Construction of HMS Prince of Wales, the second of two new aircraft carriers for the UK Royal Navy, has moved forward at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Rosyth, Scotland with the docking of two of the ship’s largest hull sections – Lower Block 02 and Lower Block 03.
The movement of the blocks into the drydock at Rosyth marks the beginning of the ship’s assembly phase and comes only days after Prime Minister David Cameron announced that HMS Prince of Wales will enter into service, ending speculation over the fate of the carrier.
The dry dock, which until recently housed the HMS Queen Elizabeth until it was floated in July, was filled with more than 80,000 tonnes of water in preparation for the blocks floating into position during a five hour operation on Tuesday. Lower Blocks 02 and 03, weighing in at 6,000 and 8,000 tonnes respectively, were manufactured by BAE Systems at the company’s Portsmouth and Glasgow facilities. Lower Block 02, the forward section of hull, houses machinery spaces, stores and switchboards, while the mid section, Lower Block 03, houses 160 cabins and the ship’s bakery.
“Every milestone in the carrier program is hugely significant and the recent announcement that HMS PRINCE OF WALES will enter service means there is a real sense of excitement as we start to bring the second ship together,” said Ian Booth, Managing Director at the Aircraft Carrier Alliance. “Everyone working across the Alliance is incredibly proud of the work undertaken so far, in what is currently one of the biggest engineering projects in the country, and we remain focused on delivering both ships to the highest standards.”
Work continues on HMS Queen Elizabeth, the lead ship in the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth-class of aircraft carriers, to outfit the ship and steadily bring her systems to life in preparation for sea trials in 2016. A significant plan of investment is also underway to prepare HM Naval Base Portsmouth as the homeport of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers with HMS Queen Elizabeth due to arrive at the city in 2017. This includes dredging the approach and main channels inside the harbor, upgrades to navigational aids and the refurbishment of several jetties, along with wider infrastructure improvements.
The aircraft carriers HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and HMS PRINCE OF WALES are being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a partnering relationship between BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock and the Ministry of Defence.
The Queen Elizabeth Class are expected to be the centerpiece of Britain’s defense capability for the 21st century. Each 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier will provide armed forces with a four-acre military operating base, with the ability to travel up to 500 miles per day while operating F35-Lightning II jets and a number of types of helicopters.