HMS Queen Elizabeth: Two sailors tested positive for Covid-19 before Royal Navy aircraft carrier left Portsmouth

TWO sailors were removed from the crew of HMS Queen Elizabeth before she left Portsmouth after testing positive for Covid-19.

By Tom Cotterill
Friday, 1st May 2020, 7:59 pm

The 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier set sail on Wednesday after all its 700-strong crew were tested for the virus.

The ship’s latest training mission had been postponed to allow for urgent health checks on the crew, with two members of the ship’s company testing positive.

The pair were removed from the aircraft carrier hours before departure having spent a week on board mixing with the rest of the crew, The Daily Mail claimed.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth departs from Portsmouth after ship's crew is tested for Covid-19 on Wednesday April, 29, 2020. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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The navy has refused to comment on how many positive cases were identified, with the Senior Service insisting it won’t provide a ‘running commentary’ on the issue when quizzed by The News.

Some have concerns about crew on the £3.1bn warship after there were confirmed cases on French and American aircraft carriers.

On the American warship the USS Theodore Roosevelt, 955 sailors contracted the virus. One sailor died and another was taken to hospital.

Crew members of HMS Queen Elizabeth. Picture: Habibur Rahman

A third of the 2,000-strong crew of France’s premier warship, the Charles de Gaulle, tested positive for Covid-19 – forcing the ship into isolation.

The wife of one sailor on Queen Elizabeth told The News she was desperately worried for the crew’s safety.

‘I fear it will go the same way as the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the French aircraft carrier. We have voiced our concerns,’ she said.

The two sailors who tested positive have been sent to a shore establishment to isolate for 14 days, The Sun said.

HMS Queen Elizabeth passes the Round Tower, Old Portsmouth . Picture: Habibur Rahman

The navy told The News measures were being put in place to protect the rest of the crew.

A spokesman added: ‘All personnel sailing with the ship have undergone testing for coronavirus. As a further precaution, HMS Queen Elizabeth will conduct a period of isolation at sea, before she continues her training.’

Queen Elizabeth has been sent to sea to carry out key training as she prepares for her first operational deployment next year.

Military top brass agreed to send the 920ft-long carrier out to sea, where she will operate ‘close’ to the UK coastline.

Crew members of HMS Queen Elizabeth pictured as families watch them leave from Portsmouth. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The Royal Navy said the ship’s captain had the ‘discretion to cease training, if deemed necessary’.

‘HMS Queen Elizabeth has a key role to play in the defence of the United Kingdom and the Royal Navy will continue to conduct essential training ashore and at sea in order to fulfil its critical outputs now and in the future,’ a spokesman told The Sun.

‘This is the right and sensible thing to do to ensure the navy can continue to deliver on operations now and in the future.

‘The Ministry of Defence has put in place plans to ensure the delivery of its key operations in the UK and overseas where appropriate.

‘In addition to an isolation period at sea the Royal Navy has made use of spare NHS testing capacity to test the crew of HMS Queen Elizabeth prior to sailing. This necessitated a short but manageable delay in sailing.’

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Crowds gather at The Round Tower to watch HMS Queen Elizabeth. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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