The most iconic section of the second Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier has been loaded out of its dock hall in Glasgow ahead of its first sea voyage to Rosyth.
Upper Block 07 is where HMS Prince of Wales will be commanded atop the flight deck and is known as the Forward Island. As the main hub of the ship it contains the bridge and approximately 100 vital mission systems compartments.
The Forward Island has been under wraps in Govan since construction on the section began in December 2013, but it is now visible from the west end of Glasgow.
Mick Ord, managing director at BAE Systems Naval Ships, said: “This is a fantastic milestone for HMS Prince of Wales as its Forward Island is delivered ahead of schedule and to an exceptional standard of engineering. It’s a proud day for everyone on the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier programme and an important reminder of their tremendous dedication and skill in naval engineering.”
A single remote control and 144 wheels were used to drive the 680 tonne Forward Island from inside the ship build hall to the dock side at a careful half a mile per hour.
The Forward Island will make another short journey tomorrow onto a waiting barge where it will remain on the Clyde until its departure from Glasgow next Friday 24 April.
The transportation team will spend next week ensuring the Forward Island is secured for its sea voyage. It will then sail down the Clyde and around the north coast of Scotland on a five day voyage to Rosyth where final assembly is taking place.
The Queen Elizabeth Class are the first aircraft carriers to use an innovative twin island design. The second ‘Aft Island’ operates as an airport control tower to co-ordinate aircraft movements, but both islands are designed with the ability to incorporate the other’s role in an emergency, thus increasing the survivability of the ship.
The Forward Island has deck-to-deck windows, which are up to two metres tall to ensure a level of visibility far beyond previous aircraft carriers and are designed to withstand a significant impact, such as a helicopter’s spinning rotor blade.
The 65,000 tonne Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers will be the centre piece of the UK’s military capability.