Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Aircraft carrier hull moved out of Portsmouth plant

A 6,000-tonne section of hull from the new HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier has been moved out of a Portsmouth shipbuilding plant.

Using remote controlled transporters, a team transferred Lower Block 02 across the BAE Systems shipbuild hall onto a sea-going barge.

The entire operation took about six hours.

Next week it is due to travel 600 miles (960km) to Rosyth in Fife where the ship is being assembled in dry dock.

Steven Carroll, Queen Elizabeth Class project director at BAE Systems, said: "The load out of Lower Block 02 marks another great achievement for the team here in Portsmouth and comes only two weeks after the first section of the hull was transported to Rosyth.

'Nation's flagships'

"The size and complexity of the block not only highlights the skill and pride of our workforce, but demonstrates the huge amount of progress which continues to be made on the programme to deliver the nation's flagships."

Since the first steel was cut in February 2010, the team has worked to construct Lower Block 02 which stands more than 20m (66ft) high, 70m (230ft) long and 40m (131ft) wide.

BAE in Portsmouth
Work on the new aircraft carrier has been carried out at BAE in Portsmouth

Construction of the forward island for HMS Queen Elizabeth, which will control vessel navigation and house the ship's bridge, is also underway at Portsmouth.

Work on Lower Block 02 for the second ship, HMS Prince of Wales, continues after production began in February.

A plan of investment is under way to upgrade the Portsmouth base in order to accommodate the ships, BAE said.

The plan includes dredging the existing channel to make it deeper and wider, and refurbishing the jetties to ease access for both the QE Class and Type 45 fleet.

The QE Class will be the centre piece of Britain's military capability.

Each 65,000-tonne 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.

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