Navy fliers all set to defend new Portsmouth warship HMS Queen Elizabeth

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ROYAL Navy fliers are ready to fly from – and safeguard – Britain’s biggest warship when HMS Queen Elizabeth sails to sea from Portsmouth.

The Merlin helicopters of 820 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) have completed a major fortnight-long exercise off the north and west coasts of Scotland aimed at preparing them to join the future flagship later this year.

The Culdrose-based helicopters will be the first to fly on and off the 65,000-tonne new aircraft carrier during sea trials in the North Sea.

And it will be the long-standing duty of 820 Squadron – known as the Flying Fish – to protect the leviathan from any submarine which might threaten her.

‘Anti-submarine warfare when a Merlin Mk2 is involved isn’t so much a game of cat and mouse, more like mousetrap,’ said observer Lieutenant Dominic Rotherham.

‘Once you understand what it is the submariner is trying to achieve and the underwater battlespace he has to work with, the likely location of the submarine starts to become clear.

‘It’s at that point you begin to shape that battlespace to how you want the fight to unfold.’

The training comes ahead of Queen Elizabeth’s arrival into her home of Portsmouth this summer.