A huge section of hull for HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers being built for the UK Royal Navy, left BAE Systems’ Portsmouth facility Monday on a four day journey to the east coast of Scotland.
Employees watched as the large sea-going barge carrying the 6,000 tonne forward section of hull, known as Lower Block 02, was towed from the company’s facility to begin her passage to Rosyth.
To celebrate the departure of the block, a team of 50 cyclists from across the Aircraft Carrier Alliance will set off on a grueling challenge on Friday, cycling 500 miles from Portsmouth to Rosyth in an attempt to “Beat the Block” and raise funds for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.
Beat the Block is a great way to not only mark this significant stage in the carrier programme, but also raise money for a charity which supports the men and women of our armed forces. The cyclists face a tough few days ahead so I encourage people to get behind the challenge and show support to the cyclists on route. -Steven Carroll, Queen Elizabeth Class Project Director at BAE Systems
Over the next few days, the block will travel up the east coast of Britain before its scheduled arrival in Rosyth on Friday, May 25. Upon her arrival, Lower Block 02 will be floated off the specialized barge into the waters of the River Forth, where it will then enter the dry dock at Rosyth and workers will undertake a complex move to fit the giant pieces of the jigsaw together. A 13,000 tonne section of hull already in the dock will be floated out to allow Lower Block 02 to move into position and both sections to come together.
At Portsmouth Naval Base, the future home of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, a significant plan of investment is underway to prepare for the ships’ arrival. The plan includes dredging the existing channel to Portsmouth to make it deeper and wider, the renovation and reinforcement of the base’s jetties to ease access for both the QE Class and Type 45 fleet and the installation of new navigational beacons to help the ships find their way safely into and out of the harbour.
The aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a unique partnering relationship between BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock and the UK Ministry of Defence. BAE Systems has an overarching role in managing the QE Class program, as well as playing a central role in the design and build of the ships.
Once completed, the 65,000 tonne QE Class will be the center piece of Britain’s military capability.