Carriers cement Portsmouth as home of the navy, says council leader

VISIT The leader of Portsmouth City Council, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, at the Rosyth shipyard.
VISIT The leader of Portsmouth City Council, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, at the Rosyth shipyard.
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THE construction of two new carriers cements Portsmouth’s future as the home of the Royal Navy, the city’s council leader has said.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson visited the Rosyth dockyard yesterday to see the progress of the assembly of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

It comes as work on the first of two new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy approaches its final stages, with much of the structure now complete.

The council leader says the scale of the warships will mean a huge boost to the city’s economy when they arrive in a few years.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘Five years ago there was a real question mark about whether the navy would remain in Portsmouth.

‘We fought that off and it is going to have a huge effect. If we get up to 2,000 people on one ship then that means so much work will be done to support both the ship and the sailors.

‘That is going to have a major effect on jobs in Portsmouth.

‘The ship itself is wonderful, and it’s huge.

‘It was good to see the parts which were built in the city.’

The council leader was joined on the trip by the council’s chief executive, David Williams, and Anne-Marie Mountifield, the chief executive of the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership.

When complete and fully fitted out, HMS Queen Elizabeth will weigh in at 65,000 tonnes.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the first of two new aircraft carriers being delivered to the Royal Navy.

Sections of the second carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, are currently under construction at shipyards across the UK including Portsmouth.

Both ships will be based in Portsmouth.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to be launched some time next year.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson says he would like to see a celebration in Portsmouth to coincide with the event in Scotland.

‘I don’t think the occasion should only be marked in Scotland so it would be good to do something in Portsmouth as well,’ he added.’

HMS Queen Elizabeth is being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a partnership between BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock and the Ministry of Defence.

The programme director for the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, Ian Booth, said: ‘There are thousands of skilled men and women working on this programme and they should all feel proud of what they are accomplishing.

‘By the end of this year, HMS Queen Elizabeth will be fully assembled and we are already looking forward to her launch in 2014.’