COMMENT: Carrier sends out a strong message to the world

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KIERAN HOWARD: A GREAT BIT OF THE WHITE STUFF

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It was eight years ago that work began on the first of the blocks that would be fitted together to become HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Now today marks the triumphant and emotional end of a construction project like no other.

Because the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier sailing proudly into her new home in Portsmouth for the first time this morning says so much about us as a nation.

First of all, she is a truly fantastic achievement, a floating showcase of the technical prowess and skills of those working in our shipyards and in the many small companies that have been an important part of the supply chain.

Building Queen Elizabeth has been described as one of the biggest accomplishments in British engineering history.

That’s quite a claim, but stop to think that an alliance of contractors and 10,000 people from across the country came together to bring her from drawing board to grey-hulled reality, the complex and mightily impressive sum of 17 million parts.

It was here in Portsmouth that the forward island which houses the bridge was built, then floated up to Rosyth in Scotland to be attached to other sections.

Now she is back, complete and the most powerful surface ship ever constructed by the Royal Navy.

She is a game-changer, destined with her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales to be right at the heart of our military capabilities for the next 50 years.

Her very existence also sends a strong message around the globe.

Make no mistake, a new era of British maritime power has begun and Queen Elizabeth is a muscular symbol of the importance we place on a strong navy in an increasingly uncertain world.