The UK’s largest ever warship will arrive back in the UK this week after completing the latest round of sea trials, the Royal Navy has confirmed.
The £3 billion HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to arrive in Portsmouth on Wednesday, a day earlier than previously expected, after weather conditions had formerly prevented the exact date from being set.
The 65,000-tonne carrier, the largest warship ever to be built in Britain, is expected to be the Navy’s flagship craft for at least 50 years.
The 280-metre vessel was previously forecast to reach its Hampshire base between August 17-22, after setting out from Scotland’s Rosyth dockyard in June.
More than 60 Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines took part in a training exercise aboard the American USS George HW Bush earlier this month, in preparation for the ship’s entry into service.
The carrier will remain without aircraft until flying trials are conducted in the United States next year, with 10 F-35 Lightning II jets and 120 aircrew expected to take part.
Preparations for the ship’s arrival, along with its 700 staff, saw more than 3.2 million cubic metres of sediment removed from Portsmouth harbour to enable her to reach her future docking at Portsmouth Naval Base.
In a statement on August 7, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon heralded the HMS Queen Elizabeth’s impending arrival, and declared that it would be deployed “across the seven seas, using her strike power to deter our enemies”.
Sir Michael visited the craft for the first time in July, when he hailed the return of “big decks and fast jets”, and described the large-scale engineering project as “great for British industry”.
The warship is expected to arrive in Portsmouth shortly after 7am on Wednesday, where it will become the latest in a long line of prestigious ships to be docked in the port.