HMS Prince of Wales: Fendered Spacer Units installed at Portsmouth Naval Base as part of £30m project to make it ready for Royal Navy carrier's arrival

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THE finishing touches are being put on a £30m project to prepare the city's naval base for the arrival of HMS Prince of Wales

The Royal Navy's newest aircraft carrier, and sister ship to HMS Queen Elizabeth, is due to arrive in Portsmouth before the end of the year. 

Two huge fendered spacer units have been installed at the naval base. Picture: Defence Infrastructure Organisation'

Two huge fendered spacer units have been installed at the naval base. Picture: Defence Infrastructure Organisation'

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has been working with contractor VolkerStevin to deliver crucial infrastructure worth £30m to ensure the base’s second operational berth is ready in time.

One of the final pieces of the project was the installation of two huge fendered spacer units.

The units are identical to those which were installed on the Princess Royal Jetty for HMS Queen Elizabeth, however this time they have been constructed by Portsmouth company ML (UK) Ltd, rather than being brought in from overseas.

The structures, which measure 17.6m by 18.7m, slot into the jetty and move up and down with the tide to prevent the ship’s overhanging flight deck from colliding with the jetty.

The units took 11 months to build and have now been put into position at Victory Jetty.

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They were craned from ML (UK) Ltd’s yard into the water at Portsmouth Harbour, final trim checks were then carried out and the ballast weights moved to ensure the units were floating level. Finally, the units were towed to their new locations on the jetty face. 

Colin Efford, DIO’s project manager, said: ‘It’s fantastic to see the finishing touches being put to this important project which has made improvements to the existing Victory and Sheer jetties so they can support the 65,000-tonne new carrier.

‘We are pleased to be working with VolkerStevin and ML (UK) and to support a local company through the supply chain.

‘This has been a challenging but rewarding project and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deliver infrastructure for such a crucial Naval asset. We are proud to be playing our part to support future Naval capability.’

Martin Hobson, managing director of ML (UK) Ltd added: ‘As a local small to medium enterprise, which has worked for many years within the naval base, we are delighted to have been selected to manufacture and deliver the two FSUs for the second aircraft carrier berthing facilities. 

‘We have achieved a very high-quality product which has been delivered safely and in a timely fashion. The whole team is very proud to have worked on this local project.’

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Robert Herbert, project ,anager at VolkerStevin, said: ‘This project has been fantastic to work on and I’m proud VolkerStevin has played a central role in the delivery of this nationally significant and challenging infrastructure project.’

As well as providing the FSUs, the project has involved refurbishing Victory Jetty to extend its life for more than 50 years, the construction of a new mooring dolphin, and a second high voltage electrical system which feeds the carrier through a new hydraulic boom.