HMS Queen Elizabeth: Crew is raring to go for US deployment

EXCITEMENT is rife among the young crew of HMS Queen Elizabeth as they join the ship for her first deployment to the US.

Saturday, 18th August 2018, 8:28 am
Updated Sunday, 2nd September 2018, 10:09 pm
Able Seaman Ryan Whatmore, polishes the name board of HMS Queen Elizabeth, as final preparations are made prior to her setting sail for the US to undergo flight trials with the F35B for the first time Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

The warship's 800-strong crew '“ which has an average age of 24 '“ are in high spirits for the trip, the aircraft carrier's commanding officer, Captain Jerry Kyd has admitted..

And for almost a third of them, this will be their first time leaving the UK, with some as young as 17 joining the ship only weeks ago '“ fresh from training.

The journey will see the crew spending 11 weeks at sea, as well as having a chance for some planned shore leave in New York during the halfway marker of the deployment.

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Capt Kyd said many of the crew were looking forward to seeing the first F-35B land on the ship's flight deck.

He added: '˜About 30 per cent of our ship's company have never been abroad before; we have got quite a lot of youngsters on board at the moment.

'˜We mustn't forget that the human component of the ship is pretty big; lots of mums and dads saying goodbye to their sons and daughters for the first time, so there's a lot of excitement '“ a lot of trepidation and a lot of youngsters haven't been away from home for this length of time before.'

Capt Kyd's crew has swelled by about 70 since it left Rosyth dock more than a year ago, from more than 700 to about 800.

He said the increase was one of the things the Royal Navy was still getting to grips with on its new supercarrier, adding it would probably take '˜two or three years' until the navy '˜fully understood' the manning needs of the carrier.

'˜It has been a whole raft of firsts for me and the ship's company since we sailed,' Capt Kyd said.

'˜What we have achieved as a country, across industry, has been phenomenal, we should be pretty pleased with ourselves and patting ourselves on the back.'

Queen Elizabeth and her sister carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, would help Britain secure its place in the naval big leagues, Capt Kyd stressed.

'˜This puts us back in the top league again '“ I wouldn't say we ever left it but my word without these two ships we would have struggled to remain credible as a first-class seapower,' he said.