The silhouette of the Royal Navy’s second new aircraft carrier is largely complete after her aft island was lifted into place.
The enormous Goliath crane at Rosyth dockyard lifted the 750-tonne structure 25 metres in the air before manoeuvring it into place on the flight deck of HMS Prince of Wales.
Looking almost like a die-cast toy, the aft island of Britain’s newest warship is hoisted into place by one of the world’s biggest cranes.
The 750-tonne structure – weighing as much as a Hunt-class minehunter – was raised 25 metres into the air by the appropriately-named Goliath crane at Rosyth dockyard and then carefully manoeuvred into place on the flight deck of HMS Prince of Wales, the second of two new flat-tops being constructed on the northern shore of the Forth.
The island’s arrival was the last action at the yard in 2015 and installing it on the deck of the leviathan pretty much the first task of the new year.
The island is home to Flying Control (Flyco), which directs air operations on the vast flight deck below, and more than 100 other compartments, over 27 miles of cable, 1,000 pipes and stands more than seven double-decker buses tall.
It was built just three dozen miles from the carrier’s assembly site, but had to undergo a 1,335 journey by barge from BAE’s Govan yard on the Clyde, through the Irish Sea, up the Channel, past Dover and along the east coast rather than risk the shorter route via the Pentland Firth.
“This is a significant day for everyone working for the Aircraft Carrier Alliance –there’s a real sense of excitement to see this important section being assembled on the ship,” said Angus Holt, in charge of delivering the ship.
“With the second island on the flight deck of HMS Prince of Wales, the scale of the engineering and construction task that the alliance is undertaking is clearly visible.
“Thanks to the dedication of thousands of workers across the country we are proud to be delivering this critical capability to the Royal Navy.”
As the 750-tonne island settled on to the sprawling flight deck, it sealed into place a plaque positioned underneath it bearing the emblems of the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Army; despite the HMS ‘prefix’, the Prince and her older sister HMS Queen Elizabeth will be treated as national, rather than simply RN, assets.
As well as nearing physical completion outwardly – the final half a dozen blocks of the gigantic jigsaw will join the rest of the ship by the middle of the year – the spark of life and soul is being injected into the carrier before the end of January with the first ship’s company joining.
The carrier is due to be formally named (in place of a traditional launch ceremony) next year, before undergoing fitting out and trials. She will be handed over to the RN in 2019 and be fully ready for front-line duties around the globe from 2023.