BRITAIN’S biggest warship ever built has set sail to begin the opening chapter of her sea trials in a historic moment for the Royal Navy.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently being pulled out of the Rosyth dockyard in Scotland by a small armada of specially-designed super tugs.
Weighing in at a staggering 65,000 tonnes and measuring 280-metres long, she is the largest warship ever constructed by the Senior Service.
The £3.1bn leviathan is currently being manoeuvred out of the basin at the dockyard in Rosyth before she sails out to sea.
Chief Petty Officer Andrew Vercoe will be the man at the helm of the new aircraft carrier as he navigates her out of Rosyth and into the North Sea.
With the aid of about 11 tug boats and a couple of pilots on land, the new super carrier will have just 14 inches to spare on either side of the basin’s entrance.
But that is only the first obstacle the carrier faces; the vessel’s 733-strong crew will have to wait for a low tide and ideal wind conditions before the ship can pass under the three bridges spanning the River Forth.
Queen Elizabeth’s Captain, Commodore Jerry Kyd will use a sextant navigation tool used in the 18th century before giving the green light to pass under the Forth Bridge.
With its state-of-the-art radar atop its mast lowered, the carrier will have just two metres to spare.
Cdre Kyd praised his team and said they were ready for the challenge of putting Queen Elizabeth through her paces.
He said the vessel, and her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, would be an essential weapon in securing vital trade routes across the world as well as projecting British military might for the next 50 years.
‘For the Royal Navy, the United Kingdom, buying these ships are the right thing to do,’ he said.
‘They are symbols of national power and they are totemic symbols of your ambition, your need to be an outward-facing global Britain, ready to play its full part in the western defence of democracy and security around the world.’
The painstaking operation will take about 10 hours to complete.
Once through the Fourth the vessel will begin her trial in earnest.
She will spend six weeks in the North Sea and Moray Firth ‘providing systems’ before she sets sail for her new home in Portsmouth sometime in the autumn.
Flight trials will begin off the eastern seaboard of the United States in October 2018.
The four-acre vessel will be capable of holding 36 F-35B stealth fighter-jets and four helicopters.
It is equipped with the hi-tech Artisan radar system, capable of tracking a tennis ball-sized object travelling at 2,300mph.
The ship, with its long-range radar, can also act as an air traffic control centre for smaller countries with the ability to track 1,000 objects in the air of on sea at ranges of 250 miles.
Inside, the vessel has a cinema, state-of-the-art hospital facility and five galleys.
Queen Elizabeth can carry enough food for 1,600 personnel for 45 days.
It’s bakery alone can make 1,000 loaves of bread a day.
More than £100m has been spent on upgrades for Portmsouth’s Naval Base to accomodate the two new carriers.