New Drydock for Portsmouth Dockyard!?

pf matthews

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The following article appears in the Portsmouth News 28/01/19:
Unfortunately, think it may be more wishful thinking than reality.....

Link to article: https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/defence/royal-navy-drawing-up-plans-for-new-mega-dry-dock-in-portsmouth-for-hms-queen-elizabeth-1-8786406

The link to Portsmouth New does unfortunately result in some 'extras' - The Portsmouth News website is not one of the best!!
I have therefore 'extracted' the principle text to make it easier for member to read:

Royal Navy drawing up plans for new mega dry dock in Portsmouth for HMS Queen Elizabeth

TOM COTTERILL Email Published: 10:19 Monday 28 January 2019

AMBITIOUS plans are being drawn up by the Royal Navy to build a new mega dry dock capable of housing Britain’s new aircraft carriers in a venture that could be worth hundreds of millions for Portsmouth. The complex proposals are being crafted by an expert team of engineers and could see Portsmouth Naval Base’s Number 2 Basin converted into one of the country’s biggest dry docks, sources have told The News. HMS Queen Elizabeth could be getting a dry dock for major refits in Portsmouth under new plans being looked at by the Royal Navy.
Excited city leaders claim the project, which is still in the early phases of development, could create up to 100 jobs and bring £1bn to Portsmouth over the next decade.
Officials within the Royal Navy said it was too early to say if the plan was viable but admitted it was being looked into. However, if formally approved by the Ministry of Defence, the revamp would make the naval HQ one of the most capable in the world, able to refit everything from small boats to frigates, destroyers and Britain’s two £3.1bn aircraft carriers.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is only able to go to dry dock in Rosyth for major repair work.
Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, hoped the project would bring a raft of benefits to the city. The international development secretary said: 'The vision to become the maritime heart of the UK is coming alive.'
Councillor Donna Jones, former leader of Portsmouth City Council, was excited by the prospect, which she said could ‘create and protect at least 100 jobs’ and be worth £1bn to the city over a 10-year period. The Tory leader also hinted there could be commercial gains to be had from civilian refits and added: ‘We already have one of the most sophisticated dockyards in the world and a key Nato asset globally, however the creation of a “super dry dock” in Portsmouth would make HM Naval Base Portsmouth one of the top three in Europe and one of the best in the world. ‘Being able to compete with areas like Rotterdam, which carries out a large amount of the commercial shipping re-fit work, would create hundreds of new jobs in Portsmouth. ‘I have spoken to the Royal Navy about this project and I am optimistic that the business case will demonstrate that the investment is a good one.’ Portsmouth will be the home of the navy’s two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales for the next 50 years.
However, when major refits are needed in a dry dock, the vessels would have to travel up to Rosyth, in Scotland. If the work to improve Portsmouth’s facilities were given the go-ahead, dockyard sources have told The News it could take up to five to fully realise the plans. The new facility would be large enough to house one of the 280m, 65,000-tonne behemoths, and allow engineers to access the hull and propulsion systems. A spokeswoman for the Royal Navy confirmed they were looking at the plan for a dry dock but said: ‘The options to deliver the best value engineering and infrastructure support for the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers remain under consideration. If is far too early to have any indication of the results.’ More than £100m has been pumped into modernise the dockyard to prepare it for the arrival of both aircraft carriers. It comes in the wake of a major investment in the base by defence giant BAE Systems, which maintains Britain’s naval fleet in Portsmouth.
The latest news strengthens Portsmouth’s hand to become a key maintenance hub of the Royal Navy’s future fleet. Campaigners have been battling to have to ensure the base has its fair share of refit work on the eight Type 26 frigates, the navy’s new state-of-the-art work horses which will help protect the aircraft carriers. The sub-hunting vessels will be packed with sophisticated sensors and weapons but will be based at Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth. However, as previously revealed by The News, sources within the MoD said Portsmouth was still in with a strong chance to secure lucrative maintenance contracts for the warships. HMS Queen Elizabeth is due for her first major period of dry dock maintenance later this year in Rosyth. Her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales is expected to arrive in Portsmouth by the end of 2019.

For those of our members who are not familiar with the layout of Portsmouth Dockyard (or as it is now titled H.M.Naval Base, Portsmouth), I have included a plan of the dockyard (please note that this is somewhat dated from the perspective that the building slip and numbers 7 and 10 dry-docks have all been filled in.
 

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pf matthews

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The more I search, the more I find!!!!

This would seem to be a more practical proposition rather than the 'reported' part of Basin 3!!!!

Photo from HMNB Tweets from 27th June 2018!

This photo shows a model of HMNB Portsmouth. Look closely, you'll see a longer D Lock (orange area) and an enlarged Fountain Lake Jetty (yellow area), A part of Basin No.3 has also been "paved over" to become a new part of Fountain Lake Jetty. There are also two QEC models at Princess Royal and Victory jetties.
 

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pf matthews

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The Interweb just keeps on giving!! :)

Article from the "Save the Royal Navy Website"/forum

Dry docking the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers – what are the options?

The two Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carriers will require dry-docking periodically throughout their lives. The dry docks at Portsmouth and Devonport naval bases are not large enough to accommodate them so the RN must choose between a very limited selection of other UK facilities. Here we examine some of the options.

