Latest aircraft carrier shipment leaves North Devon yard.
SHIPBUILDERS in Appledore have celebrated the latest chapter in their ongoing involvement with the construction of two huge aircraft carriers.
The two 400 tonne bow sections that sailed out on the high tide at Friday teatime formed the fourth shipment to leave the Babcock facility since 2009.
The steel sections of the HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier are being dispatched by sea going barge to Babcock’s sister yard at Rosyth in Scotland.
The HMS Prince of Wales and her sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth will be the largest ships ever built in the British Isles.
Secetions are being built at five other shipyards around the UK before final assembly in Rosyth, the only shipyard in the UK large enough to take on such a massive construction.
Appledore’s £50 million involvement in the building of the two ships will provide work for around 300 people at the yard into 2015.
Sections of the HMS Queen Elizabeth flight deck left Appledore in August 2009, followed by sections of the bulbous bow in 2010. Four more modules left the yard in March last year.
Around 20 regular shipments are scheduled to leave the yard as part of the seven-year £3.9billion Ministry of Defence project.
Andy Hamilton, shipbuild director at Appledore, said: “Almost two years after completing the bow sections for the first carrier we are again celebrating an important step in the carrier programme and our workforces’ considerable contribution to this national project.
“The sheer scale of the bow section represents the hard work and the depth and breadth of Babcock’s engineering skills here at Appledore.”
Aircraft Carrier Alliance programme director, Geoff Searle, added; “This is another tremendous milestone in the programme to deliver the nation’s flagships.”
When complete, the two carriers will be a similar size and weight to the ocean liner QE2 with 65,000 tonnes displacement, a length of 280 metres and a total height from keel to masthead of 56 metres.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to enter service in 2016 and HMS Prince of Wales in 2018.