HMS Queen Elizabeth catches fire in Fife dockyard

HMS Queen Elizabeth at Babcock's Rosyth Dockyard in Fife. Picture: Jane Barlow
HMS Queen Elizabeth at Babcock's Rosyth Dockyard in Fife. Picture: Jane Barlow
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THE Royal Navy’s largest ever warship, under construction at a dockyard in Fife, was hit by a blaze onboard today.

Initially there were fears that 21 workers assembling the HMS Queen Elizabeth at Rosyth were unaccounted for.

However, that situation quickly changed and all personnel were located safely.

A spokesman for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that they were alerted to a blaze on one of the decks at 6.37am.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is undergoing final assembly at Rosyth Dockyard and is due to be named by the Queen in a ceremony on Friday July 4.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service sent six appliance from across Fife to deal with the incident.

A spokeswoman said: “We got the call at 6.37am. We had in attendance six appliances and three officers.

“At first there was 21 people unaccounted for but they have all been accounted for now.

“We had four breathing apparatus, two emergency response teams, a main jet and a thermal imaging camera in use.”

It was extinguished by 8.25pm and was confirmed as being caused by insulation on fire in one of the ship’s compartments.

Seven shipyards across the UK have contributed to construction of two aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, including BAEs yards on the Clyde.

Final assembly of both is taking place at Babcock Marine’s yard in Rosyth.

A spokeswoman for BAE said: “We can confirm that on June 5 6.40am, smoke was detected in a tank onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth which is suspected to have originated from insulation near the bottom of the ship.

“We can also confirm that as a standard precaution, employees and contractors were evacuated and no-one was injured during this incident.

“This has had no impact to the Queen Elizabeth Class programme. The health and safety of everyone working at Rosyth remains our number one priority”.

The operating budget for construction of the two ships is £5.9 billion

At 280m in length and 70m width, the carriers will be the largest ships ever to enter service with the Royal Navy.

Weighing in at 65,000 tonnes, they will be home to as many as 1,600 men and women and will operate a mix of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

However, questions remain as to the final fate of the HMS Prince of Wales. The Strategic Defence Review of 2010 declared that the UK only needed one carrier, but it was found that cancelling the construction of the second vessel would be more expensive than building it.

A decision on whether to sell the ship, mothball it, or commission it for the Royal Navy will be taken in 2015.

The carriers are being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a partnership between BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock and the UK Ministry of Defence.