A MAMMOTH section of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier rolled out of the yard in Portsmouth.
Hundreds of workers proudly watched the 6,000-tonne piece of HMS Queen Elizabeth slowly inch out of BAE Systems’ shipbuilding hall.
The section, called Lower Block 02, is the equivalent to 500 London double-decker buses.
It was rolled aboard a sea-going barge on a remote-controlled platform which had 2,304 wheels.
Lower Block 02 has taken 1,300 BAE workers 28 months to build in Portsmouth.
It is due to be transported to Rosyth, Scotland, where 65,000-tonne Queen Elizabeth carrier is being assembled. The provisional time for its departure is next Monday at 5pm.
Project manager Paul Bowsher said: ‘It’s a really proud moment. You can see by how many people who have turned out to watch this just how much it means to Portsmouth.’
The section is 80 per cent completed with cabins, toilets, sinks, showers, recreational areas and two large diesel engines fitted inside.
Mechanical supervisor Paul Jeran, 57, was among the hundreds of workers watching the section roll out.
He said: ‘When you are working on it, you don’t realise how much it’s taken shape. But when you’d go off on holiday and come back you’d be stunned about how far it had come along.
‘It’s an iconic moment for me personally. I saw the last ship launched at Portsmouth shipyard because my father worked on it and now I’m here working on this.
‘It’s a proud thing for the city to see such a big ship being built here. All the lads are so proud to see it go out.’
HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to be finished and launched in Rosyth in 2014. She will be based in Portsmouth in 2016.
Work on the second carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, started in Portsmouth earlier this year.