Britain’s future flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed into her home port of Portsmouth for the first time yesterday.
Watched by thousands of people lining the Portsmouth seafront, the 280-metre, 65,000-tonne carrier was greeted with a flypast from the Fleet Air Arm, including Wildcat and Merlin helicopters and Hawk jets.
Sailors lined the flight deck of the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy as she passed Portsmouth’s Round Tower.
The UK has 11 state-of-the-art F-35 Lightning II jets and 120 UK personnel training in the United States. By the end of this year that will be 14 jets, with trial flights from the carrier’s deck on track to begin next year.
The ship will berth at the newly-named and upgraded Princess Royal Jetty at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth, which will be home to both of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers. The second, HMS Prince of Wales, will be officially named in a ceremony at Rosyth next month.
The berth has been upgraded and strengthened to support the carriers as part of a £100 million (US$130 million) raft of infrastructure upgrades which took place ahead of the arrival of the ship.
A total of 3.2 million cubic metres of sediment was removed from the harbour and approach channel, making it wide and deep enough to accommodate the enormous 65,000-tonne ships.
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