UK — Carrier construction begins on the Mersey

The nation­wide pro­gramme to build the Roy­al Navy’s new Queen Eliz­a­beth Class air­craft car­ri­ers passed anoth­er mile­stone when con­struc­tion on the first ship, the Queen Eliz­a­beth, began in Birken­head yes­ter­day, Mon­day 26 July 2010.

Computer-generated image of the Future Carrier
Com­put­er-gen­er­at­ed image of the Future Car­ri­er
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Birken­head com­pa­ny Cam­mell Laird is the final ship­yard in the pro­gramme to begin con­struc­tion and will build two of the sec­tions that will make up the ship’s giant flight deck.

Con­struc­tion began yes­ter­day when Min­is­ter for Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Strat­e­gy Ger­ald Howarth start­ed the crane that laid the first of the steel plates for the flight deck.

Togeth­er the two sec­tions will weigh in at 7,500 tonnes — more than a Roy­al Navy Type 45 destroy­er.

The work is worth £44m to Cam­mell Laird and will pro­vide a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of jobs in the area, boost­ing the local econ­o­my.

As he toured the yard, Mr Howarth met some of the 1,200-strong work­force involved in the project — includ­ing some of the 72 appren­tices. He said:

“Air­craft car­ri­ers rep­re­sent a nation­al asset for the UK. Pow­er and ver­sa­til­i­ty make them a for­mi­da­ble warfight­ing tool and able to ful­fil a wide range of require­ments in an increas­ing­ly diverse and chang­ing glob­al defence land­scape.

Laying of the first of the steel plates for the giant flight deck of the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier
Lay­ing of the first of the steel plates for the giant flight deck of the new Queen Eliz­a­beth air­craft car­ri­er
Source: Andrew Lin­nett, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

“The work­ers I have met here today are right­ly proud to be a part of it and it’s par­tic­u­lar­ly excit­ing to see so many young appren­tices learn­ing their trade on such a pres­ti­gious project.”

Six ship­yards across the UK are involved in the mas­sive con­struc­tion project — Gov­an and Rosyth in Scot­land, Portsmouth and Devon­port in the south, and New­cas­tle and now Birken­head in the north — pro­vid­ing around 10,000 jobs, with thou­sands more sup­pli­ers con­tribut­ing with small­er con­tracts through the sup­ply chain.

The Assis­tant Chief of the Naval Staff, Rear Admi­ral Philip Jones, said:

“Car­ri­ers offer invalu­able free­dom of action with four acres [16,000 square metres] from which to project pow­er any­where in the world.

“But they are much more than an air base capa­ble of pro­vid­ing sup­port to land oper­a­tions and human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance in dis­as­ter zones.

“They also play an impor­tant role in con­flict pre­ven­tion; their scale, range and capa­bil­i­ty mak­ing them a pow­er­ful state­ment of intent.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK