UK: Royal Navy Officer Steps Foot on Carrier Bridge for First Time

 Royal Navy Officer Steps Foot on Carrier Bridge for First Time

The first Royal Navy officer to be in charge of HMS Queen Elizabeth – one of two brand new aircraft carriers – has stepped foot on the bridge for the first time in Portsmouth dockyard.

Despite being surrounded by construction materials as this section of the gigantic ship takes shape, Captain Simon Petitt said it was an iconic moment to see how it will look in 2014.

Huge at 280 metres in length, 65,000 tonnes and capable of embarking 40 aircraft – twice the capacity of HMS Illustrious – the aircraft carrier is being constructed at shipyards across the country and will be assembled at Rosyth.

As the Senior Naval Officer, Capt Petitt is not the first Commanding Officer who will take the carrier to sea through her trials, but he is the Navy’s man in charge throughout the construction period.

“It is hugely exciting to be able to stand on the bridge of HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time,” said Capt Petitt.

“It really brings home the amazing ship that is being gradually revealed to my team in Rosyth.

“This forward island will be positioned on the ship early next year and then everyone will be able to identify her as an aircraft carrier.

“For now, however, it is wonderful to be able to stand where captains for the next 50 years will stand and steer the ship into operations that will protect our interests around the globe.”

ll sections of the hull are now complete and focus is turning to the construction of the two islands – one for commanding the ship and the other for controlling the flying operations (Flyco). These sections will be shipped up to Rosyth from Portsmouth and Scotstoun where workers will then piece the carrier together.

The Portsmouth section, of which Capt Petitt was given a guided tour, is known as Upper Block 07 (UB07) and is the remaining part of HMS Queen Elizabeth under construction in the naval base.

It consists of the main ship’s bridge, the observation bridge, the Commanding Officer’s day cabin and Navigator’s accommodation, with a total of 100 compartments across six decks.

The 850 tonne section will be taken to Rosyth in February after being loaded out from the Portsmouth Production Hall and secured to a barge for a five day transportation.

Paul Bowsher, QE Class Project Leader for BAE Systems in Portsmouth, said:

“The load out of UB07 will be a really proud moment for our team in Portsmouth as this is an iconic section of the Queen Elizabeth Carrier.

“We are looking forward to UB07 coming back into Portsmouth as part of the completed ship.”

Capt Petitt added:

“UB07 will be installed onto HMS Queen Elizabeth in March 2013; an event which will transform the overall appearance of the vessel and make it clearly identifiable as an aircraft carrier and fighting ship.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to be handed over to the Ministry of Defence in 2014, with sea trials starting in 2017. Production of the second carrier, the HMS Prince of Wales, has also started at Govan and Portsmouth dockyards.

Naval Today Staff, December 19, 2012; Image: Royal Navy