Shipyard completes key stage in aircraft carrier project
HUNDREDS of tonnes of steel — resembling a conventional submarine — will be floated out of the River Torridge next month.
It will mark the completion by Appledore Shipyard of a key stage in one of its most significant projects to date.
LEARNING: New apprentices at Appledore shipyard are not only an asset for the yard, but also benefit the wider North Devon economy. Photo: Rob Tibbles 1002-28_01
WORKING TOGETHER: Richard Toom and apprentice Nathan Turner at Appledore Shipyard. Photo: Rob Tibbles 1002-28_13
SPACIOUS: The massive dry dock at Appledore shipyard. Photo: Rob Tibbles 1002-28_11
APPRENTICE: Jack Thompson. 1002-28_20
The huge bulbous bow, which weighs more than 33 double decker buses, is one of two bow units set to leave Appledore on March 31 to form part of the HMS Queen Elizabeth warship.
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Above: Computer generated film of how the carriers will be built.
Shipbuilding director Andy Hamilton said: "It is the biggest event so far in the life of the aircraft carrier and is really significant.
"Appledore will be delivering the largest part so far to Rosyth in Scotland for assembly."
This part of the shipyard's £50 million carrier project has sparked a series of high profile visits to the North Devon yard and praise from the Ministry of Defence Director Ships, Rear Admiral Bob Love.
He witnessed work on the bow module which forms part of the first lower block.
He said: "I was delighted to see lower block 1 coming together at Appledore.
"This work is proof that the project is progressing well, milestones are being met and momentum is growing.
"The next year will see the carrier programme make a significant step forward as this block, the first of the four large lower blocks to be constructed for HMS Queen Elizabeth, is delivered to Rosyth."
Mr Hamilton said the yard had progressed very well with the work, and met targets and costs.
There are now 30 new apprentices at the shipyard working on the project after a further 16 joined at the end of last month.
Mr Hamilton said: "The first batch are doing really well, they have picked up some excellent shipbuilding skills and we now have 30 in total which is excellent for the economy and jobs in this area."
He added: "Eight hundred tonnes of ship construction will leave Appledore for Rosyth and around 150 people, about half the workforce, have been directly involved in it. We have been involved in the design, drafting and construction of the vessel.
"I am really pleased with the development and progress at Appledore Shipyard and we have made huge strides forward since 2003."
The bulbous bow is a protruding 'bulb' at the bow of the ship just below the waterline. By altering the bow wave generation and water flow around the hull, it will reduce drag and increase the carrier's speed and fuel efficiency.
Babcock's Marine Division warships managing director, Mike Pettigrew, said: "It is only when you witness the structure first hand that you can get an idea of the sheer scale of this vessel.
"In terms of schedule and cost, the progress at Appledore has more than fulfilled everyone's expectations and show just how far advanced this project is."
After the bow units leave Appledore on a transport barge, the shipyard team will continue with work constructing the flight desk sponsons and centre blocks for HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Work on the second warship, HMS Prince of Wales is due to begin in Appledore in January, 2012.
Last week Prime Minister Gordon Brown restated his commitment to the two new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy.