Over the next week, HMS Queen Elizabeth will be manned and ready as her crew operate the ship 24-hours a day as though she’s at sea, except for one detail: the carrier will not leave the pier at Rosyth.
The Training Cruise (also known as a ‘fast cruise’) commenced today and its purpose is to exercise a number of scenarios which the Ship’s Company may experience at sea. You’re right that the Training Cruise commenced today.
An ACA spokesperson told the UK Defence Journal:
“The Ship’s Company is now living on board the HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and working with industry colleagues to prepare for maiden sea trials in the summer as well as undertaking a period of training.
The Training Cruise is part of this training programme and, whilst alongside, exercises a number of scenarios which the Ship’s Company may experience at sea.”
A senior member of the Ship’s Company said:
“We are thrilled to be settling into HMS Queen Elizabeth and making this ship our home. There is a real buzz of excitement as we focus on honing our skills and knowledge to bring the ship to life.”
The cruise is a simulated underway period that prepares the crew for life at sea. This is the last training effort before the supercarrier begins sea trials.
The training provides the opportunity to measure the ship’s preparedness and is designed to get the crew into an operational mindset. Each department will accomplish this task in their own way, but all training will simulate at-sea conditions as closely as possible.
Coinciding with the tides and the booking of various tugs, it’s estimated that HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail between the 21st and 24th of this month. This has not been confirmed by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance.
According to a source at Rosyth, the rumour mill supports this:
“Obviously most of us don’t know the exact time as that’ll depend on a multitude of factors but as far as I’m aware from what I’ve been told, Queen Elizabeth will sail in around two weeks.”
Another source tells us that the plan is for the vessel to depart on the 21st at noon and anchor in river. All going well, the supercarrier will sail under the bridges around 18:00, weather permitting. Again, this has not been confirmed.
The ships company have moved their belongings onboard for Ships Staff Move On Board (SSMOB). SSMOB is a key milestone in the ship preparing to sail. The ship is nearly ready to go to sea for the first time.
The earlier news of the slippage in trials of HMS Queen Elizabeth is no secret, the ship was supposed to sail in Spring. In such complex engineering projects, this type of occurrence isn’t a cause for concern nor is it unusual. HMS Queen Elizabeth, after all, is essentially a prototype and the Ministry of Defence can’t afford to get it wrong.
Recently Merlin helicopters of 820 Naval Air Squadron 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 later this year, soon followed by Apache, Wildcat, Chinook and F-35 next year.