First UK aircraft carrier centre blocks completed

Pictured are Cammell Laird's head of construction Jeff Jones, project director John Drummond and steelwork supervisor Joe Dawber.
Pictured are Cammell Laird’s head of construction Jeff Jones, project director John Drummond and steelwork supervisor Joe Dawber.

Cammell Laird has completed its first aircraft carrier centre blocks for a second ship set to become the centrepiece of Britain’s military capability.

The Birkenhead marine and engineering services company has fabricated and outfitted two blocks for the new PRINCE OF WALES aircraft carrier, which are being transported by sea to the Rosyth shipyard in Scotland.

Construction of the blocks began in July 2013 and has involved a workforce of 250 including contractors. Cammell Laird is playing a key role in the aircraft carrier project, the biggest UK engineering project since the London Olympics.

John Drummond, Cammell Laird project director, said: “This showcases our key skills in fabrication, steel and pipe work, and Cammell Laird’s ability to build large modules for the maritime, offshore and nuclear sectors. This work includes exceptionally-advanced levels of engineering, particularly in welding technology.

“Critically, it also highlights what Cammell Laird can do in the ship conversion market. We can build a block and have it ready for when the ship arrives for conversion.”

Cammell Laird built nine units for the first aircraft carrier, HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, and is now building six units for the second. The latest phase is currently on-time and on-budget. A further four blocks will be delivered around August 2015.

The new centre blocks are being transported from Merseyside to Rosyth on a barge pulled by an ocean-going tug over four to five days.

Mr Drummond said young apprentices have had the opportunity to work on the project too, gaining great experience in welding and fabricating.

The two latest blocks, known as CB02 Ring F and Ring G, are 40 metres wide, 15 metres deep and 10 metres tall. Ring F weighs 942 tonnes while Ring G is 642 tonnes.

The UK’s QE Class aircraft carrier project has created or sustained around 10,000 jobs across six UK shipyards.

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