Huge ship is plain sailing for South Shields boffins

HMS Queen Elizabeth
HMS Queen Elizabeth
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Maritime experts in South Tyneside played a key part in getting Brtain’s new aircraft carrier safely to sea.

The team from South Shields Marine School spent five years involved in the programme which supported the building of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The South Shields Marine School team, from left, Ian Murray, Paul Hodgson, Mel Irving, Stephen Scurfield and Alan Peden.

The South Shields Marine School team, from left, Ian Murray, Paul Hodgson, Mel Irving, Stephen Scurfield and Alan Peden.

The 65,000 tonne vessel - the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy - successfully left Rosyth dockyard in Fife, Scotland, on to prepare for sea trials.

The team from the Marine School - part of South Tyneside College - developed the high-tech computer simulations of how the ship’s first hull sections could be manoeuvred into position and joined together, its float out and its departure to sea under the Forth bridges.

Marine school specialists worked with Forth Pilots and members of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) - a partnership of BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock and the Ministry of Defence – on the project.

Challenges included factoring in expected tidal conditions and changing water depths - knowing that at one point the vessel would pass just 50cms above the sea floor and inches from the side of its dock.

Mel Irving, advanced simulator manager at South Shields Marine School, said: “It has been a very enjoyable project, yet also very tricky and one of the hardest we have done.

“We are very proud of our contribution and very satisfied with our work. It is a great example of the work South Shields Marine School excels in.”

Computer modelling allowed the simulation of HMS Queen Elizabeth being taken out of dry dock for fitting out.

Alongside modelling the vessels, the team detailed the dry dock, underwater landscape and the adjoining land environment.

HMS Queen Elizabeth has a 280m long and 70m wide flight deck, which could hold three football pitches.

It will have a crew of about 700, increasing to 1,600 when a full complement of F-35B jets and Crowsnest helicopters are embarked.

The total build cost of HMS Queen Elizabeth and its sister ship HMS Prince of Wales is £6bn.