IT WILL be the most iconic part of the giant jigsaw puzzle that is the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier.
The forward island of HMS Queen Elizabeth is now being prepared for its journey from Portsmouth to Scotland where the warship is being pieced together.
Workers at the BAE Systems shipyard in the city’s naval base are putting the finishing touches on the island before it sails on a barge in the next few months.
And with all its windows fitted and painting complete, it looks ready for action.
Paul Bowsher is the Queen Elizabeth-class project director for BAE Systems in Portsmouth.
He said: ‘The forward island is an iconic part of HMS Queen Elizabeth so the delivery will be a very proud moment for us.
‘The next time we see the forward island back in Portsmouth, it will be towering above HMS Queen Elizabeth and the captain will be inside commanding the ship from the bridge we constructed.’
Over the last year, various blocks of the aircraft carrier have been constructed at shipyards around the country.
They have then been shipped off to Rosyth for the final assembly.
But the forward island is the first section to depart in completed colours with full paintwork applied.
A sticker of a crest has even been put into place showing where the real crest will eventually be installed.
The lifting frame, which is the size of a tennis court, is being installed around the island at the BAE Systems shipyard in Portsmouth.
This will enable the giant crane in Rosyth to lift it 56m into the air and place it on the ship.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is the first aircraft carrier to have two islands.
The forward island contains 83 compartments across its six decks, including the navigation bridge and observation bridge.
There are also numerous compartments for mission systems, along with a mess and cabins for the commanding officer and navigation staff.
The navigation bridge has 37 floor-to-ceiling windows, which are 2m tall and more than 40mm thick, enabling them to withstand significant impacts.
The carrier’s fog horn sounds at 146 decibels, and can be heard more than two miles away.
The aft island will operate as an airport control tower to co-ordinate aircraft movements.
Both islands are designed with the ability to incorporate the other’s role in an emergency, increasing the durability of the ship.
The mighty aircraft carrier, which will be Portsmouth-based, is to arrive in 2017.