Rosyth Dockyard’s Babcock yard had a visit from the UK’s minister for defence, Peter Luff, who watched as a giant crane called Goliath swung into action for the first time, reports GAIL MILNE.
Preparations for the assembly of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers got under way, marking the official start of assembly of the first of two 65,000 tonne vessels – the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy.
The first major lift in the programme is set to take place with the first section of the two deck high 8,000 tonne centre block, which includes a section of flight deck, being lifted on to the seven-deck high 8,000 tonne Lower Block 03, Queen Elizabeth carrier.
Mr Luff said: “It is a huge privilege to witness what can only be described as history in the making. The job of building these truly formidable carriers is a huge challenge but we are very fortunate to have such a dedicated and skilled workforce who can rise to this challenge and provide the UK with its largest and most powerful aircraft carriers to date.”
The vessels are being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) made up of the MOD, Babcock, BAE Systems and Thales and with advanced construction underway at six shipyards across the UK, the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier programme is sustaining thousands of skilled jobs throughout industry.
Chief of Defence Materiel, Bernard Gray, said: “The Queen Elizabeth Class is a hugely important project for MOD and for the UK’s shipbuilding industry. I’m very pleased at this impressive progress on the construction and assembly of first of class.
A Queen Elizabeth Class carrier will be the centrepiece of Britain’s military capability and will routinely operate 12 of the carrier variant Joint Strike Fighter jets.
Each carrier will have nine decks, plus a flight deck the size of three football pitches, and two propellers weighing 33 tonnes - nearly two-and-a-half times as heavy as a double decker bus - driving the ship at a maximum speed of over 25 knots.