HMS Prince of Wales Lower Block 02 leaves Portsmouth
From Navy News
A 6,000-tonne section of HMS Prince of Wales is on its way to Rosyth after leaving Portsmouth 26 August.
The completion of the lower hull segment – which will join ‘jigsaw pieces’ from half a dozen yards around the UK – marks the end of shipbuilding at BAE’s facility on the Solent.
UNDER sullen skies more akin to autumn than summer, a giant section of the Navy’s second new aircraft carriers was towed out of Portsmouth to join the rest of the ship in Scotland.
Despite the unseasonal weather, a small crowd gathered on the city’s Round Tower to bid farewell to Lower Block 02 – and to shipbuilding on the Solent for the foreseeable future.
The section, which will form part of the lower forward hull of HMS Prince of Wales, is the last order for BAE Systems’ facility in Portsmouth, thus bringing the dozen-year renaissance of shipbuilding in the city to an end.
As a result its departure – on a barge, pulled by the tug Eraclea – was a moment of pride tinged with sadness.
Mick Ord, managing director of BAE Systems Naval Ships, hailed the huge finished segment as “an incredible feat of engineering and its delivery marks the start of final assembly for the second ship.
“This is a significant milestone for the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier programme and a particularly proud one for the team in Portsmouth whose contribution to delivering the nation’s flagships has been outstanding.”
Once completed, we look forward to the Queen Elizabeth Class returning to their home port of Portsmouth.”
Construction of warships stopped in Portsmouth in the late 1960s with HMS Andromeda, but was revived by Vosper Thornycroft when the firm moved from Southampton early this millennium. It subsequently merged with BAE.
The final block from the Portsmouth yard, stands 20 metres (65ft) tall, 70 metres (229ft) long and 40 metres (131ft) wide. Inside are cabins, machinery spaces, stores and switchboards, connected by 260 kilometres (161 miles) of cable – enough to stretch from the Solent to Norwich – and 8,000 pipes.
Having been inched out of the ship hall in Portsmouth on eight remote-controlled transporters with over 2,000 wheels, the block was secured on the barge ready for the five-day journey to Rosyth.
Once in Scotland, it will eventually be moved into the dry dock occupied by HMS Queen Elizabeth until just a few weeks ago, where the already-completed sections of the second carrier will be pieced together, beginning in September, building up to a launch in early 2017 – about the same time as her sister comes to Portsmouth.
You can follow the progress of the section via www.shipais.co.uk and searching for the tug’s name. It was around a dozen nautical miles off Beachy Head late last night.