The Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth is set to arrive in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar for her maiden visit.
The UK’s future flagship sailed from Portsmouth Naval Base, on Feb. 2, for the first time since being officially commissioned into the Royal Navy on Dec. 7 last year. The vessel is currently undergoing the next round of trials involving her aviation assets – Chinook and Merlin Mk 2 helicopters.
These trials will involve operating different types of helicopter from the ship in all weather conditions and fully testing the myriad of on board systems that are designed to support aviation. The Navy will collect data about the landings, take-offs and manoeuvres in different wind and sea conditions, before processing the information and ultimately declaring that the ship can safely operate the aircraft.
These helicopter trials take place before the fixed wing F-35 Lightning II trials scheduled to be conducted off the eastern coast of the U.S. around September this year. Ultimately the carrier will be declared safe to fly Chinook, Merlin Mk2, Merlin Mk3, Merlin Mk4, Wildcat and Apache attack helicopters, as well as the fast jets.
The carrier was commissioned into the Navy fleet during a ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base on Dec. 7 last year.
HMS Queen Elizabeth:
HMS Queen Elizabeth is one of two new aircraft carriers built for the Royal Navy at a cost of more than £6bn.
It is the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy (RN) with a length of 920 ft (280 m) and displacement of about 65,000 tonnes. The flight deck of the carrier is of the size of three football pitches. The ship has a crew of 1,000 and embark 40 aircraft once in service.
The air wing includes F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters and a wide complement of helicopters including Chinook, Apache AH64, Merlin HM2 and HC4, Wildcat AH1 and HMA2 and Merlin Crowsnest AEW.
The warship is the Royal Navy’s first aircraft carrier since HMS Ark Royal which was scrapped in 2010. HMS Prince of Wales (R09), the second ship of the class is set to be handed over to the Navy in 2019 and be fully ready for frontline duties around the globe from 2023.