A team from Ainscough Crane Hire have returned to the flight deck of the Royal Navy’s largest ever warship the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.

In the summer of 2017, a team helped prepare the vessel for her maiden sea trials while it was being built at Babcock’s Rosyth facility on the Firth of Forth, Scotland.

Rendezvousing with the ship while she was docked in Portsmouth, the home of the Royal Navy, the Ainscough team were this time charged with helping to install a state-of-the-art armament system which is capable of automatically tracking and destroying threats.

The first of three Phalanx 1B computer-controlled guns, which can fire 4,500 rounds-per-minute and has a range of nine kilometres, was lowered into position for installation and testing using a Leibherr LTM1040-2. The crane has been carrying out various tasks for around three weeks.

To carry out the work, which was commissioned by BAE Systems, the crane first needed to be lifted onto the flight deck using a 500t Liebherr LTM1500-8.1 from Ainscough’s Heavy Cranes fleet, which was set up on the quay side, 22 metres below the flight deck.

Tony Arnold, depot manager from Ainscough’s Southampton Depot, said: “These lifts were something a little out of the ordinary but our experience, approach to safety and the diversity of our crane fleet combined to ensure the works were carried out as both ourselves and the customer wanted.

“We have a lot of former armed forces personnel working here, including myself, and to have worked on the HMS Queen Elizabeth not once but twice, is something we are all incredibly proud of.”

Once the LTM1040’s work is complete on the flight deck, it will be removed and replaced with a Bocker MPC44 which will carry out further lifts.

The Phalanx weapon has been nicknamed ‘R2-D2′ because of its distinctive domed shape which is similar to the famous robot character in the Star Wars films. It is radar-controlled and is said to provide a ‘last chance’ defence for ships against anti-ship missiles and aircraft.

It is manufactured in the USA by the General Dynamics Corporation, and is in common usage within the US Navy. Its installation on the HMS Queen Elizabeth comes in advance of the carrier’s first operational deployment in 2021.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is 280 metres – almost 1,000 ft. – long, 73 metres wide and displaces 65,000 tonnes. She is capable of reaching 25 knots and has a range of 10,000 nautical miles. Built by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, consisting of BAE Systems, Thales Group and Babcock, HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, cost £6.2billion.


Ainscough Crane Hire has worked with HTC Wolffkran Ltd to play a key role in the construction of one of Manchester’s most exciting new buildings.

Property Alliance Group’s 28-storey Axis Tower recently topped out, with the concrete structure and external envelope having been completed.

When finished, the skyscraper will incorporate 170 one and two-bedroom luxury apartments and two three-bedroom penthouses, all boasting enviable views of the city.

Ainscough Crane Hire was hired by HTC Wolffkran Ltd to dismantle the WK100b crane located in the building’s centre, which had been used to construct the tower’s structure.

The project presented numerous difficulties, caused both by January’s trying weather conditions and the constrictions caused by the city centre location.

As the ground where the lift was taking place was not level, extra mats were used to secure the area upon which the crane sat. The other difficulties included the proximity of the busy Deansgate and Oxford Road train stations and the operation taking place above gas mains.

The turbulent weather conditions resulted in the dismantling of the WK100b being delayed on multiple occasions, but once the operation was able to commence it was completed safely and securely. A 500t crane with a 42m fixed fly was used to disassemble the tower crane, which was approximately 100m in height.

Bob Beardmore, Heavy Cranes Technical Manager, said: “People who live, work or travel through Manchester will be familiar with the Axis Tower – it’s a very impressive sight and promises to be an excellent addition to the city’s. Dismantling a 100m tower crane in such a complex area, and in difficult weather conditions, presented some challenges, but I’m happy to say that we were able to complete the project to our usual exceptional standard while causing minimal disruption to workers, residents and passers-by in this busy area.”

The Axis Tower is being built by Russells Construction for developer Property Alliance Group, and was designed by architect Jon Matthews in association with 5plus architects.


A team from Ainscough Crane Hire’s Birmingham Depot has helped to build a new leisure centre at the heart of an emerging community in the Ladywood area of the city.

The Ickneild Port Loop leisure centre is a brand new facility being built close to Ladywood Fire Station to serve existing communities and the new development which features over 1,000 new homes and new commercial premises.

The area takes its name from a section of canal which was built to access the Ickneild Port and is being developed by a partnership of Urban Splash and Places for People.

Working for Britannia Site Solutions Ltd and using a Liebherr LTM 1055, the Ainscough team were on site completing the building envelope by positioning external insulated cladding to the steel frame.

Peter Anthony, depot manager at Ainscough’s Birmingham Depot, said: “The Ickneild Port Loop area has been earmarked for regeneration for many years and it is great to see the proposals taking off. Understandably, we are pleased to have an opportunity to play a part in the development of this marvellous new community facility.”

The new leisure centre includes a swimming pool, a multi-purpose hall, studio space and a fully equipped gymnasium.


A team, led by Ainscough’s West London Depot, has played a critical role in the assembly of a new waste water treatment plant for Heathrow Airport which has been developed by leading water and waste treatment company, Veolia Water Technologies.

The project, known as Heathrow Camp 4, is located on the Great Western Road, in the direct flight path of aeroplanes approaching the airport’s runway 27L from the east.

The project involved the Ainscough team positioning various elements of the treatment plant including tanks, pipework, various construction materials and other ancillary components over a period of three months.

With a Liebherr MK110 stationed on site for much of the duration of works, the team had to work within the tight safety restrictions imposed by the airport and Civil Aviation Authority. This meant that different height restrictions were in place during daytime and night time operations.

The relatively constrained site also meant that careful planning was required to ensure that smaller mobile cranes brought onto site could operate safely in proximity to the MK110. This was especially important for the lifting of materials which required two mobile cranes on site for loads to be topped and tailed such as the prefabricated water containment vessels.

Owing to on-site height restrictions, the MK110 was only able to operate with its mast elevated to 17 metres to keep below the day time working ceiling height of 22 meters, rather than the standard 25 or 33. These configurations, which have only recently been introduced by Liebherr, had to be thoroughly tested off site first and meant the crane had to operate at 50 per cent of its standard winch speed to stay within safety limits.

Steve Scott, contract lift manager, from the West London Depot, said: “Thinking about the job as a whole, it was a challenging set of circumstances we found ourselves in. Like most jobs, we have to respond to the situation and give our customers our best advice based on our experience and know how.

“Safety is always our watchword and, as we approach the final lifts on this project, we are very pleased to have delivered for Veolia on this project.”

Over 30 days or night of lift activity has taken place on site using a range of cranes from the MK110 mobile tower crane to an LTM 1040.