THE navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will arrive in Gibraltar today.
Britain’s biggest warship will arrive in Gibraltar – her first overseas visit – for a routine logistics stop.
Captain Jerry Kyd, commanding officer, said: ‘It is a great privilege for me to be bringing our new aircraft carrier into Gibraltar for her first ever overseas port visit.
‘Gibraltar is the perfect stop for HMS Queen Elizabeth as we conduct our flying trials in the waters off the Iberian Peninsula.
‘And our visit also underlines the incredibly rich history and special relationship the Royal Navy and Royal Marines share with Gibraltar.
‘I am personally very lucky to have visited the Rock many times in my naval career, but well over a quarter of my sailors have not yet experienced what, for the Royal Navy, is something of an iconic run ashore.’
She left her Portsmouth home last Friday to begin her helicopter trials at sea.
Since then, the 1,000 men and women have been tacking an intensive batch of training.
Under the guidance of the Royal Navy’s Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) organisation, all those on board have been honing their skills in dealing with a series of lifelike exercise scenarios including fires, floods, man overboard drills and a simulated crash on deck.
Once HMS Queen Elizabeth has left Gibraltar, she will return to sea to conduct the helicopter trials with specially equipped Merlin and Chinook aircraft.
Defence secretary Gavin Williamson said: ‘As the Rock casts its shadow over the flight deck of our world-class aircraft carrier, Gibraltar rightfully marks HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first overseas stop as she refuels and takes on supplies before continuing her sea trials.
‘I’m sure our friends in Gibraltar will be proud to see our future flagship sail through British waters into their famous port.’
The mighty warship was escorted by Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset.
Queen Elizabeth’s arrival has excited the residents of the British overseas territory.
Lieutenant General Edward Davis, the Governor of Gibraltar, said: ‘From the moment Her Majesty appointed me as Governor and commander-in-chief of Gibraltar I, and no doubt all Gibraltarians, have been eagerly awaiting HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first visit to the Rock.
‘My eagerness reflects two things. First, my pride in one of the world’s most advanced aircraft carriers as a manifest demonstration of the British Navy’s ambition and resolve to ensure that our nation’s maritime and amphibious capability remains a decisive global force for good.
‘And second, my confidence that HMS Queen Elizabeth’s entry into service will see Gibraltar continuing to prove its vital relevance as a mounting and sustainment base for global Britain’s contribution to international security.’
HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to remain at sea for more than a month while she tackles her helicopter trials.
Flight trials for the F-35b will begin towards the end of the year, off the east coast of America.