Page last updated at 14:09 GMT, Sunday, 13 September 2009 15:09 UK

New carriers to dwarf naval base

The flight decks on the new carriers will be the size of 49 tennis courts

The Royal Navy has unveiled an image of how a giant aircraft carrier will look in its base when it is completed.

The computer-generated image was created to give an impression of the scale of the next generation of warships due to enter service in 2015.

It shows one of the carriers alongside Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire, where it will take up three jetties.

The government gave the go-ahead for the new HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales vessels last year.

The move came despite criticism the £5bn cost would be better spent elsewhere in the armed forces.

'Huge impact'

The carriers will be the biggest and most powerful warships ever designed and built in the UK.

They will be 230ft (70m) wide and the flight deck area is equivalent to 49 tennis courts or three football pitches and large enough to take up to 40 aircraft.

Captain Paul Lemkes, deputy naval base commander, said: "The image brings home the sheer scale of our future aircraft carriers and there is a great deal of work in hand to ensure that the naval base is ready to support them when they enter service.

"As well as bringing a much-needed addition to the UK's joint military capability, they will be a magnificent sight and will, undoubtedly, make a huge impact on the Portsmouth skyline when alongside as well as generating great interest throughout the region."

Preliminary work is already under way in the naval base to accommodate the vessels.

Three jetties on the western edge of the base will have to be upgraded and extra shore services will be needed, including an increase in electrical supply.



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