Part of Britain’s biggest ever warship has left Tyneside and sailed up to Scotland where HMS Queen Elizabeth is being assembled like a giant jigsaw at Rosyth.
A&P Group’s Tyne yard is the only North East shipyard involved in building the new aircraft carrier, which will measure 280 metres long by 70 metres wide and be capable of carrying 40 aircraft.
It built its section – which forms part of the flight deck and hangar – five weeks ahead of schedule and even managed to move the massive metal modules from its West Quay onto the barge AMT Commander two days sooner than expected.
A&P Tyne Project Director Darren Brown said: “We completed the sections ahead of schedule and even finished the load-out in 10 days instead of 12.
“We had some challenging weather with winds gusting up to 40mph but as soon as they dropped we cracked on and everything went exceptionally well.
“Most importantly, it was all done safely and incident free.”
The steel modules, which weighed a total of 3000 tonnes when secured aboard the barge, were the culmination of three years work at A&P but became the responsibility of Glasgow shipping and transportation specialist Henry Abram & Sons Ltd, the moment the mooring ropes were handed over.
Mr Brown added: “When you work on something for so long you become totally immersed in it. We’ve lived and breathed the aircraft carrier section for three years so watching it go was a bit of a sad occasion but a very proud one too.
“To be part of building something this impressive, one of the biggest engineering contracts ever placed in this country, gives you a real feeling of satisfaction. Everyone at the yard feels proud of their involvement.”
A&P won a £55 million order to build part of HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, bringing shipbuilding back to the Tyne where the last aircraft carrier, the iconic HMS Ark Royal, was launched 30 years ago.
Some of the A&P team working on the new aircraft carrier also helped build the Ark Royal.
Having seen its part in HMS Queen Elizabeth sail away, the yard is now clearing the decks to start building part of the hull of HMS Prince of Wales next February on behalf of BAE Portsmouth.
Then in January 2013, the yard will begin building exactly the same section it made for HMS Queen Elizabeth but this time for HMS Prince of Wales.
Mr Brown said: “We’re looking forward to it. It’s great to be busy, it creates a buzz about the place and gives everyone a sense of purpose. It’s good for the yard, the workforce and the community.”