Cammell Laird completes centre blocks for second UK aircraft carrier
Cammell Laird has completed its first centre blocks for a second aircraft carrier set to become the centrepiece of Britain’s military capability.
PHOTOS: Top, from left, Cammell Laird head of construction Jeff Jones, project director John Drummond and steelwork supervisor Joe Dawber. Others: the centre blocks in Cammell Laird’s wet basin and on the River Mersey.
The Birkenhead marine and engineering services company has fabricated and outfitted two blocks for the new PRINCE OF WALES aircraft carrier, which are being transported by sea to the Rosyth shipyard in Scotland.
Construction of the blocks began in July 2013 and has involved a workforce of 250 including contractors. Cammell Laird is playing a key role in the aircraft carrier project, the biggest UK engineering project since the London Olympics.
John Drummond, Cammell Laird project director, said: “This showcases our key skills in fabrication, steel and pipe work, and Cammell Laird’s ability to build large modules for the maritime, offshore and nuclear sectors. This work includes exceptionally-advanced levels of engineering, particularly in welding technology.
Critically, it also highlights what Cammell Laird can do in the ship conversion market. We can build a block and have it ready for when the ship arrives for conversion.”
Cammell Laird built nine units for the first aircraft carrier, HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, and is now building six units for the second. The latest phase is currently on-time and on-budget. A further four blocks will be delivered around August 2015.
The new centre blocks are being transported from Merseyside to Rosyth on a barge pulled by an ocean-going tug over four to five days.
Mr Drummond said young apprentices have had the opportunity to work on the project too, gaining great experience in welding and fabricating.
The two latest blocks, known as CB02 Ring F and Ring G, are 40 metres wide, 15 metres deep and 10 metres tall. Ring F weighs 942 tonnes while Ring G is 642 tonnes.
The UK’s QE Class aircraft carrier project has created or sustained around 10,000 jobs across six UK shipyards.
BACKGROUND ON QE CLASS AIRCRAFT CARRIERS
HMS QUEEN Elizabeth and PRINCE OF WALES are two new ships being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a unique partnering relationship between BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock and the UK Ministry of Defence. BAE Systems has an overarching role in managing the QE Class programme, as well as playing a central role in the design and build of the ships.
The QE Class will be the centrepiece of Britain’s military capability. Each 65,000 tonne aircraft carrier will provide the armed forces with a four acre military operating base which can be deployed worldwide. The vessels will be versatile enough to be used for operations ranging from supporting war efforts to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
Cammell Laird was awarded the contract by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance in late 2009 and began an extensive process of preparing its Birkenhead facilities, including its modular construction hall, to accommodate the manufacture of the huge steel structures.
In May 2012, the company completed the first five modules of the project known as Centre Block 02. These massive modules weighing between 583 tonnes and 927 tonnes each and a combined weight of 3,500 tonnes were transported by ocean-going barge on a five-day journey from Cammell Laird to Rosyth near Edinburgh. The final two of a total of nine upper block units constructed by Cammell Laird, known as Centre Blocks 04C and 04D, left the shipyard in March 2013.
The aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, will be the largest ships ever built for the Royal Navy, nearly three times the size of the current Invincible-class carriers.