Final section of carrier arrives at Rosyth

The final section of HMS Prince of Wales passes under the Forth Bridge (John Linton Photography).
The final section of HMS Prince of Wales passes under the Forth Bridge (John Linton Photography).

The final section of the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales arrived at Babcock Rosyth on Sunday – 10 weeks ahead of schedule.

The final section being delivered, known as the Aft Island, weighs 750 tonnes and will control aircraft operations aboard the carrier.

The journey took it 1335 miles around the south coast of England in order to reach Fife.

Angus Holt, HMS Prince of Wales delivery director, said: “This is a momentous day and there’s a real sense of excitement to see the final section arrive under the iconic Forth Bridge.

“Not only is it completed ahead of schedule but it’s also been finished to an incredibly high standard. This is testament to the dedication, skill and ingenuity of all those working on the programme.”

Rear Admiral Henry Parker, defence equipment and support director of ship acquisition, said: “This is the final piece in the jigsaw for HMS Prince of Wales and the culmination of a lot of hard work on the Clyde.

“We are delighted to have all of the blocks finally in Rosyth and are looking forward to the Aft Island being lowered on to the flight deck forming the iconic shape of the ship.”

An incredible 144 wheels, 16 axles and a single remote control will be used to drive the Aft Island from seagoing barge on to the dockside. It will then be lifted on to the HMS Prince of Wales flight deck by the Goliath crane, which can lift a maximum of 1000 tonnes.

Along with the 65,000-tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth, the two carriers are the first in the world to use an innovative twin-island design. The Aft Island is responsible for the ship’s mission systems and act as an aircraft control tower. And the Forward Island contains the bridge and is primarily responsible for the command of the ship. While each island has a primary role, both are able to incorporate the other’s role in an emergency, increasing the survivability of the ship.

The Queen Elizabeth Class will be the centrepiece of Britain’s maritime capability. Each 65,000 tonne aircraft carrier will provide the armed forces with a four acre military operating base, which can be deployed worldwide.

The vessels will be versatile enough to be used for operations ranging from supporting war efforts to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.