The final hull section of the UK’s new aircraft carrier has arrived at Rosyth dockyard following a 1,200 mile journey around the south coast.
The 11,300 tonne aft section of hull for HMS Queen Elizabeth, known as Lower Block 04 (LB04), made its way under the Forth bridges shortly before 11am yesterday.
It left BAE Systems’ yard on the Clyde last Sunday. The section has travelled all the way around the south coast to reach the Fife assembly site.
The block is the largest section of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of two new aircraft carriers being constructed by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance. It will be the Royal Navy’s largest ever warship.
Programme director Ian Booth said: “LB04 is the largest section of HMS Queen Elizabeth, and the final part of the hull to make the journey.
“This marks a huge milestone for the programme to deliver the nation’s flagships.
“Now it is at Rosyth the hard work continues, as we begin the massive task of joining it to the sections of HMS Queen Elizabeth already in place.”
A complex engineering effort will soon begin, to float the block off the barge and move it into position in the dock. Once it is in place, the dock will be drained and work to integrate the sections will begin.
Six UK shipyards are involved in building various parts of the ship. The vessel will not be finished until 2016 at the earliest, and may not be ready for active service until 2020, when it will be based in Portsmouth.
The navy is expected to have no aircraft carriers between 2014, when HMS Illustrious is taken out of service, and 2016, when HMS Queen Elizabeth is completed. The government decided to retire the HMS Ark Royal and its fleet of Harrier jump jets in 2011, five years early.