Sunday, June 10, 2012

Following CVF's progress

Significantly ahead of schedule (the plan was to do it on June 22), yesterday the assembly of HMS Queen Elizabeth in dock No 1 in Rosyth has entered its second (B) cycle.
This has involved flooding the dry dock, floating out the LB03 block which has been assembled in the past months with its CB upper blocks and with its assigned sponsons. LB03 was parked in the basin outside the dock, and LB02, recently shipped to Rosyth, was maneuved into the dry dock and winched down to the head of it.
After this, LB03 was moved into dock again, and positioned behind LB02, at a distance.

The bulbous bow block, LB01, is expected to be lowered into the dock using the Goliath crane on friday in the week to come. In the meanwhile, CB02E, one of the upper blocks that complete LB02, will be installed and LB02 and 03 will be connected.

If you want to follow the assembly process, which is a majestic feat of engineering, you should use the forum On there, you will find a huge, over-200-pages thread which has long been following the CVF story, and which, thanks to many contributors, will keep you up to date with pretty much everything that happens. Thanks to people such as cockneyjock1974 we can enjoy photos of the Rosyth dock area taken as often as possible, showing us every progress.
Pymes75 has a formidable website which keeps track of the progress of the building, keeping track of all dates and developments. And CVF is not the only thing he keeps tracked: he's got a wonderful page on Typhoon deliveries and whereabouts, and yet other great stuff. Definitely a place you want to visit if you share my interest for the british military. 

Another great source for updates on CVF is forthpilot, Jerry Purvis. Follow him on Twitter, and he will update you in real or near-real time on what is going on with CVF up in Rosyth. Yesterday he was invaluable in keeping us updated on the progress of the block-moving, and sent along some real great photos, these: 

Lower Block 03 (LB03) is floated out of Dock No1, where it was fitted out and completed in the past months following its arrival from Portsmouth. Works involved adding the hangar-deck modules (CB03 series of modules, see map) and the very evident sponsons.
LB02, to the left, and LB03 to the right, sit in the basin. LB02 lacks the upper blocks (CB02 series) so it is evidently lower by three decks when compared to LB03.
LB02 is guided into the dock
LB02 going in
LB02 is winched towards the head of the dock
Maneuvering LB03 back towards the dock
Thank you forthpilot for these great images!

The vital map of the blocks will let you understand what is happening: 

 Especially if used together with the great video of the CVF assembly process, put online by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance.

LB01 will be craned in, and when LB04 arrives from Govan and is moved into the dock, a provvisional dam will be built into the dock to protect the joined-up LB02 and 03. Effectively, the two blocks will only touch the water again when the ship is completed and floated out, late next year or early in 2014. LB05 will be craned into position, as will all the other parts of the vessel.

I want to close this with a comment of our main Ship Spotter, cockneyjock1974, who spends a lot of time in his observation area with binoculars and camera, and then generously shares his images with us. He's been following the process all along, and yesterday he observed: 

Well what a day, what a day! Another 8 hours of looking out of binoculars and taking pictures. I am comparing today's marathon events with the last one I had, the sinking of LB03 in the Forth, August 2011.

I would like to compare the two for everybody if I may, because it's highly significant and has opened my eyes to something. Last year it took the entire day to sink LB03 into the Forth and tow her to the pier outside the basin entrance. It was a total of 9 hours work, one unit off a barge and moored outside for a total of three days before towing into the dry dock.

Today I have spent an hour less watching a much bigger event, SB03 towed out of dry dock and moored, LB02 towed into dry dock and SB03 towed back into dry dock with significantly less tugs than last year. My point is that these guys have come a long way in 10 months, a very long way, I can understand now why we are so far ahead of schedule not to mention the Goliath drivers skills that have come right on. It used to take 8 hours to lift the 1st Sponson into position, blink and you'll miss it now and I have.


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