of the Prince’s hull are under construction in Portsmouth, Govan, Merseyside and Tyneside.


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