HMS Queen Elizabeth: how sailors are counting down the days to historic USA trip

HISTORIC: This is what the moment will look like when the F-35B lands on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth
HISTORIC: This is what the moment will look like when the F-35B lands on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth
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EXCITED sailors are using an app to count down the days until the historic landing of Britain’s new stealth fighter on the deck of the nation’s biggest-ever warship. 

Eager officers and ratings alike are using a mobile app to watch the time trickle away ahead of the milestone touchdown of the first F-35B on HMS Queen Elizabeth.

It’s hoped the landmark occasion could take place in late September off the eastern coast of the United States, a senior navy officer hinted.

In the meantime preparations are being made for the departure of the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier from her home in Portsmouth – one which could be as early as mid-August.

Revealing the news, Captain Bill Oliphant, captain of Portsmouth Naval Base, said: ‘We’re very much on track (for the deployment). That’s an exciting part of the programme as well because when she goes to the states in the middle of August we are going out there to marry up with the jets for the first time.

‘That’s a hugely important part of the carrier programme, so I wish them well with that. It’s absolutely on track and that's good news.’

Speaking to The News about the mounting excitement within the ship’s company, Capt Oliphant said: ‘There are guys committed to this who actually have an app which counts down the number of days until that moment happens –  until those jets land on the ship for the first time.

‘It’s going to be a hugely significant day – in I think late September  –  in the carrier programme. It takes us a huge step forward.

‘But this is the big league this carrier, so we’re all looking forward to having that initial operating capability and then ultimately the full operating capability when they do that (carrier strike group) 2021 deployment.’