HMS Queen Elizabeth was due to sail from Portsmouth today for training however the Royal Navy have now confirmed that this is being delayed due to personnel testing positive for COVID-19.
A Royal Navy spokesperson said:
“A small number of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s personnel have tested positive for COVID during routine preparation for sailing. Those affected have been isolated and are working with the NHS Test and Trace system to ensure the virus does not spread further.”
It is understood that the vessel is expected to sail once the status of the rest of the crew has been confirmed.
The vessel was due to sail for exercises including Exercise Joint Warrior off the Scottish coast. The ship is also due to be joined by American F-35Bs meaning that this will be the “most aircraft on a Royal Navy carrier since HMS Hermes“.
These flight deck BBQ's have really taken a toll 🔥#NoJets
Or could it be the sign of an operational flight deck.#StrikeCarrier🇬🇧
📸 Andy Amor pic.twitter.com/SwdJsrhkF7
— HMS Queen Elizabeth🇬🇧 (@HMSQNLZ) September 2, 2020
This is in preparation for next year when HMS Queen Elizabeth will deploy with two frigates, two destroyers, a nuclear submarine and support vessels.
Commodore Michael Utley, Commander United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group, is reported by Save The Royal Navy here as saying that HMS Queen Elizabeth will be escorted by two Type 45 destroyers, two Type 23 frigates, a nuclear submarine, a Tide-class tanker and RFA Fort Victoria.
Earlier in the year, HMS Queen Elizabeth cleared her penultimate hurdle for front-line duties after ten weeks around the UK, preparing for her maiden deployment in the new year.
“A final package of training in the autumn – working alongside NATO and US allies – will confirm her ability to act as a task group flagship, so that she can lead a potent carrier strike force on front-line operations anywhere in the world.”
The Royal Navy said at the time that in view of the size and complexity of the carrier, she received a dedicated training package, initially off the south coast, to test the ability of all 1,100 men and women on board to deal with everything they might expect to face in peace and war. The training package reached its climax with 18 fictional fire and flood incidents raging simultaneously – with the ship expected to continue flying operations while damage control teams toiled in the carrier’s depths.