A MEGA-WEIGHT 800 tonnes of metal came together in a precision-planned operation at A&P Group’s yard on the Tyne to join two cross-sections of Britain’s new aircraft carrier.
The double-module – measuring a massive 40 metres wide, 26 metres long and 9 metres deep – will form part of the flight deck and hangar of HMS Queen Elizabeth, which will be the largest surface warship ever built in the UK.
The job of moving one cross-section 100 metres across the company’s new West Quay at Hebburn, Newcastle to align with another sounds simple but is a complex process that requires skill and expertise.
However, the task went so well it was achieved in double-quick time and the steel modules – known as rings – are now lined up in readiness to load-out for their voyage to Rosyth in August.
A&P Tyne Project Director Darren Brown said: “The move itself was excellent, I had allowed 2 days for the operation but we had it done in a day.
“This is the second module move we have made and I think we benefited from the lessons learnt from the first one.
“It’s a complicated manoeuvre and the hardest part is getting the ring jacked down to ground level, that’s the time-consuming bit – but thanks to the experience gained from moving our first ring in January, we did it in super-fast time.
“It was completed smoothly, efficiently and most importantly, safely.”
Ten A&P Tyne staff, along with heavy lifting specialists ALE from Teesside, took just three days instead of the five scheduled to complete the double-module manoeuvre and then transport the two halves of a third ring from the paint shed to the quay, ready to be welded together.
The double-module in the load-out area of the quay will be welded together in the next few weeks and is being fitted out with piping, electricals, heating, insulation, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
Mr Brown added: “We now have a massive fitting out programme ahead of us. The rings will be completely outfitted when they leave here for Rosyth.”
“As well as the rings on the quay, we have one built and ready to go to the paint shed and another under construction in the fabrication hall.”
A&P Tyne, part of the A&P Group, won a £55m order to build sections for the QE Class Aircraft Carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, and five of these will be loaded onto a barge to sail up to Scotland in the summer.
Mr Brown said the work was progressing “extremely well.”
A&P Group’s yard on the Tyne has the largest dry dock on the east coast of England and a modern fabrication facility capable of turning out more than 10,000 tonnes of steel a year for marine and civil structures.