BAE floats largest aircraft carrier section onto the Clyde

Posted on 3 Aug 2015 by Callum Bentley

An 11,200 tonne aircraft carrier section has taken to the water for the first time in Glasgow, marking one of the final and most significant moments in the block build stage of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier programme.

Lower Block 04 is the largest hull section of HMS Prince of Wales and contains the hangar, machinery space, mission systems compartments and accommodation.     

A single remote control device and nearly 2,000 wheels were used to move it out of the ship build hall in Govan for the first time on Wednesday before it was driven carefully in the early hours of this morning onto a sea-going barge. It will now be sea-fastened ahead of its first voyage later in August to Rosyth where final assembly is taking place.       

Largest HMS Prince of Wales section floated onto Clyde. IMage courtesy of BAE Systems.
Lower Block 04 is 20 metres high, 80 metres long, and comprises a fifth of the overall aircraft carrier.

Mick Ord, managing director of BAE Systems Naval Ships, said: “The sheer scale and complexity of this hull section is awe-inspiring and a reminder of the incredible skill that exists within our workforce and across the industry. I want to thank everyone who has worked across this programme for their tremendous dedication to make this possible.           

“This is a significant moment as we approach the final block construction stages, but there’s still much more work to be done on this programme as we support the assembly, outfitting, mission systems integration and trials over the coming years with our partners at Rosyth.

“We are also now working on new projects, such as the River Class Batch 2 Offshore Patrol Vessels, and investing in new facilities, new technologies and new ways of working to ensure we can continue to compete as a world class naval engineering business.”   

Lower Block 04 is 20 metres high, 80 metres long, comprises a fifth of the overall aircraft carrier and is already significantly larger than the Type 45 destroyers, which were the last vessels to be delivered to the Royal Navy from Glasgow. The final two smaller sections of HMS Prince of Wales in Glasgow are scheduled for delivery by the end of the year.      

Lower Block 04 is being delivered ahead of schedule and with a more advanced level of outfitting due to the incorporation of lessons learnt during the construction of the first vessel. 

The aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a unique partnering relationship between BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock and the UK Ministry of Defence.     

The Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers will be the centre piece of Britain’s military capability. 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.