News

Huge carrier block arrives in Rosyth
22 August 2011

The largest section of the Navy's new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth yet completed has safely arrived in Rosyth after being towed around Scotland

Picture: LA(Phot) Pepe Hogan, FRPU North

MAKING its way gingerly up the Forth, this is the largest section of HMS Queen Elizabeth yet completed.

Looming in the distance, the imposing blue outline of the Goliath crane which will help to piece the 65,000-tonne carrier together in the specially-altered dry dock at the Babcock’s Rosyth yard.

This 8,000-tonne segment – Lower Block 03 to give it its official title – of the ship was towed 600 miles around the Scottish coast from one great artery, the Clyde, to another, the Forth, during a five-day operation. It safely arrived early on Saturday evening.

It took shipwrights at BAE Systems’ Govan yard two years to complete the section, which is more than 20 metres (65ft) high, 60 metres (196ft) long and 40 metres (131ft) wide. In addition to machinery spaces, it contains cabins for more than 150 members of the ship’s company and part of the vast hangar.

Lower Block 03 is the latest section of the 65,000-tonne warship to be built in six shipyards around the UK and transported to the Forth.

One of the largest cranes in the UK – its span is 120m (393ft) and it’s 68m (223ft) to the underside of the main beam – Goliath has been assembled in Rosyth to move sections of Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales weighing up to 1,000 tonnes each. It’s due to be ready to start work next month.

While the ship section made its 600-mile journey around Scotland, a team of 50 cyclists were following its progress – determined to ‘beat the block’ to the Forth.

The cyclists, drawn from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Cycling Association plus workers from BAE and Babcock, had around 430 miles to cover in five days – fewer than the tug, but the latter didn’t have to contend with the rugged Scottish terrain.

Stopping at Fort William, Elgin, Peterhead, and St Andrews, the riders intended to raise more than £10,000 for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity in the process.

The cyclists did indeed ‘beat the block’, arriving in Rosyth about six hours before the section, having received considerable encouragement – and cash – from locals on their epic ride, such that they’d surpassed their target by £250 by the time they reached their destination. (The appeal fund is still open at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/beattheblock.)