Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has announced that HMS Queen Elizabeth is set to enter her new home in Portsmouth in around two weeks time.
Whilst weather conditions mean the exact date of the historic moment is yet to be confirmed, the window for entry will open next Thursday the 17th, with her arrival expected to be no later than the following Tuesday the 22nd.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:
“In just two weeks’ time, the most powerful warship ever built for Britain’s famous Royal Navy is set to sail into her proud new home in Portsmouth.
HMS Queen Elizabeth will be the Royal Navy’s flagship for the next 50 years, keeping us safe by deploying across the seven seas, using her strike power to deter our enemies.”
With only three other countries in the world building aircraft carriers, the MoD say HMS Queen Elizabeth will give Britain the capability to lead the way in tackling global issues in an increasingly uncertain world, from providing humanitarian relief to high-end warfighting.
Trials are simultaneously underway for both HMS Queen Elizabeth and F-35B Lightning before they come together in 2018 but just what do sea trials involve?
Sea trials monitor speed, manoeuvrability, power and propulsion as well as undertaking weapons trials and additional tests on her levels of readiness.
Sea trials were planned beginning in March 2017 but minor technical issues delayed her sea trials until the end of June. Prior to the ship’s departure from Rosyth, an extensive survey was carried out of the Firth of Forth by HMS Gleaner and 42 Regiment, Royal Engineers to gather information on the tides, the depth of the river bed, and the height of the three river crossings (Forth Bridge, Forth Road Bridge, Queensferry Crossing). This was necessary as the most recent data available was 60 years old.
Queen Elizabeth sailed on the 26th of June 2017. The first stage of the operation was to move the ship from inside the fitting out basin, via one of the access gates, into the Firth of Forth itself, before taking the ship under the three Forth bridge crossings.
Once this was accomplished, the ship took to the open sea off the east coast of Scotland to undertake the first set of trials, including handling and speed tests. During this period, Queen Elizabeth was accompanied by a pair of Type 23 frigates, HMS Sutherland and HMS Iron Duke, acting as escorts.
The first aircraft to land on the ship was a Merlin HM.2 of 820 Naval Air Squadron on the 3rd July. Following initial runs in and around the Firth of Forth, the carrier was taken further north to the Moray Firth, during which period the ship encountered the Cunard cruise liner Queen Elizabeth.