Frigates HMS Sutherland and HMS Iron Duke have joined aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth for sea trials, the first escort the vessel has received.

The sea trials will monitor speed, manoeuvrability, power and propulsion as well as undertaking weapons trials and additional tests on her levels of readiness.

Following this initial period, HMS Queen Elizabeth will return to Rosyth for further testing and maintenance before heading back to sea for a second stage which aims to test her Mission Systems. She will transit to her home port of Portsmouth Naval Base to be handed over to the Royal Navy later this year.

The operation to move the vessel out of the basin was performed by a fleet of tugs and attracted significant public interest.

Admiral Sir Philip Jones First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff said:

“This is a hugely significant moment for the Royal Navy, for all our Armed Forces and for our island nation. Once in service HMS Queen Elizabeth will be the largest aircraft carrier in the world outside the United States, and the first designed from the outset to operate a fifth generation aircraft.

Already this ship represents the best of the UK’s industrial and engineering expertise, and once in service she will symbolise our military power and authority in the world for decades to come. There is still much work to do between now and then, but be in no doubt: a new era of British maritime power is about to begin.”

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Why is the Blue Ensign in the Jack position?

Mike Saul

Because it’s undergoing sea trials prior to being formally handed over to the RN


Yes I know -the White Ensign should only be raised once she is handed over to the RN but the Ensign should be in the Ensign position not in the Jack position


Geoff – Its actually the ‘Government Service’ ensign and not the ‘Blue Ensign’ we associate with the RFA and why it has a horizontal anchor ‘defacing’ the blue field. Blue Ensigns can be flown at any position. RFA ships will fly their plain Blue Ensign on the Bow Staff for example.

The exclusion I think you may be referring to is when the Union Flag becomes the ‘Union Jack’ when flown on the bow Jack Staff of a Royal Navy ship and can only be flown from that position under certain conditions.


Thanks Chris-appreciate the clarification.. On subject the RCN have recently reinstated the national Flag as the “Jack” and the former Naval Flag as the Ensign in keeping with tradition in virtually all of the Commonwealth Navies. They swopped them A…. about face in the sixties when the Services amalgamated under one command. As to the Union Jack-i am sure you know that the Flag institute has stated it can be called either UJ or UF on land. I am not a fan of the new fashion to call it the Union Flag. everywhere else in the world it is known… Read more »


I’m so glad to hear that she has an escort. I’m not seriously thinking she’s in any real danger of attack or sinking on builder’s sea trials but it would have felt like an ignominious start if her first outing into the open sea had been her all on her own. I wonder at what stage in the trials they’ll try RAS. Not this time I suspect but will that form part of the pre-handover builder’s trials, maybe phase 2 in a couple of months time after she’s re-docked between phases? I would have thought that Tidespring might be available… Read more »


“refueling” -> “refueling stations” (as in spacing thereof)


Seriously though Julian-I think the escort is essential. Not beyond possibility that the Russians try some clandestine “accident” with a Merchant ship or more possibly an ISIS suicide squad in a small boat

Mr Bell

They cannot do weapons trials as no weapons appear to be fitted. No phalanx or 20-30mm guns visible. Maybe QE is getting her weapons fit later?
If so great…can she be fitted with sea ceptor and/or sea viper. Fallon hope you read defence websites…QE is currently the only strike carrier in the world without any SAMs!!!


You missed the machine gun next to the ski jump, hope they add a bit more later.


If you want a SAM of some sort, I’d suggest aiming for RAM or SeaRAM replacing the Phalanx mounts rather than Sea Ceptor or Sea Viper. Vertical launchers and aircraft carriers don’t really work that well together.


Good to see the UK on the way back to being a carrier power. This fine ship with its complement of F35B and Apache helicopters will give UK the much missed power projection capability. But there seems not to be enough Type 45 destroyers and Type 23 frigates to give it adequate protection in a high threat scenario. A US CVN typically has 4-6 Aegis warship in addition to SSNs and MPAs providing fleet air and anti-submarine defence. And thats on top of a much larger air wing with their own airborne electronic attack and fixed wing AEW aircraft.

