HMS Queen Elizabeth: Royal Navy warship sails back into Portsmouth amid controversy over her captain
HMS Queen Elizabeth has sailed back into Portsmouth after six weeks away in Scotland.
The 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier passed into Portsmouth Harbour at about 5.30pm.
The ship is returning to Portsmouth after spending the last six weeks in dry dock at Rosyth in Fife, where it was originally built, to undergo a hull inspection and routine maintenance.
Work carried out during the ship's time out of the water included replacing 284 hull valves, removing and cleaning both rudder blades and applying a fresh coat of anti-foul paint to the ship's bottom.
Earlier the ship’s Twitter account posted: ‘We would like to apologise to the residents of #Portsmouth and #Gosport for bringing more greyness to your #BankHolidayWeekend.
‘On the plus side, we will be home and it will be great to see your support at the usual spots.’
Scores of people lined along up along Southsea’s seafront to see the warship sail past.
Successful completion of the work means HMS Queen Elizabeth should not need to dock down again for another six years, the Navy said.
The carrier will go on to conduct a period of sea trials and training before a planned deployment to the east coast of the United States later in the year.
Controversy has surrounded the warship in the last few days, after its captain Commodore Nick Cooke-Priest was reportedly sacked for using a Royal Navy car for personal journeys.
The Royal Navy had said he would sail HMS Queen Elizabeth home but earlier this week he was removed from the helm of the carrier and flown off the ship.
A Royal Navy spokesman said on Wednesday: ‘In light of the ongoing investigation, as a precautionary measure to protect both the individual and the Ship's Company, the Royal Navy has decided that Captain Nick Cooke-Priest will not be at sea in HMS Queen Elizabeth.’
It is understood that he nevertheless remains in official command and will formally hand over to the new captain on May 28, as planned.