First parts of navy’s new carriers set to leave Portsmouth

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THE first Portsmouth-built section of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier is almost ready to leave the dockyard.

A 300ft barge will arrive at Portsmouth Naval Base at 8.30am on Sunday to take the 1,820-tonne stern section of HMS Queen Elizabeth up to Scotland later this month.

The section – called Lower Block 05 – has taken BAE Systems 15 months to build.

It consists of two large steel rings which will be loaded out of the shipbuilding hall and onto Viking 7 barge by engineers using a 176-wheel remote-controlled platform vehicle.

Lower Block 05 will then be welded into place before the barge sets sail on a 500-mile voyage to Rosyth dockyard on Sunday, April 29.

It is due to take the barge four days to get to Rosyth, which is the only UK shipyard large enough to assemble all the parts of the navy’s new 65,000-tonne warships.

The project – which is spread across six UK sites – has been described as ‘the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle’.

Portsmouth workers are also nearing the completion of a mid-section of Queen Elizabeth’s hull called Lower Block 02.

Work on the block, which weighs 6,000-tonnes, began in February 2010.

It is due to be loaded out onto a barge on May 15 prior to sailing north on May 25.