THE proud commander of the Royal Navy’s giant new aircraft carrier said commanding the Senior Service’s future flagship is the pinnacle of his career.
Captain Jeremy Kyd has told of his pride at leading HMS Queen Elizabeth – but said despite it being a highlight of his distinguished naval career he has no intention of winding down just yet.
His comments come as the 280m-long behemoth continues her maiden sea trials, putting her state-of-the-art systems to the test.
The 50-year-old sailor – who commanded the navy’s last aircraft carrier, the former HMS Illustrious – is now looking forward to the supercarrier’s arrival at her home port in Portsmouth.
Asked whether he felt like he was at the peak of his career, Capt Kyd said: ‘In short, yes, I am extremely fortunate in my career after many commands at sea and ashore, to have one last chance at sea command before I am too old.
‘For any naval sea officer, command of a warship, whatever its size, from minehunter to carrier, is a very special thing indeed.
‘The Queen Elizabeth-class will be a totemic symbol of British power projection for many decades ahead and the British taxpayer has invested hugely into regenerating the UK’s carrier strike force after the demise of Ark Royal in 2010.
‘To be an integral part of this journey and the team delivering this strategic capability is probably the most challenging thing I have done outside live operations, and I am leaning on every element of my experience.’
Weighing in at 65,000 tonnes, Queen Elizabeth dwarfs all the Royal Navy’s other vessels.
She is home to about 700 sailors and Royal Marines, some of whom will be away for up to nine months at a time.
The warship is able to reach speeds of above 25 knots and will travel thousands of miles away on deployment, protecting the waters that Great Britain depends on for its prosperity, resources and raw materials.
Constructed by Babcock, Thales, BAE Systems and the Ministry of Defence, Queen Elizabeth has set sail from Rosyth in Scotland and is currently undergoing tests in the North Sea.
It will eventually make its way south to its home port at the historic naval base in Portsmouth later this year.
Capt Kyd, who joined the Royal Navy in 1985, has already commanded HMS Monmouth, Illustrious and served as the commanding officer at Britannia Royal Naval College.
And after 32 years with the Senior Service, Capt Kyd has no intention of stepping aside anytime soon.
He said: ‘This journey is hugely exciting and even though I am 50, the vibrancy and energy of many hundreds of younger officers and sailors onboard and the spectre of bringing such a fantastic capability into service keep me young.
‘So far from wanting to wind down, I am currently winding up. Truth be told, you never get bored being a sea captain – it’s a very special role and brings with it all the responsibility and perspective you will ever need.
‘I want to relish and enjoy this ship as we take her forward and I certainly don’t want to think about handing over the keys to her next captain. But that time will come and whenever that is I will watch her onward journey with real emotion and pride. Then I might relax.’