Glasgow toasts Britain's biggest warship

CLYDE shipyard workers broke with tradition to toast the Queen when live pictures of her naming Britain's biggest ever warship were beamed to Govan from Rosyth in Fife.

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  • Workers in the Clyde shipyards have played a major role in helping to build HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was launched by the Queen in Rosyth. The monumental aircraft carrier is the largest engineering project in Britain and involved a total of six shipyard sites to complete
    Workers in the Clyde shipyards have played a major role in helping to build HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was launched by the Queen in Rosyth. The monumental aircraft carrier is the largest engineering project in Britain and involved a total of six shipyard sites to complete
  • Workers in the Clyde shipyards have played a major role in helping to build HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was launched by the Queen in Rosyth. The monumental aircraft carrier is the largest engineering project in Britain and involved a total of six shipyard sites to complete
  • Workers in the Clyde shipyards have played a major role in helping to build HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was launched by the Queen in Rosyth. The monumental aircraft carrier is the largest engineering project in Britain and involved a total of six shipyard sites to complete
  • Workers in the Clyde shipyards have played a major role in helping to build HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was launched by the Queen in Rosyth. The monumental aircraft carrier is the largest engineering project in Britain and involved a total of six shipyard sites to complete
  • Workers in the Clyde shipyards have played a major role in helping to build HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was launched by the Queen in Rosyth. The monumental aircraft carrier is the largest engineering project in Britain and involved a total of six shipyard sites to complete
  • Workers in the Clyde shipyards have played a major role in helping to build HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was launched by the Queen in Rosyth. The monumental aircraft carrier is the largest engineering project in Britain and involved a total of six shipyard sites to complete

Friday is a half-day for them but instead of heading home at lunch time, hundreds remained at the Glasgow yard to watch the ceremony surrounding HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The warship was officially named at a ceremony attended by the Queen, Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond. The Queen, who was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, oversaw the traditional naming ceremony by pressing a button to release a bottle of Islay malt whisky - suspended at the front of the ship - to smash on to the hull.

Many of Glasgow workers had played a pivotal role in helping build the super-sized aircraft carrier, which was constructed in sections at six shipyards across the UK.

But it was the warship builders of the Clyde who were entrusted with the most complex blocks from the total of 41 giant steel sections which comprise the carrier.

From hull sections for the carrrier's engines to the Aft Island where air traffic control personnel will plot up to 110 sorties involving fighter jets and attack helicopters, the pride of the Clyde will be visible for all to see.

Hundreds of workers at the BAE sister yards in Govan and Scotstoun have been involved, not just in the Glasgow yards but also at Rosyth. Hundreds have had to travel through to the Fife yard to help with final assembly where the sections were all put together ahead of a massive fit-out.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the product of 10,000 workers in 90 companies and represents Britain's biggest engineering project. Construction work on a second carrrier, HMS Prince of Wales, is well under way at Govan and elsewhere.

School children and VIPs joined the Govan workers yesterday when the Queen also broke with tradition and christened the new carrier by crashing a bottle of fine malt whisky against her hull.

It was the first time in 15 years since the Queen had christened a warship and a bottle of Islay whisky was chosen to honour the carrrier's birthplace in Scotland. It was also the first distillery to be visited by Her Majesty following her Coronation.

Watching the giant screen in Glasgow was Charlie Blakemore, who is BAE's Director of Business and Transformation at the two city yards.

He said: "This is a momentous day for the Queen Elizabeth carrier programme and everyone in the Glasgow yard is really excited to see Her Majesty the Queen christen her flagship.

"The QE Class has created a once in a lifetime opportunity for our highly skilled employees in Glasgow to be involved in an iconic programme that will create an enduring legacy, driving a step change in British military and industrial capability.

"We are very proud to have built some of the key sections of the ship and to be among the six yards to be involved in one of the UK's largest engineering projects."

Construction work continues apace. Not far from where live pictures were being shown on a giant screen another block of steel is being amassed and is scheduled to be taken next month by barge along Scotland's rugged coastline to Rosyth.

The carrier programme is costing almost £6billion and is being spearheaded by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) which involves BAE Systems, Thalis, Babcock and the Ministry of Defence.

ACA managing director Ian Booth said: "This is an engineering challenge of unprecedented scale and complexity for UK shipbuilding and I want to congratulate everyone involved in making today possible."

The carrier is 56 metres high, taller than Niagara Falls, while the flight deck is 280 meters long - the size of 60 tennis courts. The ship is 70 meters wide and could accommodate four jumbo jets sitting side by side.

HMS Queen Elizabeth has a range of 10,000 nautical miles and will carry enough fuel to take a car to the moon and back 12 times.

There will be 40 chefs on board - along with four miles of sausages, 28,800 rashers of bacon and enough eggs for 21,600 omelettes - and a hospital.

Admiral Sir George Zambellas, the First Sea Lord, said: "Powerful, versatile and credible, this ship will be at the heart of the UK's defence capability for the next 50 years."

gordon.thomson@eveningtimes.co.uk

The Royals

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