QE Carriers edge towards completion
With the completion of the Queen Elizabeth Carriers coming ever closer, we paid a visit to Rosyth to meet some of those driving the project forward.
Ever since civil engineers Easton, Gibb & Son started work in Rosyth in 1909, the large naval dockyard on the Firth of Forth has been synonymous with the word pride. Although now smaller than it once was, and now run by Babcock International, that pride in the history of the site is still acutely evident.
While the dockyard’s bread and butter has always been the refitting and maintenance of the Royal Navy’s fleet, a far bigger task is currently occupying the workforce. Rosyth, just 30 minutes north of Edinburgh city centre, was chosen as the base to assemble the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers — the largest and most advanced warships ever built for the Royal Navy.
Each 65,000 tonne carrier now sits in the dockyard dwarfing other vessels and the thousands of dock workers busy ensuring they meet the rigorous standards of the Royal Navy.
Inside HMS Queen Elizabeth — the first carrier — a huge sign tells the workforce: ‘Take pride in your work, deliver quality and be part of history.’
It underlines that the huge project, worth £6.2 billion, has injected a healthy dose of excitement into Rosyth, with those involved keen to laud what it means for the area.
Steve Perry is part of the Aviation Team on HMS Queen Elizabeth. He started as an apprentice in the dockyard back in 2006 and finds himself back in Scotland after a stint at Abbey Wood.
Now back, he is responsible for signing off elements including aviation electrics, the hangar, ski jump from which F-35B Lightning II will launch, the weapons handling system and the enormous lifts which can transport two fully loaded aircraft from hangar to flight deck in a matter of minutes.
“As soon as I heard there were jobs available here, I applied.” Steve, from the Delivery Acceptance Team (DAT), said.
“It’s been a good move and I consider myself very lucky. It’s a massive project and everybody dedicates a lot of time and effort to ensure they meet requirements. The carriers will be the flagships of the Royal Navy, so we all know how important it is to get them absolutely right. We are literally a part of history.”
He added: “Being here in the heart of it is a huge benefit, because we can have weekly or daily conversations with the end user — the Royal Navy — who are located just across the road from us.”
Steve’s colleague Douglas Pollock is the DAT Lead with responsibility for HMS Queen Elizabeth’s hull and outfit.
“When I started, the carrier was literally just bits and I have watched it all come together, which has been very special,” he said.
“For me, this is the pinnacle, but even the young guys working on this project are unlikely to ever work on anything of this scale again. When she goes out to sea trials next year, it is going to be a very moving day for all of us.”
In a building just a 100 metre walk away from Steve is Drew Hunter, the DE&S lead for the Prince of Wales DAT.
While Steve and Douglas are in the process of handing over parts of HMS Queen Elizabeth to the Royal Navy, Drew is just starting the task on HMS Prince of Wales, although he will be joined by others once HMS Queen Elizabeth is formally handed over in its entirety.
Drew’s job is to ensure all 3,013 compartments of which the carrier is constructed are built to specification and are fit for purpose. These compartments range from a ship cabin to fresh water tanks, machinery space or the enormous hangar space which is split into four sections.
“There is a real sense of pride in Rosyth for the project” Drew, who grew up in neighbouring Clackmannanshire, said.
“There is a proud history in Rosyth but this is the first time a ship has actually been constructed here — collaborative working with the Alliance, combined with the sheer size of this project also contributes to the experience.”
“The carrier project has been a shot in the arm not only for employment but hopefully for Rosyth’s reputation as well.
“Having a deadline to meet is the driving force for me. Each day I see the carrier grow and it reminds me of the importance of what we are doing here. It’s very special to be part of this project.”