HMS Queen Elizabeth newcomer describes Portsmouth carrier as 'floating city' ahead of her first appointment

BEING part of an historic naval deployment is serious business – at least, most of the time.

By David George
Friday, 30th April 2021, 7:00 am

But for one young seafarer, her deployment on board HMS Queen Elizabeth this weekend as part of the Carrier Strike Group will be her first time at sea.

Able Seaman Helayna Birkett, 21, joined the Royal Navy a year and a half ago, having taken a year out after finishing sixth form.

Now, she will be working hard to keep everything on board the 65,000-tonne carrier running smoothly – and she can’t wait to showcase her talents.

Helayna Birkett in front of HMS Queen Elizabeth before she sets sail as part of the Carrier Strike Group. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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Helayna, from Merseyside, said: ‘I’ve been serving on HMS Queen Elizabeth since October, but this will be my first time on a big deployment.

‘When you’re away at sea you don’t have a phone, so it’s like a social media detox – I love that.

‘I’m a writer, so I work in the ship’s office on allowances, travel and appraisals. I never thought I would end up in an admin or HR job, but I really do enjoy it.’

AB Birkett said that outside of her working hours, life on board HMS Queen Elizabeth can actually be a lot of fun.

She told The News that work has taken place for a coffee shop to be fitted, and that flight deck barbecues have almost become a tradition.

‘The ship is genuinely like a floating city,’ she said.

‘Every day you meet someone new – and with the US Marines joining us on this deployment, it’s even busier than usual.

‘There’s an entertainment committee, everyone has their own hidden talents and so on. There’s a real sense of camaraderie on board.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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