Final shipment of sections for HMS Queen Elizabeth


Mast cap and long range radar at Rosyth. This was the very final shipment of sections for HMS Queen Elizabeth. (Aircraft Carrier Alliance)

Devonport still on shortlist for storing nuclear waste from decommissioned subs

You have to put this stuff somewhere… but if the submarines are going to be decommissioned at Rosyth wouldn’t it make more sense to store the waste up in Scotland instead of trucking it all the way down to Devonport?

(Radioactivity would explain Dunfermline’s away kit.)

Plymouth still on shortlist to be nuclear submarine waste dump

DEVONPORT Dockyard has not been ruled out as a storage site for nuclear waste under the controversial submarine dismantling project.

Local residents were yesterday told at a Devonport Local Liaison Committee meeting that the dockyard could yet be used by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as an interim storage facility for the Intermediate-Level Waste (ILW).

ILW can include resins, chemical sludge and metal reactor nuclear fuel cladding, as well as contaminated materials from reactor decommissioning, that must be disposed of in special repositories.

Only acidic liquids from reprocessing of spent fuels and their solidified forms are classed as more serious than ILW.

In March, when the MoD announced its response to the consultations carried out in 2011, it was reported that fears Plymouth would be turned into a nuclear graveyard had been “eased”.

Alison Seabeck, Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View, said at the time the news made it less likely that the city would be seen as the country’s nuclear graveyard.

At yesterday’s meeting at Devonport’s Welcome Hall, MoD representatives spoke of the plans for a second consultation on the location for the storage site, as announced in the spring.

One campaigner told MoD representatives they couldn’t “expect” Plymouth to be used as an interim storage site.

Ian Avent, of Community Awareness Nuclear Storage And Radiation (CANSAR), said: “We are talking about a second consultation for intermediate level waste storage – it would be the easiest thing in the world to drop it and dump it here.

“All of a sudden Devonport is back in as a potential ILW storage site.”

In response, Simon Tinling, part of the dismantling project team said the MoD would still take into account local policies and preferences.

“We have to consider a number of sites including both of the dismantling sites as well as a wide range of other nuclear sites,” he added.

“Devonport and Rosyth are not difficult storage locations, we will not start the recycling process until a site has been chosen.”

He also said neither site would be chosen as “default” locations.

But Mr Avent added: “We do the refuelling, refitting and now the dismantling you can’t expect us to do this too.”

The rationale for a revised approach to the ILW storage site selection came down to a number of reasons – including responses from the local authority and legal advice, locals were told.

Residents attending the meeting were told that a total of 20 submarines would be dismantled in Devonport – 11 of those are currently stored afloat and nine remain in service.

The demonstration of the dismantling is still planned to begin in Rosyth, in Scotland, but will “progress dismantling activities in Devonport as soon as practicable”.

They were also told of opportunities to begin removing low-level waste early as a cost and time saving initiative.

If the LLW early removal plan goes ahead, the final clearance of submarines from Rosyth would be brought forward by two years.

Royal Navy aircraft carrier almost complete as aft island lifted into place

Another step towards completion for the first of the Royal Navy’s new class of aircraft carriers as the aft island of HMS Queen Elizabeth is lifted into place. The carriers will carry a mixed air wing comprising the F-35B joint strike fighter and Merlin helicopters.

Queen Elizabeth almost complete as second island is installed on UK’s new carrier

If you want to know what the biggest warship Britain has ever built will look like, take a trip to Rosyth in Scotland, for today HMS Queen Elizabeth is almost complete.

The iconic aft superstructure of the Royal Navy’s next-generation aircraft carrier was today fixed firmly on her flight deck – all but completing the look of HMS Queen Elizabeth. The 753-tonne structure, which serves as the air traffic control centre for the 65,000-tonne warship, was lowered into place following a delicate all-night operation.

The carrier’s aft island stands proud on her flight deck after an all-night precision operation to first lift it, then fix the 753-tonne structure on to the deck.

It means the two iconic pieces of carrier superstructure – the ship is the first to feature the innovative two island design – are now firmly in place; the forward island, a few metres ahead, has been on the flight deck since April.

That is home to the ship’s bridge among other compartments.

The aft structure is home to Flyco – Flying Control, effectively the carrier’s equivalent of an airport control tower.

It’s 32m (104ft) long, 14m (46ft) wide and 31m (101ft 6in) high (that’s seven London buses stacked up). Inside are some 110 compartments, 1,000 pipes stretching for two kilometres and 44km (27 miles – or just longer than a marathon) of cabling.

It took engineers and shipwrights at BAE Systems Scotstoun works – one of half a dozen yards around the UK building sections of the carrier – 90 weeks to complete.

The island was ferried around Scotland on an ocean-going barge last week, before arriving at the Babcock yard in Rosyth to join the rest of the ship in the specially-extended dry dock which is home to the 65,000-tonne carrier.

“Moving this section is a momentous occasion for the carrier programme,” said Ian Booth of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, which is overseeing the massive project.

“Queen Elizabeth now has a completely unique and distinctive profile and, thanks to the dedication of thousands of workers she will be structurally complete by the end of the year.”

The team from the Aircraft Carrier Alliance invited all the major media players to witness the gigantic structure being lowered into place with millimetric accuracy, billing the occasion as ‘the creation of a carrier’.

“This is a very significant moment in the making of the ship, particularly as she’s an aircraft carrier, because the guys working in the aft island will be operating and controlling all of the aviation activity on this flight deck,” Queen Elizabeth’s Senior Naval Officer Capt Simon Petitt told those present at the lifting ceremony.

“Once we’re fully operational, we will be flying helicopters and jets from all three Services to use the power of the air and the freedom of the ocean to influence those on the land – and that’s the advantage of an aircraft carrier.”

At 10.10am precisely, to the cacophony of apprentices sounding air horns, they saw just that as the island settled on the flight deck, sealing a plaque featuring the insignia of the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and British Army beneath it.

For although she flies the White Ensign, Queen Elizabeth – and her sister Prince of Wales – are national assets, for use by all three Services.

The F35 Lightning II jets which will be her primary punch will be flown by the Fleet Air Arm and RAF. But her deck will also be used by Army Apaches and troop-carrying Chinooks and Merlins ferrying soldiers and Royal Marines into battle.

“HMS Queen Elizabeth will be at the centre of the UK’s defence capability for 50 years,” said Rear Admiral Steve Brunton, Director of Ship Acquisition.

“She will be absolutely unique and, combined with assets across the rest of the UK’s Armed Forces, will provide the country with an unprecedented level of capability, protecting the UK’s interests and providing humanitarian support across the globe.”

That’s a good five years in the future. For now there remains a lot of work to do to complete Queen Elizabeth internally and externally.

Although all sections of the ship have been delivered to Rosyth, not all have been attached – most notably her ‘ski ramp’ which will help the F35s into the air as the same structure did for Harriers on the Invincible class of carriers.

It will be attached later this year.

Compartments inside are being ‘signed off’ (ie completed) every week and work will soon begin to give Queen Elizabeth a Royal Navy livery instead of the ship’s mostly crimson paint scheme at present.

In a few weeks’ time, the team from the Aircraft Carrier Alliance will begin to give the carrier her battleship grey appearance; right now she’s a mish-mash of colours, with the flight deck a very un-RN-like crimson.

The ship will require 1½ million square metres (over 16 million square feet) of paintwork, which is slightly larger than London’s Hyde Park.