The Defence Secretary was speaking during a tour of the new facilities being built to support the first of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers, which include power facilities, a reinforced jetty, and an area equivalent to over 200 football pitches dredged in the harbour so far.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:
Britain’s new aircraft carriers are the biggest and most powerful warships ever built for our Royal Navy. The over £100 million being invested in Portsmouth Naval Base will ensure that it is a fitting and state-of-the-art home for our new warships from spring next year.
The Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales will lead our powerful and growing Royal Navy and reflect that, in a dangerous world, Britain is stepping up.
The Defence Secretary also opened Portsmouth’s brand new Ark Royal facility and met the personnel responsible for clearing historic ordnance uncovered by dredging work. The Ark Royal Facility will provide the ships company with top of the range facilities before they embark onto the ship for training and operations.
In order to prepare the harbour and dockyard infrastructure for the 65,000 tonne carriers, 276 metres of jetty have been reinforced with over 3,300 tonnes of new steel work. New navigation lights have been installed in the harbour and Solent, with huge new fenders and gangways delivered to accommodate the giant ships.
Commander of HMNB Portsmouth, Commodore Jeremy Rigby said:
With the opening of Ark Royal building today, we have reached another important milestone in the preparations to get Portsmouth Naval Base ready for HMS Queen Elizabeth. I was delighted to be able to show the Defence Secretary how the last pieces of the complex jigsaw of getting the Naval Base ready for the new era, are falling into place.
HMS Queen Elizabeth, the QEC First of Class, is now well into her commissioning phase. It is expected that she will leave Rosyth for Sea Trials in early 2017 and arrive at her new home in Portsmouth in late spring 2017. These infrastructure works form a major nautical-milestone on her journey to becoming an operational warship, ready for duty: a journey that will see her deploy in every ocean around the world over the next five decades.