Queen Welcomes Royal Navy’s Largest Ever Ship Into the Fleet
PORTSMOUTH, U.K. — Queen Elizabeth II spoke at the commissioning ceremony of HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth’s naval base Dec. 7, attended by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and military chiefs, the U.K. Ministry of Defence said in a release.
In her role as the ship’s Lady Sponsor, Her Majesty addressed guests before the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. Jerry Kyd, read the commissioning warrant. The iconic White Ensign was then raised, symbolizing the commissioning of the nation’s future flagship into the Royal Navy’s fleet.
“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,” said Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson. “It is an honor 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.
“Our new aircraft carrier is the epitome of British design and dexterity, at the core of our efforts to build an Armed Forces fit for the future,” Williamson said. “For the next half a century both carriers will advance our interests around the globe, providing the most visible symbol of our intent and commitment to protect the U.K. from intensifying threats, wherever they may come from.”
Having successfully completed the second stage of sea trials off the south coast of England, the carrier is back alongside at her home port of Portsmouth. More than 10,000 people across the United Kingdom 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 the fall. There are currently 150 Royal Navy and Royal Air Force personnel training in the United States on 13 U.K. F-35 jets.
The United Kingdom has worked closely on both the F-35 and carrier programs with the United States, the U.K.’s pre-eminent partner within NATO, enabling them to fly aircraft from each other’s ships. Both of the Royal Navy’s new carriers will be able to operate alongside NATO and coalition allies.
“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,” said Adm. Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord and chief of Naval Staff. ‘The Queen Elizabeth-class carriers will sit at the heart of a modernized 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,” he said. “They are starting their careers as a new chapter opens for the Royal Navy.”
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.
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 toward U.K. defense.
“Congratulations from the Royal Air Force [RAF] to the Royal Navy on achieving another important milestone in the U.K.’s carrier strike capability,” said Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, chief of the Air Staff. “I know the RAF and RN F-35 crews are looking forward to starting to fly from HMS Queen Elizabeth next year.”