WITH just one year to go until Portsmouth welcomes HMS Queen Elizabeth, work to get the naval base ready is well under way.
MP Mark Lancaster, who is minister for veterans, was given a tour of Portsmouth Naval Base and the changes being made to prepare for the two new aircraft carriers – the other being her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales.
It brings a smile to my face to see a project being delivered on time and in a professional way.Mark Lancaster
The North Corner section of the base have been transformed and will house maintenance buildings, office space and the jetty for the ship.
It will also have a 7,000sq m logistics centre and stores with food and other items that will be loaded onto the ship.
Development of the area started last year and should be finished in December for the arrival of the aircraft carriers in spring next year.
Mr Lancaster, the MP for North East Milton Keynes, said: ‘I am tremendously impressed at the level of planning that has happened for the two new carriers.
‘It brings a smile to my face to see a project being delivered on time and in a professional way.
‘It is not just about the £100m investment. It is about the whole new way of running the naval base.’
Mr Lancaster was shown around North Corner by James Davis, BAE Systems naval base services director, and Commodore Jeremy Rigby, naval base commander.
They showed Mr Lancaster the jetty which is being strengthened to support the 65,000-tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth as well as maintenance buildings and office space which will be for personnel working on the ship.
Four of the buildings, which are named after the Illustrious-class aircraft carriers, have been refurbished while one new building has been constructed.
Mr Davis said: ‘We hope to have the naval base ready to run some rehearsals before the ship arrives.
‘I am delighted that we are on track. That is one of the most important things and with some projects that is not always the case.’
Cdre Rigby praised the work on the naval base. He said: ‘This is the start of a new chapter for the Royal Navy and Portsmouth. I think when people see the ship come into the city and crane their necks back to look up at her, they will realise that this is a game-changer.
‘Portsmouth has always had pride in itself and it is the spiritual home of the Royal Navy.
‘Having such an incredible flagship sailing around the world and people knowing it came from Portsmouth will be something quite special.’
The carriers are the largest warships ever built in Britain.
The 65,000-tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to arrive in Portsmouth next spring, with HMS Prince of Wales set to based in the city from 2018.