Harry Nelson

of oxygen you are?

Mike Saul

The QE cost a little over £3bn. It has a planned service life of 50years, sounds like a bargain to me.


Try &30+ billion (£65 billion for the 2 carriers)
The T45’s each cost 1 billion


Though she’ll cost a awful lot more to run, maintain, update and refit over that time. Not that I have any problem with that, however.


Fantastic vessel, a tribute to the engineering skills of the Uk
As for the cost….seems good value to me


Oh I know TH….. that’s 3.2Bn we could have given to the Foreign Aid budget!! …… uhhhhhh. Seriously TH, I truly respect your opinion – and all here should – but it’s called defence of the Realm and is the number one priority of any government to protect their people. This is a tremendous investment in our security for the next 50yrs. My axe to grind with this – and previous governments on both sides – is they defend us on the cheap. As Mr Bell pointed out, we now have the biggest warship ever built for the RN –… Read more »


Last T45 I worked on had Harpoon and Torpedoes.
The space for VLS is there but is being used for the military essential exercise bike and running machine…


TH – they are defended by NATO. Which is mostly the armed forces of the US. If it, under Trump, starts pulling back or focusing on China more, Europe might have to start spending a little more itself and doing a little more itself. Take a look at Canada’s recent shift. Also, the UK is an island nation, with a few overseas territories still. We have always had the navy as our primary armed force, from Tudor times, through Empire and both World Wars. In my view it should be our largest force now (in terms of ships / spending,… Read more »


Defended by whom??? You might want to do a little more research on that one….

Mike Saul

Without the USA military might backing the defence of democractic Europe, European nations would have to double their current defence spending to maintain a viable defence strategy.


Absolutely – with the exception of the UK, Europe has been sponging of the US for their collective defence for the past 70yrs. They can and SHOULD do more to pay for their own security. That said, I am not happy with the direction HMG is taking; everyone knows they threw in everything but the kitchen sink to make it look like they were reaching what is frankly – the absolute bare minimum of 2% GDP.


I am no advocate for the MoD but in fairness it is NATO that lays out how funding should be calculated. Basically the MoD fill in the numbers against the NATO boxes.

Having said that we should be spending 3% on Defence and diddley squat on Foreign Aid …

Mike Saul

Sweden has recently reintroduced conscription to increase it’s military forces.

So they obviously don’t feel that safe.

TH would you support conscription in the UK?


i would not support conscription even though most of the old national service were proud to do that but to many soft idiots in the country now as a result of political correctness..when i served in the army we all agreed we would rather not have someone forced to do the job watching our back…our lads and lasses do a very good job just not appreciated or looked after properly by our pathetic governments,who penny pinch at everything so they can play the big i am on the world stage..


The Vessel Finder site is all over the shop on this one. They’re tracking the Sutherland, but showing a picture of a minesweeper. And every now and then the ID changes to the Shoreham. Not very reassuring for those who use the site for more than interest.

How many vessels will form the carrier group? I’m guessing a number of Darings and Astutes, plus at least one RFA?


…though I am having fun tracking the little SD TEMPEST tug all the way back to HMNB Portsmouth. Why did she go all the way to Rosyth? To learn how QNLZ handles under ropes before she brings her in later in the year?

(Just passing Kingston Upon Hull, by the way. Not even halfway home yet!)


The other big SD tug came up from Southampton! She was only up in Rosyth for about 36 hours.


AIS when fitted to warships is not the same as that fitted to commercial vessels. It has some “extras” added to it for National Security reasons. In short dont beleive what AIS reports when it involves warships.


NATO members? They tend to get the US to do their heavy lifting. Though not for much longer.

We paid for these as part of our 2% commitment – the same commitment they choose to ignore because it’s easier to rely on US taxpayers. Well, it was.

Eire? They know we’ll protect them.


