MILLIONS of pounds’ worth of engineering work carried out in South Tyneside was praised yesterday as the largest warship ever built in the UK was officially named.
The 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth was formally christened by her namesake at the Rosyth Dockyard in Fife, Scotland.
Part of the 280m-long vessel, capable of carrying 40 aircraft, was constructed at Hebburn’s A & P shipyard.
The project kept 200 staff there in jobs, requiring 500,000 man hours of work, after the first steel was cut in February 2010.
The module built in Hebburn, a central block forming part of the vessel’s flight deck and hangar, was then towed up the east coast to be assembled and fitted out at Rosyth as part of a project which will see another carrier built too at a combined cost of more than £6bn.
Yesterday’s ceremony was also attended by Prime Minister David Cameron and Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond.
The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, conducted the naming ceremony by pressing a button to release a bottle of Islay malt whisky to be smashed on the ship’s hull.
About 3,500 people involved in the design and construction of the carrier watched the celebrations.
Aircraft Carrier Alliance managing director Ian Booth said: “This is a historic occasion for our country and a proud moment for more than 10,000 people across the UK who have worked together to deliver HMS Queen Elizabeth.”
The ship and a second vessel, the under-construction HMS Prince of Wales, are the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy.