Designed and developed by Dutch specialists Verhoef, on behalf of BAE Systems, the bespoke gangways are part of an investment of £100 million to support HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales while they are docked in Portsmouth.
The gangways, known in the maritime industry as ‘brows’, have been specifically produced to provide industrial and naval workforces day-to-day access to the largest warships ever constructed for the Royal Navy. Weighing 12 tonnes each, a single brow can cater for a footfall of up to 3,000 people per hour, with up to 500 industrial staff expected to work on the ships each day when they are alongside during maintenance periods.
The reception point brow will be used predominantly by Royal Navy and VIP visitors. Its telescopic gangway will extend up to 19 metres over the water while the aircraft lift brow will allow easy access to the ships for support staff.
Mark Harris, BAE Systems Queen Elizabeth Class Readiness Project Manager, said: “The reception point and aircraft lift brows are unique to the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers as existing designs are too short for these ships.
“The brows are cutting-edge a steel and aluminium construction, built to provide a means of access that can be deployed quickly, without the need of a crane, and taking account of tidal conditions and ship movements. The brows also come with integrated LED lighting to provide illuminated access during dark hours.”
A rigorous training and familiarisation programme will now take place to ensure those supporting the aircraft carriers at Portsmouth Naval Base are ready to operate and maintain the new equipment ahead of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s arrival in 2017.