The introduction of the Royal Navy’s two new 65,000-tonne Queen Elizabeth class (QEC) aircraft carriers marks the start of a ‘‘new era of British maritime power’’, according to First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sir Philip Jones.
HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived in her home port of Portsmouth on 16 August after completing a first set of contractor sea trials. Sister ship HMS Prince of Wales was officially named in a ceremony at Rosyth, Scotland, on 8 September.
Speaking just after Queen Elizabeth’s arrival, Admiral Jones called the QEC programme ‘‘a triumph of national strategic ambition and a lesson for the future’’, adding: ‘‘Nothing better symbolises our nation’s continued global role than the Queen Elizabeth class carriers.
‘‘We will bring them together to form a Carrier Strike Group − a powerful strategic conventional deterrent − ready to fight and in the most demanding circumstances, but also providing a reassuring and highly visible UK presence on the global stage.’’
The two QEC ships are being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a partnering relationship between BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock, and the MoD. During the construction phase the project involved six shipyards and more than 700 businesses in a supply chain located around the UK.
Queen Elizabeth will now complete the remainder of her test and commissioning programme prior to formal handover to the RN later this year. First of class flight trials with rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft are planned for 2018.