DOCUMENTARY HAILS DOCK WORKERS AND CREW AFTER U
Built at a cost of £ 3.1billion and measuring 920ft long, 240ft wide and weighing 65,000 tons, the HMS Queen Elizabeth is also the most advanced craft ever constructed.
Many challenges await in her military lifetime – but the first was just getting out of Rosyth Dockyard and scraping under the Forth bridges.
Filmmaker Chris Terrill was on board as the super warship inched into the Firth of Forth in June last year, with everyone on board breathing in, ducking down and with their hearts in their mouth.
The dockyard’s sea gate allowed only 30 centimetres clearance on either side for the ship to pass and, under the command of Captain Jerry Kyd and his 700 sailors, she had to have her towering pole mast specially lowered to let her pass safely under the bridges.
He said: “Getting out into the open sea, we had to go through that tiny little sea gate with 30 centimetres clearance and I don’t think there was sailor on board who wasn’t breathing in. It was extraordinary. Thank God we had the best tug masters in the business pulling and pushing.
“All the mathematical calculations had been done to ensure we had clearance to get under the Forth rail and road bridges with the port mast down but even so, I think we all ducked going under the bridges because the tides and currents come along and maybe there is going to be a some sort of freak wave that is going to push us up.
“It wouldn’t be a good start to take out the Forth Rail Bridge. People were pretty conf ident but you can never be totally confident until after the event.”
Things did go as planned and Chris, who has also made The Cruise, Commando: On the Front Line and War Torn Warriors, was on board to document it for new three-part BBC series, Britain’s Biggest Warship.
Embedded within the ship’s company of 700 sai lors, the award- winning filmmaker was given unprecedented access for the series, which was three years in the making and begins in Fife, at Rosyth.
The scale of the vessel and the task of getting around it amid construction is summed up by one sailor, who describes it as being like Harry Potter’s school Hogwarts with its moving staircases. For Chris, it was more akin to Star Trek. He said: “When you first see her in the flesh, you can hardly believe what you are looking at. It’s like the Starship Enterprise. Even more staggering is when you go on board for the first time. When I went on, she was still pretty much a building site inside. Five kilometres of passageways, 3300 compartments, just try finding your way around that without a map. That was a huge challenge for everybody but particularly for me.
“I had to get to know her better than most because I work alone. It is just me and my camera so I had to find my way around this gargantuan ship, which was no small task.
“I often got lost and thought they were gong to have to send out a search party to f ind this wandering itinerant cameraman but short of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, there is no other way.
“The only way is to get on and get lost until the memory kicks in. After two
VESSEL DO NICELEY HMS Queen Elizabeth PIC BBC/ Uppercut Films/Chris Terrill GO FORTH It was a tight squeeze but the HMS Queen Elizabeth just makes it under the bridges ABOARD Petty officer Emma Ranson TAST