One of Britain’s most respected actors dropped in on the country’s biggest engineering project: construction of the Royal Navy’s future carriers. Sir Ben Kingsley paid a surprise visit to Rosyth dockyard in Scotland, where the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is being pieced together.
He was shown around the yard, built just over a century ago to meet the challenge of the German Fleet and base in WW1 for Admiral Beatty’s battle-cruisers.
The docks built for those castles of steel proved too small for HMS Queen Elizabeth – one was extended to accommodate the 65,000-ton leviathan, which is nearing completion outwardly; the carrier just lacks two sections of flight deck and her two islands, all of which will be installed this year.
To move those gigantic pieces into place requires a very big crane – Goliath: its span is 120m (393ft) and it’s 68m (223ft) to the underside of the main beam, which is where the control cab sits.
That afforded Sir Ben an impressive view of the site and the carrier flight deck below. The 69-year-old Oscar-winning actor was also given a guided tour of Queen Elizabeth – which caused a few raised eyebrows among the workers at the Babcock yard.
“I did a double take when I saw him. The last person you expect to meet on a cold morning in Rosyth is a Hollywood star,” said heavy handling engineer Alex Keatings.
“He was really interested to learn more about the work we’re doing.”
The Oscar-winning actor has been looking into the possibility a Great War-themed film; he visited HMS Raleigh a couple of years ago as part of his research to see the inspiring painting of Jack Cornwell VC, the boy sailor posthumously awarded Britain’s highest military honour for his bravery at the Battle of Jutland.
Naval Today Staff, January 24, 2013; Image: Royal Navy