HRFCA visited Rosyth on 20 September to view progress on the construction of the two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
The visit was hosted by the Naval Regional Commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland and members of his team.
The visitors were briefed by Warrant Officer One Gary Nicholson MBE, the Executive Warrant Officer of HMS Prince of Wales, an experienced submariner who is relishing the challenges of working up his ship’s company, now numbering some 60 or so and eventually building up to over 650.
The crew of the sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth will embark in early 2017 for sea trials, with the second carrier following on a year or so later. The carriers are the biggest warships ever built for the Royal Navy, each displacing over 72,000 tonnes when fully laden with stores and fuel, and are designed to operate up to thirty-six F-35B Lightning II strike aircraft plus a range of helicopters.
The skill and expertise required to build and then operate the new ships was clear to the visitors, with numerous technical and logistical challenges being overcome, including the daily transportation of construction specialists from the Clyde to Fife, as well as accommodating the crew of the Queen Elizabeth in Rosyth ahead of their moving on board.
In the warm autumn sunshine both ships made an impressive sight – ‘awesome bits of kit’ as the Warrant Officer observed, and will increasingly attract the media’s attention as they move into the final stages of their construction and commissioning.