Thousands give HMS Queen Elizabeth anÂ emotional send-off in Portsmouth
THOUSANDS of people lined Portsmouth's seafront to wave goodbye to aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth as she set sail for America.
Crowds packed along the Hot Wall, from the Round Tower right the way down to Southsea seafront to witness the 65,000-tonne warship's departure.
The 280m supercarrier is destined for east coast of America where she will land the first fighter jet on her flight deck.
People waved flags and cheered as the Â£3.1bn vessel sailed out of Portsmouth's historic harbour, with its crew lining the four-acre flight deck.
Rousing tunes from the Royal Marines band embarked on board could just about be heard echoing from inside the ship as she journeyed out into the Solent.
Among the crowd was Karen Kyd, wife of Queen Elizabeth's commander, Captain Jerry Kyd. She was accompanied by her children and family.
Speaking to The News, Mrs Kyd said: '˜The whole ship's company are incredibly excited.Â This is a huge moment for them, taking the ship across the Atlantic for the first time, picking up the jets and visiting New York.'
Capt Kyd's mother-in-law Judith Mead was with the rest of the family on the Round Tower. She added the trip would beÂ emotional for her son-in-law.
'˜This will be his last time time taking the ship out and his last time driving across the Atlantic,' she said. '˜It will be emotional.'
About 1,500 sailors, aircrew, Royal Marines and support staff, embarked on Queen Elizabeth for her 11-week stint at sea.
Among them was AB (WE) Dan Cass. It is the 20-year-old's first deployment, following in the footsteps of his father, Daren, who is also in the navy.
Waving AB Cass off was his proud mum, Ali, 47, and grandparents Poppy Higgin and Jane Cass.
Ali, of the Isle of Wight, said: '˜We're so proud of him. We're pleased, nervous and excited all in one.
'˜This is his dream come true. He couldn't wait. He's always wantedÂ to be in the Royal Navy and follow in his dad's footsteps.'
Laura Proudman was saying goodbye to her husband Lieutenant Mike Proudman, who is part of the carrier strike command team based on the ship.
The 33-year-old mum-of-three said it would be tough deployment, having just given birth to her youngest child, Maybel, five weeks ago. '˜With a five-week-old, five-year-old and three-year-old it's definitely going to be a challenge,' she said.
Queen Elizabeth will arrive in the US next month, beginning her flight trials of the F-35B stealth jet at the end of September.She will return before Christmas.