After years of construction and months of planning, BAE has revealed the mid-section of the Royal Navy’s new Elizabeth class aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Carried from BAEs ship-building hall off the River Clyde, and transported across 200 metres of specially reinforced concrete to a carrier barge – one of the two largest in the world – the mid-section is now set to make a 960km (600mi) journey around the north coast of Scotland to be assembled with other sections in Rosyth.
Speaking on the unveiling, BAE’s Elizabeth class project director Steven Carroll said: “I’m extremely proud of the teams huge achievement today, being on track to successfully load the mid-section of the hull out of our hall on time and built to an exceptional standard. This is the culmination of months of preparation and is only possible because of the skills of our workforce here on the Clyde and of the thousands of people working on the programme across every region of the United Kingdom. It is a fantastic showcase for British engineering.”
The size of the carrier is not to be underestimated. Measuring more than 60 x 40 x 20 metres (196 x 130 x 65 feet), as well as weighing 8,000 tonnes, the mid- section is huge and required 64 automated, remote-controlled transporters to move it from the build hall to the carrier barge.
Indeed, when fully constructed, the carrier will weigh over 65,000 tonnes and will provide the British armed forces with a four-acre military operating base that can be moved anywhere in the world.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth is to be followed by the HMS Prince of Wales, of which construction began in May. The roles for both carriers are diverse and versatile, ranging from supporting war efforts to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
On completion, the carriers will carry a selection of the new Joint Strike Fighter jets produced by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, granting unparalleled interoperability with allied forces.