UK: Work Under Way on Another Giant Section of HMS Prince of Wales

Work Under Way on Another Giant Section of HMS Prince of Wales

Another giant section of the second of the Navy’s future aircraft carriers is beginning to take shape after work began in Scotland. Engineers at BAE’s Govan yard have started to create the 11,000-tonne Lower Block 04, which will house the engine rooms, sickbay and some mess decks of HMS Prince of Wales.

Workers at BAE’s Govan’s yard pause to reflect on another milestone in the Royal Navy’s future carrier programme as their colleague Lindsay Gray prepares to get work on another giant block of HMS Prince of Wales under way.

The 27-year-old pressed the button setting the plasma-cutting machine at the defence firm’s fabrication facility in motion. And thus did Lower Block 04 start to take shape.

When completed the block will weigh more than 11,000 tonnes – roughly one sixth of the total displacement of the leviathan which, with her sister HMS Queen Elizabeth, will be the largest warship ever to hoist the White Ensign.

The finished section will stand 23m (75ft) tall, stretch for 86m (282ft) – that’s as long as a Trafalgar-class submarine – and be 40m (131ft) wide. It will house two main engine rooms, a sickbay and accommodation for some of the 1,600 sailors and aircrew who will serve aboard.
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. As an engineering project, it’s a national effort second only to the Olympics.

The team at Govan are in the final stages of work on the identical section for HMS Queen Elizabeth – so big is Lower Block 04 that it is built in separate sheds at the Clyde yard which are carefully joined in a precision move.

That successfully took place over Easter and the engineers are now preparing the section for its move around Scotland to Rosyth, where the entire carrier ‘jigsaw’ is being completed.

Meanwhile, on the opposite bank of Glasgow’s great river, BAE’s other Clydeside yard at Scotstoun is making good progress on ‘flying control’ (aka Flyco in everyday Royal Navy parlance).

In a unique move in aircraft carrier design, the superstructure has been split into two islands – the forward one, being built in Portsmouth will contain the bridge among other things, the aft one will direct flight operations.

After her launch and trials, Queen Elizabeth is due to be handed over to the RN in four years’ time. She’ll begin flying training with F35 Lightning II jump jets from 2018.

Naval Today Staff, August 13, 2012; Image: Royal Navy