In the summer of 2019 HMS Queen Elizabeth will return to Rosyth for her first dry-docking so contractors can carry out a routine hull survey and maintenance of her underwater systems. This £5M project will sustain 100 jobs with Babcock at its peak but should only take a matter of weeks. The MoD has been considering tenders for this work for over a year but it is not surprising that Rosyth was selected at this point. HMS Prince of Wales is still being fitted out and much of the workforce that built QE is still employed there. The support facilities are in place and the site has a high standard of security.
In the longer term, the RN needs to select which dock in the UK will be used for both short planned maintenance and the major refits which will be needed every 7-8 years. The decision to build large 280m long aircraft carriers has many operational and technical benefits but one of the drawbacks of their size is the lack of choices for dry docking the ships. The list below summarises the UK sites that are large enough to take the QEC but the minimum dimensions of the docks are just the starting point, as there are other factors to consider.

Rosyth
Having built the ships and won the first docking contract, Rosyth looks in pole position to be the choice for all future dry docking of the aircraft carriers. The site benefits from its heritage as a naval dockyard, modern facilities, good security, and an experienced workforce. However the access for large ships is poor and its long term future is uncertain. Entry and exit for the QEC into the basin at Rosyth is a very demanding operation. When HMS Queen Elizabeth left her birthplace in June 2017 there was a narrow window of just 6 days during that month when the tidal conditions were suitable. Eleven tugs were needed to make a carefully orchestrated move that could only be done in good visibility and light winds. Although the basin entrance was substantially rebuilt in 2010, there is less than a metre of clearance on either side and just 50cm between the keel and the seabed. All these factors restrict access the facilities in Rosyth to limited periods of opportunity, far from ideal, especially if dry docking is urgent. Every entry and exit at Rosyth will involve a much greater risk of delay or even damage to the ship than almost all the other alternative docks in the UK. Investment in dredging and modifying the basin entrance could be a sensible option if the MoD decides to make the site its permanent choice for carrier drydocking.

Although submarine recycling will continue slowly on the site and Sandown class minehunter refits will be conducted in the shiphall for a few more years, there is no certainty about other naval work at Rosyth. Despite the closure of the Appledore yard, Babcock would like to increase its shipbuilding business and is leading a consortium bidding for the Type 31 frigate. It is also part of an alliance bidding to build the Fleet Solid Support ships in the UK. Winning either competition could help sustain Rosyth’s future as a naval construction and repair yard. This would keep a larger workforce on site ready to conduct aircraft carrier refits. Many people would like to see the FSS assembled at Rosyth, potentially in number 1 Dock using the Goliath crane, although the build schedule would need to be carefully balanced with the timing of QEC refits. This is just conjecture and whether there is any kind of joined-up plan by the MoD and Babcock to sustain Rosyth is yet to be seen.
LEFT: HMS Invincible in D Lock, the largest of Portsmouth’s dry docks with HMS Ocean entering C Lock (c2000). RIGHT: HMS Illustrious alongside HMS Queen Elizabeth in Rosyth for her naming ceremony – a useful size comparison of the ships and the dry docks (July 2014)

Inherent risk
There were occasions in the past when the Invincible class carriers (CVS) were put into dry dock in Portsmouth at short notice. Without a suitable dock in Portsmouth and reliant on commercial dry docks, the QEC carriers may not have the luxury of being able to ‘dock on demand’. This could become a serious issue restricting the aspiration for continuous carrier capability. Either the MoD and industry must come up with a sustainable plan to keep one of the facilities ready for carrier work, or accept the risk that a suitable dock will not always be available at short notice. In June 2017 HMS Queen Elizabeth experienced a propulsion problem during her initial sea trials. A misaligned propellor blade caused vibration that revealed the thrust blocks were of inadequate strength and were on the verge of failure. Fortunately, the propellor blade issue was rectified by divers while alongside in Invergordon and the thrust block was reinforced. Let us imagine for a moment this problem had been more serious, there were no dry docks immediately ready to take the ship as HMS PoW was then under construction in the dry dock at Rosyth. The whole carrier programme could have been delayed for months until a suitable dock was available.
The Portsmouth proposal
As can be discerned from the table above the optimum solution would be to dry dock the carriers in their home in Portsmouth. The site is the homeport of the ship’s company, has plenty of space, is secure and has an experienced workforce suited to naval work. It is believed the MoD has conducted some feasibility studies to look at expanding D-lock. It is currently about 280m but would need to be extended to at least 310m, widened and have bigger caissons added at both ends. Constructions costs would clearly be very significant, on top of the £100million already invested in the Princess Royal Jetty and other naval base infrastructure to support the carriers.
The QEC carriers are expected to have a service life of around 50 years. Assuming each of the two ships required dry docking on average once every 3 years, that is a total of more than 30 times. If each docking requires hefty payments to one or more commercial providers it would probably be considerably cheaper over the lifetime of the carriers to pay the upfront cost of expanding D-Lock in Portsmouth. Unfortunately, this seems unlikely in the current financial climate. The MoD frequently has to prioritise its short term budget even if delaying expenditure will add significantly to the long term overall cost. Another reason government may not be too keen to make the investment at Portsmouth would be the potential political benefits of spreading the work around the UK. BAE Systems already have the contract to maintain the carriers when they are alongside in Portsmouth but using drydocks elsewhere would also help diversify contractor choice.

Note: The area outlined in red shows the APPROXIMATE size change required for Portsmouths Lock D.
 

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