BAE Systems has delivered a large section of hull for the UK Royal Navy’s second Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, to Rosyth, UK, for the final assembly of the vessel.
Claimed to be heavier than the complete Type-45 destroyer, the 8,000t lower block 03 will form the mid-section of the aircraft carrier’s hull, from the keel to the hangar deck.
BAE Systems programme director Iain Stevenson said: "This delivery is a significant milestone in the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier programme and marks the beginning of HMS Prince of Wales taking shape.
"The same section for HMS Queen Elizabeth was delivered just three years ago and it’s now a seamless part of the UK’s largest ever warship, so there is huge momentum behind the delivery of the second ship as we embark on the assembly phase once again."
Upon the anticipated structural completion by July 2016, Prince of Wales will start sea trials in January 2019, followed by acceptance in August of the same year.
The latest move comes within a month after the first aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth was christened, and days after the ship had been successfully floated and undocked.
Delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, an initiative involving BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock and the UK Ministry of Defence, both vessels will be the centrepiece of Britain’s defence capability for the 21st century.
The two 300m-long and 74m-wide vessels will boost sustained operations and can ferry an air wing of up to 40 aircraft, in addition to AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin HM2 multi-role rotorcraft and Merlin HC4 amphibious support helicopters.
Image: The 8,000t lower block 03 of HMS Prince of Wales being delivered. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.