The Merlin helicopters of 820 Naval Air Squadron have now wrapped up an exercise in Scotland to prepare them for operating from HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Merlin helicopters will be the first aircraft to begin flying from HMS Queen Elizabeth, soon followed by Apache, Wildcat, Chinook and F-35.

Observer Lieutenant Dominic Rotherham said:

“Anti-submarine warfare when a Merlin Mk2 is involved isn’t so much a game of cat and mouse, more like mousetrap.

Once you understand what it is the submariner is trying to achieve and the underwater battlespace he has to work with, the likely location of the submarine starts to become clear.

It’s at that point you begin to shape that battlespace to how you want the fight to unfold.”

Merlin helicopters are expected to start ‘low-risk, simple flights’ from the carrier in Summer, before the ship arrives in Portsmouth for the first time. This was previously expected to be be in Spring.

These flights will be followed by flight trials in early 2018 according to Captain Kieran O’Brien, Merlin team leader for the Ministry of Defence.

Queen Elizabeth is due to start sea trials in Summer before her first deployment in 2021, followed by sister ship the Prince of Wales.

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Mike Saul

When the carrier enters Portsmouth harbour I am going to be standing on the top of the round tower waving her in.

I remember as a child watching a USN carrier, USS Essex class type I think, leaving the harbour it seemed to fill up the whole entrance. It’s a quite narrow there.

It’s going to be a great day.

David Stone

It certainly will. I hope to be there too

Rob Collinson

Can’t wait for it to finally happen!

Can anyone confirm whether a TV company plans to do a TV series about the work up of the new carrier?

Would be sooooo happy to see it in action!!


Why has everything Portsmouth this and Portsmouth that
Theres an even bigger base in Devonport
And also more room as everything seems to go to effing Portsmouth
Is it becouse the admirals are so stuck up they cant be bothered with a long trip down to Devon

Dave simpson

That’s a ridiculous comment. The simple fact is that Portsmouth had been the principle RN base now for well over 10 years as we simply don’t have the size of RN we had in years past. Goodness knows that’s why we had to close Chatham and Portland completely, and Rosyth as an operating base. It was always planned to use Pompey as the QE class main port not least ad that’s where the least work was required to be able to support and operate them. Portsmouth had been the RN’s carrier base for nearly 40 years now.


Strange you say 40 years as when i was in the RFA i seem to remember both Ark Royal and Eagle based there

Daniele Mandelli


Devonport houses some frigates, and the amphibious force and survey vessels, and some RFA.
Most RM are based nearby. Raleigh is next door.

Portsmouth houses Carriers, Destroyers, and rest of Frigate force, alongside Hunt MCMV, and Patrol Boats.
Collingwood, Sultan and Excellent nearby.

Seems a reasonable spread to me?

Kevin Perkins

Too much manoeuvring for a big ship like that to get in and out of Devonport and dredging there by the Hoe would not work.

Martin Symes

Who cares where they are based, lets get them into service and out there supporting our lads and lasses. I’ll be on a boat in the Solent when she arrives, this will be a sight I never thought I would see again.

Mr Bell

They are great ships. Going to be superb seeing the QE coming into Portsmouth for the first time. They offer so much hope for a better future and a more capable Royal Navy. I hope over their first 10-15 years in service we can rebuild a more potent and numerous RN around these flagships.

John West

Question for those who know more than me (clue – that is probably all of you).

Has there been any articles on this site regarding the Russian “Zircon” missile tests? I have searched (but I’m c*$p) – I was looking for a more informed discussion on the threat to our surface fleet (as opposed to the Daily Mail view of the world).


John, don’t you recognise alleged Russian technological advances are a mirage to the dreadful state of their armed forces. They pretend to be a super power based on the relics of the soviet era but lack infrastructure, technical expertise and the economy to sustain what they have let alone deliver on outrageous big ticket items that have no substance or chance of reality; they rely on misinformation and the spreading there of.