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Glasgow, Scotland - Construction of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of two new aircraft carriers being built for the UK Royal Navy, took a significant step forward today, as the two giant sections of Lower Block 04 (LB04) were brought together for the first time in a precision move
Almost the full length of a football pitch, the structure and largest section of hull under construction is so large that it stretches beyond the doors of the ship build hall in which it sits.
Using a fleet of 132 remote controlled transporters, a huge section, weighing over 4,000 tons, was carefully manoeuvred 100 meters across specially reinforced concrete. In a two-hour move, the section was carefully lined up with the rest of the block, which will collectively form the aft section of the hull. Workers will now conduct the painstaking process of aligning the units and closing the five-centimeter gap over the next week, in preparation for welding the block together.
“Bringing together Lower Block 04 marks the beginning of an exciting stage in the block’s life,” said Steven Carroll, Queen Elizabeth Class Project Director at BAE Systems. “Once the link-up is complete, the team will shift their focus back to the outfitting of the block, including installing 12,000 pipes and 100,000 kilometers of cables, ahead of her departure to Rosyth later this year.”
Housing the two main engine rooms, a medical area and accommodation, LB04 will weigh over 11,000 tons on completion, standing over 23 meters tall, 86 meters long and 40 meters wide. The block, which will be transported to Rosyth in the Autumn, will be the last hull section of HMS Queen Elizabeth to arrive and will join the other units and sections of the ship in dry dock where she is being assembled.
At Govan, work also continues on the mid section of the second ship, HMS Prince of Wales. Since the first steel was cut on this section in May last year, over 80 units of LB03 are currently in production. Meanwhile, workers at BAE Systems in Portsmouth are gearing up for the transit of Lower Block 05 and Lower Block 02 of HMS Queen Elizabeth to Rosyth at the end of April and May respectively.
The aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a unique partnering relationship between BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock and the UK Ministry of Defense. BAE Systems has an overarching role in managing the QE Class program, as well as playing a central role in the design and build of the ships.