THE sun shone down on a historic day in Portsmouth’s naval history.
Hundreds of people gathered at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard to watch the official naming ceremony of the new HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Schoolchildren, BAE Systems workers and members of the public watched the events in Rosyth, Scotland, unfold on a big screen.
It was a memorable day for the many people involved in the construction of the giant aircraft carrier in Portsmouth.
Commodore Jeremy Rigby, the commander of Portsmouth Naval Base, opened the official ceremony outside the Mary Rose Museum.
He told The News: ‘Portsmouth is guaranteed the future of the Royal Navy here for the rest of this century.
‘This will remain the spiritual home of the Royal Navy going forward.
‘It is a really significant day for the Royal Navy because people have been talking about these carriers for a very long time.
‘But now it is real, it is tangible and you can see the ship’s company beginning to form up on board.’
The aircraft carrier is due to arrive in Portsmouth in 2017.
But to accommodate the new class of carriers, Portsmouth Naval Base has to make alterations and undergo upgrades.
Cdre Rigby added: ‘We have 880 days to make sure that the harbour has been dredged about one metre deeper and made wider so the ship can come in more easily.
‘We also have to construct the new navigation marks, run power cables and develop a workforce and processes that will cope with not just the new carriers but also the rest of the frigates, destroyers and minor war vessels.
‘When HMS Queen Elizabeth sails from here on to operations, with up to 40 aircraft and more than 900 Royal Marines, she will be the single most potent piece of sovereign territory that we have ever sent around the world to look after British interests.’
A historic day for city
IT WAS a historic day for the country and for Portsmouth.
That is the view of Portsmouth City Council leader, Councillor Donna Jones.
Yesterday, she had the chance to travel up to Rosyth for the official ceremony but she decided to stay in Portsmouth.
She said: ‘It was a really big day for the city.
‘I was invited to go to Rosyth but I wanted to be in Portsmouth among the men and women who have played such a vital part in the construction of HMS Queen Elizabeth.’