Change of scenery

Guest blogger
ACA Engineering Director

David is employed by BAE Systems, and is responsible for all the engineering work being carried out on the QE Class programme. Previously, he was design manager for HMS Ocean, Albion and Bulwark, and was chief engineer on the Type 45 Destroyer programme.

The view from the office window in Rosyth has now markedly changed!  At the end of the newly refurbished and widened dry dock in which the two aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales will be assembled there is now a ship with a very large “goliath” crane on board.  This crane which is the largest in the UK in terms of lift capacity, has recently arrived from China and attracted quite a lot of coverage in the press as it squeezed under the Forth Bridges with only a couple of metres to spare. When the current spate of high winds has passed, work is going to start in erecting the towers that will be used to lift the main crane beam up to its working height and reassembling the lower section of the legs to the uppers. The crane will then be wheeled ashore onto its crane rails and commissioned ready for its first large lift of an upper block of the aircraft carrier structure in September.

Lower Block 02 comprising the forward machinery spaces and compartments above is also now nearing structural completion at Portsmouth with connection of the first two rings F and G due to be completed shortly.

Back in Govan the largest of the blocks Lower Block 04 is also progressing.  The first of the Advanced Induction Propulsion Motors manufactured by Converteam in Rugby arrived at Govan in February and is now installed onto its seat within LB04. At about the same time the two main diesel generators from Wartsilla arrived at Govan by ship and these have also been successful installed onto their seats, which made for some great pictures.  These operations went extremely smoothly building on the lessons learned from the installation of the forward diesel generators at Portsmouth.  With all these ship movements the AIS (Automatic Identification System) has proved great value, so that we can monitor the progress of ships carrying cranes or diesel generators and tugs towing barges from our laptops in the office or even at home.

Looking forward, at the end of March, we shall be holding a supplier conference at the historic dockyard at Portsmouth.  This is an important opportunity for the Aircraft Carrier Alliance to get together with the wider supply chain who are supplying the millions of parts, equipment and systems that together make up the entire aircraft carrier.  This is an excellent opportunity to get representatives of all the companies contributing to this huge enterprise together to share experiences and best practice. This is especially important for the ACA due to the wide variety and numerous locations which make up the base of our supply chain. With a project of this size it is vital that every link in the supply chain has the strength and capacity to make the best contribution possible in delivering these ships. So far we have found that suppliers right across the programme are delivering well and having the opportunity to bring them all together en masse gives us the chance to identify any potential issues before they become problems. This support to our contractors helps each and every one of them delivers their part of the work share to the highest possible standard and more importantly as part of a successful UK PLC team.