Lessons learned in the construction of HMS Queen Elizabeth will ensure the Royal Navy’s second aircraft carrier is “more efficient”, its captain has said.
HMS Prince of Wales will follow in the footsteps of the UK’s biggest ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was launched from Rosyth docks in Fife this summer.
The second aircraft carrier will be officially named next week in a royal ceremony attended by Prince Charles and wife Camilla, the ship’s sponsor. It is not due to be launched until 2019 and is currently being fitted out in a dry dock, but project leaders believe lessons from the first ship will make sure HMS Prince of Wales is ready “swiftly”.
HMS Queen Elizabeth, the UK’s newest aircraft carrier, arrives in Portsmouth for the first time (Steve Parsons/PA)
Captain Ian Groom said: “As we brought Elizabeth to life and went through the trials we optimised systems and learned how things could be improved both in terms of the systems and also the order in which you build things to make it more efficient and we’re drawing those lessons into Prince of Wales so that we can build it as swiftly as possible to the highest quality.”
Engineering director Martin Douglass is responsible for both ships in the programme. He said: “Both ships are in essence bespoke, they are hand built, so following lessons from the first ship has been key from an engineering and production perspective.
“Across the whole programme there’s been about a 20% to 25% saving in terms of time for building the second ship compared to the first.”
Prince of Wales is expected to be around 3,000 tonnes heavier than its sister ship due to extra fittings in light of work on the first aircraft carrier. One move to improve construction time has been to establish offices onboard for the leaders of different trades and projects.
Ship manager Harry McCluskey said: “Rather than having guys based in offices 500 yards away we brought liaison draughtsmen and supervisors onboard the ship so that things are closer and save time when people need to discuss issues.
“What will be the dining room and galley of the ship is currently the meeting area. It’s a lesson learned from ship one to improve communication and having all people closer to the ship. It saves a lot of time.”
Mr McCluskey, who has worked on the aircraft carrier project for a decade, believes HMS Prince of Wales could be finished a year quicker than its sister ship took.
He added: “Everyone knows what they are doing. Before it was obviously new to everybody.”
Questions were raised over the £6 billion cost and relevance of the massive aircraft carriers when HMS Queen Elizabeth was launched but captain Groom said the second ship is needed to fulfil the aim of the building project.