UK — Huge sections of new Navy carrier joined together

One of the two biggest war­ships ever built for the Roy­al Navy has tak­en anoth­er step towards com­ple­tion with the join­ing of two huge sec­tions.

Aft-sec­tion block LB04 of future Roy­al Navy car­ri­er Queen Eliz­a­beth on the move in Gov­an yard [Pic­ture: Air­craft Car­ri­er Alliance]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

In a two-hour oper­a­tion this past week­end, one sec­tion was moved from a large ship hall at BAE Sys­tems’ Gov­an yard, on the Clyde at Glas­gow, to join the oth­er part of Low­er Block 04, built in a neigh­bour­ing hall just 100 metres away.

Block 04 is home to the two main engine rooms, the sick bay and quar­ters for some of the 1,500 sailors and air group per­son­nel who will serve on the ship.

Togeth­er the two sec­tions com­prise one fifth of Queen Eliz­a­beth, the first of two 65,000-tonne super-car­ri­ers being built for the fleet.

This weekend’s oper­a­tion involved 132 remote-con­trolled trans­porters mov­ing 4,000 tonnes of steel.

The trans­porters moved the two parts to with­in five cen­time­tres of each oth­er. Work­ers will spend the com­ing few days clos­ing the gap, pre­cise­ly align­ing the var­i­ous units and com­part­ments before weld­ing the sec­tions togeth­er.

Once ful­ly fit­ted out, the com­plet­ed block will weigh 11,000 tonnes and form the aft sec­tion of the car­ri­er. It is the largest sec­tion of the ship, at 86 metres long, 40 metres wide and 23 metres tall – so large that it juts out of the ship hall.

Steven Car­roll, Queen Eliz­a­beth Class Project Direc­tor at BAE Sys­tems, said:

“Bring­ing togeth­er Low­er Block 04 marks the begin­ning of an excit­ing stage in the block’s life. Once the link up is com­plete, the team will shift their focus back to the out­fit­ting of the block, includ­ing installing 12,000 pipes and 100,000 kilo­me­tres of cables, ahead of her depar­ture to Rosyth lat­er this year.”

That depar­ture is due in the autumn; this block will be the last hull sec­tion of Queen Eliz­a­beth to arrive on the Forth and will join the oth­er units and sec­tions of the ship in dry dock where she is being assem­bled.

At Gov­an, work also con­tin­ues on the mid-sec­tion of the sec­ond ship, Prince of Wales. Since the first steel was cut on this sec­tion in May last year, over 80 units of LB03 are cur­rent­ly in pro­duc­tion.

Half a dozen yards around the UK are involved in the car­ri­er project, with some 10,000 peo­ple direct­ly or indi­rect­ly involved in build­ing sec­tions, parts or pro­vid­ing equip­ment for what will be the largest ships ever built for Britain’s Navy.

At BAE’s sis­ter yard in Portsmouth, the final work is being car­ried out on Low­er Blocks 05 and 02 for Queen Eliz­a­beth.

Block 05 leaves for Rosyth the end of the month, 02 in May – but before they leave the con­struc­tion shed and are low­ered on to a barge, they have to be weighed.

Care­ful­ly-posi­tioned hydraulic jacks and sen­si­tive load cells con­vert force into an elec­tri­cal sig­nal which in turn is trans­lat­ed into an accu­rate mea­sure­ment of the block’s weight.

Paul Bow­sh­er of the Air­craft Car­ri­er Alliance, the com­bined BAE-Thales-Bab­cock and MOD Defence Equip­ment and Sup­port team work­ing on the huge project, said:

“Get­ting the weight and cen­tre of grav­i­ty right is real­ly impor­tant when it comes to arrang­ing for sec­tions to be safe­ly lift­ed – or moved by barge. We weigh each sec­tion at least three times to make sure the read­ings are accu­rate.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK