THE first steel has been cut to begin work on the second of the Royal Navy’s new carriers in Portsmouth.
Admiral George Zambellas this morning pressed a red button to begin a laser machine which cut the first plate of steel for HMS Prince of Wales.
It comes as Portsmouth shipbuilders’ work on the first 6,000-tonne section of the first carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, nears completion ahead of it being shipped on a large barge up to Rosyth in Scotland where the carriers are being assembled.
Adml Zambellas said: ‘These two magnificent ships, the Prince of Wales and her sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth, will be in service for 50 years.
‘They will be pivotal in our ability to project power and influence at range for decades to come. In such, they are a clear statement of strategic intent. These are no ordinary warships.’
The steel cutting comes as BAE Systems posted a seven per cent fall in its full-year profits today.
Speculation continues to build that the defence giant is looking to move its shipbuilding operations away from Portsmouth as it conducts a review of its business.
But Mick Ord, managing director of BAE Systems naval ships, which is based in Portsmouth, would not be drawn on the issue today.
He said: ‘No decisions have been made. We are doing a review and we are not working to any fixed time scale.
‘What we are doing is a proper review of what our capabilities are not just in Portsmouth but across the UK to continue to deliver complex warships.’