The second of the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy, the Queen Elizabeth Class carrier HMS PRINCE OF WALES, was given the royal seal of approval when HRH The Prince of Wales, (or Duke of Rothesay as he is referred to in Scotland), visited Babcock’s Rosyth Facilities and signaled for the final section to be lowered into place.
The 570-tonne block – known as Sponson 11 – was the final section of the 280-metre-long warship to be manufactured. In an historic moment, HRH Duke of Rothesay gave the order for the massive section, which includes part of the flight deck, to be lowered into place by the Goliath crane. This allows the final welding to start in order to make the carrier structurally complete.
Ian Booth, Managing Director of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, said: “By the end of July we will have finished welding the final section together and the ship will be structurally complete, thanks to the commitment, skills and experience of the Alliance workforce. The team will now embark on the next phase of the ship’s construction. This involves extensive outfitting, testing and commissioning of her propulsion and mission systems, as the ship is brought to life. The ship will then start her harbour trials here in Rosyth before setting off for sea trials in 2019.”
John Howie, Chief Executive - Marine & Technology Division, Babcock International, and a member of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance’s Management Board, said: “This moment marks the end of eight years of manufacturing for the Queen Elizabeth Class programme at our six shipyards across the UK. I know I speak on behalf of more than 10,000 workers who have contributed to the design and build of the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers when I say we are honoured to have HRH Duke of Rothesay here to mark this important occasion.”
Captain Ian Groom MBE, Senior Naval Officer for HMS PRINCE OF WALES, said: "We were delighted to have HRH Duke of Rothesay here today to mark such a significant milestone in the life of the ship, drawing the construction phase of the Royal Navy's second Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier to a close. The focus now moves to commissioning the ship and my team will continue to work with their industry partners to bring her to life ahead of sea trials."
HMS PRINCE OF WALES will be delivered off contract in 2019.
The Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and HMS PRINCE OF WALES will each be able to accommodate up to 40 rotary and fixed wing aircraft, including F-35B Lightning II.
Each 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier will provide the UK 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.
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.
A national endeavour, at its peak the programme directly employed 10,000 people across six build yards. While manufacturing and commissioning is now solely focused at Babcock International’s Rosyth Facilities, the skilled and diverse workforce is sourced from across the country.
The Goliath crane has a lift capacity of 1,000 tonnes and is the largest in Britain.