THE new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier should make its triumphant arrival into Portsmouth Harbour this autumn, defence secretary Michael Fallon has said.
He said the new carrier would be undergoing sea trials within ‘the next few weeks’ before arriving in the city later this year.
The minister was in Portsmouth for a tour around the city’s Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) base.
Speaking to The News, he said: ‘The target for Elizabeth is the autumn, she has to be in the navy by the end of this year.
‘She is currently finishing off various tests, and once the sea trials are completed she will be brought down here.’
Mr Fallon also confirmed the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales is due to arrive in Portsmouth in 2019.
During his visit to the base he was shown the team’s mission control room, where he spoke to sailor Sir Ben Ainslie by radio.
The Olympic gold medallist and his team are training in Bermuda for the America’s Cup.
Joined by parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South Flick Drummond and city council leader Donna Jones, Mr Fallon was also shown around the base’s education centre and took in views of the city from the roof.
Asked about what people in the city should expect if he is re-elected, Mr Fallon said: ‘People in Portsmouth are going to see the carriers arrive here, the continuing expansion of the naval base.
‘There will be more and more opportunities for businesses in Portsmouth to service and maintain the two carriers. We are also going to see more work transferred here, and Portsmouth will also gain from the economic recovery.
‘There has been the growth of the university, the arrival of BAR, it’s changing as a city and will keep on growing.
‘The navy is growing and Portsmouth will be a main beneficiary of that.’
The government had previously said the Queen Elizabeth carrier would be in the city this summer, but failed to provide reasons for the delay.
The two new aircraft carriers are the largest vessels ever built by the navy.
Mr Fallon represented the city as Minister for Portsmouth from January to July 2014, after the post was created by then-prime minister David Cameron. Later that year he was promoted to the cabinet in his current post of defence secretary.
The general election is taking place on June 8.