TYNESIDE is gearing up for the return of ship building. Workers at A&P Tyne, based in Hebburn, South Tyneside, are getting ready for the next phase in the Aircraft Carrier Alliance contract.
The work, which begins in a few months, will see the next wave of the navy’s flagship Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier set to patrol the sees for 50 years.
A&P’s success in winning a section of the BAE work means that at its peak, the site will employ some 350 people working on the craft.
But the wider benefits will be felt in the supply chain, with much of the £55m contract going into the local economy.
During the course of the project, A&P will carry out 750,000 man-hours of work on the 2,500-tonne structure.
Work will involve 2,000 fabricated seatings and 10,000 metres of pipe work.
As an indiction of how much work goes into the structure, A&P said they will use up to 20,000 metres of electrical cable, 10,000 metres of electrical cable carrier as well as 1,000 pieces of electrical equipment, build up 2,000 metres of ventilation, 6,000 pipe, vent and electrical hangers and use 50 tonnes of thermal insulation.
A&P Tyne project director Darren Brown said the firm was building on an already strong reputation.
“We have had a success with Ship 1 – we saw that come in early – and clearly that shows what we can do here.
“But this is not just for A&P – it’s the local economy which benefits.
“We have a skilled workforce here and the wider benefits of that are felt across the region. You only have to look at the supply chain for that, but equally even more locally, the newsagent and so on.
“It’s a big deal, and we’re proud to be playing our part.”
Defence giant BAE has the £6bn contract to build the Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales carriers at Portsmouth, with much of the work being farmed out across the UK. Part of the hull of the HMS Queen Elizabeth was built at the A&P shipyard in Hebburn, and now it’s the turn of the Prince of Wales.
A&P’s work on the first ship, which included part of the flight deck and hangar, was completed five weeks early in September.
Many have welcomed the potential for more ship building on the Tyne, with Andrew Hodgson, the head of advanced manufacturing firm SMD, telling The Journal such contracts contributed to the region’s international reputation for success.
And Lord Shipley, the former Newcastle Council leader who now advises the Government on regeneration issues, added his praise for the firm.
He said: “The Tyne is showing itself to be a major economic contributor once again, and there is rightly enormous pride in the region that A&P is part of this. I find it very encouraging to stand on the banks of the River Tyne these days and see so much potential around. There is already a lot of activity and much more still to come.”
The Aircraft Carrier Alliance is a team formed from BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock and the MoD, which acts as both a partner and a client.
“It is responsible for delivering the Queen Elizabeth Class ships to time and cost. The QE Class Aircraft Carriers will be the largest surface warships constructed for the UK and will be 65,000 tonnes at full displacement – more than three times the size of the current Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers.
The sections of the ships which will be built on Tyneside will make up part of the mid-section of the aircraft carriers and will each weigh 4,000 tonnes – the equivalent of 420 double-decker buses.
But this is not just for A&P – it’s the local economy which benefits