October 17 - Global heavy lift and transportation company ALE has started the mammoth task of weighing, transporting, loading-out and loading-in sections of the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier being built for the UK's Royal Navy.

The project was awarded to ALE by heavy lift and shipping specialist Henry Abram & Sons , which is the lead partner in a consortium of contractors, delivering the full transportation solution that supports the build programme of two aircraft carriers - the HMS Queen Elizabeth and sister ship HMS Prince of Wales - for the Royal Navy.

The sections weighing between 30 tonnes and 11,000 tonnes are being fabricated in five shipyards across the UK, including Birkenhead, Portsmouth, Glasgow and Newcastle upon Tyne.

The latest section to be loaded-out by self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT) to a sea-going barge was a section that makes up part of the bow. This section weighed over 6,000 tonnes and the process took six hours to complete.

Various configurations of up to 448 axles of SPMT, and up to 16 power packs are being utilised for each load-out. After loading-out, the barge was moored to a bespoke mooring spread and submerged allowing the cargo to float clear.

All operations covering barge arrival, load-out, towage and float-off had to be carefully timed to coincide with narrow tidal windows, a spokesman for Henry Abram and Sons added.

History in the making - two UK 'landmarks' meet for the first time as a section of the new HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier prepares to slide under the Forth Bridge