Thursday, May 26, 2011

Steel cut on second super-carrier

WORK has begun on the second of the biggest warships ever built for the Royal Navy with the first steel cut for HMS Prince of Wales.

Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox performed the honours at BAE Systems’ Govan shipyard, pressing the button on a computer-guided laser to cut the first piece of hull for the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier.
In a decade’s time the ship and her older sister HMS Queen Elizabeth will be the hub of Britain’s global defence policy, the launchpads for F35 Lightning II stealth fighter-bombers and helicopters.
For now, however, the two £5bn carriers are very much ‘works in progress’; they are being built in giant segments at six shipyards around the UK under the banner of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance before being assembled in a gigantic dry dock at Rosyth.

Construction of both ships requires an impressive national effort: over 10,000 people at more than 90 firms directly or indirectly toiling away on the ships or equipment for them.
It will take until around 2016 to complete Queen Elizabeth (R08) with her sister arriving a couple of years later.
The finished leviathans will provide naval airpower with a flight deck the size of three football pitches.
They will be driven through the seven seas by two 33-tonne propellers – nearly two and half times as heavy as a double decker bus – at a top speed in excess of 25 knots.
“This major construction project is creating and sustaining thousands of jobs in shipyards around the country,” said Dr Fox as he set the laser cutter going.
“We are committed to delivering this next generation of powerful British aircraft carriers that will mark a step change in our carrier strike capability and form the cornerstone of the Royal Navy’s Future Force 2020.”

Second Sea Lord, Vice-Admiral Charles Montgomery, who also attended the steel-cutting ceremony, added:
“The Queen Elizabeth Class will provide Britain with the means to deliver air power from the sea, wherever and whenever required, and in a stronger and more decisive form than ever before.
“They will undoubtedly prove a tremendous asset both to the Royal Navy and to the UK as a whole.”
Queen Elizabeth was laid down in July 2009; her bow has already been delivered to Rosyth where it will be attached to the rest of the ship eventually using a 223ft crane, aptly-named Goliath.


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