The bow section of Prince of Wales in December 2014

HMS Prince of Wales front and back sections joined together

The two halves of the HMS Prince of Wales have been joined together in Fife after a 10 hour long, high-precision operation.

HMS Prince of Wales is the second of the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers to be built for the UK, after the 65,000-tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth which was launched last year.

More than 26,500 tonnes of the forward half of the ship were mechanically skidded back 17 metres to join on to the 12,000-tonne ‘superblock’ which makes up the rear of the vessel.

The Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) said that a specialised hydraulic system was used for the 10 hour operation which resulted in a perfect joining of the two halves of the ship, with less than a 3mm tolerance down the centre line.

Tom Niven, build and assembly manager for the ACA, said: "While we've completed a few of these skidding operations on the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, this is the final operation of its type on the programme and the heaviest section anyone in the UK has had to move.

"It's always a particularly delicate and precise procedure, demonstrating the high-level of engineering skills we have across the alliance."

The operation is believed to be a UK record in terms of the weight of the ship that was skidded.

The new ships are the largest British warships ever constructed, and can be used for a range of military activities from war fighting to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

Angus Holt, HMS Prince of Wales delivery director, said: "To see more than 26,000 tonnes of ship skidded in the dry-dock is an amazing sight and a very proud moment for the alliance.

"The rate at which HMS Prince of Wales is coming together is also very gratifying, with the team doing a superb job in ensuring that we keep to our schedule.

"This will allow us to complete the assembly phase of the build by our target date of next year. It really is the turning point in our build programme."

Last month, the Royal Navy installed a ground-breaking radar system on the HMS Queen Elizabeth that is capable of detecting objects as small as a tennis ball travelling at triple the speed of sound over 25km away.

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