Royal Navy carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth moves step closer to making her maiden operational deployment

HMS Queen Elizabeth will be making a brief return to Portsmouth before going back to sea again to continue training.

Tuesday, 26th May 2020, 10:16 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th May 2020, 12:59 pm

It comes as the Royal Navy announced that the carrier had moved a step closer to being able to deploy on global operations after completing the first stages of operational sea training.

Over the past few weeks, the ship’s company have been put through their paces with simulated fires, floods and responding to battle damage, as well as carrying out warfare training and mission rehearsals.

The Portsmouth-based aircraft carrier has been at sea since late April to prove she will be ready for her maiden operational deployment next year, and the UK can deliver on its commitment to have a Carrier Strike Group ready to deploy from the end of this year.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth passes the Spice Island 27th February 2018. Picture: LPhot Sean Gascoigne/Royal Navy

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This latest round of training has made the next big step of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s programme possible – the embarkation of the UK’s operational F35 Lightning jets.

Before the F35s join, the ship will make a planned return alongside at Portsmouth to load essential stores and kit necessary to operate the jets at sea.

The brief stop will see engineers and equipment from 617 Squadron join the carrier, ready for her return to sea and continuation of training and embarkation of the squadron’s F35 Lightning aircraft.

FOST staff embarking onto HMS Queen Elizabeth for the ship's first Material Assessment and Safety Checks and Basic Sea Training. Picture: LPhot Luke/Royal Navy

All appropriate measures have been taken to ensure the health and wellbeing of the crew is protected as additional personnel join HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The Royal Navy says that all additional personnel are isolated for 14 days prior to boarding and tested for coronavirus.

Last week, HMS Queen Elizabeth continued Operational Sea Training under the watchful eyes of the renowned Royal Navy Sea Training experts.

Air Crewmen chipping away paint ready for painting and in preparation for Basic Sea Training on board HMS Queen Elizabeth on the May 8 2020. Picture: LPhot Luke/ Royal Navy

This phase is based on the survivability of a major incident at sea where the ship’s company will have to work together to overcome any emergencies or threats such as significant floods and fires.

Second in command of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Commander Charlie Guy said: ‘This is the first Basic Sea Training period for a Queen Elizabeth-class carrier. It is a chance for us to put to the test everything we have learnt over the last two years and show our FOST assessors we are ready for anything.’

Preparing for this stage of training saw HMS Queen Elizabeth cleaned, painted and scrubbed and equipment checked from breathing masks for fighting fires to the ship’s sea boat.

It also saw Chinook, Merlin and Wildcat helicopters land and take off from the four-and-half-acre flight deck.

The next stage will see more qualifying training for UK F35 Lightning fighter jet crews, who will be conducting practice Combat Air Patrols from her decks, giving vital experience to the aircrews and ship’s company involved in air operations.

This period at sea will prepare the ship for further training later in the year with other Royal Navy ships to ensure they are ready to deploy as a task group next year.

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