Dr Fox started the computer-guided laser to cut the first piece of hull for the ship at a ceremony at the BAE Systems shipyard in Govan.
The Defence Secretary also met members of the workforce during a tour of the facility. He said:
We are committed to delivering this next generation of powerful British aircraft carriers that will mark a step-change in our carrier strike capability and form the cornerstone of the Royal Navy’s Future Force 2020. This major construction project is creating and sustaining thousands of jobs in shipyards around the country.
The new 65,000-tonne Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, the largest ships ever built for the Royal Navy, are being built by an alliance of BAE Systems, Babcock, Thales UK and the Ministry of Defence, and will give the Royal Navy a four-acre (16,000-square-metre) military operating base which can be deployed worldwide.
Each carrier will have nine decks, plus a flight deck the size of three football pitches, and two propellers weighing 33 tonnes - nearly two-and-a-half times as heavy as a double decker bus - producing a maximum speed of over 25 knots (46km/h).
The ships will operate at least twelve of the highly capable carrier variant Joint Strike Fighter jets, which offer value for money and allow for unparalleled interoperability with our military allies.
The Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Charles Montgomery, attended today’s steel-cutting ceremony:
The Queen Elizabeth Class will provide Britain with the means to deliver air power from the sea, wherever and whenever required, and in a stronger and more decisive form than ever before,” he said.
In addition they will be able to undertake a wide range of tasks including support to peacekeeping operations and delivery of humanitarian aid in times of crisis. They will undoubtedly prove a tremendous asset both to the Royal Navy and to the UK as a whole.
Major sections of HMS Prince of Wales will be constructed at six shipyards around the UK and transported to Rosyth dockyard in Fife for assembly.
Construction of HMS Queen Elizabeth is well underway, with completed components already being brought together at Rosyth where they will be assembled with the help of one of the UK’s largest cranes, a 223-foot-high (68m) structure known as ‘Goliath’.
Completion of the first carrier is expected towards the end of the decade.