Construction Phase Commences on New British Aircraft Carriers
The nationwide programme to build the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers has passed another milestone today, as construction on the first ship, the Queen Elizabeth, began on the Mersey.
Minister for International Security and Strategy, Gerald Howarth, started the crane that laid the first of the steel plates for the ship’s giant flight deck.
Birkenhead company Cammell Laird is the final shipyard in the programme to begin construction. It will build two of the sections that will make up the ship’s flight deck, which will eventually be the size of three football pitches. Together they will weigh in at 7,500 tonnes – more than a Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer. The work is worth £44 million to Cammell Laird and will provide a significant number of jobs in the area, boosting the local economy.
As he toured the yard, the Minister met some of the 1,200 strong workforce involved in the project – including some of the 72 apprentices. He said: “Aircraft carriers represent a national asset for the UK. Power and versatility make them a formidable war fighting tool, and they are able to fulfil a wide range of requirements in an increasingly diverse and changing global defence landscape. The workers that I met today are rightly proud to be a part of it, and it’s particularly exciting to see so many young apprentices learning their trade on such a prestigious project.”
Six shipyards across the UK are involved in the massive construction project – Govan and Rosyth in Scotland, Portsmouth and Devon on the South coast of England, Newcastle and now Liverpool in the North – supporting around 10,000 jobs, with thousands more suppliers contributing with smaller contracts through the supply chain.
I am encouraged by this endorsement of the carrier project by a Government Minister and hope that this suggests that the two new carriers are safe in the defence review.
The dimensions are: 65,000 tonnes at full displacement; 56m from keel to masthead; 11m max draft (keel to waterline); 9 decks plus flight deck; 40 aircraft can be embarked.
Each ship weighs more than 40,000 average family cars.
Each ship will be similar size and weight as the retired ocean liner the QE2.
Their top speed could see the carriers cross from Dover to Calais in an hour.
Annual fuel consumption is expected to be very similar to that of the current Invincible Class Carriers which is impressive considering each ship is approximately three times the weight.
The flight deck is the size of three football pitches.
Each ship will have 1.5 million m2 of paintwork, which is 370 acres or slightly more than size of Hyde Park.
Each ship’s two propellers are 6.7m across and weigh 33 tonnes – nearly two & half times as heavy as a double decker bus and one & half times as high.
The anchors are 3.1m high and weigh 13 tonnes – almost as much as a double decker bus.
The aircraft lifts can move two Joint Combat Aircraft from the hangar to the flight deck in 60 seconds. They’re so powerful that together they could lift the weight of the entire ship’s crew.
80,000 tonnes of steel has been ordered for the two ships – three times that used in Wembley Stadium.