HMS Queen Elizabeth: Royal Navy confirms when £3.1bn aircraft carrier will return to Portsmouth

THE Royal Navy has confirmed when aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will return to Portsmouth.

Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 12:06 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 12:18 pm

The mighty 65,000-tonne warship will sail into her home city tomorrow morning, the ship’s Twitter account official revealed this afternoon.

It comes after a three-month stint off the eastern coast of the United States, where the supercarrier joined forces with a number of British F-35 stealth jets for the first time.

The enormous warship is expected to make her way into Portsmouth between 9.25am and 10.15am.

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She will be guided through the city’s historic entrance by an armada of up to six super-powered tug boats, who will manoeuvre the vessel into position.

The announcement comes just hours after the ship entered British waters.

It will be the first time the £3.1bn aircraft carrier will be in her home city alongside her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, which arrived last month.

Norwegian anti-submarine frigate His Norwegian Majesty’s Ship (HNoMS) Thor Heyerdahl has joined the UK Carrier Strike Group as it transits east across the Atlantic following the WESTLANT19 deployment to the USA. The frigate joined HMS Queen Elizabeth, fellow submarine hunter HMS Northumberland and tanker RFA Tideforce to exercise as the Strike Group sailed towards UK waters. The ships’ rendezvous comes as NATO leaders prepare to meet in the UK, on the 70th anniversary of the alliance’s creation.

Captain Steve Moorhouse, Queen Elizabeth’s commanding officer, said the ship’s latest mission in the US had been huge,

‘This has been an extremely successful deployment for HMS Queen Elizabeth,’ he said.

‘It’s all been about increasing the complexity and tempo of our activity, building the capability of the strike group and testing ourselves in a demanding training environment with our close partners from the US Navy and Marine Corps.

‘Embarking UK F-35B Lightning for the first time and integrating them within the carrier strike group is a significant milestone and we are well set for an equally demanding 2020 and our first operational deployment in 2021.’

Queen Elizabeth is the second of a series of Royal Navy warships returning to Portsmouth before Christmas.

Other ships still due to return to Portsmouth include frigates HMS Lancaster – which is returning from refit in Devonport – and HMS Kent, which comes back from recent missions in the Gulf and Baltic.

HMS Clyde will be return from the Falklands, having been relieved as the guardship for the British colony by HMS Forth.

While new offshore patrol ship, HMS Trent, will make her first maiden voyage to the city following her sea trials.

Meanwhile, preparations for HMS Prince of Wales’s historic entry into naval service are well underway.

The crew has been busy rehearsing for her commissioning ceremony next week.

It’s anticipated this will take place on December 10. The Duchess of Cornwall is among the royal guests anticipated to be in attendance.