UK Aircraft Carrier’s Center Blocks Completed
Cammell Laird has completed its first center blocks for a second aircraft carrier set to become the centerpiece of Britain’s military capability.
The Birkenhead marine and engineering services company has fabricated and outfitted two blocks for the new Prince of Wales aircraft carrier, which are now being transported by sea to the Rosyth shipyard in Scotland. Construction of the blocks began in July 2013 and has involved a workforce of 250 including contractors.
The two latest blocks, known as CB02 Ring F and Ring G, are 40 meters wide, 15 meters deep and 10 meters tall. Ring F weighs 942 metric tons while Ring G is 642 metric tons.
John Drummond, Cammell Laird project director, said, “This showcases our key skills in fabrication, steel and pipe work, and Cammell Laird’s ability to build large modules for the maritime, offshore and nuclear sectors. This work includes exceptionally-advanced levels of engineering, particularly in welding technology.
“Critically, it also highlights the extensive capabilities Cammell Laird can offer the ship conversion market. We can build a bespoke block and have it ready for when a ship arrives for conversion. This ensures the vessel can get back into operation as quickly as possible saving the customer time and money.”
Cammell Laird built nine units for the first aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, and is now building six units for the second. The latest phase is currently on-time and on-budget. A further four blocks will be delivered around August 2015.
The new center blocks will be transported from Merseyside to Rosyth on a barge pulled by an ocean-going tug over four to five days. Drummond said Cammell Laird apprentices have had the opportunity to work on the project too, gaining important experience in welding and fabricating.
Background on QE Class Aircraft Carriers
HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales are two new ships being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a unique partnering relationship between BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock and the U.K. Ministry of Defense. BAE Systems has an overarching role in managing the QE Class program, as well as playing a central role in the design and build of the ships.
The QE Class will be the centerpiece of Britain’s military capability. Each 65,000-metric-ton 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.
Cammell Laird was awarded the contract by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance in late 2009 and began an extensive process of preparing its Birkenhead facilities, including its modular construction hall, to accommodate the manufacture of the huge steel structures.
In May 2012, the company completed the first five modules of the project known as Center Block 02. These massive modules weighing between 583 metric tons and 927 metric tons each and a combined weight of 3,500 metric tons were transported by ocean-going barge on a five-day journey from Cammell Laird to Rosyth near Edinburgh. The final two of a total of nine upper block units constructed by Cammell Laird, known as Center Blocks 04C and 04D, left the shipyard in March 2013.
The aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, will be the largest ships ever built for the Royal Navy, nearly three times the size of the current Invincible-class carriers.