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New aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth arrives in Portsmouth

The Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth made her maiden arrival at Portsmouth on 16 August 2017 and was greeted by tens of thousands of people who lined the walls of the Harbour to welcome the new £3 billion ship.

The 919ft (280m) 65,000-tonne vessel had been undergoing trials after setting out from Rosyth dockyard in June, with crew familiarisation also taking place. The ship has been undergoing sea trials off the Scottish coast and sailed with USS George H.W. Bush and her carrier strike group, during Exercise Saxon Warrior earlier this month.

Those on board and watching from the shore were treated to two separate flypasts of Royal Navy helicopters, the first featuring a Sea King, two MK2 Merlins and two MK3 Merlins, which were then joined by two Hawk jets for the second.

HMS Queen Elizabeth then berthed alongside Portsmouth Naval Base, where the Royal Navy’s newest and biggest ship will be based for an estimated 50-year lifespan.

The Ministry of Defence said dredging vessels had removed 3.2 million cubic metres of sediment during the dredging operation carried out to deepen the harbour mouth to enable Queen Elizabeth to enter Portsmouth.

An 820ft (250m) exclusion zone, enforced by armed police in small boats, meant the port was effectively closed to the flotilla of boats which had turned out to greet the Queen Elizabeth.

The carrier cannot currently deploy planes, but flying trials are due to begin next year.

For a special report on the new carrier, see shipsmonthly.com/features/hms-queen-elizabeth-departs-on-maiden-voyage/

Photos by Andrew Cooke

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