The 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth was formally christened during an event at the Rosyth Dockyard in Fife today, where the ship was assembled and fitted out.
The Queen, who was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, oversaw the traditional naming ceremony by pressing a button to release a bottle of Islay malt whisky – suspended at the front of the ship – to smash on to the hull.
During Tata Steel’s 12-year involvement in the project the company has supplied 40,000 tonnes of steel – around 10% of which has come from Teesside – and developed three entirely new grades of lighter and stronger steel specifically for the aircraft carrier.
Tata will also supply steel for a second carrier, HMS Prince of Wales.
The naming ceremony comes five years after the first steel was manufactured at Tata Steel’s UK plants for HMS Queen Elizabeth and 33 months after the first section of the 280 metre-long vessel entered the dry dock at Rosyth to commence construction.
The project has seen 3,500 tonnes of steel supplied by Tata’s Special Profiles site at Skinningrove – most of this was bulb flats, strips of steel that are used to join plates together on the hull.
Tata Steel’s 20” pipe mill at Hartlepool also supplied 250 tonnes of pipework for the project.
Staff from five of Tata’s UK sites and mills have been involved in the project as well as other teams including research and development.
Alongside the mills, technical and supply chain experts, as well as a dedicated project management team, worked closely with BAE Systems to provide more than 90% of the steel used in the build. Tata also worked closely with key suppliers.
Tata Steel has supplied steel used in everything from the hull of the ship to the 130-tonne ‘ski-jump’ section of the flight deck, designed to allow aircraft to take-off with larger payloads than ever before.
Phil Knowles, commercial manager at Tata Steel, said: “It has been fascinating to be part of such an exciting and high-profile project.
“HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy.
“Our teams have had to continually innovate throughout the process as technology and certain requirements have naturally developed since we became involved 12 years ago.
“The naming ceremony is a huge milestone and we are extremely proud of what we have managed to achieve so far.”