On Wednesday, thousands of people lined the waterfront to greet the new carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth as she sailed into her home port of Portsmouth for the first time.
Sailors lined the flight deck of the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy as she passed Portsmouth's Round Tower. HMS Queen Elizabeth was also greeted with a flypast from the Fleet Air Arm, including Wildcat and Merlin helicopters and Hawk jets.
"Today we welcome our mighty new warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth to her home for the very first time. She is Britain's statement to the world: a demonstration of British military power and our commitment to a bigger global role," said Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon. "The thousands of people across the UK who have played a part in building her and her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, should be immensely proud as our future flagship enters Portsmouth."
The carrier program has brought together industrial suppliers across the UK, with construction taking place across six cities and involving more than 10,000 people. This includes 700 businesses and suppliers, 800 apprentices and nearly 8,000 jobs at shipyards around the UK.
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 upgraded Princess Royal Jetty at 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 raft of infrastructure upgrades which took place ahead of the arrival of the ship.
A total of 3.2 million cubic metres of sediment, equivalent to 1,280 Olympic swimming pools, has been removed from the harbour and approach channel, making it wide and deep enough to accommodate the 65,000 tonne ships.
Leading Airman Liam Forgeron, 28, from Portchester, is an aircraft handler on board HMS Queen Elizabeth. "Being a local lad, I am extremely proud that Portsmouth will now be the base port for the nation's future flagship," Forgeron said. "The historic port has a long and proud association with the Royal Navy and the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth will cement this relationship for a further 50 years. As a Royal Navy aircraft handler, serving on board this mighty vessel is a real honour, as I too get to make history in my home town."
This article appears courtesy of Royal Navy News and may be found in its original form here.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.