The whole of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s ship’s company is being tested for COVID-19 prior to her departure for a period of Operational Sea Training.

Stephen Morgan, the Shadow Minister for Defence, the Armed Forces and Defence Procurement, asked via a written question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what contingency plans are in place to tackle an outbreak of covid-19 on board HMS Queen Elizabeth while that vessel is on exercise.”

According to James Heappey, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, the following actions are being taken:

“The whole of HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH’s ship’s company will be tested for COVID-19 prior to her departure for a period of Operational Sea Training. The Royal Navy is well prepared to respond to COVID-19 and has well-rehearsed plans in place for dealing with health matters.

Public Health England (PHE) guidelines on social distancing will be followed by the ship’s company where practical. It is acknowledged that it is difficult to socially distance within a warship, and there will be a number of essential operational and training tasks where this will not be possible.

To reduce the risk of transmission, further emphasis is being placed on the cleaning of communal areas and personal hygiene. In addition, members of the ship’s company who are, or whose households are, symptomatic will be isolated before embarking, in accordance with PHE self-isolation guidelines.

QUEEN ELIZABETH will sail with a medical facility including a full complement of medical staff and doctors. Any individual who experiences symptoms will be isolated onboard in accordance with PHE guidelines and receive the appropriate medical attention.”

The planned sailing of aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth had been postponed to allow Covid-19 testing for the ship’s company to take place. The warship had been expected to depart Portsmouth Naval Base at the start of this week but this has been postponed for a few days.

This comes after outbreaks caused issues for the USS Theodore Roosevelt, kept the USS Harry Truman at sea and forced the return of the FS Charles de Gaulle.

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1 year ago

does “operational sea training” include further development/qualification of the air wing? at what point will they embark/land as many aircraft as they can? i’m thinking a full complement 617 sqn, a full merlin ASW squadron and other rotary detachments. I know its hardly a full air wing, but I expect intensity and number of aircraft to increase gradually in prep for the first operational deployment next year