HMS Queen Elizabeth to return to Portsmouth tomorrow after 10 weeks at sea
AIRCRAFT carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will be sailing back home to Portsmouth tomorrow after completing trials with the Britain’s new stealth jets, the city’s Queen’s Harbour Master has said.
The mighty 65,000-tonne warship has spent the best part of 10 weeks at sea undergoing a variety of tests ahead of her first operational mission next year.
The £3.1bn warship is expected to sail into Portsmouth’s historic harbour at about 10am, towed in by a small fleet of ‘supertugs’.
She will remain alongside at Portsmouth Naval Base for the next few weeks ahead before resuming carrier strike training later this year.
It’s anticipated that F-35 jets from the US Marine Corps’ (USMC) 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing will land on Queen Elizabeth during the next phase of training.
A squadron of American aviators will deploy with the aircraft carrier alongside a British squadron when she sets sail as part of a UK carrier group, made up of destroyers, frigates, support vessels and a submarine.
Confirming the news on Twitter, Commodore Steve Moorhouse, commander of the UK carrier strike group, said the ‘final sortie’ of exercise ‘Crimson Ocean’ had been completed and added: Time to get ready for the arrival of the USMC and @3rdmaw.’
During her time at sea, pilots from 617 Squadron, known as the ‘Dambusters’ in honour of the mission they carried out to blow up German dams in the Second World War, went up against RAF Typhoon jets in mock dogfights.
Helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron have also been sharpening their skills flying from Queen Elizabeth’s huge four-acre flight deck.
The team, which is the dedicated helicopter squadron for the 918ft-long warship, will deploy with her during her maiden mission.
Their primary role will be to help protect the task group from enemy submarines that could be lurking under water.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is the first of two new supercarriers, the largest ever built for the navy.
Her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, is alongside in Portsmouth following a routine capability upgrade.
HMS Queen Elizabeth's arrival in back in Portsmouth is subject to change and is weather-dependent.