Remember when ships were built from the keel up and launched by sliding down the building ways into the water with a satisfying splash? OK, maybe I am showing my age. These days ships are built like LEGOs, massive LEGOs, of course, but still large blocks to be welded together to finally float gently for the first time in a drydock. The massive blocks don’t have to even be built in the same place.
This came to mind on seeing that the last structural block for the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is being moved from the building yard to the assembly yard. The massive chunk of steel, piping and electronics is prosaically named, Upper Block 07, and contains the main bridge of the ship. The block will move by barge from the BAE Systems shipyard in Portsmouth, where it was fabricated, to the Rosyth Dockyard on the Firth of Forth in Scotland, for the final assembly with the rest of the ship. HMS Queen Elizabeth will be the first of the Royal Navy’s two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and is scheduled for sea trials in 2017 and flight trials in 2017. Thanks to Alaric Bond for passing along the news.