Monster carrier begins taking shape

The yard charged with building the Royal Navy's latest and greatest aircraft carrier gears up for work

The Royal Navy’s largest ever construction project is starting to take shape in a Scottish shipyard.

Following the arrival of a giant Chinese crane, the Rosyth shipyard in Fife is ready to begin construction of the 65,000 tonne aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. But the job is far too big to begin and end there. Six separate shipyards around the country have been set the task of building separate pieces of the carrier which will eventually be fitted together at the yard, owned by Babcock International. The £5bn project is set to require the workmanship of 10,000 builders across the UK.

The Queen Elizabeth will be something of statement piece for the navy, for which aircraft carriers are a sign of prestige. It is the first ship that might be able to stand up to its US competitors, although carriers like the USS George H W Bush still outweigh it significantly, coming in at around 101,000 tonnes. Its landing deck has been designed to carry F-35s and will allow French and US planes to land.

The project was launched in 2009 but is not expected to be finished until 2016 and it may be a further four years before it is ready to be put into action.