Construction of First Aircraft Carrier Set a New Milestone

The Devon-built part of the future HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier bows out of Appledore on its way to be constructed in Rosysth
Shipping the 6,000 tonne LB02 hull section of HMS Queen Elizabeth

Assembly of the first new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier for the Royal Navy has marked another milestone at Rosyth, as the third massive Super Block (SB03) and second Lower Block (LB02) are positioned at one location, as part of the Assembly Cycle B – the second of three cycles undertaken by prime contractor Babcock.

According to Babcock, the assembly of the first carrier at Rosyth is progressing well, and to schedule. The docking of LB02 (measuring some 60 meters long by 38 meters wide and 21 meters deep and comprising predominantly accommodation compartments with some auxiliary machinery spaces), which arrived from BAE Systems in Portsmouth at the beginning of June, marked the start of Assembly Cycle B. In this second cycle Babcock will integrate LB02 with Lower Block 01 (the forward sections from the keel up to the flight deck, including the bulbous bow), previously built by Babcock at its Appledore shipyard in Devon, and Super Block 03 (SB03) already assembled in the dock.

This cycle will continue until spring 2013, to be followed by Assembly Cycle C for the remaining blocks, including the stern sections and island structures, with the hull fully assembled by 2014.

Assembly Cycle A, successfully completed to schedule by Babcock in May, saw the assembly of Super Block 03, comprising the mid-hull section (LB03) and four sections making up Centre Block 03 (CB03) plus associated sponsons. Outfitting of the nine major upper blocks integrated with LB03 in this cycle, including installation of electrical cabling, mechanical pipe systems, ventilation and fittings and equipment, is scheduled to complete later this year.

The Devon-built part of the future HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier bows out of Appledore on its way to be constructed in Rosysth

The Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA), a partnering, is building the two carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. Partnering this alliance are BAE Systems, Babcock Thales and the Ministry of Defence. Six shipyards around the UK are constructing the large individual blocks that will be joined to assemble the final vessel. This work is shared between BAE Systems and Babcock. After completion of each of the blocks they are transported to Babcock’s Rosyth facility for final assembly and integration.

The 65,000 ton QE Class aircraft carriers will be the UK’s largest (280 meters long, 74 meters wide, and 56 meters high) and most powerful warships, providing the armed forces with four acre military operating bases that can be deployed worldwide.

A panoramic view of the aircraft carrier construction site in Rosysth. Photo: Alan Pratt