A team of 40 moved the 11,300 tonne aft section, known as Lower Block 04, across the specially reinforced tarmac at the yard in less than three hours using 450 remote controlled transporters.
Angus Holt, Queen Elizabeth Class Block Delivery Director at BAE Systems, said: “Today marks the culmination of months of hard work and preparation and I am extremely proud of the team’s achievements in successfully loading out the aft section on time and built to an exceptional standard. The sheer size and complexity of the block both highlights the skill of workforce here on the Clyde and the huge amount of progress which we continue to make on the programme to deliver the nation’s flagships.”
Tomorrow (Monday 15 October), the block will be loaded onto one of the two biggest sea-going barges in the world in preparation for her journey to Rosyth where the aircraft carriers are being assembled. Departing from Govan on Saturday 3 November, the 600 mile journey will take Lower Block 04 around the north coast of Scotland.
The load out of Lower Block 04 comes only 34 months after the first steel was cut on the section in January 2010. Since then, employees at the company’s Govan yard have worked steadily to construct the block which stands over 20 metres high and 80 metres long. It is the largest hull section equating to around 20% of the overall weight of the ship, and the final hull section of HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH to arrive in Rosyth. This will mark a significant phase in the programme with all major hull sections of the ship delivered and ready for integration. Approximately 250 employees from the Clyde 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 carrier.
Meanwhile, production on both Lower Block 03 and 04 of HMS PRINCE OF WALES continues to progress at Govan, while the aft island for the first ship is underway at the company’s Scotstoun yard. BAE Systems is also manufacturing sections of hull at its Portsmouth facility. Additionally, the company is responsible for the design integration and testing of the ships’ complex mission and advanced communications systems.
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 programme, as well as playing a central role in the design and build of the ships.
The QE Class will be the centre piece of Britain’s military capability. 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.