PORTSMOUTH will welcome the Queen to the city next month as she formally commissions Britain’s biggest and most powerful warship into the Royal Navy.
The monarch will arrive in the city on Thursday, December 7, to undertake the ceremony on HMS Queen Elizabeth, defence secretary Gavin Williamson today revealed.
The warship will return to her home naval base in Portsmouth ahead of the commissioning ceremony, which will see the Queen visit the vessel for the first time since being formally named by her in 2014 in a ceremony shown in our archive video.
Making the announcement during his first visit to the 280m, 65,000-tonne warship, Mr Williamson said the handover would be one of the most significant ones in British naval history.
Landing on the £3bn carrier as she undertook the latest phase of sea trials, Mr Williamson said it was an honour to visit the vessel and meet the crew.
He said: ‘In a world of intensifying global threats, this magnificent ship will be a leading force fighting to protect the values of the UK and our allies.
‘I’m sure Her Majesty will be similarly impressed at next month’s historic ceremony for the nation’s new flagship, which proudly bears her name.’
The ship will return to her home naval base in Portsmouth ahead of the commissioning ceremony, which will see the Queen visit the vessel for the first time since being formally named by her in 2014.
Members of the royal family and a host of government and military dignitaries will also attend the ceremony, before the Queen offers a few words as Lady Sponsor.
During the ceremony the commissioning warrant will also be read and the White Ensign raised, which will signify the acceptance of HMS Queen Elizabeth into the Royal Navy fleet.
As he landed by Merlin helicopter on to the four-acre flight deck of the ship, which has been sailing around the south coast of England, Mr Williamson was met by the commanding officer and crew.
Captain Jerry Kyd said he was delighted to be able to welcome Mr Williamson on board during what he called a ‘very exciting time’ for the ship and the Royal Navy.
‘We spoke about the progress made on our trials so far and the exciting future ahead as the UK regenerates its strike carrier capability,’ he said.
‘We’re glad the defence secretary took the time to visit us and really get under the skin of this aircraft carrier and see for himself the enormous potential of this ship that will be deployed across the globe for the next half century.’
During her working life the ship can be pressed into action for various tasks such as high intensity war fighting or providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
She will also serve as a floating military base for the F-35B stealth fighter jets that will launch from the deck of the vessel to undertake missions.
The UK currently has 12 F-35s in the United States being tested ahead of flight trials off the ship next year - with two more planes being delivered by the end of 2017.