BRITAIN’S latest state-of-the-art aircraft carriers will be the ‘spearhead’ in defending the nation for the next 50 years, says the UK’s new armed forces minister.
Army veteran Mike Penning made the statement after visiting the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, in Rosyth, Scotland.
These ships truly will be at the forefront of British military power projection for decades for generations to comeCommodore Jerry Kyd, commanding officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth
The MP, who took over the role as armed forces minister from Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt last month, visited the sailors who will be operating the enormous vessels – the largest ever built for the Royal Navy.
His trip comes as the last of the navy’s carriers, HMS Illustrious, is set to leave Portsmouth bound for a Turkish scrapyard later this year.
Speaking of the next-generation leviathans – both of which will be based in Portsmouth – Mr Penning said: ‘These carriers will spearhead Britain’s sea power for the next 50 years, keeping our nation safe at home and protecting our interests abroad.
‘They are just part of our investment in a growing Royal Navy, backed by a defence budget that will rise every year for the rest of the decade.’
The 65,000-tonne behemoths will each be based in Portsmouth, with the first, HMS Queen Elizabeth, expected to arrive in the city in late spring next year.
Commodore Jerry Kyd, the commanding officer of Queen Elizabeth, said the vessels would ‘employ cutting-edge technology’ to strike fear into the hearts of the UK’s enemies.
He said: ‘Symbolising our nation in both steel and spirit, the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers will be powerful ambassadors for Britain on the global stage, in both peace time and times of conflict.
‘These ships truly will be at the forefront of British military power projection for decades for generations to come.’
The carriers will provide more than four acres of sovereign territory and are capable of carrying up to 36 F-35b Lightning II fighter-jets.
The flight decks of each of the carriers are the size of three football pitches.
The vessels will have a range of 10,000 nautical miles and can operate with a ship’s company of 679.