Departure of Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is delayed for a second time after sailors infected with Covid-19

ROYAL Navy top brass have delayed the departure of HMS Queen Elizabeth for a second day in a row after a number of crew members tested positive for Covid-19.

Tuesday, 8th September 2020, 3:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th September 2020, 5:55 pm

The £3.1bn aircraft carrier had been earmarked to set sail for her latest bout of training at sea yesterday.

But the voyage was axed at the last minute after ‘a small number’ of sailors on the ship tested positive for coronavirus.

Defence sources have told The News the decision on when the ship leaves Portsmouth Naval Base is down to Queen Elizabeth’s commanding officer, Captain Angus Essenhigh.

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HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH RETURNS TO PORTSMOUTH FROM SUCCESSFUL OST HMS Queen Elizabeth R08 arriving back in Portsmouth on 02 July 2020 after a period at sea conducting Operational Sea Training.

‘A slot is booked for tomorrow in the hope the ship will sail then,’ a source told The News, with Portsmouth’s Queen’s Harbour Master having earmarked a time of 4.35pm for HMS Queen Elizabeth’s potential departure.

As previously reported, a Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed last night that ‘fewer than 10’ members of the 65,000-tonne warship’s 1,000-strong crew had tested positive for the coronavirus and had been taken ashore to be put into isolation in barracks.

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Other sailors who had contact with their infected crew-mates will isolate on board the aircraft carrier.

It is the second time the warship has had to postpone its sailing after two crew members tested positive for Covid-19 in April.

Speaking yesterday, a Royal Navy spokesman said: ‘A small number of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s personnel have tested positive for Covid during routine preparation for sailing.

‘Those affected have been isolated and are working with the NHS Test and Trace system to ensure the virus does not spread further.

‘The crew will continue to follow appropriate health guidelines and the HMS Queen Elizabeth will depart once their status has been confirmed.’

The spokesman said that the decision when to sail would be left to the carrier’s commanding officer Captain Angus Essenhigh who will act on PHE guidance.

The carrier is expected to carry out training exercises at sea before returning to base for supplies ahead of departing for major international exercises including the embarkment for the first time of both US and UK F35 Lightning jets.

It is aiming to declare strike carrier capability later this year ahead of its first operational deployment in 2021.

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