BAE completes final hull section of HMS Prince of Wales
BAE Systems has completed the final section of the hull for the UK Royal Navy's second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales.
Dubbed Lower Block 02, the 6,000t section, which is set to be delivered to Rosyth, Scotland, will form the distinctive forward hull section of the aircraft's hull and was moved out of the shipyard on 2,000 wheels.
After the expected structural completion by July 2016, HMS Prince of Wales will embark on sea trials in January 2019, followed by acceptance tests in August the same year.
The latest move follows the christening of the first aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and its successful first floating and undocking.
The two 300m-long and 74m-wide vessels will boost sustained operations and can accommodate an air wing of up to 40 aircraft, as well as AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin HM2 multirole rotorcraft and Merlin HC4 amphibious support helicopters.
However, the latest project was the final one undertaken by BAE Systems in Portsmouth, which ends its shipbuilding operations as part of previously agreed plans.
BAE Systems naval ships managing director Mick Ord said: "We have made positive progress in supporting employees to retrain or redeploy to alternative positions within BAE Systems and to find roles with external companies.
"We are committed to continuing our extensive efforts with our Trade Unions, employees and external stakeholders to explore all potential opportunities for further mitigation to minimise the need for compulsory redundancies."
The Portsmouth shipyard will be returned to the UK Ministry of Defence later this year.
Image: Last month, BAE delivered the 8,000t lower block 03 of HMS Prince of Wales. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.