PORTSMOUTH Naval Base is about to undergo a major transformation ahead of receiving thousands of tonnes of new warships, The News can reveal.
By the end of the decade, the skyline at the home of the Royal Navy will look drastically different, with two giant carriers berthed in their new home port.
But first, major change must happen for the base to be able to support the new carriers and the rest of the future fleet, including Type 45 destroyers and Type 26 frigates.
The base commander, Commodore Jeremy Rigby, says the wheels are already in motion for a raft of changes to modernise the base including millions of pounds worth of investment.
Jetties need strengthening, cranes need replacing, and space needs to be arranged to handle the number of warships which will be based in Portsmouth in the future.
A solution also needs to be found as to how the ships will be supplied with electricity at such a high demand.
Cdre Rigby told The News: ‘The future of Portsmouth Naval Base has never been so promising and has never been so secure.
‘The priority will be making sure we can turn these ships around and get them out on operations.’
His vision for the future of the base comes amid a review of operations by shipbuilding firm BAE Systems, which could see the city’s shipyard close.
But the defence giant would still be running the maintenance of all the navy’s warships in Portsmouth, a task which will only grow as more ships are based here.
Cdre Rigby added: ‘I don’t think people understand that shipbuilding is a small piece of what goes on within the walls of the naval base.
‘Today we have got around 70,000 tonnes of warship that are based in Portsmouth.
‘By the end of the decade we will have more than 200,000 tonnes.
‘This is a return to the glory days.
‘The last time we had that number was in the 50s.’
The first of the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is expected to arrive in the city in 2016.
The carriers are the largest warships ever ordered in the navy’s history and will dwarf the north corner of the base.
Some estimates say there will be another 2,000 sailors living locally by the end of 2020.
Click here to find out more about the changes planned for Portsmouth