Construction of HMS Prince of Wales, the second of the two new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy, started on Thursday at BAE Systems’ Govan shipyard on the Clyde.
Employees and guests gathered at the shipyard as Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox, was invited to press the button on the company’s plasma machine to cut the first steel for the vessel.
Fox said: “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. This major construction project is creating and sustaining thousands of jobs in shipyards around the country.”
BAE Systems is a member of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, working in partnership with Babcock, Thales and the Ministry of Defence to deliver the biggest and most powerful surface warships ever constructed in the UK. Sustaining thousands of skilled jobs throughout industry, work is well advanced with construction on the first of class HMS Queen Elizabeth underway at six shipyards across the country, including BAE Systems in Glasgow and Portsmouth, as well as Alliance partners at Appledore, Merseyside, Newcastle and Rosyth, where final assembly will take place.
Mick Ord, managing director of BAE Systems’ surface ships business, said: “The construction of these 65,000 tonne ships is a huge feat of engineering and the rapid progress we have made, with work starting today on the second carrier, clearly shows the skills and expertise we have across British industry.”
The company provides overall leadership and programme management to the QE Class programme. It also plays a central role in the design and build of the ships. Construction of the mid and stern sections of HMS Queen Elizabeth are underway at the company’s Govan yard while the forward and lower stern sections are in build at its Portsmouth facility.
BAE Systems is also set to begin work on the two island structures for the first ship, which house the bridge and air traffic control facilities in the coming months.
Second Sea Lord, Vice-Admiral Charles Montgomery, who also attended the steel cutting ceremony, said: “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. In addition they will be able to undertake a wide range of tasks including support to peace keeping operations and delivery of humanitarian aid in time of crisis.“