Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has seen a fair few ships sent down into the water from possibly the most exciting viewpoint of all - the launch platform. Back to the heady post-war days in the 1950 and sixties, the highpoint, there can be little doubt, is when she named the world's very soon to be most iconic and famed cruise liner ever, the Queen Elizabeth 2. Quite how Ma'am felt at hearing the name was not in her honour but simply that the ship was the second Queen Elizabeth, isn't as far as we are aware, recorded, but you can be sure she took some personal pride in knowing that the mammoth warship at Rosyth two years ago was indubitably the bearer of her own title!
On the day Americans are jubilant at their severing with the British Crown the current British Crown was upsetting many a true Scot by - as any true Scot will verify - wasting a bottle of good malt on the grey paintwork in Rosyth.
That niggle aside, regardless of your love of malts, crown or country, there is a certain feel-good factor in an elderly lady lovingly gazing up at 60,ooo tons of tin and thinking, GOSH! One's name,... before hurling whisky at it.
And surely, it can be with no little pride that Scotland can look at it too and say, 'largely, we built that - " For once then, a Scot can forgive seeing whisky spilled.
Just under a year after that day, which marked the end of assembly of the ship from all its component parts, largely built in Govan on the Clyde, on the Mersey, at Devon, Portmouth and on the Tyne, her diesel engines fired into life for the first time. The diesel generator sets are for the main cruising engines for the ship, but two MT30 Gas Turbine Alternators will also be used. These engines, literally, could power a fairly large town.
Incidentally, the day christening almost (infuritatingly, almost) fell on the anniversary of the first steel cutting at Govan, on 7th July 2009.
In March of this year the crew's accommodation was finally completed and handed over to the new ships crew. This was a bit unusual!
Allan Smith, the lead of this area of the ship, said: “This is a very proud day for everyone in the Alliance. There have been hundreds of people in every conceivable trade working on these compartments – from the time they were a part of Lower Block 03 being built in Glasgow to the fit-out and commissioning phases here in Rosyth.
“Compartments would normally be handed over after sea trials, so to achieve this at such an early stage, to the high quality and specification required by the Royal Navy, is a very significant milestone for the team.”
Lieutenant Commander John Ball, of the ship’s company, said: “Having the capability to start our damage control training on-board the ship so early is extremely exciting and will save us a vast amount of time. It will help us accelerate our learning opportunities and go some way to make sure our people are ready to operate the ship ahead of sea trials.
So, so far the ship has a name, working engines and even a crew. Since the crew got acquainted she has been doing harbour and docking trials and those sea trials may not be very far off, possibly the end of this year.
So two years after Her Majesty socked (or soaked) her namesake with a bottle, we can at last look forward to us all getting a chance to witness this behemoth in action.