After six months of planning, a team of 10 moved the 8,000 tonne mid section, known as Lower Block 03, 200 metres across the specially reinforced tarmac at the yard in just one hour using 64 remote controlled transporters.
Steven Carroll, Queen Elizabeth Class Project Director at BAE Systems, said: “I’m extremely proud of the team’s huge achievement today, having successfully loaded the mid section of the hull out of our hall on time and built to an exceptional standard.
“This is the culmination of months of preparation and is only possible because of the strong partnership with our Carrier Alliance partners, the skills of our workforce here on the Clyde and of the thousands of people working on the programme across every region of the UK. It is a fantastic showcase for British engineering.”
On Sunday, the block will be loaded onto one of the two biggest sea-going barges in the world in preparation for her 600 mile journey, starting on 16 August, taking her round the north coast of Scotland to Rosyth where the aircraft carrier will be assembled. Marking the occasion, over 50 cyclists will leave the Govan yard on the same day to take on a gruelling 500 mile cycle around the north of Scotland in an attempt to ‘beat the block’ to its final destination and raise money for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.
As a member of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, BAE Systems is working in partnership with Babcock, Thales and the Ministry of Defence to deliver the nation’s flagships. With advanced construction underway at six shipyards across the UK, the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier programme is sustaining thousands of skilled jobs throughout industry.
The load out of Lower Block 03 comes only two years after first steel was cut in July 2009. Since then, employees at the company’s Govan yard have worked steadily to construct the block which stands over 20 metres high, 60 metres long and 40 metres wide. Approximately 350 Govan-based employees will follow the block to Rosyth where they will work in partnership with employees at Babcock to complete the assembly phase of this section of the ship. Meanwhile, at Govan, construction of Lower Block 04, the largest and most complex section of hull, is progressing and production on the second aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, started in May.
BAE Systems is also manufacturing the forward and lower stern sections of the hull at its Portsmouth facility, along with the ship’s forward island structure. Additionally, the company is responsible for the integration and testing of the ships’ complex mission and advanced communications systems.
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. The QE Class will be the centre piece of Britain’s military capability and will operate at least 12 of the carrier variant Joint Strike Fighter jets, allowing for unparalleled interoperability with allied forces.
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