A Defence Minister visited Portsmouth Naval Base last Monday (23rd of May) to see how it is preparing to accommodate the Royal Navy’s two new 65,000-tonne aircraft carriers.
Mark Lancaster, Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans, saw progress on various infrastructure works and in particular a new centre of specialisation which is nearing completion.
The Queen Elizabeth Class Centre of Specialisation will cover an area of 70,000 square metres – approximately the size of ten football pitches.
It will include a 7,000 square metre Forward Support Centre able to hold 15,000 pallets of medical, mail and naval stores under one roof, a café seating more than 500 people at any one time and a reception centre for all those working on or visiting the carriers.
The centre will house employees of Team Portsmouth, a partnership between the Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems, with engineers, logisticians and waterfront staff working alongside each other to plan and deliver the maintenance for these ships.
Mark Lancaster said: “This new Centre of Specialisation will ensure that our highly skilled engineers, logisticians and waterfront staff are well supported, and have the facilities they need as Portsmouth becomes the home of the Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers next year.
“Our £100 million investment in the naval base and the arrival of the carriers will support and sustain thousands of jobs across the region.”
Mike Howarth, Managing Director for BAE Systems Maritime Services in Portsmouth, said: “At 65,000 tonnes the new carriers are the largest and most complex naval ships built in the UK. It’s essential that they have high quality facilities and highly skilled people to support them.
“This centre will be the home not just for the carriers, it will also be home for the military and civilian people who support them.
“With improvements to the jetty and construction of a high voltage power station already in its final stages, you can now see that we are well on the way to being ready for HMS Queen Elizabeth’s arrival next year.”
Commodore Jeremy Rigby, Naval Base Commander, said: “The work on the Queen Elizabeth Class centre is yet another tangible milestone in getting the Naval Base ready to support our new aircraft carriers.
“A huge amount of activity is in train ashore and in the harbour to make sure we are ready to receive HMS Queen Elizabeth.
“These are exciting times for the Naval Base and the wider Portsmouth area as we prepare for these huge ships which have secured the future of the base for the rest of the century.
“BAE Systems is working in partnership with the Royal Navy under the Team Portsmouth banner to improve the QE Class Ships’ Company experience that the carrier’s crew will receive at the waterfront and provide the resources, information, material and facilities they will need in Portsmouth and on operations around the world.”
The creation of a dedicated area for the carriers forms part of the overall vision for Portsmouth Naval Base – four dedicated areas to support the ships based ships.
The first of these dedicated areas was opened in 2015 as the Centre of Specialisation for Frigates and Destroyers, while work began on minehunter HMS Brocklesby in the new Small Ships Centre of Specialisation in early May.
Image Sourced : Royal Navy