People of Portsmouth challenged to join mega welcoming party for navy’s new flagship

HMS Queen Elizabeth in Rosyth
HMS Queen Elizabeth in Rosyth
  • Royal Navy’s leader calls on city to unite for aircraft carrier’s arrival next year
  • Schoolchildren set to be given time off school to welcome HMS Queen Elizabeth
  • Council planning to throw city-wide party to mark the momentous occasion
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Portsmouth should host its biggest-ever party to mark the arrival of the navy’s new aircraft carriers.

That’s the call from the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, who says the eyes of the world will be on the city and it needs to rise to the challenge by marking the moment with a memorable day.

The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas

The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas

Portsmouth has just a year to muster its troops until the 65,000-tonne leviathan docks at the naval base’s newly-named Princess Royal Jetty.

In a speech to council bosses, the retiring sea lord called for schools, businesses, residents and visitors to rally.

‘This will be the day when the world sees Portsmouth for the city it really is – a great naval town, with a dynamic, diversifying, economy; optimistic about its future and excited about the opportunities ahead,’ he said.

‘Thirty-three years ago millions watched the wreck of King Henry VIII’s flagship, Mary Rose, rise from the seabed.

Let’s make sure that in fifty years’ time, people in Portsmouth still talk about the day they were given off school to see this 65,000-tonne giant arrive

First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas

‘Last summer, the city was in the spotlight again for the America’s Cup.

‘Now, in the golden years of the second great Elizabethan age, a new era of British sea power is about to begin.

‘So my challenge to Portsmouth, and for the Royal Navy, is to put on an even greater show.

‘Let’s make this a day to remember. Let’s make sure that in 50 years’ time, people in Portsmouth still talk about the day they were given off school to see this 65,000-tonne giant arrive.

‘Come on Portsmouth – let’s show the world how we welcome a queen!’

The carrier is receiving the finishing touches at the naval base in Rosyth, Scotland.

She is due to arrive in Portsmouth early next year.

Now the pressure is on for the city to begin its party preparations.

Council leader Donna Jones is confident Portsmouth can deliver.

She will write to all the city’s headteachers, calling on them to allow children to have a half-day so they can see Queen Elizabeth’s arrival as well as encouraging businesses to fly flags from their windows.

‘This is going to be one of the most historic occasions the city has played host to in decades,’ said Cllr Jones.

‘As soon as a date is confirmed we will plan a city-wide celebration in conjunction with the Royal Navy and BAE Systems with bunting and flags.’

About £100m has already been spent on upgrading the Portsmouth Naval Base for the arrival of the new Queen Elizabeth-class of carriers.

Speaking of Elizabeth’s arrival, Adm Zambellas said: ‘Thousands of people will flock to Southsea and Old Portsmouth to see her arrive. Millions more will watch on TV, and not just in the UK.

‘Images of this ship, and this city, will be seen in Washington and Beijing, in Delhi and Sydney. Portsmouth will have a ringside seat and a global audience for this historic day.’

carriers’ schedule

PORTSMOUTH has a year to wait until the first of the UK’s new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, sails into the city.

The project to build the massive 280m warship in Scotland is almost completed.

Later this year will see the goliath taking on her first round of sea trials, after welcoming her 679-strong ship’s company aboard.

The £3bn vessel will be able to house 36 F35 Lightning II fighter-bombers as well as a number of helicopters.

When she eventually arrives in Portsmouth, she will still have a long journey until she is fully fit to defend the nation.

It’s expected that Elizabeth will be fully operational by 2020.

Sister ship HMS Prince of Wales is taking on her sea trials in 2019 before heading to her home base of Portsmouth.

Commanders excited about carrier’s arrival

HMS Queen Elizabeth’s commanding officer is looking forward to the moment the warship arrives in Portsmouth.

Commodore Jerry Kyd, commanding officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, will be leading the ship into the city.

The father-of-four said the day would be a huge moment in his career.

‘The arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth into Portsmouth for the first time will be both momentous and historic,’ he added.

‘As her commanding officer, it will be a very special day indeed and I am deeply privileged to be the first Captain with the honour of bringing the great carrier into her home port for the very first time – I just hope the weather is good.

‘As a Portsmouth officer myself, I can hand-on-heart say that the support and friendship we receive from the people of Portsmouth is something the navy very much treasures and I cannot think of a better home for the nation’s new flagship.’

Captain Simon Petitt, who is the senior naval officer in charge of the new carrier and has overseen the work on Elizabeth for the past three years, added the ship’s company were ‘desperately keen’ and ‘excited’ to arrive in the city.