HMS Queen Elizabeth bows out

Joseph Bulmer

THE final modules for the bow section of what will become Britain’s largest and most powerful warship slipped quietly out of the River Torridge on Friday night, bound for Rosyth in Scotland.

The latest chapter in the ongoing story of Appledore’s �50 million involvement in the building of the huge aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales saw the four modules, weighing in at 1,050 tonnes, leave Appledore Shipbuilders on a barge, towed out of the river by tug for her seaward journey.

They followed two earlier sections of the bulbous bow, which left the yard a year ago, and sections of the flight deck, which left Appledore in 2009 and were among the first of the numerous pieces of the vessel which are being constructed in shipyards across the UK.

A small crowd of local people and shipyard workers gathered on the quayside on Friday night to say goodbye to the latest sections of the vessel, which have been worked on by some 300 employees of the Babcock Marine shipyard.

Attention at the yard is now turned to completing other modules of the huge vessel and her sister ship, which are being constructed there and at five other shipyards around the UK before finally assembly in Rosyth, under the banner of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, an innovative alliance comprising a number of industry participants and the MoD. Appledore’s part will provide work at the North Devon yard into 2015.

When completed, 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 2014 and HMS Prince of Wales in 2016.