Carrier update September
Carrier Alliance Programme Director’s Update September
What a great summer we have had. There is a real sense of drive and passion to keep the positive momentum going following on from the naming, float out and berthing of HMS Queen Elizabeth and now onto assembly of HMS Prince of Wales.
We are delighted by the Prime Ministers announcement on 5 September confirming that HMS Prince of Wales will go into service. He said the decision to bring the carrier into service - rather than keeping it in extended readiness or selling it abroad - would ensure Britain always had a ship at sea capable of launching air strikes.
This gives us added motivation to drive the aggressive schedule and lessons learned from Ship 1 to successfully handover HMS Prince of Wales to the customer in August 2019.
The double docking and subsequent docking down of Prince of Wales blocks LB02 and LB03 in Rosyth on 11 September has commenced the assembly of HMS Prince of Wales slightly ahead of schedule. This has been enabled through excellent team work across block build, assembly, transportation, client and subcontract partners.
The dry dock in Rosyth, once home to HMS Queen Elizabeth, was filled with more than 80,000 tonnes of water in preparation for the blocks floating into position during a five hour operation. I had the perfect view from my office window, the block manoeuvres looked effortless and it's great to see part of a ship in the dock again! Lower Blocks 02 and 03, weighing in at 6,000 and 8,000 tonnes respectively, were manufactured in Portsmouth and Glasgow.
I had the privilege of being part of the celebrations in Portsmouth as LB02 departed for its journey to Rosyth. This was the final block of the QE Class carriers to be delivered from Portsmouth before the closure of the shipbuilding facility there, so a very poignant event. Portsmouth has played a vital part in the construction of the QE carriers so I knew it was going to be a day of mixed emotions. I have to say, I'm extremely proud of the teams involved as they delivered the block to the highest standard possible, a testament to the character of individuals and the commitment, professionalism and dedication from all involved. They really did finish with pride!
We are always striving to continuously improve our process and be more efficient in the way we work; this is being shown across the programme, but definitely highlighted in the Ship 2 assembly. Additional flexibility within block build facilities, combined with learning from HMS Queen Elizabeth, will enable HMS Prince of Wales assembly to take place in two cycles rather than three with the double docking of LB02 and LB03 the primary benefit of this approach. Story of LB02 and 03 on this website.
An intensive period of block lifts and structural consolidation will now commence with focus on preparation for the first block lift on 16 September (sections of the front bow section). All externally constructed blocks for the first half of the ship (assembly cycle A) are due to be delivered to Rosyth by mid - October this year so a definite drum beat of progress on Ship 2.
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. 'HV Live' (high voltage live) is scheduled for the end of this month where we will switch the power on board for the first time, although we won't be generating our own at this stage, it will be provided from a shore - based supply. However, this is still a significant milestone for HMS Queen Elizabeth.
As you can imagine, we are inundated with requests for visits on board HMS Queen Elizabeth, she is quite the tourist attraction! However, she is still a very much a working site, with a vast amount of work taking place inside and outside, therefore, we do have to limit visits on board. This being said, we were privileged to have a Royal visitor this month. HRH Princess Anne attended a WISE event, hosted by Babcock Rosyth, celebrating women in engineering. The Princess Royal had a private tour of HMS Queen Elizabeth after the event and was keen to get on board and see how the ship had progressed since her last visit in 2012. HRH Princess Anne has followed the programme closely since she cut first steel for HMS Queen Elizabeth back in July 2009 signalling the start of the QE Class programme.
So, what else have we been doing? The Aircraft Carrier Alliance is always looking to improve how we work and how we can increase productivity. We have been joined by an external consultancy group, Newton, for the last several months, who have been working alongside us on the project 'AIM for Excellence'. They have taken suggestions from employees from industrial level right up to senior management in Rosyth on how we can improve the way we work on a day to day basis and what they would make better if they could. Significant improvements on tooling, workshops, approval processes etc, are already in place and making a huge difference to daily work on board HMS Queen Elizabeth. I look forward to seeing what else the AIM team deliver in the near future.
I'm keen that we build on our successes from 2014 so far and know that the last few months of the year will be as exciting and challenging as ever - there is never a dull day working on this iconic programme!
Three new videos have appeared on You Tube – there are many more.
HMS Queen Elizabeth full build time lapse video
Floating the first sections of Prince of Wales into the dry dock – time lapse video
HMS Queen Elizabeth amazing facts video