First sections of Prince of Wales are joined
Two giant sections of the second of the Royal Navy’s future carriers have been pieced together for the first time as HMS Prince of Wales begins to take shape.
Segments of the Prince’s hull – totalling 14,000 tonnes, the equivalent of three Type 23 frigates – were carefully moved into place at Rosyth, as fitting out continued on her sister HMS Queen Elizabeth a few metres away.
With her older sister Queen Elizabeth being fitted out a few metres away in Rosyth’s huge basin, the two largest sections of Britain’s second new aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales are slotted into place.
Just two months after the first of the UK’s new super-carriers vacated the cavernous dry dock – and five days after Premier David Cameron announced that both leviathans will be in service, not just one – 14,000 tonnes of the lower hull were carefully joined by expert engineers and technicians from the Aircraft Carrier Alliance.
Connected are Lower Block 02 (6,000 tonnes, built by BAE in Portsmouth) and ferried to Rosyth on a barge and Lower Block 03 (8,000 tonnes built by BAE on the Clyde) and also ferried around to the Forth by barge.
Both contain a mix of engine compartments, store rooms, mess decks and accommodation and hangar space, plus hundreds of miles of cabling and several miles of pipes.
Nearly one third of Prince of Wales has been delivered to Rosyth ready for assembly – around 20,000 tonnes in all, nearly the displacement of HMS Illustrious whom the new carrier supersedes.
Those segments couldn’t be joined, however, until Queen Elizabeth was moved out of the specially-enlarged dock at the Babcock yard for fitting out in the neighbouring basin.
HMS Prince of Wales is due to be launched in 2017 – the same year as her older sister arrives in Portsmouth.
Queen Elizabeth is due to begin flying trials with F35 Joint Strike Fighters in 2018 and will be available for front-line carrier strike missions from 2020.
Mr Cameron used last week’s NATO summit to pledge that both carriers would be in service – one will not be mothballed or sold, rather both ships will be run so that “we always have one available, 100 per cent of the time, from 2023”, which is when Prince of Wales is due to be fully operational.
You tube timelapse video of the move of the two blocks.
Images © BAE/John Linton Photography 2014