Production on HMS Prince of Wales, the second Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier, has started yesterday at BAE Systems in Portsmouth Naval Base – the future home of the Queen Elizabeth Class.
Work on the forward section of the hull, known as Lower Block 02, commenced as Commander-in -Chief Fleet Admiral George Zambellas cut the first steel in a ceremony at the company’s production facility. The huge section, which will weigh around 6,000 tonnes upon completion, will house the ship’s machinery spaces, stores and switchboards, as well as some of the accommodation, including 85 cabins.
Integration and testing of the ship’s complex mission system is currently underway at the company’s Maritime Integration and Support Centre on Portsdown Hill, whilst teams of engineers from BAE Systems and Thales are testing the advanced communications systems for the ships. Elsewhere in the Hampshire region, Southampton-based Kempsafe Limited has contracts to supply galley and laundry equipment on the vessels and Portsmouth-based Selex Communications is involved in the design of the Identification Friend or Foe system.
A significant plan of investment is underway to enhance the Naval Base, which will become the home of the two aircraft carriers when they enter service. The plan, which will cost approximately £140 million, includes the dredging the existing channel to Portsmouth to make it deeper and wider, and refurbishing the base’s jetties to ease access for both the QE Class and Type 45 fleet.
Each 65,000 tonne aircraft carrier will provide the 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.
The QE Class will be the centre piece of Britain’s military capability and will routinely operate at least 12 of the carrier variant Joint Strike Fighter jets, allowing for unparalleled interoperability with allied forces.
Dredging Today Staff, February 17, 2012; Image: baesystems