Moving the big ship

A full-scale dry run at Rosyth proves the kit can do it – but it’s tight
A full-scale dry run at Rosyth proves the kit can do it – but it’s tight
Outreach's specialist access vehicle being craned about the  Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier
Outreach's specialist access vehicle being craned aboard the 'Queen Elizabeth' aircraft carrier
Industry Database

Outreach has been involved in some interesting projects since last year’s Seawork show.

One of them involved easing the new, 65,000 tonne Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier out of its dock in Rosyth. The problem was that it was an extremely tight fit, explained Stuart Finlayson of Outreach: “The clearances between the quay wall and ship were between 300 and 500mm and just 600mm from the keel to the seabed.”

The original request for help came from Babcock’s naval architecture department: what was needed was something to help keep an eye on the progress out of the gate, and one of Outreach’s specialist inspection vehicles was pressed into service.

The idea was simple enough, give the personnel responsible for the move the best view in the house, by hanging them over the edge of the ship in a basket mounted on a knuckleboom, so they could see all the way along the quay wall with an uninterrupted view fore and aft.

However, in reality it wasn’t that easy to accomplish. The truck-mounted Palfinger P480 had to be craned on into the foredeck, then driven through the onboard hangars till it reached the space left by an uninstalled aircraft elevator; once here it was manoeuvred till it sat tight on the edge of the deck, looking through an opening in the ship’s structure.

However, once there, “it was faced with unfolding inside a very tight envelope” said Finlayson. In short, there was no headroom to extend the boom upward before opening out the knuckle to drop the basket over the side of the ship. “It meant overriding the crane’s usual motion,” he explained, “something we hadn’t tried before.”

So, in order to mitigate any potentially nasty collisions between crane and superstructure, several dry runs took place: first of all at Outreach’s Falkirk base, followed by full scale trial conducted at Rosyth.

Any unexpected contact would have been disastrous, especially as on the day in question “there were thousands of people watching”, he said.

However, as planned, the machine gave the pilots a vital line of sight; they provided the bridge with a constant flow of information which was relayed to each of the 11 tugs guiding the ship – successfully – out toward open water. A proud moment for QEC, and possibly an even prouder one for Outreach.

Visit Outreach at Seawork International 2018 on stand PG9.

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