Hi, I’m Philip Wise, DIO’s Principal Project Manager for the work taking place at Portsmouth to ready the naval base to be home port of the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers. The first, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is planned to arrive early next year and will be followed by sister ship HMS Prince of Wales in due course.
The aircraft carriers and the F-35B fighters they will carry will be a vital part of Britain’s national security and will help the Royal Navy to play their part in protecting the country and project global British influence.
We’re installing navigation lights on the approach to Portsmouth harbour and particularly to guide the vessel through the narrow harbour entrance.
The navigation lights are mounted on top of 14 large steel tower structures rising up to 30 metres from the sea bed. Once operational the lights will enable the pilots to safely navigate in and out of Portsmouth harbour by providing a visual check on the vessel’s course. Earlier in the year our contractor, VolkerStevin, drove the pile foundations into the sea bed and are now putting the upper sections in place.
The lights are powered by both solar panels and batteries so they will work whatever the weather. To minimise distraction to other vessels and local people, they will only be lit when the carriers are approaching or leaving their berths.
They each weigh around 22 tonnes and we have been using a 350 tonne crane barge to lift them into position. Getting them in place has required close liaison between ourselves, VolkerStevin, the Queen’s Harbour Master, ferry operators and the like. Portsmouth is a busy harbour for both civilian and military vessels so it was important to have these discussions to make sure the work could take place safely and with the minimum disruption to other harbour users.
The navigation light towers are being installed as part of a £34 million package of infrastructure work being delivered on behalf of DIO by VolkerStevin. The approach channel and berth pocket in which the aircraft carriers will be moored is being dredged by Boskalis Westminster Ltd to ensure they are deep and wide enough for ships the size of HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, which are the largest ships ever operated by the Royal Navy.