TH-the reason they are safe countries is because they have the US,UK and France to back them. The Republic of Ireland for example has no Air Force with which to guard its airspace-open season for any terrorist in town!! The task of defending her airspace is left to the RAF!!


I see HMS Iron Duke is now with Sutherland and the QE in the Forth Estuary …

David Bevan

TH you don’t live in Sweden. It’s a false comparison. Without boasting the UK is a significantly larger, richer and more influential country than the very lovely Sweden. I’m sorry you fail to appreciate that. The UK foreign aid budget on it’s own is is over 3 times what Sweden spends on defence. Comparing the UK to Sweden is well….like comparing apples with oranges or perhaps patrol boats to an aircraft carriers. 🙂


Well why should my tax money be spent on foreign aid or Diversity officers or reinforcing the Left Wing bias in the BBC? We all vote in an elections and then we get to enjoy moaning about what the government spend our taxes on. Go join the queue nothing special going on here.


UK forces defend all those countries. We even have forces in Germany and NATO planning gives us the responsibility of reinforcing Norway in the event of War. Aircraft Carrier might be quite handy for that don’t you think? You seem to be very opinionated about a subject you have very little knowledge of. I’d give it up as a bad job since you don’t really seem to have the game for it. The contributors to this website are far too knowledgeable to fall for tired Left Wing slogans. But feel free to post just be aware that we’re also free… Read more »


If Portsmouths primark Jihardis don’t easily take care of this vast sitting duck, someone will get past its underarmed or non existant escorts and incomplete air wing. Never risk it.

Geoffrey Roach

A question for you. If you saw a woman being attacked in the street would you think ‘she’s nothing to do with me I’ll let him carry on’ I would hope not. You cannot help your merchant fleet from a cutter or your allies and friends overseas with a motorboat. And where do you get the idea that the cold war is over. China and Russia are both building up their power; North Korea has nuclear weapons and are testing missile systems and I could go on. It’a a very dangerous world. You cannot buy peace. It has to be… Read more »


Don’t forget that India is also building carriers , they bought HMS Hermes , the oldest working carrier , they bought a Russian Hybred carrier , and have just launched recently their own designed & built carrier , and are expecting to build a carrier even bigger than the QE. Carriers are not just a Status symbol, they are a projection of a nations power and willingness to use force to protect the freedom of movement and the nations sovereignty. This show of force is all that may be needed to prevent conflict , thus saving lives. So the cost… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

A rant coming up as I’m sick to death of people like TH. Why have locks of your doors? Because there are thieves out there. Why have a military? Because wars happen, and countries try to out manoeuvre you. It is human nature, tribal warfare has never left. So you would just ignore it and leave your doors open? TH is a typical lefty utterly ashamed of the UK having any political, military or diplomatic clout anywhere in the world, and has a chip on his/her shoulder that the UK is somebody on the world stage. I read recently Corbyn… Read more »


Another good saying is ” the best defense is a good offence” . The last time that Britain started military cut backs in 1982 and we had a bigger armed forces then and we barely had enough to do the job , if we hadn’t scrapped the Ark Royal then the war down in the south Atlantic would never have happened. This country needs to start to building its armed forces up , not just in technology but also numerically , the powers that be don’t seem to understand that you need reserve forces to replace damaged or lost vessels,… Read more »

Mr Bell

Seriously TH you must be only posting on this site (for real defence enthusiasts) because you love the annoyed responses from my friends and peers. give it up fella. You have 2 options. 1) please stop posting on this site and go and get a job working for the green party or countryfile. 2) actually open your eyes to the significant dangers and perils in this world. Try reading some history books about conflicts from the recent past. Then tell me a much stronger navy with 26 high end frigate and destroyers, QE class carriers, amphibious landing ships and nuclear… Read more »


Sad day, you wont be saying that when our rights of passage on international trade routes, are challenged, or even blockaded! These two carriers in combination with other free nations, can ensure that our oceans are free of adventurism.