HMS ELIZABETH: First Sea Lord hails Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier

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The First Sea Lord has heralded the arrival of the ‘enormously flexible big grey ship’ at the commissioning ceremony for the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier.

Speaking aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth at Portsmouth, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, said: ‘We have been on a long complicated but committed journey to get to this point and commissioning the ship is a key milestone.’

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones. Picture: Crown Copyright

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones. Picture: Crown Copyright

He added: ‘The point of the big grey ship is it’s enormously big, flexible, capable and adaptable.

‘I think the key thing about the Queen Elizabeth class is the range of aircraft it can carry, fixed and rotary wing and they can be configured for humanitarian disaster relief operations, non-combatant evacuations and if needs be to deploy sovereign air power at the government’s choosing.’

Sir Philip added that although the navy had been without an aircraft carrier for several years, it had been preparing for the arrival of the next generation of carriers.

He said: ‘We have seen how useful aircraft carriers are around the world, most of our key partners have them and I am eternally grateful to the US and French navies who have embedded many of our sailors, airmen and marines.’

Queen Elizabeth II speaks during the commissioning ceremony. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Queen Elizabeth II speaks during the commissioning ceremony. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Speaking on the impact of Brexit, he added: ‘We have been spending quite a bit of time in defence working out what that means to us and of course immediately it hasn’t changed anything.

‘The Royal Navy is still involved in EU maritime operations in both the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.

‘What it has forced us to do is look at what are the key components of our defence and security relationships with our key European allies and I can say we can feel those bonds tightening, not loosening.’

Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire