The huge bridge of the first of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers started her journey from Portsmouth to Scotland today.
The structure was eased by barge through Portsmouth Harbour en route to Rosyth. It brought to an end 70 weeks’ work on part of what will become the Royal Navy’s biggest aircraft carrier in history.
As the forward island of HMS Queen Elizabeth was moved out of Portsmouth Naval Base yesterday, proud workers spoke of their excitement about the new challenge ahead.
Everyone’s time and effort will now be ploughed into making part of HMS Prince of Wales at the base after the island, which contains 83 compartments across six decks, left the city on a barge to Rosyth.
Once it arrives it will be joined up with other parts of HMS Queen Elizabeth which have been made at shipyards across the country before the finished vessel comes back to Portsmouth sometime in 2017.
So far 38 out of 56 pieces which make up HMS Prince of Wales’ lower section behind the bow have been put in place.
By next year more than 300 people will be involved in getting all the work on the 6,000 tonne structure done.
It is due to leave Portsmouth and be joined up with other parts in 2014.
Paul Bowsher, who was Queen Elizabeth-class project director for BAE Systems, is also spearheading the new project and can’t wait for things to pick up pace.
‘The forward island of HMS Queen Elizabeth has now cleared up space in the hall so we can focus our attention on creating HMS Prince of Wales,’ he said.
‘These projects are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I’m incredibly proud to be a part of what’s happening here.
‘We’ve had a lot of support from people across the city.
‘Our delivering of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s forward island is iconic for us.’
Production manager Ralph Addison, 54, of Milton, said watching the huge segment of HMS Queen Elizabeth getting ready for its departure was a proud moment.
‘This is something that you can tell your grandchildren about,’ he said.
‘It’s amazing to thing that there’s more great things to come that are just around the corner.’
Electrical supervisor Kelvin Stevens, of Waterlooville, said: ‘We have just got to keep on going. It’s great that more incredible work is lined up for Portsmouth. People who are not directly involved may not realise how much this means to us.’