The Royal Navy commissioned the UK’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth into its fleet during a ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base on Dec. 7.
The commissioning was done by Elizabeth II, the Queen and the ceremony was also attended by Princess Anne, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and military chiefs.
In her role as the ship’s Lady Sponsor the Queen addressed guests before the Ship’s Commanding Officer, Captain Jerry Kyd, read the commissioning warrant.
The iconic White Ensign was then raised, symbolising the commissioning of the nation’s future flagship into the Royal Navy’s fleet.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said, “Today marks the start of a hugely significant chapter for the Royal Navy, and indeed the nation, as the future flagship is commissioned into Her Majesty’s fleet.
“It is an honour to witness the crowning moment of an extraordinarily busy year for the Royal Navy that has seen us name the second carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, cut steel on the first Type 26 frigates and launch the National Shipbuilding Strategy.”
Having successfully completed her second stage of sea trials off the south coast of England, the carrier is back alongside at her home port of Portsmouth. Over 10,000 people across the UK have contributed to the delivery of the ship under the Aircraft Carrier Alliance.
Completing final build activity and preparing for helicopter trials in the New Year, HMS Queen Elizabeth will head to the United States for initial flight trials off the coast in autumn 2018. There are currently 150 Royal Navy and RAF personnel training in the US on our 13 F-35 jets.
The UK has worked closely on both the F-35 and carrier programmes with the US, its pre-eminent partner within NATO, enabling them to fly aircraft from each other’s ships. Both of the UK’s new carriers will be able to operate alongside NATO and coalition allies.
Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, said: “In hoisting the White Ensign from HMS Queen Elizabeth today, Britain has confirmed her place among the world’s great maritime powers in the most majestic and muscular terms.
“The Queen Elizabeth-class carriers will sit at the heart of a modernised and emboldened Royal Navy, capable of projecting power and influence at sea, in the air, over the land and in cyberspace, and offering our nation military and political choice in an uncertain world.
“But our greatest strength of all is the young sailors and marines upon whose shoulders our continued security and prosperity rests. They are starting their careers as a new chapter opens for the Royal Navy – and like all those who have gone before them, they are ready to serve their Queen and Country.”
Both new aircraft carriers will be able to perform a wide range of tasks, from humanitarian and disaster relief to fighting terrorism and high-end warfighting. In what has been termed, ‘the Year of the Royal Navy’ the second carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, was named in Rosyth and is structurally complete.
The honour of raising the White Ensign for the first time fell to 20-year-old Able Seaman Ellie Smith, from Hull.
That moment, said Capt Jerry Kyd, announced to the world that “we are here, we have arrived”. He said: “The White Ensign is synonymous with British warships and British seapower. For centuries it has said a lot about our country.”
PO(ETME) Ben Kern helped bring destroyer HMS Dragon out of build before joining HMS Queen Elizabeth in January. One of two section heads responsible for the high-voltage electrical system aboard, he described the occasion as the pinnacle of his career to date.
This year the Royal Navy has also had steel cut on the first of the Type 26 frigates and Dreadnought submarines, the launch of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, provisioning for a new class of frigate, the Type 31e, float out of the fourth Astute submarine, HMS Audacious, the naming of two Offshore Patrol Vessels and the arrival of our first two MARS Tankers in the UK.
Last month the Defence Secretary visited HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time while at sea, meeting the crew and thanking them for their work towards UK defence.
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.