MORE than 1,000 new jobs could be coming to Portsmouth sooner than expected after it was revealed work on the second of the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers was progressing ahead of schedule.
HMS Prince of Wales is the sister ship of HMS Queen Elizabeth and was expected to be ready for active service by about 2020.
The news comes just days after the 750-tonne aft island section of the Portsmouth-based ship arrived in Rosyth, Scotland – 10 weeks ahead of the planned date.
Portsmouth City Council leader Councillor Donna Jones has welcomed the progress and said it could mean big things for the city’s future economy.
She said: ‘This is great news for Portsmouth as we are going to see a massive economic boost for local employment as a result of this, particularly in the field of defence.
‘We expect around 1,000 jobs to be created in the Solent area.
‘If HMS Prince of Wales is completed sooner than expected it will speed up that job creation, ensuring Portsmouth will be the leading area in the maritime sector which is fantastic news.’
Once completed, the ship will weigh a mammoth 65,000 tonnes.
But Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said it was too early to jump to conclusions about when the carrier would arrive in Portsmouth.
The armed forces minister said: ‘Work is progressing very well on Prince of Wales, but there is much to happen between now and her coming into Portsmouth – in build and also her time during trials.
‘So just because she is ahead of schedule now doesn’t mean she will be in our harbour any earlier.’
Prince of Wales’s sister ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, was the first to begin construction and could have jets flying off her by 2018.
Project leaders estimate the construction of the two ships will cost more than £6bn. Each carrier will provide the armed forces with a four-acre military operating base which can be deployed worldwide.