HMS Queen Liz will arrive in Portsmouth soon, says MoD
Any day from next Thursday onwards
New aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth could arrive at her home port, Portsmouth, within the next fortnight, according to the Ministry of Defence.
The 65,000-tonne warship, the first true aircraft carrier in Royal Navy service for almost a decade, is currently undergoing sea trials off the coast of Scotland.
While the ship is packed with automation and semi-automation technology, meaning her crew is less than half the size of a US aircraft carrier (though QE is about a third smaller than US supercarriers, in fairness), the manpower demands on the already overstretched Royal Navy have caused some observers to question whether she is really worth it.
In a statement issued by the MoD over the weekend, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: "In just two weeks' time, the most powerful warship ever built for Britain's famous Royal Navy is set to sail into her proud new home in Portsmouth."
The window for entry will open next Thursday (August 17) and close on August 22, with the ship definitely arriving between those two dates. As the warship can only approach Portsmouth at high tide thanks to her 11 metre draught (depth below the sea's surface), and as public interest in her arrival boils over, keen naval gazers can expect her to arrive in daylight.
Though El Reg doesn't have a subscription to any tide table websites, someone with enough time and patience could probably look up the daytime high tide times during the arrival window and pick the one which would offer the best light conditions for TV news and photographers. Combine that with the weather forecast for Portsmouth (you can't bring the ship alongside if it's foggy, as we found out when an American ship arrived to test out the new jetty for the carriers) and you'll then have a better idea than most, outside the MoD, of when the ship will arrive.
HMS QE has been on sea trials for the past month or so. Aside from an issue with a propeller shaft, possibly caused by a fishing net becoming snagged in the prop blades, the trials appear to have been successful.
Meanwhile, Britain's carrier battle group staff – the officers who will command QE and her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, on active deployments – have been testing their skills with the USS George H W Bush, which is currently sailing around near Scotland as well. Ship spotters hope for a photo opportunity with the two carriers, though the MoD has been tight-lipped over whether this will happen.
She will carry F-35B fighter jets bought from America. These, we are told, will arrive next year. So far the UK has ten jets and around a hundred personnel in training over in the US. ®