Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

UK's Biggest Jigsaw Finally Completed: Aircraft-Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth

12th November 2013
UK's Biggest Jigsaw Finally Completed: Aircraft-Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth

#QEaircraftcarriers - On Armistice Day the massive hull of the Royal Navy's newbuild 65,000 tonnes aircraft-carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, was finally completed with the 'ski-ramp' slotted into place at Rosyth Dockyard, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The facility on the Forth of Fife is one of three Scottish shipyards that despite job losses are to remain open in the UK and continue building warships for the Royal Navy, following recent plans to close the shipyard in Portsmouth in 2014.

The momentous occasion saw the installation of the 130-tonne section ski-ramp which is designed to assist the F35 Lightning IIs to get airborne off the expansive flight deck of the Royal Navy's future flagship.

Only the radar and lifts remain to be lifted into place by 'Goliath' not to be confused with the same namesake given to one of Harland & Wolff's giant yellow cranes. The Scottish 'Goliath' is superior in that the crane is the UK's largest, capable of boaring loads up to 1,000 tons.

The newbuild HMS Queen Elizabeth is the leadship of a pair "QE-Class" aircraft-carriers which is to be followed by HMS Prince of Wales. They will represent the biggest and most powerful surface warships ever constructed for the Royal Navy. HMS Queen Elizabeth after fitting-out and sea-trials is to scheduled to enter service in 2017.

The cost of new aircraft carriers is expected to be almost twice the original estimate in which the according to latest budget, the Ministry of Defence estimates the cost of the two ships at £6.2bn.

The QE –class replace the Invincible-class trio in which the 22,000 tonnes HMS Illustrious (RO6) remains the last in service albeit in the role as a converted helicopter carrier. As previously reported, HMS Illustrious paid a visit to Dublin Port in April and was illuminated in green for the Gathering.

To build the QE –class aircraft carriers which present complexity and challenges requires many skills and experience which led to the establishment of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance which is between BAE Systems, THALES and Babcock.

Of the 37 main sections that were constructed to assemble HMS Queen Elizabeth, yards including Babcock's Marine's north Devon shipyard in Appledore were involved in building sections. The sections were then transported by barge to the newbuild in Scotland.

Babcock won the €99m contract from the Irish Department of Defence to build a pair of OPV's currently under construction also in Devon for the Naval Service. The first of the enhanced 'Roisin' / OPV P90 class L.E. Samuel Beckett (P61) is due for delivery in early 2014.

Published in News Update
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

Email The Author

Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open. is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button