First steel cut for second QE class aircraft carrier

The first steel for the HMS Prince of Wales, the second of the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, was cut by UK defence secretary Dr Liam Fox earlier today.

Fox started the computer-guided laser to cut the first piece of hull for the ship at a ceremony at the BAE Systems shipyard in Govan.

The 65,000-tonne Queen Elizabeth class carriers, the largest ships ever built for the Royal Navy, are being built by an alliance of BAE, Babcock, Thales UK and the Ministry of Defence, and will give the Royal Navy a 16,000m2 military operating base that can be deployed worldwide.

Each carrier will have nine decks, plus a flight deck the size of three football pitches and two propellers weighing 33 tonnes — nearly two-and-a-half times as heavy as a double-decker bus — producing a maximum speed of more than 25 knots (46km/hr).

Major sections of the HMS Prince of Wales will be constructed at six shipyards around the UK and transported to Rosyth dockyard in Fife for assembly.

Construction of the HMS Queen Elizabeth is well under way, with completed components already being brought together at Rosyth where they will be assembled with the help of the UK’s largest crane, a 223ft-high (68m) structure known as ’Goliath’.

Completion of the first carrier is expected towards the end of the decade.

Click here to read guest blogger David Downs discuss the work taking place to deliver the QE class programme.